March 17, 2020

ER 5.20, Power: This Emergency Room Is Really Not Equipped to Handle Emergencies

Posted in TV tagged , , at 4:49 pm by Jenn

Holland Taylor is so good in everything she does

Summary: Carol and Mark are going for a jog in the park, talking about politics. We’ve moved forward in time a little, as she’s now into her second trimester of pregnancy. She’s written Doug a letter telling him she’s pregnant and hopes he doesn’t just drop everything and come back to Chicago. Mark thinks he will.

Roxanne (remember her?) has asked Lucy to meet her at a coffeehouse so they can talk about Carter. She’d like to know if Lucy and Carter are involved. Lucy says they’re not, and in fact, they’ve barely spoken in the past few months, since Lucy’s been doing other rotations. Roxanne says that means her and Carter’s relationship has just stalled out on its own. The women agree that Carter is sweet but mixed up.

A couple on the El is flirting, which Carter and some other riders find amusing. The power goes out, just one of a bunch of recent blackouts in the city. The couple continues making out in the dark. Lucy’s back for another ER rotation, and Mark tells Carter he’ll be supervising her again. Maybe this time they’ll keep their hands to themselves.

Carter asks Jerry to send something to his mom in Bangkok for Mother’s Day. Jerry and Mark realize they forgot about the occasion. “Better call the bowling alley,” Jerry says. Haleh secretly can’t wait for her usual Mother’s Day of burnt toast and runny eggs in bed hours before she wants to wake up. Romano says he always surprises his mother; last year he gave her a helicopter ride. OH. OH, WOW. Haleh has a hard time picturing the woman who gave birth to Romano.

Romano’s spending the day in the ER, wanting to see what goes on there since he’s supposed to be in charge, at least temporarily. Mark tries not to cringe. Roger brings Reese to the hospital for daycare; Roger’s enjoying spending time with Reese but isn’t that familiar with his schedule. He didn’t even know that Reese is still in speech therapy.

Mark takes Romano to a patient, Dottie, who seems to have fallen at home. Her neighbor, Gladys, brought in Dottie and her husband Army, who has Alzheimer’s. Romano can’t get out of the room fast enough. He narrowly dodges a sexual-harassment claim by asking Mark if Carol’s been putting on weight, then saying he’s had fantasies about her. If only Doug were here to punch him. Romano asks if Mark has ever fantasized about Elizabeth. He then brings up the trauma fellowship, which he doesn’t think is worth the money.

Lucy’s patient is Phyllis, and Lucy, Chuny, and Lydia are intrigued by her. She sells pheromone-containing perfumes designed to attract men. Lucy puts some on her wrist and passes it under Carter’s nose as she hands him Phyllis’ chart. Phyllis has shortness of breath possibly connected to a stroke she had a couple years ago. She thinks it was just anxiety because she has a big meeting with Marshall Fields.

Elizabeth asks Carol if she’s faxed her letter to Doug yet. (She hasn’t.) Elizabeth goes looking around the ER for a patient she’s supposed to do a consult on. She finds a guy from transport bringing a patient back from x-rays, but not the patient she was looking for. Romano points her to a different patient, a woman who fell down an escalator. Elizabeth and Mark get to work together, exuding what’s supposed to be sexual tension, though I certainly don’t see it. The patient does and asks if she should leave so they can be alone.

The power goes out, but Mark calmly says the generator will come on. Carol comes in to tell everyone to plug any necessary machinery into the plugs fed by the generator. The lights come back on, so Carol cancels the order. Some patients’ family members are concerned about the hospital’s procedures when the power goes out, so Jerry tries to assure them that they have generators and backups for everything.

He tells Carter that Roxanne came by looking for him. She’s chatting with Phyllis, trying to sell her insurance. Carter blasts her for it, but Roxanne says Phyllis tried to sell her perfume first. She accuses Carter of trying to pick a fight so he’ll have an excuse to break up with her. If he wants to end things, he should just say so. Carter says so, so they’re done.

The patient Elizabeth saw with the guy from transport has been left on a gurney in the middle of the hallway. Elizabeth and Haleh realize she’s not breathing and rush her into a trauma room. She’s been beaten, and Romano discovers that she was sexually assaulted. Elizabeth admits that she’d never seen the transporter before and isn’t sure if he’s from transport or is an x-ray tech.

A nurse comes down from the medical wing to get the patient, who’s been missing since that morning. Connie and Haleh are a little freaked out about the idea of an unidentified man beating and raping patients in the hospital. Romano tells the nurses to keep an eye out but keep things quiet so patients don’t panic. They shouldn’t hand patients off to anyone they don’t know or anyone who isn’t wearing an ID badge. There are police posted in every hallway, just in case.

Carol and Lucy tend to Dottie, who may have broken her hip. Lucy also has to deal with Gladys, who yells everything because she’s not wearing her hearing aid, and Army, who’s grumpy and doesn’t think anyone can help his wife. Lucy tells Carter that Dottie has a bad bedsore and probably broke her hip. Gladys says she heard a bang and just knew that Dottie had fallen. Lucy wants to call psych for Army, thinking he’s depressed. Carter doesn’t think that’s what she should be focusing on, but he tells her to go ahead.

