Previously on Damien, “Abattoir”
We’re at the endgame now – or damn close to it. Damien has found his inner demon, thanks to the helping hand of his psychiatrist Dr Matthews, and is now working on taking back control of his life. At the start of the episode he’s punch drunk with agitation and paranoia: classic symptoms of PTSD, his shrink says as she clicks her pen out of habit, while writing some shit down on her notepad. Damien questions his presumed assumption as the Antichrist. He believes he’s destined to bring pain and suffering and that he has no choice in the matter. Matthews takes it all in her stride, as all good shrinks should.
Meanwhile, Simone and Greta do some digging at the scene of episode two’s car accident and end up finding a Dagger of Megiddo among a pack of sewer rats. Rather them than me.
In an episode where all the major players have a say in the outcome (all bar Scott Wilson’s John Lyons, who is, we assume, eating a lot of goat meat), it’s a pleasure to write that not a scene is wasted, and Here Is Wisdom ups the tension considerable.
Detective Shay’s investigations into Cray Marquand’s vicious murder and Damien himself bring more danger to our intrepid lawman. His boss orders him to “wrap this shit up,” so off he goes, shit-wrapping. He turns up at Damien’s apartment just as the war photographer is busy unwrapping shit of his own. It seems Powell has sent him a roll of film wrapped in Marquand’s tongue. (He obviously ran out of bubble-wrap.) Shay lands some photos of his own on Damien’s table – pictures of Marquand’s grisly murder scene. He’s convinced that although Damien isn’t killing people with his own hands, somehow he’s persuading others to do his dirty work for him. He’s only half right. He leaves Damien his card in case Powell contacts him.
When Damien eventually develops the roll of film, he finds that they’re negatives of a pine tree, followed by the word “Remember”. These are all the clues he needs to find Charles Powell, who’s holed up in a shitty little caravan. Powell confesses to being a psycho killer who’s “doing it all” for his former tormentor. Damien loses it – finally – and in a scene that’s both graphic and visceral, pummels the living shit out of Powell with his bare hands.
Shay’s attempt to follow Damien is unsuccessful when his car fails to start. But that’s not the worst of it. It catches fire and threatens to take the detective with it as it is engulfed in flames. Only some quick thinking and a calmly taken shot at the passenger window saves his bacon from getting crispy. He calls it a day and heads home, only to find hubby is getting anxious, and son Jacob drawing pictures of cars on fire. He’s definitely not the same boy after the swimming pool incident. Hubby thinks it’s all in Shay’s head. Rather than be honest with Patrick, Shay runs off when he gets a text. He’s led to the caravan where he finds a well-battered Powell. When he’s asked who beat him up, Powell says: “The devil did this.”
Ann Rutledge attempts to destroy the dagger she has in her possession, plainly thinking that any weapon that could kill Damien shouldn’t be left lying around. A welder in her employ is unable to melt it down, however. A power greater than a thousand degree heat protects it. (I bet Shay wishes his car was made of the same metal, right? But I digress.)
Amani has been doing some investigating of his own, and some CCTV footage shows his latest paramour skulking suspiciously outside Damien’s apartment around the time Simone said it was broken into. Both Simone and Greta bring Amani in on their mission and tell him to try to get more information on Ann Rutledge and John Lyons. When she’s confronted with Amani’s accusations, Veronica says she was trying to fix things and that although she was sent to spy on Damien on her mother’s behalf, she has feelings for Amani. He doesn’t buy it, and he’s right not to: Veronica runs back to Mom and says that they’ve been rumbled. When her daughter mentions a nun, Ann knows exactly who she’s talking about, and sends her on her way once more, with a warning not to mess things up again. Ann returns her dagger to its box.
Veronica follows Greta to her residence, and sneaks in after the nun and Simone have finished talking about the Vatican’s actions throughout history and whether or not Greta is an assassin. (“I am a pilgrim,” she intones, “a seeker of the truth.” She won’t do anything rash until she knows more about Rutledge’s and Lyons’ motives.)
Veronica’s attempt to harm Simone and Greta goes badly. She ends up with a bullet in her, while the statue of the Virgin looks on approvingly.
Damien tells his shrink that he beat Powell close to death, and that he liked it. Are the choices he’s making good or evil? he wonders. Later he and Amani make up over a beer. His friend confesses to being a pawn in Ann Rutledge’s scheme and says he’ll stick with Damien to the end. How far the end will take them remains to be seen.
In a final act that rivals the previous episode for shocks and gore, Dr. Matthews turns up to psychologically evaluate Charles Powell. But what she actually does is flaunt him for going against Damien’s wishes. It was Powell who should have died, not Marquand. Clicking her pen menacingly she goes to Powell and jabs him repeatedly in his neck. Shay bursts through the door, but it is too late. He takes her down, leaving him with a two-for-one in bodies. This is not going to look good on his resume. There is blood everywhere, and on the notepad Matthews was using, written repeatedly: Here is wisdom.
This is a great episode. Since the show turned a corner in the fifth installment, Damien has become compulsive viewing, must-see TV. Any criticisms I had at the start of the season – its slow start, a perceived lack of focus, an over-reliance on showpiece acts of violence, underusing the supporting cast – are put aside and now I can focus on how the final two episodes are going to pan out. Damien’s paranoia is palpable, but now he’s close to becoming his own agent. Exactly which side he’ll fall on is anyone’s guess. Don’t assume he’s going to turn pure evil.
PLOT: Here is Wisdom is the undoubted – for me – highlight of the season. A thrill-a-minute episode that’s tightly paced and graphic in its execution and story-telling.
ACTION: It doesn’t let up. I was convinced Shay wouldn’t make it out alive when his car caught fire. It’s good to see the characters put through their paces and in genuine jeopardy. The final “Death by Pen” scene came out of nowhere, proving the point that not everyone is quite what they seem at first glance. Damien’s going to need a new shrink.
PERFORMANCES: Bradley James is the MVP here. In all of his scenes, especially the ones he shares with Claire Rankin’s Dr Matthews, you can see the power growing inside of him. He’s become a potent young actor, and I’d love to see him take it to another season. Well done, sir. And kudos to David Meunier, whose detective is being put through the wringer on a weekly basis: I’m plenty interested in seeing if his run of luck in escaping near death situations continues.
DIALOGUE: Creepy and foreboding, as usual, but this time, it’s serving the story.