January 28, 2020

ER 5.13, Choosing Joi: People Are Dying and Risking Their Medical Licenses, But at Least There Are Dogs

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:53 pm by Jenn

One of these men was in an Oscar-nominated movie. The other was in “Top Gun”

Summary: Carol is asleep – drink! – but Doug is lying awake in bed, thinking about how he broke protocol for Ricky Abbott. He leaves the house and boards an El train while super-serious music plays. Carol wakes up alone and goes downstairs to brood on the couch. Doug goes to County and tries to get some work done, also alone. It’s lonely when you’ve ignored the rules to do whatever you want.

When Carol gets to work, Jerry tells her that Doug is drinking coffee on the roof, alone. Are you getting the theme here? Doug assures her that he didn’t come to the roof to jump. It’s always good to make a joke about suicide to someone who once attempted it. He thinks Weaver and Mark are going to try to use the Ricky situation as an example for why County shouldn’t have made Doug a pediatric attending. Carol says that he put the patient first, which is what they’re supposed to do. Oh, you enabler.

Elizabeth chats with Weaver at Doc Magoo’s, trying to give her some ammo to back up Doyle’s sexual-harassment accusations against Romano. Weaver asks if he ever gave Elizabeth a reason for ending her fellowship. Elizabeth says she didn’t think he had to give a reason. But there must have been one, since the funding was there and she wasn’t replaced. Elizabeth mentions that he asked her out and she rejected him, but they can’t know for sure if that was connected to the termination of the fellowship. No, I’m sure it was just a coincidence. Romano tries to join the women, who scurry away.

Malik brings a woman named Alice to the clinic so Carol can evaluate her cough. The woman doesn’t think she needs an exam, but it’s really because she doesn’t want anyone getting too close because they might discover that she smuggled a dog in with her. Carol’s face: “You have to be kidding me.” Hey, at least she’s not bringing the dog in to be treated. Malik reluctantly agrees to hold Sparky during Alice’s exam.

Anspaugh wants to know why some charts that were sent out for review have been returned to him. Carol says that that’s normal procedure; they always come back to the interim chief. “That’s you again, right?” Malik asks innocently. “Thank you for straightening that out, Malik,” Anspaugh says dryly, making Carol laugh.

A man named Richard comes in with chest pain, and a janitor named Mobalage moves aside so the doctors can work in the trauma room. Weaver thinks Richard is too young for a heart attack. Anspaugh catches Carter pretending to be a patient to teach some med students in the patient/doctor class Mark recently assigned him to.

Doug meets with Mark and Weaver, who repeat what they told him before about keeping his protocol breach from anyone above them. However, they want to co-sign any prescriptions he wants to write for schedule II narcotics (morphine, methadone, etc.). Doug seems surprised that that’s his only punishment. He tells them he doesn’t have a compulsion for breaking the rules (uh-huh, okay). He thinks they would have done the same thing he did if they’d seen how much pain Ricky was in. Mark says they have seen that kind of pain before.

Joi has brought Ricky back to the hospital; she knows he doesn’t have much time left, based on her older son’s condition toward the end of his life. She doesn’t want Ricky hospitalized for the rest of the time he has. Doug and Carol suggest a home PCA machine so Ricky can receive pain medication there.

In the OR scrub room, Benton, Lucy, and Elizabeth discuss the benefits and drawbacks of performing a mastectomy on a woman with breast cancer. Elizabeth thinks male surgeons, including Benton, see the patients for their problems, not as people. Romano chases the others out so he can question Elizabeth about her breakfast with Weaver and also be sexist.

Elizabeth says she knows he knows he’s being accused of harassment. Romano thinks Weaver is going to push the issue and dig up something just to stick it to him. He wonders what would happen if it came out that Elizabeth was sleeping with Benton while she was his intern. She tries to laugh this off, saying that they were together before that. Romano asks if Anspaugh knew that. If not, Benton could get fired. “You wouldn’t dare,” Elizabeth says, as if she doesn’t know that he absolutely would dare.

