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WikiLeaks Plot Drives ‘Damages’ to Series Finale: Review

Glenn Close with Ryan Phillippe in "Damages." The series airs Wednesday, July 11, 2012 on Directv's Audience Network at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Photographer: Barbara Nitke/Directv via Bloomberg

Julian Assange versus Patty Hewes!

Not exactly, but close enough.

A character modeled on the notorious international leaker sets in motion what could be the downfall of Glenn Close’s hell-on-wheels attorney in the irresistible return of “Damages.”

With its tricky flash-forwards and dream sequences, “Damages” never completely tips its hand, but the first episode of the legal drama’s final season is a series game changer.

Expect a quick hello and bloody goodbye to a newcomer and, barring one of those now-you-see-it illusions, a grisly end for a beloved regular.

This year’s reality-based storyline features Ryan Phillippe as the Assange character, a baby-faced tech wizard named Channing McClaren threatening to post documents implicating a major Wall Street investment bank in an insider trading scandal.

But a whistleblower, played by Jenna Elfman, has second thoughts (maybe). The violent convolutions propel the series’ long-in-coming showdown between Hewes and her former protege Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne).

Five seasons in, Close’s brilliance needn’t be rehashed, and Byrne continues to make a perfect foil. Elfman, playing against her fluffy sitcom image, is impressive as the guilt-ridden loose-lips, and Phillippe grows into his creepy role by the second episode.

More intriguing, though, is Janet McTeer’s Kate Franklin, Patty’s former colleague who teams with Ellen to slay their dragon.

Someone’s bound to get scorched.

“Damages” airs Wednesday on Directv’s Audience Network at 9 p.m. New York time. Rating: ***

What the Stars Mean:

**** Excellent
***  Very Good
**   Good
*    Mediocre
(No stars) Avoid

(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and James S. Russell on architecture.

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