S2E14: Nooooooooo It Burns

s2e14-pic
Get out of here, you little shit-stirrer.

Previously: Ling didn’t want to have sex with Richard, everyone found out that Ling is a lawyer, Billy missed Ally’s whimsy, Cage and Nelle had a precarious thing but she dumped him.

Steel yourself, people. That thing you didn’t want to happen? Well, consider yourself warned.

A reporter interviews Richard at C&F about a new sexual harassment case they’ve taken, and he repeats his earlier opinion that sexual harassment laws are dumb, adding that potential jurors should rule for his client. Nelle interrupts to remind him that he can’t have any kind of contact with the jury, but he points out that there’s a lot of money at stake, so he might as well speak his conscience. Cage tells Nelle it’s time for them to leave for court, and reporters chase him into the elevator, from which Butters is emerging with flowers.

In Ally’s office, she and Billy are getting ready to head out, since they have a different client waiting at court. Butters enters and says he’s stretching Valentine’s for a second day, at which point the Dancing Baby runs in dressed like Cupid and whimsy-shoots Ally. Billy calls the whole scene “precious” and leaves the office. Butters asks about Ally’s case, and she makes a quick comment about it before calling the flowers gorgeous. “I could really get used to this,” she tells him, and he asks “why don’t you then?” They kiss, and Billy looks on with an expression that I first assumed was just impatience.

Later, still at the office, Ling is asking Richard to hire her, since she enjoyed being a lawyer last episode and she thinks that she and the gang have an “organic” bond. He’s hesitant, so she continues that she would bring in a lot of money for the firm, plus she wouldn’t have to invent reasons to come and see him. To emphasize this last point, she licks his finger, and you can tell that all the blood has shifted from his brain downwards.

Nelle and Cage arrive in a conference room at court, and a bunch of buttoned-up Opposing Counsel lawyers enter, commenting on the media frenzy over this “ridiculous matter”. Nelle says it isn’t so funny to their clients who lost their jobs. OC offers $125k each, which is going to seem super generous once we hear the details of this case, but Nelle tells them it’s not enough. They point out they should relay the offer to their clients, but she insists it’s fine. Lead OC reminds them of the army of lawyers that the defense’s company has hired, and Nelle continues to counter-offer with $2 million. OC tries again, suggesting that C&F’s reputation has never been higher what with all the media coverage, and if they settle they come out ahead, but if they lose their stock plunges. Cage reverses this sentiment, arguing that if C&F loses they were just outmanned, but if OC loses, it will look really bad. He promises that he’s on the winning side.

Over at Ally’s hearing, she and a different OC are arguing before the judge. It seems to be about a contested will, as OC says the document gave the deceased’s life estate to Ally’s client on the condition that she didn’t remarry, but she did, so it’s invalid. Ally argues that such a restriction is against public policy, since the law favors freedom to marry. The judge agrees with OC, stating that it’s a valid restriction unless the condition is punitive, and he sees no motive for that. Ally tries to maintain that such a condition is “quid pro quo” punitive, but the judge declares the will valid. Game over.

Back with Cage and Nelle, their client (Mr. Cloves) is on the stand. He tells the court that he met his girlfriend, Callie, at work, and they’d been together for three months when they were called into the VP’s (Mr. Forsely, not many first names this ep) office. When they admitted to their relationship, he fired them. The lead OC asks if the clients’ company doesn’t have a policy against interoffice dating, and Cloves confirms, calling it ludicrous. He says it’s a “date and tell” policy, meaning that any employees who start a relationship have to disclose it and sign a “love contract” to protect the company from sexual harassment claims. OC confirms that Cloves knowingly violated the policy. Then it’s Cage’s turn: Cloves tells him that they didn’t disclose their relationship because they found it demeaning. He admits he loves Callie, and Cage sarcastically comments that a company can’t go around having people love each other, earning him a warning from the judge. He apologizes for using common sense, eventually building to a unison “OBJECTION!” from the army of attorneys.

