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Making Spirits Bright is the 10th episode of Season Two of Ally McBeal.


As Christmas approaches, Fish's biggest client is fired from his job after he sees a unicorn; Renee and Matt's relationship heats up.


As the Christmas holiday draws near, Cage notices Nelle, her attention focused on a document, standing beneath some mistletoe in the office complex. He slowly advances on her, stealth-like, resembling an animal stalking its prey. But Nelle senses his presence, and turns in his direction. Cage confirms that he did, indeed, intend to kiss her. Billy interrupts their conversation. He announces that Sheldon Maxwell, who is Fish's biggest client, was fired from his job as a bond trader. Later, the attorneys meet with Maxwell, who explains that he lost his job after he told colleagues he saw a unicorn inside his office. The news hits Ally hard. Maxwell insists he did see the creature. He also insists that his job performance has been exemplary.

Matt finds Renee inside the courthouse. He tells her that there are many, many reasons for him to walk away, and only one that won't let him.

Ling, in an uncharacteristic good mood, enters the office complex and distributes Christmas gifts. But her charm and warmth disappear when the recipients express puzzlement regarding her pleasant holiday cheer. Later, Elaine tells Ling that no one believes she is capable of goodwill.

When Ally returns to the apartment, she walks into Renee's bedroom, and inadvertently interrupts Renee and Matt as they make love. Ally apologizes and runs out.

Judge Whipper Cone presides over the Sheldon Maxwell case. Fish is pleased with this turn of events, as he believes Whipper may have seen a few unicorns of her own. In court, Billy argues that Sheldon's unicorn sighting has not affected his performance on the job. But Attorney Henry Nixon counters that investors will file a massive lawsuit against the brokerage house should a delusional employee cost them their fortunes.

Matt again encounters Renee inside the courthouse. He ushers her inside a witness room, where their passion once again escalates.

Sheldon Maxwell takes the witness stand. He describes his first encounter with the unicorn inside his office. He asked his colleagues if they, too, could see the mythological creature. But none of them could. During cross-examination, Henry Nixon wonders if someone who sees unicorns is mentally capable of performing their job.

Billy remembers that when he and Ally were seven-years-old, Ally told him she saw a unicorn. Ally dismisses the encounter as a figment of her youthful imagination.

Inside the bar, Matt tells Renee that he is leaving his wife. He also tells her that his wife is four months pregnant. Renee immediately walks away. A short time later, Renee tells Ally about the new development. Both women fear Renee could end up getting hurt if she continues the relationship.

Sheldon' boss, Jackson Poile, takes the witness stand. Billy asks him if seeing unicorns is a sign of dementia. Poile states that this might be considered a symptom. Billy confirms that Poile is Catholic, and then asks if he believes that, one day, there will be a second coming of Jesus Christ. Billy wonders what would have happened if Sheldon had seen Christ instead of the mythological horse. Poile insists there is a difference between the two. Billy then tells Whipper that seeing an apparition - no matter what it might be - is not grounds for termination. Later, Sheldon somehow senses that Ally saw a unicorn. He tells her that people who have seen the creature share some of its traits, such as loneliness and virtuous hearts. Ally recalls how she petted the animal. Sheldon tells her that only those pure of spirit can approach the unicorn.

Billy presents his closing statement. He tells Whipper that his client probably hallucinated, which was perhaps triggered by loneliness and depression, common emotions around the holidays. But since the unicorn is a symbol of hope, Billy wonders who amongst them should judge where Sheldon can look for that hope. Whipper agrees with the argument, and Sheldon wins back his job.

When Ally returns to the apartment, she tells Renee that "common sense is killing us." She also tells Renee that it is difficult for others to penetrate the walls around her. If Matt has advanced beyond those walls, then perhaps they should be together.

The attorneys gather inside the office complex for the Christmas party. A short time later, Matt shows up at Ally's apartment to pick up Renee. Matt suggests they stay inside the apartment instead of going out together in public. Renee thinks about this a moment. She then tells Matt she understands his not wanting to destroy his wife. But she is also determined not to allow him to destroy her. She then escorts him to the door, and he leaves alone.

When the Christmas party ends, Cage spies Nelle standing beneath the mistletoe yet again. He advances, but she senses his presence and turns towards him. This time, she pulls him close and gives Cage a passionate kiss.

As Ally walks through the empty office complex, towards the elevator, she sees a unicorn. She pets the creature and wishes it a Merry Christmas.


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[1]
Lucy Liu as Ling Woo[1]
with Peter MacNicol as John Cage
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Special Appearances By

Richard T. Jones as Matt Griffin
Mark Linn-Baker as Sheldon Maxwell
Dyan Cannon as Whipper Cone

Guest starring

Lee Wilkof as District Attorney Nixon
John de Lancie as Jackson Poile
Amy Castle as Young Ally McBeal


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 From this episode onwards, de Rossi and Liu are added to the main cast, featuring in the opening credits, having recurred previously