Damages doesn’t kick off swan song season until Wednesday (9/8c on DirecTV’s Audience Network), but a recent promo has already revealed the big mystery at the center of the 10-episode endgame: Is Ellen really dead? And, if so, who’s responsible?
The character’s long-suffering portrayer, Rose Byrne, isn’t about to spoil the outcome, but in the following Q&A, the Bridesmaids actress hints at a “haunting” final arc for her alter ego, previews a “satisfying” — and years-in-the-making — courtroom showdown between Ellen and Patty (Glenn Close), and recalls the twist that triggered a frantic call to producers.
TVLINE | Are you getting approached by fans worried about Ellen’s fate? The promos paint an ominous picture.
Yes, a lot of concerned viewers are coming up to me shaking their heads. They’re very worried. It’s a very provocative image.
TVLINE | Of course, this being Damages, nothing is ever as it seems. Is it possible she’s really not dead?
I’m pleading the fifth on this. [Laughs] I’m not going to give you anything.
TVLINE | As a fan of the show, the prospect of Ellen getting killed makes me angry. I know you can’t really speak to that specifically, but can you say whether Season 5 is a satisfying conclusion to the series?
It is. We really go into Ellen’s psychology in terms of her family and in terms of the dynamics of her family and how much that has shaped her and affected her. There’s a lot of stuff with her mother [played by Debra Monk]. We rediscover a lot of things that are going on there. And, obviously, there’s the Ellen-Patty relationship… It’s really haunting stuff. Ellen is very haunted this season — more than ever. We also get to see her grapple with power and the idea of gaining her power and being unapologetic about it. And also, how far is she going to go to win against Patty, who has basically ruined her life? That’s a huge thing this season.
TVLINE | The first two episodes suggest that Ellen is going to be severely outmatched by Patty in the courtroom. Fair to say the playing field levels out a bit as the season progresses?
Yes, it does. I think it’s a very satisfying thing for the fans to see. Early on we always talked about, “Wouldn’t it be great down the line to see them go up against each other over a case?” It’s like the ultimate ending. It all comes full circle. The protégé becomes the opponent.
TVLINE | This season really seems to return to the core of their conflict — which is that Patty tried to have Ellen killed.
Yes. It always comes back to that. It’s a huge thing haunting and hanging over Ellen.
TVLINE | Any twists this season really make your jaw drop?
Oh yes. There are some big things, absolutely. There were a few frantic phone calls to the writers, “What’s happening?! Really?! This is really happening?!” [Laughs]
TVLINE | How has your relationship with Glenn evolved over the five years?
I was very nervous when we started the show. She’s a formidable actress and she has such gravitas and she’s so smart; she’s Glenn Close. It definitely took me a while [to get over that]. I’m pretty shy. But I think it was quite helpful because in the first season Ellen was very [nervous] around Patty as well. Patty was this infamous litigator. It was suitable for what we needed to do. But since then it’s become so different. I consider her a real friend. Our relationship couldn’t really be more different than on the show. [Laughs]
TVLINE | I should hope so.
It’s so complex and loaded. And when we watch the show we just laugh. We’re just laughing. It’s so tense. [Laughs] It’s like a love story.
TVLINE | What was it like shooting your final scene with her?
It’s weird. It’s so bittersweet. I was lucky to get to work with Glenn Close for six months out of the year every year for five years; I was spoiled. Weirdly, by the end of the season, we’re so exhausted because it’s such a grind. You’re sort of in a blur. And in a way it’s good because you get a little less emotional about it. But this season is great. We had some brilliant scenes.
TVLINE | Your feature career obviously has a lot of momentum right now. Would you consider another long-term TV gig?
I would. Absolutely. I love television. It’s nice to have the rest of the year to relax because it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s a grueling schedule. The hours are hard, so it’s nice to have a breather. But the writing on television is so good. It’s as good as feature films — if not better.
We’ve got to give it to Damages: It’s a pretty gutsy move to show one of your main characters, bloodied and apparently not breathing, in a preview of your final season.
That’s precisely what the DirecTV drama has done in this recently released clip; the video ends with Rose Byrne’s Ellen staring blankly at the sky after an apparent fall from a rooftop. Might the young lawyer have raised her last objection… ever?
The preview’s chock-full of interesting visuals, including shots of new cast members Ryan Phillippe and Jenna Elfman interspersed with explosions, as well as a quick flash of Elfman’s character in the tub she teased to TVLine earlier this year. And, of course, we see Glenn Close’s Patty, who menacingly asks Byrne, “You wanna end this once and for all?” Yowza.
Press PLAY below and then hit the comments to give us your take on the vid!
Is it just us, or does the art for Damages’ fifth and final season seem a little American Horror Story-esque?
TVLine has your exclusive first look at the gothic image, in which regulars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne are joined by new blood John Hannah (by the door), Ryan Phillippe, Jenna Elfman (laid out on the table), and Janet McTeer. In a chat with TVLine last month, Elfman previewed her central part in this season’s plot and spilled about the image “where I’m naked… with blood everywhere.”
We’re intrigued by the shadows, which are doing decidedly different things than the figures they’re attached to, and the birds. What’s up with the birds? Review the art, hit the comments and share what you think it means for Season 5, which premieres July 11 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on DirecTV Channel 239!