S2E16: We’ve Definitely Got Trouble

Look, I’m sorry these keep giving you nightmares, but I have to work with what I’m given.

Previously: Ally and Billy kissed, Ally stood up Butters and he was pissed, Ling got hired at C&F, which made Georgia unhappy, Billy and Ally admitted they loved each other, Cage was weird in court, Ally and Billy were in therapy forever, Ally said she loved Billy AND Butters.

As Ally and Renee walk down the street, Ally chatters about how she feels excellent without Billy. But apparently not too excellent, as she hears passersby call her names and sees them pointing at her. Renee suggests that she see Tracy again, seeing as she’s done with Billy and should get over the guilt. A dog pees on Ally’s foot, and Renee confirms that that one is real.

In the office post-credits, Ally joins a team meeting, where Richard is describing a case with a possible cheating spouse, and he mentions it might be in Ally’s wheelhouse. Ally freaks out about the implications, but it’s a civil rights thing, since the wife is a paraplegic. They move on to talk about Cage’s case, something with a senator, being ready to settle, but Ally hasn’t gotten past her own stuff yet. She hears heartbeats, and when she looks over at Georgia, it’s the latter’s head that’s beating. Ally runs out of the room to get to work, and Ling declares that she might be weirder than Cage. Cage smiles awkwardly in response, until Elaine comes to get him for his settlement conference.

Cut to Cage talking to Opposing Counsel, who all of a sudden informs him that they’re offering $0 in settlement, and they want to go to trial. Meanwhile, Elaine has Butters on the phone, and Ally barely has time to tell her she’ll call him back before Billy grabs her by the elbow and pushes her into her office. Great. Ally protests, but Billy wants to talk again, some more, because I guess they didn’t do enough of that in seven hours of therapy last week. Ally will only talk about whether they should tell Georgia about their indiscretion (she says Georgia’s head is about to explode, which, shouldn’t it be the other way around? What weird whimsy imagery they picked), but Billy doesn’t like this idea.

Happily, they’re interrupted by Cage, who convenes everyone in the conference room. He says that the supposed settlement was a ruse so he’d be unprepared for court, and it worked because he has nothing. Ally sees Georgia’s head beating again, but tears herself away to ask what the case is about. The facts are these: Harold Watkins, a state senator, is being sued for libeling Shirley Peterson, the owner of a bookstore, which went bankrupt after he declared it a place of disrepute. Nelle can’t believe that Cage is going into a libel case unprepared, but as there’s no choice, he hands our research assignments to everyone but Richard, who will come to court with him.

We don’t have long to wait before getting to court, as we cut to Cage and Opposing Counsel arguing at Judge Shortskirt’s bench. Cage wants a continuance since he was deceived by OC, but the judge refuses, declaring that either the trial will begin, or the senator wins. Cage says he’s ready for trial, and Shirley doesn’t look convinced. OC requests to have the jury sequestered, and Cage starts to argue, but Richard interrupts to ask how the jurors will know the truth of the case if they only hear what goes on in the courtroom. The judge isn’t amused, but shortly, Cage and Richard arrive back at the office, where Cage throws him off the case and calls Ling on to second chair. She mutters that she didn’t know she’d have to work when she took the job here.

Meanwhile, Butters is waiting in Ally’s office. He’s pissed off because Ally won’t return his calls or call him, which is pretty bullshit on her part for an established relationship. He asks her what’s going on, and she admits that there was somebody else for a couple days, who she kissed, but it was a mistake and it’s over. Butters makes to leave, rebuffing Ally’s request to talk about it. He bumps into Billy on his way out, and Billy asks what that was about. Ally makes a sarcastic comment about Billy’s “micropenis”, which delights me, but he asks if she’s still angry. Ally says she’s over it, although she thinks they should tell Georgia. Billy still doesn’t want to, on the advice of his therapist even, and leaves. Ally hears the heartbeat sound again and tells it that it can’t bother her, in fact she’ll dance to it, and does so. She keeps talking to it as she dances, but her office door is wide open, so Nelle stops by to watch, giving her an “oh honey” smile.

A bit later, Ally’s not having any luck with her senator case research, and Georgia comes in to commiserate. Ally sees Georgia’s head beating again and puts her fingers on her face, then lies when Georgia asks if she’s okay. VONDA starts singing a song about a “friendship train” as Ally makes her way through the bullpen into the Unisex, with office extras smiling widely at her the whole way, for some reason.

Cage is kicking the trial off by examining Shirley. She worked at the bookstore for seven years (they also sold music), and the store was doing well for a while. Ling stands up to object because she’s bored, and concerned for the jury’s attention span. Once her outburst is over, Shirley continues that several months ago, the senator accused the store of “an assault on American values” by dealing pornography, and the claim drove them out of business. Ling stands up again, saying she’s learning about the case as she goes, to ask why she’d blame that on the senator. OC is not happy with these interruptions, and the judge has her sit down, so Cage can segue back to the witness. Shirley elaborates on the libel claim, particularly that it has put a lot of people into unemployment. Cut to Cage and Ling leaving the courtroom, whereupon Ling asks cage if that’s what he wanted. He says exactly, and she should do the same thing on the cross.

