November 17, 2018

The X-Files 8.20, Essence: No, We Still Don’t Know Who the Baby’s Father Is

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

If your life was in danger, you’d want these people helping you, right? Too bad, you only get Reyes

Summary: Ugh, this is one of those episodes that starts with a dumb Mulder voice-over. He talks about conception and biology and technology. Is fertilization still a miracle when humans manipulate the process? Also, how did Scully get pregnant? Was it God, or Mulder’s sperm? (Or, you know, aliens?)

Maggie’s throwing Scully a baby shower, and she wishes Scully would tell everyone the baby’s sex so she could know what color scheme to use. Maggie guesses it’s a boy, and Scully decides to humor her by telling her she’s right. The first guest to arrive is Lizzy Gill, who’s come early to help Maggie set things up. She’s a baby nurse, but she’s never met Scully, so that’s kind of weird.

Once all the guests have arrived, Scully opens presents while Lizzy takes on hosting duties. Maggie really wants Scully to hire her to help out once the baby’s born. This is probably a bad idea, since Lizzy sneaks into Scully’s bathroom and replaces some pills from the medicine cabinet.

At Zeus Genetics, Dr. Lev is working, surrounded by some ugly jarred babies. Billy Miles shows up to look at the ugly babies and confirm that Lev has been successful up till now. But he’s going to need to take an early retirement, by which I mean he’s going to die, and Billy’s going to torch his lab to destroy all his hard work.

Doggett does manly things at home, like clean his gun and watch NASCAR. Maybe he’s overcompensating because he’s mad that he didn’t get invited to the baby shower. Mulder comes by and shows Doggett a news report about the fire at Zeus. It’s being ruled as arson, so Mulder easily guesses that it’s part of a cover-up. Time for the guys to work together again!

They go to the FBI’s analysis center, where an agent named Crane is assisting with a search of everything recovered from Zeus. Crane agrees that there’s a cover-up of some sort, but it’s not anything the FBI should be involved in, and definitely not anything Mulder needs to be involved in. Mulder, however, has learned that Lev is MIA, which has to be significant. He reports that Lev and Parenti, Scully’s OB, were Zeus’ co-founders.

Doggett thinks Mulder thinks that Parenti burned down Zeus, which means they’ll need to track him down and question him. They break into his office, which they think is closed for the weekend, but isn’t. Parenti’s doing a procedure on a patient and isn’t pleased that the guys have interrupted. Doggett asks if the procedure has anything to do with the room he’s found that’s full of ugly jarred babies.

Parenti plays the “my colleague just died and a bunch of my life’s work was destroyed” card, which I guess is supposed to give him a pass from explaining all the jarred babies. Mulder thinks his work trying to prevent birth defects is really connected to alien embryos. Parenti notes that Scully’s baby is totally healthy, so what does that say for his experiments? Mulder isn’t so sure that Scully’s baby is totally healthy.

Scully takes one of the pills Lizzy replaced as Lizzy says goodbye. She must have called for a ride already, because it’s waiting for her when she exits the building. That guy should work for Uber in 15 years. Well, maybe not, since he’s Duffy Haskell, whcih can’t be good. Lizzy tells him that she thinks Scully trusts her. Duffy’s glad, saying they’re “almost at the end.”

Mulder and Doggett go back to the analysis center, since some teeth have been found that may be Lev’s. Some other unidentifiable biological material was also found, though Doggett is quick to point out that “unidentifiable” doesn’t necessarily mean “alien.” Mulder says they’ll just have to ask Parenti about it. But they’re probably too late, since Billy arrives while Parenti is packing up his ugly-jarred-baby lab and tells him the office is now closed.

By the time Mulder and Doggett get back to Parenti’s, it appears to be empty. Doggett is stunned to find Parenti’s head in one of the jars. Mulder runs into Billy, who throws him through a glass wall. Doggett threatens to shoot before he sees the telltale bumps on Billy’s neck that indicate that he’s no longer human. The two face off, but Doggett’s gun is no match for alien DNA, so Billy escapes.

Doggett takes Mulder to Scully’s place so she can stitch up the cuts he got from the glass (which are way too minor and too few for what just happened, but whatever). They tell her they saw Billy; Doggett thinks he was super-strong because he was on drugs, but Mulder knows better. He thinks Doggett should know better, too, since Doggett runs the X-Files. Doggett points out that Billy bled red blood, not green. Mulder says they’re dealing with something new, then.

He reminds Doggett that Billy underwent procedures, shed his skin, and is now supposedly in perfect health. Doggett notes that the same thing happened to Mulder. Mulder corrects that it didn’t happen – Scully stopped it. Scully just wants to know what Billy, Mulder, and Doggett were doing in Parenti’s office. Mulder tells her that he just needs to make sure the baby’s going to be okay. Scully trusts her new doctor and is sure herself.

Lizzy interrupts with some dry cleaning, and Scully tells the guys that Maggie asked her to help out. Mulder says he’s trying to do the same thing. He just doesn’t want any surprises when the baby’s born. In the bedroom, Lizzy calls Duffy to tell him that Mulder and Doggett are there, “asking the right questions.” Duffy tells her to keep a cool head. Then he gets ambushed and gets his own head cut off…by Billy.

The head isn’t found for almost 24 hours, when Doggett meets Skinner at the scene of the decapitation, a warehouse/medical facility. The coroner says the method of decapitation “defies logic.” Just like so many things on this show, coroner. Skinner’s like, “I’m not saying they make alien babies, here but I’m not saying they don’t make alien babies here.” Lev and Parenti have records there, showing that they and Duffy were monitoring Scully’s pregnancy.

Mulder joins the two agents, apparently having been called by Skinner. Instead of talking about Duffy’s death and his connection to Lev and Parenti, and what that means for Scully, Skinner wants to discuss the question the audience also wants answered: Who is the father of Scully’s baby? Mulder jokes that there’s a pool at the FBI. It sounds like Skinner thought Mulder was the father, then changed his mind when he found out Mulder was digging around.

Mulder says the father is irrelevant at this point: Scully was declared barren, and now she’s days away from having a baby. Skinner says that means they need to move fast to get some answers. Mulder calls Scully, who’s in the shower and asks Lizzy to get it. Lizzy doesn’t respond, so Scully answers (and we all get rewarded with a “Scully, it’s me”). Mulder asks her to meet him and Skinner so they can talk about a possible interference in her pregnancy.

Scully hears noises in the bathroom and catches Lizzy replacing more of her pills. She smartly rushes to the hospital to make sure she hasn’t taken any medication she shouldn’t. Her doctor assures her that everything’s fine – she was just taking vitamin supplements. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. I don’t know about you guys, but I believe her!

Maggie feels horrible for putting Scully in this situation. She’s worried about Scully, who keeps everything inside. Skinner comes to the hospital and tells Mulder that, while they won’t be able to hold Lizzy on any crimes, Doggett has been talking to her, and Mulder should hear what she has to say.

Lizzy tells Mulder, Doggett, and Skinner that she’s spent the past few years working as a research scientist, trying to create human clones. She didn’t have much success, but the project was well-funded by the government. Those sponsors are all dead now. The project used DNA that the government has had since 1947, and was able to create alien babies. They implanted alien embryos in human mothers, and though the babies never lived more than a couple days, the scientists were able to collect tissues and stem cells to use in further experiments.

Mulder asks about those experiments, and though Lizzy isn’t familiar with them, she knows they were for good purposes. She promises that she was trying to protect Scully, not harm her or the baby. Mulder doesn’t believe her and demands to know what’s wrong with the baby. Lizzy says again that there’s nothing wrong with the baby. It’s special and perfect, the kind of baby a scientist could only dream of creating in a lab.

Mulder storms out, and Doggett tries to follow him but gets stopped by Crane. The FBI has gotten a call from Billy, who wants to turn himself in. While the two head over to get him, Mulder goes to Scully’s and tells her to pack a bag. He thinks she’s in danger, though he’s not sure who the threat is. Scully refuses to leave, saying she can’t live as “the object of some unending X-File.” Mulder promises that he’s going to make sure she and the baby are okay, but he can’t do it here.

Doggett and Crane lead a team into Parenti’s office to capture Billy, but he’s no longer there. Doggett calls Mulder to tell him. The lights go out in Scully’s apartment, and Mulder decides they need to leave without getting any of Scully’s things. They exit just seconds before Billy shows up. Mulder’s car is wedged into a parking spot between two other cars, so they can’t make a fast escape. But as Billy’s approaching the car, another comes along and flattens him. It’s driven by Krycek, and he’s there to help…allegedly.

Without any choice in the matter, Mulder and Scully join Krycek, speeding off as Billy collects himself from the pavement. They go to the FBI building, where Doggett protests that they shouldn’t be looking for help from someone who left him for dead. Mulder and Skinner ignore him, since Krycek has answers. He knows that other alien replicants are coming and will be almost impossible to stop. They want to wipe out any threats so they can come back in the future and take over the planet.

Doggett’s still skeptical, of course, but Krycek reminds him of what Billy did to Parenti and Lev. The replicants don’t answer to anyone; they only operate on their biological imperative to secure their survival. Scully guesses that they’re after the baby, which is a pretty safe bet. But Krycek says they didn’t even know about the baby. He’s not sure how they found out how special it is.

Scully disagrees – the baby is normal. Krycek says it’s a miracle, conceived by a barren mother. The replicants are afraid of what that could mean. The baby could turn out to be bigger than them – “more human than human.” Mulder thinks this means there’s a higher power. Doggett still thinks Krycek is a liar, but Krycek says they can’t afford to risk the fact that he’s right. There’s no hospital safe enough for Scully right now. He can’t even be sure they’ll make it out of the FBI building.

Mulder has an idea and tells Doggett to call Reyes. Skinner tells Krycek he doesn’t get to come along on the road trip, since they still can’t trust him. Doggett goes down to the parking garage to meet Reyes, then tells Skinner over the phone that he can bring Scully down. But then he spots Billy in the garage and tells Skinner and Mulder to keep her inside. They’re almost out of the elevator and have to rush back in as Billy approaches.

He takes the stairs up as Mulder, Scully, and Skinner return to the spot where they left Krycek. “Hey, look who’s back!” he says, all pleased with himself. Mulder’s so desperate to protect Scully that he hands her off to Krycek, then leads Billy on a wild goose chase while Scully and Krycek sneak down to the garage. Scully goes off with Reyes with a “drive safely” from Krycek.

Mulder and Skinner lead Billy to the roof, then trick him into attacking Skinner while he’s standing at the ledge, so Mulder can tackle Billy and make him fall off the roof. He lands in the back of a garbage truck, which…compacts him? I think? It looks like they orchestrated the whole thing with help from Crane, who then gives Scully and Reyes the all clear to drive off to safety. Or maybe not, since Crane has alien bumps on the back of his neck. To be continued…

Thoughts: Lizzy is played by Frances Fisher.

I can’t believe I’m about to watch an entire season of this show that won’t feature Mulder looking hot in a black T-shirt. Thanks a lot, Duchovny.

If I ever have a baby, I want Krycek in charge of driving me to the hospital. I feel like he and Mulder would have similar temperaments, but Mulder would get pulled over for speeding, while Krycek would be able to evade the police.

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November 13, 2018

ER 2.18, A Shift in the Night: Skeleton Crew

Posted in TV at 5:03 pm by Jenn

Imagine having “lapdancer getting stitches in her butt” on your résumé

Summary: Mark’s trying to get home in the rain, and he’s not happy about it. It’s daylight out, but he goes to bed…for about three seconds, before Weaver calls and asks him to come to work. He refuses, since he’s worked three nights in a row. Mark suggests that Doug take the shift, but Doug was in a car accident and has whiplash, which means he’s in a neck brace.

Mark borrows Doug’s shoes since his own were soaked in the rain. He complains that he drove all the way to Milwaukee to see Rachel, only to learn that he had the wrong date. He drove back in the pouring rain, and now he has to work his fourth graveyard shift in a row. Doug doesn’t envy Carol, who will have to put up with Mark’s attitude all night.

Susan’s meeting with a lawyer to try to fight Chloe over Susie, so she can’t stick around to help Mark with a chaotic shift. Weaver does some quick rounds with him to pass off her patients. Though the exam rooms and waiting area are full, no one’s in horrible shape. Unfortunately, there are barely any doctors around other than Mark and Carter. Mark tells him, Carol, Haleh, and Lydia that their goal is to move everyone along in a timely fashion.

A teenager named Omar is brought in drunk and yelling that he doesn’t want to be touched. Mark tries to tend to him while giving instructions to nurses about other patients. He also assigns Jerry to basically be the bouncer of the waiting room. Mark examines a woman named Mrs. Votey, a senior citizen who teaches self-defense to other seniors. He thinks she’s showing signs of an impending stroke, but he has to pass her off to another department, since he doesn’t have time to do any tests.

