The Promise
Air date: October 27, 1997
Summary/Review by Dana Hagerty

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"The world is no longer a romantic place. Some of its people still are however, and therein lies the promise. Don't let the world win, Ally McBeal."

Who could have imagined that partner John Cage would ever have so much to say with so few words? But before we hear this very eloquent speech, we are subjected to a boring trial and the lesson that people whose love lives are already screwed up shouldn't give love advice to others. Although, if you think about it, I guess there aren't many people out there qualified to give love advice.

Sandra Winchell is an F.O.W. (Friend of Whipper), and she has hired the firm to defend her on a charge of prostitution. Cage takes the case, and Ally is told to be second chair because, according to Fish, "the puritanical prudism you seem to waft could work to our benefit." Winchell has just fired her previous lawyer, and Ally is going into court to ask for a continuance.

Ally is also arguing a case involving two ice cream chains, and she is warned to be ready for Harry Pippen, opposing counsel, the moment he walks in the room.

Pippen is a rather large man who saunters into the courtroom giving his argument, walks to the bench giving his argument, and turns and walks out giving his argument. Ally is able to get in about two words. She meets Pippen in the hall to attempt to settle the case, and he promptly collapses in front of her. Ally tries to revive him, first by pushing on his chest, then by sitting on his chest, and finally, she is successful with mouth-to-mouth.

All the excitement aside, Ally must return to the courtroom to try and get a continuance in the prostitution case. This time, she's not so lucky. Winchell has already gotten so many continuances that the judge says either go to trial, or he'll revoke bail and continue the case for one year. Ally chooses to go to trial.

I was so disinterested in this trial that I don't feel like giving a lot of space to it. I'll just tell you that the prostitute won, although even after two viewings I'm still not sure how or why.

The other story is what appealed to me. Pippen's fiancée Angela shows up to thank Ally for saving Pippen. The doctor has said he only had angina, probably because he's nervous about their upcoming nuptials. Angela and Pippen are getting married Friday, and Angela asks Ally to be their guest. Angela is also a rather large person -- she accidently cracks Ally's back when she hugs her. She's also very obviously in love with Pippen.

Pippen also comes to talk to Ally, but he wants to know if he wasn't getting married, would she have gone out with him. Ally answers him truthfully with "I don't see the possibility." Pippen, who says you can't win the raffle if you don't buy a ticket, slowly walks out.

The second time I watched this episode, I had a very difficult time watching Pippen. Up until this show, I've always felt bad for Ally, but in this one, my heart went out to Pippen. Renee said it best: "In a movie, we'd both be rooting for the gal to date the guy."

Pippen returns to Ally's office the next day for advice. Now, don't get me wrong here. I don't believe that Ally's advice was bad -- in fact, it was pretty good. I'm just saying that maybe she's not the best person to be giving this kind of advice. Pippen is afraid he's marrying Angela, not because she is the one, but because she's the only. Ally tells him that one of the promises we make to ourselves when we are young is that we will marry someone we love, someone who makes our heart bounce. It is good advice in theory, but Ally, honey, please get a little closer to marriage yourself before you give that type of advice.

Ally learns later from Angela that Pippen has called off the wedding -- he's decided to hold out for the woman of his dreams. Ally redeems herself a little with me by admitting that she is the last person on earth who should be giving love advice. Again, the words written by David Kelley are so much better than mine. Angela's response, "Sometimes when you hold out for everything, you walk away with nothing."

At the courthouse, Ally tells Pippen that he should marry Angela because sometimes the worst thing for your heart could be loneliness, and that sometimes we have to look at our choices and just make the best one.

The wedding is back on, and Ally attends (she's asked not to wear white). Pippen and his new wife walk to their limousine as Ally and the other guests watch the happy couple begin their life together.


Back to the quote I put at the beginning of this review: I was hoping that Peter MacNicol's character wouldn't be wasted on this show, and while I understand he will only be on occasionally, his comment in this episode will hold me for a while. We can't let the world win. And I would bet that every single "Ally McBeal" fan is out there doing their part to see that it doesn't.

Copyright © 1997 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.