Buried Pleasures
Air date: November 1, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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Richard is trying to conduct the morning meeting but Ally is off in another world. We aren't privy to what she's day dreaming about this time, but Richard calls her attention back to the meeting. He's discussing their latest case – Butters et all vs. Gaylor. Alice Gaylor is being sued for sexual harassment by the other women at her workplace, Corbin Technology. The plaintiffs think she is too sexy and they claim she's contributing to a sexually charged working environment. Several times during the meeting, Ally catches Ling staring at her. Corbin Technology is one of the firm's clients, so in order to avoid a conflict of interest, Renee is going to be co-counsel on the case and she will represent Ms. Gaylor. Billy is representing Corbin Technology.

Ally returns to her office and Ling follows her in, closing the door. Ling asks Ally if she has ever kissed a woman. "You're not going to trick me again," Ally says. Ling is serious this time. She really wants to know. Ally says she has not kissed a woman -- at least not for real. "I know you see shrinks," Ling says, "and you seem to be the office maven on dreams, you and that funny little man. If a woman were to dream about kissing another woman, what would you make of that?" Ally, a bit nervous now, says that she isn't sure what she would make of it, but she thinks it's probably a little normal. She goes on to tell Ling that she doesn't want to talk about this. "Is it because we're not friends?" Ling asks. Ally says yes. Ling thinks they should work on being friends and she asks Ally to come to dinner with her. Ally accepts -- a bit reluctantly, but she accepts.

Ally goes to see Renee at her new office. Ally says that she knows when a person is hitting on her and she believes gay women love her. Renee tells her that Ling is not gay. Ally says that maybe Ling is bisexual. "If it goes there," Renee says, "all you have to say is 'not for me.' What's with all the panic?" Ally says that as a general rule, the idea of kissing another woman grosses her out. But, sometimes, the idea of kissing certain women doesn't gross her out. She says she's not attracted to them, but that the idea isn't repulsive. "Ling -- Maybe it's her perfect, perfect face," Ally says, "but the idea of kissing her, it doesn't gross me out." Renee tells Ally to relax. "You're a perfectly normal dyke," she says. Ally isn't happy with that comment and Renee says she's only kidding. Renee tells Ally she is probably only worried about what will happen if opportunity and curiosity collide.

The plaintiff in the court case is on the stand, being questioned by her attorney. She says that the men in the office call the defendant "the yummy one." She says Miss Gaylor flaunts sex and teases the men, all adding up to an atmosphere of sex in the office. When it's his turn, Billy asks her if Miss Gaylor was guilty of graphic sex talk. She says no. Renee asks her what is wrong with the way Miss Gaylor dresses. She says Miss Gaylor always dresses to accentuate her sexual attributes.

Ling is upstairs in the library. Richard joins her there and asks her what is wrong. "Have you ever thought about kissing another man?" she asks him, causing him to promptly spit out the beverage he has just taken a drink of. Once he composes himself, he tells Ling that what she said wasn't funny. "It disgusts you," she says. "Of course it disgusts me," he says. "Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being homosexual, but it would be totally disgusting to kiss one." Ling tells him she had a dream about two women kissing. He says there's nothing wrong with that, he has that dream all the time. "Why is it okay for two women to kiss but not two men?" she asks. "Seriously?" he asks. "Well," he begins, "in strict anthropological terms, mankind is all about the propagation of the species. Without procreation, mankind would become extinct. To facilitate procreation, the male species must become aroused. Watching two women take their tongues to each other arouses the male species which fosters the urge to procreate and accordingly assures the survival of the human race. To the contrary, watching two butt pirates go at it could make a man go limp for a week. The species becomes threatened." Ling tells him, "I consider myself pretty homophobic, but what you just said, that is disgusting." Ling wants him to take this seriously. She tells him she's scared and doesn't want to end up with a woman. "Well, if you did, you know I would be there for you, watching…touching myself," he says. Ling says she doesn't want to "turn gay." Richard tells her that people don't turn gay, they either are or they aren't. He says only confused and sexually ambiguous people decide they are gay later in life. "I've made love to you, I've never found you ambiguous," he says. "Ambidextrous, at times," he adds. Angry, Ling tells Richard, "If I become a lesbian, it will be your loss."

