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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