I Know Him by Heart
Air date: May 24, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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Ally is getting ready for bed. She lies down, rolls over, and sees Al Green standing in her bedroom singing to her. She jumps up out of bed, stares at him sadly, then starts singing along with him. The Ikettes are even there, sitting in her bed, singing backup. Soon, Ally's singing brings Renee to the room to see what's going on. She finds Ally slow dancing and singing. When Ally turns and sees her, she tells her to get out and continues singing, dancing and crying.

The next morning, Renee and Ally are at home reading the paper over coffee. Renee keeps staring at Ally. Renee finally tells her that she's worried about her. Ally says her heart is broken, but not by any man in particular. "It's just one big gigantic stress fracture," she says. She asks Renee to call Elaine and tell her she's not coming into work today, tomorrow or the day after that because she's decided to stay in her room, "where life is beautiful."

Renee goes to the office to see if someone can help. Everyone is in John's office, and she tries to convince him to go see Ally but Richard thinks he should go. "Everyone else at one time or another has tried to connect to this loon, it's time she heard a little common sense," Richard says. "I'd send Billy, but he might kiss her," he adds. Nelle wonders why they don't just leave Ally alone. "If she's going to behave like a ten year old, why do we have to get involved," Nelle says. Renee says, "Because that's what friends do." Nelle reminds her she isn't Ally's friend. "Then maybe you should just beat it," says Renee. "Oh yes, you like to intimidate," Nelle says, "I'm shaking so much, probably look like your vibrator." John stands up and says he'll go see Ally. "No you won't," says Nelle.

Richard goes. Ally is lying in her bed, still in her work clothes. "Did I ask you to come?" she asks. "If I waited to be asked I wouldn't be here, would I," Richard says, adding, "If I waited for an invitation to go into a girl's bedroom I'd never see the inside of one." He says that the point it, he doesn't wait, he does. He says her problem is she doesn't do, she waits. He says she shouldn't sit around and wait for the right guy to come along. "If you want a guy, you've got to go out and grab him, just grab, it's why God gave men the handle, for women to latch on to," Richard says, "Suck it up, Ally, and get a grip." He tries to give her a little knee pit action as a pick-me-up but she tells him to leave. When he opens the door, Renee falls into the room. Ally's mad that Renee got him to come. Renee says she is really worried because she thinks Ally has crossed the line from fantasies into hallucinations. She says Ally isn't in control of her fantasy life anymore that she seems lost. Ally says that every time she hears a love song on the radio or goes to a movie, she taps into this guy she's never met, but who she knows is out there. "But, he's not out there," she says. "I guess I'm finally starting to deal with that." Renee thinks it's time for them to be "dating machines." Starting tomorrow, they are going to date as many men as they can.

Ally decides to go into the office. Everyone she runs into is extremely nice to her, and by the time Ling approaches her, also being nice, Ally has had enough. "Okay, that does it," she says. She turns and asks Ling if she can speak to her in private. "Sure, that'd be fun," Ling cheerfully says. "And cut out the nice," says Ally. The go into Ally's office. Ally says she knows Ling does hair and she wants to know if she does makeup. She wants Ling to help her look her best for her dating frenzy. "Would you do me?" she asks. "Would I do you?" Ling says. She goes on to tell her that she has a friend who also doesn't do very well with men until she realized that she should be looking for a woman. Ally says she's looking for a man. "Have you ever been with a woman?" Ling asks. "Have you?" asks Ally. Ling says that her friend didn't really think about it until she realized that men don't really know how a woman likes to be touched. "One night, my friend, she let herself be touched by another woman," Ling says. Sighing, she adds, "It was so knowing." Ling tells Ally to stick out her finger. "Why?" asks Ally. "Could I just lick it?" Ling asks, "Just to try something." Ally thinks about it for a moment, then says "okay" and sticks out her finger. "Eww, gross," yells Ling, as she runs out of the office. Richard is coming in as she is leaving and wants to know what's going on. "I tricked her to see if she's a lesbian," she says, "I think she is one." Ally follows her out and yells, "I AM NOT A LESBIAN!" She turns to find Margaret Camaro standing next to her. Embarrassed, she says "hi" then runs back into her office (although we see a very tiny Ally running into the office). Ms. Camaro follows her and says, "You think all lesbians are vicious." Ally says she doesn't and adds that she even wrote letters to ABC when they cancelled "Ellen." Margaret tells Ally that she hates lesbians. Ally denies that and says she wishes there were more because then there would be more men to go around. She finally asks Margaret why she is there. Margaret says that Fish is representing her in a case. She's trying to have a baby and her insurance company is refusing to cover the fertilization process so she's suing them.

