June 23, 2020

ER 6.12, Abby Road: Does Anyone Ever Have a Calm First Day in the ER?

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:55 pm by Jenn

Fresh meat

Summary: The flu is going around, which means patients are coming to the ER and spreading the germs around even more. Weaver and Dave are both sick, but she won’t let him go home. Mark doesn’t have much sympathy for Dave, either. In the lounge, Carol and Luka discuss her water heater, which he tried to help her fix when he dropped her off after work one day. Carol shuts Mark down before he can comment on the fact that it seems like they’re getting closer.

Abby Lockhart arrives in the ER, and Carol thinks she’s there to fill in for an absent nurse. A homeless guy pukes on her. Welcome to the ER! Carter bugs Carol about having a body moved from the ER to the morgue. Carol remarks to Abby that the only thing worse than med students is residents. Paramedics bring in a little boy who lost a couple of teeth in a sledding accident, and though Carol thinks they were baby teeth, Abby disagrees. She reveals that she’s not just a nurse – she’s also a third-year med student.

Abby meets her future husband, Luka, and comments to Haleh that he’s hot. She wonders if he’s single, but Carol says he doesn’t talk about his personal life. Abby starts to help Carol and Haleh clean up after treating the sledding boy, but it’s the nurses’ job, so Carol dismisses her. Abby asks to see pictures of the twins when she has some time.

Weaver tells Mark she needs to go home, though she still won’t let Dave leave his shift. She introduces Mark to Abby (though they met on Thanksgiving), who explains that she sometimes takes nursing shifts to pay her bills. He gives her a quick tour of the ER. They run into Carter, who’s about to start treating a 13-year-old named Darnel who has muscular dystrophy. He and his wheelchair were pushed down the stairs at school. The pusher, Marty, is also in the ER, being treated by Cleo. He claims that Darnel stabbed him with a pencil.

Carter tells Darnel’s mother that he may have provoked the incident that led to him being pushed down the stairs. She tells Carter that he’s been acting out recently. Darnel tells another kid that he has cancer and will have to have his penis removed. Yeah, this is a charmer, here. Carter sends Darnel’s mother to the waiting area so he can try to get Darnel to open up to him. It doesn’t work.

Lucy treats a homeless man named Clayton who has frostbite and probably also the flu. Romano comes to the ER, hoping the flu kills off a bunch of people so the herd is weakened. Romano would have loved 2020. He complains about Benton’s plans to assist with a pro-bono plastic-surgery procedure for a little girl with a scar from a dog bite. Romano won’t approve the procedure, since it’s cosmetic.

Cleo notices big bruises on Marty’s back, which he says come from abuse at school. There are also welts on his legs that he blames on mosquito bites, even though it’s February. Outside the room, Cleo tells Yosh that they’re infected track marks. At the Roach Coach, Elizabeth reads Mark a newspaper article about an astrophysics symposium in the city. One of the guest speakers is her mother, Isabelle, who never mentioned to her daughter that she was coming to town. Apparently that’s typical of her. Mark encourages Elizabeth to reach out to her mother, but Elizabeth isn’t interested.

Abby joins Mark and Elizabeth in trying to subdue a patient who took PCP and jumped out a window. A friend of his is filming everything so his buddy can see what he’s like on PCP. These must be some of the people Romano hopes the flu will kill off. Abby is able to grab a syringe of Haldol and inject the patient, who responds by biting her. Abby’s instincts are different from mine, which would be to run out of the ER and never come back.

Mark tends to Abby’s wound, remarking that she probably didn’t expect to be her own teaching case. Nearby, Carol and Dave bicker while she gives him an IV so he can stay hydrated. Mark asks Carol to keep an eye on Abby while she adjusts to her new job. Carter examines Darnel to see how his muscular dystrophy is progressing. Darnel isn’t amused by Carter’s bedside manner; he also knows all about his disorder and what it means for the rest of his life (nothing good).

