S1E4: Le Petit Mort

(Lead Counsel: Zeke)

s1e4 grab

Ally is confused and disgusted. Apparently this is because Elaine is wearing something called a face bra, which consists of a bunch of gauze or bandages or whatever wrapped all around her face? It’s her new entrepreneurial scheme (?) which supposedly reduces the formation of wrinkles or something (K: jogging makes your skin sag, you see). Ally thinks it’s dumb, but then if this were 2016 and not 1997, it’d be a juice cleanse and both of them would be way into it. Anyhoo, I guess this episode is going to be about something. Let’s find out what it is. Richard barges in to tell Ally that a professor they both had in law school just died. We cut to the first of very, very many sepia toned flashbacks in which Ally is making out with this dude. You see, Ally had an affair with him while in law school, but now his wife wants Ally to come to his funeral and give a eulogy. I bet that’ll result in some hilarious hijinks. So Ally freaks out and it’s time for VONDA and the opening credits.

Back at the office, Ronny is talking to Ally about how they should go on a trip together to Maine. This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode about trips being relationship pressure cookers, and I pine for a different TV viewing experience. While stupid Ronny is running his mouth about whatever, Ally is having lots of sepia toned flashbacks of her time with the professor (K: images of bad hair and bad decisions) and having the feels. Apparently she gave him a crystal ball for a gift, which I can only assume is because she’s a seer who has been sent back from a dark future to guide the strands of fate away from disaster. Because if that’s not the case, who the fuck wants a crystal ball as a gift?

Anyway, Ally is awkward and runs off to Billy’s office to confide in him. (K: Billy asks her what’s up and she replies “Not Professor Dawson, he’s dead”, which I think is a very 90s exchange.) She breaks down crying, explains her guilt and says she can’t do it. Billy throws a bit of shade at Ally and her homewrecking self. Ally continues to freak out, and says that she has a death phobia. And I mean come on. What’s more irrational that being freaked out about the inevitable fact that one day, all you are and everything you’ve ever known and ever done will come to an end? What kind of crazy person would be phobic of that? Ally is such a mess.
But mess or not, she has to leave the office and confront the guy’s widow, and also every other character on the show who is also hanging out at the office for some reason. Georgia is there, Ronny is there, why not? (K: I’m starting to think this is a St. Elsewhere-type show universe where it all takes place in Elaine’s mind while she’s bored during 80 hour weeks at work.) So she meets the widow, and they have an awkward conversation where Ally is constantly freaking out and having flashbacks. Widow Dawson (K: Who is played by this actress, btw. I feel kind of bad for her because she seems to get a lot of “average frumpish middle-aged wife” roles) apparently doesn’t know about Ally and her dead husband. She explains that because she worked so closely with him, Ally would be the best choice for a former student that could speak. Ally tries to say that she can’t do it, what with how she, a trial attorney, is no good at speaking in front of crowds, but eventually she agrees.

This episode isn’t going to have any law in it, is it? (K: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

We cut to Ally in her office, staring out the window while nervously fiddling with her necklace and having more flashbacks. (K: This one reveals that Prof Dawson BROUGHT ALLY ON OUTINGS WITH HIS CHILD(REN). What a brazen dumbass, kids are the worst secret keepers in the world!) Elaine apparently did research for Ally’s eulogy, which is a thing that people do in this world, and then Billy comes in and Ally unloads all of her troubles onto him again. They discuss what Ally should say in the eulogy. Billy, like me, is curious how we’ve never heard of this professor before if the relationship meant so much to Ally. I mean, they are fresh out of law school, so this happened like one or two years ago, tops. After some more feelings, we get a comedic break when Richard talks to them about how the funeral will be a great opportunity to network and plug the firm with other legal people. I think I’m supposed to be horrified or amused, but I’m just trying to figure out if Ally had brown hair a year ago or if that’s the sepia tone at work.

