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?
ZTLMAN |
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?
ZELMAN |
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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104 Comments
  1. Thomson says:

    ALTERNATE ENDING

    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’.

    RAY FISKE ALTERNATE QUOTE

    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.

    CUTS****

    Producers names are seen****

    Damages Theme tune plays

    IF TWIST IS ADDED

    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?