Ling marches into Nelle's office. "I think I'm going gay," she announces, "I had a dream about kissing a woman." This doesn't faze Nelle. "You think you're the first heterosexual woman to fantasize about kissing another woman?" she asks. "I've had stranger fantasies than that." Ling is intrigued, and after a little encouragement, Nelle finally shares her fantasy with her. "Sometimes," Nelle says, "I fantasize about getting spanked." Ling is shocked. Nelle says she read a book once called Spank the Maid and she found it titillating. Ling is surprised Nelle would even think about that because it's submissive. Nelle says that in spanking circles, the bottom controls. "You say when, you say stop," Nelle says. "Is there a newsletter?" Ling asks. Nelle says she would never really consider it. John comes within earshot of the door and overhears Nelle say, "I can't deny it's a fantasy, to have a man spank me, thwap, thwap, thwap, right on my white little bottom until it turns pink."

In court, Billy is questioning the male representative of the company. The man admits that Alice is a sexy woman and that men talk about sexy women. Billy suggests the man tell Alice not to wear the clothes she wears to the office. He says if he did that, Alice could sue him. When they leave the courtroom, Billy tells Renee that he thinks she should tell Alice to dress a little less sexy the next day. He adds that he doesn't think it would hurt if Renee tones it down, too. Renee says if Alice dresses differently, it might look like an admission that the way she usually dresses is inappropriate. Billy says this is going to come down to who the jury sympathizes with more, and dressed the way she dresses, it won't be Alice. He tells Renee that his theory applies to lawyers, too. "This look is great," he says, "on cable." He asks her to at least think about it. "I won't stop thinking about it," Renee says. Billy walks away, and Renee rolls her eyes.

Ally exits the elevator into the office and is approached by Ling, who announces that she has made dinner reservations for them. "Great," Ally says. "I wouldn't kiss it....miss it," she adds. Richard walks up to talk to Ling, but she quickly escapes. John appears, asks to talk to Richard, then pulls him into Richard's office. John tells him about what he heard Nelle talking about. "Don't panic here," Richard says. "First things first. I think you need to sit down with Nelle and -- spank her." John tells him that he doesn't think this is funny. "It's violence and I'm not a sexual adventurist," he says. Richard tells him about Ling's dreams. John asks him what he thinks that means. Richard doesn't know, but says, "One thing seems certain -- you and I -- in bed -- we're not pleasing our women."

Ally and Ling have finished their dinner. They are engaging in nervous, first date chatter, "the food was excellent," etc. Ally starts tapping her fingers on the table. Ling puts her hand on top of Ally's. She tells Ally that she was the woman she dreamt about kissing. Ally's hand starts moving again. Ling softly puts her other hand on top of it, too. "I've been just as scared as you," Ling says. "I always get afraid that dreams mean something and I tend to confront them. That's why I wanted to have dinner. But sitting here, looking at you, letting my mind wander a little, thinking, what if you and I -- I've reconfirmed with myself that what I really want out of a relationship at the end of the day......is a penis." Ally is very relieved, and they both automatically look like they are much more relaxed. Ling notices a hockey team standing together, watching people dance. Ling suggests they have a little fun. "You know what arouses men and frustrates them at the same time? Two beautiful women -- into each other." She says. "Shall we dance?" Ally asks. "Lets," says Ling. They move to the dance floor and begin dancing together, looking into each others eyes, touching each other softly and seductively. Later, as they walk home, they laugh about everyone's reaction. Ally thought the hostess was going to ask them to leave, while Ling laughs and says she thought she was going to join them. They stop in front of Ally's apartment. Ally asks Ling if she wants to come in for coffee. Ling politely declines and says Richard is probably waiting to do her knee. She turns to leave, turns back to Ally, turns to leave again, then turns back again and kisses Ally on the cheek. Ally smiles as Ling walks away, turning back to look at her just once.

Richard and John are in Richard's office, looking at a laptop and perusing the Internet to find out all they can about spanking. They are surprised to learn that 30 percent of adult women fantasize about being spanked. Richard finds something that says many women brush their hair in bed and leave the brush on the nightstand with the secret hope that their partner will 'take it to them.' John says Nelle sometimes brushes her hair in bed.

In court, Alice is on the stand. She says she likes to feel attractive and that's why she dresses the way she does. She says that sex, for her, is power. "I have something men want, and even though they know they're not going to get it, they love the flirt," she says. She calls it an equalizer. "I'm not the smartest one in the room, but I get a lot of help from my co-workers, mostly male. They're happy to cover my shifts or pitch in on an assignment if I'm behind. An attractive woman gets cut a lot of slack sometimes." She admits to exploiting that, but says she never did it to victimize anybody.

