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on September 17, 2011
While neutral about the season 3 (I thought it was too short and disjointed), I found season 4 to be just as smart, suspenseful, superbly plotted, and expertly acted as ever. It's the best season since its debut, and still one of the most relevant-to-the-times dramas on television.

Our heroine Ellen and anti-heroine Patty take on High Star, a private defense contractor integral in illegal interrogation and extraction activities in Afghanistan. One botched mission serves as platform for a lawsuit. The true purpose of that mission is an underlying mystery known to only one character, which is revealed bit by bit. This is not your typical wartime terrorism, and solving this mystery is essential to the plot so trust that the battlefield flashbacks are relevant and not just filler. Because the CIA is in bed with High Star, it's also not your typical corporate corruption. The stakes to protect the guilty are the highest and most dangerous they've ever been. Ellen and Patty are warned and then threatened to stay away, and of course that makes them all the more hungry to continue.

In a heartbreaking performance, Chris Messina plays Chris Sanchez, a vet and High Star combat employee suffering from acute PTSD and racked with guilt after leading said botched mission. He's an old friend of Ellen's and she convinces him to sue High Star for wrongful deaths - partly in the name of justice, but equally to feed her ambition. But her firm of record is not so ambitious -- so unable to win it without Patty, Ellen goes back to the lair, literally.

John Goodman is well cast as the CEO of High Star. As a staunch Christian, he seemingly struggles reconciling his job and his faith. But through intense prayer (and because his back is up against the wall) he ends up justifying more and more manipulative, illegal and often violent acts as "patriotism" and "God's will". This character is indeed a right-wing stereotype -- he likes to hunt and read from his giant bible -- but it's an accurate portrayal of how "for the good of national security" is misused to feed monetary greed, justify betrayal and commit any heinous act under the sun.

Stereotypes aside, season 4 delivers an accurate dramatization of what happens when private industry leads military actions -- corporate greed always trump everything. Since Patty has a reputation for stomping out corporate greed and now dares to challenge the government, tactics to protect the guilty involve murder, torture, international terrorism, kidnapping and the power of one very clever, resourceful and unscrupulous CIA agent. Because he is always one step ahead, has bottomless resources, and will resort to anything, you wonder how the two lawyers stand a chance of winning this time.

This rogue CIA agent, while as evil as they come, is also multi-dimensional enough to be a different kind of villain. A jaded, reluctant patriot, he's hiding a secret which makes him at times sympathetic. This delicate balance is a genius portrayal by underrated actor Dylan Baker, who should win many awards. At first the "reason behind it all" as revealed through the CIA agent seemed weak enough to be a bit anti-climatic. I can see people saying "all *that* for that?" But it's more important to focus on how a simple mission spiralled out of control and how desperation to cover it up ruined so many lives.

Plus this season makes full use of suspenseful foreshadowing, the show's signature technique. Each episode delivers flash-forward glimpses of a violent and bloody act that's come, revealing a little bit more each episode. You think you know how it may go down, but there are plot twists up until the last minute where all is revealed. So the payoff delivers.

A subplot involves Patty, her toddler granddaughter, and her estranged son Michael. And of course there's the usual cross-manipulative, love-hate relationship between Patty and Ellen that, by the end, reaches an ugly impasse. I had to laugh a yet another last meeting by the water to reflect -- where we know Patty will continue her relentless pursuit of success at the expense of any and all meaningful relationships, while Ellen will continue to fight against following in her footsteps despite the fact that she's cut from the same cloth.

Kudos to Direct TV for picking-up the series after FX dropped it, so it can live on DVD. Prepare to be engrossed. You won't be disappointed.
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on September 18, 2011
I concur, Damages is the best! How could it be so off the radar? With all the junk on network tv, how could this gem of a program be regulated to Direct TV- whatever that is..please this program should be on a major network...wait, they don't know whats good...but cable channels like AMC or USA..come on , this is a great series!
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on January 10, 2012
Season 4 of Damages was more as a set up for the 5th and final season. Everything you loved about the previous 3 seasons (crazy plot twists, and great characterization) is still there. The only thing that I felt wrong with this season was that it seemed a little rushed. (The writers were cut 3 episodes with the move to DirectTV). Although the season is a little rushed, it's edgier and more realistic than the previous 3 seasons. The "R" rated language, they were allowed to get away with, definitely brought depth to some of the military characters. Damages has always been a gritty show, but now, it's even grittier and darker than ever. This season set up the final season perfectly,(SPOILER, setting up an Ellen vs Patty arc). I'm very excited to see where the Kessler bothers & Zelman are going to take us for the final act.
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on September 17, 2011
This was one of my favorite shows, along with The Good Wife, The Shield, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and so on, and each season only got better the first three times. I loved this show. But Season 4, while certainly entertaining enough to watch, had enough detracting factors to prevent any hearty 5-star rating from this reviewer. The first was the cast.