Benton’s on call for traumas, but Mark doesn’t want to deal with him, so when Jerry tells him the victim of a drive-by shooting is coming in, Mark says to call another doctor. He and Carol think Omar may have drunk antifreeze. Carter has been taken off the surgical service, thanks to his stupid stunt of drinking while on call, but at least he hasn’t been suspended (and he gets how badly he screwed up). Mark helps him get a bead out of a man’s ear.

Paramedics bring in the drive-by victim, a toddler. Pam the paramedic reveals that the shooter was a 14-year-old kid, whom the cops shot dead at the scene. Pam doesn’t have much of a problem with that. Malik comments that of course the cops had no problem shooting a black kid. Haleh remarks that the kid didn’t have a problem shooting this one. (For the record, all three adults speaking here are black. Pam never mentioned the race of the shooter, but considering the cops killed him, Malik is probably right that he was also black.) The girl was shot in the leg, so her condition isn’t as bad as it could be, but she’s sobbing, and it’s hard to watch.

Carol tells Mark that they have to get an antifreeze counteragent for Omar from another hospital. Mark tells her to take a bottle of bourbon from a homeless patient instead. Malik tells Mark that Mrs. Votey’s new doctor wants her to be discharged. Mark may not want to have to take care of her, but he’s not about to let her go without medical attention.

Morgenstern has come in, and though he won’t close the hospital to more trauma cases, he’ll at least help by answering phones. He tells Mark that every time they close to trauma, they risk being closed for good. They’re sending a message that they’re not capable of providing care. Mark says that’s because they aren’t – he has more patients than they have beds or staff. Morgenstern agrees to move some patients around, but not close.

Benton complains that Mark didn’t page him for a patient. The doctor who was called instead isn’t doing what’s best for the patient. Morgenstern takes over, ending the fight. Chloe has come by looking for Susan and is instead hanging out with Carter. She wants her sister to see that Chloe’s changed her life. She talks about her fiancé, the first person besides Susan who’s taken the time to get to know her and see who she is. Mark pretty much stays out of the situation.

Omar is being taken care of medically, but psych can’t do anything for him for a week. Typical psych. A teen named Corky brings in his father, Louis, who appears to be having a heart attack. A doctor named Randolph interrupts as Mark is trying to get Corky to tell him and Carol what’s really going on. He just says his father is sick. Randolph has come down to tell Mark that he can’t admit Mrs. Votey because her HMO won’t approve it. He’s discharging her.

Carol gets Corky to tell her that Louis is an alcoholic, but his wife has been putting Antabuse in his drinks. It has a bad interaction with alcohol, causing Louis’ illness. Mark is furious that Corky has known all this time. A woman named Mrs. Huggins (whose nagging inspired Mark to use Jerry as a bouncer) bugs Mark about seeing her son, who has a cut on his hand. Mark tells her again that she’ll have to wait. He tries to go across the street to get a sandwich, since he’s been waiting to have dinner for hours, but he’s sidelined by a car accident right outside the hospital.

Shep and Riley try to pry one of the car doors open while Mark and Chuny talk to a girl inside. Mark thinks he can grab the girl’s hand and pull her out. He ignores Shep when he tells Mark to leave, and eventually Shep physically moves Mark away from the car, not being very gentle. Mark goes back inside, where there are so many people waiting that they’ve had to bring in folding chairs.

To make matters worse, there are no more coffee filters in the lounge. Mark shows Carter a trick with a used filter. Carter wonders how Mark is able to handle taking care of so many patients at once. Mark says it was a lot easier when he was younger. When Rachel was a baby, Jen would bring her to the hospital with a picnic, and the three Greenes would have dinner together between patients.

Mark next gives stitches to a woman with an angry little dog, which he calls “a small, furry object suitable for punting.” He chats with a lapdancer who’s in the ER to get stitches in her butt. Mark has neither the patience nor the time to be turned on. He complains to Lydia that things are taking too long tonight, and he wasn’t even able to do something heroic by helping the girl in the car.

Jen calls to ask for medical advice since Rachel seems to have altitude sickness from a camping trip. They end up fighting. Mark runs off to take care of the girl from the car, which he does while ignoring Shep’s attempts to apologize for his rough treatment. Carter confidently runs a trauma next door, allowing Mark to move back and forth between patients.

He pages Benton for one patient, but Benton takes too long to arrive, so Mark guides Carter through a procedure on his own. By the time Benton arrives, he’s no longer needed, so Mark has time to yell at him for taking so long. He tells Benton that when they’re working in the ER, everything else in their lives has to be ignored. He’d better not pull something like this again.

Carol, Lydia, and Haleh watch as the clock hits 2:00, which means the bars are now closed and victims of drunk-driving crashes will be coming in. That means the people still in the waiting room will have an even longer wait. Someone’s so impatient that he called 911 from the waiting room, thinking that would get him moved up in line. Mark tells Jerry that they just have to make it through the next four hours until new doctors come on shift.

Carter stitches up the lapdancer, freeing up Mark to finally tend to Mrs. Huggins’ son, Danny. Of course, that’s when Carol comes to get Mark so he can talk to Louis’ wife. She takes responsibility for Corky’s silence, saying she asked him not to say anything about the Antabuse. She admits that her husband is abusive, and Corky has to get in the middle. Mark suggests that she and her son go to a shelter. She doesn’t seem ready, but she knows things are about to get serious, because Mark is required by law to call the police.

Danny cut his hand when he dropped a mirror he was helping his mother hang. On top of his seven years of bad luck, he can’t have stitches because it’s been more than six hours since he was injured. He’ll have to take antibiotics, then come back (and wait again) for more treatment. Mark moves on to another patient, who happens to be Loretta’s son, Jimmy. He’s not too sick, and Loretta is pretty understanding about the long wait.

Mark decides to take a different approach to all the waiting patients. He loads up a cart with supplies and rounds up Carter and some nurses to announce his plan. They each take a chart, treat as many conditions as they can in the waiting area, and send people on their way. Jerry thinks Mark has snapped and lost his hold on reality. Carol’s pretty sure he’s having fun.

Carter runs down a list of possible diagnoses for a woman named Lois who suddenly went blind. Mark thinks she’s faking and gives him a test to find out. He treats a girl’s arm injury without an x-ray, and gives Carter a metal detector to find the location of a magnet a boy swallowed. The test with Lois works, proving that she was faking (but at least that means she’ll be fine). A patient throws up on Mark’s shoes, but they’re Doug’s, so he doesn’t care. Carter has trouble talking to a patient with hearing problems, so Mark has him use a stethoscope as a hearing aid.

Once the chaos has died down, Mark calls Rachel for a quick chat. He shares a vending-machine breakfast with Carol and Lydia, and thanks Carol for her hard work. Then he tells Benton that they’ll need to find a way to work together. Susan comes in with Susie and tells Mark that she needs to get a better lawyer; hers said that Chloe could have a case for getting her daughter back. Susan knows her sister well enough to know that getting a job doesn’t mean she’s stable.

Doug and Weaver take over, allowing Mark to finally go home. Carter thinks Mark’s idea to treat in the waiting area was terrific. It’s how he thought medicine would be when he was in school. Mark says it’s how it’s supposed to be. Both head off to figure out what to do with the day ahead of them, because apparently sleeping for 12 hours until their next shift isn’t good enough.

Thoughts: Lois is played by the late, great Kathryn Joosten.

I would last five minutes working this shift before I had to go sit in a corner and rock back and forth while singing a lullaby.

Somehow, Loretta looks better now than she did before she had cancer.

November 10, 2018

The X-Files 8.19, Alone: You Got Me on My Knees, Leyla

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:19 pm by Jenn

Mommy and Daddy are fighting

Summary: It’s just after 11 p.m. in Ellicott, New York, and a man named Gary has just returned home after doing something for his elderly, ill father. Gary doesn’t get why he has to check locks for some guy named Stites. Gary’s father, Arlen, says he doesn’t need to know the reason. Gary leaves the room to make dinner.

Arlen’s blood pressure rises as he sees that a window in their house is open. He thinks that Gary didn’t do his job after all. Arlen stops breathing, and Gary doesn’t hear the beeping of his blood-pressure monitor from the kitchen. He also doesn’t hear when something swoops into the room to attack Arlen. When Gary returns, Arlen is gone, and the creature that attacked him is ready for another victim.

In D.C., Scully cleans out her desk, finding the fused coins and Queequeg’s dog tag. She’s starting her maternity leave, which means Doggett’s left to run the X-Files division by himself. Scully gives him the Apollo 11 keychain Mulder once gave her, saying it symbolizes teamwork and partnership. “It means no one gets there alone,” she says. After the craziness of the past year, she wants Doggett to know that she wouldn’t be here without him. Doggett starts to get the impression that Scully’s leave isn’t just temporary.

He stares at Mulder’s “I want to believe” poster for a few moments, then quickly gets a new case. Leyla Harrison knows about the events in Ellicott, and since the local police can’t figure out what happened, Leyla thinks the case should be an X-File. Too bad no one told Doggett that Leyla is his new partner.

The two go to Ellicott and check out the house, even though Arlen’s body was found in the woods. Leyla explains that Arlen was the caretaker for a house on the property, though he himself needed a caretaker because he was confined to a wheelchair for the past few months. Gary is missing and is the main suspect in his father’s murder.

Doggett doesn’t get why Gary dump Arlen’s body in the woods and flee after killing him in a way that covers up a murder. That suggests premeditation, while dumping the body suggests panic over an accidental death. Leyla takes notes while Doggett finds some kind of slime in the room. She thinks she was right to classify the case as an X-File.

After giving the slime to the local police, the agents go to the woods. Leyla reveals that this is her first case in the field. Doggett tells her she’s being used; Kersh is trying to saddle him with someone inexperienced because he hates the X-Files. Leyla’s very familiar with the division, though; she used to work in accounting, processing Mulder and Scully’s travel expenses. That poor woman. She admits that she might not be qualified, but she’s well-informed. And really, I think her eagerness should count for something.

Doggett finds more slime in the spot where Arlen’s body was found. Leyla thinks it could be bile from a creature like Tooms or an alien that’s shed its skin. Doggett just gives her a look that means, “You are talking too much about crazy things. Please stop.” As she takes a sample of the slime to be analyzed, Doggett heads into the woods by himself.

Back in D.C., Scully and Mulder are going to a birthing class!!! Sorry, I’m okay. Scully’s feeling down about all the changes in her life. She feels like she’s a deserter for leaving the X-Files. Mulder tells her she’s paid her dues and deserves a break. He guesses that she’s also worried about Doggett and assures her that he can take care of himself.

Doggett goes to the house Arlen was the caretaker for, in which the creature that killed him seems to be squatting. Doggett senses its presence and draws his gun, but instead encounters Leyla. He sends her outside to guard the front door while he tries to force the creature outside. She’s so inexperienced that he has to tell her to take the safety off so she can actually use her weapon.

Outside, Leyla hears a skittering sound that would have sent me back to D.C. on the first available flight. The creature attacks her from above, and Doggett hears gunshots. When he gets outside, Leyla’s gone. Good job, Doggett – two hours on the case with your new partner and you’ve already lost her. When he goes looking for her, he falls through a trapdoor hidden under some leaves.

Skinner leads a search party in Ellicott, confirming for Scully over the phone that Doggett has vanished. He tells her to stay in D.C. instead of coming to look for her partner. She knows that Skinner’s doing everything he can, but she’s worried it’s not enough. Meanwhile, Doggett finds himself underground in a cave that’s been conveniently wired for electricity but not outfitted for cell service.

Scully takes herself off maternity leave so she can autopsy Arlen’s body. Mulder tracks her down in the morgue so they can revisit their old working relationship where she finds something weird on a body and he tries to explain it. She tells him that Arlen wasn’t murdered – he was blinded by some kind of substance that contains venom. Mulder says that, according to Skinner, Doggett and Leyla found the same substance. He urges Scully to let someone else continue the investigation.

Doggett comes across part of a…bear? A bear skull? I don’t know. He hears skittering in the cave and gets attacked by the creature. It sprays him with slime, causing his eyesight to turn blurry. Leyla, whose sight has also gone blurry, finds Doggett and leads him to Gary’s body. She tries to think of a past X-File that might apply here, but Doggett would rather focus on their current circumstances. He thinks someone or something sets traps to gather food for the creature. The two can see sunlight coming through a well-like hole in the ceiling, but their blurry sight makes it hard to figure out how high up it is.

Mulder goes to Ellicott and meets up with Skinner, who’s like, “I’m going to pretend you weren’t fired and we’re just working this case like we used to.” They’ve found Doggett’s car at a convenience store half an hour away, so the search is moving out there. Mulder knows better and wants to join the search in the woods.

As Doggett climbs up to the hole in the ceiling, Mulder approaches Stites’ house. Stites himself comes to greet him, and the two chat just feet away from where Doggett is climbing up toward the trapdoor. Stites tells Mulder, who’s using Kersh’s name, that he’s a biologist and doubts that an animal is responsible for Gary’s disappearance. Mulder agrees – he thinks a man is using reptile venom to blind people.

