Happy Trails
Air date: November 9, 1998
Summary/Review by Dana Hagerty

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The show starts with a shot of the top, inside portion of a bathroom stall door. A hand appears, grasping onto the top of the stall door, then another hand appears, and Cage looks over the top of the door into the stall. Richard is there, pants down, sitting on the toilet, reading a book. Cage crawls over the door and into the stall. He asks Richard if everything is okay with Ling. Richard responds, "John. You're in my stall." "And Whipper," Cage continues, "How is she?" John goes on to say that he's going to kiss her. "Whipper?" Richard asks. No, he's going to kiss Nelle, and he's "fraught" because Richard told him "how much import Ling placed on that first kiss." Again, Richard reminds Cage that he's in his stall. Cage asks Richard to tell him what Ling's instructions were. Richard stands up and tells John that the first thing to remember is the head tilt. "Look at us," Richard says, "all this anxiety over a first kiss. In the bathroom like a couple of teenagers. Gay teenagers. My pants are down." The camera shot changes to show us that Nelle is in the unisex, listening. Back in the stall, Richard tells Cage that his lips should be soft and that he should lick them first. "You don't want to dry lip her," he says. Just as he asks what to do about his secretion problem, Elaine comes in and also starts listening. Richard tells Cage to concentrate and hear the bells. "Do you hear them?" Richard asks. "I do," Cage says, "I think I do." Nelle finally says something. "I know I do." The bells stop, and Elaine says "Ding. Ding. Dong. Kiss." Cage quietly says to Richard, "Well, it was wrong to have popped in."

Ally is trying to get her cappuccino from Elaine, but Elaine is keeping it until Ally turns in her timesheets. Elaine says this is Richard's "new peeve." "Timesheets are for real lawyers," Ally says. "When do you see me actually work?" Ally is still reaching for her cappuccino when she sees a man exit the elevator with flowers. She gasps and falls to the floor. She tells Elaine the man is a bad date she had last night and to get rid of him. The man approaches Elaine and asks if Allison is in. He introduces himself at Ross Fitzsimmons. "Be a love and tell her Fitzy's here," he says. Elaine tells Fitzy that "Ally-son" died. Fitzy sees Ally's leg coming out from behind the desk and asks if that is her leg. "Oh, yes. The police asked me not to move her," Elaine says. "They're on their way over with the chalk. She was murdered, just." Fitzy tickles Ally's leg and she starts laughing. When she gets up, Elaine expresses amazement that she's alive then gives her a very slow kiss. Fitzy doesn't buy it. "I'm not falling for that lesbian trick," he says. "Do you think you're the first woman I've ever courted who's pretended to be either dead or gay? Get in line." He accuses Ally of judging people on their looks, and asks "What about personality?" She says, "Great. Get one." This makes Ally feel very small, and she apologizes.

In Cage's office, we hear the sound of crickets coming from his stereo. Stefan is laying pretty much lifeless on the desk. Richard comes in and asks about the crickets. Cage says that Stefan loves crickets and that John always had them for Stefan on Thanksgiving with a little cranberry on the side. Nelle comes in, and John asks them to leave. "Your callous and you assault him," he says. Nelle says she didn't assault him and he reminds her that she swatted him with a file folder. She denies that, and he picks up a file folder to show her exactly what she did, just as Stefan decides to take a huge leap in the air. John swats the frog and it splats against an open window on the other side of the room.

In the conference room, Billy and Georgia are meeting with a woman with orange skin. She is suing to get her job back, which she was fired from because of the color of her skin. She says that some doctors have told her it's a reaction to the sun, others have claimed that she ate too many carrots. But, the bottom line is it's permanent and she lost her job because of it.

Ling comes into the office. (Her entrance is to the wicked witch of the west music.) Elaine greets her. Ling says, "My therapist told me to pay no mind to those who don't matter." Elaine tells her that if she's looking for Nelle, she's in Cage's office. "Also, if there is any way I can help, I know you're hurt, and it's just that I want to be a part of it," Elaine says. "You help just by being there, Elaine," says Ling. "Whatever my pain, I can take heart in not being you," she continues. Elaine comes back with "That was very good. Did you know that you're my favorite vicious person in life?"

