The first season of FX's Damages was enthralling and chilling, and from just the couple of minutes we got to glimpse Tuesday morning at the TCA press tour, the show still has its captivating qualities. The show's main cast — including two of the three new cast members, William Hurt and Timothy Olyphant — was on hand to discuss a bit of what we'll see in the coming months, and I already feel sucked back in to the Damages universe. Some of this is spoilery, so if you don't want to know anything about season two, stop here — but if you want to hear about the new characters, the evolution of Ellen, and the fate of Arthur Frobisher (well, maybe), just read more.
First things first: Ted Danson attended the Damages panel. But does that mean Frobisher is alive? Apparently, we shouldn't go that far. The show has so many flashbacks and flash-forwards that it's hard to say exactly when and in what context we'll be seeing Danson's character. (Although, it's worth noting that FX President John Landgraf said earlier in the day that Frobisher "did survive.")
Moving on, one of the biggest changes we'll see in the new season comes is the evolution of Ellen. In the clips we watched, she's bracing and in control, telling the agents she's working with that she wants to wear a wire while Patty talks to her about the Frobisher case and telling someone (who wasn't visible in the clip) that they should be terrified. "We all wanted to approach Ellen in a very different way to make her more of a warrior in season two," Rose Byrne said. "This season she's kind of made of steel a little bit more, which is really interesting to play. The first season, the audience was so much ahead of her . . . This season, it's sort of the reverse."
Ellen is also in therapy, which is where she encounters one of the show's new characters: Wes, played by Timothy Olyphant. According to executive producer Daniel Zelman, he's "a mysterious figure who comes to be a confidant of Ellen's because they've both been through similar traumas recently. What the future of their relationship will be is something for the audience to guess at and wonder."
As for the other newcomers:
- William Hurt plays Daniel Purcell, a figure who enters Patty's life in trouble — though we don't know what kind of trouble — and seeking legal aid. It seemed from the clip that his story would form the basis for this season's new case.
- Marcia Gay Harden, who was not present because she'd only just been cast, will play a high-powered attorney for an unspecified company who appears to be behind some equally unspecified wrongdoing.
If you're getting the sense that there are a lot of secrets, it's true — but there's also a lot that's left to be figured out. The producers emphasized several times that they liked to keep things fluid, and all of the actors mentioned that their stories could (and did) change up until the very last minute.
As for Patty Hewes, Glenn Close says Patty seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as well. "She still has a lot of very unresolved issues going on that take more energy to cover up than before," she said.
A couple of other interesting tidbits:
- Here's how Close described the typical reaction she got to the show's twists and turns from her family and random strangers on the street: "Tell me what's in the box — don't tell me!" They all seemed to have a huge respect for how engaging the show can be, especially Hurt, who said he stayed up till 5 a.m. watching episodes when the idea of taking the role first came up.
- About those flashbacks: The show is still going to play with time; Zelman called the flash-forwards and flashbacks "a signature of the show." But he said the producers' goal this year is to make them slightly easier to grasp this year.
- Throughout the session, Damages was occasionally referred to as being like a novel, with each season telling a full story. It's interesting to think about that and try to imagine what season three will look like (since FX has already committed to it). Presumably Patty and Ellen will still be around — but will anyone else?
- Danson wouldn't tell us how often Frobisher will be on the show — and he insisted that's because he doesn't know.