Doggett finally reaches the top, but Stites is there waiting for him. He steps on Doggett’s hand, making him let go and fall back into the cave. Doggett yells up at Stites, who really doesn’t care that he’s a federal agent. Doggett guesses that he’s Stites, and judging from his books and papers in the house, he’s a scientist.

Leyla suggests that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Stites and the creature, which would make sense for an X-File. Doggett tells her that Mulder and Scully aren’t there to save them, so speculation won’t help. Doggett decides to go look for another way out. He leaves Leyla behind to shoot the creature if it approaches. Yes, arm the woman with poor vision. Before Doggett can leave, Leyla realizes that Gary is gone – the creature must have taken him away.

Mulder’s staking out the house, eating sunflower seeds, when Scully calls to let him know that Stites complained about him to Skinner. She thinks a reptile is responsible for the attacks; it’s the only thing that makes sense. Mulder disagrees – he found his regifted Apollo 11 medallion on Stites’ lawn, which means Doggett must be nearby.

A lab tech tells Scully that the slime from Arlen’s eyes contains digestive enzymes that break down tissue and liquefy bodies. Basically, the creature sprays the victims, then waits until they turn into tasty drinks. Scully can’t think of a species that can do everything this creature can, or “at least not yet.”

Doggett and Leyla wander blindly through the cave as her vision worsens, making her worry that she’ll end up like Gary. The creature reappears and Doggett shoots at it. Leyla finds Gary again, this time apparently having been the creature’s snack. Scully calls Mulder back to tell him he was right about Stites. He was working on a new species of reptile, so he may have genetically altered the creature that’s now killing people.

Mulder sees the creature in Stites’ yard and hangs up on Scully to go chase it. He loses it when it scales (heh, scales) the wall of Stites’ house. Mulder bangs on the door and yells for Stites, who doesn’t answer…because he’s the creature. Once he morphs back into his human form (and puts some clothes on), Mulder accuses him of protecting the creature. He thinks Stites didn’t mean for it to get out and attack everyone. But he also thinks Stites knows where Doggett and Leyla are.

Stites takes Mulder into the cave to get Doggett and Leyla, but Leyla somehow knows that Stites is the creature. Stites vanishes before they can do anything. Mulder wants to take Doggett’s gun, since he himself is unarmed, but the creature is approaching and will attack before he can get close enough to Doggett. This means Doggett will have to shoot the creature, despite not being able to see it crawling over their heads.

Mulder tells Doggett to aim for the sound of his voice. Though Doggett protests, he does it, shooting the creature just as it drops down to attack Mulder. The creature turns back into Stites when it dies, which means Leyla just solved her first X-File.

Sometime later, Mulder and Scully go see Doggett at the hospital, and he cutely gets excited when he thinks they’re there for Scully to have the baby. Doggett’s eyesight has been restored, and Leyla’s on her way to full health. She’s decided not to continue in the X-Files, which is too bad, because she currently has a 100 percent success rate and should ride that as long as she can.

Mulder thinks Doggett should have the Apollo 11 keychain, but Doggett wants to give it to Leyla. She’s thrilled. She also has a question: When Mulder went to Antarctica to save Scully, and they saw the spaceship, how did they get back home? Scully notes that they never confirmed that it was a spaceship. She and Mulder squabble over that and never answer the question. Doggett watches the three of them together, then leaves, alone again.

Thoughts: Remember when this was The Mulder and Scully Show? I miss that.

Leyla’s more interesting than Reyes. Too bad Reyes is the one we have to see more of.

Good casting on Stites. He totally looks like a guy who would do weird experiments and turn himself into a killer lizard. (No offense to the actor, of course.)

November 6, 2018

ER 2.17, The Match Game: You Can Cut All the Tension With a Scalpel

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

I guess they give them white uniforms so they can be bleached, but it’s still a dumb idea

Summary: Mark rides his new motorcycle to work and tells Jerry he feels like a Hell’s Angel. Jerry admires the beard he’s growing, though it’s taken him a week to get it to where it is. He’s also ditched his glasses for contacts. Someone’s having a midlife crisis! Jerry tries to invite himself along on an evening out with Doug and Mark, but Doug doesn’t take the bait. Hicks tells Benton that Vucelich published his study, so Benton’s accusations haven’t gone anywhere. Since he isn’t willing to take it to the ethics committee, Hicks thinks he should keep his mouth shut.

Carter’s so nervous about finding out which hospital he’s matched with that he’s throwing up in a bathroom. Harper is unbothered and possibly amused. Susan and Chloe meet up for breakfast, and it’s super-awkward. Chloe credits Susie as her motivation for turning her life around. She’s been clean for five months and is engaged. (If she’s getting married to a guy she’s known less than five months, I don’t think she’s as put-together as she thinks.) Chloe says she wants to be Susie’s mother, and Susan replies that Chloe leaving was the best thing that’s ever happened to the baby.

Carol has to wear an all-white nurse’s uniform to work, now that she’s signed on with a temp agency. Her hours were cut in half, and her earthworms died, so this is her best chance to make some extra money. Doug teases her by making sure she sees that Jeanie has been named Employee of the Month. Up in daycare, Susan finally puts some security in place, ordering the staff not to let Chloe see Susie without permission.

Mark treats a patient named Mr. Bartoli who had chest pain after a romantic encounter with a postmistress. Mark recognizes his enhancing ointment as digitalis, which can cause a heart arrhythmia. Mr. Bartoli thinks Mark can relate to being a bald guy with low testosterone who needs some help. Carter thinks his hopes of being matched with County are going to be dashed, which he deserves after the way he’s been acting over the past few weeks. He vows to put his patients first from now on. He gets his first chance with a teenager named Brett who was in a car accident, then with the teen’s grandfather, Mr. Bowman.

Shep is back at work, now partnered with baby EMT Riley. He’s not happy about it. Mr. Bowman is more worried about Brett than himself, so he doesn’t let Carter give him a full exam. Carter quickly moves on to try to help other people. Brett has a leg injury, and Mr. Bowman notes that he injured the same knee a few months ago playing basketball. Benton asks to see his previous chart.

Other car accident victims arrive, including Freddie, who claims to be sober but has track marks on his arms. Mark runs around helping various people, and assists Susan in saving Freddie’s life. It’s hard for her to be happy about it since Freddie caused the crash and killed one of the victims. Carter examines a man named Mr. Ledbetter who wants to go to work so he can continue trying to make partner. Carter says he wouldn’t feel right about letting Mr. Ledbetter leave without a full workup.

Brett’s leg isn’t broken, but Benton thinks he has the beginnings of a tumor. He can’t believe the doctor who treated him the last time he was there didn’t catch it. Carol checks the chart and sees that the doctor was Doug. Mark thinks the tumor is small enough that it would be easy to overlook, but Benton doesn’t think that changes the fact that Doug misdiagnosed Brett. Mark tells Benton not to say anything to the family – he’ll talk to them.

Carter gets his match letter and is thrilled to see that he’ll be doing his residency at County next year. He wants to spend his lunch break celebrating with Harper. Lydia brings in a filthy man named Hugo, and the nurses try to figure out whose turn it is to clean him up. After a round of Rock Paper Scissors, Carol gets the task. She tries to hand it off to Jeanie, but Jeanie knows this is a nurse’s job.

Freddie’s mother arrives and denies that her son uses drugs. Susan says he tested positive for cocaine, but Freddie’s mother says it was wrong. Susan yells that he got drunk and high, drove a car, injured a bunch of people, and killed a girl. She gets a slap in return. Carter calls his father to share his good news, but their phone connection is bad because his father’s on a boat and Carter has a ’90s cell phone. He tells Mr. Ledbetter that he’ll need to see a hematologist for severe anemia, then takes off to hang out with Harper.

Mark tells Doug about his missed diagnosis, then calls in Kathy Snyder, a hospital lawyer. Kathy says that they have no legal obligation to tell Brett’s family that they missed the tumor on his last visit, which means they won’t know that they can sue for malpractice. Mark agrees that they should keep quiet. Doug volunteers to tell Mr. Bowman about his grandson’s condition; it’s his case and his responsibility.

Hugo sings “Younger Than Springtime” while Carol hoses him off in a shower. Jeanie comes in to get Carol for something, and Carol accidentally sprays her with the hose, making herself feel better. In the lounge, Susan tells Mark that she’s fighting to make sure Chloe can’t take Susie back. She notices that his usual brown eyes are now blue, thanks to his new contacts. She gets a page and frantically tells Mark to send security to daycare.

Jeanie asks Carol to tend to a patient who’s throwing up, since that’s a nurse’s job. Carol gets her back by telling her to stitch up Hugo’s bleeding hand, as that’s a job for a physician’s assistant. Susan races up to daycare, thinking Chloe has shown up, but it turns out the staff paged her so she would be able to watch Susie take her first steps.

Doug tells Mr. Bowman that Brett has a tumor, but the doctor coming to take care of him is terrific and has had a lot of success with patients like Brett. Later, Benton approaches Mr. Bowman and realizes that no one told him that Doug missed the tumor four months ago. He complains to Mark, saying that whether or not they have a legal obligation to come clean, they should do so for ethical reasons. Mark brushes him off.

Doug pleads with a doctor to take on Brett’s case, offering to pay part of Brett’s bill and make up some of the cost by working in the doctor’s clinic. The doctor accepts the offer. Carol gleefully tells Mark that Hugo tripped on his way out of the hospital, and now Jeanie has to give him more stitches. Susan tells Mark that Susie took her first steps, which has turned her whole day around.

As Mr. Bowman thanks Benton for what he did for Brett, the little devil and little angel on Benton’s shoulder scream in his ears for a few moments. The little devil wins, and he decides to come clean. Mark examines a woman named Iris who suffered a minor head injury while working on an infomercial. Haleh laughs silently as Iris hits on Mark, equally hoping to cast him in an infomercial and get him into bed. Mr. Ledbetter’s still waiting for test results, since Carter hasn’t returned and hematology never showed up. He tells Susan to fax the results to his office, since he’s leaving.

Mr. Bowman confronts Doug for not telling him that he missed the tumor four months ago. Doug apologizes, but Mr. Bowman doesn’t think he’s sincere. Doug wants to continue trying to set up Brett’s care with the oncologist, but Mr. Bowman is done with his “help.” Meanwhile, Carter and Harper celebrate at a hotel with sex and champagne.

Iris also wants to celebrate, inviting Mark to dinner once he tells her that her brain scans are fine. She wants him to do an infomercial about a blood-pressure drug that also helps with male pattern baldness. Mark was led to believe that some women see baldness as a sign of virility. “Who told you that, some bald guy?” Iris laughs. Jeanie hands Hugo back off to Carol to get him a cab, because this stupid plot still isn’t over.

Susan has to give Mr. Ledbetter the bad news that he has leukemia. Carter and Harper have moved their celebration to a giant bubble bath, which he accidentally drops his pager into when it goes off. Shep and Riley bring in a girl who was injured at gymnastics practice, and Shep complains about Riley’s sloppy IV-insertion technique. The tension spreads to Doug and Benton, as the former doesn’t want to work with the latter, knowing that Benton was the one who ratted him out to Mr. Bowman. Mark has to step in and send Benton away.

Carter finally returns to the hospital, taking his sweet time to respond to his page. Susan blasts him for not realizing from Mr. Ledbetter’s examination that he has cancer. Carter’s tipsy, so when Hicks invites him to scrub in on an operation, he has to decline. Hicks tells him that ignoring his pages was bad enough, but drinking while on call is truly horrible. In fact, it’s grounds for expulsion. Carter whines that he just matched at County. I highly doubt she cares, dude.

Doug and Mark decide to call off their guys’ night out, though Doug thinks Mark should go without him. Haleh and Lydia agree with each other that Benton did the right thing by telling Mr. Bowman about the missed diagnosis. Carter’s received enough congratulatory gift baskets to feed the entire hospital, but he’s back to puking in the bathroom. Mark assures him that he can’t be expelled without a hearing, though he could lose his match. Mark will try to help.

Shep comes in to tell Carol that Riley backed into a homeless man in the parking lot. Yep, it’s Hugo. He was out in the ambulance bay, waiting for the cab Carol never called for him. Doug and Benton encounter each other in the lounge, both keeping their mouths shut this time. Carol and Jeanie tend to Hugo together, realizing that their rivalry has caused enough damage.

Mark confronts Benton for going against his orders and causing trouble for Doug and the hospital. Benton says that if Doug had done his job, Brett wouldn’t be facing amputation. Mark says that telling the family wasn’t Benton’s decision to make. He knows Benton is trying to ease his guilty conscience since he didn’t blow the whistle on Vucelich. “The truth is a lot easier to tell when it’s not your own career on the line,” he notes.

