Synopsis of Reasons to Believe
Written by Jennifer W.
John is staring out of his office window at the falling snow when Ally walks in and startles him. His pants fall to his ankles. Embarrassed, he looks down, turns around, and falls over the chair. "Whatcha doing?" Ally asks. "I came into the office to work on a closing. I ate some bad pastrami and got some gas pains; so I loosened my trousers and that is when you walked in. I apologize," he stammers. Ally says that it is no problem and wonders what closing he is working on since he isn't even in trial. "My generic, um..." he says, as he is buttoning up his trousers. "John, what's up?" Ally inquires, obviously concerned. "It's too beautiful -- the light snow falling. Sometimes, it's hard to walk home on a beautiful night when you...have gas," he answers. Ally wonders if he meant to say, "When you're alone". John says that lately he has been getting the feeling that he is going to be alone all his life. He says he doesn't mean to sound as if he is feeling sorry for himself because he loves his life, has a great job, and makes tons and tons of money. However, he sees himself thirty years from now as a lonely old man, with nothing to call his own but a worn out trial bag. He looks up and sees Nicholas standing at the doorway. He screams, Nicholas screams, Ally screams, then John screams again. After everyone stops screaming, Nicholas tells John he needs his help. John introduces Nicholas Engbloom to Ally. "THE Nicholas Engbloom?" she asks. John says that he grew up two houses away from Nicholas. Nicholas tells John that he needs his help with a case that is going to trial tomorrow. "You have a case? I thought you went into retirement?" John asks. Nicholas says he came out of retirement for one last trial. He is working on a murder case, but the problem is his client won't really talk to him because she doesn't trust him or anybody else. "She has Tourette's Syndrome (TS)," he says. He again asks for John's help. John asks Nicholas if everything else is ok because he sounds a little low. "Uh, sure. I just want to help this girl. She seems like a really nice person," he stammers unconvincingly. Ally asks him how his client committed the murder. "She ran over her lover with an SUV," he answers. "And then she backed up over him." Nicholas concludes that it will be a tough case. Ally and John look astonished and then nod in agreement.
In the morning meeting at the office, Richard is looking over the file for the new case. "Murder?" he asks. "Yes, that's the charge. Yes, she rolled right over her boyfriend," John answers. "What's the defense? Bad tires?" Richard queries. "She ran right over him?" Nelle asks in disbelief. Ling asks John why the client needs him when she has Nicholas Engbloom. Looking taken back, John says that Nicholas and his client have some communication problems because she has TS. "Oh, Tourette's. She has that, ugh," Richard says and makes a face. John asks Richard if he even knows what TS is. "Thank you, John. I will have you know that I was once honored by the American Tourette's Society because of my charitable work in that field. (Everyone rolls their eyes.) That's where they whoop and run around like monkeys, right?" Richard says. Elaine walks in and tells John that there is a woman there to see him. Richard asks if the woman is cute. "Yes, Richard. Just your type. She has wattle for days," Elaine answers. Ling gives Richard a dirty look. "Just asking," Richard mumbles.
John walks into his office and finds a woman named Brandy waiting for him. She apologizes for barging in on John since she knows he must be very busy. John tells her that he was about to leave to meet Nicholas since he is going to second chair for him on a murder case. "Oh well. I guess under the circumstances, I should not have come," Brandy states. John asks her what is wrong. She tells John she came to ask him to be her lawyer because she wants to divorce Nicholas. "Why?" John asks. Brandy says it is because of the trial. "You know he is supposed to be retired. And he promised me that he would. But, now he is coming out of retirement and I can't take it," she explains. "But out of all the couples in the world. The happy couple..." John says, obviously dismayed by the news. "He's been happy and I have been waiting. And I won't wait anymore," she concludes. "But like I said, under the circumstances you will probably be representing him," she says as she gets up to leave. John asks if he can at least set her up with decent council.
