January 21, 2020

ER 5.12, Double Blind: Why Do People Keep Expecting Doug to Follow the Rules?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 5:05 pm by Jenn

I guess we should be glad Carol didn’t keep the pot for herself

Summary: Lucy’s done with her ER rotation, so Carter and Weaver are hosting a dinner at their place to celebrate. Carter’s used to just going out for pizza with his resident, but in Weaver’s day, residents cooked for their students. She’s invited Benton over as well, since he was Carter’s resident and will now be Lucy’s. Carter says he’ll miss having her around. Whatever they’re cooking, it requires a lot of prep and Weaver is very particular about all of it.

Doug has been conducting a study on a new pain medication for kids, and things are going well. The father of one of the patients is sure that his son is one of the kids in the test group, not the group getting the placebo. Doug says it’s a double-blind study, so he doesn’t know which group is getting what.

Jerry is entertaining the ER with music, and I’m sure people who’ve come there for medical treatment just love hearing Metallica blasting through the speakers. Lynette recognizes it as Metallica because she’s banned it in her house. She’s come in on her day off to run a seminar on STDs and cervical cancer. She managed to get some grant money to fund it.

Mark and Anspaugh meet up on their way to work and talk about the NASA stuff. This is a waste of everyone’s time; Mark’s not going to space. Anspaugh offers him something nice to make him stay, such as advancement in the process to get tenure. He’d be eligible as early as 2002, in three years.

Lucy starts off her surgical rotation working with Elizabeth, who quickly takes a liking to her. Romano says he arranged for them to work together because he wanted Elizabeth to have a competent student. Lucy notices him glancing down her shirt. He invites Elizabeth to do a big operation with him and tells her he’s getting the ball rolling on having her fellowship reinstated so she doesn’t have to be an intern anymore. After Romano leaves, Lucy asks Elizabeth if he checks out everyone’s chests. “Only the females, as far as I know,” Elizabeth replies.

Carol complains to Doug about Lynette’s seminar and grant money; he agrees that she has the right to know what her clinic employee is doing. Everyone complains about Jerry’s music choices, but since Amanda signed off on him being the hospital’s DJ, he thinks he’s allowed to keep it up. Doug asks if a siren he hears is in the music or from an ambulance outside. Jerry says it’s in the music. He’s wrong.

Paramedics bring in a woman who was found unconscious after a kitchen fire. Doris the paramedic wants a firefighter named Fred to be examined after his exposure to smoke from the fire. She complains to Mark that the new policy of having paramedics ride with firefighters is awful – the firefighters resent it and won’t listen to the EMTs. Mark says she did the right thing by making Fred come in.

Carol tends to a man named Mr. Ackerman whose home health aide found him unconscious. He has end-stage cancer and has been using pot for the nausea. He notes that ten years ago, he kicked his son out for smoking pot at home. Now, his son gets pot for him. Carol pretends she didn’t see it so she won’t have to decide whether to throw it out.

Mark treats the woman from the fire, making everyone shut up about her weight. He tells Carter that he’s going to be teaching a class to med students to help them practice taking histories and making diagnoses. Carter hated the class when he took it, since everyone knew the whole process was fake, but Mark doesn’t care. Carter asks if Lucy gave him a good evaluation after her rotation. Mark says it was fair.

Lucy, Benton, and Elizabeth discuss a patient who may need surgery but might not be a good candidate for it. Elizabeth notes that he claims he’s 140 years old. The patient, Charley, is well enough to walk around a little, and he doesn’t want to be stuck in the hospital since he spends most of his time helping other people in his neighborhood. He says Benton has the same responsibility to pass on his knowledge to Lucy.

Benton tells him there’s a surgical option to help him, but it’s not recommended for someone his age. Charley says he can’t be killed; he has a conjure on him. He’s not surprised that Benton doesn’t know what that means, since Benton is a man of science. Lucy tries to be quiet as she tells Benton that she’ll call for a psych consult. Charley hears her anyway.

Weaver asks Elizabeth if she can confirm any instances where Romano sexually harassed a co-worker. Oh, I can! It’s called every episode he’s been in. Elizabeth says it’s very American-like to take a personal issue and blow it up into something worth suing over. People have to have a thick skin to work around Romano, so whoever’s accusing him of harassment (Weaver can’t divulge her name) may be too sensitive for her job. As they talk, Elizabeth realizes that her experiences with Romano – rejecting his advances, then having her fellowship revoked – fall under the category of harassment. She doesn’t mention this to Weaver.

Joi brings in Ricky, who’s having bowel issues, possibly as a side effect of the morphine he’s on. His ALD is progressing to the point where he’s no longer talking. Joi breaks down but isn’t sure why this, of all the things Ricky’s been through, is what’s setting her off. Outside, a woman brings in her unconscious husband, having sent the paramedics away when they came to check him out earlier. He hit his head and was okay afterward, so the EMTs left him to go take care of the kitchen fire. Mark’s not happy about that.