While John Goodman has never been my favorite actor, he wasn't terrible, but there were other weak links as well. The story for one, about a CIA rogue who working within the services of a defense contractor in Afghanistan, manages to get a group of American soldiers killed on an 'unauthorized' mission. The story becomes one of Ellen actually teaming up with Patty Hewes to take these guys on. Her interest in it revolves around a former male friend from college who was leader of the group that was killed there. Entirely too much time is spent with that actor (forget his name) and his flashbacks of Afghanistan and his buddies getting killed. His performance was also just tolerable. Likewise for the rogue CIA agent that got him embroiled in the mess. And then there's John Goodman to top it off. No, the cast, while having big names, were perhaps too familiar to pump a good sense of mystery into the story. And the story itself and the events that go down were often slightly weak or unplausable, like in the end where the captive boy is allowed to run around free and 'socialize' with the prisoner. Don't worry, I haven't given anything away. But those who've seen it should agree that that scene made no sense and was only allowed to be for the sake of plot contrivance. This was not great film-making or HBO style TV in comparison to previous seasons.

However, lest I rant too negative, a bad season of Damages is still better than a lot of what else is out there, and I was pulled through the season fairly quickly and without too much groaning for the most part. Close is still ferociosly Patty Hewes, though the element of she and Ellen sparing for their lives doesn't really exist in this season. However, we are clearly set up for that by the end of the last episode (note - only 10 episodes this season). Yes, if the end of this season is any indicator, there should be a good clash of the titans come Season 5, which I for one will be watching.
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on September 15, 2011
No release date yet????? It's been like months? Need my Damages fix. lol My order was automatically cancelled because it had been so long since I had ordered it and the release date was mentioned. Had to reorder?
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on September 14, 2011
Why did FX drop this series and allow it to migrate to direct tv? This is possibly the best show on television. I can't wait for the dvd to be released. I want to see it NOW.
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on February 7, 2016
Damages continues on after being canceled by FX and is taken up by Direct TV for Season 4. As observed by others the quality wasn't quite as good as 1-3 but still engaging enough. The target of our protagonists Patty Hewes (excellent Glenn Close) NYC ruthless attorney and her off again/on again associate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is a private military security company (think Blackwater or Custer-Battles) and their CEO Howard Erickson (a miscast John Goodman). An old high school boyfriend of Ellen's is a contractor for the company named High Star and is suffering PTSD symptoms after an off the books illegal mission goes bad and 3 other contractors are killed. Ellen who's working for another firm now which lacks the resolve of Hewes & Associates enlists Patty's help in bringing a suit against High Star using her friend as her prime witness. In typical Damages fashion the story unfolds in bits and pieces, there are false trails and partial reveals that deceive the viewer until almost the very end when everything comes together. A rogue CIA agent (Dylan Baker) provides plenty of obstacles for Ellen to overcome in her quest for justice for her friend and the dead men's families.