John and Ally are asking Larry to represent Brandy. Larry shakes his head "no". "But with you representing her and me representing Nicholas, we may be able to actually broker this back together," John states. "It's suppose to be adversary, John. Just like marriage itself," Larry reminds him. John says that they are the most in love couple he knows and he doesn't understand why they are divorcing at age 70. It's outrageous and he is not going to let it happen. He tries to convince Larry by saying, "I know how you massage people and make their worries go away. You did it with Kimmie, you did it with Elaine, and Lord knows how you massage Ally." Ally nods her head in agreement. Ally volunteers that Larry will help John because "these are the kind of things that he can't say no to". Larry looks at Ally. "Thank you," John says.
"Why didn't you tell me she threw you out?" John asks Nicholas. "I was embarrassed and I really thought she would take me back," he answers. They walk into the conference room where Melanie, the murder case client, is waiting. John tries to introduce himself. "Melanie, I am Jonathan Cage. Actually, it is Jonathan. I mean, John. Uh, I apologize. Sometimes when I am nervous, I add extra syllables to fill dead air," he stammers. His nose whistles. He tries to introduce Ally. "This is my brother Ally McBeal. I mean, uh, sister. I mean, uh, neither. I meant "brother" as a legal term. Us lawyers sometimes refer to each other as brothers. I know that the term is archaic," he stutters. Melanie whoops and gives the thumbs up (one of her tics). John does the same. They all look at him. "Therein lies the cause for my nervousness. It's possible I have TS, though I'm not very symptomatic. But one of my symptoms is that I sometimes pick up on the tics of others and mimic them. It seems to be very involuntary, like your symptoms. It normally comes out when I am nervous. I just want you to know that I was not mocking you," he tries to explain. Melanie assures John she believes him. John states that he believes pleading temporary insanity would be their best option. Melanie says that she cannot agree to that. She says that people have looked at her like she was insane for her entire life. "Do you have any idea what that is like?" she asks John. "Perhaps not. But them thinking that you are insane for the moment could come in quite handy," he says. "I would rather be thought of as a cold-blooded murderer, than to be thought of as crazy. And if that makes me insane, I still don't want to plead it," she tells him and slams the table with her hand. She apologizes and explains it was just another tic of hers and that some of her tics are physical. "In your confession, you stated that you went over to your boyfriend's house with the express purpose of killing him. Is that correct?" John asks. She says yes. He wonders why she didn't just kill him in the house. "Excuse me midget," she says, as she twitches. "She did that to me," Nicholas whispers. "Nicholas, these utterances are involuntary. That is what TS is," John explains. "Pipsqueak," Melanie blurts out. Ally tries to hold back laughter. "When you left the house, he was very much alive and you wouldn't have had the chance to kill him, if he didn't follow you outside and stand in front of your car," John continues. Melanie asks him his point. He says his point is it sounds like she got angry and just snapped. Melanie interjects, "I am not pleading temporary insanity. I told that to him [Nicholas] and now I am telling that to you. Can we just go in and start the trial?" John says fine and tells her the trial will start after lunch. "Fine. Poop!" Melanie says.
Richard asks Mark how Elaine is in bed. "I have always wanted to find out myself but was always afraid of catching something," Richard states. "You are talking about the woman I am seeing," Mark says in shock. "I know. That is why I am asking," says Richard. Mark walks away in disbelief.
Nicholas is commending John on the progress he has made with Melanie. Elaine informs them that Mrs. Engbloom and Larry are waiting to see them in the conference room. Nicholas asks what is going on. John tells him that it is a settlement conference. Nicholas protests. "If you don't want to wind up divorced, you will do this," John explains.
Richard hands Elaine some files. "Wow! Nicholas Engbloom in my office. We should find a way to memorialize this," he says. Elaine agrees. Richard then asks Elaine if anything is wrong with her and Mark's sexual relationship. Elaine wonders why he asks. "Well, Mark doesn't want to talk about it, so I guess there must be nothing to talk about," Richard says. Elaine walks away.
