‘Damages’ Season 5 DVD review

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Slated to appear as a character witness in the ongoing custody battle for Patty’s granddaughter, Ellen finds herself manoeuvred into a new case. Damages has dealt with a different area each season; this time it draws inspiration from Julian Assange and Wikileaks in a plot surrounding insider trading.

The show has always attracted a strong guest cast and this final run is no different. Ryan Phillipe plays the Channing McClaren, the youthful and taciturn owner of ChanningTruth.com, a website that aims to provide an anonymous platform for whistle-blowers.

We join the story as Naomi Walling (Jenna Elfman) prepares to reveal the truth about the Wall Street bank she works for. When the release also contains a trench of private information detailing her sexual exploits she appears to take her own life, although we see that she is murdered.

As Walling’s daughter accepts assistance from Patty, McClaren reaches out to Ellen and in a case that relies heavily on hearsay, the two women engage in a personal conflict that has little bearing on the needs of their clients.

Former journalist Rutger Simon (John Hannah), who provides a link to some shady backers, aids McClaren while Ellen is joined by a new associate Kate Franklin (Janet McTeer) who knows Patty of old. As before, Patty has her right hand man Bill Herndon, played in a scene stealing performance as the alcoholic Judd Hirsch.

The show has always had a teasing, non-linear style with revealing jumps in time and this case proves to be no different. A layered reveal of one character’s ultimate fate presents a mystery and colours the whole show in thrillingly morbid tones.

Unresolved issues from year one weigh heavily as Ellen finds herself reliving the details of her attempted murder and her fiancé’s brutal slaying. She is not alone in the fantasy sequences either, as Patty also suffers a series of revealing guilty daydreams that can be shockingly graphic.

The strength of Damages has always been in its principal cast. Glenn Close’s tremendously powerful creation of Patty Hewes appears to unravel slightly here and we see the master manipulator challenged like never before.

There are some gloriously tense head-to-heads with Rose Byrne, particularly in snow bound scenes at Maine airport. The other performance of note in this final run is that of John Hannah who gives a slow, background simmer as the disaffected brains behind ChanningTruth.com, receiving none of the glory or attention for his work.

Ludicrously without a UK broadcaster, this quality US drama has made its way to DVD. It is well worth catching, especially for the compelling final act that manages to excite and pull at the heartstrings in equal measure.

Extras: Across three discs there are approximately 40 minutes of deleted scenes, including an early sub-plot regarding Ellen’s attempts to find work and the relationship between Patty and the victim’s daughter. We gain some insight into Patty’s daddy issues in flashback too. There are a few trims, but in the main this is all good stuff and bring a further dimension to the story.

Also included is a 4-minute gag reel full of outtakes, fluffs and fun. Sadly, there are no commentaries or other features; a shame because it would have been great to get some perspective from cast and crew on the five years of the series.

Released on DVD on Monday 15 July 2013 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

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