Ally goes to the unisex but before she can enter a stall, John comes out of one doing his isometrics. Ally is in his way. "Watch out!" he screams, but it's too late for him to regain his momentum for landing and he lands on top of the stall in front of him. He's folded over it and Ally helps him down. He is a bit lightheaded so Ally is holding him up. He says he wants to ask her something, but he wants to make sure she won't drop him first. She says okay. "Actually, I'm not going to ask you anything. I'll opt to tell you something," he says. "Your eyes have looked dead to me lately. They've lost that optimism that you used to have even when you were crying. It's like the hope has drained right out." She lets him go and he falls to the floor. "You promised," he says, slowly picking himself back up. "You tell me that that I can only be happy in a pretend world. You tell me that the guy I'm looking for isn't out there. Who do you think drained me of all the hope?" she says. She tells him that he's wrong that Ling is going to do her hair and that she and Renee are going to go on a mad dating spree, and that guy out there looking for her, well, she's going to find him.

We watch as Ally and Renee go out with several men. It's a montage of them dancing with different guys over several nights at the bar (and Ally's got cute, curly hair). One night, Ally even walks with one of them (for fans of "The Practice," it's Michael Badalucco, the guy who plays Jimmy Berluti on that show).

"We've dated everybody," Ally says late one night as she and Renee sit in her office, "He isn't out there." Renee says they've only done New England. "Seriously," Ally says, "there are no good men." Renee says there are. "Where are they then?" Ally asks. "At home with their wives," Renee says. Renee has to go home and she passes Ling on her way out. Ling sits down and tells Ally that there are good men out there, they just don't go to bars. Ally wants to know where they are. Ling says they are all over. She offers to bring some of them to Ally. "On my way to work tomorrow, I'll look around and I'll ask the cute ones to come over," Ling says. "You can choose."

Later, in the unisex, John is trying to help Ally understand what happens to him when he hears Barry White. "It's not that I become him," he says, "I let him pass through me the confidence, the optimism, and I let his spirit feel me." He tells her to try it. She looks in the mirror and sings Barry White for a minute, then stops, saying it feels silly. John says it is silly, but once he lets himself feel the change, "it emanates from me." He adds that women love him now. Elaine comes in and he tells Ally to watch. John hears and moves to Barry White. Elaine stops before entering the stall, turns and watches him then starts to move toward him. Ally says Elaine doesn't count because she likes anything in pants. Nelle comes in and Elaine quickly moves away from John. Nelle asks John if they can talk and she walks out of the unisex with John following her. "What is that about?" asks Ally. "I'll find out for you," Elaine says and she leaves. Ally looks in the mirror and tries to feel Barry White again. She hears the music and starts to move with the beat. When she really starts getting into it, a stall door opens and Margaret Camaro comes out. She watches Ally, then smiles and starts to move, too. Ally finally sees her in the mirror and stops dancing. She turns and asks Margaret how the case is going. Margaret says her deposition is about to start. Ally says good luck and leaves, quickly.

