(Lead Counsel: Katie)
Previously: Hot Mailroom Girl was hot, Elaine was mad and filed a complaint (Z: oh no. Not again).
At the apartment, Ally watches Whatever Happened to Baby Jane until Renee startles her out of her movie trance during a tense scene. When Renee puts down Ally’s choice of movie, Ally gets snotty about The Sound of Music. We find out she has a grudge against the movie’s star actress because in high school she was voted “Most Likely to Become Julie Andrews”, since she’s prudish (Z: to be fair, she did think that 69 was totally gross last episode). This tangents into a discussion about dirty jokes and how if Ally wants more street cred she should tell some. Ally tries to argue she doesn’t know any (come on, everyone does), and cajoles Renee into telling the torso joke (except the show version uses “screwed”, not “fucked”). Ally is disgusted.
Post-credits, Ally has relayed the torso joke to her work chums. Georgia is non-plussed, Billy and Richard are amused. Ally babbles on about how the limbless woman probably couldn’t go to prom or have any happiness, and Georgia DOES think that Ally’s over-empathetic worrying is funny. Hot Mailroom Girl enters with some certified mail for Richard. He’s pleased with how his sexy sexy morning is going until it turns out that the certified mail is a complaint from HMG, because THIS PLOTLINE WILL NOT END (Z: I hope you don’t need me to help recap today, because when this plotline came back, I died. I’m a ghost now). Only this time, she’s suing the women of the firm for being hostile. They discuss whether this is legit– “Same sex harassment, that means gay harassment?” Billy asks. Oh you sweet summer child.
On lunch or something, Renee and Ally are shopping for a new outfit that Ally can wear on the at-this-point mythical Rabbi Date. When Ally wonders if she looks too uptight, Renee suggests she loosen up by telling The Rabbi the torso joke. (Z: Renee calls a yarmulke a “beanie.” Didn’t these characters go to law school in the Northeast? How are they going to act like they’ve never met a Jew before? I’m confused. And also still dead.) Ally still thinks it’s gross and dares Renee to tell the joke in front of everyone at VONDA Bar instead. If nobody laughs, Ally gets to be smug. If everyone loves it, then Ally has to tell her own dirty joke at the bar. They shake on it.
Poop is back! And guess why? She’s representing HMG! Or, as it is finally revealed to us, Jennifer Higgins. Georgia tries to argue that this is unethical, as Poop herself fostered a hostile environment by taking Elaine’s case. But Poop don’t care. Poop don’t give a shit (Z: I see what you did there). She stalks out, and Richard announces a new firm policy: anybody who sues C&F or the partners therein is subject to total life ruination. (Z: I dunno about that, but this plot is ruining my afterlife.)
The Gang discuss their chances (and they keep referring to “Elaine and the Women”, even though “and the Women” never really backed her up at all last ep). Of course Poop wants to depose Elaine, but Georgia thinks this won’t be so bad. Given how the other complaint went down, Poop doesn’t seem to prepare very well. Richard tries to the throw first chair role to Georgia, who first begs off because this is too similar to the way she was ousted from her old firm. That’s a great reason, Georgia! You could stop talking now and everyone would accept it. Except she doesn’t, because more pressingly, she feels like Poop has been hitting on her. You know, with A Look.
Over lunch, Ally whines that all these sexual harassment claims make the women look like victims. (Z: Oh hey, remember how I said last time that this dumb plotline trivializes sexual harassment by portraying these laws as forbidding totally innocuous behavior? I guess the show didn’t want their duller viewers to miss that awful message, so now Ally is talking about how sexual harassment law “overprotects” women. And in this stupid world, apparently she’s right.) Renee is probably as tired of discussing HMG (sorry, Jennifer) and Elaine as I am, so she reminds Ally that she (Renee) is going to do her part of the Joke Bet tonight. Ally, who has decided to be a pedantic dick, literally pulls out a Freudian psychology book and tells Renee that people who like dirty jokes are sadistic sex freaks (Z: Renee wins the exchange by pointing out that Freud was a weirdo perv). I wonder who will win the bet?
At Elaine’s deposition, Poop basically just asks her to confirm the language in the previous complaint, since they have her hostility in writing. (Z: WHY? If it’s already in writing, there’s no reason to pay tons of money to do a deposition to get the same stuff again.) At first Elaine is doing a good job fending her off, but ends up referencing Jennifer’s “slutty little way” of walking around (Elaine just dresses “moderately slutty”, you see) and her “alabaster buoys”. The C&F lawyers are displeased. Ally is tagged to depose Jennifer tomorrow, since she’s less intimidating. Like Julie Andrews! says Richard. Ally is displeased. (Z: Ally, I can’t move on unless you make this plotline go away. Set me free Ally, set me free!)
That night once VONDA is done singing, Renee heads to the stage. “Give it up for VONDA SHEPARD”, she meta-announces, and also for the Dancing Twins! (Z: because being a weird twin is apparently a full-time job and/or identity.) Ally is pissed that Renee is warming up the crowd. Renee launches into the torso joke and the crowd is very reactive, “oohh”ing and “awwww”ing in the right places, and at “Well baby, you’re screwed now!” they explode with laughter.. Admittedly Renee had great delivery.
At the apartment, Ally chews Renee out for cheating, since apparently she wasn’t supposed to use, like, body language and tone to supplement the joke. Since comedy is all about deadpan manner, right? Ally tries to beg off her end of the bargain, but Renee insists that she tell her joke tomorrow night.