Carol chastises Shep for being so hard on Riley. Shep thinks he’s being punished for going into the fire and causing Raul’s death. Carol reminds him that he saved three kids, but to Shep, that’s not as important as the fact that he killed his best friend. Doug tells Susan that he saw dozens of kids the day he treated Brett, so he didn’t have time for an extensive exam. He acknowledges that Benton didn’t do anything wrong in telling Mr. Bowman. Susan notes that Doug is the one who has to pay for the mistake, but Doug says Brett’s the one who has to face the worst consequences.

Mark goes out to a bar and runs into Kathy. She helps him look for a lost contact, which somehow got stuck in his goatee. Susan takes Susie home, trying to avoid Chloe, who’s staked out the apartment. Chloe has gotten a lawyer and plans to file for visitation rights. Susan announces that she’s adopting the baby, no matter how badly Chloe wants her back.

Jeanie runs into Benton at Doc Magoo’s and tells him he did the right thing. Benton says he “broke the code,” which reminds Jeanie of a story Mae once told her. As a child, Benton turned in a kid for stealing money, and wound up blacklisted with a broken nose. Benton says he’s never learned to keep his mouth shut. At home, Susan reads Susie Goodnight Moon, clinging to what might be one of her last nights with her baby.

Thoughts: Mr. Bartoli is played by Richard Schiff. Iris is played by Joanna Gleason.

“Ha ha, my patient got hurt and now Jeanie has to do more work!” Shut up, Carol.

The number of times Carter should be fired, or at least harshly disciplined, throughout the series is probably in the double digits.

November 3, 2018

The X-Files 8.18, Vienen: Oil as Black as Oil Executives’ Hearts

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

This is no time to comment on the cleanliness of the rig, Doggett

Summary: 158 miles off the coast of Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Galpex-Orpheus Platform is full of oil workers taking some downtime from their job. They eat dinner together, watch a hockey game on TV, and, in some cases, give each other significant looks. One man leaves the festivities to find a communications officer alone in a workroom. He doesn’t want to extend a dinner invitation, though – he wants to stab him.

A worker named Bo Taylor goes looking for the officer, Ed, but instead finds the stabber, Simon, destroying all the equipment. Taylor turns over Ed’s body and sees our old buddy the black oil running under Ed’s skin. “Now you’ve gone and done it,” Taylor says to Simon, which is a weird thing to say to a guy you’ve just caught committing murder. Simon tries to run, but Taylor tackles him. His eyes glow yellow, and the rest of his body follows suit. Simon is more scared than impressed with this light show.

In D.C., Doggett finds Mulder looking through files in his office, or I guess his ex-office. He’s brought the Galpex-Orpheus death to Doggett’s attention, but Doggett doesn’t think it’s an X-File. The death they’re discussing is Simon’s, not Ed’s, though Ed is missing. Simon’s body washed ashore covered in flash burns. Doggett thinks they were caused by an explosion on the platform, which was also the cause of Ed’s disappearance. But Mulder thinks Simon’s cause of death is consistent with burns caused by black oil.

Doggett’s done his homework and knows about the whole Piper Maru thing. Of course, he thinks it’s ridiculous. Mulder taunts that Doggett must have done something pretty bad to get stuck in the X-Files. When the phone rings, Mulder makes a show of picking it up, only to hand it to Doggett. It’s Scully, who’s waiting for her partner to join her and Kersh in a meeting. There’s an executive there from the oil company; Mulder called to tell him they were taking the case.

Mulder and Doggett both go to the meeting, where Skinner is also present, which means everyone’s reuniting! Yay! The oil executive, Martin Ortega, doesn’t want the FBI to investigate the explosion, since they’ll bring attention to an oil province that Mexico might want to fight for if they learn about it. Simon was from Mexico, and since he was killed while working for a U.S. enterprise, Mexico might use his death to try to get first rights to drilling the province.

Kersh tries to dismiss Mulder, who argues that Scully can’t go out to the oil rig to investigate, since she’s pregnant and delicate and might get oil on her shoes, or something. Of course, Kersh is sending Doggett instead. He heads to the rig with Yuri Volkoff, the new communications specialist. The worker who greets them is confused, since they were told only one agent was coming. To probably no one’s surprise, Mulder has beaten Doggett to the rig.

Taylor ignores the tension between the agents as he tells them how easy it is for some men on the rig to snap after a few weeks in isolation. The Mexican workers are usually stable, but Simon clearly wasn’t. He has no explanation for why Ed was on the drilling floor, since he was a communications chief. He says no one knew Ed was even gone until the shift change. As the agents leave to go yell at each other, Taylor’s eyes turn black.

Doggett threatens to call Kersh and report Mulder’s presence on the rig. Mulder notes that the radio’s broken, but…how did the crew get word out that Simon was dead and Ed was missing? There has to be some way to communicate with the mainland. Whatever. Mulder doesn’t think Doggett will tattle on him. They’re in the same boat, paddling in the same direction. Doggett corrects that they’re going in his direction.

Mulder notes that Doggett doesn’t have anything to report back to Kersh, so he’ll need Mulder’s help. He thinks Taylor knows exactly what happened, and he’s not the only one. Doggett thinks Mulder “could find a conspiracy at a church picnic.” Someone below them is listening to this manly stand-off through a grate.

In D.C., Scully calls Skinner to the morgue where she’s done Simon’s autopsy (even though the body was supposed to be sent to Mexico intact). She found black oil in Simon’s brain. Skinner panics, thinking she’s touched it, but Scully says the alien virus in the oil is dead. Her first instinct was to believe that the radiation that killed Simon also killed the virus, but since the virus has radioactive properties, that doesn’t make sense. Skinner wants to send word to Doggett, but Scully thinks they need to tell Kersh to get the rig evacuated. Skinner disagrees – of the two dozen men on the rig, why was Simon the only one infected?

Taylor checks in on Yuri, who says their communications gear is working, but it’s receiving some sort of high-frequency signal. He wants to try that time-tested technology trick that always seems to work: turning it off and turning it on again. Taylor stops him, first verbally, then physically. Black oil seeps out of his eyes, nose, and mouth, finding a new host in Yuri’s body.

Scully is able to get through to the now-infected Yuri to relay a message to Doggett. Mulder makes his presence known, asking Scully not to tell Kersh what he’s up to. Scully agrees, telling Mulder about the dead virus in Simon’s brain. Everyone on the rig could be at risk, including Mulder and Doggett. Mulder wants to call for a quarantine, but Scully tells him to evacuate. Mulder points out that that could infect people on shore. Scully should be able to use Simon’s body to figure out what kills the virus. If she can’t, she’ll need to tell her child that Mulder “went down swinging.”

Scully asks to talk to Doggett, but Mulder hangs up just as Doggett arrives. He demands to know what Scully told Mulder about the investigation. Mulder tells him he’s free to take charge, as he’s so eager to, but he might not like what that means. They wind up calling a quarantine for a possible contagion. Mulder tells Saksa, who’s in charge of the crew, that they’re missing a deck hand named Diego. Saksa doesn’t know where he is, but he must still be on the rig.

Ortega goes to the morgue so Scully can show him exactly what the crew might be facing on the rig. Ortega doesn’t support the quarantine, since no one’s showing any signs of being sick, and also, they’ll lose money by shutting down, which you know is more important to him than anyone’s health. He wants to rotate the crew off the rig and bring in new men.

Mulder goes looking for Diego, though Doggett thinks it’s a waste of time. Mulder reminds him that Taylor said the Mexican workers were reliable; now one is dead and one’s missing. Doggett thinks Diego might want to pick up where Simon left off and try to sabotage the operation to protect Mexican oil interests. He still hasn’t gotten Mulder to tell him what he thinks is going on. If the crew is hiding something, Doggett should be informed.

Mulder says he didn’t come to the rig just to one-up Doggett (though by saying “just,” he basically admits that that was part of his motivation). Since he knows what the black oil can do, he can keep an eye out for the signs that someone’s infected. Doggett smears some oil on his fingers and asks when it’s going to kick in. He doesn’t buy that regular oil, which most of the world uses, contains a virus.

Mulder realizes that the crew got infected because they were pumping oil from the new province. Billions of barrels of that oil is going to go out to the rest of the planet and spread the infection. Diego could be hiding because he knows what’s really going on. An alarm goes off in the radio room, which is now on fire. Mulder puts it out while Doggett goes…somewhere. I don’t know. He doesn’t get very far before the eavesdropper from the grate (Diego, obviously) knocks him out.

Kersh visits Scully at the morgue, catching her as she’s about to continue examining Simon’s body. Skinner’s also there, so Kersh knows he’s being kept in the dark about something. He wants to know who gave the order to shut down the rig. Skinner says it was him. Kersh wants to lift the quarantine as soon as radio contact is reestablished. Scully thinks that’s a mistake, but Kersh says it would be a mistake not to follow his orders, and Skinner and Scully are running out of mistakes they can get away with. If Kersh didn’t know better, he’d think Mulder was involved in this stunt.

The fire is out, and Mulder finds the remains of the Molotov cocktail used to set it. He radios Doggett, who’s just now regaining consciousness in Diego’s lair. He cuts Doggett to make sure his blood is red, not black. He tells Doggett in Spanish (which Doggett only speaks a little of) that “they” killed Simon and want to kill him, too. He started the fire so they couldn’t use the radio. “Vienen,” Diego says – they’re coming. “They” are “the flying ships.”

Scully studies Simon’s blood and sees massive amounts of T-cells, which mean he was able to fight all sorts of viruses. He’s from an indigenous Mexican culture that has an undiluted gene pool. Long story short, Simon was immune to the alien virus. The infected crew members couldn’t control him, so they irradiated him. Scully thinks Simon must have known something that made him a threat. Skinner points out that even if they did know, sending word to Doggett and Mulder – assuming they had time to warn them – would put them in danger, too.

Doggett offers to help Diego get back to his family if Diego will help him. Diego says he trusts no one. Mulder would like this guy. Doggett promises to help Diego, who lets him go. But he runs into Taylor, who strangles Doggett when he won’t say where Diego is. Taylor starts to infect Doggett, but Mulder shows up and knocks him out before Doggett becomes the next black-oil host.

As they head to the communications room to try to get the radio working, the crew members gather outside their door, their eyes turning black. Mulder tries to barricade the door while Doggett fixes the radio. Mulder adds some ambiance by putting on “Flight of the Valkyries.” Doggett manages to connect to Scully, who reports that helicopters are coming to evacuate everyone. Mulder tells her not to let the choppers land on the platform.

Doggett tells Scully that he, Mulder, and Diego are all fine, though Diego might be mentally unstable since he thinks flying saucers are coming for him. The connection is lost, though, so he can’t be sure if Scully heard him. Mulder wrecks the radio, not wanting the crew members to be able to communicate (possibly with their mother ship, as Doggett suspects). The crew members have stopped banging on the door, so Mulder guesses that something’s up.

He heads up the rig while Doggett goes to get Diego, but it’s too late – he’s been burned to death like Simon. As the first chopper approaches, Mulder realizes that the crew let them go because they’ve rigged the platform to explode and kill them. The agents outrun the explosion, like this is some Michael Bay movie, catching a glimpse of the crew as they head up to meet the helicopter. Since it can’t land, the men have to jump into the ocean. They do so just as fireballs go up behind them (again, like a Michael Bay movie).

Back in D.C., Doggett is summoned to Kersh’s office to face the music. Galpex-Orpheus lost the right to drill in the province, so they’re not happy with the FBI. Mulder thinks Doggett should do everything possible to make sure the oil stays where it is. He’s taken the blame for the whole fiasco and is being fired. This means Kersh is happy, because he got rid of Mulder and has a place to put the blame. Doggett has now seen for himself what the black oil does, and he can continue Mulder’s work on the X-Files. He really is in charge now.

Thoughts: Ortega is played by Miguel Sandoval. Taylor is played by M.C. Gainey.

Gillian Anderson might as well have sat out half the season with David Duchovny, for all they let her do in these episodes. Though admittedly, they couldn’t have had her go on the rig and then jump off at the end.

I don’t know what it is, but Robert Patrick looks particularly handsome in this episode. His scenes with Duchovny are like a who’s-more-handsome contest.

October 30, 2018

ER 2.16, The Healers: Deadbeats and Dead Friends

Posted in TV tagged , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

The first of many times something will blow up on this show

Summary: Shep and Raul are done with a shift and about to go get breakfast when they’re sent to help out at a fire. Susan’s also up early and looking ahead to a big day of making moves to adopt Susie. Shep and Raul go to the site of the fire, an apartment building; explosions keep going off and people are coming outside on fire. A woman begs Shep to go in and get her kids, since she could only make it out with one. Raul tells Shep to wait for firefighters to arrive, but Shep goes in anyway.

Mark has taken off his wedding ring but feels weird about it. Doug notes that Jen definitely isn’t wearing hers, since she’s moved on to another guy. He reminds Mark that he asked why he wasn’t getting any action; wearing a wedding ring while trying to date is pretty dumb. Mark asks if Doug wants to hang out that night, but Doug has plans with his father. Carol takes a call from Dwight the paramedic about victims being brought in from a fire. She isn’t looking forward to having to take care of burn victims.

