September 18, 2018

ER 2.10, A Miracle Happens Here: A Christmas Carol

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

It’s Santa! I know him!

Summary: Shep’s alarm goes off at 5:45, and he has to be rudely awoken by some annoying Santa-themed rap. Carol’s already up and around, trying to get a fire going in her newly discovered fireplace, since the furnace went out during the night. She can’t get the flue open, so Shep suggests that they have Christmas at his place. Carol insists on having it in her new home and tries to think of ways to make it work. Shep will probably win this round, since there’s now a hole in the roof letting snow in.

Some carolers sing “Carol of the Bells” at the hospital, and their lovely voices almost make up for their hideous outfits. (The women are wearing caps with snowmen on them. If they have children, those kids are now dead from the humiliation.) The group is from the recovery wing, and they invite the ER staff to sing for them at 4 p.m. Apparently Carol made the arrangements but didn’t tell anyone. Unfortunately, no one can sing. Susan and Doug try to volunteer Mark, who’s not in yet, as he’s with the hospital’s lawyer. Sean O’Brien is suing him.

The lawyer tells Mark that the case is going to take a long time to move forward, and he plans to settle anyway. It’s better to leave Mark with a black mark on his record than for the hospital to have to pay out a million dollars. Mark heads off to find a bathroom, running into Sean and his son, who’s now about a year old. Sean definitely doesn’t want to make small talk with the man he’s suing for his wife’s death.

Some costumed skaters doing an on-ice nativity play were injured by a Zamboni, so Susan, Doug, and Harper are busy in the ER. Officer Al eases Susan’s fears by reporting that baby Jesus was played by a doll. However, the Zamboni driver appears to be drunk, so I think he’ll be spending Christmas in jail. Meanwhile, Mark will be spending it moping by himself, since his family is in Milwaukee and his wife is sleeping with someone else.

Carter wants to observe an operation Benton’s performing, but he hasn’t finished his work from the night before, since he was busy trying to comfort a patient’s family. No one’s going to be a nice person on Benton’s watch, even on Christmas Eve, so Carter doesn’t get to observe. Carol tries to round up participants for the carol singing that afternoon, but no one wants to sing. Doug mentions that the cops are charging the Zamboni with a DUI, even though he wasn’t technically driving a car. Mark dubs it a ZUI.

Benton scrubs in with a couple other surgeons who a) don’t want to make small talk with him and b) don’t even know his name. Vucelich informs them that their patient has changed his mind about having surgery, but he thinks he and Benton might be able to get him to change it back. Carol tends to a patient named Stan Calaus who cut himself while carving a wooden toy. He and his wife used to sell their goods at craft fairs; now he has a whole crew helping out, and they still have more orders than they can keep up with. Carol tells him he would make a great Santa, but he must hear that a lot.

Vucelich tells Benton that part of being a surgeon who employs cutting-edge techniques is selling his methods to patients. He lets Benton take the lead in convincing the patient, Mr. Chamberlain, to let them operate. Mark has signed up to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Doug nicely offers to take one of those shifts. Mark would rather work than spend the holidays alone; Rachel will be with Jen until Christmas night.

Shep brings in an unconscious woman named Hanna Steiner who was carjacked. Mark notices tattooed numbers on Hanna’s arm, and he and Shep have to tell Malik that that means she’s a Holocaust survivor, because wherever Malik went to school growing up, the school system sucked. Mr. Chamberlain tells Benton and Vucelich that he doesn’t care what techniques they’re using; his wife, Macy, wants him to wait, so he is. Carter arrives with Macy, having convinced her that the procedure is the way to go. This is the family Carter spent the night talking to, and they love him now. Vucelich rewards him with the offer of scrubbing in.

Hanna regains consciousness and asks about Tirzah, her granddaughter. She was in the car when it was stolen. The car has been found by the police, but there was no baby inside. Mark and Haleh’s day just got a whole lot worse. They try to call Hanna’s son, but she doesn’t think that’ll do any good, since he lives far away. Mark tries to encourage her to get a CT scan while they wait for news on the baby. Hanna says something in Yiddish, and when Mark understands her, Hanna decides to defer to his medical recommendation.