In the conference room, Nicholas asks Brandy why she didn't have the decency to tell him she was hiring a lawyer. "Did you have the decency to check with me before you came out of retirement?" she asks. "Hold on. Let's start out with nice civil tones and then build towards the anger," Larry interjects. Ally asks them if the only issue is his retirement. They both say "yes". "I have never cheated. For forty years, I haven't so much as looked at another woman. I come home to you every night," Nicholas says. She reminds him that he has a heart condition and that is why the doctor told him he needed to retire. "It's one lousy case," he says. She wonders why he took the case. He questions why they can't put their big retirement plans on hold for one month. "Why is it so damned important?" he asks. "I am the one who has been put on hold for forty-three years. I am tired of being the one you come home to. I want to be the one you wake up to," she tells him. He admits that he is afraid of retirement. "I am afraid of becoming dead inside. It's not that I don't love you. But it's not enough," he concludes. "I guess that is the problem then. It has always been enough for me," she says.
"Nothing happened?" Richard asks Mark, in disbelief. They are in the unisex. "Is there something wrong with your little thingy?" Ling asks as she comes out of the stall. Mark says "no". He admits that they both seemed nervous because of all the talk of Elaine's "experience". "Oh, I see. You are afraid of how you will stack up against the thousand or so men she has been with," Richard offers. He tells Mark that he needs a "sex song". "John has Barry White, I use Tom Jones. Doesn't it help me Ling-a?" he asks. "Amazing," admits Ling.
"Not all guys rush, Elaine," Ally tries to console her. "Larry and I dated a month before we...you know." "Well, not everyone is like you Ally," Elaine says. "I'm more...in heat". Ally tells her that it could be good that they have waited because some guys take things slower when they think it may be right. Elaine asks Ally how everything was the first time with Larry. "It was so, incredibly...private," Ally says.
In court, the prosecutor is questioning a witness, Mrs. Gayle, about what she saw the night of the murder. She says she saw them screaming at each other and he was waving his arms as Melanie got into the car. Although, she couldn't hear what they were saying. "Big girl. Hippo! HIPPO!" Melanie says aloud. The judge and everyone else look shocked. The witness says she saw Melanie start her car and as soon as he moved in front of the car, she "crushed him". John cross-examines and asks the witness, "You couldn't actually hear their argument?" The witness says "no". John says he has nothing further for the witness. The prosecutor enters the signed confession of the defendant and rests his case. John moves to dismiss the case because he says, "the prosecution's case lasted less than 20 minutes and if you are going to ask a jury to take away a woman's freedom, if you are going to charge someone with first degree murder, than you gosh darn better have a case lasting longer than 20 minutes in length. This is the height of expedience. I mean, they probably have the electric chair warming up to simmer as we speak! Well in this country, we call for evidence first and for a trial, a fair trial, not an 18-minute presentation. So send a message judge, use your gavel. Use your gavel right here, right now, to say enough." "Denied," says the judge. "The defense calls Melanie West," John says, as he sits down. Court is dismissed until the next morning.
Brandy is telling Larry that she doesn't want to talk about the situation. "Do you love this man?" Larry asks. "No, I just devoted my entire adult life to him because it was something to do," she responds. Larry wants to know why she wants to get a divorce. "Because I want to," she says. "Larry, he is going to die. He has a heart condition. I don't care if the doctor's gave him the green light, he promised me..."she trails off. "You know, we never had children, in part because we wanted to be together." Larry asks her what she wants to do once Nicholas retires. She says possibly dance, because they used to do that all the time. "Every Friday night, he would make me a Sea Breeze and we would dance to Johnny Mathis," she explains. Larry says he loves Johnny Mathis. He says that he used to think he was Johnny in a prior life, until he found out that Johnny was still alive. A Johnny Mathis song begins to play. He asks her dance. She starts to refuse and then decides that at her age, she should never refuse a young man asking her to dance. They begin to dance and Larry says that he believes there are many more dances left. "Why? Are you single?" she asks him. "I meant for you and Nicholas," he says. She smiles. Ally walks in and announces herself. They stop dancing and Larry tells Ally, "it's not what you think. It is just about cheap sex. Right, Brandy?" "I'm a thrill ride," she says. Ally tells them that Nicolas is still in court but they are going to try and set up another settlement conference for later that evening. Brandy says that she might talk to him once he retires for good, and forever. Larry puts his arm around Brandy. Ally says that issue is something they can discuss during the conference and in the mean time "stay away from her man". Larry removes his arm from around Brandy. (This whole thing is really cute!)
