Synopsis of The Real World

Written by Dana Hagerty

We begin the second season of "Ally McBeal" with Ally dreaming that she is reaching for a man. They are in a black room, and a tiny bit of light is being filtered in, but she can't see his face. The camera circles around the two, as they reach their hands out, and touch fingers. Ally awakens, looks under her bed, jumps out of bed, and makes enough noise to wake up Renee. Ally tells her about the dream and Renee asks if there was anything in diapers in it. "Here we go again," Renee says.

As Richard and Billy look at and talk about the firm's newest case, (a woman accused of having sex with a minor), Richard admits to Billy that he likes to be directed in bed and he had a thing for Shari Lewis when he was growing up.

The woman accused of sleeping with a 16-year-old (he's now 18) is Laura Jewell. In a meeting with Ally and Cage (in Cage's new office), the attorneys are trying to determine how to tackle the case. Cage is nervous about the whole thing (he stutters and when he can't get "Poughkeepsie" out, he settles for Coney Island), but he has an idea. "A 39-year-old woman with a 16-year old boy. One could suggest she'd have to be crazy. Wouldn't she?"

Renee is the District Attorney on the case, but she won't plead out the case to anything better than felony battery. Jason Tresham, the young boy, walks up to Renee and Ally in the hallway of the courthouse and when Renee introduces them, Ally is speechless. He's the guy from her dream. Jason asks Ally if Laura knows that he is being subpoenaed and doesn't want to do this. She assures him that Laura knows that.

Richard tells Cage that he knows that he has a good life, but he wants more. More money. "Sometimes when I look at my stock portfolio, I get aroused," Richard says. Cage knows of an attorney named Nelle Porter (nicknamed "Sub-zero Nelle") who is looking to leave her current firm and has been asking about them.

In court, Jason is on the stand explaining how he and Laura became friends first, then lovers, when she let him use her sailboat. Jason admits to being a virgin before the affair, which lasted about two weeks. When it's Ally's turn to question him, we learn that the two met at the place where Jason used to wait tables. She asks him if he remembers the first conversation he had with Laura that was personal. He says that he asked her why she always seemed so sad. Jason didn't know at the time that Laura had recently split with her husband. Ally asks if he saw Laura as lonely. Jason says, "It seemed a little worse." In one of those moments when I was sure Ally didn't mean to say that out loud, she asks, "What could be worse than being alone." Jason says that lonely people always have a look – "a look that could change at any second -- maybe with the next person that enters the room. Lonely people have hope. She didn't seem to. She was just sad. Like she knew too much." "What did she know," Ally asks. Jason answers, "Some people find love permanent and some are just meant to be alone. She knew which she was."

Ally rushes over to see Dr. Tracy Clark, her therapist from last season, played by Tracey Ullman. She tells her that she felt like Jason was talking about her, and then says she has had unpure sexual thoughts about him. Dr. Clark tells her that Jason could be triggering old feelings for her, since the most "in love" time in her life was probably when she was 18 and with Billy.

Back at the office, Ally and Georgia go into the unisex. They are discussing Ally's fascination with Jason, and Ally asks if Georgia has ever fantasized about a boy. Georgia looks under the stalls, sees feet, and whispers to Ally that Billy is in that stall. They start playing it up. Georgia goes on about how she might have fantasized about a boy a long time ago, before she met Billy, but now she can't imagine being with anyone else. She says she can't even enjoy going to the movies anymore because the love scenes do nothing for her because she can only think about Billy. "Now you know why it was so hard for me to get over him," Ally says. "He's just so, you know….," Ally starts. "Big," Georgia says. They start laughing quietly, and don't notice that Billy has walked in and is standing behind them. The girls continue talking about how Billy is just the best in bed, when Billy finally clears his throat and they turn around. Just then, the toilet flushes, and Cage steps out of the stall. "That kind of frank dialogue troubles me," he says.

The next day, Richard is talking to a very professional-looking woman who wears a suit and her hair in a bun. Ally asks Elaine who she is. Elaine says her name is Nelle Porter, and she was profiled in Boston Magazine as a "hot woman lawyer." "Richard's looking for a rainmaker," she says. Ally responds, "She looks like she makes sleet." Elaine tells Ally that she's heard Nelle won't stick her hand out very far when she goes to shake hands with someone because she wants the other person to meet her more than halfway. When Richard walks Nelle over to introduce her, she and Ally both stick out their hands just a tiny bit, then together they reach out and shake hands. Richard introduces Nelle to Cage, and she mentions that she's heard of him. "Bunion, right?" she asks. When he tells her it's actually "biscuit," she in her mind biscuit probably became bun, then bunion. Richard tells the small group that Nelle has expressed an interest in joining the firm.

