Love's Illusions
Air date: May 17, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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Ally's alarm clock goes off and we hear just a second of "Addicted to Love" before she turns it off. She sits up and starts to put her feet on the floor, then remembers one morning when she was a sleepy-eyed little girl. Her mother tells her she's going to be late for the fair. In the present, Renee yells to Ally that she's going to be late for court. She gets out of bed and goes to brush her teeth. "Addicted to Love" plays in her head, but it isn't just music she hears. She also hears young girls laughing. She walks back to her room and instead of an empty room, she sees herself as a teenager in her room at home, pretending to sing along to "Addicted to Love" with two friends.

There's no typical morning meeting at the office today. Ally and John are in court first thing, and their client's husband is on the stand. He explains that he and his wife, Kelly, had a wonderful engagement, wonderful wedding, and, he though, a wonderful marriage. Then, he discovered her diary. It was on her computer and she had left it on. The diary was more of a series of love letters going back eleven years. They had been married for two years. John stands and tells the judge that he wants to renew all of his objections. He says Massachusetts is a no-fault state. The judge reminds him that this isn't a divorce proceeding – that it is a criminal trial for fraud. "Which is another one of my objections," Cage says, "When I said 'all,' I meant that one, too." The judge tells him that he has already noted his objections several times for the record and asks him to sit. The husband, Barry, says he now believes that Kelly married him for his money. He says that at the time they were married, she wasn't even attracted to him and she didn't love him. He read all of that in her letters. He says the bottom line was she was thirty, she wanted to get married, and he was good husband material. Ally asks Barry who the letters were written to. He says they were to a man named Michael Redmond. Ally asks if Michael is real. Barry says that as far as he knows, she made him up. Ally tries to get him to admit that the 11-year affair didn't really exist, but Barry says that in Kelly's mind, it did exist. Ally asks him if it's really true that Kelly didn't love him. He says that she loves him like you would a pet or a sibling, but that she's never been in love with him. Ally imagines that the judge has become Al Green, the jury is dressed in choir robes, and they are all singing to her. The judge calls her name and brings her back to reality.

Ally, John and Kelly walk out of the courtroom. Ally asks John, "The judge didn't just turn into Al Green and start singing, right?" "I didn't pay strict attention, but I believe he sat quietly," John says. Kelly asks John if Ally is mental. "Some people see things as they are and ask why," John says, "Ally sees things as they never were." She still isn't sure about Ally's mental health, so John reminds her that she wrote letters to a man for years that wasn't really there. "But I knew he wasn't really there," she says, "I never had to ask."

Ling comes marching in to Richard's office, sticks her leg on his desk, knocking almost everything off in the process, and demands for him to "Do my knee." He says no. She tells him to give her his finger. Again, he says no. She wants to know what he wants. He says intercourse. "Morning, night, the occasional nooner," he says. Ling says no one has ever been able to make love to her twice in one day. She gives in and says they can make love that night. She gets very close to him, and whispers into his ear that when it comes to sex, she doesn't hate sweat. She says she drips sweat.

In court, John tries to get the case to go away and calls for a directed verdict. He says that Barry testified that Kelly did love him so there is no case for fraud. The judge says their client lied and she enjoys tremendous financial windfall because of doing so. John asks the judge how much alimony he pays. "Are you looking to be held in contempt?" the judge asks. "If you were suddenly to start treating me with contempt, how would I know?" asks John.

The next thing we see is John behind bars. "Men lie to get women into bed, women lie to get men into matrimony," he tells Ally, who is standing on the other side of the bars. She wonders if he really believes that. He says he believes that women feel pressured to get married before their biological clock ticks down. He says if they haven't found that special soulmate by then, they compromise. Ally says she would never do that. "You're less afraid of being alone than most," he says. "What are you talking about? I'm terrified of ending up alone," Ally says. "That is your biggest fantasy of all," John says. He tells her that the truth is, she would probably be happier being alone. "As sad as it is to want something you don't have, it's much worse to have something you don't want," John says. He adds, "What you do want, he isn't out there…and secretly, I think you know that. That's why you've developed this ability to look at a judge and see Al Green. To look at a cloud and see cotton candy. On some unconscious level, I think you know that the only world that ultimately won't end up disappointing you is the one you make up." Ally says that's not true and that she does all those things simply because she's nuts. She tells him that she loves this world. "Fine," he says, "then perhaps one day you'll choose to live in it with the rest of us."

