Synopsis of Sex, Lies and Second Thoughts
Written by Josh
Renée and Vonda are singing "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" in the bar as Brian and Ally sit together. "This is one of my favorite songs ever," Ally observes, smiling and swaying to the music. She wonders aloud why Renée didn't tell her she'd be singing it, and Brian suggests that perhaps she's singing it to celebrate the special occasion. "I have a friend," he explains, "who's in love with a woman. They've been together six months, but he desperately wants to spend the rest of his life with her." She asks why he doesn't just tell her, and Brian assures her that he's planning to...that's the special occasion. "He's taking her out as we speak," he says. He's arranged for her best friend to sing her favorite song in the background. He plans to order an expensive bottle of wine, keep holding her hand, and while she's distracted, slip a sapphire ring on her finger. Think it'll work?" She starts to answer...then stops, slowly noticing Renée's singing, the bottle of wine resting on the table before them...and the sparkle of the ring that's suddenly appeared on her finger. Her jaw drops. "Ally McBeal," Brian says, "will you move in with me?" The music slurs to a stop. She stammers, saying that she has to think about it.
Back at the apartment, Ally tells Renée that she wants to move in, she's ready to...but something's holding her back. For these kinds of decisions, Renée says, there's only one person who can help. "A therapist," they agree.
The next day, Richard reviews the firm's cases with the lawyers in the meeting room. John's handling an annulment case in front of a jury, and he plans to project his nose whistle during the trial. "I am up against Dick Raditz," he explains. "Add to that, I have an extremely tenuous cause of action." Ally interrupts the meeting to tell everyone that Brian's asked her to move in with him, and that if she seems nervous or distracted, that's the reason. The other lawyers mutter various responses, clearly uninterested in the ongoing saga of Ally McBeal's sex life.
John brings his client - a frumpy-looking woman named Maureen - a settlement offer of $700,000. She balks. "You and I are very old friends," John says quietly. "Getting an annulment will be very difficult...in order to win, you will have to endure some very unpleasant things being said, and I may have to ARGUE some unpleasant things. The opposing counsel is a very mean man." She insists, saying that she's lost her dignity...she needs to get it back. "I've resigned myself to being called fat, ugly, even lonely," she says, "I will not resign myself to being called a fool."
Ally enters Tracey's office to find a handsome man with black hair and glasses unpacking large boxes and putting things away. He stops, seeing her. "Help you?" he asks. When she asks where Tracey is, he tells her the doctor moved to Foxborough. "She didn't tell me she was leaving," Ally says, confused. "You wouldn't happen to be Ally McBeal, would you?" he guesses. When she says yes, he introduces himself as Larry Paul, telling her that Tracey took all her patient files with her...except Ally's. She even left a note attached: "If it's an emergency, tough." She assures him that it is an emergency, and he promises that he doesn't have her forwarding number; he asks what the problem is. She hesitates, then tells him that Brian has asked her to move in with him. "My advice," he muses, "is...don't do it." She frowns at his quick response, asking him why. "Because he obviously doesn't want to marry you," he says, adding, "How's the sex?" When she becomes flustered and irritated, he asks her to sit, explaining that every relationship will eventually come down to sex. Why? "Because men and women are different animals, with different interests, don't believe all that communication crap...no matter how much in love, men and women will eventually run out of things to say to each other, and when that happens, all you'll be left with is the sex. If it stinks, you're done. And I don't need to tell you that, do I? That's why you're here: the sex is lousy." There is a pause, as Ally digests this. "Well, it...could be better," she admits. But how do you tell a guy he's terrible in bed? "Listen to me, because this is important," Larry says earnestly. "It will be devastating for him to hear, but the key is to leave him with something positive to hold onto by the end of the discussion. Do you love this man?" "Yes," she answers quickly. "Then you owe it to him to be honest," he says. "Let him know how inadequate he is. After all, if you do get married, you'll be telling him for the rest of his life anyway." She gets up, fixes him with an evil glare, and leaves. "Try to help," he mutters to himself, continuing to unpack.