In Cage's office, Nelle tells John that she doesn't like the way Ally always runs to him. "She's a friend," he says, "Is that concept completely foreign to you?" Nelle says she gets the concept but that friendship is usually a two-way thing. She says Ally only comes to John when it's about her. He says that with Ally, everything is about her. "Exactly," says Nelle, "and everybody here tolerates it. She's having some crisis today because she thinks that she might not find the perfect mate. She can't settle like everybody else, oh, no, that would be a disaster. Don't you get fed up with all her nonsense?" John asks, "Do you just think everybody settles for less?" "Of course they do," Nelle says. "Have you?" John asks. Nelle says she isn't talking about them. He asks again if she feels like she's settled. "I don't really feel 'settled' at all," she says. He thinks she's dodging the issue but she says he's dodging it. "What issue?" he asks. Nelle says the issue of Ally running to him every time she needs a little heart rub. Ally comes running in the office. She realizes she has interrupted something and asks John if she can talk to him when he has a second. "He has one now," says Nelle. She leaves. Ally asks if Nelle is upset. John says he thinks she feels threatened because he connects with Ally's imaginary life. Ally starts to asks if he thinks she's crazy when she retreats into her room, but she stops before she finishes her sentence and says, "Never mind." He asks, "What do you do in your room?" He asks her if she sees him. Ally says that sometimes she imagines taking a long walk with him or sitting by a fire or on a Cinderella carriage on a merry-go round. John tells her that he pitched a no-hitter in his room. "When I was nine, I got cut from Little League," he says, "and, I went home, I cried for days, and I started my own imaginary Little League in my room. I got to pitch even. I still lost most of the time esteem problems but one day in July, it was a hot day, I pitched a no-hitter. I remember every batter like it was yesterday. The memory is as real as any from childhood. And it was wonderful. Nothing crazy about it." Ally thanks him for making her feel better. Richard comes in to talk to Ally and John leaves them alone. Richard wants her help on the Margaret Camaro case. "Could you sit it on the deposition in case anything legal pops up?" he asks, adding "Also, Ling did her little roundup. Your men will be here at noon."

Elaine comes into the unisex and quietly walks over to see who is in the stall. She peaks under one, sees the feet, then goes into the stall next to it and starts to climb over the wall into the one that is occupied. Nelle is in that stall. She looks up and seeks Elaine starting to climb over. "I'm sorry," Elaine says, "I didn't realized this stall was taken." "You didn't realize!" Nelle says, "well, didn't the locked door give you a hint?" Elaine says that sometimes they get stuck, and she comes all the way over the side of the stall. "While I'm here, I couldn't help notice you are upset," she says. Nelle is shocked that Elaine has come into her stall and she tells her to leave. John comes into the unisex. Elaine keeps talking to her and Nelle says if she doesn't leave, she's going to dig her heel into her shin. Elaine doesn't leave and Nelle kicks her. Elaine screams in pain and comes out of the stall. Nelle tells her to close the door. "That bitch," Elaine says, as she stumbles out of the unisex. John asks Nelle if everything is okay. She yells at him to get out that she's trying to go to the bathroom. John stutters, tries to say 'poughkeepsie' and instead, says 'pooper.' He leaves.

In the conference room, Margaret is giving her deposition. She tells the attorney for the insurance company that his client has covered fertility expenses for other clients but they are denying it for her. The attorney asks her if she has been diagnosed as infertile. She says she's tried artificial insemination six times. "Each time, the sperm rejected me," she says. "That to me constitutes evidence of infertility." The attorney asks if she has ever tried to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. Margaret asks why she should have to. The attorney says, "Last time I checked, that remains the most natural and efficient way of fertilizing the egg. Don't you think that before you petition an insurance company to pay for your efforts to get pregnant that you should perhaps give it the old college try? With a man."

As they all leave the conference room, the attorney says he will talk to the insurance company and get back to Richard. Ling approaches Ally to tell her that her men are there. "Hurry up and pick one," she says. Ally looks up to see about twenty very handsome men standing in the office (with Elaine standing right in the middle, enjoying every bit of it!). Ling tells Ally that they followed her home. Ally goes up and starts to talk to one. She moves from one to the other, smiling, laughing, and gathering business cards.

