Let's Dance
Air date: April 26, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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John Cage is in the unisex, hearing Barry White in his head. He watches himself in the mirror, fixes his hair, then waves goodbye at his reflection as if he's pretending to wave to someone else. He walks into the inner office in a very suave, confident manner. It's like overnight he has become a very confident man who can get anything, and anyone, he wants. He walks to Nelle's office and stands in the doorway. She asks if he has come to fetch her for the staff meeting. He asks her about the birthday gift she gave him (Barry White's performance) and she says that she and Ling pulled a few strings. John admits it was the high point of his life, and Nelle tells him she isn't sure he should share that with people. John says he's reconsidered his position regarding dating Nelle and she says that delivering Barry White isn't exactly how she wants to win a man's heart. Plus, she's involved in a big trial and her "romantic muscle doesn't really engage" when she's in trial. She walks out, leaving John to say to himself, "She didn't notice the change."

In the staff meeting, Richard is trying to convince Ally to help out with Nelle's case, but she stands firm that she won't sit at trial just as 'window dressing.' Ally tells Nelle that she's a little disappointed in her for taking on this case. "There goes my self-esteem," Nelle says, "I so live for your approval." Ally can't believe that the firm is defending a law firm that discriminates against women. Richard says if you are starting a law firm and you have to choose between a man and a woman, the decision is easy. "The period once a month, that's good for three days sub-performance," he says. "PMS, tack on another day. Add the 3.2 more hours per month women spend in the bathroom doing either makeup, hair, who knows. And the single ones – forget it, all they want is to meet a man. Actually, maybe we should introduce you as an exhibit?" he says. Ally wonders why he doesn't ask Georgia to sit at the table. "Georgia's busy," Georgia says, "We wouldn't want to impose on Georgia." John says he will do it but Richard says he's not a woman. John says he is the best lawyer for dealing with 'out there' arguments. Billy asks what their defense will be and Richard says, "That women are inferior. Made that way by God." He does the knee-pit move on Ling as she moans, "Oh, God." "Bygones," says Richard, "Off we go."

As Ally approaches her office, she stops to ask Elaine if she has any messages. Elaine's back is turned to Ally and she answers "no" without turning around. Ally asks Elaine to look at her, and when she does, Ally notices that she's been crying. Ally wants to know what's wrong and Elaine says that it's stupid, but that she's been training for a dance contest and she just found out that her partner has a slight tear in his Achilles tendon. Ally wonders aloud if they can't find her another partner, and Ling overhears this. Elaine just says that she's embarrassed to even be crying over this.

The plaintiff in the case, Marianne Harper, is on the stand explaining that she had worked for her firm for about five years when she got pregnant. She took maternity leave after her eighth month, and returned after four months of staying home with her baby. Six months later, she was told that a partnership was not in her future. John interrupts and asks if she is a bad mother. She says she most certainly is not, and Judge Whipper Cone tells John that he will get his turn. "To be a mother?" John asks. Whipper tells him to sit. Mrs. Harper goes on to say that this has happened to six other women at the firm. When Nelle gets her turn, she gets Mrs. Harper to admit that she is at home in the morning to make her daughter breakfast, she drives her to school, she's home by six to make dinner, and she even comes home for lunch three times a week. She then gets her to admit that she now puts in fewer hours at the office. "I'm a parent," Mrs. Harper says, "You can't disqualify someone from a partnership because she's a mother." Nelle says, "How about basing the decision simply on the amount of hours put in on the job?"

Billy and Georgia are meeting with a marriage therapist (played by a gum-chewing Rosie O'Donnell). Billy says he isn't defending his kissing Ally. "You guys make me out to be a criminal," Billy says. "Forty percent of all married men cheat – completely cheat. I just kissed." Georgia tells him that he's still defending himself. Billy says he is mitigating, then goes on to say that it is a scientific fact that males are more genetically driven to want sex. "Are you ever going to jump in?" he asks the doctor. "Do you want me to?" she asks. Billy says yes. "If you were my husband, I'd kick your ass," she says. Billy tells her she's supposed to be neutral. "This is me neutral," she says, "Imagine me taking sides. You are an awful person. And not just to Georgia but to this Ally person, too. And then, confessing after like some little wimp. Please. Do not get me started." Billy turns to Georgia and asks if he's going to get a fair trial with this person.

Ling approaches Ally and Elaine and tells them that she can swing. Ally is surprised to hear that and Ling says, "Don't you people know by now, I can do anything." Elaine says that last year a transvestite dressed up, so she thinks they would be able to pull it off if Ling is willing to dress up as a man. Ally tells Elaine that this way she can at least try and qualify and when the actual competition comes around, her partner will be back.