"At first, it seemed perfect," Maureen says on the stand. "Not PERFECT...I guess the physical parts weren't very good. We didn't even make love on our wedding night." When John asks if they ever made love at all, she says they did, but it was very infrequent...Wayne had said he didn't have much of a libido. But the rest of the relationship was excellent; they were perfect companions, they had the same interests, they could talk and laugh all night. But in June, she caught him in the swimming pool with a voluptuous blonde model. He'd been sleeping with this woman for two years, and had planned to marry her after divorcing Maureen. He just wanted to stay in the marriage long enough to qualify for a big divorce settlement. "I'm here asking the court to recognize the truth that there was no marriage," she says. "There was a pretense, there was a fraud...but there was no marriage."
Brian stands in Ally's office, asking whether she's made her decision. She says she hasn't yet, and asks him to sit. "I think that everything about us is great," she begins. "I really do. But what I find to be a little lacking...and this may not be a big deal at all..." "Big enough to give pause to the idea of our living together," he interjects. "What leaves a little to be desired between you and me is the, um...sex," she says. "The sex isn't that...good." Confused, he asks if she's capable of having good sex, if it's his problem or hers. "We just don't seem to generate a lot of heat," she says weakly. "So you're indicting the relationship because of sex?" he asks.
"I never said that!" Maureen protests on the stand. Raditz is questioning her; he asks if Wayne was involved with this woman when he married her. Maureen admits that he wasn't. "So we have a marriage, then another woman, then the marriage breaks up," Raditz says. "Gee, I wonder if this is the first time something like that has happened!" John objects. Raditz continues, saying that Maureen had described her relationship as "perfect" right up until the day she left him...she was getting what she wanted. She reminds him that she wanted honesty. Raditz asks her if it's her position that spouses being dishonest with each other should be grounds for an annulment. She blinks, stunned, unable to respond.
In the elevators at the Cage/Fish offices, John asks Maureen if she's okay. "It's litigation," he says. "It's adversarial by design." They step off the elevator, and she starts to ask him something, then stops. He coaxes it from her. "Well, growing up...I never had a boyfriend," she says. "How could I have thought that he...a goo-looking man...am I deluding myself" Her voice breaks and she excuses herself quickly. Richard watches her go. "What a beast," he remarks. John cuffs him hard on the shoulder, then asks him for an important favor. Since Maureen doesn't feel any man could be sexually attracted to her, John wants Richard to feign being drawn to her just for a little while, just to boost her confidence. "But she's a hamster, John!" Richard whines. "I'd sooner pop a chubby for a tree frog!" Maureen appears behind them, excited at the mention of tree frogs...Richard squints at her, leers uncomfortably, and stammers, asking if anyone's ever told her how beautiful she is and then excusing himself quickly. Maureen frowns, asking John if Richard was making fun of her, and he assures her that Richard was genuinely flirting with her. "Do you see that woman over there?" John asks Maureen, pointing out Nelle. "I date her. She found me beautiful and sexy. You know why? Sexiness is mental. I would become Barry White when I went to her. In my head, I believed I had sex appeal, and therefore I did. And whatever happens in this case, you have got to believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will."
Ally is back in Larry's office, saying that Brian was right...it's silly to indict a relationship based solely on the last five minutes of the day before you fall asleep. "The reason men go into relationships is sex," Larry says. "They get married so they can keep doing it over and over again without wasting time on dinner and flowers. And if it only lasts five minutes, why are you falling asleep at all? You should be lying awake wondering what the hell is wrong." Ally accuses him of being everything that is twisted and wrong with society. "You're blaming all of society on me?" he asks incredulously. "No wonder you want a husband. You're already a wife!" She tells him that he's neither clever nor funny, and that for someone in his position to perpetuate society's over-prioritization of sex is neither amusing nor responsible. He points out that her lament about the triviality of sex hardly holds water when she comes in wearing a vanilla scent and a $2,000 suit designed to call attention to every contour of her body. As for locating self-worth in personal appearance, he observes that she probably has a mirror somewhere in her purse, and that as upset as she might be by the idea of men admiring her physically, the idea of men NOT admiring her physically is more disturbing to her, and she lives in mortal terror of that day. "You are the biggest ass I've ever met," she tells him. "Perhaps this is where you kiss it goodbye," he suggests. She purses her lips, leaving.