Jump to a bar where Ally is with Ronny. For some reason Ronny is bothered that Ally is totally ignoring him and his vacation planning, and that she’s going to go to the funeral with Billy instead of him. Silly Ronny, don’t be ridiculous.

That was fun, but now it’s time to go to the wake. I hope they hired Ice. Anyway, it turns out there’s an open casket. Ally continues to freak out and have flashbacks (K: you can’t not quote this one. Prof Dawson to Ally: “You’re the person I always dreamed of, all my life. I just didn’t wait long enough”, which is BULLSHIT and a total cop-out, you don’t get to keep your picket fence and bang a grad student and blame lost love for the resulting guilt, you asshole), but with some coaxing from Billy she goes up to the casket to pay her respects. In this case those respects involve kissing her fingers and then passing the kiss on to the corpse, in full view of the widow and the guy’s daughter (K: who is a. only like two years older than the flashback even though she should be in college, because none of these lawyers are believably 26, and b. throwing some industrial-level shade since she recognizes Ally as the mistress Dumbass Dawson brought on the daddy-daughter zoo trip). Shockingly, people put two and two together, and meaningful glances are exchanged.

Still no law. This isn’t looking good.

The next morning, Renee picks up her paycheck for this episode by briefly discussing the Romantic Problem of the Week with Ally while they brush their teeth. Across town in Billy and Georgia’s bathroom, Billy grows concerned that something is wrong because Georgia has been wanting to sex him up a lot lately.

Back at the office, the Widow Dawson has shown up at Cage & Fish at 8 fucking 30 in the morning, apparently without calling ahead, and has definitely figured things out. Apparently she knew that there was another woman and that’s why she and the professor were apart for a few months, but she didn’t know who the other woman was or what the circumstances were. She wants to know what was between Ally and the Professor. Did they love each other? What did he feel about his wife at that time?

Ally flashes back to the truth: he said that Ally made him realize he didn’t love his wife, and he only stayed with her because of the kids. (K: More specifically, he said: “It’s a tragedy that I met you. I maybe had some chance of convincing myself that I was happy with my wife”, because he’s a TERRIBLE PERSON who I guess felt okay blaming all his Romantic Feelings and Cheating Assholism on Ally’s existence.) Ally freaks out and retreats to consult Billy (K: I’m surprised this conversation doesn’t take place in the bathroom). He asks her what the truth is, she tells him. He decides the widow can’t handle the truth and tells Ally to lie like crazy. So Ally returns to the widow and lies like crazy. It didn’t mean he didn’t love her, you see. It was just a midlife crisis. He absolutely adored the ole ball and chain. The widow is surprised and relieved to hear this, but says that Ally probably shouldn’t give a eulogy.

K: One of the issues that is driving me up the wall this episode is all the references to “a few years ago”, like the affair and law school didn’t happen all that long ago. I went and checked IMDB and Calista Flockhart was 33 when the show started, which is about how old she looks. What does it add to the show that they keep insisting the attorneys are all practically new grads? Doesn’t it match the story better to let them be five years older and well into their careers? WHY ARE WE LIVING THIS LIE?! WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!

Cut to The Bar (K: excuse me, please continue), where Richard, Billy and Georgia are listening to VONDA. Richard and Billy are also smoking big cigars because they’re just such big dick high rollers, and Georgia says it’s gross and they’ll get cancer. Then Richard runs off and Georgia and Billy discuss “how a person can be so hot by night and cold by day,” which is Billy’s way of saying that because Georgia is not currently giving him a handjob, he feels unloved. Georgia tells him she doesn’t like that he’s having a ton of private conversations with Ally and not telling her what’s going on in them. Billy says he can’t tell her. Georgia counters that they’re, you know, married. (K: Although I would like to point out that that status does not grant Georgia comprehensive access to Billy’s goings-on. Not that he’s earning his privacy here, but it’s the principle of the thing.) Georgia asks the million-dollar question: “Whatever I am to you, I’m not [Ally], am I?”  Billy tells Georgia he loves her and somehow that makes the problem kind of go away.