Nelle, John and Richard go into a room at the courthouse to talk about the case. John can't believe that they actually want this trial to go to verdict. Nelle defends her actions and says that these women were disqualified because they could no longer do the work. John asks Nelle whether she worries about someday being in that same position, and Nelle says she won't. The guys express surprise and John asks, "Don't you ever plan to be with child?" "Is that a given to you?" Nelle asks, "Every woman wants to have a child. Not all of us do." John says he needs to take a moment and Richard admits he does, too.

John, Richard and Nelle are in the elevator at the courthouse with their client and several other people. The client wonders what is going on with John because he's dancing. Richard says he probably hears bells or something. John is actually hearing Barry White music. When they exit the elevator, John walks down the hall and is approached by Renee. She tells him that he looks different. "You noticed the change," he says, "Perhaps we should go out, you and me, if you think you're woman enough." Renee asks, "Woman enough for what?" They decide to go out.

The doctor asks Billy and Georgia "How's the sex?" She says that sex is very symptomatic of a lot of other stuff. "You don't have to go into graphic details – you can just say 'good,' 'bad,' indifferent,' whatever," she says. Billy says he would call it 'indifferent.' She calls it 'whatever.' The doctor asks Billy, "Is something a little 'off' with your male-genetic penis?"

The defendant, Johnson Biblico, is on the stand. He agrees that it is every woman's right to have children, but he says that when they do, he finds that their priorities change. He is asked about the men who want to scale back their time because of their children. Johnson says that is the man's choice, but they won't become partners either. The attorney for Mrs. Harper asks Johnson if he favors hiring men because they won't get pregnant. He says that if a woman is smarter, he'll hire her, but all things being equal, he would probably take the man. The attorney thanks him for answering her question and starts to walk back to her chair. John stands and tells Whipper that he objects to the attorney's sneaky attempts to twist my client's words. "This woman is a sneaky, wily word-twister and she's known for it," John says. The attorney loudly objects. When she does, a toy monkey John has sitting on the table starts to clang its cymbals. He turns it off and apologizes to Whipper. "It's just one of those noise-activated novelty items. Evidently that booming objection…" he says before being interrupted by Whipper with "Mr. Cage!" He sits.

As they exit the courtroom, John says they need to just throw money at the plaintiff. Johnson says he doesn't want to settle. "Your testimony went against women in general," John says. Nelle doesn't agree that they are doomed. "Did you listen to his testimony?" asks John. Nelle answers, "Yes. Did you?"

Ling and Elaine are practicing in Ally's office. Ally is surprised that Ling is actually good. Ling gets tired and sits down. She tells Elaine that she has changed her mind. "I forgot this kind of dancing involves sweating," Ling says, "It's too risky. I'm getting lung burn and I'm feeling a blister starting to bubble." She says she was wrong, she can't do everything. She gets up and leaves.

Back in the doctor's office, Billy is saying that he knows that it's natural for the passion to wane, but he feels like Georgia's passion for him just ended. "When was the last time we had sex anywhere but in the bed?" he asks. "When was the last time we had sex three times in the same week? When was the last time we had sex when I didn't initiate it?" Georgia wonders why all of a sudden he has a problem with initiating sex. He says he gets tired of it. He tells her that she doesn't like it when he is always grabbing her ass and he doesn't like it that she never grabs his. The doctor has been sitting back, listening and chewing her gum. She finally says, "I know this is all related to you kissing Ally, but for what it's worth, I'm lost." Billy starts to ramble on as the doctor blows a huge bubble. Billy says "I think there's been an erosion between Georgia and me and I ask myself 'Does it happen with all couples?' And Ally and me, that's the only other I can compare to, and you and I, and she was, I probably thought or I wondered if there would be an erosion and maybe I think or I wonder whether my kissing her had something to do with my fear of losing you." The bubble pops all over the doctor's face. She pulls it off and tells them that she needs to meet this "Ally person." She says she has a theory that she's working on and meeting Ally would help her with that theory.

Nelle, Richard and John are meeting back at the office to discuss the next witness. Her name is Margaret Camaro and Nelle says she is one of the best women's rights advocates in the country. "Read my lips," John says. He starts to stutter as if he's trying to say "Poughkeepsie," but instead tells Nelle, "Settle." Richard reminds him that their client doesn't want to settle. "I'm not afraid of this witness," Richard says, "I'm good with tough women." As Nelle watches Richard leave, John takes a quick peak at her knee. She turns back and catches him, then looks at her leg, wondering what he was looking at.