In Cage's office, we see that the frog is out on the ledge, and he's conscious.

In Ally's office, Ally is trying to explain to Renee how she ended up saying yes to another date with Fitzy. She hopes they go to a movie, "someplace dark with no talking," and she tells Renee that she and Ben are coming with them. Fitzy peaks around the door of her office Renee points out that he can't even startle Ally and tells her that he's brought the itinerary for their date. He plans on taking her to karaoke. He claims that he's very good. Ally wishes she were the roadrunner so that she could speed out of the office.

Richard, Ling, Nelle and John are trying to get Stefan to hop into a box (which they have attached to a string) so they can pull him into the room. John tells the frog to trust him. "How can he trust the world," Richard says. "He's been flushed, filed, smacked. He's an abused frog." Ling thinks Stefan looks depressed and that he might be a jumper. The frog begins moving toward the box and finally jumps into it. Ling pulls him to safety. "You're alive," Cage tells Stefan. "You're awake. You're back." Ling tells Cage, "You're mental."

Whipper comes to the office to see Richard. Ling sees her first and tells Nelle that "the naked woman is here. She's disguised in clothes." "You know, we never officially met," Whipper starts, only to be interrupted by Nelle asking what's going on. "This is the naked, nude thing I was telling you about," Ling says. "I saw her buttocks. They upset me. Look at her hair." Richard finally joins them and Whipper tells him that she came to apologize. She also returns his key. As she leaves, Ling complains that she didn't get an apology.

The case with the woman with orange skin is being heard by Judge "Let me see your teeth" Boyle. Billy stands before the judge and argues that there may be places in the south were customers refuse to see a black travel agent, but that doesn't make it okay to fire them. The attorney for the woman's former employer objects to the case being likened to discrimination against African Americans. Billy says that the point he's trying to make is that the law doesn't say you can't discriminate against blacks or yellows or reds, it says color and his client was fired for being orange. Judge Boyle asks, "Are there more?" Billy asks, "More what?" Judge Boyle says, "Orange people. I always thought that one day people from another planet would land on earth and ask me to bestow them their civil rights. But I figured them to be green." He continues, "People sometimes think I'm an alien. Behind my back they call me Yoda. I try to rise above it." Judge Boyle calls Ms. Poole, the woman with the orange skin, up to the bench and asks her to show him her teeth. She looks at Billy, who tells her to go ahead. She does.

Ally's office is now overrun with flowers from Fitzy. Elaine tells her that the only way to deal with him is to give him "the straight, hard dump. It's the only thing these bastards understand."

Back in court, Judge Boyle says that he has had a lot of conflicting thoughts spinning through his head on this case. On the one hand, he says that it is the employer's business, but on the other, he fired her for her skin color. "Added to which I personally think you are a very pretty color," Judge Boyle says. "There have been many times I wished my own wife glowed in the dark, it would be easier for me to see what I was doing," he continues. "But this case is not about skin color, and I'm impotent. I mean the law is imminent to protect you." Judge Boyle closes his eyes, exhales, and doesn't inhale again. His head hits the bench. Billy, Georgia and the other attorney all rush to see if he's okay but he doesn't have a pulse. Billy yells for someone to call the paramedics, and the other attorney tries to lift up Judge Boyle's head off his notes to see who won.

Richard, Ling, John and Nelle are at dinner in a Chinese restaurant. Cage wants to take a moment for Boyle. He and Richard put their fingers on the bridge of their nose, and Nelle nods to Ling to do the same. When the waiter comes to the table, John asks Ling to ask if they can feed Stefan some lettuce, but to bring him back to the table right after because he suffers separation anxiety. Ling tells the waiter in Mandarin to take the frog away, feed it, and bring it back.

At karaoke, Fitzy is singing "Puppy Love" and all the girls in the audience swoon. Except Ally and Renee, who simply stare. Ally is beeped, and when she reads on her pager that Judge Boyle has died, she says that is a tragedy so they should leave. They do, as Fitzy continues to sing.

Billy and Georgia are telling the officials what happened. Whipper comes in and asks to see Judge Boyle. She pulls the sheet off his face, and asks him "Why did you go and do this, Happy? You shouldn't have done this."