Oh boy, do I hate this part. Here we go: Ally and Billy arrive back at work, and Billy interrupts her scheming for an appeal to ask if she has a second. Once they get into her office, Dick Mode engages. He asks if she had a good Valentine’s dinner, since she was unprepared in court, and “unprofessional to the point of malpractice”, which was a reflection on him. “Don’t you EVER let that happen again!” he yells, and I am so mad that this character is in any way presented as a viable human. Luckily, Ally has also had enough, and shoots back that she doesn’t work for him, and nobody talks to her like that. “It’s time somebody should!”, Billy replies. PUNCH HIM, SOMEBODY PUNCH HIM IN THE NUTS. Ally tells him her research was fine, and it also bears repeating, don’t talk to her like that again. He asks what she’ll do, complain about him? And just then Georgia walks in to ask what’s going on. “Difference of opinion,” he says darkly, and they’re about to leave when Richard and Ling come in, so Richard can announce that he’s hiring Ling. Georgia is in disbelief and asks how, and Richard says she licked his finger, and he’s only human. Georgia and Ling glare at each other.

(Side note: those two brief mentions of Valentine’s Day are it for this season, and for a show that’s obsessed with traditional romance I can’t believe they’ve essentially skipped it twice. They made a bigger deal about Thanksgiving!)

It’s VP Forsely on the stand now, lamenting that the company is frustrated. Sexual harassment used to be “quid pro quo”, but now single incidents can lead to lawsuits, so they’ve implemented new rules to prevent that. Lead OC asks about the “date and tell” policy, and Forsely says they don’t care so much about the employees as the company’s welfare. The law is so restrictive as to be perverse, and their policy is a byproduct. On Nelle’s cross, she points out that the law doesn’t regulate minor employee actions, but the policy does, and Forsely confirms that the line is so easily crossed that they ban any sex talk. Nelle asks if current events are included in this (the Kenneth Star report, the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal), and he says that it’s silly but yes. Nelle restates that he’s willing to be silly in order to avoid liability.

Post-court, Cage and Nelle arrive at the office, but Georgia, Billy and Ally pull Cage aside to yell at him about Ling’s hiring. He says he usually defers to Richard on that, and while Georgia offers that Ling has only practiced for three months and is vicious, Ally admits that she’s a pretty good lawyer. Billy’s contribution is to dickishly tell Cage to stand up and assert himself, and Cage replies that he is– to Billy. Good, more people should. Richard appears in the doorway, and tells everyone that Ling will only get paid on cases she brings in. He also refuses to let Billy interrupt, saying this will be good for everyone. “But mostly you,” says Billy, who is on a fucking roll of being a jackass this episode. News flash, says Richard: it’s his firm. Thank God for the comeuppance from multiple people this ep, or I might have to quit the show.

Cage and Nelle meet with their clients, who aren’t ready to settle. Nelle warns them that OC’s strategy is effective, seeing as they’ve established the law as the villain, and the company as the victim. Cloves says he’s worked there six years but since his firing he can’t afford his house anymore. Cage says they’ll fight but they don’t feel “continent… uh, confident”.

I’m starting to see red every time Billy is on screen, which is too bad, seeing as he finds Ally in the Unisex to apologize. She tries to leave but he GRABS HER WRIST, and when she tells him to let go he says they need to go somewhere and talk. She skirts this extremely abusive vibe by pointing out that he’s not her boss, and he tells her no, but Ling might be, and he/Ally/Georgia are the only ones against it.

Ling and Richard play some sort of tile game as she apologizes for him getting flack. He tells her it’s fine, plus he’d do anything to “introduce my penis to the inner you”. Gross. He assures her that if people are mean to her he’ll deal with it. She asks if he’s ever had a hair tickle, because “I give great hair”, and did Whipper never do it for him? He has not heard of this thing, and she assures him that tomorrow she’ll give him a treat.

Billy has somehow convinced Ally to join him for dinner. He explains that the senior partners are in Nelle and Ling’s palms, and maybe it’s not as far as a conspiracy, but if Ling is in charge she’ll trump everyone. She says he’s overreacting to all this and asks what’s wrong, to which he replies “I can’t”. Uh oh. He reminds her that they agreed when they started working together they had to be truthful (UH OH), and when he sees her with Butters… he loves Georgia, but he’s done a good job of denying the truth that he’ll never love anyone like he loved– loves– Ally, and he can’t keep it to himself. Ally says he should have, gets up to leave, and tells him it was too much truth. I am really digging Ally this episode for the first time in a while. Filled with emotional adrenaline, she runs away down the sidewalk.