Butters and Ally are at a restaurant, where she’s trying to explain her situation. She says she had to process everything, but he points out that they’re definitely past the stage of her kissing someone else, and if she doesn’t want to apologize, they can be done now. Ally does apologize, and he calls her “emotionally neurotic”, adding that while he can tolerate that, she can’t celebrate it. Writers, you do know how to write a human who’s decent at relationships! What’s up with all the other characters?

Later, at the courthouse, Ally fills Renee in. Renee asks her how she feels about Butters, and she’s not sure, but is distracted when she “sees” a press conference with someone defending how she withheld information from Georgia. Ally whines that the whole world is looking at her like she’s “this disgusting cheating thing”, and asks if Renee will go to church with her, since she can’t get over the guilt regarding Georgia.

Now it’s time for Shirley’s cross: OC points out that the store did sell books with nudity, and others that describe sex acts. Shirley clarifies that these were photography books, and fiction by John Irving and Balzac, which, seriously OC, come on. He asks if offense is subjective, and while she agrees people should get to make up their own minds, there’s a difference between opinions and accusations, and her store was used as a pawn to raise funding. Ling objects, seeing as every politician lies to get money, and although Cage pulls her down, she continues that you can’t sue elected officials every time they do something disgusting. This is a recap blog, not a political one, so I’m once again gonna skip any current commentary here. OC goes on to cite rap CDs as offensive, and Shirley counters that they sell those at Blockbuster (lol) and Tower Records. OC is like, “so it’s okay when everyone is doing it?”, and this whole line of defense is major weaksauce. Shirley looks at the senator and firmly says that he put her out of business.

Billy is in the Unisex when Richard comes in and asks if he and Ally are having sex. He says he “put two and two together– 69”, which I actually laugh at, but Billy just walks out. Elaine was eavesdropping and enters the bathroom to confer with Richard about what they know. Apparently Georgia thinks Billy is sleeping with Nelle, and Elaine calls her a tramp, so of course Richard points out that she’s right behind her. Quick cut to Ling and Cage discussing the case. Cage has confirmed with the bailiff that the jury is watching The Music Man tonight, which he declares perfect.

Ally and Renee are at Our Lady of Short People, talking through Mark’s sermon because they’re such great people. Ally is enjoying the anonymity of the crowd, until Mark asks someone to name a commandment, and an old lady shouts “Thou shalt not covet!” Of course. Mark likes this and continues on that track, that it’s important enough to be reinforcement for “don’t commit adultery”, which is the worst one. Ally, who used to have an inner dialogue/voiceover but now just has no filter, stands up and says that “thou shalt not kill” must be worse, resulting in an awkward silence. Renee reminds her that she wanted to be anonymous. The choir starts up, and Ally’s sure they’re singing about her, that everyone knows, but they seem distracted by dancing, even making the church whimsy(?) rumble.

After the service, Ally is in Mark’s office, and he assures her that his sermon wasn’t about her. Apparently she’s told him all about the Billy situation, as he says that a kiss isn’t adultery. But I guess she really wants to be punished, as she argues that it was “a kiss with all the emotion of making love”, citing the Bible. Mark says Jesus was off the mark there– she didn’t commit adultery, and he only talked about coveting in his sermon because the congregant suggested it. He tells her that she can’t tell Georgia, as that’s up to Billy, and she needs to move on. Ally insists that the problem is that Georgia is her friend, but Mark counters that she can’t be, really, or Ally wouldn’t have kissed her husband.

Back at trial, it’s the senator’s examination, and he insists that he has the right to complain about Shirley’s inventory. He thinks she’s a pornographer and quotes the Supreme Court decision, saying that artsy photos and fiction aren’t art. He doesn’t like promulgating lewd things under freedom or democracy, and I wish this plot had not held up as well as it has. He’s getting real riled up when the blowtorch (!) that Cage has been playing with goes off, spurting flame, and he apologizes. OC objects to this dangerous stunt, and the judge orders the bailiff to take away the blowtorch, warning that another such trick will land him in contempt.

Ally is in her office, and has called in to Dr. Ruth as Jody (with a Boston accent). She’s simultaneously listening to the show on a boombox, so there’s a weird reverb as she asks whether you should tell your friend that you kissed her husband. Dr. Ruth, just like Mark, says you’re not a friend then, and Ally is freaked and hangs up. She goes to leave her office, but Billy is motherfucking there again. He wants to motherfucking talk again and closes the door. He’s spoken to three marriage counselors (jeeeeeez), and they all think he shouldn’t tell. Ally suggests they’re looking for someone– maybe even Georgia– to let them off the hook, and it’s not fair of them. She suggests that even though they weren’t thinking of Georgia during the kiss, they should now and refrain from telling.

