The Promise
Air date: October 5, 1999
Summary/Review by Josh Bermont

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Things are hectic as always at Cage/Fish & Associates as they prepare to go up against a notorious lawyer named Harry Pippin. When Ally asks who he is, Richard gives a rapid-fire reply: "Fat man, no-win, moves like the Continental soon as he comes in, they move his case to the top and off you go." Billy explains that the judges don't punish him for being late because of his "condition" - - but he's aggressive, and he's known for arguing his case as soon as he enters the room, which means Ally will have to be on her toes when she faces off against him.

Sure enough, the obese Pippin shoulders his way into the courtroom and comes out swinging. As he leisurely strolls to the front of the courtroom, presenting his evidence in a monotone, Ally realizes that her case is up...the judge denies her motion, and Pippin is already on his way out before she has a chance to say more than five words. Ally catches up to Pippin in the halls and tries to convince him to settle the case out of court. He continues walking, barely acknowledging her presence...but as her voice speeds up in desperation, he starts to slow down, wheezing and clutching his chest. Suddenly, he pitches backward and hits the floor with the sound of a mighty oak falling. Ally shrieks, panicked, and starts to perform CPR.

Later, we see Ally visiting Pippin in the hospital. He says he's fine - - the "coronary" was actually a panic attack, which caused him to pass out - - then asks her if, when she was reviving him, she kissed him. Although this thought makes her ill, she sees that it means a lot to him, and "admits" that it was a little kiss. She leaves, kissing him gently on the cheek.

As Ally returns to her office, a plump young woman with red hair knocks on the door. "I'm Angela Tharp, Harry Pippin's fiancee," she says. She thanks Ally for her help, telling her that Harry is the best thing that's ever happened to her and giving the lawyer a bone-crunching hug in gratitude. Before she leaves, she invites Ally to the wedding.

At the bar, Harry approaches Ally nervously and asks if they can talk in private. He asks if she thinks she could ever be interested in him. She is shocked, reminding him that he's going to marry Angela. "Don't get me wrong, I love Angela," he says, searching for the words. "It's just...not a romantic love. We're good friends with limited options!" When he asks Ally to at least give it a try, to go out on a date with him and see if there's a chance, she says there isn't. He leaves, crushed.

The next day, Angela Tharp is waiting for Ally in her office. "I know you kissed Harry," she says. "You did damage...He said your lips were like candy." When Ally suggests that he just has an over-romanticized picture of her, Angela asks her not to come to the wedding. Later, Pippin comes to the office, apologizing for what he said before. But even though he's not going to try to woo her, he needs her advice. Harry says that, even though he loves Angela and knows that she'll make a good wife - - and someday, a good mother - - it's a love based on appreciation. "She's never made my heart bounce," he sighs. "Do you think it's wrong for someone to marry another person, not because she's the one, but because...she's the only?" Unsure of how to respond, Ally tells him that "we make so few promises to ourselves as we grow up and one of them is that on our wedding day we'll walk down the aisle with someone we love. Someone who does make our heart bounce, I guess. And there are some promises, Harry, that I feel we just have to keep."

But Ally's advice buys more than she bargained for. As she walks into the Cage/Fish offices, Elaine tells her that Angela is waiting for her in her office, threatening to snap her like a pencil. "Why is it that, even when a stranger has a heart attack, it has to be at my expense?" she moans. Angela tells her that Harry has "asked for a continuance" on the wedding, and she blames Ally for telling him that he should wait for the woman of his dreams. "People like Harry and me, we don't get the partners of our dreams...we have to adjust the picture a little," Angela says. "Which is okay! But sometimes, if you hold out for everything, you end up with nothing."

Angela storms out, leaving Ally to wonder whether the advice she's given Harry was correct after all. She decides that it wasn't, and goes to him, telling him that he should marry Angela after all. "Sometimes the worst thing for somebody's heart could be loneliness," she says. Even though she's ashamed to admit it, she tells him that none of her friends would ever go out with him because of his weight. When he asks if he should settle for Angela, she says he shouldn't think of it as "settling." He is choked up, but he understands, saying, "Angela, she's...a good girl." Ally agrees. "And promises we make ourselves when we're kids...stupid anyway," he says, his eyes filling with tears. Not knowing how to respond, Ally lowers her eyes.

As Vonda Shepard sings "I Only Want to Be With You," we see Harry and Angela leaving the chapel in a hail of beautiful confetti. Ally stands in the doorway among the friends and family, watching the smiling couple climb into a waiting limousine, ready to spend the rest of their lives together.


* First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who gave me their support and feedback for my first summary! You guys are the best, thank you so much!

* There were a couple of people who commented that my summary was quite long. Guess I kinda started off a bit...overzealous, huh? Anyway, I tried to trim this one down a bit.

* All right, so I have to grudgingly admit it: This episode was better than the last one. It was more coherent, it had a steady flow to the story, it didn't seem choppy and ridiculous like the premiere. But as a die-hard "Ally McBeal" fanatic, I still maintain that this entire thing is remarkably pale in comparison to the Real Deal.

* This particular story was one I hadn't seen the first time around. Excellent story (as always, Mr. Kelley...) and completely realistic in the emotions it portrayed. It was, however, the first "Ally McBeal" episode that left me feeling really depressed. Guess I'm just a romantic sucker...after seeing the joy and happiness my parents bring to each other every single day they're together, I've sworn to myself that I would never, EVER marry someone I wasn't completely, euphorically in love with. I've always felt that to do otherwise is a horrible mistake. It just breaks my heart that some people wouldn't have that choice, is all.

* I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for the twenty-fifth, and I know the rest of you are, too! See you next week!

All "Ally" summaries are by Josh Bermont. You can email him at

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