John comes into Nelle's office. "Are we going to talk or slam doors?" he asks. Nelle says it was a bathroom door. "Forgive me for wanting some privacy," she says. John wants to know what's really going on. Nelle says she doesn't like his friendship with Ally, and the next time she comes into John's office looking for emotional support, Nelle would like John to ask Ally to leave, through the window. John says that remark makes him think that Nelle doesn't like Ally. Nelle admits she doesn't and says that makes John's friendship with Ally a bigger problem. She adds that she really doesn't like Ally's influence on John. "That it's okay to live in fantasy land," she says, "That it's romantic to hold out for Prince Charming. That there's a soul mate out there for everybody." John says Nelle doesn't like the influence Ally has on John because she doesn't believe in any of that. "I did once," Nelle says, "and then I turned nine." Nelle says that if Ally wants to retreat into her childhood whimsy, that's fine, but that John has tendencies to do that, too, and that's why she doesn't like Ally's influence on him. "If that makes me some sub-zero ice queen, fine, then maybe I'm not your type." John says she's jealous of Ally. "Gee," she says, "where'd you get that idea?" John tells her that this anger isn't an attractive quality. "Too bad," she says, then she mimics his stuttering and comes out with "poop." She tells him to get out. He does his smile therapy smile and starts to walk out. "And that smile therapy thing," she says, "Hate that." He smiles and leaves.

Ling wants to know why Ally didn't pick one of the men she brought to her. "The guy I want to meet is not going to respond to a cattle call," Ally says. "I told them you were beautiful," Ling says. "Assuming the man you want to meet is single and equipped with a dumb stick, he would have responded. You think you're just going to bump into him in a bookstore both reaching for Balzac. It doesn't work that way. While you're looking for a mate, he's looking to mate, period." Ally tells Ling that she feels sorry for her. "Why, because it's hard being perfect?" Ling says. "If you have such a low opinion of men, that they are only ruled by their dumb stick, and you have such little faith in relationships, then what kind of a guy are you going to end up with?" Ally asks. Just then, Richard comes up to Ling. "Your problem is you don't really want to meet anybody," Ling says, "Since nobody can measure up to this mythic dreamboat you've concocted for yourself, it's easier to be alone and just pretend you haven't met him yet." Ally says, through clenched teeth, "I'll meet him." Margaret Camaro hears and asks, "Why do you have to?" Ally turns and tells Margaret, "You should talk!" Ally walks into her office and slams the door. "Why can't I talk?" Margaret asks Richard. John comes up and Richard asks him if they can talk. John is mad and he tells Richard he doesn't feel like talking. Nelle starts to walk up to them and John starts stuttering, this time coming out with 'pecker.' "Make fun of that!" he says to Nelle, then walks away. Nelle also walks away. "Got it," says Elaine, and she rewinds the video camera she was using last week and replays the scene of John stuttering.

Margaret goes to Ally's office. "Why don't I get to talk?" she asks Ally. "Because you're a fraud," says Ally, then tries to push her out the door. Margaret doesn't let her and she comes on in. "I'm a fraud?" she asks. Ally says, "Suing an insurance company? You're saying that infertility makes a woman disabled?" You can't have a baby; therefore you're disabled? Don't pass yourself off as a feminist. Why do you even want a baby?" Margaret says that feels like a trick question. "I'll tell you why," Ally says, "Because at the end of the day you don't feel whole alone. You need to love another person. Well, so do I." Margaret says she doesn't condemn Ally for wanting someone to love. "I guess I just reject the notion that your life is empty if you don't have a man." Ally says it's only half-empty. Margaret says she had the same dreams Ally does. She thought she would meet a man and get married. Then one day she went to see the "Wizard of Oz" and she ended up with a crush on Dorothy. Ally starts talking about how she looked at the woman from last week's case as kind of pathetic, but before she can finish what she is saying she starts to sing an Al Green song again. Margaret asks her if she's okay. Ally says she thinks she has to go home to her bedroom she has a baseball game. A no-hitter and she needs to pitch she says. Margaret starts to question her and Ally throws a bunch of stuff down on her desks and yells, "Can't I even play baseball? I thought you would like that!" Ally apologizes. "You seem a little mentally off," Margaret says. Ally says she's just distracted, adding that she has a date tonight.