Melanie and John are in a conference room. John tells her he cannot put her on the stand if he thinks she is going to lie, which is what he believes she is going to do. Melanie denies this. He says he does not believe that she went over there to kill her boyfriend, because if she did, she would have done it inside. He believes the crime was committed because she snapped, which means it was insanity or in the heat of passion. He thinks it is time for Melanie to trust him. Melanie screams, then John screams. Melanie finally admits it was an accident and that she did not mean to hit the accelerator. "My Tourette's, like my hand, it happened with my foot. So I didn't realize that I had gone completely over him, I thought I was on top of him. So I backed up to get off of him, not to roll over him again," she admits. "Why didn't you just say that?" John wonders. "Because it is so humiliating. My foot shoots out and I run over someone with my car?!?! I have been laughed at and ridiculed my entire life. This would be worse. I would rather people think of me as angry," she says. John can't believe that she would rather spend her entire life in prison than face ridicule. "I have been asked to leave movie theaters because of my condition. Parents usher their children away from me because they are afraid of what I might do. I guess a crime of passion makes me seem more human," she tells him. John disagrees and asks her if she has thought about taking medication. She says that she is on medication. "You should see me without it." He says he wouldn't presume to know the extent of the embarrassment but he will presume prison is not the answer. She says she is willing to be only so pathetic. "Pathetic is having your life over. That is what is going to happen to you, if you are convicted," John says. He says that he wants her to get on the stand tomorrow and tell the truth.
Richard and Mark are dancing to "It's Not Unusual" in the unisex. Richard is trying to get Mark to feel the "sex song". Nelle walks in and asks what is going on. "Sex dance. It makes us better lovers. Remember you are the one who suggested it?" Richard asks her. "If you really want to turn a woman on, respect her. If you really, really respect her, she will do whatever you want. Men think it is all sweet talk and flowers. When all it is, is respect," she explains.
Nicholas explains to everyone why he doesn't want to retire. He said after his retirement bash, he went to his office and there he was faced with the fact that his life is going to change. The next thing he knows, he is out on the window ledge, looking down. He says he has no idea how close he came to jumping. "What are we supposed to do Brandy? Go to Florida, sip daiquiris, and play hide and go seek with our teeth?" he asks. Brandy doesn't understand what is wrong with that. He says she is asking him to be old. "You are old," she responds. He explains that he may be old when at home or out on the golf course but in the courtroom, he is still powerful. "Fine," she says and starts to get up. "Go to your court room then. What a fool I have been."
Ally and Larry are lying in bed. Ally asks him if he loves his job so much it is going to become the first priority in his life. He says he hopes not, but no man sets out to make work their number one priority. "Sometimes, it just happens."
Back in court Melanie tells Ally that her and her boyfriend were together for 6 months and that he was her boss at work. She describes what happened the day she ran over him with her truck. "We were fighting. I was in my car getting ready to leave and he was yelling at me because I was leaving in the middle of a fight. Then, SPLAT (she yells this because of her TS). It was an accident. I didn't mean to do it." The prosecution cross examines her and asks if she was in love with the victim. She answers "yes". "And the truth is, that you didn't just happen to get into a fight that day. He broke up with you. Is that correct?" he asks. She states she never denied that. He submits that until today, she never denied she tried to kill him intentionally. "That's because I felt humiliated," she says.
Larry is walking with Brandy to go with her to file divorce papers. She wonders why she has to be present to file. He says that it is a new rule. "Oh, look. Division II. That's were Nicholas's trial is. Should we take a peek?" he asks. "Is that the real reason you brought me down here. Larry, do I look stupid?" she asks. "Brandy, you are angry because you want someone to share your life with. But I ask you, have you truly tried to share in his?" Larry wonders.