Back at the restaurant, Cage asks Ling to ask the waiter to bring Stefan back. She tells the waiter, in Mandarin, that the "strange one misses" the frog. The waiter talks back frantically, and when Richard wonders what he is saying, Ling tells him that Cage will be taking a big moment. After more discussion between Ling and the waiter, Ling finally tells the group, "The bad news is, Stefan is back. The good news is, he's delicious. Tastes like chicken." Everyone but Ling stops eating. Later, John covers his plate with a monogrammed handkerchief as Ling and the waiter stand to the side and continue arguing.

Billy is reminiscing about Judge Boyle and how during his second trial with Boyle, he overdid the smile. Georgia says she never knew that Billy cared so much about Happy. He admits that he didn't either.

Fitzy comes to the office to see Ally. She tries to explain to him about the night before and tells him that somebody she knew died. "So you ran out to get some chalk?" he asks. Elaine tells Fitzy that it's time they have a talk, and she pulls him into Ally's office. "I'm the kind of person who throws herself at men, figuring once in a while something's got to stick," Elaine says. "I play the game. I know the game. I enjoy the game. Especially when I compete just a little out of my league, like you're doing here. But I also have the sense on those occasions that I do go splat not to get up and hurl myself again. There's a difference between losing and being a loser, who, on some unconscious level seeks out defeat. That's what you're doing with Ally, and it's time to stop and take a very big bite out of reality. Look at Ally. Is she not beautiful? Is she not smart? Is she not sophisticated? Is she not all those things, Fitzy? I want you to walk out of this office, go home and write yourself a letter starting, 'Dear Fitzy, What were you thinking?'."

Whipper is sitting in her chambers, thinking back to one of the times when Happy Boyle walked in and started taking off his robe in front of her, pretending that he walked into the wrong office. Richard knocks, bringing her back to reality. She tells him again that she's sorry, and he says he only wished that he had walked in. "Ling said you looked incredible," he says. She tells him about Happy and how he would come into her office. Richard looks at a picture of Boyle Whipper has in her office. "If I was ever going to have a homosexual experience," he starts, "look at that wattle." Whipper asks if Richard will talk to his minister about using his church for the funeral service.

Cage is in his office dancing to "Gimme That." Nelle comes in and he stops dancing, turning off the music. "I just came in to disparage you," she says. "Kidding." John tells her that the dancing is an advanced form of his smile therapy. Nelle tells him to sit, and says bluntly that Stefan's number was up. "We don't know why God does some of the things he does," she says. "His ways are mysterious. All we know for sure is He seems to hate frogs as much as I do." John begins to smile, but it's his smile therapy smile. He asks to be alone. Nelle gets up to leave, and turns to tell John that "for what it's worth, I didn't find him delicious at all. I thought he was a little tough." When alone, John starts to giggle, just a little, then his giggle becomes a full-blown laugh. Ally comes in and they start joking back and forth about all the things that happened to Stefan. Ally is laughing hysterically by now, and just as quickly as he started, John stops laughing. He tells Ally that his best little friend is gone and that "Stefan was too good for this world. He's lucky to be gone."

At home, Ally tells Renee that the world is made up of weird people, but she wonders if she was too quick to judge Fitzy. He can't be any stranger than Cage, or Fish, or Happy," she says. Ally says that we were all brainwashed as kids into believing that the best people are normal and attractive and that maybe Happy and Cage are the real nuggets.

Later that night, as Georgia and Billy lay in bed, she asks him what he's thinking about. He admits to thinking about Happy and how he used to invite Billy to lunch, and while Billy always wanted to go, he always ended up rescheduling. "You think you postponed him to death?" Georgia asks. She goes on to ask Billy if this is really about his father being gone and the fact that they could never spend any time together. Billy denies that it's about his father.

The next day, Ling is in Richard's office asking why he has to go to the funeral for Judge Boyle. "It's because that naked, big haired woman is doing the eulogy," she says. John comes into the office and announces that he has a big date with Nelle that night. He bends over slightly so that Richard and Ling can see his butt and asks, "Do these make my B-U-T-T look big?" Richard says he looks just fine.