Elaine comes to Richard (who is standing next to Nelle) and says they are having a problem with John. She says he's in the unisex and he just keeps dismounting. They all go to the unisex where they find John going round and round on a stall and Georgia stuck on the other side of the room. John doesn't let go until Nelle tells him to. He has built up so much force that he is propelled into the stall in front of him, accidentally flushing the toilet. Nelle tells everyone to get out. She turns and opens a stall door and finds Elaine in it. "Unless you'd like me to do the other shin," Nelle says. "Itchbay," says Elaine. When they are finally alone, Nelle tells John that anger may not be any more attractive on him but it's certainly more exciting. "You made fun of my stuttering and my smile therapy," he says. "You are a mean woman." Nelle says she was an angry woman and a threatened one. John wonders why. "You and Ally connect on a very odd but fundamental level and this notion of waiting for the one person who's all things -- I think I'm afraid that if you do that, I'm not that person," she says. "I don't want children. You do. This inner world thing I don't share that, and, Barry White? I don't believe in two people interlocking in every way, and this Ally McBeal 'it takes two to make one" nonsense, it just makes me want to vomit." John asks why they are even bothering with each other if they are so different. "I want to be with someone different from me," Nelle says. John says that differences can be fatal. "Why can't two people grow together? Meet somewhere in the middle. I can learn to appreciate some of your likes and vice versa," she says. She asks him to name something he wants her to do and she will work on it. He looks in the mirror and hears Barry White. "Oh, God," Nelle says. "That one's non-negotiable," John says. Nelle says she likes Barry White. John says he needs her to love Barry White. "I'm beginning to love you," Nelle says, "Don't you get that? And every time she comes running to you, it just makes me insecure, that you'll run to her." "I'm not running anywhere," John says, "You gave me a frog. You gave me Barry White. I'm not going anywhere. And, I'm beginning to love you, too." They smile and kiss, then share a very long hug.

Renee, Elaine and Ally listen to Vonda at the bar as Ling and Richard, Billy and Georgia and John and Nelle slow dance. Later, we find Ally sitting alone in the Cinderella carriage on a merry-go round. She is still sad, but just as the show ends, she smiles.


I didn't post my 'bits and pieces' last night because I didn't really have a strong opinion about this episode. I wanted to feel something more for it before I wrote about it. Well, after waiting almost 24 hours, I still can't really put my finger on why I didn't enjoy the season finale.

Maybe it's because it didn't feel like a season finale to me. I'm used to something big or important happening in the last show of the season, something that makes me hate the fact that I have to wait all summer to see the show again, but this episode didn't do that for me.

Or, maybe it is what has happened to the character of Ally. During the first season, and into the second, things would happen to Ally that really touched others. Many people would email me and tell me about how they could totally understand what Ally was going through because they had gone through that, too. But this character has really lost it. Ally has simply got to get over it and get on with her life. While Nelle may have been jealous under all that steam, what she said about Ally and the way everyone was treating her made perfect sense. If my friends and I knew someone like Ally, we would not be letting her sit in her room all day having a 'pity party.' We would be telling her that if she isn't careful her soul mate is going to walk right in front of her and she's going to miss him because she has let herself get so depressed thinking he doesn't exist. No man wants to deal with a woman who feels that sorry for herself.

I know that with Nelle and Ling coming on board, the other regulars haven't had as much air time as last season, but I can't imagine this show without either one of them.

I really like Renee's hair much better in this style (curly) than the straight style she was wearing for a while.

I did like the cute cameo with Michael Badalucco (Jimmy Berluti on "The Practice"). If there is anything I think Kelley has struck gold with, it's his ability to use people from all of his shows in other shows and have most viewers recognize them right away. He must know that a lot of us will watch anything he does, simply because his name is on it!

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.