Do the right thing

Wow.  “I Hate These People” was the finest episode of Damages thus far, which is saying a lot considering how excellent it’s been.  The conclusion was shocking, momentous, and gut-wrenching enough for this to have been the season finale and I’m honestly worried that they won’t be able to top it.  For now it’s best to just stop thinking about what comes next and appreciate what this episode had to offer.

Now that I’ve completed my obligatory spoiler free introduction; holy shit Ray killed himself!  In front of Patty!  Just… wow!  There was plenty in this episode (and earlier) to suggest that Ray was going to come to a bad end, but there were also enough red herrings to throw me off the scent.  David’s “… now a man is dead!” and Ellen’s “Do you regret what we did?” seemed to be referring to George Moore, killed for passing information to Ellen while the blood on Patty’s shoe seemed to be a clear indication of her involvement in either David’s death or covering up the murder in her apartment.

Patty’s certainly guilty, though not of the crimes we thought and that’s what’s really so incredible about this episode.  Ray’s arc is moving, in the season as a whole and in this episode in particular, but tying it into Ellen’s incarceration was masterful.  This character focused story has not only shown us the reason for Patty’s breakdown but also undermined what evidence we had that she was involved in the attempt on Ellen and David’s murder.

Ray’s story also expands the series’ use of flashbacks and they’re as good as the rest of the episode.  We see his relationship with Gregory develop until the final, heartbreaking rejection.  Zelijko Ivanek deserves full credit here as Ray’s desperation is palpable.  Opening up is almost as painful for him as being spurned and we gain a bit more appreciation for Greg’s apology for leading him on.

The acting’s just as strong in his final meeting with Patty.  I’ve always understood Ray to be a good man compromised, irrevocably so for his involvement in Gregory’s murder.  When Patty urges him to do the right thing she’s asking him to sell out the one virtue he has left, his loyalty to his client.  His fate’s sealed when she offers him a job after it’s all over.  What would seem to be welcome reassurance that he’ll land on his feet is really just proof that he can’t run away; he’ll only go from working for one monster to working for another.  Unable to break the cycle, he chooses the only alternative.

Final Thoughts

Farewell Ray, the show won’t be the same without you.

I particularly loved the shot focused on Ray’s wedding ring after Greg rejects him.

So many key moments that were overshadowed by the main story’s awesome.  The Lilah creep-factor was one, Katie’s return was another.  Why hasn’t she come forward with the tape yet?

The timelines are rapidly closing in on one another and it’s really effective at giving this series a sense of momentum.

One thing that’s really bothering me is the fact that Ellen was covered in both David’s blood and that of her attacker.  DNA would take weeks, and so I can believe that she’s still in jail, but it kind of undermines the tension when we know she’ll be acquitted anyway.

So, what’s with the spooks in Ellen’s apartment?  Has Patty’s bugged it?  Why?

I’m really liking Ellen’s new assertive stance with Patty, particularly her refusal to take any money.  Sadly, she doesn’t realize that Patty has other hooks to put in her.

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