Ling is standing in front of a mirror in the unisex when Ally comes in. Ling figures that she has come to beg her. Ally starts looking under each stall to make sure no one is there. "You have to realize how much it hurts for me to have to do it," Ally says. She says that this contest is very important to Elaine. Ling says Elaine bugs her. "Listen," Ally starts, "We are lawyers. We get to go to court and do important things on occasion. Think of Elaine's life. There's a reason why she is out there inventing face bras and glow-in-the-dark condoms." Ling says the face bra could be a hit because she's producing Elaine's infomercial. "You know what I mean," Ally says. "Elaine. There's something a little pathetic there, and if this contest can help her, I don't know, feel good about herself…." The toilet flushes and Elaine comes out of a stall. Ally's face turns white. She says she checked. "Yes, well, pathetic Elaine just keeps her legs hoisted all the time," Elaine says. She leaves. "She's just feeling lucky to have you as a friend," Ling says.

John comes to Richard and tells him that he's nervous about Richard cross-examining this witness. "An angry feminist usually has a heightened acuity," John says. Richard says he's used to handling vicious women. "Look at Ling," he says, "She's putty in my hands now." John says that since they are on that subject, he wonders if Richard will teach him the knee pit maneuver so he can try it out on Renee tonight during their date. "The pit maneuver can be dangerous in the wrong hands," Richard says. John puts his foot up on a chair, pulls up his pants leg and says, "Just show me, damn it!"

Ally brings Elaine into her office. She says she was only trying to convince Ling to dance. "I have never asked for you pity," Elaine says. "I won't accept your pity and I won't tolerate it either," she continues. Ally says she doesn't pity Elaine. "Don't insult me further by lying," Elaine says. She turns to leave, then turns back. "You know what your problem is?" she asks. "You're an elitist snob." Ally asks if she really believes that. "Do I believe that you're malicious? No," Elaine says. "I realize you were actually trying to help me. I realize you were even acting out of compassion. But what you don't realize is that not everybody wants to be a lawyer or a professional. I like my job. I like being a secretary. I like that it gives me free time to do other things. To dance. To invent my stupid face bras. And I'm really sorry to disappoint you Ally, but I like my life." Elaine leaves, and Ally comes out to her desk. "If that's true and Ling is willing, you should dance," she says.

The witness, Margaret Camaro, is on the stand. "It's easy to conclude a mother can't compete equally in the terms of hours. But the question goes to the underlying assumption that one must put in 14-hour days to succeed in the modern workplace," she says. The attorney for Mrs. Harper says that the defense is contending that is just a reality. "A reality cultivated by men in a male-dominated workplace," Miss Camaro says. She says it's de facto discrimination that 14-hour days are even required. "It used to be people balanced two worlds. Work and home. Now we've seen a dramatic shift to an imbalance that works to exclude women who also want to be mothers. And that imbalance has been propagated by men." Richard gets his turn to cross-examine. He asks Miss Camaro if she does well in the workplace. She says she does, but that she doesn't have children. "And in truth, you do in part look like a man," Richard says. "Excuse me?" Miss Camaro says. "Are you a lesbian?" he asks. The attorney for the plaintiff objects. Richard explains to Whipper that "a lot of lesbians, in early attempts to deny their homosexuality or in part to account for it, attribute their not liking men to the misguided notion that men are bad, evil even." He says that could be coloring the testimony of the witness and that this bears on her credibility. "She could be a man-hating, vicious lesbian. The court certainly has a right to know." Whipper tells him that the court is not going to dignify his blatant bigotry. "What's with the name 'Camaro' anyway? That's a muscle car?" John finally interrupts. "Your honor, co-counsel has been driven wayward," he says. He asks if he can take over. Whipper says she would be delighted. John asks Miss Camaro if she is blaming his client for perpetuating a 14-hour workday. "My testimony is that as law firms and companies and businesses have evolved into institutions, where one can succeed only by putting in those kinds of hours, a working mother…." John interrupts and says, "I'm sorry. I've lost interest in my own question." The attorney for the other side objects. John says, "Sustained." He asks Miss Camaro if she has ever met the plaintiff. She says she did, briefly. He asks if she was able to observe her competency and productivity as a lawyer. She admits she has not, but she says that Mrs. Harper shouldn't be disqualified from becoming partner just for becoming a mother. "And to repeat," John says, "You're not a mother, are you?" "No, I am not," Miss Camaro says. "Ever been called one, to your knowledge?"