Ling comes to Nelle's office and tells her that she has promised Richard sex tonight. Nelle asks her if she really doesn't like sex. She starts to answer then Elaine comes in. "I love it," she says. "Sorry, I thought I heard somebody say 'sex.'" Ling says, "I never said I didn't like it. What I don't like is how men judge you on it." Nelle says she thought Ling said she was phenomenal in bed. Ling says that's the problem – if a woman is good in bed, men assume they are a slut. "I'm great in bed," Elaine says, "oh, but of course, I am a slut." Ally comes in and says hi. She says she is taking a little straw poll and asks them if they ever think they will find a guy who is "the one." Ling says no. Nelle says no. Elaine says, "Over and over again." Ally says this case has gotten her wondering if people ever do meet the person of their dreams.

As she walks back to court, she looks up at the clouds and remembers what it was like to be a young girl watching the clouds. She is brought back to reality when she runs into a man.

Kelly is on the stand. She says she believes that we all have love inside of us and the need to share it, but she didn't have anybody so she made someone up. "After a while, I imagined what he might look like, the sound of his voice, his smell, and it made me feel less alone to do so," she says. Ally asks her why she continued to write letters to her imaginary friend after she met Barry. Kelly says, imaginary or not, when a person has been in your life for nine years, it's not easy to let go. Ally calls her attention to a letter, written on April 9, 1997, Kelly's wedding day. "You defined it as 'the loneliest day of your life'," Ally says, "Can you explain that?" Kelly says that as much as she loved Barry, to be walking down the aisle and exchanging vows with a man she didn't feel passion for was a bitter disappointment. She said she couldn't share that with her husband so, as a result, it was a very lonely day. Kelly tells Barry that she did love him, and she still does.

Richard is in the unisex, dancing in front of the mirror to "Born to be Wild" (in his head). Billy and Georgia come in. "Sex with Ling tonight?" Billy asks. Richard says, "Yeah, no biggie." He leaves. Georgia remembers how fun it was to be single. "Do married people just not get excited about it anymore?" she asks, entering a stall. Billy says she is half-right -- that married women don't get excited about it. She comes out of the stall. "Why do you say I don't? I do," she says. Billy tells her that the only time he sees her truly, deeply lit up, she just bought a new piece of furniture. She explains that she is tired at the end of the day and that he is not a morning person. Billy asks her, "How about the middle of the day?" "What, you want to just hop into a stall?" she asks. He reminds her that single people would. She laughs. "Be careful what you wish for," she says. "It was fun thinking about it for a second or so, wasn't it?" he says. She turns to go back into the stall, takes another look at him, then grabs his tie and pulls him in. They lock the door and start taking each other's clothes off. Billy's jacket comes off, his pants go down, and Georgia's skirt comes up.

Back in court, Barry's attorney asks Kelly why she lied. She says that before they got married, Kelly told Barry he was the love of her life. Kelly says that when she said that, she wanted to believe it. The attorney wonders, if Kelly wasn't passionate about Barry on her wedding day, why did she go through with it. Kelly says a marriage is more than just passion. Kelly says she thinks she was at a point where she didn't think she would ever meet anyone who'd measure up to the romanticized version of a husband she had concocted for herself. She says Barry was a sweet, caring man and she knew he would be a good father. She admits that, maybe on some unconscious level she did think he was "close enough." When Kelly says that love is probably all an illusion anyway, Ally stands up yelling "Objection." She again sees the jury and the Al Green judge singing to her. The real judge again brings her back to reality. She sits.

