June 9, 2020

ER 6.10, Family Matters: Chen Is Back in Action (Act-Chen?)

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 5:01 pm by Jenn

I don’t think I could go back to the place where I almost killed someone, but I guess doctors do that all the time

Summary: Mark and Elizabeth are on their way to work, discussing the possibility of barbecuing, even though it’s January and snowing outside. Mark was able to do it in San Diego while he was visiting David, and now he wants to do it in Chicago. At County, they’re greeted by Andrew, then Romano, who tells Mark that a new resident is starting in the ER today. She’s not actually new, though – she’s Chen. Elizabeth is surprised that she’s starting in January. Romano says her program in New York fell through, and her rich father made a donation to County to get her a job there.

Andrew gives Mark a message letting him know that David has disappeared from his retirement home. It sounds like he ran away, which isn’t surprising, since we know he didn’t want to move there in the first place. Elizabeth and Romano meet with Detective Cruson, who has tied Dean to another missing woman, Jenny Cordova. Cruson wants Elizabeth to ask Dean where Jenny’s body is. Romano agrees that Elizabeth is the best person for the job, though she doesn’t think Dean will tell her anything. Cruson says this is the Cordova family’s best option.

In the ER, Carter and Yosh struggle to deal with a woman who’s manically scratching herself. They get security to restrain her, but only after Carter has wrestled with her and landed on the ground. He’s still there when Chen comes to greet him. She’s surprised he’s working in the ER, not the OR. Mark joins them, and Chen tells him she goes by Jing-Mei now, not Deb. She also insists that she always went by Jing-Mei, but I distinctly remember her introducing herself to Carter and Benton as Deb back in season 1, so nyah. Anyway, Mark has to go back to San Diego and get his father to behave.

Carter is surprised that Chen is still in medicine after almost killing someone as a med student. She tells him that incident made her realize how competitive she was, and that she was trying too hard to make herself look competent. Carter tells her about his patient, Cassandra, whom he and Yosh think has a psychiatric problem. Chen notices spots on Cassandra’s arms that indicate body lice. She probably applied a medication called lindane, scratched herself too hard, allowed the lindane to enter her bloodstream, and gave herself lindane toxicity.

Mark is angry at David for being childish and pulling him away from his job. Also, this means no barbecuing. Mark gives Andrew his stethoscope to give to Yosh, then tells Andrew he’s in charge until Weaver comes in. Andrew takes him seriously. Then he swings the stethoscope around and smacks himself in the face. Two women run in, ask for a doctor, and take Andrew’s picture, mistaking him for a doctor since he has a stethoscope. They explain that they’re in a scavenger hunt and have to take photos of, among other things, a doctor, a groom, and a polar bear.

Carter and Chen take on a patient together, a man named Mr. Sumpter who hurt his knee. Chen demonstrates that she’s become very confident in medicine and is good at communicating with patients. Carter draws some fluid from Mr. Sumpter’s knee and sees that he has an infection, probably staph. Dr. Myers comes down from psych and congratulates Chen on diagnosing Cassandra correctly. He thanks Carter for thinking of psych, even though it wasn’t necessary.

Benton and Cleo treat a high school student named Tamara who crashed her car on the way to school. She doesn’t have any serious injuries, just some wrist pain. Chen tells Carter that Mr. Sumpter’s staph infection is actually gonorrhea. Carter can only tell Mr. Sumpter the news and hope he tells his wife. Chen notes that they have to make a report to the Public Health Department, who may tell Mrs. Sumpter themselves. Carter isn’t concerned about the possibility of Mrs. Sumpter never finding out that her husband has an STD.

Elizabeth visits Dean on the jail ward, where he’s displeased with her treatment instructions. He wants a new doctor. Weaver meets Chen, who confesses up front that her father bought her way into her residency. Yes, she almost killed someone while she was a med student, but she knows she’s more competent now. Weaver believes her. She asks Andrew to get her a phone book so she can find a mechanic, since her car broke down. Dave announces that he can fix it. For some reason, Weaver agrees to let him try. Meanwhile, Chen asks Andrew to get her the number for the Public Health Department.

Carter gives Mr. Sumpter the news that he has gonorrhea. He asks if Mr. Sumpter has had sex with anyone other than his wife. Mr. Sumpter says he did, once, and Carter encourages him to come clean to his wife. Too late – she and Chen are behind the curtain around Mr. Sumpter’s bed, and his wife heard everything. She’s…not happy.

