In the second season of Damages, the ruthless Patty Hewes is back and this time she is taking on an energy corporation. Patty believes that Ultima National Resources (UNR) may have had her friend Daniel Purcell’s wife killed because he could prove that a substance they use in their coal plants, called aracite, is toxic to both humans and animals. Ultima has had come through many class-action lawsuits, like the one that Patty intends to bring to their doorstep, unscathed with the help of hotshot lawyer, Claire Maddox.
Tom: “Ultima National Resources is destroying the environment. [hands Patty a photo] West Virginia. Acid rain from coal burning powerplants has pushed mercury levels to 87 times the national average. Residents tried to bring a class action the judge through the case out of court.”
Patty: “So they’ve had more than 200 lawsuits filed against them in the past three years?”
Tom: “And they’ve lost exactly one of them. They didn’t even bother to appeal. Know why? It was for 100 million. That’s two days’ profit for them. You’re right, this is huge. But what does it have to do with defending Purcell?”
Patty: “I have no idea whether Daniel killed his wife but his consulting firm has worked for UNR for more than a decade. He must know more than he’s telling me.”
After receiving a tip from Purcell, Patty sends Ellen and Tom down to a UNR coal plant in West Virginia to find a journalist who is doing research on the toxicity of aracite. Purcell contacted the journalist about aracite after reading one of his obituaries. Josh has been attempting to gather information about aracite ever since and has been routinely thwarted by Ultima CEO Walter Kendrick’s thugs.
Josh: “One of the county’s largest hog farmers hanged himself after his whole stock got wiped out. Mr. Purcell thought he knew what was killing the animals.”
Tom: “When we first got here there were fires alongside the road and there was a smell.”
Josh: “Yeah, that’s the dead livestock. They burn them at night. Draw a circle around the county, and every quarter mile closer you get to Ultima’s facilities, there’s a 30 percent increase in livestock fatalities.”
Tom: “Can you prove that?”
Josh: “Yeah, I’ve got the research. But it’s not only affecting livestock. Leukemia rates around here are 145 percent above the national average. And anyone who speaks out against them, anyone who speaks out against them gets silenced.”
Tom and Ellen take back a water sample that Josh managed to grab. Patty has Purcell test the water, but he dumps the sample into the lake behind his house instead. Purcell flips on the stand and says that aracite is not toxic and forces Patty to drop the case. It is later revealed that UNR personnel helped Purcell cover up his murder of his wife after she threatened to go to the EPA with evidence that aracite is toxic and so ruin the deal Purcell struck with UNR for money in exchange for his silence. However, Purcell does make Kendrick promise to clean up aracite in West Virginia and to stop using it all together. Kendrick assures him it will be done and asks Purcell to come work for him. The murder of Purcell’s wife is yet another example of the life and energy equivalency. Her life pays for energy.
It becomes apparent that Kendrick wants to go through a merger and Patty’s investigation into aracite is preventing that, and with Patty’s case now out of the way the merger goes through. Later, Maddox discovers that Kendrick is involved in a trading scheme and tries to have him ousted from the company. She fails and is fired herself but she tips Patty off about energy trader, Finn Garrety, whom Kendrick is using to control energy prices:
Claire Maddox: “A couple weeks ago, Walter Kendrick asks me to defend a prostitute on cocaine charges. The john’s name was Finn Garrety.”
Purcell: “I don’t know that name.”
Maddox: “I did some research. Turns out he’s a big player on Wall Street. He trades energy futures.”
Purcell: “Since the merger I’ve been watching UNR.”
Purcell: “They’ve had some unusual power outages across the country.”
Maddox: “I was told that too much energy demand was placing a strain on the grid.”
Purcell: “Maybe. But what if someone at UNR was purposely shutting off the supply?”
Maddox: “The price of energy would go right up. If Walter Kendrick is leaking information about the timing of the shutdown, an energy trader would know exactly when to place a bet.”
Purcell: “They’d make a fortune.”
Eventually, all of the events play out and the EPA starts to clean up aracite in West Virginia.
Energy narrative characteristics found in this novel: life=energy, environmental degradation, corporate ruthlessness, political oppression, exaggerated inequalities, impedes labor unions/civil rights campaigners, segregation, convenient racism, insurrection.