Richard Fish's pastor has come to the offices of Cage/Fish & Associates once again. This time, he needs help in dealing with a sticky situation. He's been involved with the music supervisor of the church choir for some time - - Lisa, the singer who performed "the short people song" at the funeral of Fish's uncle - - and when the relationship ended, she started singing a different manner of songs for church services that the type to which the pastor was accustomed...rhythm and blues songs about lost love and broken hearts. He knows that the breakup was very painful for her, and he feels that she's directing the songs at him. It makes him uncomfortable. "I'm afraid to fire her, or even demote her!" he says. "After our relationship, it may seem retaliatory. And yet, I can't let her keep singing those songs!" Fish points out that, since the pastor slept with her, she could slam him with sexual harassment law if he tries anything to stop her whether he's done anything to her or not. "You're a man, you're breathing...under Title 7, you're liable." John Cage suggests that they try to mediate, using someone who can speak the language of loneliness to convince her to ease off.
This is a job for Ally McBeal.
She gets to the church just in time...Lisa's rehearsing with the choir for the next church service, in which the pastor will be giving a sermon on world peace and unity through God's love. Her musical selection? A charming little ditty about nuking all the rest of the countries on the planet. Ally cringes.
Ally talks to Lisa about her choice of music. She tells the lawyer that her singing is the only thing that's helped her deal with the pain, and that the congregation loves it and doesn't seem to notice that it's aimed at the pastor. "Do you know what he did?" Lisa asks. When Ally confesses that she does not, Lisa tells her: "He changed his heart." That was the full explanation. They were in love and happy together, they had talked about marriage, and suddenly he tells her he's had "a change of heart" and leaves her. Clenching her jaw against the pain, she tells Ally that if he doesn't like the songs she chooses, he can leave the room...that's something she knows he can do.
Ally discusses this with the pastor. She asks why he stopped loving her, and he confesses that he doesn't know; unsatisfied, she interrogates him about whether he sought counseling about this, whether he really stopped to explore WHY he suddenly "had a change of heart." He is flustered, and asks whose side Ally is on...she thinks for a moment, then decides that she's on Lisa's side. They hear Lisa's voice from behind them, strained with hurt and confusion. "Where was the warning, Mark?" she asks quietly. "How about, 'I'm feeling different?' How about, 'I'm not so sure?' Why is it always great with men...right up until they run?" He stiffens, her words penetrating him.
Later, Georgia sees Ally in a bar, brooding. When she asks Ally what's wrong, it comes out that this case with Lisa and the pastor has made her realize something about Billy - - he didn't go to Michigan because he had to make law review, but because he wanted to get away from her. It was his way of "fleeing the scene." She understands now that Billy met Georgia in Michigan and fell in love with her...while he was still involved with Ally.
Georgia goes to Billy's office, upset. Ally's words have struck a nerve with her. "You can be in love with somebody, and yet...when somebody else walks into the room, suddenly..." He balks, asking if she's being serious. But Georgia remembers what he said to her, that he fell in love with her the first time he saw her. "It happened when you were in love with somebody else. That I was the beneficiary, great...but what about the next time?" she asks. Billy refuses to dignify that with an answer. On the verge of tears, she tells him that, when Ally comes at him demanding an explanation, he'd better dignify HER complaint...it's a valid one.
Lisa and Ally meet with the pastor in his office to talk things over. He apologizes, saying that he doesn't know what Lisa wants to hear. She starts to storm out angrily; Ally stops her, reminding the pastor that this isn't about telling her what she wants to hear...it's about telling the truth. He looks her in the eyes and tells her that she was the most wonderful woman he's ever known - - her kindness, her beauty, her values - - and he desperately wanted to be in love with her. He kept waiting to feel it, praying for it to come because he knew that falling desperately in love with Lisa and marrying her should be everything he ever wanted. She'd have been a good mother and the best lifelong companion he could want. But no matter how much he wanted to feel passion for her, he couldn't.
A little while later, Ally is talking with Lisa about performing that night with Vonda's band at the bar. When the lawyer asks her if she's okay, Lisa considers, replying, "I think so. At least I understand it, Ally." She points out that it could always be worse; what if he HADN'T broken up with her? She would have ended up marrying a man who wasn't in love with her. Ally agrees that this would have been a bleak prospect indeed, and Lisa leaves...as Billy walks in and closes the door, a solemn look on his face. He tells her - - with difficulty - - than when he initially considered going to Michigan and made a preliminary visit, he met Georgia and knew within ten minutes that she was the woman he would marry. But nothing happened with her until he had broken up with Ally. When she says that he lied to her, he tells her that he DID, in part, go to Michigan to make law review and reminds her that it was she who once told him that if the truth serves no other purpose than to cause pain, then it has no purpose being told. "You have no idea how much pain the truth would have spared me here, Billy," she says, looking out the window bitterly. He says that he doesn't understand, that she hasn't lost anything today that she had yesterday. She spins, telling him that yesterday she was able to believe that she had the perfect love once...it was what gave her the strength to look for it again, without ever being ashamed or thinking it was an unrealistic expectation. "But maybe I never really had it," she says, her face crumpling as she starts to cry. He starts to say that she did, apologizing for what he did and saying that he should have done things differently; she holds her hand up to stop him, turning away again and assuring him through her tears that she's fine. He stands uncomfortably for several seconds before leaving.
That night, Lisa sings the blues song "Fools Fall in Love." The pastor slips into the bar unnoticed, watching her perform. Ally walks home slowly, thinking about all that's happened...and alone in his office, Billy sinks into his chair, feeling lousy for the mistakes he's made.
This week's summary does not include a 'Bits and Pieces' section.
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