Cage’s turn with the senator. He begins by relaying that the jurors saw The Music Man, which the senator agrees is “excellent family entertainment”. Cage cites the “Trouble” song, which comes about because Harold Hill needs a rallying cry, then launches into the actual song. The soundtrack happily backs him. The judge is rightly not pleased with this, so Cage gets back on point, asking if the bookstore wasn’t the senator’s rallying cry. Why didn’t he go after other places with x-rated books? The senator says he did, but Cage points out that Shirley’s was the only one mentioned by name, so it was his “pool table” per the movie. He starts singing again, interspersing short questions to the senator, and once he hits the chorus the jury starts singing the response parts. I’m basically watching through my fingers at this point, because what is this nonsense, and the judge finally stops him.

Cage and Ling arrive back at the office, and Nelle asks how it’s going. She’s shocked to hear that he used The Music Man as a defense, but Ling says she likes him. Over in Georgia’s office, Billy enters to ask if she’s free for lunch, then blurts out that he kissed Ally and has been keeping it from her for three days. He says that he was lonely and convinced himself that he was in love with Ally, but he knows he was out of his mind, because he loves Georgia. What the fuck? They were talking about what their grandchildren would look like 24 hours ago! Is this Billy being a terrible character, or just a giant retcon? Ally comes in with a case update, and Georgia just stares at her.

Ally follows Billy into the Unisex, berating him for telling Georgia, and she (accidentally? How does this shit keep happening?) locks them in a stall. She tells him she would have at least liked to know beforehand, then realizes where they are and exits, only to see Georgia. Ally’s eyes get whimsy-big, which is supposed to indicate surprise I think, but she just looks like an uncanny valley alien. Georgia stares, and Ally gets out that she can’t imagine how that must have looked, and leaves the bathroom. Georgia tells Billy that they should split for a while, and he says he doesn’t want that. THEN DON’T KISS YOUR EX-GIRLFRIEND, DICKFACE. Georgia leaves the bathroom, and Ally looks on from a distance.

Closing arguments at trial! Cage is apparently making Ling close: she thinks that suing a politician for his opinions is stupid, but the senator wasn’t voicing his politics, he was exploiting an easy mark. He made the bookstore something it wasn’t, which isn’t right, and he has no excuse to defame them, seeing as the store doesn’t even have an adult book section. He destroyed Shirley and he’s not even sorry, and she says there’s an old Chinese expression: she proceeds to speak Mandarin for a good minute+, then just sits down without further comment. Still more competent than Cage’s closings.

OC stands up to ask if we’ve reached “the height of political correctness when a person can be held liable for their opinions”. Must. Bite. Tongue. He says that C&F was trying to distract the jury from the reality that they’re suing the senator for saying what he thinks, and if they entertain that, “we really do have trouble”. Cage gets up, even though I thought they’d had their turn, and tells the jury that if they really think that the senator was offended by the bookstore, they can find for him. But if they think it was a political ploy, remember that the senator survived, and Shirley didn’t.

Georgia is in her office, staring into space. Ally knocks and enters, saying that there’s no excuse for the kiss, but she wants to try and explain. Georgia says she doesn’t want it, but who cares about her, because Ally continues that she’s always loved Billy, and when she found out that they met while Ally was with him, she felt like she never had that love, and questioned everything. When they kissed, she wanted to believe that the love was still there, which would have retroactively reassured her. She thinks they’ll always love each other, but they weren’t meant to be together. She tells Georgia that she and Billy had a big fight (want to admit that that was in therapy? Because I think it’s a way bigger betrayal that you guys were trying to start a whole relationship), and he accused her of being terminally unhappy, so she realized that she would never be happy with him. She says that she’s not trying to repair her marriage, but she considers Georgia a friend, and she knows all this doesn’t sound good on her part, but their friendship is more important than Ally knew. Georgia finally asks her to leave, and Ally apologizes before departing.

Shirley arrives at the courthouse, where the verdict is in. The judge examines the paper and Ling tells him to hurry up, so he hands it back to the foreman, so they can find for the plaintiff. The senator will pay damages of $1.2 million. That’s a pretty reasonable outcome for once. Happy hugging, and Cage tells OC to tell his friends what happened, “you sneaky, arrogant, bad-faith bastard”. At C&F, everyone watches Ling’s post-trial press statement and they drink in celebration.

Ally is in her office when Billy comes in and sits, thanking her (!) for talking to Georgia, even though Georgia doesn’t want to be involved with either of these selfish douche nozzles. Ally at least owns up to it being selfish, but Billy says it meant something, even though he doesn’t know where his wife is right now. Ally asks how he felt when Georgia said she needed to split, and he says that his life flashed. Ally says he should tell her that.

VONDA sings as Ally turns out the light, Billy walks alone, and Georgia drinks alone. Billy sees her through a window and enters the restaurant, like how do you not understand what “I need some space” means?! He approaches her and she looks like “dammit dude”, but for some godforsaken reason lets him take her hand, while she starts crying. Meanwhile (and still under the VONDA end-montage with no dialogue), Ally has approached a guy running three-card monty on the street, and is winning. Renee sees her and literally drags her away, and we fadeout. Uh, okay, that was random.


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