(Lead Counsel: Zeke)
There’s plenty of stuff happening this week that might merit a previously on (K: I noticed that too, what happened to those?), but instead we get a nice jarring start of Ally having an argument with her therapist. Tracy tells her that she’s being plagued by the Dancing Baby because she is weak, so she should beat it up. Also, Ally is a weakling because she feels better about herself just because she might have something going on with Butters. This doesn’t seem so unreasonable, but still they fight over whether or not Tracy’s advice is crazy and whether or not Ally is a really weird person. It can be two things, guys.
VONDA plays over the credits, and we jump to Ally riding around with Butters. He says Tracy is a quack, and then Ally has a hallucination in which she sees a giant stop sign and they drive into another car. Except it wasn’t a hallucination, Butters was mooning over her so hard he drove through a stop sign and hit somebody. Because she is a crazy person, Ally’s response to being in a wreck is to get out of the car and tell the other driver that he must have been speeding. (K: Although she does wisely stop Butters from admitting liability in his dazed state.) He realizes she is a lawyer and makes a snide comment about it, and she shoots back that he’s probably an accountant. Turns out he is, and she feels kind of bad about it.
Anyway, I guess a car accident with no injuries in which you weren’t the driver is a really big deal in the Ally-verse, so she goes back to Cage and Fish and discusses this development with the whole firm. Elaine wants to know if she was in a car with Butters in the morning because she slept over, and Cage keeps saying “Poughkeepsie” because it’s supposed to help with his stammering. So yeah, good call on consulting the whole firm on this one, Ally. You’re getting so much helpful input! Also we have this week’s case: workplace sexual harassment again! (K: This is a continuation of the “Eva Curry depo” from last episode, so I guess the previouslies are our responsibility now.) I can hardly contain my excitement. This time, their client claims that other women were promoted instead of her because they slept with the boss and she didn’t. Georgia and Billy are worried because they suddenly care about whether these cases have legal merit or not, but Richard doesn’t care in the slightest. This is weird, though. Plaintiff’s lawyers usually work on a contingency fee, meaning they only get paid if they win. If Richard just cares about money, he shouldn’t be taking on a bunch of loser claims that won’t pay out.
Ally retreats to the Unisex for a weird and mostly pointless conversation with Cage about something or other (K: how weird but effective Tracy is), then meets with Butters about the accident because the other driver has already lawyered up. Butters is surprised that he’s been sued, but Ally thinks it’s totally normal because of our litigious culture. I’m less convinced. From what we saw of the accident, nobody got hurt and the other guy’s midmarket sedan might not even be totalled. Who wants to pay a bunch of lawyers instead of just dealing with this through insurance? Oh, and Ally’s not really thinking about any of this because she’s treating her client meeting like the adult equivalent of a “Do you like me? Check yes or no” note. (K: If he doesn’t like her, what were they doing in the car together earlier? His medical case ended.) Butters, a surgeon, has to go to work, which Ally interprets as a crushing rejection.
Elsewhere at the firm, Georgia and Billy are meeting with Eva, their client in the sexual harassment suit. They remain skeptical that this should be a lawsuit, but Richard isn’t, so they head to court for the next scene. Richard argues their motion: he says that, because his client was passed over for promotion since she didn’t sleep with the boss, this fits the spirit of the law against a “sex for promotion” quid pro quo (K: he spouts a lot of legal jargon, including the phrase “e pluribus penis”, which amuses me). The judge (K: Judge Taylor Doose again, for the three other Gilmore Girls fans that are keeping track) treats Richard like he’s crazy, but calls for an evidentiary hearing to decide whether or not the claim can go forward.
