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Only the Lonely is the 20th episode of Season Two of Ally McBeal.


A slightly overweight woman claims her employer’s policy of allowing workers to wear bathing suits to work amounts to sexual harassment; Elaine is accused of stealing the idea for the face bra from a dead cousin.


Ally and her colleagues gather for a face bra infomercial party. They watch in disbelief as Elaine hawks her invention.

The attorneys discuss the progress of a case involving a slightly overweight woman who claims her employer committed sexual harassment by staging a company "beach day" (in which employees are allowed to wear bathing suits to work). Billy, who is representing the employer, belittles women for complaining about harassment… much to the disgust of Ally, Georgia and Nelle.

Elaine announces that her infomercial netted some eight hundred orders. She now believes she will grow rich as the result of her invention. But her happiness is short-lived; her Aunt Gladys slaps her with a lawsuit, claiming she stole the idea from her now-deceased daughter, Martha. Elaine denies the accusation. She insists that Martha stole the idea from her. Elaine is less than pleased when her colleagues doubt her story.

Cage tells Richard that turning thirty-five has made him feel bolder. He now wishes to pursue Nelle… and considers using the "knee pit thing" on her.

In court, Attorney Milton Cavern questions his client, the slightly overweight Vicky Sharpe. Vicky claims her software company’s policy of allowing workers to wear bathing suits to work one day a month was not only demeaning, it amounted to sexual harassment. She believes it would not have mattered if she chose to stay at home or showed up in regular clothing; either way, it would have called attention to the fact that she is not pleased with her physique. During cross-examination, Billy notes that employees were never required to wear a bathing suit, and that men also participated.

Cage uses the knee pit maneuver on Nelle, but the sensation causes pain, not erotic pleasure. Cage apologizes and runs off.

The firm’s client, James Volpe, takes the witness stand. He fondly recalls his youth, when his school held "Bermuda Day" and everyone would wear shorts, elevating morale. Volpe claims his company’s policy had the same purpose: to boost productivity. During cross-examination, Volpe insists that workers clad in bathing suits is in no way embarrassing, nor does it disrupt the workplace. With that, bikini clad women enter the courtroom, followed by a man wearing a speedo. The jury members are distracted by the sight. Afterwards, Ling encourages Volpe to settle. But he refuses to do so.

Elaine’s Aunt Gladys produces a patent application for the face bra. But Elaine continues to insist the invention was her idea. She cannot, however, think of a way to prove her case. A short time later, Elaine enters the unisex bathroom. Cage performs a dismount, crashing into her. Elaine ends up head first in a toilet. After she exits the room, Nelle and Cage decide to have a date somewhere other than the bar.

Attorney Cavern calls Julie Tyler, a company secretary, as a rebuttal witness. Julie, who is beautiful, testifies that she felt pressured to participate in bathing suit day. But Billy attempts to undo her damaging statement by pointing out she may have merely perceived pressure that was never really there to begin with.

During final statements, Billy argues that Volpe’s motive for staging Bathing Suit Day is not chauvinistic; it is to boost office morale. The jury agrees with the argument and sides with Volpe.

Elaine realizes that she and Martha discussed the face bra idea during Martha’s birthday party three years earlier. Elaine digs up an old videotape of the party. On the tape, Martha is heard asking about Elaine’s idea for the face bra. Ally and Georgia tell Elaine that the tape can be used as evidence to dismiss the lawsuit.

Nelle takes Cage, Fish and Ling to a rap club. Feeling awkward in his business suit, Fish purchases some purple glasses from a pair of young women. He and Cage take to the dance floor… where they become an instant hit with the crowd. Cage later realizes that Nelle brought him to the club as a test. Nelle tells Cage that he passed. Cage leans in and gives her a kiss… which Ally witnesses from afar. Later, Ally tells Renee that Cage won over Nelle by changing his attitude. Ally believes it’s time for her to do the same.

Nelle invites Cage to her place for dinner. Both Fish and Ally tell Cage that the offer can mean only one thing: Nelle wants to sleep with him. Shortly thereafter, Cage encourages Ally to pay Greg a visit in person… and to tell him how she feels about him.

Cage arrives at Nelle’s apartment, a bottle of wine in hand. Nelle had begun to think he wouldn’t show up at all, as most men believe an invite to a woman’s home for dinner is also an invitation for sex. Nelle tells him that, at a minimum, they must first have dinner. They then begin to kiss.

Ally shows up at the hospital to tell Greg how she feels. But she watches from afar as Greg exits the building with a date.

Cage utilizes his many years of dismount practice to leap onto a bed with Nelle. The pair kiss.


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

Special Appearances By

Jesse L. Martin as Dr. Greg Butters
Michael Gross as Mr. Volpe

Guest starring

Debra Christofferson as Vicky Sharpe
Bruce McCarty as Attorney Calvern
Jennifer Rhodes as Gladys Claven
Susan Blommaert as Judge Fox
Ashley Gardner as Martha Claven
Gabrielle Ford as Casey
Mary McDonough as Attorney Gloria Stepp
Noelle Evans as Miss Tyler


Portia de Rossi hated the limgerie scene here.