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The Practice

Cage/Fish & Associates

AM-115 Once In a Lifetime

Once again the stage is set, and the players assume their respective roles. The last episode was a disappointment; I am greatly relieved that "Once in a Lifetime" was a return to complex, layered situations and contexts.

Do people tend to make judgements on compatibility so soon and with so little information? DEK certainly seems to pay homage to the romantic concept of ideal love with all its ramifications. He does acknowledge that this romanticism must accommodate reality in some sense or form. Is Ally's response to John realistic. He certainly seems to be perfect husband material at first glance. He is educated, he is sensitive, and he makes excellent money. Yet Ally sees or feels the "ick" factor. The show by implication acknowledges the fact that people tend to look for relationships based more on chemistry than on compatibility of social values or social class. And this view is somewhat supported by reality. Most people hunger for the "chemical response", the hormonal overdrive that heightens subjective reality.

Now many might say that Ally is looking for compatibility of personality, but how does that explain Cheny. He is pleasant in personality, but he does have certain emotional weaknesses that are obvious. Why else would he kiss Whipper despite knowing that she has a boyfriend. The most obvious reasons I see why ally liked him is because he is attractive. In my opinion, most people tend to deny the importance of physical attractiveness in the viability of potential boyfriends/girlfriends.. There was a series of studies that seem to indicate the importance of this element despite what people would say. In this study two agents, male and female, went on blind dates with a pool of people. The agents went on dates first as unattractively as possible, then as attractively as possible.

The results were unsurprising. When the agents were attractive, the dates were positive, but when they were unattractive, the dates were bad. They also did a blind series of blind dates and found definite correlation between physical attractiveness and the other person's perceived satisfaction with the date. If the date was unattractive, the other person did not want to see them again….If the dates were attractive, the other person felt the date was a success and clearly wanted to see them again…I think maybe the most important reason why Ally felt the ick factor was because he did not do it for chemically. In short, despite her protestations, she did not find him physically attractive enough. She lies to herself, and she lies to him.. Of course there are other mitigating circumstances such as Billy and unresolved love, but then why did she not feel the "ick " factor for Cheny?

Now when John greets Ally the next day we see a series of patterns emerging. First, despite her best intentions, Ally feels uncomfortable with John and acts accordingly both verbally and in nonverbal tones. John, the master litigator that he is, obviously notices this reticence, and this affects his mood dramatically. Nothing hurts a man more than a woman he is interested in, acting strange around him. And a man would express this hurt not with tears, but with aggression generally in the form of confrontation with others and combativeness, which can clearly be seen in the way he speaks to Richard in the meeting.

His need to discuss his problem with Richard is unsurprising…He may be competent in many ways, but ultimately he lacks social skills specific to intimate matters. He confronts the question all men must face on how aggressive he must be on his dates, and simply enough he opts to be a gentleman, partially for her, and partially to protect his own feelings from a possible rejection. If he tried to kiss her, and she rejected him, he would have made himself too open, too vulnerable in his affections for her, and thus hurt him more. He needs to see himself in control, and by not kissing her he does not make himself too vulnerable to possible rejection. If he does not kiss her, and she later rejects him, he can at least pretend that his feelings for her were not too intense, and that he doe not care that she breaks up with him..If he kisses her, however, he opens up a channel to being hurt. To love another is to increase the chance of being hurt.

Do women want men who are aggressive? I would say the answer is a conditional yes. Obviously a woman does not want to be forced, but when a woman likes a man, she would like him to be the aggressor in the more intimate actions. Even ally expressed that opinion before. "I want to be seen as a sexual object at times. …I want a little grope." The above sentence is a rough paraphrase of she said….I do not remember the exact line….And certainly a woman may be independent and the equal of men but women generally like to be dominated once in awhile. It makes them feel cherished and wanted. If woman really want complete equality, why then do they hunger for protection, and look for it in the man they love….tones of Cro-Magnon Man…