But that scene of people being upset about recent developments isn’t enough, so we cut to Ally’s apartment, where she’s talking to Renee about how guilty she feels. Ally thinks that her behavior was worse than the professor’s for crazy reasons that make no sense. He took a risk, you see. And by a risk, we mean that he had people in his life that would be hurt by the relationship, which wasn’t the case with Ally. Which is why Ally is the bad guy here. (K: Something about the fact that with her presence in his life, she brought pain into his family? It’s all pretty victim-blamey and uncomfortable.)

So now that we’ve sulked nicely, we return to the office. Elaine gets all passive aggressive and tells Ally that she totally understands how little things like work “slip through the cracks during times of wallow.” For once, Ally appreciates Elaine doing all of her work for her. Then we discover the real point of this scene: Ronny is here. He doesn’t like that Ally is constantly turning to Billy for emotional support and that Ally isn’t telling him what she’s all upset about. Ally then tells Ronny the plot of the episode up to this point, and explains that she just didn’t feel like they were ready for this kind of high octane feelings yet. Ronny is not appeased. Ally tells him that “the last few days have hardly been typical,” but Ronny has been watching the show or something, because he says that the last few days are absolutely typical. He rants that he’s in over his head with her, and in fact he should be free to resent Billy! He WANTS to be jealous and possessive! ….and I stop cheering him on. (K: Hey, it’s his right to be hellish.) He walks out.

Nope, Definitely no law in this episode. (K: Hahaha, remember how the last episode was MOSTLY legal proceedings and I was the main recapper? We definitely have the order down)

Richard barges in to berate Ally for potentially losing them a client by breaking up with him. This is pretty awkward. It’s almost as if there ought to be a rule against lawyers sleeping with their clients.  Richard then helpfully advises her to just fast forward her life through the shitty parts.

Speaking of shitty parts, we’re at the funeral, hearing a bunch of white people sing Doxology. TV funerals should all be in AME churches for the better music. Like, what if this scene went all Treme with it and we had a second line going on, so it could be both sad and joyous, and part of an awesome vibrant musical tradition. Oh, and maybe if there was Wendell Pierce, and Khandi Alexander was doing the most intense dancing in the world, and…oh, right. Feelings. Sorry about that.

The pastor gives a sermon or something that was basically written to make Ally feel guilty, and then oh no, Ally’s name is still on the program as somebody who is supposed to give a eulogy. At first Ally doesn’t know what to do, but after the pastor is like “Bueller? Bueller?” a couple times, she gets up and eventually starts eulogizing. And by eulogizing, I mean she starts rambling on in vague terms without saying anything about the actual person that died, but then she turns it around and tells everybody that the dead man really loved his wife and kids (K: This mention of kidS plural is very weird, because they keep mentioning two children, but we only ever see the Shade-Thrower. You didn’t have to pay the first one for any lines, you couldn’t have pulled in a second kid to stand around and look sad?). Which she knows, of course, because she was his student and never met his wife, and her only interaction with his kids was when they were glaring at her homewrecking ass at the zoo. But everybody is moved by this, including the poor widow. Outside, Ally helps load her ex-lover onto the hearse and his widow thanks her for giving the nice, incredibly specific eulogy.

And finally we’re back at the office, where Ally is working late due to her emotional turmoil. Billy is also there, and you can tell it’s Cage & Fish: After Hours because he has loosened his tie. Billy compliments her speech, and to pick up Ally’s spirits (which always need picking up. Dating her must have been exhausting), he reminds her of a time they danced together while singing a song poorly because Ally was afraid she failed Property. I would make fun of her here, but Property is just the worst and waiting for law school exam results is incredibly stressful, so she gets a pass. Anyway, Billy then pulls her up from her desk and they dance together, first to their own singing and then to VONDA. (K: You know guys, when your S.O.s are all suspicious of your relationship, maybe you shouldn’t be slow-dancing with your co-worker/ex in the middle of the office. Your choice, though.) With the memory successfully re-enacted, we can end the episode. Phew.

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