Abby helps Luka take care of a little boy named Connor who’s sick once again from chalasia, a disorder that affects the esophagus and stomach. Dave calls in Elizabeth to consult on a patient named Barnes, but she says he just has the flu and doesn’t need surgical treatment. Cleo tells Mark about Marty, but Mark can’t find any evidence that Marty’s been using drugs. He encourages Cleo to bluff Marty into telling her what’s going on.

As Lucy looks for a missing Clayton, Benton’s patient, Tia, arrives with her mother. Mrs. Foster is disappointed that her daughter can’t have the surgery she’s been waiting for. Benton doesn’t think a few extra days will do much harm, since she’s been scarred for months. Mrs. Foster asks Benton to tell her straight out if the surgery isn’t going to happen. He says it is, just not right now.

Dave brings Abby to Barnes and asks her to do what should be the nurses’ responsibilities. In later seasons, Abby would tell him off, but here, she just gives in. Lucy tracks down Clayton and tells him that a combination of the flu and congestive heart failure are affecting his breathing. He declines the offer of intubation and ventilation – he’s ready to die and is just glad it’ll be in a clean, warm bed. Lucy offers to call a friend or relative for him, but Clayton says he doesn’t have any.

Luka tells Connor’s mother that he doesn’t need surgery. Carol thinks Mrs. Brant is a medical professional, since she knows so much about chalasia, but Mrs. Brant says she’s just read a lot about it. Luka says Connor needs an upper GI, a scan that will require him to drink a bunch of contrast material. Mrs. Brant knows that’ll be hard for him, since he’s had to do it before, but Luka insists that he needs it.

Cleo’s bluff on Marty works, and he admits that he uses needles, but not for drugs – he’s been injecting himself with human growth hormone to get taller. He can’t get it without a prescription, so he buys it on the Internet. He’s fine risking his health if it means he gets taller and other kids stop picking on him. Cleo tells him he doesn’t need hormone therapy, and it’s not the right way to solve his problem of being bullied.

Abby senses that Carol’s uncomfortable with her new role in the ER, since sometimes nurses don’t like it when their former colleagues become their superiors. Carol starts to tell Abby about her own near-trip to med school, but the conversation stops when Barnes starts throwing up blood. Carol quickly grabs Benton to help as they try to figure out what’s wrong.

Dave arrives and reports that Elizabeth didn’t take Barnes up to surgery (which he clearly needs) because she thought he only had the flu. Barnes doesn’t have time to wait for an OR, so Benton starts a procedure in the ER. Romano comes in after Benton’s done his thing and yells at him for not admitting Barnes to surgery. Dave defends Benton’s actions, which kept Barnes alive. He’s impressed by Benton’s work. Romano isn’t.

Carter brings Darnel a laptop, wanting to find out if his MD is affecting his motor skills; the computer could be a better tool for his schoolwork. Darnel knocks over the computer, so Carter asks if he wants to break anything else to make himself feel better. Darnel trashes the room, and Carter joins in, which I guess means he’ll be paying for any damages. Carter asks Darnel to write his name, but Darnel can’t. He confides that he’s tired of everyone always trying to help him; he can do things for himself. Carter agrees and tells Darnel to clean up the room while Carter talks to his mother.

Carol pulls Luka away from Connor to report that he doesn’t have a pediatrician – weird, since he has a chronic illness. Carol made some calls and learned that Connor’s been admitted to numerous ERs in the area multiple times. He did need his first surgery, but everything since then has been exploratory and nothing was ever found. Luka notes that something’s making him sick, but Carol thinks it’s his mother. Luka says there’s no proof of Munchausen by proxy, where a parent makes a child sick on purpose. He asks for time to see if something else is going on.

Marty’s father tells Cleo that his son’s only problem is his inability to fight back when his classmates abuse him. Mr. Dorset is also short, and he was also picked on in school, but he learned to deal with it, so Marty will, too. He promises that he’ll make sure Marty doesn’t take any more hormones. But now Marty has a high fever, and Cleo detects a heart murmur, which makes her suspect an infection from the needles Marty’s been using.