Al shows Susan the ruby earrings he wants to give Lydia for Christmas. He’s uncertain about the choice, since they’re nothing that special or expensive, but Susan promises that they’re perfect for Lydia. She finds Mark fighting with Jen on the phone about wanting to keep Rachel with her a couple more days so she can go to a party with her cousins. He complains to Susan about Jen’s horrible timing in having an affair. She invites him to spend the holiday with her, Susie, and her parents, though I’m not sure that’s better than spending it alone.

Vucelich and Benton operate on Mr. Chamberlain as Carter observes closely. Vucelich thinks Benton is lucky to have a student with such a good rapport with patients. He lets Benton finish up, but Benton gets flustered since they’re rushing for a personal-best operating time. They don’t break their record, thanks to Benton, but Carter gets to help out, so at least one person in the operating room is happy. Weaver spots an old friend named Mlungisi who’s in town for a visit. She hugs and kisses him, showing more affection than she will in the entire rest of the series. Carol, Mark, Haleh, and Randi are stunned.

As a man rushes his teen son in with a bullet wound in his shoulder, Mark chats with Hanna, trying to help her stay positive that Tirzah will be found safe. She covers the numbers on her arm and tells him it’s easier to be a victim of discrimination when you’re a child because you don’t know any different. Mark notes that she’s seen the worst in people. Hanna says she’s also seen the best, like Tirzah.

Mark tries to assure her that the carjacker just wanted the vehicle, so he won’t hurt the baby. Hanna knows that the best way to get revenge on those who have hurt you is to keep living your life like they don’t own you. But then something like this happens and you remember that everything can be taken from you. Hanna admits that when she was getting her CT scan, she prayed for the first time in 50 years. She asks if Mark knows Yiddish and if he’s religious. Mark says he’s the child of a lapsed Catholic and an agnostic Jew. She teases that he’s no good to her; she can’t ask him to pray for her family. Mark says he’ll try.

The staff is supposed to go to a restaurant for a party later, but since it’s snowing and traffic isn’t moving much, Carol thinks everyone who’s still there at 4 p.m. might as well go sing with her. Susan says her voice is so bad that when she sings to Susie, the baby goes to sleep immediately as a defense mechanism. Carol says they can both just mouth the words, though that won’t be any good if no one else is singing. Carol tries to enlist Carter, but he pleads “chronic tone-deafness and acute stage fright.”

Mark agrees with Carol that Stan looks familiar – just like Jerry Garcia. Apparently it’s Show Susan the Earrings You Bought for Your Girlfriend Day, because Carter wants Susan’s opinion on the earrings he’s going to give Harper. Unlike Al’s rubies, Carter bought Harper real diamonds. He’s worried that she’ll think they’re too much, since they haven’t been dating that long. Susan says Harper will be happy that he thought to get her something so nice.

Some teens bring in a priest who was shot at his church. Jeanie is horrified that someone would shoot a priest. Weaver has arranged to take some time off so she can be with Mlungisi while he’s in town, and since Mark was already scheduled to work, it’s not a hassle. Harper and Randi try to get Weaver to tell them how she and Mlungisi know each other. Weaver just says that she had a farm in Africa.

Susan and Jeanie work on the priest, who asks to speak to Diablo, one of the boys who came in with him. Susan wants the priest to stay calm, but he insists, so Jeanie goes to get Diablo. A baby is being brought in after being found in an adult theater (oh, classy), and the police think she might be Tirzah. Mark and Doug check her over, but she seems fine, just unhappy. Hanna wanders in and recognizes her as Tirzah.

The priest tells Diablo that his shooter wasn’t from the L.G. (which we can assume is a gang). He gives Jeanie his rosary beads for Diablo. Carol checks on Stan, who’s sending off his wife and kids to finish up their work. Mrs. Calaus promises she has both their maps, the naughty and the nice. Carol tells Stan that she’s enjoyed being his nurse today; everyone else she’s encountered has been scroogey. Stan tells her she has to find the Christmas spirit within her rather than rely on other people to show it.

Carol changes her methods, telling some of the staff that she’s going to sing Christmas carols, and they can join her if they’d like. No one does, but at least she doesn’t feel grumpy anymore. Susan and Jeanie rush the priest to an elevator to take him to surgery, but they have to take him back to the trauma room when he destabilizes. The teens who brought him in are eager for information, which the staff don’t have time to provide. Hanna wisely takes Tirzah out of the room while they’re working.