Billy comes to Ally to tell her that their doctor wants to see her. She doesn't understand why. "She says she's got many clients who don't even want relationships," Billy says, "That they gravitate towards married people where there's safety in the prohibition. She thinks you are like that." Ally tells him no. "You helped to ruin my marriage but you can't be bothered to help repair it" Billy yells. Ally thinks that was a terrible thing for him to say. Billy says he's really trying to fix things with Georgia, and while he admits it isn't that great of an idea ("I don't even like this woman, she keeps saying she wants to kick my ass."), he really would like for her to try this. Ally says she will run it by Tracy and see what she thinks.

Ling enters the office dressed in a man's suit and wearing a man's hat. She comes up to Elaine, who doesn't recognize her and asks if she can help her. She does a double take. Once she figures out who it is, Ling says that she doesn't want to do this if they can't actually win. Elaine says they can. They go off to practice.

Renee, John, Nelle and Richard are at the bar. John says that maybe Richard and Nelle should work on their closing while dancing. Renee can't believe that their date is happening at the bar. "Not exciting enough for you?" John asks. Renee says she hopes she's woman enough to handle it. "Me, too," says John, as he turns to Richard, blows on his fingers, then places them on the back of Renee's knee. She melts. Nelle watches and asks what he's doing. Richard tells her she should give John another try. Renee moans, "Oh God." John says that perhaps he should stop. "Stop and I'll kill you," Renee says. "Oh my God," she moans. John tells her to look at him when she says that. She looks him in the eyes and says, "Oh my God." He tells her to pull him into her bosom. She pulls his face to her bosom and Nelle watches in amazement.

Elaine, Ling and Ally arrive at the swing dance competition. It's going to be a while before Elaine's group goes on, so Ally tells them she will be back in time. She's got the appointment with Billy and Georgia's therapist.

The attorney for Mrs. Harper is giving her closing. She says that seven women were on the partnership track. They got pregnant. They didn't become partners. The pattern was clear. She says they punished Mrs. Harper for becoming a mother. Nelle gives her closing. She says that women want to have it all these days. "But, when you look at the men who rise to the top of their field, most of them have sacrificed a little on the family side," she says. "But women, we can't do that. That's just unthinkable. We have to be there for the children. If a woman puts in 14, 16-hour days while she has kids, well, she's a bad mother. And that's why their star witness, Miss Camaro, simply concludes that the institution of the 14-hour day is a de facto discrimination against women. But where the gender bias really lies is in this automatic assumption that every woman wants to be a mother. There's the bigotry. Not all of us want to get pregnant. And what about the women willing to put in those 14-hour days? Should they concede advantages to their colleagues who chose motherhood? Is that fairness. The plaintiff isn't in here asking for equal treatment. She's asking for special consideration. And with all due respect to the women who want to give birth and start raising families, there are women like me who want to earn their partnerships under the same standards the men do." She turns to the plaintiff. "You chose to cut back your work to become a mother. You probably know joys I can't even imagine. I chose to concentrate on work in lieu of a family." She again turns to speak to the jury. "Now, I suppose you could bestow upon her the same rewards and privileges at work that I enjoy. But you can't do it under the heading of fairness."

At the doctor's office, the therapist says that Ally is much smaller than she expected. Ally says she isn't terribly comfortable with this. "Why should you be? Home wrecker," the doctor says. "You knew he was married. Why'd you kiss him?" she asks. Ally asks if she is under attack. "Oh, that's right, you're the victim," the doctor says. She turns to Georgia. "Little Miss Sucky-Face here thinks she's the victim." Billy tells the doctor that is enough. "Go ahead, take her side," says the doctor. Billy says he's not taking her side. "I've had enough," the doctor says, "You can go now, Abby." Ally says she just got there. "You don't want to dawdle," says the doctor, "There are plenty of married fish in the sea." She goes on to tell Georgia that this is exactly what she thought. She says Billy is drawn to weaklings so that he can feel stronger. "In some way you must have subordinated him at home and sent him right into the weak, sad arms of Abby," the doctor says. "Ally," says Ally. "Are you still here?" the doctor says, "This is private." Ally says she doesn't care. "You don't just invite somebody over, mispronounce their name, call them a weakling and then expect them to leave," she says, "What kind of a therapist are you?" The doctor says, "Listen, Abby, can I call you Annie?" Ally says her name is Ally. "Hmm. And you were jealous of that. Don't we feel foolish?" she says to Georgia. Ally gets up and walks over to the doctor, then stomps her heel on her foot. The doctor screams that her foot is broken. She gets up and slowly, painfully, walks to the door and leaves the room.

