Damages Post Mortem: EPs Answer Burning Qs About Finale (Including That Stunning Last Shot)

After five seasons of backstabbing and whodunits — not to mention a life-saving leap from FX to DirecTV — Damages adjourned for good Wednesday night with an episode that saw the epic feud between Patty and Ellen at last come to a head. [If you have yet to watch, this is your chance to hit the nearest exit.]

Now, TVLine is calling to the stand exec producers Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman to answer your burning questions about the swan song, reveal new details about the epilogue’s flash-forward and tell the story behind that final iconic image of leading lady Glenn Close.

TVLINE | So, did Patty put a hit out on Ellen or not? All the evidence pointed to the fact that she did — including Patty’s own confession to Patrick Scully — but then the scene on the dock with her and Ellen had me questioning it again.
ZELMAN | Yes, we can 100 percent confirm that she did.
KESSLER | That’s actually satisfying to hear. We’re not trying to confuse people. We feel like there’s a string of details and facts that line up to solidify the fact that it happened. But it’s satisfying that even after five seasons, Patty is still compelling enough of a liar that she still has credibility. People are still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

TVLINE | The season — and the series — seemed to be building to this big courtroom showdown between Patty and Ellen, but then the trial lasted all of two minutes. What was the thinking there?
ZELMAN | We recognize that it was a risk. But the show was [never] about, “Ladies and gentleman of the jury… ” It was never about what actually happens in a courtroom. It was always about the power maneuvers outside of the courtroom, and we wanted to stay true to that until the very end. In our mind, the case this season was never about the case. It was about a battle between these two women.

TVLINE | One of my favorite scenes in the finale was Patty confronting her father. Glenn Close was mesmerizing.
KESSLER | I directed the episode and it was remarkable. We actually did something in the editing of it that we may never have done before, which is it was all just one take. The camera is just on her for one minute and 40 seconds, which is somewhat unusual in television to let a scene play out like that. But [given her] performance, we didn’t want to touch it. In its own way it was perfection. To tamper with it would’ve lessened it. Obviously Glenn has been spectacular throughout, but to have a scene like that in the finale and just let her go to town… it’s just a testament to everything she brought to the show for five seasons. It’s one of our favorite scenes as well.

TVLINE | In the epilogue, why didn’t you specify how many years you were flashing forward?
KESSLER | For a long time we did have a specific number attached to it, but then [we determined that] that the number of years that have passed is not the point. When one talks of a fairytale or tells a joke, the details have the potential to get in the way of the meaning…. Also, there’s a number that’s inherent in it because obviously Ellen’s child has been born. You’re given a framework that it was probably around five years based on the age of the child.
ZELMAN | There were several factual, expositional details that we left out. We wanted the epilogue to feel much more emotional and psychological, and not feel like we were wrapping things up by giving the audience a lot of facts. There are two other areas where we did that. One has to do with Ellen and her relationship with Chris. In our mind, Ellen is together with Chris. And there is one line in there that references it, but it’s subtle. The other example is that we never referenced specifically whether Patty is on the Supreme Court or not. But again, there was a subtle thing that we did with the fantasy Patty had where Ellen comes to that window. Prior to that, Patty asks her driver to take her home. And then after the fantasy she says, “I’ve changed my mind; take me to the office.” The main thing that meant for us is that all Patty has left is her work. And whether she is on the Supreme Court or not, it doesn’t really matter.

TVLINE | What was going on in Patty’s subconscious that led to the fantasy? Why did she need Ellen to thank her?
KESSLER | By the time the series is over, Patty has lost everybody of meaning in her life. Her son. Tom Shayes. Her husband. As someone said to her, “Everyone in your life either leaves you or dies.” And that fully comes to fruition once Ellen is out of her life. The redemption in her life would be that if it was worthwhile. If that, some number of years from now Ellen actually recognized that what Patty brought to Ellen’s life and what she was trying to do for Ellen was not just ruin her but in fact build her up to be a potentially powerful attorney. So a “thank you” makes it all worthwhile. It means that Patty still has a human connection to someone.
ZELMAN | Also, when someone comes up to you and says thank you — and, in essence, the subtext there is, “I owe you so much” — there is a sense that you still have sway over their life.

TVLINE | The final close-up on Patty’s face — did you always plan to hold on that shot that long?
We wanted to end it with a shot that let the audience really watch her. Just to sit and watch her in a private moment we thought would be a pretty interesting thing. We’ve seen her in her private life before when she’s doing things. But we haven’t really ever seen her in her private life where she’s simply alone, sitting. And she really is alone in the world.