At the apartment, Ally fills Renee in on what Billy said. Renee suggests that they have these little romantic moments all the time, but Ally says this was more, and she wants to kill Billy for bringing it up. Me too. She says she’s had quality single/lonely time, and now that she’s found someone, Billy does this selfish thing. She doesn’t know what she feels about it, or if she would trust it if she did, so Renee does the gut-check test. How does she feel about Butters? She loves him. How does she feel about Billy? She loves him. Ally looks sad.

The next day, Nelle and Cage dodge reporters to meet with the OC Army again. Nelle offers to settle for $75k apiece, but lead OC looks smug and says C&F has made their case for them. Back at the office, Nelle tells Cage he has to close big, but Richard interrupts and gets Cage alone to ask him what it means to “get hair”. Cage doesn’t know, because he has his actual job to worry about.

Georgia comes to Ally’s office, and Ally is visibly nervous. Georgia says Billy told her about their talk, and Ally turns whimsy-white until she clarifies that she’s referring to the Anti-Ling Alliance. Ally giggles anxiously, Georgia asks what’s wrong, and she trips. Butters comes in and Ally is surprised, even though apparently they had lunch plans. Georgia leaves, and Ally excuses the awkwardness as office politics. Butters points out that last night was the first in three weeks that they didn’t see each other, and she’s obviously distracted, but tells him she’s fine, and they kiss.

Ally goes to the Unisex and gets on all fours to check the stalls, but she starts on the wrong side, as Billy bangs a door into her butt while exiting one. He says they should talk but she thinks there’s been enough of that. Georgia comes in and asks if they’re still mad at each other, and tells Billy to leave Ally alone. GOOD IDEA. Meanwhile, Cage is pacing his office barefoot, and Nelle comes in (with her hair down and a button up shirt over a tank top, thumbs up outfit), panicking when she realizes he’s still on his first draft of the closing. She wonders aloud if she can get OC up to $100k for the settlement, but Cage just stares at her, stating that she’s beautiful and “the law shouldn’t require it to go unsaid”. I mean I guess, but ugh, dude.

After work, Ally tells Renee that “Tomorrow has always been my favorite day of the week, but there has never been a tomorrow so scary”. I think that sounds deeper than it is. She says she’s falling in love with Butters, but when Billy looks at her in a certain way… it’s like they’re pretending not to be meant for each other even though they know it. She knows it’s sappy, but she wonders if “the one” is a thing. Renee asks if Billy wants to get back together, and Ally doesn’t know because both answers terrify her. Renee reminds her of the nonsense Ally spouted about putting restrictions on love when Renee was with Matt, because “if Billy’s your guy, Billy’s your guy”. Booooooo. Ally says she couldn’t do it to Georgia, but Renee suggests she’d be doing Georgia a favor, and maybe she and Billy can still “correct your mistake”. BOOOOOO. Ally looks tortured, as do I. When someone is MARRIED, you guys, it is up to the MARRIED people to DIVORCE before any “true love” relationships can be commenced. And even then, the “true love” relationship is shaky as hell, because it broke up a MARRIAGE to get started. Like, if all parties involved were curious about polyamory or open marriages, that would be a legit storyline, but this is fucking insanity.

Ally exits the subway, and “Tell Him” weaves drunkenly in and out of different tempos. When she arrives at C&F, Elaine has Ling trying on the face bra, since apparently Ling has agreed to produce it for her. Ally goes into her office and BILLY IS WAITING for her, but it’s okay because he says he had no right to drop that on her. She tries to be breezy, suggesting that this will happen when he sees her with other guys, but it always passes. But wait, there’s more! Billy says when Richard hired Ling, he immediately wanted to leave the firm, but then thought of not seeing Ally every day. He thought maybe he should go to therapy (yep, maybe start with anger management?), then wondered why he would need help to cure himself of “the best thing I’ve ever known”. SO MANY THINGS wrong with this speech, I just… urge to kill rising. Ally points out that HE. IS. MARRIED. And she’s with someone, and he says he’s just offering all of this by way of explanation. He doesn’t know how he can say this to Ally, and do what he’s done to Georgia by saying it (then have some fucking willpower, man!), and Ally agrees they have to think of her. Jesus Christ, what a clusterfuck.