"Are you going to see him again?" Renée asks. "Of course not!" Ally replies. "I won't even pay his bill if he sends me one!" "I was talking about Brian," Renée says gently. She observes that Ally's been seeing a guy for six months and he's asked her to move in... and all she can talk about is the new therapist. Distracted, Ally asks if Renée thinks Brian is dull. "He's so dull I've lost interest in the question," her roommate replies. "But that doesn't necessarily mean he's not right for you. After all, opposites attract. You're so alive, and Brian's so... " "Dead," Ally finishes. She admits that even though Brian is sweet and kind and clever and lovely, he's boring. Renée points out that all her life, Ally's been attracted to men who make her crazy, and like a moth to a flame, she gets burned every time. "Maybe Brian isn't the right guy," Renée warns, "but stay away from the therapist."
"Look, we all know the bean-and-the-jar theory," Wayne Keebler says on the stand; "that, if a married couple were to put a bean in a jar every time they had sex during their first year of marriage, then took a bean OUT every time after that, the jar would never be empty. John asks whether Wayne was suffering from financial difficulties before marrying Maureen, then withdraws the question. "So you met this woman over here," John snaps, pointing at the pulchritudinous blonde he was having an affair with, "and you, what, just fell into companionship all over again?" Raditz objects. John asks the woman's name. "Diane," Wayne says. "Does Diane have a job?" John asks. Wayne admits that she's a model. John asks how many models Wayne has dated... Raditz objects again, asking what the possible relevance could be. John points out that Wayne Keebler is a man who dated beautiful women all his life, right up until he married Maureen for her money. "I DID love Maureen when we got married!" Wayne insists. "I DID prioritize friendship! I was planning a marriage, Mr. Cage, a lifetime... not a weekend in Tahoe! But she pushed me away... you know you did, Maureen!" "Don't speak to my client, sir, address all your lies to me," John instructs him curtly.
"No! Please!" Larry says in mock horror as Ally walks into his office. She smiles, apologizing for calling him the biggest ass she's ever met. He asks why she came back, and she admits that, when talking with Renée, some things came out... she realized that men are such pigs that, upon finding one that's mildly decent, women confuse euphoria for love, and that makes them more liable to compromise when it comes to relationships. She tells him that she talked to Brian, but that she thinks he's still waiting for an answer. Larry tells her that men are raised on movies in which the woman spends the first two reels how much she hates him, then marries him in the third reel. Men are used to getting their noses bloodied, he tells her; she has to be brutal and blunt if she wants him to get the message.
John and Maureen step off the elevator, just as Richard walks by, pausing to grunt at her lustily. Maureen watches him go, then smiles, excusing herself quickly.
As Richard works in his office, the door opens... and Maureen walks in, closing it behind her and grinning sensually. Barry White starts to play. She moves in slowly, swinging her hips and unbuttoning her blouse as she lip-synchs to the music. Richard lets out a bloodcurdling scream.
"What were you thinking?" John asks. She says she thought that maybe she should try to be more sexual... the things that were said in court upset her greatly. John says he warned her about that, and that he'll have to say some pretty harsh things himself when they make the closing arguments tomorrow. He asks if she really wants to win the case, or if they should just give up now. "I need to win this case, John," she says shakily. "Do whatever it takes to win... at least let me have that."
Ally shows up at Brian's office. He greets her warmly, but she doesn't smile... instead, she sets the ring down on his desk. He asks her to keep it, in anticipation of the day they DO live together. Slowly, she says she doesn't think that day will ever come. His face falls as he understands that she's breaking up with him. "If you say something insipid like 'It's not meant to be,' I will vomit on you," he says. "We've been together for SIX MONTHS! Suddenly you don't like the sex, and you just walk away!" She says that she sees herself eventually getting tired of him - of them - and she doesn't want to move in with someone she feels that way about. "Your problem is you need help," Brian says. "You think Prince Charming is going to come swooping in and rescue you from yourself so you can act out some stupid childhood fantasy!" She looks away, quietly saying he doesn't have to yell. "I'm the one getting hurt here! I'll yell!" he shoots back. "Now what the hell have we been doing for six months? Why have you been dating me?!" She says that it's because he's a great guy, but also, that she might have been doing it out of default. "This is what I get for dating someone with the emotional I.Q. of a teenager," he says. "Get the hell out of here. Lose my number. I certainly plan to lose yours." She starts to protest, but he cuts her off. "If you think you're going to wrap a tidy 'Let's be friends' ribbon around this, you're wrong. Now go on, get lost." He sits down, picking up a file and pretending to read it. Ally looks at him for a moment, then turns and walks out.
