Damages: The Complete Fifth Season

Damages: The Complete Fifth Season
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When the fourth season of Damages left off, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) was looking into starting her own law firm and Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) was ramping up for a custody battle with son Michael (Zachary Booth) over his daughter. As was standard for all seasons prior, the juxtaposition of these women — one at the beginning of her career and the other already established — sets the stage for an incisive analysis of the many sacrifices and concessions required for females to succeed within an inherently male hierarchical structure. Ellen, ever-willing to dive into morally ambiguous territory when it comes to proving herself, has her sights set on winning, having already proved capable of beating men at their own deliberately insular and convoluted, power-seeking tactics. In this fifth, and final, season of the always palpable and intellectually stimulating Damages, her competition is Patty, her mentor and enemy. With the success of her new firm riding on the outcome of her first case, she accepts Channing McClaren (Ryan Phillippe) as a client, defending him against accusations that his ersatz-Wikileaks website deliberately set out to ruin their insider-trading source, Naomi Walling (Jenna Elfman). Having killed herself (though we, as the audience, know she was murdered) after her leak also revealed an endless trail of provocative emails linking her to sexual escapades with various married men of influence, her involvement in the case and ability to clarify assertions made by daughter Rachel (Alexandra Socha) are left up to her attorney, Patty Hewes, to argue. This final, and inevitable, showdown between Patty and Ellen raises some interesting questions about the nature of winning and its importance. As always, the endless mind games the two women play make each episode a delectable treat of second guesses and being blindsided, but Ellen's need to win, even when she isn't certain of her client's innocence, is the main topic of debate. Patty is struggling to raise her granddaughter, mostly leaving her with a nanny and having nightmares about the maternal role she played in making Ellen more of a corporate, inherently male psychopath. Her son hates her, which leave only her bank balance and ability to win every case to take home at night, which is likely why she's sipping bourbon in every scene outside of the office. How everything ends doesn't come as much of a surprise, but the social deconstruction of gender roles and economics versus maternal instinct are handled shrewdly and succinctly throughout the five seasons of this superlative series. It's a shame there won't be more intricate cases and playful double-crosses, but, as it stands, Damages finished its run with little deterioration in quality, having a cohesive feeling to it all that ties beginning into end. Only deleted scenes are included with the box set, which is a shame, as some of the supplemental materials in earlier season sets were quite engaging and revelatory. (Sony)