Susan meets with a social worker who tells her she has an advantage since she’s related to Susie. Chloe’s been gone for five months, and Susie’s father didn’t respond to any notices Susan placed in the paper trying to contact him, since the social worker thinks a judge will be fine with terminating their birthrights. Susan was expecting a lot more hurdles in the process, but it looks like she’ll be formalizing the adoption without any complications.

Dwight brings in the first burn victim, telling the staff that the fire and explosions were from a math lab in the building. Mark and Doug work on the patient like he’s anyone, but Carter has a lot of trouble looking at him. Lydia realizes that Shep and Raul’s unit responded to the fire, and it’s not clear whether both of them made it out all right. Doug volunteers to let Carol know, not that she has any time to find out if her boyfriend’s okay while the ER is dealing with multiple traumas.

After some chaos, Carol learns that one of the paramedics, either Shep or Raul, might be en route to the hospital as a patient. She goes outside to wait for the next ambulance, trying not to panic. Susan arrives and joins in the madness, though everyone has either been taken off for treatment or declared dead. Mark’s annoyed that she’s late, since Weaver didn’t tell him that Susan wouldn’t be in when Mark thought she would. Susan says she was somewhere important, and he says her job is important, too.

Paramedics bring in a kid they say was saved by someone from Shep’s unit. Shep is the hero, and he suffered some minor injuries when the floor went out from under him. Raul is MIA. Doug works on the kid with Riley the baby paramedic while Mark and Carol take care of Shep. He’s worried about Raul, saying over and over that Raul was right behind him when he fell through the floor. Jerry pops in to say that they found Raul, but he won’t say what his condition is.

Susan examines a firefighter who tells her that Shep and Raul went into the building without the proper gear. If they hadn’t, the kids they saved would have died. Doug’s kid is still in bad shape, thanks to carbon monoxide, and he’ll need to be taken to another hospital for treatment. Raul finally comes in, badly burned and having trouble breathing. He asks for the truth about his condition, so Mark tells him it’s bad. Raul is at least relieved to hear that Raul’s mostly okay.

Next door, Shep insists on being unstrapped from his backboard so he can go see his partner. Carol refuses, threatening to put him in restraints if he keeps fighting her before they’re sure he’s not badly injured. She agrees to go find out how Raul is while Shep is taken for x-rays. He asks her to tell Raul that he thought Raul was right behind him – Shep didn’t mean to leave him behind.

Mark tells Carol that Raul has burns on 85-90% of his body. In other words, things are really bad. Doug comes in to try to help, even though Mark, Benton, and Carter are all there. The burn-unit doctors are busy, so Benton volunteers himself and Carter to do a procedure. Mark rounds up Doug, Susan, and Carol so they can discuss some of their patients. They shake their heads at a missing mother who apparently left her kids to fend for themselves after her meth lab caused the fire.

Carol explains what’s happening to Raul while Benton and Carter do their thing. Carter is still having trouble, struggling to cut into Raul’s damaged skin while Raul is looking at him. He finally decides he can’t handle it, so Mark steps in. As a burn doctor finally arrives, Doug talks to a kid named Max, one of the kids abandoned by their mom. He doesn’t know where she might have gone. The burn doctor volunteers to tell Raul how bad his condition is, but Carol says she’ll do it. Firefighters line the hallway and give him their positive thoughts as he’s taken for treatment.

Well, well, well, guess who’s back? It’s freaking Chloe. Since Randi wasn’t around for all the drama, she doesn’t know that just letting Chloe go up to daycare without telling Susan she’s there isn’t a good idea. While Carol takes on the unfortunate task of telling Shep that Raul’s in bad shape, Carter tells Benton that he’s not sure he can handle taking care of burn patients again. Benton blankly says that he can. This is one of the worst situations they’ll have to deal with, and Carter didn’t get sick or faint, so he did okay.

The missing mom arrives with one of her kids, who she didn’t realize needed to come to the hospital. Mark, Susan, and Doug revive him, feeling little sympathy for the mom. Raul’s family arrives, but they won’t have much time to spend with him – his doctor thinks he won’t survive the night. Mark sends Doug off to the Bulls game, thinking that since he’s come so far with his father, he should see things through.

Carol tells Raul how bad his condition is, and he asks not to be put on a ventilator when he’s unable to breathe anymore. She assures him that the kids he helped save are going to be fine, thanks to him. He admits that he’s scared, and she tries to comfort him. Susan catches Lydia crying in the lounge; despite being a veteran nurse who’s seen multiple traumas over the years, sometimes she can’t handle all the emotions that come with her job.

Doug waits for Ray outside the game, but he doesn’t show. At the hospital, the nurses don’t want to go home yet, and the firefighters who battled the fire earlier don’t know what to do other than hang around the hospital. Lily invites them to get something to eat with the nurses. Susan finally learns that Chloe’s around and races to daycare. Doug gets tired of waiting for his father and leaves, disappointed by Ray’s absence once again.

Chloe hasn’t run off with Susie, as Susan feared, but of course her return is going to throw a wrench in Susan’s adoption plans. Carol goes to get Shep to take him to see Raul, but Shep blames himself for Raul’s condition. Raul wanted to wait for the firefighters and their gear, but since Shep went into the building, Raul decided to follow. Carol warns that Shep will regret it forever if he doesn’t go see Raul, as hard as that may be.

Doug tracks down Ray at a restaurant, where he’s dining with a woman named Karen. Ray claims that he left a message at the hospital that he would have to miss the game for a meeting. He would have been at the game if he could have. Doug’s smart enough not to buy the lies Ray’s been telling his whole life. Doug was at the game, and Ray was where he’s always been – somewhere else.

Ray says he can’t change the past, as if he’s trying to make the present any better. Doug blames his inability to commit on his deadbeat dad. Over the years, he’s turned into Ray. Ray reminds him that he’s 34 and can’t blame his life on his father anymore. It’s his choice whether or not to be responsible.

The firefighters and some of the ER staff share memories of Raul at Doc Magoo’s. Lily reveals that Shep is afraid of heights, so he always makes Raul do anything high up. A paramedic laughs that Raul’s Christmas present to Shep was skydiving lessons. Once they’re done with happy memories, things turn somber, and even the perpetually stone-faced Randi gets sad. Shep visits Raul and apologizes for the way things have turned out. And then Raul dies, but it’s off-screen, but this whole thing is really about Shep, so that’s not really a surprise.

Thoughts: The firefighter Susan examines is played by Michael Cudlitz. The burn doctor is played by Gregory Itzin. Karen is played by Marg Helgenberger.

Shep’s downward spiral begins…now.

Once again, County daycare’s security sucks, if Chloe can just walk in whenever she wants.

October 27, 2018

The X-Files 8.17, Empedocles: O Say, Can You See?

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

Happy Halloween!

Summary: A man named Jeb is getting unexpectedly laid off in New Orleans. He does a walk of shame through the office, leaving the building just as police are chasing a car past. The fleeing car crashes, and multiple vehicles catch on fire. So I guess Jeb’s day isn’t so bad now. The fleeing driver emerges from his car, covered in flames but appearing not to feel anything. He walks right through Jeb and disappears. Jeb is unharmed, but his eyes glow orange for a few moments. So maybe Jeb’s day really is bad. He goes back to his office, heads straight for the boss who fired him, and shoots him.

A few hours later, multiple people are dead in the office, and local detective Franklin Potter has called the FBI. But it’s not Mulder, Scully, or even Doggett who arrives to take the case – it’s Reyes. Potter thinks the killings may have been Satanic ritual murders. Some people thought Jeb had a “dark side.” Reyes acknowledges that being fired could have pushed Jeb over the edge. But the only “dark” thing she finds in Jeb’s desk is Marilyn Manson CDs.

Reyes starts to leave, thinking there’s nothing for her to contribute here, but she pauses when she sees flames on the body of one of Jeb’s victims. She looks under the sheet covering the body and finds it charred, like it was in the fire outside the building. She gets distracted by Potter, and when she looks back at the body, it’s back to normal.

Mulder stops by Scully’s apartment, and after some banter about a pizza deliveryman, he hides a present behind a pillow on her couch. No, wait, they’re still talking about the pizza guy. Scully finds the present, and Mulder tells her it’s a family keepsake he found in his mother’s things. Then the pizza guy arrives, and Mulder “pretends” to be jealous. As he pays for the pizza, Scully gasps in pain, because no pregnant woman on a TV show is able to have an uneventful pregnancy.

Mulder rushes Scully to the hospital, where Doggett meets up with them, having heard about the emergency from Scully’s landlord while he was dropping something off. How did Doggett get to the hospital before an ambulance? The ambulance service should look into that. A nurse first thinks Doggett is the baby’s father, and before Mulder has to either confirm or deny that it’s him, he gets a call from Reyes asking for his help with her case. He tries to pass her along to Doggett, but Reyes says she can’t call him – the case involves him.

In Lavonia, Georgia, Jeb and his gun are hiding out in a motel. He’s ready to shoot himself and end it all, but he has to drop the gun when it starts heating up. Cracks form in the skin of his face, showing fire underneath. This is appropriate for Halloween, since he looks like a jack o’lantern.

Reyes comes to D.C. and meets Mulder, commenting that he’s taller than she thought. She explains that she was there when his “body” was found. She tells Mulder that her case involves Doggett – specifically, the death of his son, Luke. He died in 1997, at the age of seven. Reyes was the lead investigator and worked on the case with Doggett, who was then with the NYPD. They never caught the killer. Reyes struggled with her emotions through the whole case, but knows that it was even harder for Doggett. She doesn’t want to put him through that again, but she’d like to reopen the case.

Reyes continues that when they found Luke’s body, she had a vision of it being burned, the same as what she saw in the office in New Orleans. Doggett saw the same thing but has since convinced himself that nothing happened. Reyes thinks the vision she had in New Orleans means Jeb’s murders are connected to Luke’s death. There has to be a reason she’s had the vision again.

Doggett’s still at the hospital with Scully, but when he enters her room to check on her, he has a vision of himself in a field. There are men running around, and the air is full of smoke. Doggett comes back to reality when a nurse kicks him out since he’s not Scully’s immediate family. (Hey, where’s Maggie? Shouldn’t she be here with her daughter?)

Someone calls Doggett to let him know that Mulder’s looking into his past, and he angrily confronts Mulder, ordering him to stay out of his life. Mulder explains that Reyes asked him to look into Doggett’s file. Doggett doesn’t like the idea of her looking into his past any better. Mulder mentions the name Bob Harvey, a suspect in Luke’s murder who was dismissed after Reyes and Doggett questioned him. Guess who died in the car crash in New Orleans? Bob.

Reyes brings up her vision, but Doggett says he doesn’t care about that, or whether there’s a connection between the murders in New Orleans and Luke’s death. He wants Reyes and Mulder to leave it alone. Of course, neither of them is going to do that. Reyes goes to Jeb’s sister Katha’s house, where Jeb lived for a little while before moving to New Orleans. Katha doesn’t think her brother is capable of murder. She’s never heard of Bob, but Reyes isn’t surprised.

Jeb is now in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and picks this horrible moment to call Katha. She keeps a poker face as he insists that he didn’t murder anyone. After Katha hangs up on him, a woman with a flat tire asks Jeb for help. Doggett goes back to the hospital, where Scully’s stable, and asks what made her go from skeptic to believer. She says she realized she was afraid to believe. Doggett has another vision of himself in the field, looking at Reyes with a group of men. He comes back when Scully asks his reason for his question.

Mulder sets up camp in his old office, looking at old cases involving visions like Reyes’. Others have had images of death associated with crimes like the ones Reyes has investigated. But there’s no pattern, so that’s not helpful. Reyes disagrees, still sure that there’s a reason for everything that’s happened. She thinks Bob is the key. Mulder says it’s just a coincidence, which might be the least Mulder-ish thing he’s ever said.

Reyes says that sometimes we just don’t understand patterns we see. Mulder says that she should apply to work on the X-Files. He thinks his time would be better spent with Scully. Reyes hopes Scully comes back to work soon, since someone in the X-Files division needs to have an open mind.

The woman with the flat tire no longer has to worry about her car, because it looks like Jeb killed her. He looks at his reflection in her back window and sees flames behind him. Then he steals her van and heads off to continue his tour of the American South. Sometime later, Doggett comes to Spartanburg, having been summoned by Mulder and Reyes. They’ve found the body of the woman with the flat tire, and Reyes thinks she’s connected to Jeb. She wants to know if Doggett sees what she sees.

