Synopsis of Theme of Life

Written by Dana Hagerty

Tracey Ullman and David E. Kelley. Definitely two people who I think should work together more often. I know this show is called "Ally McBeal," but I think Ullman "owned" this episode.

We begin "Theme of Life" with Ally, Renee and Georgia taking a kickboxing class. Ally looks as if she might die, and she even says she's going to have a stroke. She falls to the floor, and everyone else keeps kickboxing around her.

At the office, Ally is walking with Georgia, commenting on how sore she is. Georgia says she feels good, and Ally says "you would," to which Georgia responds "I'm sorry?" Cage stops her, and she yells at him. He smiles, and tells her she hurt his feelings. She apologizes and says she's taking kickboxing to try and relax, but it just makes her want to kick people. Cage motions for Georgia to leave, then tries to give Ally a card for his therapist. She gives it back and says she'll give kickboxing a chance.

Georgia returns to ask Ally about a deposition for Eva Curry. Ally says she had Richard reassign it, but Georgia says Ally "fobbed" it off on her. Richard joins the group, and pretty soon everyone is bickering. Ally stops arguing, and starts watching all of this as if it is happening in slow motion. She finally breaks away, and imagines herself swimming through the water-filled office to her own office. Once inside, she shuts the door, only to be surprised by her client, Dr. Greg Butters. When he calls her name, she gasps and falls to the floor. He asks if she is okay, and she says she thinks she has a hematoma. She leans on her desk, and he starts rubbing her sides, checking her out to see if she's okay. Cage walks in on this, and comments that he has a classmate from school who thinks it is good luck to rub his client's buttocks before trial.

In the meantime, Billy wants to discuss the way the firm does its business with Richard. He follows Richard into his office and tells him that he feels like the firm is taking cases with no legal merit. He mentions Eva Curry, and adds that she got nothing but good treatment from her boss, yet the firm is suing for sexual harassment. Richard launches into a long explanation, and when he is interrupted by a phone call, he takes the call, and at the same time, hits the play button on a tape recorder. We hear Richard's voice, continuing on with the speech he was giving Billy. Richard has turned away, and when he turns back to hang up the phone, he turns off the tape recorder and starts the speech right where the recorder left off. Billy has already left the office.

Outside the courthouse, Cage tells Ally that the plaintiff's attorney is Harold Lane, a former District Attorney. He tells her she should try and limit her hand movements because her swishing could trigger a seizure in some people. She gets upset, and as she goes on about how she can't be effective and watch her hand movements at the same time, a stranger is standing next to them just staring at her. She finally turns to the stranger and informs him that she is a trained kickboxer and he had better stop staring at her. Cage once again tries to give her his therapist's card, and she refuses.

In court, Ally is questioning the plaintiff, Hanna Goldstein. Mrs. Goldstein says she is still a little traumatized by the fact that Dr. Butters took a "big, fat hog liver" and put it inside her. Ally starts moving her hands, and she can hear them swishing, loudly. She stops and puts them to her sides. Even though Mrs. Goldstein concedes that she did get a human transplant two days later, she says she is "nobody's meat".

As Ally and Dr. Butters walk to his car, he tells her that he wasn't authorized by the hospital to do the pig liver transplant. Ally thinks it will be okay as long as they can show that he saved her life. Ally then sees the dancing baby rollerblade past them with a hockey stick. The doctor asks if he can drive Ally home, but she only lives three blocks away and says she enjoys the walk. As she walks away, she falls off the curb. When he asks if she's okay, Ally says that's why she likes to practice walking. She then sees Richard and the Attorney General getting out of a cab and walking up the stairs of a building.

The next day, Ally tells Richard that she saw him the night before and he tells her it isn't any of her business. She falls down again, and this time blames it on her shoes. She takes one off and throws it, hitting Cage in the forehead. John walks up to her, hands her the shoe, and takes the business card for his therapist out of his jacket. He hands it to Ally and she takes it this time. Ally then turns to Billy and is about to ask if she can talk to him, when Georgia walks up and puts her arm through his, rather protectively. She changes the sentence to "Can I talk to youtwo, in private." She tells them that she saw Richard and the Attorney General get out of a cab and go into an apartment. She wonders if she should tell Whipper. Whipper is the judge on Ally's current case, so they convince her to give Richard a chance to tell her. John enters the room with an ice pack on his forehead to tell Ally that they need to go to court, and she snaps at him again. He snaps back "Please stop snapping at me!", his voice getting higher with each word. Ally takes a deep breath and again imagines herself swimming through the office.

In court, the President of Brigham Health Management is being questioned. He admits that a pig liver transplant is experimental, and that the doctor wasn't authorized to perform it, but adds that if he had waited for the hospital committee to meet and discuss it, she could have died. After court, Dr. Butters asks if he can take Ally to lunch, but she declines, saying she exercises during lunch.

At kickboxing class, Ally makes it through the exercise this time. The instructor comes up to them and asks if they are ready for a match. She says Ally and Georgia can fight each other. The fight will be the next day.

Richard is in Whipper's chambers, helping her on with her coat. She turns to him and tells him to give her his hand. She sniffs his finger, then tells him she has a nose for two things: the truth and perfume. She says she can tell he's been fingering the Attorney General's wattle again. Then she tells him to get out.

