Friday, October 26, 2007


Soooooo . . . . anyone else a fan?

SPOILER ALERT: Will discuss series, including finale. If you haven't watched off your TiHo yet, grab yerself a glass a wine and buckle up. Then get your ass back here.

And if you don't watch, please be patient because eventually this really does get a wee tad on point. And start recording reruns now, because it's awesome.

I'll watch Glenn Close read the phone book, so I was thrilled (thrilled!) to have a great excuse to watch her at her manipulative best as Lawyer extraordinaire Patty Hewes. Insert your bunny in the pot joke here, but I think Patty almost channelled my favorite Close character, Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil. During one of those dog park interludes with Zeljko Ivanek as lawyer Ray Fiske (and damn, is he amazing or what) where he would beg for something of her without acting like begging at all, I really expected her to turn and stare him down, and through pursed lips say with the utmost clarity and diction: "Cruelty."

Delicious. The lawyer who spies on her own employees! The lawyer who hires employees just to get at their soon-to-be-sisters-in -law! The lawyer who orders a hit on her employee's soon-to-be-sister-in-law's dog! While everyone on screen is kvetching that they don't know whom to trust, you the viewer are also in a bit of a conundrum wondering just who the bad guys here are, and who exactly they're working for. Just when you think Patty is working for the common man, she serves her own son (!) with marching papers and an uncapped pen. She is cold, calculating, manipulative, eeeeeeevil. I fucking love her to bits.

So: end of show, crap hitting fan, evil woman of steel seen driving into cemetery and sobbing rather deliriously over a grave. This wild-haired moment is really the most emotive we've probably seen Patty in the show, notwithstanding grandly sweeping a day's work off her desk. (Case in point, she was about as expressive as a potted fern when her son was rudely kidnapped by brainwashers, er, taken to a camp for problem kids and screamed "Mom!" out of the van in terror.) We find out she hasn't been to this grave in 35 years. Then through flashbacks, in a sterile room with some instructional vis-aids regarding the uterus tacked to the wall, we see a doctor saying something to the effect of, "It was a girl. The baby was dead before you delivered her. Would you like to put a name on the death certificate?" Cut to out-of-control Patty sweeping the overgrowth off a grave marked "Julia Hewes" and sobbing.

Patty Hewes' baby daughter died 35 years ago.

Patty Hewes' baby daughter died 35 years ago!!??!! Dude, my life IS IN A PLOT LINE OF "DAMAGES." Seriously, how cool is this? It's not a silent problem! It happens to people! Her baby died! But hold the phone, WHY IN HELL did the writers have her be a bereaved mom? Hmm? Personally, I think the answer lies in her relationship with the young, female attorney she hired at the beginning of the season, Ellen. Over the course of the series, Ellen turned from a smart-as-a-whip yet rather street-wise naive young woman into a conniving, manipulative attorney herself. Even though Patty had other motivations for hiring her at the start (getting to a witness for a case), one has to assume by the umpteenth episode that Patty rather likes Ellen, or at least admires her for maturing into, well, a woman not unlike Patty herself. In essence, Patty has a somewhat caring, somewhat frustrating mother/daughter relationship with headstrong Ellen. It could be that Ellen has become the missing daughter in Patty's dysfunctional life. Awwwwwww.

Except Patty tried to kill Ellen. No, really. That's the big reveal in the season finale (although I rather expected it). After the hit is sent through and then foiled, Patty grieves all over again, for the daughter she lost, and for the faux mini-me daughter she (thinks she) lost. While she thinks Ellen is dead, she is so moved to visit the grave of her dead Julia, leaving the audience to put two and two together.

So let's back up and put two and two together: PATTY TRIED TO KILL HER. Didja get that part? The murder part? So what I'm getting at here is that, according the FX writing workshop, Baby dying = woman who shuts down emotionally and becomes fucking bat loco homicidal. I mean, I know the Patty/Ellen relationship is complex (as are most mother/daughter pairings), but attempting to kill her and directly tying it into this graveside visit? Yikes. I'm not sure whether to be outraged or afraid for the lives of those around me. Is this what greater America thinks of women who lose children? That we become emotional vacuums? That we become psychotic? That we become power lawyers at the expense of family relationships and ethics? (And hey, where do I sign up for that?) That we casually kill house pets to make points? I'd like to think this is just a big slam on lawyers, and female lawyers at that, but I'm pretty sure the writers are trying to lead us somewhere else entirely. Hide the bunnies, people.


niobe said...

I dunno. The bereaved mother thing sounds like they just couldn't think of a better back story. Since I-can't-help-being-the-evil- psycho-that-I-am-because-I-was-abused-as-a-child thing was getting kinda old.

Plus the cool multi-dimensionality it add to the character. She's evil! She's good! She's evil again! She's a victim! She's a ruthless killer!

Megan said...

How about (in small hopeful voice) Battlestar Gallactica? The Wire? Veronica Mars?

Tash said...

Ohh megan, good call! maybe this calls for a full blown article. I don't remember the Kanes being entirely functional, but will have to review seasons 1&2. Will have to discuss BG with Mr. ABF since I'm not a big SciFi fan -- but wasn't the baby in question 1) part alien, and 2) not really dead? (Does that matter?) Don't watch The Wire. There are some rather well done grieving moms on Sopranos, though.

Nioble, true, but there's backstory and then there's directly linking the backstory to the present in the way they did which to me indicates that they're going for some sort of connection. Lost/Found/Lost/[whoops! Found] was probably what they were after.

Beruriah said...

I'm with you Tash, although I haven't seen the show. I think once we start paying attention, we see this sort of treatment of bereaved or childless women in so many places.

I wrote a post a while ago when this movie came out about murderous dolls. I didn't see the movie but the previews included a poem, "Beware the stare of Mary Shaw; she had no children, only dolls. And if you see her, do not scream, or she’ll rip your tongue out at the seam." Lovely.

charmedgirl said...

the moment i saw her at that cemetary i KNEW who she was visiting (and cried). then i thought, holy crap! they're saying she's cold and murderous cause her baby died!?!? well, there weren't any support groups back then...what else is a girl to become? hehe

great post.