This doesn’t make any sense. There’s a question of law here: if everything their client says is true, does that amount to actionable sexual harassment or not? In the real world, there would be a motion for summary judgment, and the opposing sides could potentially appeal the motion. Either way, the argument would mostly be done through motions and briefs with citations and so forth, and no witnesses or juries would be involved. If the plaintiff wins, then the suit goes to trial to find out if what the plaintiff says happened is actually what happened, and if the plaintiff loses, the suit would get thrown out. That way a lawyer with a legally nonsensical case can’t pull a John Cage and get a jury to ignore the law, because he won’t even get to a jury. It’s almost as if people have thought about the best way for the courts to work and want to avoid some of the shenanigans that happen on this show.
Later, Ally talks to Renee about how Butters makes her nervous (K: they use the word “pitted” to refer to their nervous sweats), because she is a neurotic child. Renee tells her that it’s normal to worry that somebody you’re into won’t be into you, and that she should think about her lips to feel confident in herself sexually.
Armed with this fantastic advice, Ally returns to C&F, where Billy and Georgia are still going on about how weak they think their sexual harassment claim is. But Ally has no time for professionalism or doing work, because the ooga-chucka starts up (K: and my pulse quickens) and she spots The Baby, this time wearing a trenchcoat and just kind of standing there facing away from Ally. Because of her weirdo therapist’s crazy advice, Ally roundhouse kicks the baby in the back. But oh no, it’s not a hallucinatory baby, it’s an actual person! There was a tiny little kid standing in a law office wearing a trenchcoat and a hat, and Ally kicked him to the ground. (K: Wait, if the baby wasn’t around, why did we hear the ooga-chucka? Are Ally’s hallucinations playing her now?)
It is around this point that I start worrying that I am having a dissociative episode instead of watching this on my TV. The kid is the lawyer that the other driver hired to sue Butters. We are informed that he is nine, but is also a little person, so he looks even younger. The actor playing him turns out to be a little person who was 16 at the time. Apparently the kid is a child prodigy and completed law school in 11 months….
OK OK OK, I’ve run away from the screen and texted a few friends about how I’m losing my mind. They’ve informed me that I need to keep writing this recap. I don’t like it, but duty calls. So Ally (K: after checking that other people can actually see this person, which would seriously worry me as her boss) then has a meeting with the kid, who proposes a $125,000 settlement. This number makes zero sense. It’s not like getting in a car accident is a really weird thing to have happen; somebody in the writer’s room must have had this happen to them at some point, so you’d think that they could come up with a vaguely plausible number. Oh, and the kid talks about “putative damages.” Ally doesn’t know what that means, because “putative damages” is another term for punitive damages that you only use if you are a pompous ass. Or a child. He then gets frustrated and exits the conference room by walking UNDER the table, because he’s small, see?
We cut back to court for BIlly and Georgia’s case. Their client’s boss says he promoted on merit, because of course he would. Then we return to Ally, who is at a coffee shop telling Butters how the meeting went, and also that she kicked a child. They have a moment together (K: following Ally’s admission that she thought she kicked a pretend baby– why is he hanging out with her again?), but then Ally is awkward and ruins it, or perhaps Butters remembers that she just told him she went all Kobra Kai on a nine year old. Butters leaves and Ally feels insecure.
Or at least that’s what Tracy tells her when she goes to even more therapy in the next scene. Apparently she’s afraid; she should be a man and go out and make a move if she likes Butters. Also not only does she need a theme song, she needs backup singers, or as Tracy calls them, Pips, a la Gladys Knight.
Back in court, Eva assures us that she has a “normal healthy sex drive” and talks about how awful her whore coworkers were to her. Good call on that super-helpful evidentiary hearing, judge. I’m sure this is much more helpful than briefs with citations and stuff would have been. Anyway, Georgia doesn’t like this and tells Richard that she thinks their claim is horseapples. Richard says he can’t talk about it now because of the menstrual cramps he doesn’t have (K: on the one hand that is crap, on the other, Ally said the same thing because she was flustered, so I’ll give Richard a pass), because it’s not fair that only women can beg off of stuff because of PMS. Billy supports Georgia, and the kid lawyer walks by and freaks Georgia out.