Finally, Ally meets with Dr. Tracy Clark, Cage's smile therapist. She tells her about the dancing baby, and Dr. Clark tells her that it seems like she's nuts. "Ally, you've got a see-through baby in a diaper ooga-chucking spears at you," Dr. Clark says. "You're doing this Lloyd Bridges thing through your office. You're a cracker. But that's why you're here, and I'm going to fix you," she says. She tells her to stand, raise her right knee, touch her nose with her left index finger, and whistle. Ally does, then wonders what kind of therapy this is. Dr. Clark says it's not therapy she needs to know that Ally trusts her. If she does what she just told her to do, then she must. So she instructs Ally to sit down, and tell her more about "this Billy guy."

Back in court, Dr. Butters is on the stand. He says that Mrs. Goldstein had gone into a hepatic coma, and that's when he called for a pig. When Mr. Lane questions the doctor, he asks if it was true that the doctor would have lost Federal funding if he didn't perform a pig liver transplant by the end of 1997. The doctor admits this is true.

Ally meets with Dr. Clark again, and is going on about her case. The doctor takes a remote, points it towards a stereo, then start laughing along with the laughter coming from the speakers. Ally is disturbed by this, and Dr. Clark stops the tape, then says sometimes her patients say something so nave that she finds her own laughter isn't enough. Then, she gets down to it. She tells Ally she has some real problems. The first one Billy Dr. Clark tells her to forget him. Not because he's not the one and only guy for her, but because she can't have him. She then tells Ally that part of her wishes harm to Georgia, so she should just go ahead and smack Georgia when they have their kickboxing match. And finally, she tells Ally that she needs a theme song something she can play in her head to make her feel better. Dr. Clark's theme song is "Tracy" (like her name) by the Cufflinks, and she's had it since she was ten-years-old. She then points the remote toward the stereo again, and her theme song begins. Dr. Clark stands up and sings and dances along to the song. She tells Ally to come back the next day with a theme song.

At court the next day, Ally is trying to encourage her client to settle. He won't. She then tells him that Cage is going to do the closing. He thinks it is because she doesn't believe him, but she says it's because she has a big kickboxing match, and she's trying to pick a theme song. He reiterates to her that what he did in that operating room was not to advance his career. She finally says she believes him, and that's why she wants John Cage to "get us home."

Whipper sees the Attorney General taking a tour through the courthouse. As the tour group enters a courtroom, Whipper comes up to Reno and asks to speak to her. She calls her on spending time with Richard. Reno says that if he came on to her, (adding that he didn't), maybe it was because he prefers a woman whose hair is a little more natural than Nutra Sweet. The Attorney General concludes with "There's going to be an investigation."

Ally is in Dr. Clark's office, again talking about her client. Dr. Clark doesn't want to hear it she wants to know what Ally's theme song is going to be. Ally tells her not to judge her voice, and she starts to sing "Searchin' My Soul," the theme song to the show. Dr. Clark stops her and says that song stinks. She points the remote towards the stereo again and plays her song to show Ally that it needs to be something that gives you a lift as you walk down the street. So Ally picks "Tell Him", by The Exciters. She says she usually hears it slow, but Dr. Clark tells her to hear it faster.

Ally and Georgia are getting in the ring for their kickboxing match. Elaine, Billy and Cage are there. The fight begins: Ally tries to hit her and misses. Georgia kicks at her. Ally kicks towards Georgia's head. Georgia hits Ally in the head, then kicks her in the back. They hit each other several times, then Ally kicks Georgia down. Elaine is taking bets. Georgia hits Ally in the stomach. Ally hits Georgia in the face and knocks her down. The instructor says that's all, but Georgia pushes her aside, and they keep fighting. Finally, Ally goes down, followed by Georgia. Billy jumps in the ring to see if they are okay.

The next day, we hear a buzzing sound and see a close up of Ally's face, looking very much like she is enjoying whatever is happening. Zoom out, and we see she is using a vibrating massager on her sore ribs.

Richard is once again trying to redeem himself with Whipper regarding the Reno incident. He says he just wanted to be able to tell his grandchildren that he reached out and touched greatness. Whipper holds her head back, and tells Richard to "go to it." He does. She asks if he enjoyed it. When he says yes, she says "then remember it, because that was the last time." She then tells him goodbye.

As Ally walks to court, she begins to hear her theme song in her head. She stops at a crosswalk, and begins moving her shoulders to the music. One by one, all of the people waiting at the corner with Ally also start shaking and moving to the beat. When the light changes and Ally starts walking, the rest of the group continues dancing across the street.

During Mr. Lane's closing arguments, we hear a loud pig squeal. It was Cage, testing a pig call to see if it worked. He says he meant to do it quietly, and apologizes. When Cage gives his closing, he says that he is troubled by the fact that when Mrs. Goldstein woke up, she called a lawyer instead of saying thank you. He says she never even bothered to learn the pig's name, which was Michael. He tells the jury to say the pig's name, and they do. "This jury pleases me," he says.

Georgia and Ally meet up in the unisex. They are both obviously hurting from the fight. Cage comes in to tell Ally that the jury is back. Georgia says she has to go to the courthouse later and asks if she wants to grab a beer. They agree to meet.

At court, the jury decides in favor of the doctor. After telling Cage and Ally thank you, the doctor asks Ally if she will have dinner with him sometime. She says sure, and he takes her hand like he's going to shake it, then leans over and kisses her on the cheek. As Whipper is descending the bench, she watches Ally and the doctor, and smiles.

"Theme of Life" ends with Richard walking alone and Whipper walking alone. At first, we again see Ally walking alone, in the rain, holding an umbrella. Then she turns the corner, and Georgia is waiting for her. They walk together, sharing that one umbrella.

©1998 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.


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