At work the next day, Fish announces that his uncle has died after being ill for some time. It appears, however, that Fish isn't really that upset about it, and what is bothering him most is that there is a problem with the church regarding the memorial service. The Biscuit first wants to give pause to absorb his passing. "Can we all take a moment?" After the moment, Fish says the church won't allow him to memorialize a part of his uncle. Apparently, a short person bit him when he was six years old, and for the rest of his life, he hated short people. Cage is troubled, and needs another moment. Fish asks Billy to meet with the minister.
At the courthouse, Judge Cone (also known as Whipper) asks Ally to handle an indigent defendant, as she is all out of public defenders. The client is Stephanie Grant, the charge is solicitation, and Stephanie is really Steven. Let me just add here that I don't think anyone could have played this role better than Wilson Cruz did ("My So-Called Life"). In most of this review, I will refer to Stephanie is "he," but just keep in mind, he wore heels and dresses, and he looked fantastic!
Billy meets with the minister to try and talk him into letting Richard talk about his uncle's eccentricities during the memorial service. Fish reminds the minister that his uncle came to this church because the minister at his former church was short, and because of that, this church received a lot of money from his uncle.
Ally meets with her client, and informs him that there are two ways to handle the case. However, because it's his third offense, both are negative. He could plead guilty, and while he would still get jail time, it would be his best chance at a reduced sentence. Or, he could plead not guilty, and try to win on the elements. Ally doesn't think they can really win that way, because he did solicit an undercover cop. At home, Ally begs Renee to lose the file (remember, Renee is an Assistant District Attorney). She even tells Renee she will tell another joke at the bar, but Renee won't do it. Ally feels strongly that her client needs help - that he is a "fragile person living in the harshest of worlds."
Her own words give her an idea. Ally goes to Stephanie's apartment, and after noticing all the beautiful clothes he has made, including a wedding dress, Ally tells him that she thinks they have a shot with an insanity defense. She stresses it is only a legal strategy, and that she isn't suggesting he is insane. She just wants to tell the judge he suffers from a transvestite fetishism, and categorize it as a mental disorder. Stephanie doesn't want to say he's sick, but Ally tells him the judge needs something legal. Stephanie left Ohio because everybody called him sick, but because Ally says it's all they have, he agrees to think it over.
The next day, Billy is arguing in court how the experiences Fish's uncle had with short people influenced who he became. The judge wonders why he should force the church to be a forum for the uncle's bigotry. Billy says civil rights laws identify suspect classes -- race, religion, gender, sexual orientation -- but there is no special protection for short people. All he wants is for Fish to be able to stand up at his uncle's funeral and say that he was a good man in some ways, and not so good a man in others. He adds, "this isn't civil rights, this is censorship."
In the unisex, The Biscuit startles Ally when he leans over the stall next to hers and calls out her name. Since she'd been in there for 20 minutes, he assumed she came in for solitude, not to use the facility. Cage wants to know if Ally is okay. She asks his advice on dealing with her prostitute client, and he tells her to get him to a psychologist.
Fish wants Billy to prepare a ten-page brief, but Billy tries to encourage Fish to just let the judge rule on his case. Fish gets upset and tells Billy to shut-up. He says this is what his uncle wanted.
That night, Ally finds Stephanie back on the streets, and tells him that if he continues his life like this, he will die. Ally has a psychologist coming to her apartment to meet with them, and Stephanie wonders why she is doing all this. He says the last two lawyers he had spent ten minutes combined on him. Ally says, "Honestly, I want that wedding dress."
While Stephanie meets in another room with the psychologist, Renee asks Ally "what about you and the doughboy? You both kind of circle the earth in similar orbits" (Wow, I hadn't really thought about it before, but maybe Renee has something here). The psychologist finishes up with Stephanie, and calls Ally into the room. She agrees that Stephanie is a pretty messed up kid, and says she can support the fetishism. She adds that she thinks he might suffer from gender dysphoria, meaning that psychologically and emotionally, he's more like a woman. However, the psychologist can't support insanity because she says he knows what he was doing on the streets.