TVLINE | What was going through her mind in those final moments?
We tried a lot of things when we were filming it. And, obviously, Glenn has the potential within one shot to have many different things wash over her face. We tried her thinking about loss. We tried her thinking about feeling justified and okay with the success that she’s had. Another version [was about her having] no one anymore. All she has left is her work. And then ultimately we came up with the version we used, which is uninflected as to what an audience is supposed to think. There’s a lot of room to read into things.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Thomson says:


    Someone can always create an alternate ending (through editing). Where Patty wakes up (after the epilogue) inside the room where the police are questioning her and they actually receive a call saying Ellen is Ok and was being rushed back from the hospital after someone noticed her collapse in the street, michaels alive but patrick goes on the run having no gun (what Peter said in another comment) and the trial still goes forward.

    Patrick gets caught immediately by a patrol car days later. Patty’s truth is revealed, Micheal wins the case. Ellen gets her final payback then decides to leave the world of law, knowing that she does not want to turn out like Patty.

    Patty is then seen in a prison cell. Ray fiske turns up saying, ‘the damages been done’.


    If too cliche:
    Ray Fiske – you always knew this was going to happen (jail doors close)
    Patty – Oh really
    Ray Fiske – Your all alone now Patty

    (flashback of Michael pops-up) – ‘People either leave you or they die’.

    Then we see patty’s face for 30 seconds. Same expression as the epilogue.

    (Last words) Ray Fiske – ‘we all have to face our skeletons’.
    With camera on Ray.


    Producers names are seen****

    Damages Theme tune plays


    Michael accidentally gets killed after the trial because Jill tried to kill Patty (as Jill gets paroled early without Patty knowing she tries to get her final revenge) for taking her daughter away from her. As Jill missed , the police officer escorts her to the police car with tears running down her eyes. Patty petriffied knows she is totally alone in the world, no son, husband and now michaels daughter going into adoption care.

    Then regarding the two characters who got mcclaren’s assistant killed they get sued by Ellen and by doing this will give her money to support herself over the years (if she uses Patty’s techniques but this being her last case. She would then be able to live a comforable life, leave country (with her mother) to rejoin the nanny who took care of Ellen when she was younger.

    Thats just an idea. I find the twist part somewhat funny. You could keep the ending with ray fiske (alternate).

    I find this more satisfying in a way and feel a strong sense of damages being implicted on people and relates to season 1.

    • Jack says:

      This is ridiculous, I like it. Especially the Ray Fiske Alternate Quote.
      The Kessler brothers and Zelman need to see this. Ha.

  2. That Guy says:

    Loved this series. Really blown away by GlennClose and I am not a fan of hers at all. What especially made me love this series too was the numebr of characters from The Wire that kept popping up. I also did not think that Lilly Tomlin and Martin Short could pull off dramatic roles but they did. Kudos to the writers directors actors and all who believed in this project.

  3. RandomGangdomStar says:

    ‘She would then be able to live a comfortable life, leave country (with her mother) to rejoin the nanny who took care of Ellen when she was younger’. – Thomson

    This made me cry with laughter

    • Maria says:

      I am wathcing season 4 now and I don’t understand why Patty says that Ellen owes her everything she has. What has she done for her? Season 1 – tried to kill her. Season 2 – nothing. Season 3 – Ellen helped her with the case.

  4. UR says:

    I think i have the blues after watching the series finale. I loved the show, could not stop watching it on Netflix. Loved both Patty and Ellen, both awesome stars . I hope they have a season 6, as the producers/directors have lots of potential to carry on the show. Hope the new season(if any) have Catherine play a big part. Sad to see Michael and Tom being written off from the show.

  5. Savannah says:

    I read many of the comments and a lot of people have very great points. The only one I felt was missing regarding the final scene isn’t just about Patty being alone or feeling loss because of the death and abandonment in her life. In my opinion I think she felt a loss over Ellen leaving her attorney identity behind.

    Patty has always been first a foremost her work. Her personal relationships simply lie on the most outer rim of her central focus which is being her own brand; a fearless, powerful and manipulative attorney.

    I believe she felt Ellen was like a mirror or her former self. All the ambition, fight and determination. Therefore when Ellen left the profession, Patty felt a loss of both a worthy adversary and someone she felt was like her in many ways. It’s like the Villain losing the Hero, there is always another fight to be had but nothing may live up to facing your biggest professional adversary again.

