S2E9: Deja Vu

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Only one of these women is actually injured. Guess which one.

Previously: Tracy made Ally get a theme song, Cage liked Nelle but was awkward, Elaine slut-shamed Ally, who has dumped and been dumped many times, Ally picked “Tell Him” as her theme song, Tracy had hope for Ally. (Tracy won’t be in this ep, in case you had your hopes up.)

“Tell Him” plays and Ally tries to dance around to it in her living room, but it keeps fizzling out. Maybe she should just play the song for real instead of in her head? Frustrated, she flings a pillow and hits the entering Renee. Renee asks what’s wrong, and Ally yells that it’s a Thanksgiving ritual. She’s giving thanks for having a full life, somebody to love, getting to be a lawyer, dating terrible men, not having anyone to tickle her back, and knowing Christmas comes next. Obviously all this is said in a tone that implies that she doesn’t really have anything, which is bullshit, so I’m with Renee when she just stares at her.

The credits transport us over to C&F, where Richard is chasing Ling around his office as she throws off his attempted terms of endearment. She’s bringing another lawsuit that he doesn’t believe in, something about sexual harassment, and she refuses to settle. Cut to the Unisex, where Ally, Billy and Georgia all yell at Richard about taking this case. Ally says ridiculous cases are supposed to go to Georgia, and Billy says they have to draw the line somewhere. Ling enters and overhears Billy suggesting that Richard is doing this for leverage to sleep with her. Richard is quick to reassure her that it’s actually because she’s a cash cow for the firm. Ally knows more about the case than we do, and tells Ling that it’s crazy to sue a man because you think he’s having sexual thoughts, without proof of anything. Ling says she thought that she and Ally were friends and Ally laughs in response, so Ling leaves to seek comfort with Nelle.

Renee apparently is at a loss for work lately, as she’s in Ally’s office trying to set her up with some guy Ben knows, so they can all go bowling on a double date. She points out that Ally must be desperate, as it’s three days before Thanksgiving, and I know it’s 1998 but can we stop with the “holidays = mandatory boyfriend” idea? Ally shouts that nobody met anybody good while bowling, but Renee pulls her ear until she agrees.

Georgia is in fact in charge of Ling’s case, and is working with her on court-appropriate behavior. Ling claims that she can tell what the supposed harasser is thinking because she’s “penile psychic”, meaning she knows when a man is thinking with his dick. She thinks they can win this on a summary judgment, so she won’t even need to appeal to a jury, but Georgia says it doesn’t hurt to practice. Ling says she needs Nelle again.

Yessss, Nelle is wearing a tie again as she approaches Cage in the office. He’s also quite enamored with her outfit, which Nelle informs him was designed by Ling; it’s the “Steward” look because it’s vaguely flight attendantish. Nelle asks if they can go out on a real date because she really likes him, and WHY ARE WE CONSTANTLY REHASHING PLOTLINES THIS SEASON? Last week we had a duplicate “what to do about exes” discussion with Ally and Renee, now we’re having this exact conversation again. Nelle tells Cage she knows he’d prefer to covet her from afar (but they already kissed! ARGH), but she’s going crazy. Me too, Nelle, me too.

Elaine brings case paperwork to Ally and Georgia and reminds them that there’s no supporting case law for Ling’s suit. When she hands over the paper, we see she’s pregnant… looking, as she’s invented a foam pregnancy dress to take advantage of the social advantages expecting women get. It even has a water pocket to fake water breaking.

Upon hearing this, Ally dismisses Georgia, so she can ask Elaine why she’s looking for attention again. Elaine admits that George dumped her, and once Ally gets past acting all excited about this, Elaine assures her she’s fine, because she was losing interest anyway. Ally thinks she’s lying, and Elaine becomes the second woman this episode to complain about being alone on Thanksgiving. Ally invites her over to her place, since apparently she doesn’t have parents or anything, and Elaine is touched. She says George told her how Ally turned him down out of loyalty, and she’s thankful to have Ally as a friend. They hug, Elaine makes a gross comment about how neither of them will ever look pregnant for real, and her fake water fake breaks.