In the unisex, Georgia and Billy are still going at it when they hear the door open. They stop quickly. It's Elaine, and she's got the video camera. Billy and Georgia both have their feet up on the toilet, so she can't see right away that they are in there. She takes the camera and points it under each stall to see what she can find. She is very surprised when she finds nothing. She walks to the door, opens it and pretends to walk out, closing the door. They don't buy it. She is disappointed that nothing happens and she finally leaves. Georgia and Billy start again, but the door opens right away again. This time, it's John and Ally. She's talking about her hallucination in the courtroom. She blames it on John and says that what he told her this morning upset her. Georgia and Billy are leaning back against the door and it's not holding very well. It comes even closer to opening when Ally banks her head against the side of the stall they are in. "It's not normal for people to marry when their hearts aren't really in it," Ally says. She says that there has to be passion. The stall door can't take it anymore and it busts open, sending Billy and Georgia to the floor. "You need some work on your dismount," John says. "Figures that the one marriage that has passion would be theirs," Ally says as she turns and leaves.

That night, as Ally lays down to go to sleep, she has a flashback of her as a young girl, trying not to listen to her parent's fighting. The young Ally turns on a music box, a radio and a TV, all in an effort to block out the sound. She finally just sits on the floor in her closet, holding her hands over her ears.

Ling is in Richard's bed waiting for him. He comes out of the bathroom, slips off his robe and climbs into bed. She hands him some papers to sign. "It says you have no known heart conditions, no history of seizures, no back injuries," she says. Richard asks, "You want me to sign a waiver?" "And a confidentiality agreement," Ling says, "I have trade secrets." Richard wonders if he's on one of those hidden camera shows. She puts the papers aside and jumps on top of him. "Camera's rolling," she says, "Action!" She quickly discovers that there is no action. "You can't just roll on top of a man and yell 'action'," Richard says. She rolls off him and they both look under the covers. "You frightened him," Richard says. "Where'd he go?" Ling wonders. "He turtled," says Richard "You scared him." Ling grabs the remote and turns on the TV. "Chicago Hope" is on.

The next day, John and Ally are talking to Margaret Camaro, the woman who testified for the other side in the case involving a law firm that didn't give partnerships to mothers. She wants to know why she should help them. "The last time on the witness stand, you people called me a 'vicious lesbian'," she says. John reminds her that it was Richard who called her that. Ally says that their client is facing potential jail time and they want her to testify because she is good at what she does. Ms. Camaro tells her not to butter her up either because she's not a baked potato.

John walks out into the inner office. Nelle approaches him. She wearing her flight attendant outfit. "Fly the friendly skies later?" she asks him. He starts to hear Barry White but is interrupted when Richard pulls him away. Richard takes him to his office and tells him what happened last night. He says it was the first time this has ever happened to him. "I pet a poodle, boing," Richard says. "If anything, it's too automatic." John says, "In times of emotional or spiritual crises, who have you always looked to for inspiration?" "Bob Dole," says Richard. "Look there once more," John says.

Elaine comes up to Billy in the inner office and asks what happened to his eye. (It is black.) He says he bumped it. "Is this when you came crashing out of the stall all coital with Georgia?" she asks, smirking as she does. "Yes, it would be that," says Billy. Renee comes in and asks Billy if he's seen Ally. He tells her that she already left for court. Renee says she thinks this case has upset Ally. She asks about the eye. He says it was an accident. "Your little booty call in the bathroom with Georgia?" she asks. "Yes, this would be that." Billy says.

Ms. Camaro is on the stand. She says that this soul mate business is a dangerous myth. She says half the marriages end in divorce and they do so because people go into the marriage using passion and heart tugs as criteria. She says Kelly probably got married for the right reasons. She goes on to say that marriage would probably enjoy a much better success rate if everybody approached it like Kelly did.

Richard is in a doctor's office. The doctor tells him that the half-life on the medication he's giving him is about four hours. Richard wonders if the medicine will work on it's own or if it will wait until he's ready, because with him, just a cute poodle could do it. The doctor says it must be accompanied by a sexual stimulant. Richard asks if there are any side effects. "For you or the poodle?" the doctor asks.

Renee comes into the apartment and finds Ally sitting on the couch, staring into space. She tells Ally that John called her because he's worried about her. Renee asks her what is wrong. Ally says her mother never loved her father. "They're still together," she says, "She never loved him." She tells Renee that when she was three and her father was away, one night she got up in the middle of the night with an earache. She walked into her parent's bedroom and her mother was there with a man she had never seen before. She says that was the day she started pretending. "People want to know why I'm able to romanticize love into this big illusion," Ally says. "It's cause I got an early start. Maybe it is just sex and joint checking accounts and liking the same movies." Renee says, "No." She tells Ally that she should let it go and let herself cry. Ally says she can't – she has to go give a closing argument.

