Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) prepares for a class action suite against a multinational pharmaceutical company, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) returns to Hewes & Associates to pursue her own lawsuit against military contractor High Star Security and its powerful CEO, Howard Erickson (guest star John Goodman).
The change of network for the legal thriller Damages
doesn't appear to have hurt its core appeal--the fireworks ignited by Glenn Close's dogged, morally ambiguous attorney Patty Hewes--in the series' fourth season, which aired on DirecTV after three years on FX. Malfeasance on the part of a private security firm working with the US military in Afghanistan is the central case in season four, with Hewes and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) once again in uneasy cahoots to bring down the company's bullish man in charge (John Goodman). In doing so, they attract the attention of an icy mercenary (Dylan Baker, fascinatingly malevolent) determined to keep them off the blood trail that links Parsons's friend (Chris Messina), a former soldier-for-hire in the grip of posttraumatic stress after his experiences with the firm, to Goodman. As in previous seasons, the main case is the nucleus for several orbiting side plots, including Patty's struggle with her son (Zachary Booth) over custody of her grandchild, as well as Baker's personal connection to the case, all of which underscore the series' recurring theme: everyone has a secret, and most likely, it will be their undoing.
As with previous seasons of Damages, the fourth season benefits greatly from its mix of regular players and guest actors, which include Judd Hirsch as a dipsomaniacal PI, Tom Noonan as a deceptively charming ex-cop, and Fisher Stevens as Patty's court-appointed therapist, and the show's trademark shifting timelines still create considerable tension as they inexorably snake together at the season's end. If there's any complaint to be had, it may be that the network shift seems to have reduced some of the show's production value: the direction occasionally feels static, while sets and locations have a stage-bound feel that undercuts the show's sense of realism. That may have little impact on die-hard fans, who come to Damages to watch Close's finely tuned blend of legal demolition derby and predatory backroom maneuvers. Extras are limited to a pair of brief featurettes, one on the making of the new seasons, the other focusing on Close as she discusses Patty's path to season four. Deleted scenes and an outtake reel round out the three-disc set. --Paul Gaita