An x-ray tech studies Alice’s scans and tells Carol that her cough doesn’t seem to indicate anything serious. Carol wants another scan, thinking that Alice is at risk for a pulmonary embolism. She hasn’t shown any symptoms, but Carol has a gut feeling. The x-ray tech won’t authorize an expensive test based on Carol’s intuition, especially since Alice doesn’t have insurance. Carol says she’ll pay for it herself. Uh, with what money?

Anspaugh has gotten Mark to agree to review the charts that were returned to him. Weaver laughs over what a sucker he is. They pass by Mobolage as he slips a little on the wet floor he’s cleaning. Richard is stable, but Weaver wants to discuss his high cholesterol. She and Doyle urge him to ask his family about any history of high cholesterol or heart issues. Richard can’t, though, because he’s adopted.

Carol catches Alice as she’s leaving before getting her last scan. Alice says she has to get back on the road – plus, she can’t leave her dogs in her van while it’s so cold outside. Oh, she didn’t mention? Sparky has a dozen friends. Doug tries to convince a geneticist/old residency buddy, Dr. Julian, to sign off on Ricky’s home PCA machine. Julian resists, since Joi doesn’t have experience with home care, but he agrees to talk to his team.

Carter has his students practice examining each other’s lymph nodes, which leads to the discovery that one of them, Strauss, has an enlarged one in his neck. Carter’s sure there’s nothing to worry about, but he wants Strauss to get a biopsy just in case. Yeah, that’s rarely good.

Mark introduces himself to Mobalage and asks to examine his back, which is clearly hurting him. Mobalage says it’s been sore for a long time, so it’s not a big deal. Mark talks him into it and makes friendly small talk while getting ready. Mobalage reacts to his preparations like he’s about to be interrogated and/or tortured. He gets angry when Mark asks him remove his shirt, storming out as he yells over and over for Mark to stop it.

Carol and Malik have snuck all of Alice’s dogs into her clinic exam room, passing them through windows and rewarding them with cheeseburgers. Alice points out that Malik will have to take them outside later. Mark has asked Jerry to get some info on Mobalage, but housekeeping hasn’t gotten back to him. Mark mentions that Rachel needs glasses, and he and Weaver commiserate over having to get them as kids. Bad eyesight runs in Mark’s family, and Jerry comments that red hair must run in Weaver’s. Not that she would know, since she’s adopted. Like Richard. Got it?

While Malik calls Jerry from the clinic to help him with the dogs, Carol secures a home health-care agency to provide the PCA machine for Ricky. Doug tells Joi that the machine will deliver medication like an IV delivers fluids, but she can also give a booster every two hours. After that, the machine will automatically lock. *cough remember this for the next episode cough*

Elizabeth tells Weaver that she wants to take back the things she told her about Romano – she doesn’t think there was any harassment involved. She won’t be testifying or contributing to any official record. Weaver guesses that something happened to bring about this change in attitude. She spots Jerry and Malik walking all the dogs but is too surprised to say anything.

Mark and Carter get Strauss ready for his biopsy; he still thinks it’s nothing to worry about. Carol’s gut was right and Alice is at risk for a pulmonary embolism. She’ll have to be admitted for a few days. Carol promises to make sure the dogs are looked after. Jerry comes in and accidentally frees the dogs into the rest of the hospital.

Doug tells Mark that he arranged for the PCA machine for Ricky and needs to have Mark sign off on it. Mark tells him to get someone from genetics to approve it. Carol catches a dog and walks it by Mark, pretending this is just part of her normal job. Doug signs something, most likely forging a signature, and gives Carol the paperwork for the PCA machine. Mark finds Mobalage, who apologizes for his outburst. Mark wants to make sure he’s okay, assuring him that his job isn’t at risk. He asks again to examine Mobalage’s back. Mobalage has a different medical condition he wants to discuss: impotence.