John, Richard and Nelle are waiting outside the courtroom for the jury to come back. Renee comes up and asks to talk to John. They walk down the hall a bit and Renee tells John that she had a great time the night before. She asks if maybe they could go out again sometime. He says that would be nice. Richard comes over and tells John that the jury is back. As they all sit at the table, Nelle asks Richard what John did to Renee. Richard says he could show her real quick. She says okay. He places his fingers on her knee pit, and before long, her hair pins all pop out of her hair. Richard says John did "that. Only better." The jury comes back in and announces that they have found in favor of the plaintiff. They order the defendant to pay damages in the amount of $642,000.

Back at the dance contest, Ling and Elaine's group finally is called to the dance floor. All the gang (minus Billy and Georgia) is there to watch.

Billy and Georgia are still waiting for the doctor to come back. Billy says that without renouncing their need for therapy, he thinks their doctor is terrible. "It comes down to me and you," he says. "If we make it, we make it, as me and you. How about instead of talking about what we need to talk about here, we do it at lunch?" Georgia admits it would be cheaper. "And, without saying that all is forgiven, how about as I walk you to lunch, you let me take your hand?" Billy says. She takes his hand and they walk out, hand-in-hand.

John brings a beer to Nelle in her office. He asks her how old she was when her parents divorced. "What makes you think my parent's divorced?" she asks. "How old?" he asks again. She says she was six. "It hurt a lot, didn't it?" he says. Nelle says, "If this is a weak attempt to try and get me to open up, I don't do that." John says, "Yeah, it hurt a lot." Nelle says that she had a pretty good childhood. "Two houses. Two rooms. Two sets of clothes. I even had two favorite teddy bears – one for each bed. How many kids get that?" she says. "Too many, I suppose," says John.

Ling and Elaine return to announce that they qualified. Elaine turns to Ling, who says, "If you're going to break into some big emotional thank you, I'm leaving." She walks away with Richard close on her heals. Ally tells Elaine that when she was watching her dance, it was with envy. "You've got dance in your life," Ally says. "Yeah," Elaine says, "And friends."

At the bar that night, Billy and Georgia dance. Elaine and Ally talk about how Ally broke the therapist's big toe. Elaine asks what is up with Renee and 'the biscuit.' Ally looks over to see Renee and John dancing. "I think it's just a dance," she says. The dancing twins approach them. "Here comes ours," Ally says. They get up to dance with the twins. Ling and Richard are also dancing – Ling still in her outfit. Meanwhile, Nelle is at home. She sits on her bedroom floor, removes two teddy bears from a box and wraps them in her arms.


Well, I'm back, I'm married, and I'm very happy! I'm also really tired and worn down, so this will be short tonight.

The one thing that stood out for me with this episode was how good Courtney Thorne-Smith looked. No wonder Almay has her doing commercials. She looked the best I have ever seen her look. Maybe we are just seeing her 'real-life' happiness of being engaged, but no matter what, it was nice to see her smile.

Since I liked Tracey Ullman in her role as a therapist so much, I wasn't really prepared for how much I would also like Rosie O'Donnell as a therapist. I actually thought she even made some sense! I especially loved the way that she was always taking Georgia's side. And, as much as everyone adores Ally, I've got to say that she really should be slapped at some point. Or at least sued! I'm surprised so many people let her get away with things like breaking other people's toes.

John's "Barry White" induced change was really sexy. (I never thought I would actually use the word 'sexy' to describe John Cage!) His walking around as if he was God's gift to women had me laughing out loud.

Where does David Kelley come up with this stuff? Knee-pits? Erotic? I have to admit I can't imagine that anyone touching my knee pit would have me moaning like Renee was, but it sure was interesting to see her turn to putty with one touch of the hand. I sure hope John eventually tries that move on Nelle. If her hair comes undone from Richard's touch, I can't wait to see what will happen when John's fingers make contact with her knee pit.

The court case. While Nelle had a very convincing closing argument, I really couldn't figure out any way for Cage/Fish & Associates to win this one. I actually agree a bit with both sides. I don't think mothers or fathers who don't work as hard as their colleagues should be rewarded 'just because' they are mothers or fathers, yet people who choose to work 14-hour days also shouldn't be rewarded 'just because' they work overtime. Just because someone works 14 hours a day doesn't automatically mean that the quality of their work is good. But I do think that no matter who has children and no matter how many hours they put in, if their work product is just as good as their colleagues, then they should be granted the same opportunities for reward.

Bully for Elaine! As a legal secretary myself, I completely understand where she was coming from when she told Ally that not everyone wants to be a professional. Nice to know I'm not the only one who enjoys working (mostly) normal hours and still having time for a life!

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.