Synopsis of Silver Bells

Written by Dana Hagerty

At least twice today, people came up to me at work and said "I hear tonight's 'Ally' is supposed to be a really special one are you looking forward to it?" Well, I'm not sure where they heard that (although I've heard there is a morning radio guy here who raves about the show, so maybe he was talking about it), but I didn't think there was anything "really special" about it. Maybe my expectations were too high, considering it was the last new episode of 1997.

The episode begins with Elaine trying to talk Ally into singing backup for her at the office Christmas party, which is held every year in the bar downstairs. As Elaine goes on about Ally being lugubrious, Ally envisions Elaine's head getting so big that it explodes.

Fish calls Ally and Cage into his office because of "something big that may have fallen into our lap." That something big is three people, one man and two women, who want to legally marry. There's James and Mindy Horton, who have been married for over eight years, and Patti Horton, who is James' lover, and has already legally changed her name. They are bringing the case before Judge Whipper Cone.

James and Mindy have two children, and a third child was brought into the world when James fertilized Patti's egg, and it was implanted in Mindy. When Ally hears this, she begins to hum just like Cage does when he's nervous.

Ally and Cage retire to the unisex, where they are (apparently) both using the facilities. Cage tells Ally that her presence in the courtroom will help their case, because she is a romantic, and the case is so conventionally un-romantic. It isn't until they both reach the sink that he realizes he's left the stall without his trousers. What do you know -- Cage is a boxer man!

Elaine is still trying to round up back-up singers, and this time she's asking Renee and Georgia. They both turn her down. Renee says she doesn't sing backup for anybody.

Richard is practicing in the bar, (he's singing a love song and he's not too bad), when Elaine reminds him that this will be the third year he has sung an Ode to Whipper. "She wants a ring, Richard, not a medley," Elaine says.

Ally, Renee and Georgia are having lunch in Ally's office, discussing the case. Ally is explaining that it involves heterosexual one-on-one sex. "I guess the women take turns being too tired," she adds. Cage comes in to tell Ally and Georgia that he feels they have two options science or emotion. Science, because he says that man by nature must procreate with multiple partners. Emotion says he should follow his heart. Cage is leaning toward science.

In court, Georgia questions James Horton about why he, his wife and his lover want a three-way marriage. He explains that his marriage seemed dead, but after he met Patti, he realized he was in love with two women. The three of them sat down two years ago to figure out how to handle it, and decided to try living together. Whipper asks him if he thinks that justifies him coming to court and asking to be joined in matrimony, as a threesome. He responds that they are a family, devoted to each other, the kids live at home where there is love and security. "How many people in this room can make the same claim?" he responds, just as Ally, Georgia, and Whipper 'subconsciously' shoot him. Ally hums.

When Mindy takes the stand, she admits that when she first found out about her husband's affair, she was devastated. She said it was most painful because it came during a time when their relationship was stronger than ever. Mindy says her husband's relationship with Patti opened him up and helped her relationship with him.

This triggers something in Georgia. She goes to see Billy in his office, and tells him that ever since Ally came to the firm, their relationship has been better than ever. "You've been less repressed," she says. He asks her if she thinks there is something going on between him and Ally. "Of course there's something going on between you and Ally," she responds. She doesn't think Billy has been unfaithful, but she believes Ally has been good for them, and that makes her angry.

Later, Billy and Ally are in the unisex, and he tells her about the discussion he had with Georgia. Ally admits that, while it isn't her plan to break up his marriage, she isn't exactly thrilled to be the best thing that ever happened to it.

Richard and Whipper are in her chambers, and Whipper is in a funk. Fish tells her that happiness can be found in one word: denial. Whipper says happiness is going to bed at night with something a little more secure than a Fishism. He gets down on one knee, and says that if she wants him to marry her, he will, but he adds that they are together and they love each other, so what's the point of marriage. Whipper tells him it must mean something, if he's so afraid of it.

