Top 5 Moments On Damnation Episode 3: “One Penny”

by Rachel Bellwoar

The common thread of Damnation Season One continues to be Sam Reilly, as Seth’s efforts this week go towards saving the Reilly farm from going up for auction. Here are the episode highlights from “One Penny”:

5. Sheriff Don’s home life

Having Don talk about the town being mistaken about him losing his grip, when he’s having this conversation alone with his dog, is the perfect staging for this monologue. From being in Don’s home you also get to see the number of photos he has on display of his wife, who must have passed away. It’s not that he’d have pictures of Bessie’s mom out for everyone to see but, from the way the brothel madam, Della (Nola Augustson), confronts him at the sheriff’s station, she was Don’s true love. Even after his wife’s death the degree of photos he has up denotes a fear of people finding out.

4. “You don’t get points for showing up.” – Amelia Davenport

Never has there been a more passionate reporter to write less than D.L. Sullivan. Continuing to be present for everything that goes down in town, without publishing a word, Amelia lets him know that he’s not fooling anybody (and it’s not the only zinger she delivers this episode — her comparing Seth’s mum-ness to her hating cooking, but she does it anyway, is a stinging comeback, even if it devolves into a he said she said between Seth and Creeley).

3. Damnation‘s back-to-back Alfred Hitchcock references

The obvious one is Della watching Creeley and Bessie through a hole in the wall, like a Norman Bates peeping tom (Psycho). The other has Bessie looking a gift horse in the mouth when Creeley brings her a dress that she suspects is meant to make her look like someone else. Vertigo‘s Kim Novak would know a thing or two about that, and Creeley doesn’t prove Bessie wrong, initiating sex the moment she puts it on and showing her that the gesture’s not entirely free. While Bessie can’t convince herself later that Creeley’s her typical john, when he’s kidnapped by the Black Legion, in that moment, the distinction she gives him’s less clear.

2. Seth’s auction death stare

If anything should make a person think twice about bidding on a family bible, it’s Seth staring daggers in their back. How the guy keeps going under that pressure is a wonder but, lucky for him, Creeley appears to take the attention off. It’s more of a brothers sharing the same space moment, than a crossing each other’s path. Anyone watching wouldn’t have to realize its personal between them but, for those in the know, the sparks do fly.

1. Damnation‘s title card

The scene is a youth baseball team, running over for cream sodas. The shot is framed so you’re looking out at the field from inside a shed. The shed, we are shown seconds before, is filled with nooses and Black Legion hoods. The Damnation logo appears. If you want to talk about starting a show with a kick, this is an image that makes you step back and think.

A few thoughts on the moments that didn’t sing this week:

  • It would be great if Amelia got to know Bessie better, if only so they could trade notes about their beaus, but I don’t buy them stopping to trade barbs, about who’s with the more psychopathic brother. There’s no sense that they’ve talked before this, and the timing rings false for them to be having their first exchange.
  • Between Penguin mentoring a young orphan on Gotham to kill and Damnation‘s Connie asking the daughter (Alexis McKenna) of the man she shot to call her mom, I’m not sure who’s the more horrible role model. Connie’s edging out so far, and while adoption is preferable to her killing the girl, there’s something very sick about the way she commits to this impulsive course of action.

Damnation air Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on USA Network.