What Doggett first sees is a scene from his vision, of Reyes standing with a group of men. They’re looking at the woman’s body, which Reyes has seen as burned. Doggett says he doesn’t see the same thing, but Reyes thinks he’s in denial. Maybe they’re dealing with “a thread of evil, connecting through time, through men, through opportunity, connecting back” to Doggett. In other parts of the world, people see evil in death the way some see God in a rose. “I saw Elvis in a potato chip once,” Mulder says. Thanks for your contribution, Mulder. He accepts that if Doggett doesn’t see what Reyes sees, that’s that.

Mulder returns to D.C., where Scully tells him that her placenta started to tear away from her uterine wall, but she’ll be okay. He put his hand on her stomach to feel the baby kicking, then tells Scully what he’s been up to. He laughs when Scully says she likes Reyes, since the two women are nothing alike. Scully notes that she and Mulder are nothing alike, either. She continues that Doggett has never talked to her about Luke, so she doesn’t know anything about the case, but she hopes Mulder can help him. Doggett is worth the effort.

Jeb surprises Katha by showing up at her house. He insists again that he didn’t kill anyone. She sees blood on his face, and he says he doesn’t know how it got there. He begs his sister for help. In D.C., Doggett makes some calls about Jeb, telling Reyes he’s looking into the case after all. Reyes says he’s looking into it the wrong way. He mocks that they just have to read some tea leaves to solve the case. He’s doing the work; why isn’t Reyes satisfied? She tells him she needs him to be honest about what he saw in Spartanburg, and about his feelings.

Doggett argues that feelings don’t solve crimes, so what’s the point? But Reyes isn’t talking about the job. She wants to know what he’s afraid of. He tells her that he needs to believe that he did everything he could to find Luke – everything he could to save him. If Doggett can’t believe that, then the possibilities the other agents are talking about mean he didn’t do everything he could have.

Katha calls Reyes to report that Jeb is at her house. Doggett wants to tag along with Reyes, sure that Jeb is somehow connected to Luke. Jeb has no idea about Katha’s call, but he catches on when she tries to get her daughter, Mia, to leave the room because Reyes has arrived. This backfires, and Jeb pulls his gun and takes Mia hostage. This leads to a stand-off with Doggett, and Mia being used as a human shield/bargaining chip.

Doggett backs off, but Reyes has found another way into the house, and is able to sneak up behind Jeb and shoot him. Katha isn’t happy, even though her daughter is unharmed and was going to be traumatized anyway. Jeb is taken to the same hospital where Scully’s being treated, and Reyes tells Doggett that their work stops here. Maybe saving Mia was the point of all this. Maybe her visions were leading her to save Mia, since they couldn’t save Luke.

Doggett goes to see Scully again, and he has another vision from the field. Only this time, instead of the woman with the flat tire, the body everyone’s standing around is Luke’s – and he’s burned. Mulder brings Doggett back to reality, and they discuss the possibility of a connection between Jeb and Luke. Mulder saw truly evil people when he first started working in the violent-crimes division, and he was never satisfied with scientific explanations.

He accepts that everyone is capable of doing horrible things, but most people can hold back their urges. Some people, however, give in, opening themselves to becoming evil. If that’s true, Doggett says, that means Jeb might be truly evil. Mulder says they might never know. It could be random and meaningless. If not, Doggett’s seeing something that Mulder doesn’t.

Katha’s sitting with Jeb, under Reyes’ watchful eye, when he flatlines. The doctor does, like, the bare minimum to try to save him, but he’s gone. Katha blames Reyes, which makes sense. Then whatever possessed Jeb passes into Katha, and she grabs a fire extinguisher as a weapon to use to kill Reyes. Doggett arrives in time to stop her from finishing Reyes off. He thinks it’s all over, but Reyes knows better.

Mulder takes Scully home after her stint in the hospital, ordering her a new pizza. There’s more pizza-man banter and teasing. It’s cute, I guess. Scully finally gets to open her present, a doll that no child should ever be forced to play with. She likes it, but prefers the other gift Mulder gave her: courage to believe. She hopes she can pass that one along to her baby. Doggett’s still at the hospital, looking in on Katha, who I guess is still possessed. Sorry, not everyone gets a happy ending this time.

Thoughts: Somehow, the least realistic part of this episode is that Jeb left his office without a box full of his belongings.

Also, maybe the real catalyst that made him evil was being named Jeb?

The best way to convince your sister of your innocence is probably not to take her kid hostage. But then again, none of my brothers has ever been the subject of an FBI manhunt, so what do I know?

Once again, I’ve already used a recap title that would be perfect here: “Do You See What I See?”

October 23, 2018

ER 2.15, Baby Shower: Regular-Baby Baby Mamas

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:52 pm by Jenn

For the record, Abraham Benrubi is only one inch shorter than Scottie Pippen

Summary: Benton is in bed, but he’s not asleep, so don’t drink. He rides an exercise bike while going over the steps of a surgical procedure. He scrapes frost off of his car window, but the car won’t start. When he gets to work, his procedure has been canceled, which leads him to ask Hicks if there’s a problem. Since he left Vucelich’s study, he’s been underused. Hicks points out that with Vucelich, Benton had a ton of stuff to do; now he has to wait for the schedule to catch up with him.

Benton passes the time by doing some paperwork before he’s paged to the ER to try to save a man who jumped on the El tracks. He takes over the case from Mark, obviously eager to prove that he’s still a good doctor. Mark quips that when he’s done taking this guy to surgery, he can come back to the ER and help all the other patients by himself.

Susan was looking forward to sleeping in, since she doesn’t start work until 11, but Susie didn’t get the memo. Moments later, a woman named Mrs. Pearline buzzes Susan’s intercom to say she’s there to do a home inspection for Susie’s adoption. Susan’s place is a mess, and she’s tired from working late the night before, but if she doesn’t agree to the visit now, she’ll have to go back on a waiting list for a long time.

Doug still has the Bulls tickets his father gave him, not wanting to trash good seats just because they came from Ray. Jerry tells Doug and Carol that Scottie Pippen was at the hospital the day before with a kid from his tutoring program. Doug doesn’t believe him. Jerry shows him the autograph Scottie signed, but Doug thinks it’s a fake because he doesn’t know how to spell Pippen. No one else on staff saw Scottie, so no one can back up Jerry’s claims.

Connie’s heavily pregnant, working her last shift before going on maternity leave. She’s overdue and will be induced in a few days if nothing happens. Doug teases that an elephant’s gestation period is two years. Carter’s planning to ask Benton to rewrite his letter of recommendation for Carter to get a fellowship that only has six open slots for 90 applicants. The original recommendation just says that Carter has “put forth a consistent effort.” Carter’s obsessed with this application and plan, but he stops when Harper asks how long it would take after intercourse for a pregnancy test to turn out positive.

Connie brings down some laboring women, announcing to the ER that the sprinkler system on the OB ward is going off, so everyone needs to be moved to other parts of the hospital. So be prepared for the staff to deliver a bunch of babies through the whole episode. Benton assists with his patient’s surgery, though the other doctors think he’s a lost cause. One tells Benton that he’s free to do anything he wants surgically since they’re now looking at a teaching exercise – there’s nothing left to save.

Mark tends to a mother named Christy, who will need to be helped along in her delivery. Jerry tells Chuny to back him up on his claim that Scottie Pippen was in the ER yesterday. She jokes that Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman were also there, and she, Connie, and Jerry in a basketball game. Coburn comes to assess the situation with all the laboring women, though Weaver says the ER staff can handle it. Coburn is skeptical, since Mark is one of those staff members. She quickly takes over with Christy.

As Harper draws some of her own blood for a pregnancy test, Doug tells Christy that her baby is healthy. Coburn tensely gives some instructions as she heads off to take care of more women. She changes her mind and stays when Mark realizes that Christy has a surprise second baby coming. She never knew she was having twins, despite having an ultrasound months ago. The second baby is breech, but Mark calmly handles the delivery, never letting Christy see that this could be a complication. Everyone’s happy, both for Christy and for Mark.

Susan makes it to work, stressed after what she thinks was a disastrous home visit. She asks Mark to lie when a social worker comes in to do work-site interviews. Mark’s next patient, Monica, wants to be induced, but since the ER doesn’t have enough monitors for everyone, they need to wait until she labors naturally. Monica’s not happy about this. Susan meets her next patient, Tina, who’s only 13. Her mother can’t be reached, but the couple who will be adopting her baby are there with her.

Harper brings in a patient to share Tina’s room, a woman named Ms. Clark who’s straight out of The X-Files – she thinks her pregnancy is the result of an alien abduction. Apparently Mulder and Scully won’t take her calls, though. Harper sends Ms. Clark’s bloodwork to the lab, adding in her own vial for a pregnancy test. Susan sneers to Lydia about a father who’s being supportive of the mother of his child; she thinks men like that give women false hope that guys like him actually exist.

Carter joins Benton in the ER to kill some time observing before his interview. He asks Benton if he had time to do another draft of his recommendation letter. Benton says he only did one draft, but Carter has lost his nerve and doesn’t ask for another. A doctor brings in some med students to watch Benton “raise the dead,” as he’s still trying to save his patient. Benton just says that he knows how to fix the man, so he’s doing his job.

As Connie passes through the ER, Weaver, Lydia, Jeanie, and Chuny talk about some beet soup at Doc Magoo’s. The story going around is that it’s inducing labor in pregnant women. Weaver says there’s a scientific basis; a lot of plants contain an ergot derivative that makes the uterus contract. Jeanie tells Susan that one of the laboring women, Leah, may be using crack, so they need to pay extra attention to her.

Mark delivers Monica’s baby as she tells her husband he’ll be having the next one if he doesn’t get a vasectomy. Connie has a short temper with Monica’s screaming, but when they deliver the baby and realize she weighs about ten pounds, Connie tells Monica to scream all she wants. The baby isn’t breathing, and as Doug tends to her, he guesses that Monica developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy. Mark is again calm with the mom.

Susan and Jeanie talk to Leah, telling her they’ll have to run a tox screen on her since she has a history of drug use. Leah is annoyed that Jeanie told Susan about her past crack abuse. She insists that she’s clean and has learned from the mistakes she made when she was younger. Doug has revived Monica’s baby, and Monica is now super-friendly and happy. She kisses both Doug and Mark, declaring her love for them.

Carter meet some of the other candidates for the fellowship he wants, quickly realizing that they’re much more accomplished than he is. Susan tends to Tina, who’s struggling a lot with her labor. The adoptive father worries that she’s depending on him and his wife too much. They’re adopting her baby, but not her.

A woman named Anna arrives in labor, but what’s one more baby delivered in the ER? She tells Mark that she has breast cancer but had to stop treatment when she found out she was pregnant. She only has a few months left to live. Mark asks someone to page Coburn, but Anna resists. She calls her OB on a giant cell phone that looks funny even for a mid-’90s piece of technology.

Doctors keep rotating in and out to assist Benton as he continues his marathon surgery. He thinks there’s no harm in trying everything they can. A doctor tells him that the patient’s mother is a nurse at the hospital, so at least one person will be grateful if Benton’s work is successful. Leah’s tox screen comes back negative, so Jeanie apologizes for suspecting that she was using. A friend of Leah’s comes to visit, and Jeanie reluctantly lets her stay.

As Weaver tells Jeanie that something odd came up in Ms. Clark’s bloodwork, Tina is rushed away to deliver. Mark loses his cool for the first time all day, telling Anna (who’s also a doctor) to stop giving instructions and just focus on delivering. Then he tells the nurses to do exactly what Anna said. Weaver summons Harper to Ms. Clark’s room, asking why she ran a pregnancy test on a woman who appears to be nine months along. Harper can’t hide her joy when she hears that the pregnancy test came back negative. Labs confirm that Ms. Clark is also not having a baby, just a lot of gas.

As Jerry chats with a man about cigars, Scottie arrives to thank him for his help the day before. Jerry asks him to stay put while he runs off to find a witness. He chooses Mark, who’s in the middle of delivering Anna’s baby. Jerry runs back to the desk to get Scottie and bring him to Mark, but he’s already gone. “Is he kind of a tall guy?” Wendy, clearly not a sports fan, asks.

Susan coaches Tina through her delivery, telling her she’s doing better than a lot of adult women. Leah asks to use the bathroom, declining when Jeanie offers to accompany her. Jeanie gets suspicious and follows her, watching as Leah pauses in front of the bathroom door instead of going on. She gives Jeanie some drug paraphernalia, brought to her by her friend. She admits that she used drugs a little during her pregnancy and is frustrated that she’ll never get clean.

A man who was working on the sprinkler system was electrocuted, so the ER staff finally has a different kind of patient to work on. Anna has delivered a healthy baby but is now sad to remember that she won’t get to spend much time with her daughter before her impending death. So that’s depressing. Mark and Doug check in with another new mom, Leslie, the one with the super-supportive partner, Harris. Susan wants to clone him, and Leslie and Harris say that might be possible someday, since they’ve already used modern technology to conceive their baby.

