Damages Season 3, Episode 5: "It's Not My Birthday" Review

As Martin Short's Leonard Winstone sat stone-faced at the foot of the bed, with a prostitute nibbling at his ear, I was reminded of how much I loved his malformed character. He's a brilliant legal mind who falls a few steps short of being a fully ego-formed human being. He's got two modes: legalese and systemic failure. As he stoically pines over the death of his surrogate father Louis, Short was able to epitomise what Damages is all about. It's all about the different ways people that accept and absorb pain and misfortune. At Louis' dank, no-frills funeral it's also implied too that Leonard was almost kin. Carol says something along the lines of "When Daddy brought Lenny home for the first time," which suggests that Leonard might have been actually raised by Louis in some sense. Then we see, in "It's Not My Birthday," Joe (Campbell Scott) and Leonard working together, almost on a brotherly misadventure, to track down the missing Tobin loot.

Just as Louis had felt betrayed by Joe's drinking, Joe now feels betrayed by Louis' suicide escape plan, which came complete with a secret file for Patty which would have undone all of Joe's hopes for providing for his family. Joe, now in possession of the file, gets a contact name that might be able to help him find the lost fortune; Zedek. It was great to see Joe man-up and take more of a leadership role in this whole mess. That's not to say that I have any confidence that Joe will be able to get the job done, but it's great to see him try. Even after almost killing her (twice!), Joe still took a stern hand to Danielle Marchetti (Madchen Amick), trying to bully her into lying to the D.A. It's an almost laughable attempt, but it's still wonderful to see a broken man's transformation into that of a stronger, more corrupt man. It's also interesting to note that Leonard must have felt a twinge of betrayal over Louis' confession to Patty too, but that he's not in any position to express that feeling; both legally and familial.

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Feb 27, 2010 9:07AM EST

I didn't focus so much on Lenny. I asked myself at the end... what about the blond gal? Will she get at some point into Patty's little circle? I truly don't think so. It was nice to see her try so hard anyway, and thinking she could play Patty's power games. No way. Maybe Ellen got in not just because she has the right touch (just look at the sweets she sent! perfect! she has nothing to prove...) but also because she didn't try that hard. She wasn't that unconditional. She has her own power, her own goals. That's why Patty feels she can talk to Ellen, they are standing on the same ground, and they have their own power and handle their own drama and loss by themselves, even though they are so different. "It's not my birthday" was one of Patty's power games to test the ruthless blondy. Could mean a lot of things: you're not in yet, to have balls isn't enough, you can't lie to me but I can lie to you, or countless others... Anyway, in my humble opinion, the power play... THAT's what damages is all about!

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