Apparently he was on his way to another meeting with Ally. He and Ally get offended at each other (K: Ally argues that Butters’ insurance rates will go up, which, yeah dude, that’ll happen if you run a stop sign), while Cage hums “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” to calm himself. This backfires when Oren assumes it was a “munchkin song”. Ally says some dumb wrong stuff about how accepting a settlement means admitting that you would lose if you went to court (it doesn’t), and then the kid starts sobbing like a child. (K: Why would anyone hire this kid?) My notes: “I can’t even i hate this so much make it stop oh my god.” When this show really bothers me I channel William Faulkner.
Anyway, Cage goes to get Oren’s mother. He and Ally, super helpful like they are, try to convince his mom to make the kid stop being a lawyer. She says he’s a lonely weirdo, and this lets him meet people. Also, Oren throws a tantrum, along with some shoes, the whole time they are talking. Somehow this breaks through to Ally and triggers some maternal, nurturing shit, so she goes in to talk to him. She gets Oren to sit on her lap (K: …I don’t… words… propriety…) and tells him he’s too young to be exposed to lawyers. He says he only wants to be a lawyer until he’s 12, then move on to another highly educated career, which seems to impress Ally. Having weakened her, he asks to settle at $75,000.
Back in court, Richard is turning on the charm. We get a little Richard amuse-bouche when he tells Billy that Georgia needs to stay on the case so that they have “estrogen” at the counsel table. She arrives sporting a new, shorter haircut (K: it’s a bob and super cute, although admittedly I am a sucker for dramatic TV haircuts), so naturally Billy reacts like she shaved her head and came out as a lesbian. Richard tries to sneak a wattle touch in. Then they proceed to the courtroom, where he throws the main course at the judge: “Personally, I hate sexual harassment laws. The original force behind them were disgruntled lesbians that felt they weren’t given the same opportunity to get ahead.” Charmingly, he goes on to opine that most sexual harassment plaintiffs are ugly and that the natural direction of sexual harassment jurisprudence is to consider women disabled under the ADA.
What is wrong with Richard? This isn’t just being an asshole, this is being completely oblivious about what he’s trying to accomplish and how other people will react to him. You’d think that even a competent lawyer who passionately believes all of that would realize that you don’t argue against your own case in the most offensive way possible in front of a judge. In the elevator afterwards, Georgia and Billy react about like I do to this, and Richard retorts that Georgia does all sorts of crazy stuff to impress men (shoes, makeup, etc.), so “don’t tell me you’re not disabled.” (K: I… I can’t. Go on without me.)
Oh hey, can I stop talking about this? (K: For now.) Good, good. So Ally reports back to Butters about Oren and how she is going to take him to the aquarium. (K: You’re his colleague, not his babysitter!) Butters laughs and says something awkward about how she isn’t taking him to the aquarium, so Ally tries to follow Tracy’s advice and says that she would be happy to take Butters to the aquarium if that’s what he’s into. (K: How are you leaving out the worst part? As Ally starts flirting, three “Pip” Allys appear next to her, but they’re all wavy and stretched out and remind me of Slender Man. It’s awful.) Then she says something weird and I think sexual that I didn’t follow, so Butters gets freaked out and leaves. (K: As he should, this is not a great start to a relationship.)
But since Ally isn’t done with weirdly inappropriate things, she meets her therapist in The Bar, along with Renee and Georgia. Tracy tells Ally and Georgia that they are both insufficiently liberated and aggressive women and that they have a bunch of screwy attitudes towards their own sexuality. I can’t say I disagree with that. She says they should be more like Renee, who is dancing with like three dudes, and then runs off to dance when VONDA starts singing her theme song. Georgia thinks Tracy is a crazy person.