Now it’s time for Ling’s hearing, where Opposing Counsel, standing at the bench with Ally, explains to us that she’s suing one of her plant employees for harassment, merely on the basis of his thoughts. The judge agrees that the claim is pretty out there. Ally is distractedly looking around the courtroom during this, and when it’s her turn says that an employer can sue an employee if the conduct is inappropriate. Oh, and she thinks that OC thinks she’s interested in him because she just have him a flirty look, which I definitely did not pick up on but okay. Ally demonstrates more flirty looks to the judge, who looks flattered, and finishes with an “I want to sleep with you” glance. The judge drinks some water.

The Gang is back together at C&F, celebrating that Ally won the summary judgment. They ask where Ling is so they can prepare her testimony, and when Nelle pops by to tell them she’s in Ally’s office with Elaine, Billy and Richard stare at her Steward outfit, earning them a smack from the ladies. Elaine is indeed in Ally’s office, tightening a neck brace on Ling to make her look sympathetic for the jury. Ally refuses, since a fake injury is equivalent to false testimony, and she doesn’t want to use this stunt to argue. Ling, Ally and Georgia glare at each other.

Billy comes by Cage’s office to drop off a file, only to find his boss sitting cross-legged on the floor. Cage says he’s at a precipice, and Billy closes the door and takes a seat next to him. Cage is troubled by Nelle, you see, because he can’t see himself with her long-term– what’s fun for her could be dangerous for him. Billy says there are worse things than falling in love, but Cage points out that if that happens, it will get sticky if he has to fire Nelle. But he also doesn’t want to sit in the corner forever. He asks Billy if he could see Cage and Nelle working out, and BIlly admits that he can’t. That’s cold, bro.

Back in court, Georgia has Ling on the stand. Ling details the alleged harassment, which included “full vertical scanning” of her body whenever she was out in the plant, to the point where she didn’t want to go in the warehouse anymore. And she couldn’t just fire him, because he’s union (let’s not go there, show). Ally asks what the harm is in having men look at her, and I’m pretty sure I remember Ling defending the objectification of women just last episode, so I’m also curious on this one. Ling says the wrong man doing it gives her nightmares, and that still doesn’t jive with the mud-wrestling debacle. Ling mentions that the employee would also call her last name, Woo, but in a post-coital fashion. Ally looks giggly.

Nelle is doing her hair in the Unisex when Billy comes in, checks the stalls, and starts a speech by stating that it’s probably none of his business. “Then the discussion should end there, shouldn’t it?” asks Nelle. I LOVE HER. Billy goes ahead anyway, saying that Cage is vulnerable, and while Billy was impressed when Nelle gave him the frog, he hopes she won’t date him for curiosity or sport. He’s interrupted by a flush and looks around in a panic, but it turns out that it was just Nelle with Cage’s extra flusher. She points out that if he was afraid of being overheard just now, he wasn’t being loyal to Cage by saying those things.

Now OC is questioning Ling, who is claiming that the employee says normal things but in lascivious tones. She says there aren’t any other employees who will take her side, since they’re all union and stick together. OC asks if her work wardrobe might be provocative, and she says it’s nothing to provoke the kind of vile thoughts in question. The judge sustains OC’s objection that she won’t just answer the yes/no question. He proceeds to verify whether she’s sought psychiatric or medical treatment for emotional distress, and she says no, because this way she can also prevent further damage to others. Another “yes/no” objection is sustained.

Cage is dancing in his office to the “Gimme That Thing” song, with a disembodied wooden hand, when Nelle comes in to ask if he’s ready. He asks if they can go to VONDA Bar because he’s more comfortable there. She looks reluctant, but agrees.

Meanwhile, Ally and Renee are prepping at the bowling alley. Ally recounts that somehow the jury (oh, when did we get to trial?) liked Ling, and then the guys show up. Ally’s date is Wally, who’s short and balding with glasses, and Ally imagines Roadrunner-ing away. She and Renee stifle giggles and she asks Renee to come help her find a ball so that they can laugh at this person who hasn’t done anything to them. Wally looks unaffected.

VONDA sings at the eponymous bar, and Richard and Ling dance, even though she’s feeling wrought. He suggests that after this maybe she should take a break from suing people. Nearby, Cage and Nelle are sitting at a table, and he asks if she’s having a good time. She says she is, but she wants to get him out of his cocoon. When she asks if he’s afraid of her, he admits he is, a little, BUT THEY ALREADY KISSED so I don’t understand any of this. Was this episode supposed to be earlier? A guy comes up to their table and hits on Nelle, but she introduces Cage as her date and brushes him off. After this affirming gesture, she asks him to dance, but he says he’s beat, so they leave. Why does she even like him? Billy and Georgia watch from another nearby, and Billy shakes his head.