Richard asks Ally about Whipper, and Ally just thinks that Whipper is feeling insecure right now. Richard asks why single women automatically conclude that if they are unmarried they are unhappy, and Ally responds "as opposed to men who stave off misery until after they are married." Georgia happens to overhear this last part, and interrupts with "what was that?" Ally proceeds to stick her foot in her mouth, again, when she tells Georgia that Billy is happy happier than she's ever seen him. "No, that's not true, I have definitely seen him happier," Ally says, in an effort to backtrack over her words. But that makes it worse. Georgia now knows that Billy told Ally about their conversation. And as Billy comes up to the group, Georgia lets it out, telling Billy and Ally that it's time they all had a talk, together. Cage interrupts to tell them they are late for court.

In court, Ally questions Patti, who admits that she is the evil other woman. While she didn't grow up picturing this for her marriage, the situation works well for her.

Cage later tells Fish that he is drawn to Ally, and wants to ask her to the Christmas party. Fish encourages him to go ahead.

Billy, Ally and Georgia are sitting on a couch in a room, with Ally in the middle. Ally is protesting being brought into the middle of this, and Georgia admits that she doesn't like Ally being in the middle of this either. She says she is angry because in order to have a meaningful discussion about their marriage, Ally has to be in the room. She's angry because she's not sure she wants Ally out of Billy's life. And, to top it all off, she's angry because she likes Ally. She thinks Ally has made Billy more emotionally accessible, and asks Billy "Do you deny that?" "Not for a second," Billy responds. Ally takes her leave at this point, tripping over Georgia's foot in the process.

Later at home, Renee and Ally are talking about the case. Renee says society drills it into us that women should get married, have children, and stay at home. Ally says society has more women than men, and if women really wanted to change society, they could. "I plan to change it," Ally says, "I just want to get married first."

Whipper unexpectedly shows up at the Horton house, which is beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday, both inside and out. She only stays for a moment, and says she just wanted to get a peek at their home.

Billy comes into Georgia's office, and says that if his friendship with Ally is a threat to their relationship, he will "dial back" his relationship with Ally. Georgia says what she wants is to completely trust him. She knows that he is technically faithful, but she doesn't believe he is totally faithful. When Billy goes to Ally and uses her as a sounding board for things that involve them, Georgia says that is not fidelity. "Ally understands that," Georgia says, "why can't you?"

Cage is in the unisex, undergoing a ritual not unlike the one he uses to prepare for battle. He walks to Ally's office, ready to ask her to the Christmas party, only to be told by Ally that his fly is open. He turns around, zips up, turns back, and asks her to the party. Ally responds that she has been thinking about that, and, well, he is her boss. Cage says he understands, and leaves.

That night at the party, Cage beeps Richard to tell him that Whipper has the verdict on the case. In the courtroom, Whipper admits that she's been married twice, and both marriages failed miserably. She adds that when she went into the Horton home the night before, she saw something she's never had something she still wants. And while Whipper says there really is no good reason for the commonwealth not to recognize a union of three, she calls this case an erosion that she isn't willing to contribute to, and she denies the plaintiff's motion. Ally tells Mindy that she is sorry, and Mindy surprises Ally by telling her that Whipper made the right decision.

In Whipper's chambers, Richard tries to explain to her why he's afraid. He says his parents fought all the time, and he grew up in his room wearing headphones, blaring so he wouldn't hear. He goes on to say that the age difference does matter, and that they had a guardrail there from day one. But he tells her he loves her, and is willing to get counseling.

Cage is alone in the office, and Ally comes up to try and get him to come down to the party. She even wants him to come as her date, but he says her first instinct was correct. "But wouldn't you like to dance?" she asks. Cage tells her he's not rhythmic. Maybe a slow dance, Ally responds, since it isn't really like dancing, it's just two people leaning on each other, almost as if they would fall down without the other one to hang on to. Cage asks Ally "Do you know that you're odd?" Later, he explains to Ally that he believed in Santa until he was twelve, when his mother told him that Santa fondled the elves. The next year, she told him Santa died of a heart attack. Cage blamed himself because he taunted Santa with Oreo's and a glass of whole milk.

Downstairs, everyone's slow dancing. And upstairs, everyone's slow dancing, too.

©1997 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.

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