Ally is walking towards her office when Elaine tells her that she has news on Fitzy. Ally opens the door, only to find Fitzy on the other side. "He's in your office," Elaine says. Fitzy tells Ally that he came by to apologize. Before she can go into the office, Elaine pinches Ally's forearm and tells her to "show him the bin." Finally, she makes it into the office, and Fitzy starts going on about how his favorite story is "Beauty and the Beast," and he was really hoping they would be like that. When it becomes apparent that Fitzy isn't giving up, Ally tells him that he may be a really great guy, and it may be true that she should take the time to discover whether or not he is a really great guy, but she isn't going to take that time. She tells him that she never wants to see him again. We see the dump truck start to dump its trash into the back of the truck. "Ever," she says. Fitzy starts falling out of the trash bin, but he's holding on. "Ever," she says again. He still doesn't let go. "Ever," she says a final time, and Fitzy lets go and falls into the truck. "It's too bad," he says. "Something told me you might be the one." Ally reminds him that not everybody gets the one.

Whipper is giving the eulogy at Judge Happy Boyle's funeral. She says that Happy only hoped that by the time he died, it would have mattered that he lived. She starts crying, and Billy takes over. He says there are three things that people could do to make Happy happy. First, he says that everyone should go home and call somebody that they should have called the day before. Second, everyone should go to lunch with someone that they'd like to know a little more than they do. And third, "Show him your teeth!" Everyone smiles and laughs and the older people in the church take their teeth out of their mouths and hold them up. Lisa Knowles (the character played by Jennifer Holliday) stands up with the choir and sings. Everyone in the church gets up and dances, and the older people pick up their walkers and swing them back and forth in front of them. Judges dance down the aisle. Even Ling smiles. Everyone is standing, clapping, singing, crying, and mostly, smiling. At the end of the service, false teeth go flying through the air at Happy's picture.

Nelle and Cage are walking down the street to her apartment. They stop at the bottom of the steps and Nelle asks if John wants to come in. He declines and she says that maybe he can come in another time. He starts stuttering and when he can't get "Poughkeepsie," he settles for "Lake George." He continues talking, and Nelle says that she isn't going to wait for him to kiss her any longer. "Call me a tramp," she says. She lays one on him, asks if they can do that again sometime, then says goodnight. Cage begins walking away, then starts dancing down the street to Barry White.

Ling, Richard, Ally, Elaine and Renee are all at the bar dancing as Cage continues his dance down the street, which ends as he kicks up his heels.


BITS AND PIECES:

Just to clear up some of the confusion: the scenes with Phil Leeds were originally filmed to be a part of the first episode of this season. They were cut from the episode in order to focus more on the new character of Nelle. When Leeds passed away, Kelley decided to use those scenes shot right before Leeds' death in August to create this episode.

It is really hard to watch a funeral for a character played by someone who has really passed away. I can only imagine how difficult it was for the cast. And while I bawled like a baby during the funeral, I'm still very glad that Kelley made this episode. Phil Leeds deserved it. He will be missed by many, even those of us who only knew him through his work on television.

With a gem like this episode, I really hate to even say this, but I do wish that they would have at least mentioned what happened with the case of the orange-skinned woman. Just because the judge on the case died doesn't mean that the case simply went away.

As much as John Ritter would have been the last older man I would have chosen to be paired with Ally, Rob Schneider was exactly who I would have picked to play an irritating suitor.

Only on a David Kelley show:
Elaine kissing Ally -- I definitely didn't see that one coming!
Richard and Cage in the stall together -- Richard with his pants down.
A funeral with false teeth being thrown at a photo of the deceased and mourners dancing with their walkers.

I'm a little afraid of what kind of damage Elaine and Ling could do if they actually paired up on the same side of an issue. I pick them for my favorite lines of the week:

Elaine: "If there is any way I can help, I know you're hurt, and it's just that I want to be a part of it."
Ling: "You help just by being there, Elaine. Whatever my pain, I can take heart in not being you."
Elaine: "That was very good. Did you know that you're my favorite vicious person in life?"

Oh yes, and Elaine also gets the prize for the most creative way to dump someone else's loser guy:

Elaine: "I want you to walk out of this office, go home and write yourself a letter starting, 'Dear Fitzy, What were you thinking?'."

Copyright © 1998 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.