Ally McBeal Wiki

In Dreams is the 11th episode of Season Two of Ally McBeal.


An ailing woman who prefers living in her dreams seeks a court order that would force a hospital to place her in a coma. Ling informs Fish that Nelle has tired of Cage’s lack of sexual aggressiveness.


As a contented Ally sleeps in her bed, snuggled next to her inflatable date, the telephone starts to ring. Ally awakens and answers the call. She is informed that her old high school teacher, Bria Tolson, has been admitted to the hospital. Ally leaves the inflatable date in Renee’s care and makes her way to the hospital, where she greets Bria, a frail but mentally alert seventy-year-old. Bria introduces Ally to Father McNamara, who has been keeping an eye on her during her stay. As Bria drifts off to sleep, McNamara informs Ally that Bria hasn’t long to live. As the pair converse, Bria begins hallucinating. Ally realizes that Bria is conversing with Henry Lane, an imaginary man who lives only in her dreams. Meanwhile, back at the firm, Nelle approaches Cage in the unisex and tells him how public places excite her. As Nelle begins undoing Cage’s neck tie, the toilet seat rises and falls in a rapid manner. Cage excuses himself and enters the stall.

Bria confides to Ally that, in her dreams, she and Henry married. Bria closes her eyes, and suddenly, machines begin to beep. A medical team charges into the room. Moments before she receives a jolt from the shock paddles, Bria opens her eyes. The doctor is taken aback, for the machine shows a flat line. McNamara realizes that a monitoring wire became disconnected. Moments later, Ally realizes that the physician who rushed into the room is none other than Greg Butters. Ally has a fantasy in which her tongue pops out of her mouth, if only a small amount, and flitters.

Greg tells Ally that Bria’s body is shutting down, and that she has anywhere from a week to three months left to live. Shortly thereafter, Bria tells Greg that she would like to go to sleep—and never wake up again—so that she can be with Henry and her children. Afterward, Ally pursues the idea of medically inducing a coma. Greg assures her that the hospital would never approve of such a procedure. Back at the firm, Ally informs her colleagues that she will go before Whipper to present her case. In court, she argues that when Bria goes to sleep, she enters a better place.

Back at the firm, Ling approaches Fish in private. She tells him that she believes Cage is gay, as he does not respond to Nelle’s sexual advances. Fish points out that no one thinks twice when a woman rebuffs a man’s advances. Yet when a man refuses sex, he is labeled as being homosexual.

Whipper agrees to speak with Bria in person. In her hospital room, Bria recounts how she first invented Henry when she wasn’t asked to the high school prom. As time went on, she began dreaming about her imaginary lover, until she reached a point where she couldn’t wait to fall asleep. She finds it ironic that anyone would think her crazy for wanting to live in such a better world. Whipper rules that Bria is of sound mind, but the hospital refuses to induce a coma. Ally decides to seek a court order that would force the hospital to put Bria to sleep.

Attorney John Woodson questions hospital Chief of Staff Mark Harrison on the witness stand. Harrison argues that it would be ethically immoral for the hospital to intentionally place a patient in a coma. He also points out that there is no guarantee a person would continue experiencing dream patterns once the coma was induced. Afterward, Ally points out that hospitals increase morphine drips to accelerate the deaths of terminally ill patients. She wonders why a hospital would have an ethical problem with helping a patient fall asleep.

Cage tells Nelle that he has avoided a sexual relationship because he fears it would ultimately lead to the end of the relationship. He states that, ultimately, he is more excited by the prospect of not going down that road, so that it will always remain the road ahead. A confused look passes over Nelle’s face. Later, Nelle closes her eyes and gives the "inner world thing" a try. In her fantasy, she envisions Cage getting thrown into a dumpster. She tells Cage that their relationship is over.

Ling tells Nelle that she is emotionally inept, and that she likes Cage because he will never find her "defrost button." She also believes that Nelle likes sex because she mistakes it for passion. But Nelle insists she is neither cold nor inaccessible.

Greg allows Bria to leave the hospital temporarily so she can be present in the courtroom during final arguments. In court, Woodson argues that if Bria wins the case, it would set a precedent that might one day allow people to take a pill that induces happy dreams. But in her closing statement, Ally argues that the court must not rule on the "big picture," but instead focus on one single case. Shortly thereafter, Bria tells Whipper that the risk of not waking up again does not frighten her. Whipper grants Bria’s request for a period of one week.

Cage approaches Nelle in her office. He tells her he is willing to risk their relationship by progressing beyond the platonic stage. The idea pleases Nelle.

At the hospital, Greg places Bria on a sodium pentathol drip. Moments later, Bria loses consciousness. Ally notices a little smile on Bria’s face as she sleeps.


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
Vonda Shepard as Herself
Portia de Rossi as Nelle Porter
Lucy Liu as Ling Woo
with Peter MacNicol as John Cage
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Special Appearance By

Dyan Cannon as Whipper Cone

Recurring cast

Jesse L. Martin as Dr. Greg Butters

Guest starring

Eileen Ryan as Bria Tolson
James Greene as Father Robert McNamara
Joel Polis as Attorney Woodson
Sam Anderson as Mark Harrison