    Patty always gets what she wants. With that scene on the private dock she was basically telling Ellen they were cut from the same cloth, and that they would eventually find themselves duking it out again- so it must have been a huge disappointment when Ellen left that life behind. This would be the one time Patty did not get her way by manipulating someone’s life. Had Ellen remained a power hungry attorney she may have had the opportunity to get entangled with her again.

    Therefore in that final scene in the car I believe Patty is mourning the loss of Ellen from the world of law, her world, more than anything else.

  6. C says:

    The finale was excellent, to be sure, but it was nowhere near the ending I wanted it to be. i wanted Ellen to completely destroy Patty. I wanted Patty to be arrested, and for Ellen to be there at the station house, with all the proof she had of Patty trying to have her killed in S1, and for them to have a parting glance at each other through the glass, or, from a distance. Of course, that would have been too neat of an ending, and they always have to make things deeper, and more complex than they are just on the surface.

  7. Wallie Ann jarrett says:

    Is damages comeing back on tv I hope so it was real good could you tell me when if it dose.

  8. Lyle : That’s right. You hold tight to that hatred. It’s all you got.

    Patty : It’s all I need.

    Says it all.

    I just watched the final season on Netflix. I must say, this last season was horrible. I thought it couldn’t get any worse after the 4th season. I was wrong. Definitely time for the end of the series.

  9. Jordan says:

    While I really enjoyed the finale, I found myself liking this recurring theme of Hollis Nye and the effect he had on Ellen. It’s something that not a lot of people have talked about so I wonder if most people noticed. I think in some ways while Patty represented this unabated evil, Hollis was this force of good that tried warning Ellen away from Hewes and Associates. That and the bloody calling card with the message is too much to handle!! One of the best dramas to grace cable television, period!

  10. chris says:

    while this may well be the most riveting tv series I’ve ever seen,the finale was a great disappointment full of loose ends.Does no one acknowledge that,at least for a while,Ellen turned into Patty?Forcing a witness to lie to keep the case open,simply to beat Patty in court?It cost Naomi’s daughter 3 mil!And just glossing over how she burned Chris’s friend who was presumably court martialed and doing time while Ellen turned into a happy housewife?She,this sweet girl turned frankenlawyer became just as amoral as Patty and too many issues were left unresolved-so,while I absolutely LOVED the whole series,the finale was a bust.

  11. dlw says:

    Watched the whole series on Netflix, Bravo!!! The ending, awesome, Ellen achieved her goal, she won, she was the best. But, like Chess, there’s winning and then there is Mastery. A Master manipulates even the best players to make moves that benefit the Master and still leave the best player thinking they’re the best. Ellen never knew there was such a thing as a Master until the conversation at the end of the dock…Touché.

  12. Mary Wil says:

    Whatever happened to Catherine?

  13. Jk says:

    A powerful character driven series. The host of series that have brought incredible big name talents to TV , coupled with fine writing, is a big win for television.

  14. shelli says:

    how come not much more was made about ellen’s new female attorney being the SISTER of patty? ellen never knew that did she?!

  15. Beverly Francis says:

    I wont get direct TV just to see the last season. I wish there was another way. Not really fair to the 4 year followers. Glad for the spoilers, I got enough info to fill in someblankes.

  16. Bernard says:

    Some details puzzle me.
    1. The 2 detectives know that Scully is the one who attempted murder Ellen. They also know that scully murdered Patty’s son. ( the black Guy who works for Ellen knows it) So it is clear that Scully is going to be arrested and he will have to say that Patty commissioned him about Ellen’s killing. So how several years later, Patty is still at the top?
    2. By the way the idea to kill Patty’s son is bad. The script tries to justify this by the idea that the son had seen Scully out of his mam´s place when they tried to kill Ellen. But this is irrelevant since we have the évidence with the blood sample that Scully is the one. The killing of Patty’s son has one advantage : there will be no testimony of Ellen any longer regarding the little daughter. But again, this is worthless : because of Scully, Patty should be hurt sometime
    3. Another mistake is about the end of the journalist who runs the internet site. He is killed And left hung under a bridge. But he is supposed to have left the US territory as indicated at the opening of the trial. We do not Herz that he dissapeared. No, he left the country. It means that someone with his i.d. has taken a plane. To where ? London may be but on one seems to be interested. And what about the body? In the finale, we see the body left by the killers and by the businessman as well.
    4. Claire was saying everything to her daughter. She was rather transparent. If she was blackmailing the business big shots , she would have Said something to her daughter.
    5. In The final scene , Patty is dressed in a very special way. A white dress more sophisticated than in any episode previously. It could be a dressing for a Gala or a special event but it´s not since she comes from her office. It suggests a changé And consequently the supreme court option

