'Damages' post-mortem: Campbell Scott on Joe Tobin

campbell-scott-damages-320.jpg"Damages" shook up its usual format in the season's third episode by sticking with one time frame -- and a rather brief one at that. The episode picked up right where the previous one had left off, and instead of jumping back and forth in time, it focused on a single evening in which all the show's interested parties had a stake.

Among those parties: Joe Tobin (Campbell Scott), who had accidentally hit his father's mistress, Danielle Marchetti (Madchen Amick), with his car in the previous episode and struggled with what to do afterward: Take her to a hospital, where Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) would very likely find her and use her in her case against Tobin's father, or take her to her previously planned flight out of the country, thereby risking greater injury or even death for her?

Needless to say, it's not a good time to be Joe Tobin right now -- but Scott says he's having a wonderful time playing the character. He and "Damages" co-creators Todd and Glenn Kessler spoke Tuesday about the story-telling changeup, Joe's state of mind and what's coming up.

No time-jumps
Glenn Kessler: "For most of the series so far, we've really made a commitment to moving through time ... and we thought it might be interesting to try a new conceit -- one episode that really took place in four hours. ... We thought it might be an interesting way to condense time and play with time in a different way. It was trying to bring the immediacy and the urgency of what the quote-unquote bad guys were up to and making it a footrace for Patty and her team to discover."

The book on Joe Tobin
Scott: "It's definitely changed, because all of the circumstances are changed, and you literally get to learn more about him as you go along. It would be nice to say ... that the conflicted man you watched in the first three, and relatively immature man, continues to kind of learn in a moral and spiritual way, but he doesn't. [Laughs] That's all I'm going to say. The great thing about 'Damages' is that bad is good and good is bad. ... When the guys first talked to me about Joe, he was going to be one of the perfect examples of that. He starts off as a relatively unknowing and innocent character, but because of his relationships and because of his desires, he becomes something else."

Has Joe been sheltered most of his life?
Scott: "No doubt about it. ... [The creators] are very good about asking, 'What do you want to do?,' and my only answer was, 'I want to do what I haven't done before. One of the ways I described that to them was that I want to be somebody who's not that -- and I have to be careful here. Joe's not dumb, and he's not not with the program, but he's not necessarily quick, he's not necessarily sharp. And I often play those kinds of characters, who already know the end of their sentence before they started. That is not Joe, and that really fascinated me, and in fact was pretty difficult to act, because usually my kind of default setting ... is to be sharp and kind of on top of it. ...

"And then you mix that up with Lily [Tomlin, who plays Joe's mother] and Marty [Short, as Tobin's lawyer], who seem to know more than they're telling, it makes for a good group together in the same room."

What's coming
Todd Kessler: "As is typical with 'Damages,' things really start heating up at this point. [Episode 4] is a big Joe and Louis Tobin [Len Cariou] episode ... and there is a big bomb dropped in this fourth episode. Story-wise, there is something that happens that is irreversible and will absolutely shift the focus of the story moving forward in next week's episode."

Danielle's role
Todd Kessler: "She plays a significant role -- how she connects to the family, and there are characters we haven't met yet that she has a direct influence on. If you think of the first season with the character of Katie Connor ... Patty is very good at following threads and pulling a thread to unravel a whole tapestry. So Danielle is very much a thread that will be pulled. We're thrilled with Madchen Amick's performance, so I think you'll be very satisfied with how her role in the show ... is not taken lightly."

Here's the teaser for next week's episode.



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'Damages' post-mortem: Tom's hole gets deeper
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Photo credit: FX
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