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The Playing Field is the 18th episode of Season One of Ally McBeal.

Synopsis

Ally faces off against a child prodigy-attorney; a woman claims she is the victim of harassment because, unlike her female co-workers, she refused to use sex as a means of advancing her career.

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
with Peter MacNicol as John Cage
and Gil Bellows as Billy Thomas

Special Appearance By

Tracey Ullman as Dr. Tracey Clark

Guest starring

Jesse L. Martin as Dr. Greg Butters
Josh Evans as Oren Koolie
Christine Dunford as Eva Curry
Wren T. Brown as Mr. Stone
Vonda Shepard as Herself
Michael Winters as Judge Herbert Spitt
Shea Farrell as Mr. Tyler
Miriam Flynn as Karen Koolie
Jerry Sroka as Joel Tyler

Plot

Ally has another session with her therapist, Dr. Tracy Clark. Labeling Ally "a weakling," Dr. Clark encourages her to meet her fantasies head-on by kicking the baby in the bottom and walking through the water whenever she is drowning.

Later, Greg gives Ally a ride to work. During the journey, Greg runs a stop sign and collides with another car driven by Joel Hornstock. Ally takes control of the situation. She suggests that both drivers exchange insurance information and not admit liability. In the conference room, Fish, Billy and Georgia meet with Eva Curry, who claims she was the victim of sexual harassment because, unlike her co-workers, she decided not to climb the corporate ladder by having sex with her boss, James Tyler. As a result, Curry maintains, her career has suffered. In court, Curry admits she has never met Tyler and has never been harassed by him in any way. But the women who did have sex with Tyler all received promotions. Judge Spitt rules in favor of an evidentiary hearing.

Renee tells Ally that she locates her self-esteem in her breasts. She encourages Ally to find her esteem on her own body. Ally settles for her lips, which she feels are the most attractive part of her body outside of her eyes. Renee encourages her to "think lips." When Ally walks into the office complex the next morning, she thinks she sees Mr. Huggy. Acting upon Dr. Clark's words, she kicks the "baby" into a desk. But the fantasy Mr. Huggy turns out to be a real child. Ally is mortified when she realizes she attacked Hornstock's attorney, Oren Koolie, who is both a little person and a nine-year-old child prodigy. Once Koolie stops crying, he asks for $125,000 in damages. Later, Ally experiences a fantasy in which her lips grow into a huge pucker. Greg grows uncomfortable and excuses himself.

Ally returns to Clark's office for more therapy. Clark tells Ally that Greg is afraid of her because he knows she is the right woman for him. Ally disagrees with the assessment. But she does admit that he makes her nervous. Clark suggests that Ally visualize her very own Pips (referring to Gladys Knight and the Pips) the next time she plays her theme song.

When Ally again meets with Oren, she offers no settlement... with the exception of paying Hornstock's deductible. Oren cannot hide his disappointment‹and dissolves into tears. Later, Karen Koolie explains that her son hates to lose a case. She also reveals that since neither children nor adults will play with Oren, the only way she can get people to sit in a room with him is by deposition. Ally locates Oren and sits him in her lap. She reminds the boy that he is still just a child... and is perhaps too young to be exposed to attorneys. Oren snuggles close to Ally... then begins negotiating for a settlement.

In court, Fish addresses the judge, arguing that disgruntled lesbians were the driving force behind sexual harassment laws, and that women should qualify under the Federal Disabilities Act, as they cannot cope with office romances.

When Ally again speaks with Greg, and begins feeling nervous, she takes Dr. Clark's advice and imagines herself as three back-up Pips. Feeling bolstered and playful, Ally makes reference to having Greg over her knee. When Greg is taken aback, the Pips disappear. Ally again grows nervous... and even more frustrated. Later, at the bar, Dr. Clark encourages Ally to use her sex appeal as power. In the conference room, Oren disappears under the table when Ally refuses to agree to his settlement terms. Ally confronts him. She tells Oren that, in the real world, lawyers do not hand out settlement money that easily. And she refuses to give him preferential treatment because of his size. Once again, Oren breaks into tears. Judge Spitt rules that he failed to find a way to dismiss Curry's "preposterous" claim, as he is not certain she was not victimized. He authorizes the case to proceed to trial.

At the Unisex, Oren wonders aloud about who made up the rule that it is a man's world. Ally offers to settle for $35,000, Oren agrees to bring it to his client. Later, Ally tells Georgia that Oren was right about the "man's world" rule. Georgia, fretting over how her old boss feels about her victory over sexual harassment, also has nothing good to say about the opposite sex. When Fish enters the room, the fired-up pair chastise him for his antics in court. But the tongue-lashing only manages to arouse Fish. Later, Ally informs Greg that she settled with Oren. During their conversation, the Ally Pips make another appearance.

This time, Ally perseveres and doesn't let Greg get away. She opens a dialogue about how they feel about one another. Ally moves closer, and the pair are face-to-face. Greg insists he has never kissed a girl he hasn't danced with first. Ally takes his hand and the pair dance.

Music

Photos

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