Luka’s patient is a young man named Dylan who burned his hands. He’s accompanied by his brother, Jake, who’s developmentally disabled. Carter complains to Weaver that Chen got Public Health to tell Mrs. Sumpter about her husband’s STD. Weaver says that no one did anything wrong. She takes Chen to talk to Officer Al, who’s brought in a teen panhandler who won’t provide her name. Al advises the Jane Doe to take advantage of the warmth in the ER and the free meal she’ll get.

Dylan tells Luka and Lydia that he burned himself making breakfast. Luka determines that Dylan is only 18 and isn’t in school. Jake gets distressed and apologizes over and over. Dylan yells at him to shut up, which just makes Jake more upset. He punches something and cuts his hand. Carter checks on Dave, who’s struggling to fix Weaver’s car. He asks Carter if he knew Chen when she was a med student (really he wants to know if they hooked up). Carter encourages him to ask Chen out, most likely looking forward to seeing Dave get rejected.

As Luka tends to Jake, Dylan explains that he had to take care of some things the night before (no details there), so he slept in this morning. Jake tried to make his own breakfast but accidentally started a fire. Their parents aren’t in their lives and the brothers move around a lot, so they’re not on Social Services’ radar. Dylan says they do fine on their own. Jake even makes a little money by cleaning up around their apartment complex and doing odd jobs for the residents.

Chen and Haleh get Jane Doe into a hospital gown so they can clean her clothes. Chen tries to chat with Jane, but she won’t give up any information about herself. Haleh pulls Chen out of the room with fake test results so she can tell her that she found the girl’s ID. Her real name is Alyssa, and they now have her address and phone number.

Cleo tries to get information out of Tamara, wondering if she was depressed from all the stress in her life and crashed her car on purpose. Tamara finds that crazy, especially since her basketball team is having a great season and has a big game coming up tonight. Tamara’s parents arrive, wondering if their daughter will be able to play in the big game. They’re also making arrangements for her to take chemistry in summer school, since her struggles in that class are part of all the stress she’s under.

Romano tells Elizabeth that she needs to try again to get Dean to tell him where Jenny’s body is. Elizabeth is more than happy to never have to speak to him again. Cruson has brought in Jenny’s mother and sister Linsey to try to guilt Elizabeth into changing her mind. Paramedics bring in a boy named Jason, and Dave takes a break from his mechanic duties to treat him.

Luka tells Weaver about Jake and Dylan, hesitant to call Social Services since he thinks getting Dylan a job will solve most of the brothers’ problems. Weaver wants them in school, since education will help them in the future. She gets Luka to agree to call Social Services. Chen calls Alyssa’s mother while a couple more scavenger hunters run in, looking for a doctor to photograph. Andrew puts on his most doctor-like face and happily poses for them.

Elizabeth asks Dean about Jenny, but he plays dumb. She notes that he’s already been charged with murder, so there’s no point in causing more grief. Dean asks if she’ll stay on as his doctor if he talks. Elizabeth agrees, but Dean says he’ll only talk to Linsey. Dave examines Jason, who’s been experiencing shortness of breath for a few days. Dave thinks he has pneumonia.

Weaver asks Adele if she was able to help Jake and Dylan, but Adele hasn’t spoken to Luka, so she doesn’t know anything about the brothers. Benton examines Tamara’s x-rays and doesn’t see any fractures, so Cleo can release her. Tamara starts crying when she hears what’s supposed to be good news. She confides that her life is super-busy, and though she insists she loves it, she’s tired. Cleo decides to get a second opinion on her x-rays, which will give Tamara some time to rest.

Alyssa is desperate to leave the hospital, thinking that Chen is trying to keep her there for no reason. Chen says she just wants to help. Alyssa explains that her parents tricked her into going to a treatment center, which she ran away from. The center wasn’t for drug or alcohol abuse, but it was supposed to straighten her out…literally, since Alyssa’s gay.

Mrs. Cordova objects to Dean’s request to talk to Linsey, but Linsey is willing to talk to him. Elizabeth and Cruson assure Mrs. Cordova that Dean isn’t a physical threat to Linsey. Elizabeth thinks Dean might actually tell Linsey where Jenny’s body is. If they don’t try this, the family might never get answers to their questions.