  17. Julio says:

    what about the killers They are feee? I think we need the season 6

  18. Cris Bee says:

    I went through this series in a matter of weeks. Absolutely could not stand Patty Hewes. She was despicable in so many ways I lost count. Male bad guys do things just as ruthlessly, but Hewes character seemed to want to completely destroy any semblance of her humanity by so many mean acts in addition to her major crimes. Ellen was beginning to follow in her ruthless footsteps, so I’m glad she got out of the business. I was waiting for her imaginary friend (her dead ex) to say that she had become PH, but not so. I stayed up all night for the final three or four episodes praying, praying that Patty would get run over by a bus like the sorry dog she was. And whatever happened to that poor soldier who Ellen threw under the bus? Her husband-to-be should have made sure that guy was taken care of after he left prison.

  19. Kristin says:

    Too many loose ends! What kind of damage did Ellen have to do to get Chris back? Scully gets away with her son’s murder? WHY did Patty put a hit out on Ellen?

  20. Mamo says:

    I don’t think any seasons were as good as the first one, but what really annoyed me about the whole show was Rose Byrne’s appalling acting. She made the character of Ellen Parson not believable. Her acting was very wooden and wishy washy, there was no emotional range, and her voice was also very irritating. Up against Glenn Close, who was beyond superb, she came across as very weak. If they’d cast a different actress in the role of Ellen, someone with more emotional depth, then the show as a whole would have been much better.

  21. SMK says:

    Just finished watching the series on Netflix. Sad to see Michael’s fate at the end. I love how this show really made you think and be on your toes the whole time. Must admit it got slightly confusing with the various timelines, but it all came together at the conclusion of each respective season, naturally of course. I was so hoping Patty wouldn’t come out unscathed as she did in the end but I guess the finale was befitting after all. Loved how Patty looked at the very end. Formidable and stunning. Will absolutely miss this amazing show.

  22. Lillian Woodson says:

    GREAT!!!!!! Wonderful!!!!

  23. Heather Johnson says:

    I found the series Damages and watched it continually from beginning to end over consecutive days, it’s what I do. I wasn’t sure with the writeup I was going to enjoy Damages but I really got caught up in the feud between Patty and Ellen. As the producers say, it wasn’t about the courtroom and I was intrigued to know what else would happen outside of the courtroom to affect the current legal actions going on at the time. I liked the surprises that popped up like Tom being killed and the phrase “everyone either dies or leaves you” starts to stick with you during the series; and especially when there is a point where Ellen starts to get sucked into this scenario rught up to the last episode.
    Like any good film, the series Damages finishes with you asking a multitude of questions but not only that, makes you come up with a multitude of answers yourself….that is good production to have the questions and answers yourself. For me the final scene where Patty envisions Ellen thanking her, it was to say thank you for getting me out of the legal profession and having a life, the beautiful smile from Patty says it all, that her alterior game plan all along was for Ellen not to make the same mistake that she had made. That was Ellen’s question to Patty at the end of series 2 I believe, was it worth it all?
    Glenn Close, what can I say except the absolutely spot on actress for the part…Patty Hewes’ face always made you search for what was going on in her head and what was the truth and what was the lie…to be able to portray so much in an unreadable expression is truly fine acting in my opinion and I loved the way Glenn Close built the character. As the saying goes, being successful and at the top can be a very lonely place. An amazing actress that has put the series Damages in my top 5 which will stay there for many years I;m sure. A recommended “must watch” for those who haven’t already.

  24. Roxanna Hernandez says:

    So patty kept dreaming about the baby she lost. She says that it was still born and we see something that implys that patty decides to end her pregnancy so she can pursue her career is that what really happend? Or was the baby still born?

    • polyanthas says:

      the doctor told her she had to stay in bed, she deliberately put herself at risk hoping the medical advice would come through and she would be free of the pregnancy

      she was a witch who took Catherine away from her own mother and father, what would she know of Jill’s intent and ability to rehabilitate from whatever had made her an unfit mother or what sort of go they might have made of making a happy family. Catherine’s life was shown to be love-less and sterile, she looked like a psycho in the making. takes one to make one huh. Glenn Close was fantastic.