There’s only one mother left who’s close to delivery, which means the ER staff has delivered nine babies to eight mothers, with very few problems. Coburn lets Mark know that she’s pleased with his work. Christy’s husband arrives after spending the whole day trying to find a replacement for his bus route. Doug happily introduces him to his new sons, and he promises that today will be the last time he’s not there for them. Doug is sure he’ll be a great father. Leah’s the last mom to deliver, and though the baby seems fine now, Leah’s drug use could have lasting effects. Doug tells her she’ll probably be allowed to keep the baby, though he’s clearly not thrilled about that.

Carter does his interview with Hicks and some other doctors, having to do a trick with a magnet, a knot, a string, and a coffee can while he answers questions about surgical procedures. He screws up the trick, and Hicks asks what he would do if he made a mistake like that in surgery. Carter simply says that he would prepare the damage and proceed. Hicks likes that answer. Another doctor admits that the trick might not actually be possible; what’s important is his temperament. That combined with his academic achievements, board scores, and letters of recommendation are what they’re looking at.

Vucelich gave him a glowing recommendation, but Carter’s worried about Benton’s. The doctors are pleased that Carter survived working with Benton, but they’re even more pleased with Benton’s words of praise. The final question in the interview is why Carter wants to be a surgeon. He pauses, then says that when he sees people who are sick or injured, he knows he can fix them, so that’s what he wants to do. Sounds like Carter isn’t too different from Benton after all.

Connie learns that Leslie had beet soup at Doc Magoo’s the night before. Lydia, Chuny, and Susan giggle to themselves, then put on poker faces when Connie looks at them. The ER staff realize that Leslie and Harris aren’t the perfect couple they thought – they’re actually with other people. Specifically, Leslie and her partner used Harris as a sperm donor so they could have a baby. Harris and his partner will be the baby’s godfathers. Susan knew she was right about the situation being too good to be true.

Benton’s finally done with surgery, and the patient’s alive, for now. Carter brings him dinner and thanks him for setting the bar high for him and being a good example. Now that Tina’s seen her baby, she’s not sure she can go through with the adoption. She doesn’t think taking care of a baby is as hard as everyone says. Plus, her mom will help her. You know, the mom who’s been out of contact all day and is just now arriving to be with her daughter. The adoptive parents are devastated, realizing that their plans aren’t going to work out.

Doug goes to see Ray, surprised that he’s at such a nice hotel. He’s even more surprised to learn that Ray owns the place. Doug returns the Bulls tickets, saying he’s no longer playing along like he and his mother did when Doug was a child. He’s not going to let Ray get away with dropping in, giving him presents, and disappearing again. A father sticks around for his kids’ childhood, and Ray never did, so he’s no father. Ray says that Doug and his mother deserved better.

Doug mentions that he helped deliver a bunch of babies today. Ray starts to tell Doug about the night he was born – he and Doug’s mother were at a cabin (a cabin that the bank later took back, Doug notes) and had to skate across a lake to get to the hospital. Doug, unlike his father, decides to stick around for this story.

Connie clocks out of work, annoyed that no one’s around to say goodbye, since she’ll be gone for a while. She heads across the street to Doc Magoo’s and orders beet soup. Just then, a bunch of her co-workers burst out of the kitchen to throw her a surprise baby shower. Mark jokes that after Connie has some soup, they can go back across the street and deliver her baby. Meanwhile, Doug and Ray play foosball together at the hotel, spending more time together than they have in years.

Thoughts: Christy is played by Nia Long. Anna is played by Lindsay Crouse.

“What kind of soup should our diner serve, along with sandwiches, burgers, and pie?” “…Beet?” “Oh, yeah. Definitely beet.”

One of Carter’s competitors for the fellowship is named Andrea Zucker. Is that a nod to Andrea Zuckerman on Beverly Hills, 90210? This Andrea is also from California.

Dear everyone: If a friend brings you drugs while you’re in the hospital to have a baby, get new friends.

October 20, 2018

The X-Files 8.16, Three Words: A Conspiracy? On This Show? Are You Sure?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:18 pm by Jenn

When Mulder’s playing computer games, it’s impossible to get him to go do something else

Summary: There’s a small crowd of tourists outside the White House at 6:44 p.m. A man climbs the fence and takes off running across the lawn. Of course, Secret Service agents stop him and get him on the ground as he says he needs to tell the president something about aliens. The man insists that aliens are taking over the U.S. One of the agents says that the man has a weapon, so Salt gets shot. Before he dies, he hands one of the agents a CD labeled “fight the future.”

Mulder is still in the hospital, having flashes of memory of the experiments the aliens did on him. Scully and a doctor arrive with the news that he’s completely cured of the alien virus. His scars are even repairing themselves. Mulder says he feels like Austin Powers, though he doesn’t elaborate on that.

Scully takes him home, because apparently someone kept paying his rent even after he was thought to be dead. Scully tells him how much she’s been through: learning that he was taken, finding him “dead,” and now getting him back. Her prayers have been answered. Mulder notes that she also got her prayers about getting pregnant answered. He’s happy for her but isn’t sure where he fits in. He’s still processing everything that happened.

In Perkey, West Virginia, a prisoner gives Absalom a book called The Coming Apocalypse. Inside is a news article about the man on the White House lawn. His name was Howard Salt, and he was working on the U.S. census. Kersh is watching a news report about Salt when Doggett and Skinner come to his office. He says they never expected Salt to behave like he did, but then again, people aren’t always what they seem.

Kersh tells Skinner and Doggett that Scully submitted an application on Mulder’s behalf, wanting him to be reinstated to the X-Files. He may be having trouble processing things, but he wants to get back to work. Kersh doesn’t have that same desire. Doggett and Scully have been more successful in solving cases over the past few months than Mulder and Scully were in seven years. Skinner defends Mulder, but Kersh isn’t about to give him any credit for taking on “personal crusades.”

He wants Skinner and Doggett to back him in his decision to keep Mulder off the X-Files. Doggett reminds Kersh that he did his job, which was finding Mulder. Kersh can’t now ask Doggett to take him off of his pet project. Kersh threatens to close the X-Files, but Doggett doesn’t like that idea either. Skinner ends the meeting before Doggett can fight any more.

Skinner goes to Mulder’s to give him the news, though Mulder doesn’t think the decision to keep him off of the X-Files is really Kersh’s. Skinner says he wants to punish Mulder, though in the process, he’s also punishing Scully and Skinner. Scully asks if they’re going to just sit back and let the FBI get what they want. Mulder reminds her that she’s having a baby in a few months, which means she’ll be a little too busy to fight the FBI.

Skinner wants to keep the X-Files open with Doggett in charge. This is the first Mulder has heard Doggett’s name or known that Scully was working with a partner other than himself. He wonders if Doggett is involved in this push to get Mulder out of the X-Files. Scully says Doggett’s a good guy. Mulder decides he really is ready to go back to work.

Some inmates from Absalom’s prison work on a road crew in West Virginia, and for some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to give them shovels. Absalom finds a piece of wood with a nail in it and slips it up his sleeve. On the way back to their prison vans, Absalom overpowers a guard and runs off. The prisoners cheer him on as he manages to outrun a prison van (sure) and lose it by running past a passing train (sure, sure).

Absalom surprises Doggett in his home, I guess having stopped somewhere along the way to look up his address (sure, sure, sure). He has a gun (we’ll just pretend it’s Doggett’s), and subdues Doggett so he can check him for alien implants and make sure he’s still human. Once he has, he shows Doggett an article about Salt and says he was killed for what he knew. Absalom thinks he’ll be killed, too. He only has one chance to save himself.

Absalom wants to take a road trip with Doggett and spread the word that the alien invasion has begun. Some people have been taken away to serve gods unknown to humans. Absalom’s preachings are parables and secrets that have been kept from the world. Doggett’s phone rings, but Absalom won’t let him answer.

Scully’s calling Doggett from a task-force meeting run by Skinner to educate some agents about Absalom. He wrote “fight the future” on the wall of his cell before he escaped the road crew. Though no one’s ever been able to prove that Absalom healed returned abductees, there’s evidence that they were tortured. They need to find Absalom and bring him in so the FBI can get some answers. Skinner doesn’t want to be in charge of this case, since it’s clearly and X-File, but Scully will have to find Doggett before Skinner can hand off the responsibility. (I don’t know why Scully can’t run the investigation while Skinner looks for Doggett, but whatever.)

They both get delayed when Mulder shows up in his office, ready to work. He recognizes Salt from a picture of Absalom’s returned-abductee friends, and he agrees with Absalom that Salt was killed because he knew something. Scully says that Mulder makes this sound like there’s a conspiracy. Scully…what show do you think you’re on? Mulder notes the coincidence of the FBI trying to shut down the X-Files just as there are questions that need to be answered.

Back at Casa Doggett, Absalom is taping a weapon to Doggett’s back so they can put some sort of plan into action. He declares that they’re going to become “overnight sensations.” Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully go to the FBI’s evidence room to look through Salt’s personal effects. Scully’s concerned that Mulder’s willing to take such a big risk – this could get him fired – on the off chance that he’ll find something. Scully, again…what show do you think you’re on? She doesn’t get how Mulder thinks Absalom and Salt can have any answers when there’s no way they’re credible. Mulder’s like, “Hi, have you heard of the X-Files?”

As he starts up Salt’s laptop, Scully tries again to convince him that he’s risking too much – the X-Files and his own freedom. Mulder figures prison would be better than a spaceship where he has to undergo horrible experiments. Scully starts to ditch him, but she comes back when Mulder finds a huge, encrypted file on the computer. She decides to join in the fun and take the hard drive with Mulder.

Doggett and Absalom go to the Federal Statistics Center in Crystal City, Virginia, and it becomes clear that Absalom kidnapped Doggett because he needed an FBI agent to help him get into the building. Security scans show the gun taped to Doggett’s back, but not until the men are already inside the building. Absalom wants to get to some data before he has Doggett call the FBI and tell them what they’re up to. He thinks the proof of the alien invasion is in the census data.

Security guards swarm the men, and even though Absalom warns that he has a weapon, one of the guards shoots him. R.I.P., Absalom, assuming he can be killed. Doggett ends up in Skinner’s office, where he meets Mulder for the first time. Mulder doesn’t give him a warm welcome, since he thinks Doggett is part of the conspiracy to bury the truth. He thinks Doggett got Absalom killed.

Mulder goes to see the Lone Gunmen, who are happy to see him. They’d like to know about his involvement in Scully’s pregnancy, but she doesn’t want to talk about that. She’d much rather discuss the data on Salt’s computer, which he downloaded the day he died. It’s data from the Census Bureau, of course, but firewalls went up on everything at the facility 15 minutes after Salt was shot. Mulder sees this as confirmation that he’s right about the data being important to this conspiracy.

Unfortunately, the encryption is too complicated even for Langly, so they’ll need a password to get to it. That is, unless Mulder’s willing to break into the Federal Statistics Center. He guesses that Scully told the Gunmen to back her up in convincing Mulder not to keep taking risks to pursue the conspiracy. Of course, that’s not going to work.

Doggett has a clandestine meeting with Knowle so he can ask who’s responsible for the conspiracy. Knowle doesn’t care how long he and Doggett have been friends – he’s not getting involved. Doggett says he’s been accused of taking part in the conspiracy. He thinks he’s being used and doesn’t know it. Knowle still won’t help, other than to tell Doggett that there are three words that are key to this investigation.

Doggett next goes to Mulder’s building and intercepts Scully as she’s arriving. He knows he won’t be able to talk to Mulder, so he relays a message for Scully to pass along. He knows about the CD Salt had on him, and he knows the password needed to decrypt Salt’s data. It’s three words: fight the future.

Scully goes up to see Mulder, though she’s hesitant to give him Doggett’s information. She eventually does, and Skinner goes to Doggett’s to tell him what was in the data. It’s the names of people who have a certain genetic profile. Scully’s worried that Mulder’s going to use this information to do something dangerous. Doggett admits that he gave Scully the password, but he won’t tell Skinner how he got it. Skinner wonders whose side Doggett is on. Doggett says he’s starting to wonder the same thing.

Skinner can’t reach Scully, which is weird because…didn’t she just call him to tell him about the data? Doggett heads off, not wanting to give Skinner any information about his plans. He says Skinner will just have to trust him. Doggett returns to the Federal Statistics Center, running into Scully and telling her she needs to leave. He’s afraid he may have accidentally set her up to be the conspiracy’s next victim.

Mulder’s inside with with Lone Gunmen for an Ocean’s 11-esque job, complete with cutting security feeds, opening locked doors, and dangling on cables. Mulder sneaks around the building, looking for a data bank, while Doggett sneaks around looking for him. Mulder finds the data bank and starts emailing files, ignoring Doggett when he finds him and warns him to get out. Doggett shoots through a glass door to get access to the room Mulder’s in, but Mulder still thinks Doggett is part of the conspiracy and again refuses to listen to him.