Billy goes back to Renee's office with her. He's not happy. He thinks that what she is doing is hurting his client's chances of getting a fair trial. She asks what it is he thinks she is doing. "Playing the stupid sex slut power card like it's something to champion," he says. "You should be ashamed of yourself. Your strategy has all the integrity of a lap dance." Renee tells Billy she thinks his problem is that he doesn't like women being sexy. She says it threatens his masculinity. "You don't even like strong women," she says, "that's why you ran from Ally. You figured you wouldn't be able to tell her what to do, how to dress, so you go out and find yourself a little Barbie doll wife." Billy yells at her not to attack his wife. Renee says she would be happy to stick up for her. "How's this?" she asks, "She's too good for you, you male chauvinist King Kong pig." Billy tells her that his problem right now is with his co-counsel, "walking around the courtroom with a plunging neckline, throwing her breasts out like they are two condos she's trying to sublet!" He marches out.

John goes into the unisex and finds Nelle there. She asks him to come home with her and let her cook for him. "Maybe I'll whip up something slightly more exotic," she says. "Think you can be adventurous?" He chokes out a "sure." Nelle leaves to get her coat, and Elaine comes in. John asks her to do what she did for him the week before. She quickly obliges, licking his face, whispering in his ear, telling him he is a 'hot, hot biscuit.' Georgia comes in and witnesses a small portion of this before coughing to get their attention. Elaine immediately stops and tells Georgia, "I'm his fluffer."

Ally is sitting at her desk, eyes closed, touching her lips. Ling comes in and tells her she looks flustered. Ally sits back to relax in her chair, puts her feet up on the desk, then promptly falls back out of the chair. "Why are you so nervous?" Ling asks. Ally says that she had a great time last night, then she starts to stutter. "As we were saying good night, you wanted to kiss me?" Ling asks. Ally says yes, but that it wasn't because she is gay. "I'm not even ashamed to admit that I don't want to be gay," Ally says. Ling wonders if maybe Ally is curious. Ally says it's more than that. She admits that she had an urge to kiss Ling. Ling stands up and asks, "Do you now?" She doesn't wait for the answer. She walks to the door, closes it, and locks it. "Could you step out from behind that desk?" she asks Ally. She does. "I've been thinking about it, too," Ling says. They walk towards each other. "Maybe it's because we had such a good time," she adds, "and Nelle thinks the euphoria of a new friendship can send the brain..." "You talked to Nelle about it?" Ally interrupts. Ling says yes. Ally wants to know what she said. "She had some theory about -- there is something arousing about curiosity and non-mainstream -- I don't really remember. She thought it would all go away if I did kiss you." Ally says, "Maybe we should, just to see what it's like." "What do you think it would be like?" Ling asks. "Soft," says Ally. Ling repeats, "Soft." They slowly move their faces together and kiss. They start with a few slow ones, then there are a few long ones. When they stop, Ling says softly, "That didn't suck," "Not at all," says Ally. "One more?" Ling asks. "Little one," says Ally. They kiss again.

Later that night, Ally is at home and she has obviously told Renee. She wants to know how they left it. "We just left it," Ally says. "We kissed a second time and she just walked out of the room." Ally says she doesn't think either one of them had any idea what to say. The doorbell rings and Ally goes to see who it is. It's Billy. She lets him in, then turns to Renee and says "Who told?" Billy doesn't know what she's talking about. Ally asks why he's there. He says he needs to see Renee so they can coordinate their closing arguments. "What's there to coordinate?" Renee asks, "You condemn sexual harassment laws in general, then I hang my two condos out for rent." She tells him she has her closing ready for her client and he should just worry about his. He leaves. When Renee turns to Ally, Ally asks, "What have I missed?"

The next day, Richard and John are slumping on a couch in an office. John says he left Nelle's house after dinner because she started brushing her hair with a brush the size of a tennis racket. Richard says Ling just rolled over. "The knee pit thing isn't working, she's built up a small callous," he says. John decides if he can't be the old Cage, then he will be the new one. "I changed once, I can change again," he says. "May the wild winds carry my onward." He gets up and starts to walk away then lets out a little wind of his own. "Good start," says Richard.

The attorney for the women at the office is giving her closing. Basically, she asks if it is so unreasonable to say that Alice should dress more modestly at the office. Billy gives his closing. He basically says that there is no harassment going on here. He admits that men are attracted to Alice, but he wonders how the jury can punish the employer for that? Renee says that the plaintiffs believe Alice Gaylor should be ashamed of having sex appeal. She says many people believe that if you use your sexuality, you set the feminist movement backwards. Renee says that is just ridiculous.