In court, Laura is on the stand explaining how she walked into the boathouse one day and found him holding a sweater of hers up to his face. He told her that he got it off her clothesline, and that sometimes he would take the sweater to bed with him. She says they were both a little scared and exhilarated as she walked over to him. "Maybe I was intoxicated at the thought of being a young man's fantasy, maybe I was just lonely," she says. "I needed to make love to him every bit as much as he wanted to make love to me." Ally is dreaming about what happened, only she is the one in the boathouse with Jason, their fingertips only slightly touching. She makes a weird squeaking noise, then apologizes for interrupting court.

Back at the firm, Richard tells Nelle that he can't make her partner because there would be too much fallout, but he says she will get there sooner than she would at any other firm. "What about your clients, will they come with you?" Richard asks. "You know I can't legally ask them until after I leave," Nelle answers. "And?" Richard asks. She pauses just a split second, then answers, "They've all said they'll come." Nelle asks about the firm's ideology. Richard says "Selfishism. Everybody is looking to get ahead -- everybody gets ahead. I try to set the example there." Nelle asks how the other lawyers would feel about her joining. Richard asks, "Nelle, Do you care?"

Elaine and Georgia are watching Richard talking to Nelle. "I can't believe they are going to hire her, she's such the bitch," Elaine says. Georgia thinks that Elaine should at least have one conversation with Nelle before stabbing her in the back. "She's smart and she's pretty. What else do we need to know," says Elaine. Nelle walks over and introduces herself to Georgia. She wants to pick the brain of one of the women at the firm, but Elaine suggests that she talk to Ally. As Nelle walks away, Elaine tells Georgia that will be the end of that problem. "She'll hate Ally," she says.

Back in court, Renee is cross-examining Laura. Laura explains that she probably made love to Jason in part because he was a boy. "If I close my eyes, I can still feel his strength. Inside me I felt his willingness to just surrender, to me, to love, to the moment, and a young man's moment can last a while," she says. Renee asks her if she prefers boys to men. Laura admits that in some ways, she might. "I think things die in men as they get older. They lose the essence of the very thing that a woman most wants. Simple intimacy. He cried sometimes when we made love. How many men do you know that are able to do that? Perhaps I was celebrating the boy inside him. I know I was celebrating the boy inside me."

That night, Ally is sitting on the floor of the office, drinking a beer, when Billy walks in. She tells him that she thinks she is meant for a boy. "Tracy thinks it might have something to do with me not being over you," Ally says. She goes on to say that when she closes her eyes and tries to think of him, she can't, except when she thinks of how he was when he was 17. He asks her if she really thinks that kind of love lasts forever. She repeats that maybe she is meant for a boy. Billy says there is another possibility. "Maybe you're meant for this boy."

Cage is giving his closing argument to the jury. "If Jason Tresham had picked up a gun and shot a few classmates, we'd have no trouble seeing him as an adult," he says. "But to achieve an emotional intimacy with a 39-year old woman, he must be a child. To be able to see into her loneliness and offer her companionship, that would leave her more enlightened, he must be a child. To be able to reach out to her on a lazy afternoon and leave her sexually gratified over and over and over…." The judge interrupts Cage and tells him to move on. Cage tells the jury about how he went to see the movie "Summer of '42" when he was 15. In that movie, there was a 15-year old boy in love with a 30ish woman, played by Jennifer O'Neill. He says that audiences watched this movie, silently willing him to go to her, or for her to go to him. And in the end, she did. "It was the ending we all wanted. Wasn't it? And we don't need to feel ashamed for wishing that result. When it comes to love, there really is no law, is there?" The jury answers "No." The judge tells the jury that they cannot talk back to the litigants.

The point of Renee's closing argument is simple. "Give me a break. If this were an adult male and a 16-year-old girl, you wouldn't even hesitate."

Ally, Cage and Laura are sitting on a bench in the hallway of the courthouse, when Ally asks Laura if the affair with Jason is over. She tells her it is. Nelle is walking through the hallway, and she approaches Ally, then acknowledges Cage by calling him "Paul." He corrects her. "Listen, Ally. I'm really considering joining up, but I would like to talk to a woman's woman first. Do you have any, at your firm," Nelle says. Ally is speechless, but before she can take a breath and figure out what to say, Nelle says, "I'm kidding. I would like to talk to you." She says that maybe they can get together for a drink at the end of the day and promises to call. Ally is not pleased, but Cage admits he is drawn to Nelle.

Ally steps into the elevator at the courthouse, but she's reading papers and doesn't notice that Jason is also on the elevator. It is only the two of them, and after he tells her "Hi" and she gasps, she notices that he's staring at her. When she asks him why, he tells her he had a dream about her last night in which their fingertips were touching.

