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The Affair is the 4th episode of Season One of Ally McBeal.

Synopsis

The widow of Ally's former law professor asks Ally to speak at his funeral, not knowing she once had an affair with him.

Plot

As Elaine tries to interest Ally in her new "face bra" invention, Ally exclaims that Elaine looks like 'Hannibal Lecter." Fish sudden rushes over and tells Ally that their former law school professor, John Dawson, has passed away. What Fish doesn't know is that Ally once had an affair with the married Dawson. Fish informs Ally that Dawson's wife would like her to be a pallbearer. Not wanting to intially reveal the affair, Ally reluctantly agrees. Amid flashbacks of her relationship and breakup with Dawson, Ally then confesses the affair and her guilty feelings to Billy. Dawson's widow, Katherine suddenly arrives and to Ally's dismay asks her as one of Dawson's favorite students, to give a eulogy at the funeral. Again, unable to reveal the true nature of her relationship with Dawson, Ally agrees to.

Later, Ally recalls what made her break up with Dawson - meeting his 4-year-old daughter. She tries to talk to Billy again, but Elaine interrupts with a message from Ronald Cheanie, whom Ally has been dating. Over drinks that evening, Ally assures Cheanie that he doesn't have to go to Dawson's wake with her. Cheanie makes it clear that Ally's leaning on Billy, instead of him makes Cheanie uncomfortable. At the wake, Ally manages to maintain her composure long enough to look at Dawson in the open casket. When she finally turns away, she comes face to face with Dawson's now 8-year-old daughter, who clearly remembers her. Katherine sees her daughter's reaction and realizes that Ally is the woman who almost broke up her marriage. The next morning, Katherine visits Ally in her office room and confirms that she knows of the affair. When Katherine asks about the depth of Dawson's feelings for Ally, Ally cannot stand the heat and escapes to again to Billy, who urges her to lie to Katherine. When Ally finally returns to Katherine, she flashes back to Dawson's pleas of love, but tells Katherine that his indiscretion was just merely a mid-life fling. Katherine is somewhat comforted, but does tell Ally that she probably shouldn't speak at the funeral after all. That evening, Georgia confesses to Billy that Ally's confiding in him bothers her, as well. And as Ally dresses for the funeral, she is once again flooded with guilt.

Ally stops at the office before going to the funeral. There she finds Cheanie waiting impatiently. He demands to know what is transpiring between her and Billy and Ally informs him about the Dawson affair. Now upset not only by her connection to Billy, but by the fact that she had an affair with a married man, Cheanie breaks up with Ally. Later, at the funeral, the minister calls on Ally to speak, not realizing that she should have been crossed off the program. Greatly embarrassed, Ally goes to the pulpit. At first she rambles, but then she talks about what a devoted family man Dawson was, both publicly and privately and it is a healing speech for Katherine. After the funeral, Ally goes back to the office. Billy comes to check on her and, sensing she needs comforting, takes Ally in his arms for a slow dance around her office.

Script

Full transcript can be found here.

Quotes

Ally: [Seeing Elaine in the face bra] Elaine, you look like Hannibal Lecter.

Music

You Belong to Me (cover) | VONDA SHEPARD
Maybe I Know (cover) | VONDA SHEPARD

See also list of songs in the episode.

Cast

Starring

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
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Guest starring

Tate Donovan as Ronald Cheanie
Jerry Hardin as Minister
Vonda Shepard as Herself
Brett Cullen as John Dawson
Kathy Baker as Katherine Dawson
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