Ling and Nelle are discussing the non-event. Richard approaches them. "Ling, sausage, hot dog, foot long, steal you a second?" he asks. He pulls her to the side and says he wants a rematch. She says that's okay. "I really don't crave sex and you're no good at it so we could be a perfect match," she says. He pulls her close and says that if she doesn't give him another chance, he will never go near her knee pit again.

Barry's attorney gives her closing. She says it's simply about fraud and as frauds go, they don't get any bigger. Ally gives her closing. "She's being prosecuted for fraud because she married somebody who in truth really wasn't the man of her dreams," Ally says. Billy walks into the courtroom and sits down to listen. (And yes, the man he sits next to is Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci.) "I suppose the real fraud is this mindset that has been ingrained in us since childhood – that people get the person of their dreams. Most don't. Does that mean she shouldn't have gotten married? Does that mean she doesn't have the right to commit herself to a man she nevertheless loves. And she was committed. She never left. She wasn't unfaithful, unless you count those blasted dreams. I've spent my entire life doing what she's done. Loving the one not there, somebody I've never met. I have a rough idea of what he looks like. I have a more specific take on what he thinks – what he feels. I have an almost exact sense of how he makes me feel. I've never met him. I may never meet him. I've actually been told that he's not even out there. The men or women in our dreams live in our dreams. And in the real world, we should be allowed to settle for the ones who come close and that's what she did. And it was the reasonable thing to do."

Ling is again waiting for Richard in bed. He comes out of the bathroom, jumps onto the bed and drops his robe. Her eyes almost pop out of her head with surprise. Richard leaps onto her.

The verdict is in. The jury finds Kelly not guilty. Barry stops to talk to Ally as everyone leaves. He says that when two people get married, they should be in love with each other. He asks her if he's crazy. "No," Ally says, "but I'm afraid it might be our little secret."

Georgia comes to Billy's office. She asks him how his eye is. "You're quite pleased about our little act of mischief, aren't you?" he asks. "Aren't you?" Georgia asks. She turns and locks the door as Billy turns and closes the blinds.

Richard and Ling are both sweating and breathing hard. Richard rolls over and comes at Ling again. "Isn't it tired?" she asks. She says she's never had one outlast her before.

Ally and John are walking on the sidewalk. John is on his way to meet Nelle at the bar and he asks Ally to come with him. She says no thanks. She kisses him and says she will see him tomorrow. John crosses the street and Ally continues on the sidewalk. He glances back at her, then continues on his way. Ally walks home, remembering that little girl watching clouds and that teen singing with her friends.


I know my thoughts have gotten shorter and shorter, but tonight, like Ling, I've gotta go watch "Chicago Hope." So please forgive me if I don't mention your favorite part.

I know there are those that think the unisex is stupid, even as a plot device for TV, but without it we would miss so much! I'm running out of words to describe some of the things David Kelley does, and I know I've used this one before, but the Billy/Georgia fall from the stall was priceless! The choreography of the entire scene, from them tearing each other's clothes off, to their making out, to Elaine's video attempt -- everything was perfect.

As tired as I get of watching Ally be sad because she doesn't have a man, I'm thrilled that she didn't believe in her own closing argument. And while I'm glad Ally and John won their case, it's not because I believed in their side. It's more because I don't understand how the defendant could seriously be facing jail time for what she did. Should she have married him? I don't know. Probably not. But just because she wasn't madly, deeply, in love with him when she did doesn't make her a criminal. It just makes her a sad and lonely woman who turned her husband into a sad and lonely man.

Favorite Lines:

Judge, to John: "Please sit. Unless you'd like to object to the hardness of the chair."

Ling: "This is an "E" ticket, Richard, with a minimum size requirement to ride."

Richard, to doctor, about Viagra: "Will it wait for me, or is it like a toaster?"
Doctor: "It does not produce spontaneous erections. It must be accompanied by a sexual stimulous."
Richard: "Because me, you know, a cute poodle and...bygones. Any side effects?"
Doctor: "For you or the poodle?"

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.