The medical doctor is on the stand. "Motor tics of the lower limbs are not uncommon," he says. He confirms that Melanie has in the past exhibited squatting and twirling -- that does have to do with her legs. He states that under extreme stress, an entirely new tic could surface. Nicholas asks if it is possible that she involuntarily hit the accelerator. The doctor says, "Yes, it is possible".
Melanie and John are in a conference room discussing her chances. John tells her all they need is reasonable doubt and that Nicholas Engbloom has no equal when it comes to closing summations. John remembers how he used to go and sit in on Nicholas' cases and that he was the reason John became a lawyer. "And now he is your lawyer," he says. She sits next to him and says "and I have you as my lawyer too." She grabs John's hand and thanks him for making her try. Ally sees this from the doorway and smiles.
Outside, Ally whispers to John that Melanie likes him. He gets all tongue-tied and says he doesn't think so. He also reminds Ally she is a client. "Yes, I understand that. But suppose we win this trial, you two could go out. I think she gets you," she adds. "But with her syndrome and maybe mine, I think that may be a very dangerous combination," John says. Ally asks why. "What if we have to call 911? I start Poughkeep-ing and she starts to bark. No, this could be very dangerous." An emergency medical team comes down the hall yelling for everyone to get out of their way. Larry gestures for them to follow him. Ally and John run behind to find out what is going on. Brandy comes out of the room on the gurney and Nicholas follows, yelling her name. John asks what is going on. "She just went down," Larry says.
At the hospital everyone is waiting to hear news of Brandy's condition. The doctor comes out and tells them it looks like she will make it and that she suffered a massive coronary. Nicholas says he wants to see her but the doctor warns she is still unconscious. Nicholas wonders if God is trying to send him a message. "I wouldn't listen to her but maybe I should listen to him," he says, looking up. He goes in to see her and stands at her bedside.
Richard and Mark are in the unisex dancing and singing to "Respect". Nelle peeks from over the bathroom stall and says she thinks they are ready.
At the bar, Renée is singing "Respect". Richard and Ling and Mark and Elaine are dancing. Ally is on her cell phone finding out the news on Brandy. She tells Nelle, who is sitting at the table with her, Brandy is expected to be fine. "You know Nelle, life is short. It really is," Ally tells her. "Thank you," Nelle says. "Do you ever feel like you are wasting yours?" Ally asks. "Ally, I am happy for you and Larry. But I like my life is just fine," Nelle responds.
John and Nicholas are at Brandy's bedside. He tells John his real fear is if he is home all day, Brandy will figure out that he is not good enough for her. "You don't believe that," John says. Nicholas says that women love power and that she was attracted to his power. "What if she stops loving me?" he ponders. "She isn't going to stop loving you," John assures him. "Every time I won a case, I won it for the client. But I was secretly winning it for her," Nicholas says. John tells him to tell her that, when she wakes up. Nicholas informs John that he doesn't think he can close tomorrow and asks John to deliver the closing summation. John agrees.
John is pacing barefoot in his office trying to go over his closing. Ally enters and asks him if he is ready. He says "no". "How do I convince them she didn't intentionally run over him, when she ran over him without so much as an 'oops'. It is really hard to make any sense of this without...well, at least without any degree of persuasion," he wonders aloud. Ally asks if it has to make sense. "Some of the best things don't really make sense, do they?" she asks. "Such as?" John wants to know. "Well, Love, Beauty because it is in the eye of the beholder, and even Humor doesn't really make sense because who can really explain what people find funny. I mean it is the insistence on making sense, that doesn't make sense. And the people who do, they often end up...alone," Ally explains. "Ally, she barks, she squeals, she makes me squeal. Her little hand flies out and whacks things. When I go to a movie, I like for the action to stay on the screen," he says. "You're right, it wouldn't make sense. Hmmm..." she says and walks away, leaving John thinking.