At C&F the next morning, Billy and Georgia are assuring Ally that she’ll do fine… telling her joke at the bar. Poop sweeps in and stares Georgia down, but Ally is too busy wondering why men like “sick jokes” to pay attention to the Possible Lesbian Flirtation. The torso joke isn’t even that bad! I could show you some Reddit joke threads that would curl your hair, McBeal.
In Jennifer’s deposition (she is wearing a turtleneck now, which I guess could be a legal strategy at this point), Ally tries to get specifics on what about the C&F women has been hostile. Jennifer is not a forthcoming deposant, but Ally thinks sadly that SHE’S not good at this, and distracts from the feels by imagining herself as Barbara Walters, complete with bad blonde wig and lisp. Once she drags herself back to reality, she gets out of Jennifer that there weren’t any looks or actions that seemed hostile until after Elaine filed the complaint. (Z: She helpfully tries to mimic the looks that female coworkers were giving HMG.They aren’t taping the deposition, so good luck getting that across on a transcript. At this rate I’ll never move on, Ally.)
Afterwards, Richard and Billy snipe at Ally for going too easy on Jennifer. Ally assures them she has it covered, but neglects to share her plan, because why would you give that information to your boss and co-counsel? Richard semi-coherently babbles about whether Ally can be objective in this case, since she’s “one of them” (a Venusian– I mean woman) (Z: I was shocked that he didn’t start talking about menstrual cycles or something). Billy is befuddled.
That night, Ally works herself up while VONDA sings. (I give her a lot of crap for being neurotic, but to be fair this is about how I get before karaoke, so I’ll cut her some slack.) Georgia and Billy have a side convo about whether/why women hit on her. She mentions that Richard touched her neck the other day, probably to see if she has an Adam’s apple. Billy thinks otherwise. Meanwhile VONDA intros Ally (with a couple bars of “The Sound of Music”. Bitch.), who does a bit of light Freud-based crowd shaming before telling the flea joke, except with heterosexual implications because 1997. Her stage presence isn’t as strong as Renee’s, but she’s actually not bad, and definitely doesn’t deserve the dead silence and disgusted looks when the punchline hits. At the apartment Renee tries to reassure her: based on Ally’s demeanor, the audience probably just wasn’t “prepared for that kind of filth”. (Z: Is this what life was like before the Internet? That wasn’t exactly The Aristocrats.)
Jennifer has already made it to trial somehow, and the judge recognizes Ally. I did not recognize him, but he makes a crack about chips so he must have been the one to rule in Ally v. Pringles Bitch a few episodes back. Poop kicks off by saying that same-sex harassment is a thing, and Ally doesn’t object (Z: because the problem isn’t that it’s same sex, it’s that there’s no harassment. I’m going to have to haunt this damn show forever). What Ally does say is that it was only after reading Elaine’s complaint that Jennifer claimed a hostile work environment, and a complaint can’t be the basis of a sexual harassment claim, since pleadings/lawsuits have immunity. Zeke, got anything for me? (Z: I mean she talks about qualified immunity, but that’s a whole different thing. The real problem is that this isn’t even close to prima facie evidence of sexual harassment, and I refuse to do research in order to try to make this garbage fire of a plot make sense.) Poop calls this a “ridiculous technicality” (welcome to the law, I think), but the judge dismisses the case without prejudice. Thanks for coming in today, everyone. (Z: Wha – the light, it’s so beautiful. Everything makes sense now. Peepums, is that you? It’s full of stars….)
I give Ally credit that she almost had a legit legal strategy up her sleeve here (Z: yeah, her brilliant “have an opponent with a totally nonsensical claim” maneuver). Richard gives her credit too. Poop visits one more time to relay that Jennifer will come back to work there, and gives Georgia the old lookey-loo again. Georgia calls her out on it, and Poop tells her that she’s totes not hitting on her, it’s just that she loved Barbie dolls when she was little, and Georgia is basically a live human-sized Barbie. For some reason Georgia thinks this is worse than the flirting thing. Well, that plotline added a lot to the episode (Z: I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who had no idea what the point of that was).
After Billy chews Richard out in his office for “touching [his] wife’s wattle” (that word is still gross), Richard literally runs into Jennifer in the bullpen. He invites her back into his office, and Ally insists on tagging along, because professional liability. Richard starts his speech with “Jennifer, you’re a tall woman with enormous breasts”. This oughta be good. But actually, he veers into taking the blame for the Men’s gross behavior, and apologizes on behalf of everyone. Ally is stunned. Jennifer leaves happily and Richard asks Agape Ally if she doesn’t have some work to do in “some cases where we’re not the defendants”. Really though.
Back at Vonda Bar, VONDA’s song includes the word “joke”, so we’re thematically linked for this episode. Georgia asks Ally about the date with The Rabbi WHO STILL DOESN’T HAVE A GODDAMN NAME, if this were a different show I’d think they were being clever with me (Z: seriously, it feels like he asked her out decades ago). Anyway, Ally comments that she likes to remake herself for every new relationship, which is healthy. Richard, with a warning from Billy about wattles, escorts Georgia to the dance floor, so Billy and Ally can talk about how she’s toughening up, since she told that one dirty joke. Ally has to run and meets up with Renee, and they walk off happily. Professional competence (Z: well….), female friendship, gross men apologizing– maybe this wasn’t too bad of an episode after all.