Ally is upstairs in the library. She pulls a book from the case and is surprised to find Ling on the other side. "We need to talk about it," Ling says. They meet at the end of the bookcase. Ling says what happened made her have another dream. "About me and Richard," Ling says. "I told him after you, I could never go back to kissing him." Ally is a bit surprised, but Ling reminds her it was just a dream. "The truth is, even though you're a great kisser, almost as good as me, and I admit to enjoying it," Ling starts. "It wasn't," Ally says. "The same as," says Ling. "Yeah, there was that one missing ingredient you need for the tingle," says Ally. "And we both know what they is, don't we?" Ling asks. They both say "penis." They both say that they like men. "But, I'm glad we did it," Ling says. Ally is glad, too. Ling asks her to promise not to tell anyone, but Ally says she already told Renee. "But, I will promise you this," Ally says, "I will never kiss another woman." "Deal," says Ling, and they shake hands.

The jury comes back with its verdict. They side with both Corbin Technology and Alice Gaylor.

Nelle comes into her bedroom, ready for bed. John is already in the bed. Nelle sits down and begins to brush her hair with a very big brush. John tells her he has a surprise for her, but that it is on the floor next to the bed. She looks over to her side of the bed. John tells her it is on his side and that she has to see it on the floor. She leans over him to get it, and he picks up her brush and begins spanking her. Nelle screams and jumps out of the bed. She starts yelling at him, asking him if he's crazy and telling him she should have him arrested. John just stutters. Nelle tells him to leave.

Cage calls Richard on his cell and finds him with Ling at the bar. Richard says he is sure Nelle will get over it and asks if they can talk later. When he hangs up, he tells Ling that John spanked Nelle and that she threw him out. Ling wonders why he would do that. Richard says it's a long story and asks her if she will dance. He says he's been missing her. They get up to dance and the camera pans to Renee, who tells Ally, "Look, he's got your girl." "Funny," says Ally. Georgia stops by their table and asks if Ally has seen Billy. She says she thinks he's still upstairs but that Georgia should sit and join them. "That's okay," she says, then, glancing at Renee, "I'll sit in the Barbie section." She leaves and Renee says private practice is tough. Ally thinks Renee and Georgia will patch it up and offers a toast to Renee's first civil trial and victory. "Here's to your milestone," Ally says. "And to yours," says Renee. "Funny again," says Ally. She smiles, then looks towards the dance floor. On the dance floor, Richard asks Ling if she's been feeling hetero these days. She laughs and says, "Pretty much." Richard says he's been on the Internet and has some new tricks. Ling says she can't wait. He draws her close as she looks over at Ally.


I began watching tonight's episode filled with trepidation, but I wanted so desperately to keep an open mind. Unfortunately, due to the fact that several media outlets reported the big "spoiler" in tonight's show, most Ally McBeal fans already knew what was going to happen. But, just because we think we know what's going to happen doesn't mean we REALLY know.

So, I sat down with my open mind and prepared myself for having to write that I hated this episode. I have since decided that I should really let my open mind make up it's own mind. It has, and it was surprisingly pleased.

I've got to admit that I was scared David Kelley would make this too much about a lesbian kiss and erotic dreams. (I can't believe that I can still underestimate this guy -- I really should stop reading everyone else's critiques of him and his shows.) The scenes between Ally and Ling were much more tasteful than I thought they would be. Yes, I do admit, I thought it was weird to see the two of them kiss. But, because of Kelley's excellent writing, I believed it.

My mind also wanted to be really angry at the outcome of the court case, but my open mind overruled it. As much as I personally think that woman should not be dressing that way at the office, she was not guilty of sexual harassment. So what if she dressed provocatively and men paid all kinds of attention to her? If the men were telling the other women that they should dress more like the defendant, well, I think that would have been sexual harassment. But that didn't happen. Granted, she made the men act in a way that made the other women uncomfortable, but she still was not guilty of sexual harassment. Instead of suing the company (i.e. management) and the sexy woman, maybe the women should have sued the men they work with?

Favorite line:

Renee: "What if I said something like 'Girlfriend, It's been so long since I've had it, I don't even remember how it goes.'"
Female worker being questioned by Renee: "Well, I doubt anybody would believe you."

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.