Ally's meeting with Sidney Little is quite hilarious in many ways… First, the show seems to poke at itself by acknowledging the comments by the audience that real lawyers do not wear such short skirts…..This action shows a level of sophistication, in using self-deprecation…..the worst offense is to be too serious. And like art reflects life, TV reflects life….and vice versa. Not satisfied with that allusion, DEK throws in overtones of Freud with the statement of "P------". Obvious comparisons to the concept of p---- envy"…..Quite cerebral…. Richard once again expresses himself quite eloquently…Pants….P----….co-counsel…Done….Great actor… DEK seems to imply that the dating process is a complex one; in short it is a series of maneuvers both physical and emotional…. Not unlike a battlefield. Invade her space, make her aware of you as a man….Falls into line with the past theories espoused by ally with regards to dancing……it is all a game and we must play it well…

Interestingly enough, the case they are doing seems to open up new issues for us to examine… The concept of mental incompetencey and of control is certainly a relevant one…..One of the founders of the Beach Boys had problems in that regard when other members felt he was no longer mentally competent, and that he was being controlled by his psychiatrist. When is it too much? Who knows…You love the man, yet your actions hurt him further….A sad state of affairs..

Idiosyncrasy rules in this episode….John's remote toilet flusher is funny. The case also brings to the forefront the existing tension between Billy and Ally….My opinion is that the elephant was merely a device used to indicate the massiveness of the issue and nothing more. DEK seems to revel in animal jokes..i.e.….horses, and now an elephant. The elephant even does tricks….The problem, the issue of unresolved emotions is there and it is gigantic……

The case forces them to take a good look at their feelings for one another and this focus brings discomfort to both….Better to deny than to face the truth…The song then plays…."Love……brings such misery and pain….." to reinforce the truth that love can be a burden at times….It is not always a bed of roses… Billy's unresolved feelings for Ally is displayed in many ways……..No matter what he may say or do…he still wants her to love only him… The line between the case and their own situation seems to be very fuzzy and they often cross the line repeatedly….At times the confusion is evident…. Song are excellent in establishing and reinforcing certain tones and moods, and DEK uses this to great effect in this episode..The song was one of possession, and of distilled memories, and of raw nostalgia….

"See the pyramids along the Nile……Watch the sun rise on the tropic isle. Just remember all the while..You belong to me……See the market place in old Algiers..send me photographs and souvenirs…Just remember when a dream appears…You belong to me…..

This song can be taken two ways…One it represents the feelings, the emotions Billy and Ally have for one another…..and when we see Georgia, the song can signify that she feels the same way for Billy…..I see troubles ahead and rocky times ahead….The look of despondency in Georgia's face was very touching…… Ally's relapse into nostalgia is certainly believable..At times memories are intoxicating……

The poignancy of the love lost threatens to overwhelm everyone….In love as intense as this, the loss of the love alters the very perception of the remaining person….it darkens everything…Mood, especially intense ones can influence, and control one's subjective perception of reality…In this deep, dark despair, the sufferer expects reality to reflect his sense of chaos and sorrow. And logically, reality does not change…But Sidney wanted some objective recognition of his loss in reality…But everything seems to go on the same…The sun rises, etc….He wants to paint her, to ultimately validate and share his love , and his loss of his one great love….Romeo and Juliet time….Bring out the tissues…..darlings….To express one's creative impulses is to validate one's own place in the universe. John's fall is remarkably like the boxer's fall in prior episodes…There may be hidden reasons for this obvious similarity…..Could it be fundamentally a tangible expression of loss, and of utter defeat…..The boxer loses in the war of violence, and John loses in the war of relationships…..hmm…..give me your opinions..

Anyway, the unresolved feelings ally and Billy have for one another reaches a tangible climax…At this point, there is no doubt in my mind, at least, that she is speaking about Billy as well as about Sidney.. The truth comes out…A love that lasts forever..is what any woman wants as testament. Yet Billy has failed to keep the torch alive….he has not waited for her and this is betrayal..She never asked to wait for her and she never will, but the expectation is there…..Billy recognizes this and asks her whether or not she will ever forgive him for letting go and moving on…..She and he believe their love is as powerful as the love between Romeo and Juliet, yet he moved on……..and this hurts her…….fascinating…..Can such a love exist…Who knows….Opinions please…A tale of tragedy that slowly unravels, revealing pain and regrets…..with misery on both sides…

Please…..no flames….these are my opinions...Please..share your thoughts...

By Kenny Lee (thanos001@aol.com)
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