Mark tells Elizabeth that the assaulted patient, Laurie, has been in a vegetative state since a car accident ten days ago. Her family is trying to decide whether to put her in long-term care. Elizabeth wishes she’d paid more attention to the man with her so she could ID him. Mark notes that she might have scared him off when she talked to him.

Tony doesn’t have his badge on him, and he objects to a cop telling him to go get it instead of taking the escalator patient for stitches. (She doesn’t get a name, so I’ll call her…Rose. Because she rose on an escalator. I’ll see myself out.) Carol vouches for Tony and tells him to wear his badge. Jerry has heard about Carter and Roxanne’s breakup, which means she won’t be coming by the hospital anymore. Jerry wishes Carter had thought of everyone else at work before deciding to end things.

Lucy’s with Phyllis again, checking out her perfumes. She tells Carter that Phyllis seems a little confused and should probably have a head CT. Carter hustles her out to take care of other patients, but not before Phyllis calls out, “Sex!” She just remembered the name of one of her perfumes, Fair Sex (or maybe Pher Sex, because of the pheromones). Phyllis talks to Carter and Lydia about pheromones and intimacy and Carter’s success with the ladies. Carter does a neurological exam and decides Lucy’s right about Phyllis needing a CT. She asks if he was breastfed as a baby.

Elizabeth and Benton bicker in the scrub room, still feeling competitive over the trauma fellowship. Okay, guys, we’re all sick of that, so cut it out. Jerry comments on Carol coming off a break, since she never takes them. She starts faxing the letter to Doug, but before it can go through, the power goes out. She may be in a bad spot, but at least she’s not Benton, Elizabeth, and Romano, who had just started operating on Laurie.

Carter stumbles in the dark and knocks over some of Phyllis’ perfumes. Mark enlists Carol to help make sure everything’s plugged into the right slots. She asks Jerry to try to get her fax out of the machine. Jerry deals with angry families while Carol and Mark quietly note that the rapist is still unaccounted for. What’s more, the ICU’s new backup generator never came on, so they want to send six critical patients to the ER.

Lucy brings Myers to talk to Army as Haleh tells patients in the waiting room that they’ll have to keep waiting until the power comes back on. Mark tries to negotiate with the ICU, but he can’t get a phone line to work. Carol heads off to check on a low-battery alarm, running into Carter, who’s covered in perfume. Thanks to the phones being down, Shirley can’t call the daycare so Benton can check on Reese.

The doors to the ambulance bay are controlled by a keypad, and with the electricity out, they won’t open. That was some A+ planning on someone’s part. The family member who’s been bugging Jerry all day is annoyed that he can’t get outside to smoke. Carter can’t get Phyllis to CT for a while, and he’s not happy that they can’t better accommodate a patient who seems to be getting worse.

An ambulance arrives, even though the hospital’s supposed to be closed to trauma. The doors are still stuck closed, so Mark and the EMTs try to pry them open. The patient was electrocuted, possibly having been struck by lightning, but is currently stable. The doors won’t open no matter how hard everyone pries them apart, so Mark moves the EMTs to a large window. Carter suggests smashing it, but Mark is like, “Calm down, Hulk. It’ll open.” The EMTs pass the patient through the window on the gurney, and Mark sarcastically welcomes him to County.

Benton goes up to daycare, looking for Reese (and calling his name, which…come on, Benton). Reese is normally afraid of the dark but seems to be doing okay. It helps that someone put glow-in-the-dark stars all over the ceiling, and they look pretty cool with all the lights out. Back in the OR, Elizabeth wonders if they should have operated on Laurie. She’s been through a lot, and her family should just let her go. They’re about to close, but Laurie’s heart starts to give out.

Mark and Carol work on the electrocuted patient, Joiner, whose injuries don’t seem too severe. Benton’s still on the clock, so he brings Reese with him to the ER in a backpack instead of leaving him in the dark. (In a moment I really like, Connie fingerspells “hi” to Reese.) Carter and Lucy work on a worsening Phyllis, who may have a clot. They need a certain test to find out; without it, the treatment they give her could make her worse.

The backup power goes out, which means any patients on ventilators will have to be manually bagged. Benton’s having trouble working with Reese on his back, so he hands Reese off to Connie, who says Jerry can look after him. Yeah, because Jerry isn’t dealing with enough right now. And because Jerry seems like such a good influence on children. Elizabeth and Romano work to save Laurie, having to open her back up without knowing exactly where the problem is. Whatever they do works.

Carter turns to Mark, who suggests a low-tech test to determine if Phyllis has a clot. The test says she doesn’t, but Mark advises a lumbar puncture to confirm what he thinks is really going on with her. Joiner’s heart stops, but Benton gave away the defibrillator in their trauma room. Carol finds Rose getting stitched up by a man she doesn’t recognize and fears that the rapist has returned. The man is actually a nurse who lives nearby and came in to help out when he heard about the power outage. Rose assures Carol that he’s doing a great job.