Weaver confronts Romano for changing Elizabeth’s mind about dropping her harassment accusations. Romano claims he’s eager for the investigation to continue since he wants to be vindicated. But without Elizabeth’s testimony, the investigation has been closed. Weaver’s going to keep all the witness statements, though. She’s surprised that Romano gave Doyle such a negative evaluation, since her other reviews were all good. Maybe, if he were to take some time to really think about her work, he might change his mind. And then Weaver might put the new evaluation in the file with all the accusations.

Mobalage stays calm this time as Mark gives him a basic examination and chats with him some more. Mobalage is from Nigeria, and though he likes Chicago okay, his wife, who works in the hospital cafeteria, doesn’t like the cold weather. In some possible foreshadowing, Mark says it must be nice to work in the same place as your wife. He pulls down the back of Mobalage’s hospital gown and sees what he didn’t want to show earlier – a bunch of horrible-looking burn scars. Mark just says they seem to have healed well. Mobalage says they’re not a problem. And no, he wouldn’t care to discuss them.

Jerry gives Weaver a message from someone named Sam who says he’ll meet her at Doc Magoo’s. Randi thinks it’s for a date, but Weaver laughs at the idea. As she takes Doyle to the lounge to tell her the Romano investigation has been closed, Carter tells Strauss that he has cancer. Fortunately, it’s treatable and his chances of recovery are good. Carol has arranged for a pet rescue group to take Alice’s dogs the next day, but for tonight, staff members will have to take them home with them. There are plenty of volunteers – the nurses all seem to be dog lovers, and Malik has bonded with Sparky.

Joi calls Carol from home, worried that the PCA machine isn’t working. Carol tries to calm her down. Mark can’t determine a physical reason for Mobalage’s impotence, so it may be due to trauma. For example, if he was beaten, his injuries could have impeded blood flow. Mark recommends that he see a urologist.

Doyle goes hunting for Romano in the surgical wing but instead finds Elizabeth. She guesses that Elizabeth is the reason that the investigation has been dropped. She must want to protect her job and her position in the surgeons’ club. Elizabeth lies that she’s right. Carol tells Doug about Joi’s concerns, though he doesn’t think the PCA machine will make much difference. Ricky may not make it through the night. Carol tells him that she promised Joi that they would come by her house. Doug doesn’t see the point, so Carol says she’ll go by herself.

Mobalage introduces Mark to his wife, Kobe, only telling her that Mark helped him with some back pain. At Doc Magoo’s, Weaver meets Sam, who turns out to be a PI. She’s made appointments with him before but always canceled them at the last minute. Now she wants his help to find her birth parents.

Knowing how much work Anspaugh has been dealing with lately, Romano wants to offer himself up as ER chief, at least temporarily. Anspaugh is more than happy to give him the job. Leave it to Romano to try to get a promotion while framing it as a favor. Doug stops by Joi’s after all and helps out with Ricky’s care. As he said before, there’s not much he and Carol can do, but at least they’re there to support Joi.

Thoughts: Mobalage is played by Djimon Hounsou.

Mark and Weaver could have headed off a lot of problems if they’d forbidden Doug from ever treating Ricky again. Then again, it’s not like he would have listened.

The Mobalage plot is very Mark Is a White Savior, Please Praise Him, but it’s a good spotlight for Hounsou.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    As I watch the Mobalage storyline again, yes, the White Knight Savior bullshit trope is in employ, but I also like how Mark is able to recognize the PTSD and work through it. The Mark of two seasons ago wouldn’t have even noticed Mobalage slipping in the hallway, let alone reach out to him to try to help him.

    It’s weird to me in hindsight that the Joi/Ricky hill is the one Doug chooses to kill his career on, at least with County. Really liked Mark’s retort that (paraphrased) hey, we’ve all seen patients in incredible pain before, including children, so don’t trot out that you-couldn’t-possibly-understand crap here.


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