Back at Cage and Fish, Ally and John meet with Oren again. He doesn’t like Ally’s new offer of $60,000, which is still an outrageously large amount of money for this case. He’s also sitting under the table and threatening to throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get his way. Ally follows him under the table to berate him, and then they do their best Jon and Lysa Arryn impression. (K: Cage, at the table proper, does a silent “3, 2, 1…” countdown to when Oren starts crying, which I enjoy.) The whole thing makes me deeply uncomfortable.
The next scene gives us the resolution to the courtroom plot this week: while he wanted to throw out their obviously outrageous claim, the judge has decided that, while these facts don’t fit the letter of the law of sexual harassment, they do fit the spirit. Therefore, he’s going to let it go to trial. This is wrong and dumb for the procedural reasons I spelled out above, but it also means that I can’t put off talking about the substantive law here any longer. I spent this entire episode wondering why everybody thought this claim was crazy. It is absolutely not the case that the plaintiff has to have been the target of some inappropriate behavior in order to have a good claim. If bad stuff is happening around the office to other people, and it is sufficiently pervasive and severe as to effect the basic terms and conditions of employment, that’s a hostile work environment suit. So it’s a question of fact. If, as the plaintiff claims, women who sleep with the boss get promoted and women who don’t don’t, then that could be enough for her to win. The way to determine if what she says is true is through a trial. So we kind of end up at the right place, but we get there in the dumbest and weirdest way possible. (K: Well, I learned something today. I basically always assume the the Cage and Fish team are in the wrong, but the more you know.)
Anyway, Richard is happy about this, while Georgia is furious. She thinks that their plaintiff’s claims to victimhood are nonsense and devalue Georgia’s own victim status, while Richard says that everything turned out fine for Georgia so she’s not a victim at all. Oh, for this conversation to have aired in the age of Tumblr.
In the unisex, Ally and Oren (K: why do you keep burying the lede? Ally has Oren SITTING ON THE BATHROOM COUNTER) agree on a $35,000 settlement, and Ally tells Oren that Peter Pan syndrome is a great lifestyle, because Men Are Pigs. Then, because everything has to be a lesson, she has a chat with Georgia about current events. Ally has been inspired by Oren. If he can make the legal profession a child’s world, why can’t they make it a woman’s world? Ally resolves to “grab a bull by his horn,” (K: she asks “who says [I] can’t initiate with Greg”, and NOBODY said that Ally, nobody, except maybe The Rules) both personally and professionally, and then Richard walks in and they team up to yell at him incoherently. Richard tells them that the “verbal spanking” gave him a boner, and Georgia tries to throw a shoe at him but hits the entering Cage instead. (K: “PLEASE STOP THROWING SHOES AT ME”, he yells, and to be honest I kind of like him this episode.) The longer these recaps go on, the less I sound like I’m describing a coherent narrative.
But so now that Ally has learned a lesson and found new inspiration, she meets with Butters again. She tries to throw out some really weird sexual innuendo, and then gets direct. (K: The terrible terrible Pips appear, snapping, beside her.) She says that they need to address the feelings between them. He says that “premature honesty” is scary and that he’s never kissed a girl without dancing with her first before. I wonder why there’s this much uncertainty between them when he already asked her out, repeatedly, last episode. (K: Really though! Again, what were they even doing in the car before? Why have they hung out eight times this episode in non-office venues? Has anyone on this show even SEEN a relationship?) Butters says there must be some rule against attorneys and their clients sleeping together (there absolutely is) (K: but he’s not her client anymore?), but Ally moves in and kisses them as they vaguely slow dance to VONDA’s montage song.
While Ally and Butters have their moment, the rest of the firm discuss the case and feminism at The Bar. Cage is troubled by Tracy, because she knows that women will eventually take over. Yes, John, I agree. Equality is a crazy pipe dream, either men dominate women or vice versa, and there is nothing at all horrifying about that sentiment. Anyway, Richard scopes out some wattles, Renee pulls Cage onto the dance floor, and the episode ends. Not a moment too soon. I need to stop watching these things sober.