Lucy finds Dave in a trauma room, trying to clean something he took out of Weaver’s car. She has Jason’s scans, which show that instead of pneumonia, he has a mass around his heart – probably lymphoma. It’s spread through both lungs and is inoperable. Chen tells Carter that Alyssa’s parents sent her away for deprogramming to turn her straight. Carter urges her to get Alyssa out of the hospital before her parents arrive. Chen doesn’t want to tell her they’re coming, since she might run away.

Before Chen can get Social Services involved, she and Carter hear a commotion from Alyssa’s room. A Dr. Ramsey has arrived, having been called by Alyssa’s parents; he says he’s Alyssa’s legal guardian as the principal of her treatment center. Carter says she can’t be discharged since she needs more test. Chen blurts out that Alyssa’s pregnant, which makes her an emancipated minor. Dr. Ramsey scoffs that Alyssa can’t be pregnant, since she’s a lesbian, but there’s nothing he can do without a court order to take Alyssa back to the center.

Elizabeth takes Linsey to see Dean, who says he’s done horrible things and is paying for them now. Linsey says her family doesn’t want him to suffer; they just want Jenny’s body. Dean says Linsey’s a nice person, and he wishes he’d met her instead of Jenny…because he could have killed her instead. Jenny just screamed all the time. Elizabeth rushes Linsey out of the room, having accidentally traumatized her.

Dave brings Luka into Jason’s case, telling him that Jason’s mother didn’t bother to mention that he had lymphoma two years ago. Good job, Mom. She doesn’t want to give Jason the bad news, and Dave thinks an oncologist should do it, but Luka tells Dave it’s his job. He runs off to follow Dylan and Jake, who are leaving the hospital because Adele came to talk to them. Dylan thinks Luka handed them over to Social Services. Luka just wants to help them come up with better ways to take care of themselves.

Chen and Carter fill Weaver in on Alyssa’s situation, and Weaver helps them arrange to send her to an LGBT center. She cautions Chen not to lie about her patients’ conditions. A scavenger hunter tries to take Weaver’s picture, but Weaver ignores her and goes looking for Dave, who’s left her car parts lying around. The hunter turns to Benton, who dismisses her with an annoyed (but funny), “Go away.”

Tamara’s father pulls Benton back into her room, since Cleo is putting a cast on Tamara’s wrist. She says that Tamara might have a kind of fracture that’s hard to see on x-rays, so Cleo’s just being cautious. Tamara’s parents say it’s important for her to play in the game that night. Benton pulls Cleo out of the room and questions her choice to put a cast on Tamara. She’s allowed to make her own decisions; if she doesn’t want to play in the game, she needs to say so. Cleo thinks everyone around Tamara pressures her too much for her to be able to speak up for herself.

Dave gives Jason the news about his health, showing that when he really tries, he has good bedside manner. Weaver interrupts to blast Dave about taking apart her car, but when she realizes Dave’s in the middle of something important, she apologizes and dismisses herself. Mark surprises David at home in San Diego, where David’s trying to halt the sale of his house.

Luka’s annoyed that Weaver got Adele involved in Dylan and Jake’s case instead of trusting Luka to help them himself. Now that he’s convinced them to come back, he wants to handle things alone. Weaver agrees. Cleo tells Tamara that she can play in the game tonight if she feels up to it. She just put on the cast to help her slow down. Tamara doesn’t want to slow down, though – she’s sure things will get better soon. Cleo doesn’t want Tamara to start resenting her talent. I guess we’re supposed to think that Cleo went through the same sort of thing, but I just can’t bring myself to care.

Lucy talks to her landlord, who agrees to interview Dylan for a job as the building’s superintendent. That gives Dylan both a job and a place to live, which could lead to him being able to apply to be Jake’s legal guardian. Unfortunately, Adele has gotten involved again, and she and Reggie are taking Jake into custody. They think Dylan is neglecting him. Poor Jake is very upset, but Dylan promises to come find him as soon as he can. Luka tries to be reassuring, but Dylan’s done listening to him.

Dean summons Elizabeth to tell her he’s done playing games. He wishes she’d let him die when she found him after the car accident. Paramedics bring in a scavenger hunt participant who suffered numerous injuries while trying to take a picture of a polar bear at the zoo. She’s more interested in the $1,000 she won in the hunt. Then she learns that Andrew isn’t really a doctor, so her win isn’t valid. Weaver wants her to split her prize money with the ER.