Mulder states his theory: People with a certain genetic profile are targets for abduction and replacement with alien facsimiles. He’s sending the info out to the press, starting with The Washington Post. He invites Doggett to shoot him if he really wants to stop Mulder. Outside, Scully calls Byers to warn that people are coming and the guys need to get Mulder out of there. Mulder thinks Doggett set him up, but Doggett points out that he wouldn’t be trying to get Mulder to leave if that were the case.

Langly tells Mulder that the data is trapped, so he can’t upload it or transmit it. Men are now swarming the building, and the agents are trapped. The Lone Gunmen come up with a plan and send the men into the ceiling so they can escape the building without being seen.

The next day (I guess), Doggett meets with Knowle again, allowing him two minutes to explain himself before Doggett exposes him as a liar. Skinner is nearby, ready to get Knowle blacklisted. Knowle says he told Doggett what he could; he’s not responsible for what Doggett did next. If Doggett exposes him, he won’t have a source anymore. He’s just on the tip of an iceberg.

Doggett doesn’t appreciate being used to get Mulder killed, but Knowle says that wasn’t the point. The truth is right in front of him, in the X-Files. Knowle is trying to point him in the right direction. Doggett leaves, dissatisfied by unable to do anything else. Knowle watches, pleased, with the kind of bulge in his neck that Absalom would be interested in knowing about.

Thoughts: So I guess Mulder and Scully aren’t discussing her pregnancy, the details of the conception, how he might be the baby’s father, etc.? What an elephant to always have in the room.

I’m surprised Kersh didn’t have Mulder barred from the building. Or can anyone with a badge just waltz in, whether or not they’re still employed there?

Salt wrote his password right on the CD? Wow. Dumb.

I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Mulder in a leather jacket gets a 10/10 from me.

October 16, 2018

ER 2.14, The Right Thing: Suspicious Minds

Posted in TV at 5:04 pm by Jenn

How can we make this woman’s death about Carter?

Summary: Benton’s asleep – drink! He fell asleep looking through Vucelich’s files and is woken by Vucelich’s assistant just in time to rush off to surgery. Carter, Susan, and Mark are on their way to County on the El, though Susan usually drives and doesn’t live on this line. It seems like Carter’s getting the idea that Mark and Susan are seeing each other, and with the way they’re acting, it’s not too much of a stretch.

Benton’s too late to get to surgery with Vucelich, who doesn’t care that his excuse is that he overslept because he was up late reading patient files. Benton wants to understand why Vucelich has excluded some patients from his study. Vucelich says Benton must not have understood the scope of the study. In Helen Rubadoux’s case, she was never a candidate. In another patient’s case, they changed the procedure, so he was no longer within the study’s parameters. Vucelich wonders if he was right to bring Benton onto the team.

Noah Wyle shows off his juggling skills until Doug asks for Carter’s help with a patient. Jerry wishes Doug a happy birthday, but Doug says that news is just an ugly rumor. A woman named Marguerite comes in after falling on some ice; her son-in-law, Edward, is way too interested in figuring out why it happened. Marguerite tells Mark and Chuny that he’s studying to be an analyst.

Paramedics bring in a patient named Nathan who’s drunk and may have overdosed on Xanax. Benton finds out that he’s been removed from two operations he was supposed to assist on, thanks to Vucelich, who said he’d be busy in the ER. Doug shares with Carol the rumor (started by Carter) that Mark and Susan are hooking up. When Susan comes by, they’re all smiley with her, and she notices their cheerfulness.

Edward wonders if he’s somehow a jinx for Marguerite, since she keeps getting injured around him. He thinks he’s showing displacement. Carter tries to get excused from taking care of Nathan (who smells bad), but Susan keeps assigning him tasks and trying to teach him. She and Haleh are thrilled that Carter’s working in the ER today and they can make him do anything they want.

Doug addresses the rumor with Mark, who denies that he and Susan are together. Mark meets a new paramedic, Riley Brown, who’s 21 but seems to know what he’s doing. Carter wants to know why he’s stuck in the ER instead of helping out in the OR like he’s supposed to be doing. Benton tells him there’s no surgical service today. Riley’s patient, Wilson, lost a couple of fingers when he tried to clear his snowblower. Benton displays that typical Benton charm by telling him without any sugar-coating that he’ll no longer be right-handed.

Susan and Haleh find Nathan’s girlfriend writhing on top of him, saying she wants to take care of him. I don’t think she means medically. Benton tells Mark his suspicions that Vucelich is dropping patients from his study so he doesn’t have to report bad outcomes. Mark advises him to be sure before he makes any formal accusations to the dean. It’ll be Vucelich’s word against Benton’s, and if Benton’s wrong, his career will be over.

A guy named Paul loses control of his motorcycle outside the hospital and crashes through the ER doors. He begs the staff not to tell his father he got hurt riding the bike, since his dad didn’t want him to have one. I can see why. Benton goes to take a look at Vucelich’s files again, but they’re no longer there. Carter comes in and accuses Benton of quitting Vucelich’s study and not telling him. Benton says he didn’t quit, but Carter doesn’t believe him.

Paul insists that he needs to get rid of the bike ASAP so his father doesn’t find out about it. Mark expresses interest in buying it, though only as an act of mercy, he says. Since Paul’s only 17, Mark can’t keep the truth about Paul’s condition from his father. He thinks his dad will just be glad that Paul didn’t kill himself on the bike. Carter tries to sneak off as Ruby arrives and tells Jeanie that Helen died yesterday. He invites her to Helen’s funeral that afternoon, and Jeanie kindly says that she’ll go.

Carter complains to Susan that Nathan and his girlfriend, Angel, are “subhuman.” She gives him a look that says, “Your privilege is showing; put it away.” Jerry tells Doug that a bunch of kids are coming in with animal bites from a disastrous encounter with a petting zoo. Doug makes Susan laugh by singing “Happy Birthday” to himself. Somehow, Jerry doesn’t call him out on lying about that earlier.

Jeanie runs into Carter and tells him that Helen died. She invites him to go the funeral with her, but he says he’s going to be busy all day. Angel has a bad cough, so Susan has ordered a chest x-ray. Angel admits that she has AIDS and asks if Susan has to tell Nathan. Susan notes that it’s against the law for her to say anything, but Angel needs to tell him so he can get treatment if he needs it. Angel’s worried that Nathan will get mad and leave her.

Mark buys Paul’s bike, though Lydia notes that Paul will still have to tell his father how he broke his leg. Mark suggests that he say he was hitchhiking and was picked up by a motorcycle. Paul says in that case, he’ll probably get off with just a grounding. As they send Paul off, Mark tells Lydia that he got lucky with the deal on the bike. Lydia remarks that, according to hospital gossip, that’s not the only way he’s gotten lucky recently.

Carol and Jeanie treat a patient named T-Ball who says he has a stomachache. Carol pulls Jeanie aside to tell her he’s in the Turkey File and comes in often for drugs. She advises Jeanie to let him stick around for a little while until he gets bored and goes somewhere else. Susan yells at Carter for not following her orders with Nathan, then asks Jerry to call Social Services for Angel. He tells her that Mark bought Paul’s bike, but Susan will have to get her own helmet. He, for one, thinks Susan and Mark make a great couple.

Connie helps Doug take care of the bitten kids, a couple of whom are acting a little bratty. Doug comments that Connie (who’s pregnant, remember) is probably really enjoying this glimpse of her future. Jerry brings over a man who’s come in looking for Doug, wanting to surprise him for his birthday. It’s Doug’s father, Ray.

Jeanie thinks T-Ball really is in pain this time, since he says his stomach hurts when usually he says it’s his back. She’s ordered some blood tests to be on the safe side. Chuny checks out Mark’s bike and tells him it’s a good one. Mark doesn’t have much security in his apartment building to prevent it from being stolen, and he’d have to carry it up and down the stairs all the time, but Chuny says that Susan can keep it at her place. Mark looks confused, but Susan just ignores this.

She goes to check on Angel, who’s taken off. Haleh isn’t surprised, since she could see how scared Angel was. Doug and Ray go outside to talk, though Doug isn’t interested in reconnecting with his absentee father. They talk about Doug’s mother, then Doug’s heroics, then Ray’s regrets about leaving. There’s no apology there, though, so Doug still isn’t interested. He does accept an envelope from Ray before sending him on his way.

Carter approaches Vucelich to ask if he can keep helping with the study even though Benton has left. Vucelich says there are already enough people working on it, so there’s nothing for Carter to do. Susan determines that Angel has AIDS, but she’s not able to tell Nathan that he needs to get tested. She and Mark commiserate over being held hostage by the law. Jeanie was right about T-Ball, who has anemia from lead poisoning, thanks to dust from the building he’s been sleeping in.

Jerry tries to give Carter some patients, but Carter’s too busy not doing his job to help. He finds Angel getting drunk in Nathan’s room and yells at the two of them for being such big messes. Susan kicks him out, then goes to ask him what’s going on with him. He complains that patients come in drunk or high, then go right back to drinking and doing drugs as soon as they’re released, not caring that it’s making them sick. Then they have to come back for more treatment. Carter thinks Susan’s used to this cycle because of Chloe. Susan tells him that when he first started work, they thought he cared too much; now, it’s clear he doesn’t.

Loretta comes in with her kids for the first time since Mark tried to go to her place to tell her she has cancer. Benton tells Hicks that Vucelich is telling people he left the study, which isn’t completely accurate. Hicks says he’s trying to be discreet so he doesn’t have to admit that he fired his star student. Benton tells her about the data, but Hicks says he’s allowed to do what he wants with the study. Benton would be smart to apologize and get back to Vucelich’s good side. He has the arrogance and talent he needs to be a great surgeon; now he needs to learn to be a team player.

Mark is finally able to tell Loretta that she’s sick, which means all the stuff that’s been going well in her life is now marred by something awful. While her illness is treatable and her odds of survival are good, she’ll probably need a hysterectomy. Carter goes to the cemetery and looks on as Helen is buried. Jeanie sees him as everyone’s leaving but doesn’t say anything. Carter approaches Ruby to express his condolences and apologize for not being honest with him. Ruby tells him today isn’t about him.

Nathan tells Susan that he’s the reason Angel keeps drinking. She’ll stay sober for a while, but he’ll drag her back into it. Susan then breaks the law by revealing that Angel has AIDS, so Nathan needs to be tested. Nathan isn’t sure which of them gave it to each other, which I guess means he’s already tested positive, or at least thinks he will. Mark needs to make arrangements for Loretta’s kids for a few days while she starts her treatment, so Lydia offers to take them in. Al wants to adopt some kids after they get married, and Lydia thinks this will help him change his mind.

Doug learns that one of the bitten kids is still waiting for a parent to pick him up, so he goes to chat with him. They have the same birthday and both hate it (and their dads), so they bond a little. Doug finds tickets to a Bulls game in the envelope his father gave him. He suggests that he and the kid steal some brownies from the doctors’ lounge and share a birthday treat together.

Benton brings up Vucelich’s study with him again, saying that at least three of the patients shouldn’t have been excluded. The study can’t be valid if Vucelich is manipulating the study. Vucelich is mad that Benton would throw away such a great opportunity and accuse Vucelich of something like this. Benton is more concerned with the lives that could be at stake because of a study with inaccurate results. Vucelich reminds him that they work at a struggling county hospital. This study will bring in a lot of money that will be put to good use. If Benton doesn’t drop this, he can kiss surgery goodbye.

Susan continues to display poor bedside manner by telling Angel to her face that she’s stupid. (Though smoking when you have pneumonia isn’t smart, so…it’s not like Susan’s wrong.) She admits that she told Nathan that Angel has AIDS, but he’s more worried about her than about himself. He wants them to get through this together. Angel wonders why he would stick around if it turns out he’s healthy. Susan wonders if she wants him to stay or leave.

Benton waits to meet with the dean, but he’s kept waiting for a long time. This gives him lots of time to think about what could be about to happen to his career. Mark and Susan hang out at her place, getting drunk on the margaritas they were going to use to celebrate Doug’s birthday. They talk about the stories going around about them, inspired by their innocent ride together on the El train after going shopping for booze for Doug’s birthday. Things look like they might get romantic, but they don’t.

Benton visits Walt at his garage and laments how things turned out with the study. He thought all his hard work would have led him to a better place. Walt thinks he was right to come forward with his suspicions, but that doesn’t guarantee that things will turn out the best for him. Benton admits that he didn’t talk to the dean after all. He was dumb enough to ruin his career but he’s not brave enough to do it the right way. He always thought he’d do the right thing when the time came, but when it did, he couldn’t.

Thoughts: Nathan is played by Mark Pellegrino. Angel is played by Charlotte Ross. Marguerite is played by Micole Mercurio, who I just found out died a couple years ago, and now I’m sad.

Oh, Ruby. Don’t you know? Every day is about Carter!

This is the first episode where I can see Benton as something other than cold and distant. He has layers. He wants to be a good person. He wants to play by the rules, but others won’t always let him. He has more humanity than we’ve been shown so far.

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