  25. Sonia Gregory says:

    Absolutely fantastic and spellbinding. We usually watch anything Nodic and I came across this series by accident but boy I am so glad I did, just a total shame that it ended. More please from the writers if you don’t mind. Simply spellbinding.

  26. ken says:

    Nobody mentions the parallel between Ellen & Patty and miscarriages due to overwork. For patty it was basically an abortion. Ellen didn’t want to lose the child, but she wasn’t willing to give up the case to be safe. She got lucky and didn’t lose the child. That and what patty pointed out to her on the dock (long island?) that she got Rutger killed lead her to quit the law. That was a punishment in a way as somebody called for.

  27. Louise says:

    So disappointed there isn’t a Series 6, 7, etc!!!!!!! Best series I’ve ever watched!!! WOW
    Serious text you dealt with that could be or not be true but with it ending so quickly I thought maybe problems were arising so you shut down!!!! Just my opinion

  28. Traisie says:

    I just found this series on Netflix. I didn’t stop watching it until I finished it. Every chance I got outside of work, I watch. It took me a week. Why wasn’t there anything about her grand-daughter in the finale? She is actually not alone, but including her would have made the screen awesome.

  29. Ray says:

    It is so many bad show’s out there…this one is GREAT!! WITH A LOT OF FANS!! WHY STOP??

  30. Carole Yeck says:

    You have mentioned that patty has no one left but what about katherine . I perceived that perhaps she was left out to isolate the fact that aellen was really the closest thing to a daughter shed ever had and the closest to a replacement for Julia .
    Also obviously the character of Patty is a textbook narcisstic personality . From the root in her abusive neglectful father who literally would have made her what shed become to her lack of emotionsl attachments, ignorance of others feelings and use of people to reap her own benefits .
    Like you said people either left her or wound up dead …either way she attempted to destroy anyone who got close to her and she felt righteous concerning that …but no matter how successful she was …those behaviors would inevitabley leave to self destruction. Therefore it seemed to me that the fantasy could have been read as a testimony to what a malignant narcissist she was. No matter what shes done to Ellen , she cant see the harm as wrong …not her fault . She feels she built Ellen and Ellen owes her rather than Ellen growing strong in spite of Patty and she still seeks that validation shed find from the praise and appreciation from Ellen . Then flash to reality and it was a delusion. I mean really so ridiculous what would Ellen thank her for …for trying to have her killed ….twice or for micromanaging her career so that Patty could reap all the credit or for tricking and manipulating her to be forced to make decisions thst are against her better judgement ? That fantasy and its expectation shows just how insane and off Patty has become . She has no boundaries or reasonable expectations . All that she did and she cant control her outcomes anymore …shes not going to get that affirmation…ellen was able to walk away and not look back . Truly the biggest passive assault she could make to a narcissist like Patty . So after all…patty loses . Which leads to the final scene where shes alone with nothing left but her work . I read ger face as feeling very vulnerable to be alone unmasked and so full of rage . I got the impression that her change of mind to the office was to leave the viewer thinking she was going in to find a way to seek revenge with Ellen for walking away by refusing to let her go perhaps and manipulating to wrangle her back into her deceitful web . After all shes a sociopath…she feeds off this . Shed never empathize with Ellens needs in life onlywould want to force her to be pulled back in and as Ellen walks away …her demeanor is unsettling . She has a look of distaste for seeing Patty on her face and when responding to her daughter about not being a lawyer …you dont get the impression ahes content with leaving law behind . She looks irritated though shes trying yo hide it from her daughter and you know that it isnt over for her either and that she wants revenge just as much …leaving the scene with the feeling that even though it was the finale …it was never really going to be the end and Patty would always make sure of that .
    I also think that it leaves a statement about corruption. Ellen began the series as a good girl and the righteous one who comes to hate Patty and want to right the wrongs by bring her down for her corrupt and conspiratoral ways . But her hate and lust for revenge takes over and despite the initial
    Intentions she succumbs to lowering herself to becoming exactly like her nemesis and the woman she detests.
    Well thats just my take on it . :)
    Loved this series and all the characters completely won me over . Glenn Close is amazing !

  31. Mj says:

    I am so bummed there are no more Damages seasons. Any chance for more?
    More please! Maybe Ellen gets pulled into helping VA or someone who Patty hurt in the past convinces Ellen to come to their aid? Maybe sister?….in any case resurrect her legal career.