She tries to smooth things over with Luka, since calling Social Services is how they handle situations like Dylan and Jake’s. Luka’s upset that her actions broke up a family. He confides that his wife and kids were taken in the war in Croatia, then killed. (This is different from the way he describes things in season 7, but whatever.) He repeats that they shouldn’t break up families.

Mark asks David about his plans. David says he’ll get by on his own. Mark suggests that David come live with him in Chicago for a while. David still refuses to sell the house in San Diego, but he’s open to Mark’s idea. Dave assures Weaver that he fixed her car, even if he couldn’t do anything to help Jason. He tries to make small talk with Chen, who’s nice to him but not interested.

Carter asks Chen why she came back to medicine. She tells him that she was on a subway when a man had a heart attack. No one could help him, but she realized that she knew what to do. She felt so good after saving him that she decided not to waste her skills. Carter tells her she hasn’t changed a bit. Well, except for going by Jing-Mei instead of Deb.

Elizabeth tells Dean that she’ll inject him with 100 milligrams of morphine and send him off into a peaceful death if he tells her where Jenny’s body is. Dean reminds her of the Hippocratic Oath, then guesses that she’ll stop the injection as soon as he tells her what she wants to know. She insists that she’ll keep her end of the bargain. If he doesn’t, she’ll save him and he’ll continue suffering from his chronic pain. Elizabeth asks where Jenny is, then injects Dean’s IV with morphine.

Thoughts: Tamara is played by Gabrielle Union.

The running “joke” of the episode is that no one can pronounce the second part of Chen’s name. Which is ridiculous, because IT’S JUST LIKE MAY. THE MONTH OF MAY. If they saw it written, yeah, I could get not knowing how to pronounce it, but there’s no way anyone would have a hard time saying it after hearing it. It makes them sound racist.

Chen is a little too much in this episode, and she gets really annoying later in the series, but I love how she handles Alyssa’s situation. I also like that Carter and Weaver both want to help. They could easily turn her over to the doctor and say it’s not their problem, but they truly want to help her. Carter even comments that trying to turn someone straight should be illegal.


  1. Nick Rivers said,

    I liked how matter-of-fact DebJingMei was about how she got her spot there. “Yeah, Daddy bought my way in.” Kudos to her for acknowledging it up-front. She’s only slightly less insufferable than she was before! And I like how Carter just goes back to calling her Deb even when she corrects him. They made DebJingMei less aggressively competitive but no less of a know-it-all, so that’s at least one positive, sort of.

    So is this Detective Cruson going to call upon Elizabeth for any and all possible leads they have tying Dean Rollins to any other homicides, now and into the future? I get that you want to exhaust all possible leads, but I can only presume now she’s going to be called for his trial, and how long is this all going to drag on… just say no, Elizabeth. You’re his doctor, not his confidante.

    I like how they handled the Alyssa situation, especially considering that Weaver is the one who helps engineer her escape. I don’t know if you’re rewatching the series or watching it for the first time, so I won’t go further down that rabbit hole!

    Why on earth did anyone think Dean Rollins would confess to the sister of a woman he killed? What would possibly be in it for him, absolution? He’s got no interest in that. The detective really should have prepared her that this is a deranged homicidal psychopath who may say some terrible things to her. It’s like nobody had the slightest clue that he might just toy with the poor woman instead of doing the right thing.

    Malucci handled the boy’s case well, even though he definitely tried to dodge giving him the news himself. Of course Luka wasn’t about to let him off the hook. He did a good job with this, though, and again, Lucy’s involvement was a nice touch, albeit brief.

    The Tamara storyline was supposed to give us more insight into Cleo, I imagine, but it kind of just fell apart and I guess also gave us more interaction between Benton and Cleo, though the whole thing was kind of deflating and felt like it didn’t go anywhere. I agree with you that it was a pretty dull arc.

    Thank you for confirming that Luka’s storylines about his family don’t really mesh up with what he tells the priest later on. I thought that was a little weird too. But I guess this gibes with the Dylan/Jake storyline better than “I understand how horrific it is to break up a family even though mine was just crushed to death in a mortar attack.” I feel guilty for phrasing it that way. Sorry, Luka.

    Elizabeth really needs to get into the managerial side of things and less patient care at this point. She is County legal counsel’s worst nightmare right now.

    • Jenn said,

      I’ve watched seasons 1-11 a hundred times, so I know all about the rabbit hole. I wonder when the writers first started thinking about steering things in that direction for Weaver.

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