Ally is freaked that Jason had the same dream she did, and rushes to see Dr. Clark again. The doctor tells Ally that it's probably just powers of suggestion or mentally telepathy that caused him to dream the same dream, but Ally isn't buying it. She does finally allow Dr. Clark a chance to tell her what she thinks. "Fingertips only. That suggests the need to touch but the recognition that it's forbidden," she says. "You are both reluctant to give in. It can't last forever. Of course not. But who made up the rule that the best loves do?"

Back at the firm, Richard and Cage are discussing Nelle. She reminds Richard of himself. He wants to know if Cage thinks they should hire her, but John says he can't be objective because he's drawn to her. He says that when he looks at Nelle, he hears the 'boom, boom, boom – boom, boom, de, boom' part of "You Can't Hurry Love." This segues into Vonda singing that song at the bar, where Nelle and Ally are having drinks.

Nelle is concerned a bit about the sexual harassment claims at the firm. "Well, I bet they argue you deserve it, wearing those skimpy little skirts," she says. "Pigs," she adds. Ally tells her she has never sued the firm. She goes on to say that she likes the firm, even though they would never let a woman be partner. "They don't say that," Ally says "but between you and me, they hire women who want families." "As in…children?" Nelle asks. Ally says they do it that way because the women will end up going on maternity before they are up for partnership and the firm figures that once women have children they "tend to prioritize the little imps," Ally says. But Ally wants children, she says, so the firm is a good place for her to be. Elaine interrupts to tell Ally the verdict is in.

The jury finds Laura not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Ally and Jason soon find themselves alone again in an elevator. He tells her that he is very relieved and mentions that he never wanted this to go to court. He goes on to say that he feels a sort of connection to Ally and wonders if she would go out with him. She says yes.

The next day, Richard is asking for everyone's attention so that he can introduce Nelle to the firm. Elaine says to Ally and Georgia, "Just so we're clear. We hate her, right?" They both nod yes. Nelle gives a small speech thanking Richard and "Paul" for the offer, then thanks Ally. She says her brief chat with Ally assured her that the firm would be fun.

Ally enters Cage's office and asks him why he wanted to hire Nelle. "Is it because you're drawn to her?" He admits that she makes his heart go 'boom.' "Won't that torture you? The last thing you want is to be in love with someone you can't have," Ally tells him. "That is something I know," she adds. Cage explains that what Laura said about men and their insides going dead as they grow older is sometimes true. "Nelle may be the kind of person I can only dream about, but there's something to be said for the dream itself," Cage says.

That night, Ally is on her date with Jason. They have finished their dinner at a small café when he tells her that it was his journal that caused all the problems. His parents found it. It didn't contain anything graphic – just feelings. He wanted to have it to read 20 years later. He asks if Ally would like to go for a walk, but she says that the game is about to get out. He tells her that the Red Sox are out of town. Ally saw that the lights were on, but Jason says his uncle is a groundskeeper there and they are just working on the lights. She can't believe that his uncle works at Fenway Park. She says that every summer her father and she would listen to every game on the radio together and she would close her eyes and pretend she was out there in the field. He asks if she wants to go. She shakes her head yes.

Back in the unisex, Nelle is changing clothes. She has her jeans on, but she hasn't gotten her sweater on over her bra when Billy comes in. She says she forgot that the bathroom was open to the public and he asks if he should leave. She still hasn't gotten the sweater all the way on, and Georgia walks in. When she asks "What's this?", Nelle answers, "Initiation. Kidding." She finally gets the sweater on, and Billy leaves. Georgia is obviously not happy about what just happened, and Nelle tells her that she knows her nickname is "Sub-zero" and that people find her cold. Georgia appears to warm up a bit and tells her, "This can be a tough group, but we'll warm up." Nelle thanks her, then takes down her very long and very beautiful hair. Georgia looks over at her, and probably decided then and there that she wasn't going to be one of those that would ever warm up to Nelle. Georgia leaves, and Cage comes in. He hears the 'boom, boom, boom' again.

At Fenway Park, Jason and Ally are playing imaginary baseball. They replay the Carlton Fisk home run from the 1975 World Series. We hear the real audio of the announcer as Fisk hits the ball over the wall.

As they walk home, Ally says she will never forget that night and asks Jason if he remembers it. He tells her he wasn't born yet. When they stop at his house, he asks if she wants to come in. She declines. Jason wants to see Ally again, but she says she has to say no. Jason isn't surprised. "You were kind of having too much fun. Like it was some kind of reunion with fun you had before." Ally tells him she might be too young for him. "Got you to first base anyway," Jason says. He holds his hand up, and she touches his fingertips with hers. She leans in and kisses him as he squeezes her hand. Then she turns and walks away, hitting another imaginary baseball on her way home.

©1998 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.

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