Carol chats with Joi, who’s appreciative of the respite care Carol arranged for her. She shares that her daughter had bloodwork done that shows she’s not a carrier for ALD, so she won’t have to worry about passing it on to her kids. Doug wants to keep Ricky in the hospital until his fever comes down. Joi guesses that they’ll have to reduce his morphine so he doesn’t get sick again. Doug tells her they may have another option for pain relief.

Mark treats the unconscious man, Mr. Haggerty, whose condition may be serious. Elizabeth goes to scrub in on Romano’s procedure, listening in as he complains to Anspaugh about a screw-up Doyle made letting a patient eat before surgery. Anspaugh says Doyle is well-regarded, and Elizabeth says she’s always found Doyle capable. Romano remarks that he’s heard she makes women uncomfortable. Well, you would know about making women uncomfortable.

Mark drags someone to the ER from neurosurgery, trying to convince him that Mr. Haggerty needs immediate help. No one’s available, so Mark decides to drill burr holes in Mr. Haggerty’s skull in the ER. It might just be a bluff to get someone from surgery down there faster, but Mark follows through and successfully clears a clot from Mr. Haggerty’s brain. Malik leads a slow clap when he’s done. Eyeroll.

Doug asks Mark how he should account for a broken vial of the pain medication from his study. Mark says he should just make a note; there are more samples than patients in the study, so they don’t need to worry about running out. He tells Mrs. Haggerty that her husband’s okay, then starts to look into which EMTs ditched the Haggertys for the fire. Jerry tells him it was Doris and her group. Mark threatens to fire him if he puts the music back on.

Jeanie tends to a girl named Donna who lost the tip of her finger and is waiting for a plastic surgeon to reattach it. Doug comes in to get a vial of medicine from the study, saying it broke. Carol checks on Mr. Ackerman, who isn’t getting any relief from the medication he was given for nausea. He’d much rather go outside and smoke pot. Carol can’t take him, but when his son arrives, she’ll let him take Mr. A outside.

Blah blah, NASA, blah. Mark goes to some seminar about it, but Doris pulls him out to apologize for not doing a better job with Mr. Haggertys. The incident is going to be the subject of a formal investigation. Mark says that since it was a medical issue, it should be under his jurisdiction, not the fire captain’s. Doris admits that the firefighters may have influenced her decision to leave, since they were eager to get to the fire. Mark promises to do his best to keep an investigation from hurting her career.

Charley wants to challenge Benton to an arm-wrestling match to show he’s strong enough for surgery. Psych has determined that he’s competent to make medical decisions, so he wants the surgery. Benton notes that Charley didn’t tell the psychiatrist that he fought at Appomattox. He was cleared for surgery both physically and psychologically, but Benton still doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Charley thinks arm-wrestling will settle that. He wants Benton to show him the respect he deserves. Laughing, Benton gives in, and though he wins the match, he approves Charley’s surgery.

Mark advocates for Doris, arguing that she should be counseled instead of punished. A lab tech named Heather comes to the ER to deliver some test results to Doug. He had the pain medication from his study tested to see if it contains codeine. Heather is two seconds from flirting with him, but Carol pulls him away to talk about Ricky. He assures her that he wasn’t flirting with Heather. I don’t think she’d even suspected he was.

Weaver tells Carol that Lynette ran the idea of her seminar by Weaver last week. Carol drops in on the seminar, which is more just a bunch of women sitting around and talking about their sexual partners and risk factors. The plastic surgeon, Dr. Baker, comes to see Donna and determines that her fingertip can’t be reattached. His bedside manner is…let’s say Benton-esque.

Jerry puts the music back on, thinking Mark just wanted him to end the loud stuff. Mark asks why he chose to play “A Space Oddity.” Jerry says he listened to the album a lot as a kid and thought that going to space would be the ultimate freedom. Someone from the waiting area comes to the desk to ask if they can put David Bowie back on. Mark decides to give up on the fight.

Doug gives the pain medication to Joi, saying it’s from a study Ricky isn’t a candidate for, so she doesn’t need to fill out the paperwork. Jeanie chastises Baker for not being kinder to Donna; he acted like she was an inconvenience to his day. Baker tells her he’ll explain the procedure he’ll be performing on her finger to her and her father.

Lucy scrubs in with Benton, who would prefer for her to be ready for surgery instead of talking about Charley’s stories. Just moments after they get into the OR, Charley has a heart attack. The doctors get him stabilized, but he won’t be having surgery today. Mark tells Doug that he’s not going to pursue the NASA stuff. He’s decided that he doesn’t want to leave County. Cool, so we can drop this now.

Carol is annoyed that Lynette excluded her from her seminar. All the women who attended were black, so really, Carol thinks Lynette excluded a lot of people. Lynette notes that black women are at high risk for cervical cancer. Plus, she wanted the attendees to feel comfortable opening up, and she thought they would be more at ease with other black women. Carol says they’ll have to hold more seminars for other populations, as if that’s a bad thing. Lynette notes that she did this on her own time. Carol tells her to be more inclusive if she wants to keep her job at the clinic.

