Damages Review: "The Dog is Happier Without Her"

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We love Damages, but we wish we could pass on a word of advice to its writers:

Not every episode has to conclude with a twist.

For while the third season premiere did a masterful job surprising viewers and leaving us anxious about how Tom's murder would play out, the ending of "The Dog is Happier Without Her" felt like a desperate attempt to shock.

Seriously, does anyone think Ellen killed Tom? Does anyone even believe Ellen and Tom were having an affair?

Considering how intelligent of a show Damages typically is, it's frustrating that it would treat its fans as if we weren't on the same level. Come on. We're smart enough to recognize a red herring when we see it.

  • Tom Shayes Pic
  • Ex Hubby

Misguided attempt at a cliffhanging conclusion aside, there was a lot to like about this episode:

  • Patty may have met her match in Phil. This is a man that knows all his ex-wife's tricks and may make life tougher on her than any opposing counsel ever had.
  • If you need companionship, I can recommend a great breeder. Gotta love how Patty can go from seemingly rekindling an old flame to shooting him down in the most harsh way possible.
  • Campbell Scott is great in the role of Joe Tobin. Running over his father's mistress was a bit of a stretch, but Scott sells Joe's meek attitude and confusion over how to handle this dilemma.
  • Scott is only topped by Martin Short. Who knew the comedian had such dramatic, shady chops in him? Leonard Winstone is our favorite character of the new season so far.

Meanwhile, The Tom storyline continue to intrigue.

I thought his may have been diagnosed with cancer at first, which would have felt random and out of place. But making him a victim of Tobin's scheme adds a level of personal hatred, anger and vengeance to Tom.

This being Damages, it almost wouldn't surprise us if the bankruptcy proved to be a plot concocted by Patty in order to force Ellen's helping hand. But Tom's death would seem to prove otherwise...

... then again, this is Damages. So you never know. That level of suspense makes the show what it is and we're certainly not complaining. But when you start looking for a twist around every corner, it becomes almost difficult to concentrate on what's in front of you. It also makes each actual twist less startling.

Still, with a stellar cast, a murder mystery and even mounting tension at home for Patty, season three of Damages is off to a great start. What did you think of the episode?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (9 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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As well as knowing her secrets & tricks, Phil also provided the emotional ballast in her marriage. In season 1 & 2, it was clear that he was checking on her health (was she eating, sleeping, etc.?) He does know where she is vulnerable but might not be ruthless enough to use it. Looking forward to finding out.