Mark discovers that the bullet severed the priest’s aorta, so they get some scans. By the time Jeanie returns with the films, the priest is dead. The teens are devastated and ask for a priest to deliver last rites. In a much cheerier part of the hospital, Carol sings a respectable version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” to some patients in the recovery wing. Mark, Susan, Doug, Carter, Harper, Malik, and Lydia join her, making up their own lyrics. No one sounds good, but Carol appreciates their effort, and the patients are happy to see them.

Benton lies down in an on-call room, reciting Scripture about Jesus’ birth to himself. Lily grabs him to come take care of an elderly woman named Helen Rubadoux who may have an aortic dissection. When Carter arrives to help, Benton puts him to work doing what he does best – talking to the patient’s husband, Ruby. Carol goes looking for Stan, but he’s already left. The window in his room is open, and Carol thinks she hears sleigh bells. (Also, Stan Calaus is an anagram for Santa Claus. Sigh.)

Carter tells Ruby that Helen needs surgery, and though her odds of survival are only 50/50 because of her age, it’s necessary to give her any chance at all. He suggests a new procedure that will complete the surgery faster, lowering the odds that Helen will have a heart attack. Even better, Vucelich developed the procedure and would perform the operation himself. Ruby asks Carter if that’s what he would do, and Carter says it is, so Ruby gives his consent.

Diablo calls someone to report that the priest has died, so they need to make the L.G. pay. Jeanie hangs up the phone and reminds Diablo that the priest said it wasn’t the L.G. Diablo thinks he lied to keep a truce between gangs. Jeanie asks if the priest would want them to keep up the gang war in his name. She gives Diablo the rosary beads and tells him to help the man who always tried to help others.

Hanna’s large family has arrived with a menorah, wanting to celebrate Hanukkah with her in the hospital. Mark and Hanna both think they should leave and let Hanna rest, but the family doesn’t want her to be alone. As Vucelich and Benton prepare for Helen’s surgery, the staff learns that the snow has forced them to cancel their Christmas party. Carol says she wishes she could have everyone over to her house, but without heat, it wouldn’t be fun. Shep reveals that he spent the day fixing the fireplace, so everything’s good. Carol suddenly wishes she hadn’t invited everyone over.

Mark joins the Steiners as they light their menorah and play dreidel. One of Hanna’s granddaughters says that the letters on the dreidel mean “a miracle happened there.” Hanna’s happy that the family had their own miracle in Tirzah’s safe return. And there was a second miracle – Hanna and Mark prayed together. Hanna felt for decades that God had forsaken her, but she realized today that He’s always been with her in the form of her family. Mark decides to leave the family by themselves.

Things are very festive at Carol’s, and even Benton comes by after he finishes Helen’s surgery. Harper and Lydia admire each other’s earrings, deciding they each like each other’s pairs better. They consider switching, not thinking Al and Carter would notice, but Susan stops them. Jeanie tells Benton she was thinking about him today, knowing this is his first Christmas without his mother. He tells her she made him memorize the Bible verses he was reciting to himself earlier, and always liked to hear him say them on Christmas Eve. Benton notes that this is also Jeanie’s first Christmas on her own.

Shep finds Carol scrounging for more cups in her kitchen and announces that he loves her. That’s fine on its own, but then he goes further, saying he wants to spend his life with her and have kids with her. Okay, you’ve been dating for, like, three months. Slow down. Carol isn’t ready to make a big commitment, but she does appreciate hearing that he loves her.

Mark calls Rachel, promising that Santa will find her at her grandparents’ house. He asks if she wants to stay for the party with her cousins, knowing that if she does, he won’t get to spend Christmas with her. He promises they’ll have their own “post-Christmas, post-Hanukkah, pre-New Year’s Day celebration” when she gets there. He goes back to work as some staff have a joyful snowball fight outside the ER doors.

Thoughts: Ruby is played by the late Red Buttons. The priest is played by Tony Plana.

Clooney mouthing the final “bohm” in “Carol of the Bells” made me lose it.

Carol: “Last chance to spread some holiday cheer.” Benton: “What?” Exactly. “Holiday cheer” is a foreign language to Benton.

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