Baker is much more friendly to Donna as he stitches up her wound. She plays guitar, and he assures her that after she gets fitted for a prosthetic and gets used to it, she’ll be able to play again. Jeanie says she won’t be able to play computer games, though. Then she says that Donna’s father paid her to say that. Baker accidentally calls Jeanie “Jenny” and apologizes.

Mark was able to get Doris out of any investigation as long as she goes to counseling. She’s grateful enough to offer up her firstborn. Doyle tells Carol that Mr. A has to stay the night, since his son can’t pick him up until tomorrow. Joi has a question for Doug, who’s in a meeting, so Mark offers to try to help. And that’s how he learns that Doug stole medication from the study to give to Ricky. Carol goes to Mr. A’s room, closes the blinds, opens the window, and lights up his pot. He’s unable to inhale it himself, so she does it for him, exhaling the smoke into his mouth. You know, like any nurse would.

Later, Carol finds Mark checking out the cabinet that holds the medication for Doug’s study. He tells her that he thinks Doug gave Ricky medication from the study. Carol tells Mark to talk to him before he jumps to any conclusions. Baker thanks Jeanie for her assistance and for reminding him to show a little more compassion with younger patients. He’d like to repay her with a date to an art exhibit. It turns out that Jenny was his wife and medical partner, who died a few years ago.

As Elizabeth examines one of Doyle’s patients, Doyle says that she’s had some issues with Romano. She apologizes for not talking to Elizabeth before getting her involved in the investigation. Elizabeth says she can’t offer any help. Doyle says he threatened to torch her in an evaluation. She thinks he thought he could get away with harassing Doyle because she’s a lesbian. Elizabeth doesn’t want her to take the investigation too far, since Romano’s a “star.” Doyle says she just has self-respect. Elizabeth changes her mind about everything and tells Weaver she wants to talk about Romano.

Reggie comes to the ER in hopes of taking her out for the second night in a row. Jeanie says she already has plans to go to an art exhibit. Look at Jeanie, playing the field after thinking no one would want to date her! Mark takes his theory to Weaver, and the two furiously discuss how Doug may have put them at risk for losing research money and Medicare payments. Mark’s especially mad because he’s the one who got Doug attached to the study. Weaver thinks they need to handle things themselves – in other words, cover this up.

Charley may not recover from his heart attack, and in fact might not ever wake up. Lucy’s shaken up. The old Benton would have told her to suck it up because they can’t save everyone. The new Benton has compassion and treats her gently. At home, Doug tells Carol what he did and how Mark and Weaver are going to handle it. Carol sees their view of things and can’t bring herself to tell Doug he did the right thing. Poor baby Doug goes upstairs to mope alone.

Thoughts: Baker is played by Carl Lumbly.

If this show took place today, Romano would have been fired after, like, three episodes. Unfortunately, we still have many more seasons ahead with his obnoxiousness.

Why the ridiculous NASA stuff? There were other ways to make Mark realize he likes his job. It was so random.

Benton’s in a good mood in this episode and it scares me.


  1. Nick Rivers said,

    The juxtaposition of Doug providing illegal pain relief to a patient with Carol providing illegal pain relief to a patient was a little clunky but illustrated the ethical dilemma well. With the benefit of hindsight, we all know now that Carol’s situation is presently an accepted practice (with the exception of having your nurse exhale your medication back into your mouth).

    All the higher-ups already know that Doug is a straight-up liability to the hospital so they brought this on themselves. He’s always run rogue and never faced real consequences for it. What’s surprising to me is that he’s faithful to Carol, though I know soon he’ll bail on her anyway for Seattle.

    Seeing Lucy and Corday and Romano together was bittersweet knowing that they will be fighting for her life in a season or two.

    I hated that they did Doyle this way. She was a great character but they didn’t know what to do with her so they gave her this weird Romano plot. I suppose it was only a matter of time before they clashed, but she was a very capable doc and they didn’t use her much (maybe this was around the time she was starting in CSI?).

    Really wanted to be a fly on the wall for the dinner with Weaver, Carter, Benton, and Lucy, but in a way I’m glad they didn’t show it either because it would have been cringy. Or Benton would have found a way not to show. I agree that he WAS weirdly nice in this episode, especially with Charley and Lucy.

    I’ll always remember Bill Henderson (actor who played Charley) as the cop from the movie Clue — “It’s a free country, don’t you know that?!”

  2. Lolabossanova said,

    I decided to watch ER from the beginning, since i never made time to watch it when it was on the air. Thanks for your wonderful and comprehensive synopses. Sometimes, when I don’t want to watch an entire episode, I read your blog. It’s more than informative – and your side commentaries are the best. Thanks!

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