Back at the bowling alley, Ally’s having some trouble because all the balls are too big for her hand. Ben suggests that they go dance (at bowling?), but when Wally insists that he’s an excellent dancer, Ally says she’d rather bowl. An old guy approaches, having noticed Ally’s bowling issues, and offers her use of his late wife’s ball, as they came here for 30+ years until she died. He mentions that they met in this bowling alley, and Wally makes the Ally/alley joke that my fingers have been tripping over this whole subplot. Ally looks impressed at how the ball fits her hand, and gives it another try, but falls to the floor along with the ball. She’s dragged down the lane a ways, and at this point I don’t know if that’s supposed to be real or whimsy.

Nell and Cage are in a cab even though they’ve definitely walked home before. They arrive at her place, and he apologizes for being tired. Nelle kisses him on the cheek and gets out, and he looks thoughtful.

It’s worse than it looked, because Ally has managed to get herself stuck in the bowling ball, so paramedics are at the alley attending to her. Wally asks if she’s menstruating, since that can cause swelling, and Renee calls him a “walking HBO special” for some reason. The doctor says that Ally could wait for the swelling to go down, but she might lose circulation, so it’s probably best to break the ball. DID WE NOT ALSO HAVE THIS PLOTLINE LAST WEEK WITH A TOILET? What the hell, writers? The old guy is panicky about destroying the ball, seeing as it’s a treasured possession. Wally puts his arm around Ally and assures her they’ll get through this.

The next morning at C&F, Ally explains to The Gang that she’ll just have to go to court with the ball on her hand. Ling whines that when her case is going well, Ally has to go and sabotage it. Richard asks if Georgia can first chair instead, but Ally’s the one who prepped the witness. Ling is wrought again, and Elaine suggests that Ally could disguise the ball using the pregnant dress, earning her a unison “QUIET!” from everyone else.

All this is interrupted by the arrival of Wally (how do all these guys know where she works after one date?), who tells her that he worried all night. He’s brought her flowers, which Elaine accepts on Ally’s behalf, and Ally brings her into her office. She offers a $50 raise (…an hour? A year?) if Elaine gets rid of Wally. Apparently Ally already tried, but he said that every failure was just a boost to try again. Elaine says that it’s Thanksgiving and he has a pulse, so isn’t that better than being alone? Do you really believe this crap, show? Really? Do you know that some women probably did after watching this? Gah. They suddenly hear Wally singing “You Are My Sunshine” through the door, which Elaine thinks is romantic, and Ally snaps that she can take Wally then, seeing as she’s on the rebound. Elaine is offended, and when Ally starts to apologize the ball slips off her hand and onto her foot, making her cry like a four-year-old.

Richard and Billy go to Cage’s office, where Millie is chilling out on his face. Billy asks if someone tried to hit on Nelle at the bar, but she enters the room and they trail off. Nelle tells them that what’s between her and Cage stays there, and when Richard laughs like that’s a joke, nobody else joins in. Nelle tells Cage that if he wants to tell them what’s going on, he can, but she’d like to know too, and stalks out. Richard comments on her legs, and Cage asks to be left alone.

Ling and Georgia arrive back in the office from court, and Ling says she could sue her and Ally. Apparently they lost from a “directed verdict” offscreen. Richard says that they tried to prepare her for this, and maybe she’s just ahead of her time, like Ben Franklin.

Meanwhile, Cage has sidled over to Nelle’s office. He tells her that he let Stefan free and he got flushed, and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to his hope. Nelle realizes he’s afraid of getting hurt, and he elaborates that he’s sure she gets hit on all the time, and she must have her choice of men. Nelle asks if he knows what most men are like, but he asserts that whatever his qualities are, they’re somewhere else in a more attractive package, and Nelle won’t be the one that has to go out looking. She tells him that she doesn’t know if they’re a match, but she’s losing interest because she’s not drawn to victims. If he thought she was the type to be swept up by an attractive package, she doesn’t know why he’d be attracted to her, but if he’d rather play it safe that’s fine. Cage looks Troubled, but I don’t, because that’s my favorite speech ever on this show.