I agree with others that there wasn't enough Patty compared to the earlier season's and the plot line about her grand daughter (of whom she has custody of) first being sick and then when her estranged son Michael reappears and challenges her for custody seemed like a needless diversion. Also the court appointed anger management counseling she has to go through after hitting her building's doorman in the face with a door was pointless filler. Others have complained about the language being worse and perhaps more violence but honestly, this is an adult show and it's 2016 so my advice is don't watch and go back to your re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show so you're not offended. Lastly, other reviewers took issue with Goodman's character being portrayed as devoutly Christian and being the bad guy; well history offers us no shortage of evil perpetrated under the umbrella of organized religion and it's followers so I don't see the problem, it's called reality.
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on October 22, 2012
Ok...we all understand that the show has to work off stereotypes. The bad characters have to be Christians, business people, Republicans, etc. but they are not even doing a creative job of it.They are just slapping them into one composite character and depend on the politics of viewers carrying the rest. Additionally the whole season turns on The COMPLETELY wacky assumption that the most profitable Fortune 500 Company would have gone through all this initial trouble in order to avoid paying a death benefit to three widows. This is idiotic on it's face. The conversation would go something like this: Chris: Pay out the death benefit or I will go to lawyers, Erickson:OK ...Instead we are to believe that the company would go to millions of dollars of expense and murder and torture and risk the DOD, CIA, Pentagon implosion, all in order to avoid paying death three benefits that are less than 1 Million dollars.....RIDICULOUS....the pattern of the show gets old and boring anyway, but at least they used to get the math roughly right.
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on March 6, 2013
After watching Damages Season 4, I have to agree with the observations of several others: Seasons 1-3, produced by FX, were much better. I found the writing to be weak. Plot contrivances popped up several times when the writers backed themselves into corners they couldn't get out of (don't want to spoil it by listing examples for those who may not have seen it).

If you enjoy high-quality productions, you liked Seasons 1-3, and you're wondering whether to purchase Season 4, I'd say to do so only if money is not an issue. Otherwise, you can probably find better uses of your hard-earned cash.
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on December 28, 2013
After three seasons on basic cable's FX channel, Glenn Close's brilliant legal drama was given a new lease on life when DirectTV picked it up for a fourth season. The ensuing season was not quite as dramatically gripping as earlier ones but still well above the level of most network television.

Damages tells the story of Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), a highly successful plaintiff's attorney who specializes in massive class actions against scummy fat cat corporate defendants. Each season, the show focuses on one single major case, but, although it's a legal drama, the show almost never goes inside the courtroom. Instead, we see Hewes and her opponents taking depositions, making settlement offers, and preparing themselves for trials that never actually ensue.

Patty Hewes is an antiheroic force of nature, just as ruthless as her corporate adversaries and driven by an almost fanatic will to win. Although she often says she's in this for her clients, in reality, it's her own inner demons (that the show gradually reveals) that drive her. The show's other main character is Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), a younger attorney originally hired as an associate by Patty, but who winds up to a certain extent following in Patty's footsteps. The difference between what Patty does and what Ellen does not always choose to do, as well as the sometimes bitter rivalry/friendship that develops between the two, is the show's dramatic center.

In the fourth season, Ellen meets a former high school friend Chris Sanchez (Chris Messina), who is now an Afghan war vet with a bad case of PTSD. Sanchez was most recently employed by Highstar, a Blackwater-like defense contractor. His last mission went badly wrong, killing three members of his squad and leaving him an emotional mess. Ellen is convinced that Highstar was responsible for both Sanchez' condition and the other men's death and brings a lawsuit, but her current firm drops the case and she goes to Patty for help. As the season goes on, both the CEO of Highstar, John Goodman, and a shadowy operative who was involved in their dirty work, Dylan Baker, try to stop the lawsuit.

The DirectTV version of Damages has the same high quality writing and ensemble acting as the FX version, but the season is only ten episodes of about 50 minutes each (as opposed to 13 in the first three seasons). The reduced running time means that the story line is somewhat more streamlined, so that there is considerably less of the intricate jumping around in time and place that became the show's trademark. In addition, there are fewer supporting characters and subplots than before. Most viewers will be able to guess the key plot twists well in advance. The show does benefit from being free of basic cable censorship restrictions, with some nudity and a fair amount of profanity (although somewhat less of both than you'd likely see on an HBO series).

We don't see as much of Patty's and Ellen's emotional development as we did in former seasons, and Ellen in particular seems willing to cut Patty a lot of emotional slack in her desire to see justice for her clients. Fortunately for viewers, this season offers juicy supporting turns for Goodman and Baker. Goodman's CEO is equal parts right wing patriot, religious zealot, and loving single father to four boys. Baker is genuinely creepy in a role that rivals his recurring guest appearances on The Good Wife.

All in all, the fourth season is a welcome addition to the series. Close, Byrne, and the writers are not just going through the motions to milk a few more dollars out of a fading show. Instead, the central story line is as solid as ever, lacking only a little of the glitz and depth, which is primarily a function of the reduced length of the season. Damages is still one of the best television dramas around.
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