Damages: A long-running drama bids a bitter farewell.

Damages: A long-running drama bids a bitter farewell.

The legal drama Damages ended brilliantly this year. Patty Hewes, played by Glenn Close, was a self-righteous, ball-busting litigator and possibly the most toxic mentor on TV. In the first season, Patty hired a hitman to kill her ex-associate, Ellen Parsons, played by Rose Byrne, for being too informed of her firm’s illegal backroom deals. Ellen survived the attack and vowed to take down Patty, who relished the presence of a formidable opponent in the form of her very own protégée.

In the series finale, Patty was left all alone—her son murdered, Ellen having beat her once and for all. The episode’s final scene was a flash-forward to “a few years from now.” Patty spots Ellen and her young daughter at a drug store then rushes back to her car. Ellen walks up to her, and through the vehicle’s window, she thanks Patty for all she’s done for her career.

But this moment turns out to be Patty’s fantasy, and we find out Ellen has left the drug store sans greetings. The camera closes in on Patty’s hard-bitten face, which briefly disassembles into pain and anguish. She’s even lost her influence over Ellen. Patty tells her driver to not take her home, probably because no one awaits her there. Instead she heads back to the office. Her solitude is heartbreaking—but not unearned.

For five seasons Patty Hewes trapped disreputable businessmen with her trademark sneer and potent threats then devoured their assets, every last dollar. While viewers could root for her laudable hunger to take down bourgeois bullies, what did her crusade cost her?