Time for Cage’s closing. He says it’s silly that two consenting adults can’t date without signing a love contract. Why, he and his co-counsel dated, and sure it’s awkward sometimes, but otherwise he’d have missed out on certain life moments. How can the company want to legislate against the possibility of finding love when it’s so hard? Sure, you have “bars, parties, the gym”, but these are artificial venues (I’d like to see what he thinks of Tinder then). The law doesn’t say that you can’t date people at work, just that you behave like adults, which, by banning sex talk, it won’t even let you do. He agrees that when there’s real harassment involved, the guilty should be held accountable, but to ban all romantic potential is– he has the jury speak with him– silly. All the OC lawyers raise their hands to object, and the judge says he’s not amused. Cage says that his clients were fired because of wanting to keep their private lives private, so nobody should be amused.

OC gets up to give his summation: it would be nice if we could trust adults to be adults, but it’s just like driving laws, which save lives by regulating behavior. Sexual harassment policies are the same thing, but you have to keep drawing bigger and bolder lines. When a company is paying millions in lawsuits, these rules make sense, and if you don’t like it, don’t work there. Cage interrupts because he forgot to say that if a rule is capricious, people shouldn’t be expected to follow it. He sits down, and OC counters that if a rule is capricious, you can quit or effect change, but the plaintiffs violated the policy, and still want the jury to think that adults can behave like adults. I think I’m on his side here.

Ally has headphones and a… boombox in her office, and is singing along to “Georgia” by Boz Scaggs. Oh boy. The real Georgia appears at her door, and Ally stutters around until she asks what she’s doing. Ally just says she loves Boz Scaggs, and Georgia doesn’t look entirely convinced, but leaves.

The jury has returned at the courthouse, and you’ll never believe this, but they find in favor of the plaintiffs on the wrongful termination charge. The company has to pay damages of $942k. I’m not Zeke, but this is nonsense. They clearly broke a just rule, and I’m pretty sure neither the one dude’s mortgage nor their burgeoning three month relationship are worth nearly a million dollars, not that they really seem to have suffered much emotionally. Whatever, hugs and handshakes all around. Cage offers a handshake to lead OC, who humors him, and does a bit of celebratory dancing.

Elaine calls Richard from the office to relay the verdict, and we see him in his PJs on the other end. He says to tell the press that “justice is never as sweet as when you get it on ⅓ contingency”, then is distracted by Ling waving a candle at him and tells Elaine “something’s come up”. Clever! Ling tells Richard to lay back and straddles him, then VONDA sings “Mustang Sally” as she rubs him up. She drips one drop of hot candle wax on him for some reason, then drags her hair from his head down. This reminds me of the girl from “The Ring”, but Richard looks confusedly aroused.

Ally talks to Butters on the phone in her office, and they agree to meet for dinner. Billy is in the doorway and says, “Big date, huh?”, like he has any fucking right to comment on the indomitable Butters. Ally says she really likes her boyfriend, which is good for both of them. She offers to walk Billy out if he behaves himself on the elevator, but ruins the tenuous peace by asking if he worked late hoping she might too. “I don’t think so but… I can’t deny I’m here”. He says. Ugh, shut up. She goes to leave, and he asks what happened, but she says “you tell me”, because we didn’t cover the demise of their relationship seven different times so far. He says he never figured you could meet the person of your dreams at age eight and closes the door behind him, then kisses her as VONDA sings “You Belong to Me”. Ally pulls back but he kisses her again, and we get a montage of them dropping their coats, more kissing and soulful glances, some dancing (full clothed though), this is stupid and gross. Fade to Ally walking home alone, and who the fuck knows or cares if that really happened, either way everything is terrible.

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