"Everybody in this room knows what happened here!" John says to the jury. "Look at him... the charming, broke, good-looking guy and the plain, fat rich girl. He got to pay all of his debts, move into the big house, drive the Jaguar, redesign the master bath while SHE went to work each day. Telling her he's just not into sex, all the while having an affair with a wet T-shirt model. That's flat-out fraud. He testified he married my client because it was the reasonable thing to do. Well, they're great companions. Made good sense to build a future on a solid foundation, not something volatile, like passion or lust; that'd be stupid. Do you believe this, ladies and gentlemen? How many men do you know who don't prioritize sex? Especially ones who look like that," he adds, pointing to Wayne. "Men crave sex. It's who and what we are. As coarse as that sounds, to deny it is a lie, a big one. As big as the one he told her. And let me tell you something else; if you walk down the aisle with someone you do not feel passion for, that makes for lousy planning. The compromise that Mr. Keebler made was to sacrifice lust and passion for money. Maureen Ringer never agreed to that deal. She was deceived, lied to. The homely girl got taken, and that's why we're here."
"Here's a flash!" Raditz says. "Suppose Mr. Cage is right. He's NOT, but let's say he is. My client married her in part for her money. So what? People marry for money every single day. Since when did it become shameful? There's no approved list of what's right and what's wrong. And even if there were, Mr. Keebler would still pass the test because he did love her. As she testified earlier, they were great companions. There was no sham in the way they laughed together all night. When two people can laugh together like that, that's something." Suddenly, there is a loud crash... John has "accidentally" spilled a jar full of beans all over the floor.
Ally sits in a unisex stall, thinking, when suddenly the door opens... she screams, falling on the floor. "I should've knocked," Larry observes. She angrily demands to know why he's there. "Well, I was worried about you, actually," he says. "Breakups can be tough. I ha this image of you in the toilet... " She says that if he were any kind of decent therapist, he wouldn't be able to make housecalls. He pauses for a moment, confused. "I'm not a therapist, I'm a lawyer!" he laughs. "You thought I was a therapist? It says 'attorney-at-law' right on my door!" Astonished, she asks why he entertained their discussions. "You seemed like you needed to talk," he says. "I'm a good listener... - Right on the door, 'attorney-at-law'... is that too subtle? 'Lawyer, went to law school, sold out... '" She demands to know how he dares to give her advice about her personal affairs. "Because I'm a lawyer, Ally," he replies. "As a lawyer, we tend to embrace settlements as a good thing... we settle, we celebrate. You were about to settle and celebrate with a marriage ceremony. Not a good thing." He asks her if she's okay; she says she is, and he shakes her hand, saying that maybe they'll meet in court one day. As he leaves, he kisses her cheek.
The jury comes back quickly, having decided that the marriage shouldn't be dissolved by annulment. Maureen is crushed. Wayne approaches her, saying that now that she legally has to pay him alimony, he wants her to know he doesn't want any money from her. "I did love you, Maureen," he says. "But you didn't accept the conditions of our marriage. You pushed me away." She says that she wanted passion, she wanted to be touched... "That wasn't the basis of our relationship," he reminds her. "There may have been fraud here, Maureen, but I wasn't the one who committed it." He walks away, leaving her more devastated than before. John gently offers to take her home.
"Maybe I'll share my life with somebody," Ally thinks to herself that night, "and maybe I won't. But the truth is, when I think back on my loneliest moments... there was usually someone sitting right beside me."
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