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Civil Wars is the 17th episode of Season Two of Ally McBeal.


Ally and Cage face off against Fish and Georgia when the firm represents both sides of a date rape case; Nelle represents a sweaty client in trouble with the IRS.


Billy, Fish and Cage gather on the floor of Fish’s office, where they enjoy some drinks at the end of the day. Billy admits to the others that he and Ally shared a kiss. This leads Fish to inquire what kind of tongue Ally has, whether it is wide and plump, or dry and lizard-like. Cage then reminisces about the time he inadvertently licked a date’s hearing aid out of her ear. Billy tires of the conversation and leaves the room.

The following morning, Fish assigns Nelle a client named George Chisolm, who is in trouble with the IRS. Unfortunately, George suffers from a glandular condition that produces unusually large amounts of perspiration. Nelle, who has a phobia about sweat, voices her concerns. Harry Wah, and important client, drops by with an urgent matter. It turns out that Wah’s son is being sued by a woman who claims she was seduced with fraud. As a result, she has filed a civil date rape claim. Fish recognizes the case, as Ally is representing the litigant. Fish asks Ally to drop the case, but she points out that the judge would never allow her to withdraw at such a late stage. As Wah is an extremely important client, Fish settles on a compromise: the firm will represent both sides (assuming the clients agree to the arrangement). Fish pairs off with Georgia to defend Wah’s son, while Ally and Cage join forces to represent the litigant, Paula Hunt.

Nelle and Ling meet with George Chisolm. Nelle hides her disgust when she shakes his sweaty palm. George describes how he donated money to a charity, which, in turn, invested the funds in a cash-value life insurance policy for him. The IRS claims that the premiums are considered income. Nelle openly worries about having George meet with the IRS agent. She fears that his perspiration will only make him look guilty. She decides to meet with the agent alone.

Ally meets with her client, Paula Hunt. Ally remarks that Wah’s son, Kevin is extremely good looking, and worries that a jury might think she wanted to have sex with him. She encourages Paula to settle, but she refuses. As Kevin is a wealthy man, she believes that settling for money will have little consequence. A short time later, Ally overreacts when her cell phone beeps. Cage notices her behavior. Ally tells him that she hasn’t spoken to Greg for a week. She also admits to having told him the truth about Billy. In a fantasy sequence, a cuckoo bird emerges from Cage’s forehead. Cage tells her that Greg would be a fool not to run away.

Nelle meets with IRS Agent Bernard Marsh. He requests a personal meeting with George before he rules the incident an innocent mistake.

In court, Paula describes how she met Kevin at a party. The two hit it off immediately, and for two nights, they talked until dawn. On the third night, they made love. Several days later, Kevin told her the truth: he impersonated a woman in an on-line chat room so he could learn her likes and dislikes and later use them to further the relationship. During cross-examination, Georgia points out that at the beginning of a relationship, people sometimes stretch the truth to impress the other person, and sometimes even cheat. Ally, sensing Georgia is leveling the remarks at her, objects. In a fantasy sequence, Georgia and Ally’s heads morph into hissing cats.

Ling and Nelle paint liniment oil on George’s body in hopes of keeping him dry during his meeting with Marsh.

On the witness stand, Kevin Wah insists that although he didn’t tell Paula how he learned about her at first, everything he said to her was truthful. Kevin had seen Paula at parties but was too timid to approach her. Armed with the knowledge gained from the Internet chat room, he felt he had a better chance at wooing her.

George, Nelle and Ling meet with Marsh. At first, George is calm and dry. But when Marsh begins asking tough questions, a bead of sweat appears on George’s forehead. As the grilling continues, the moisture begins to flow. At one point, George makes a gesture… and sweat flies off his hands, hitting Ling in the face. She screams.

Nelle realizes that George’s interview was nothing short of a disaster. Ling has picked up on the fact that Marsh is attracted to Nelle. She encourages her colleague to let her hair down before she meets with Marsh the next day. Rather than risk losing to the IRS, Nelle takes her advice. By using her feminine wiles, she convinces Marsh to allow George off the hook, letting him repay the tax debt without penalties or interest.

Inside the unisex bathroom, Nelle asks Ally if she really feels that what Kevin Wah did is the equivalent of date rape. Ally feels that it is, as Kevin completely misrepresented himself. As Georgia exits the unisex, she bumps into Ally. Ally pushes her back, and a fight ensues. Ling joins the fray. Ally climbs atop a stall and throws herself onto Nelle and Ling. Billy, Fish and Cage charge inside and pull them apart. Ally, who has a laceration above her eye, goes to the emergency room for treatment. There, Fish tells her that his final argument convinced Paula to reconcile with Kevin. Greg asks everyone to leave the room so he can tend to Ally’s wound. He tells Ally that the kiss she shared with Billy says something about their relationship. He then gives Ally a painful shot.


Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal
Courtney Thorne-Smith as Georgia Thomas
Greg Germann as Richard Fish
Lisa Nicole Carson as Renée Raddick
Jane Krakowski as Elaine Vassal
Portia de Rossi as Nelle Porter
Lucy Liu as Ling Woo
with Peter MacNicol as John Cage
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Recurring cast

Jesse L. Martin as Dr. Greg Butters

Guest starring

Robert Costanzo as George Chisholm
Anson Mount as Kevin Wah
Carmen Argenziano as Harry Wah
Kurt Fuller as Bernard Marsh
Gibby Brand as Judge William McGough
Maria Pitillo as Paula Hunt