Mark and Richard are talking in the office. "What a relief," Mark says. "Yeah, relationships are tough, until you get over that first hump (Mark stares at him). It was the song wasn't it?" Richard asks. "It didn't hurt," Mark says, with a big smile on his face. "Ling couldn't get enough of me last night and there was plenty to go around. I can tell you that. I took the big "V"," Richard says. "Viagra?" Mark asks. "Respect only gets you so far. True love? It needs chemicals," Richard volunteers. Mark asks if everybody is taking Viagra these days. "Yeah, pretty much. Hey, your last girlfriend did, that is how you found out the truth (referring to Cindy)," Richard responds. Elaine walks in. "Hey Elaine, not that it is any of my business, but how was he last night?" Richard asks. Elaine grabs Mark and kisses him, while laying him down on the desk. "It was the song," Richard says.
The prosecutor is giving his closing argument. He says that "they got in an argument, she runs out and gets in her car. She runs him over and confesses. But then in court, she says it was an accident." He submits that she is looking to get away with murder and that she is exploiting her disease to try and get away with it. John gives his closing. "It is a disorder, not a disease. The distinction does mean something to Melanie West because she has been stared at and gawked at her entire life and has been thought of as diseased or deranged. When someone suffering from Tourette's blurts something out, or jerks their hand, it is no more voluntary than a heart attack and no more welcome than one." He says that no one really understands the syndrome and no one there ever could. "Imagine, a word coming out of your mouth that you didn't intend to say. Or, that you are trying to maintain your dignity and self-respect, as you bark at people. As you squeal in a church." He says the only way Melanie could cling to her self-respect, and in order to not appear as pathetic, was to make up the fact she deliberately went to her boyfriend's house to kill him. "Unless you can walk in her shoes. Better yet, walk in her twisting, ticking body, perhaps you can't make any sense of it. Which means, you can't be sure. If you are looking to latch on to something tangible, something reasonable, it is right in front of you. It is called doubt," he concludes.
Brandy, Nicholas, and Larry are playing Scrabble on Brandy's hospital bed. Nicholas asks Larry what he is doing there, since the case is over. Larry says that he hasn't heard that from his client yet. He asks Brandy if the case is over. She says that she doesn't like the word "over", she likes "retires". She tells Nicholas there are big points in that word. He agrees. She smiles and grabs his hand. Brandy tells Larry the case is over. Larry is relieved.
The jury has reached a verdict of 'not guilty' of second-degree murder. Melanie thanks Ally and John. "So I am free?" she asks. "Single and free," Ally offers. Ally excuses herself so Melanie and John can discuss the 'bill'. Melanie looks perplexed. "She is a bit of an odd duck," John says about Ally. Melanie asks if he likes odd ducks and if they can appeal. John reminds her that they won. She says that if they appeal, it would give her a chance to have more meetings with her lawyer. John realizes that was an overture. "John, I know I come with a few quirks but, I have this feeling which I believe is something you share." John's nose whistles. She smiles and asks, "What if we agree up front that I will never drive?" John tells her that he would love to go out with her. Ally, eavesdropping, tries to stifle her excitement. Melanie kisses him.
At the bar, Ally and Larry, John and Melanie, Mark and Elaine, and Richard and Ling are all dancing. Nelle and Renée are sitting alone at a table. "If this keeps up [happy couples], you and I are going to have to actually becomes friends," Nelle says. "It will never come to that," Renée responds. "Promise?" Nelle asks. "You don't fool me. If I offered you some of my jelly roll, you'd step right up," Renée says. "How would you know? You've never offered," Nelle replies. Melanie asks John if she appeared too pushy by asking him out. He says he only dates pushy woman. "Why? Because you are too chicken to ask them out yourself?" "Yes, exactly," John says, "You know me already." "I knew you the minute you walked through the door. You had me on "Hi, I'm Jonathan Cage, I mean, Jonathan Cage, I mean...." Melanie tells him. John interrupts, "Alright, dancing is quiet thinking. If you are going to speak, let it be involuntary." She put her head back on his shoulder and gently bites his ear. He looks excited. In the hospital, Nicolas and Brandy are slowly dancing.
Back to episode info