Myers confirms Lucy’s suspicions that Army is depressed. He’s having suicidal thoughts and is a danger to himself. Lucy asks if he’s also a threat to others. Benton finds a defibrillator that works on batteries and is able to revive Joiner. Tony is put to work bagging a patient and says he might take the MCAT and become a doctor. Lucy examines Dottie again and realizes that what she thought was a bedsore isn’t. That bang Gladys heard wasn’t Dottie falling – it was Army shooting her.

Weaver brings in fried chicken for the staff and jumps in to help out. Carol is beyond grateful, because her entire thing this episode is being hungry. Mark, Carter, and Lydia do Phyllis’ LP in the dark, and Carter thanks Mark for providing backup (unlike the generators *cough*). Chuny and Connie proudly tell Weaver about how Benton stabilized Joiner, then diagnosed him with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of his muscle. Weaver realizes she missed all the major cases today. At least she provided food. (Benton asks for chicken, which means someone forgot that he’s a vegetarian.)

Romano praises Elizabeth for saving Laurie, then tells her that her surgical skills would go to waste if she took the trauma fellowship. He knows she hates working with him, but he’s willing to keep his distance if it means she’ll stay in surgery. He takes over bagging Laurie so Elizabeth can talk to the police. They’ve found a man who hanged himself somewhere in the hospital, and they want her to see if she can ID him. As the power in the hospital comes back on, Elizabeth confirms that he’s the rapist.

Mark tells Carter that he felt some weird energy while they were doing the LP together. It was almost like Carter was being territorial and admiring, or even flirting. Carter realizes that the pheromones in Phyllis’ perfume must have made it seem like he was attracted to Mark. After he leaves, Mark and Lydia share a laugh over their prank.

Army tells Lucy and Myers that he lost his insurance after he retired and his company went under. Thanks to an error with his pension, if he dies before Dottie, she doesn’t get any money. Lucy asks where he was aiming the gun, so they can determine what internal injuries she might have. Army just talks about the gun, which he got from a Nazi in World War II.

The staff tries to clean up and reorganize everything that got chaotic in the dark. Elizabeth doesn’t want to face more time in the dark, so Mark comments that they shouldn’t have a candlelit dinner. She wants to go home, but he thinks they should do something so they don’t get depressed by all the trauma they faced. Carol goes looking for her fax, which Jerry was able to get out of the fax machine. It didn’t go through, so Carol will have to try again later. Jerry promises that he didn’t read the letter.

Lucy debriefs with Carter about Army and Dottie, who’ve been married for 54 years. They wonder what made their relationship last. Carter says he’s never had a lasting one, so he would have no clue. Lucy says her mom was so good at parenting alone that she doesn’t really see the need for a partner. Carter teases her about spending too long in her psych rotation. Mark and Elizabeth go to an arcade and play a skiing video game to cheer themselves up. Elizabeth’s very happy to have electricity…which then goes out.

Thoughts: As mentioned above, Phyllis is played by Holland Taylor.

Laura Innes (Weaver) directed this episode.

Speaking of directors, I just learned that Lily Mariye, who plays Lily, is now a director. She’s done episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, Nashville, The Fosters, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Terror.

Romano is, of course, a jerk, and is normally bad at managing people, but he handles the situation with Laurie well. He could have easily just snapped at everyone to calm down and do their jobs. Instead, he focuses on safety and security, and tries to keep things running normally.

Carter’s “let’s just smash the window” moment makes it seem like his awesome leadership skills in “Exodus” were just a fluke.

Phyllis’ plot feels like it was originally meant to lead to Lucy and Carter flirting, so I don’t know why that got dropped.

Why did Carol think a fax, of all things, was the best way to tell Doug that she was pregnant? Imagine being the person who pulled that letter off the fax machine at Doug’s new hospital and had to pretend she hadn’t read it.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    It must have been this episode that prompted Noah Wyle to send that letter to Wells asking him not to have Carter and Lucy hook up. There’s no other real explanation and their discussion atop the roof at the end would naturally have led to some flirting or something more, so I’d say this was the triggering episode. Especially since Roxanne was so prominent in this one.

    Lucy’s pickup with the psych consult for Army really illustrates how good she was at psych. Even her (former) resident seemed mildly impressed.

    Benton was piling the chicken on his plate in LaVerne at the old guy’s funeral before he was called off to the explosion on the docks! Never actually got to eat it onscreen, though. It was odd in that episode because he’d made it plainly obvious he wasn’t pleased about eating so much meat at the (free) meals the nurse was cooking for him every night.

    Romano did well with the crisis management and I liked him in this episode, with the exception of his trademark sexual harassment comments about colleagues behind their back. I think he could have been a decent character if they’d dropped that whole aspect of his personality.

    Seriously, why didn’t Carol just send him the letter in the mail. It would have taken three days tops to get there. Faxing was just a setup for the whole power outage debacle.


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