Billy and Georgia enter the Unisex, and Cage kind of falls out of a stall. Billy gives Georgia a look and she heads back out. He tries to lead into an apology, but when Cage declines, Dick Mode engages: “I GOT SOMETHING TO SAY, DAMMIT, LET ME SAY IT!” A bit calmer, he tells Cage that he said what he did about him and Nelle because there’s already too much of a soap opera vibe in the office as is, but maybe she’s okay “under the shell”. He asks if she’s a good person, and Cage thinks so but also she’s standing right there. Nelle asks if everyone knows everyone’s business here and Cage confirms. He tells her he’d apologize but he’d “sound like a victim”, which is a really immature way to argue. Suddenly, Cage hears his Barry White song, but Nelle looks around like she hears it as well. It turns out to be Elaine with a boombox in a stall, and Nelle declares that Ling is right, they’re all nuts. She leaves, and Elaine asks Cage to pull her arm, at which she dance-spins into him. She advises him that when it comes to Nelle, he just has to “take her”.

Nelle has stormed over to Billy’s office to continue her streak of awesomeness, as she tells him that she hates how men won’t look at a woman unless she’s beautiful. Billy’s all “I really feel sorry for you there”, but she says she doesn’t want him to feel sorry for her OR for Cage. She doesn’t attach everything to looks, and believe it or not she actually likes him. Fuck yeah, Nelle, you’re the only one who’s successfully disengaged Dick Mode. Can this show be called “Nelle Porter” instead? Maybe less catchy, but the lessons are beautiful.

Out in the main area, Elaine gives Ally more flowers from Wally, which have come with the note, “Persistence is the first virtue of love”. Ugh. Elaine tells Ally that Wally himself is on his way up on the elevator, and Ally pulls Georgia into her office.

Nelle and Ling have absconded to VONDA Bar for some day drinking, and Ling commiserates that the handsome men are the only ones who ask women like them out, since they think they have a chance, and they turn out to be dolts. Life’s not fair, she proclaims, and tells Nelle that true happiness can only be found in shopping.

Dramatic music plays as Wally approaches Elaine, and she lets him into Ally’s office… where the latter is making out with Georgia. RE. FUCKING. HASH. This didn’t work with Fitzy, you think this dumbass sitcom strategy is worth a second try? I guess it is, though, as Wally leaves, looking all shook up. Georgia, who had departed sheepishly upon the “interruption”, comes back to Ally’s office to tell her she owes her big-time, then they argue about whether Georgia used tongue. Fake lesbians, amiright?

Elaine, having finished with Ally’s gross sham, walks into Cage’s office. He’s practicing “taking” Nelle like she taught him. He asks Elaine how she stays cheerful, since it seems like it would be hard being alone. Elaine asks how he knew she was dumped, then realizes he just assumed. And here’s her “character” “development” for season two, as she tells him that really she’s alone all the time, and it’s easy to pretend to be happy by seeing yourself through other people’s eyes. That doesn’t work for lonely, though. They both look sad.

Ally is knocking shit over in her office when Wally appears in the doorway. She gets all flustered and calls to Georgia that she’ll be right out, and he asks why she went on the bowling date if she really likes women. He asks if she wants to change, but is interrupted by Ling, who asks why “the annoying little man” has returned. Ally gets irritated and Ling leaves, so that Wally can give Ally some scripture. You see, he doesn’t believe in homosexuality, so “this has to be goodbye for us”. He’ll pray for her. Well, that was a productive storyline.

Back at VONDA Bar in its hopping night form, Richard and Ling dance while Ally tells Renee about her faux-lesbian makeout session, admitting that Georgia is pretty good. Renee and Elaine exchange glances, and Nelle asks if Ally has fantasized about kissing a woman “for real”. Ally says maybe once, and Nelle says she never has. Okay, then. Cage comes over to ask Nelle to dance, and Elaine nods approvingly as he leads her onto the floor. While they’re dancing, he grabs Nelle and pulls, but they both fall to the floor. Elaine looks disappointed. Renee tells Ally that if she kissed Georgia she can dance with her, and they offer Elaine to make it a “three-way”. The Gang dances us out for another week.

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