Ally comes back into the room to find Stephanie giving Renee makeup advice. Ally asks him how he knows all this, and he says that instead of caring about having clean underwear on if he was in an accident, he's always cared more about making sure he had makeup on if he was hit by a bus. He then tells Ally to show him her teeth, and after announcing that she's a coffee drinker, tells her he could bleach them for her.
The next day, Fish asks Whipper how she would rule on his case. She tells him she believes he is obsessing, because it's easier to do that than grieve for his uncle.
Stephanie tells Ally he is changing his mind -- that he isn't sick and that wearing a wig doesn't make him a freak. Ally tells him that she is doing this because she sees a great kid -- a kid who needs help. "You need to let people help you. Start with me."
In the judge's chambers, Ally argues her case for transvestite fetishism. Judge Cone is hesitant, but Ally reminds her what happens to kids like this in jail. She adds that Stephanie doesn't want to turn tricks, that he needs a job. But Judge Cone wonders who will hire him. Ally says her firm will. "This kid needs a break," Ally says. "Nobody's welcomed him in. He's just looking to survive." Judge Cone agrees to continue the case for one year, conditioned on Stephanie being employed, starting today.
Back in the courtroom for Richard's verdict, the judge says that while laws exist to prevent discrimination, people are entitled to their bigotries. He gives Richard the go ahead to get up at the podium and take his uncle's shot.
Ally and Stephanie are dancing in the downstairs bar while Georgia, Billy and Fish have a celebratory drink. Fish asks "Who is the guy Ally's dancing with?" Georgia and Billy don't believe it's a guy, but Fish guarantees them he knows every neck in the room at a glance. Ally pulls Richard out on the dance floor to tell him that she's hired Stephanie. When he balks at hiring him because it's been a lousy fourth quarter, Ally says he can deduct Stephanie's wages from her salary. He says he won't do that, and okays Stephanie's hiring.
Upstairs, Ally finds Cage standing in the doorway of an office, staring into space. He says he is bothered by Richard's motion, and asks her if she finds him short. While she agrees that he isn't tall, she says she wouldn't consider him short. Cage says that most women wouldn't consider dating a man who isn't taller than them, and asks if Ally would consider dating him. Ally, obviously a little uncomfortable about now, answers that she probably wouldn't consider that because he is her boss, but otherwise, she's sure she would consider it.
At the memorial service the next day, Richard gets on the pulpit and tells everyone that his uncle grabbed his hand two days before he died, squeezed it, and said "don't let them cry." His uncle told him if you're loved in the end, you win. With his voice cracking, Richard says "He wins." He sits, and everyone is wondering why he didn't say anything about short people. Well, how dare I think that David Kelley won't come through with this! What's after the eulogy? The choir sings, of course. And this choir sang Randy Newman's "Short People." The entire crowd, with the exception of Cage, gets up and starts dancing.
Billy stops Richard when they get back to the office, and tells him that he thinks it's all about not letting himself cry. Billy tells him he is sorry for his loss. Richard responds, "yeah," and walks away.
Stephanie gives Ally a dress he made for her, and they go into the unisex to try it on. Cage comes out of a stall, and Ally follows him out of the unisex. She stops him to tell him that she really would enjoy going out to dinner with him. He hesitates, and she says "Shall we think about it?" "We shall," Cage responds. Ally then leans up, and kisses him on the cheek, then announces that there was mistletoe above them.
At home, Renee and Ally are discussing the kiss when Renee answers the phone, and is obviously given bad news. Ally and Renee then rush to a crime scene, where a man is being taken into custody. A cop tells Renee that the john went crazy when he found out the jane was a guy, and that the cause of death is trauma to the head. His parents won't come from Ohio to make an I.D. – that's why he called Renee. Ally walks toward the body and we finally see that it is Stephanie. The cop tells Ally to stay away from the crime scene, Renee tells the cop to leave her alone, and Ally gets down on the ground and holds him close to her. Back at home, Billy, Georgia, Cage and Renee are all trying to comfort Ally. She wonders why -- why did he have to go back out there. Renee reminds her that he wasn't alone in the end, that he had her. Ally asks if it is possible to love somebody in only two days. Renee just holds her and says "yeah."
The night ends with Richard taking flowers to his uncle's grave, and Ally in
the morgue, putting makeup on Stephanie, while Renee stands back watching,
giving her friend moral support.
©1997 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.