Abby’s next patient, Mr. Spencer, is a hypochondriac with a lot of complaints. The only problem she finds is excess earwax, which she can clear out with peroxide. Spencer complains of heart palpitations, so Abby agrees to do an EKG. Meanwhile, Carol gets Connor from the next exam bed over so he can have his upper-GI tests.

Romano finishes up on Barnes in the OR, complaining that the room is hot. Benton wonders if he has the flu. Romano claims that he never gets sick, so Shirley dryly suggests that he’s “going through the change.” I love Shirley. Connor’s GI series doesn’t show anything wrong, so Luka wants to do another scan. Mrs. Brant suggests an endoscopy, which would be invasive. She thinks they’re wasting time on tests that won’t show the real problem.

Lucy asks Clayton if she can do anything to make him more comfortable. He tells her to take the $118 in his lunchbox and give it to his homeless friends. She can just throw it off the roof and they’ll find it. Luka tells Carol that Connor’s scans were negative, and Mrs. Brant’s suggestion of an endoscopy makes him think that Carol is right about her having Munchausen by proxy.

Abby rules out any heart problems for Spencer and prepares to start his peroxide treatment. She leaves him for a minute and chats with Mrs. Brant, who’s eager to move things along and get a surgical consult for her son. Abby leaves Spencer’s peroxide in Connor’s cubicle and goes to find out if Luka has called for a consult.

Romano’s feeling worse in the OR, so Benton’s keeping a close eye on him. Elizabeth joins them and admits that she didn’t think Barnes had anything other than the flu. Romano sarcastically praises Benton for not saying anything about Elizabeth’s oversight. He tells Benton he can leave and Elizabeth can take his place. Suddenly, Romano doubles over in pain and collapses. Elizabeth tends to him while Benton takes over the operation.

Cleo fills Mark in on Marty’s case – he has endocarditis, a heart condition that could require surgery. Mark can’t believe he put himself at so much risk just to grow a couple of inches. The two of them play basketball together while inside, Mrs. Brant frantically tells Luka that Connor’s abdomen is now distended. Luka extracts fluid from his abdomen and explains that it’s an indicator that turns red when exposed to stomach acid. That’s what was in Abby’s peroxide bottle, which she left there on purpose, suspecting that Mrs. Brant would make Connor drink it. Now Luka has proof that Mrs. Brant has been making Connor sick.

Clayton dies, and Lucy looks through his lunchbox, finding a picture of a daughter he never mentioned having. Dave tries to get Abby to go out with him, claiming it’s a tradition for residents to take med students out for a drink at the end of their first day. Then he gets distracted when Chen enters wearing a little black dress. “Excuse me, you’re drooling on my chart,” Abby tells Dave. He tries to ask her out anyway and she asks if he’s kidding.

Elizabeth tells Benton that Romano has a kidney stone. They smirk a little over how much pain he must be in. Benton isn’t above going into Romano’s room to gloat. He reports that Barnes is stable, and Romano asks if Benton thinks Romano owes him something. Benton certainly does – he wants the OR time for Tia’s surgery. Romano doesn’t want word to get out that he does favors, but he’ll grant Benton this one.

Carol thanks Abby for her help in the sting, which she definitely didn’t expect to take part in on her first day in the ER. Chuny alerts Abby that Spencer is having a heart attack, so I guess he wasn’t just a hypochondriac. Abby tells Carter, who’s trying to save him, that his EKG was normal and he had no risk factors for a heart attack. Carter has Abby shock him.

Elizabeth goes to see Isabelle, who’s been in town a week and never contacted her daughter. Abby interrupts Mark and Cleo’s basketball game to tell him about Spencer’s heart attack. He notes that she should have gotten his blood count, which would have shown that he has aplastic anemia, a risk factor for a heart attack (and probably an explanation for all his medical complaints). Abby’s apologetic, but Mark knows he should have been more thorough in monitoring her work. She needs to start thinking like a doctor, not a nurse.

Elizabeth and Isabelle get a drink together and discuss Elizabeth’s father. She invites Isabelle to stay with her while she’s in town so they can spend more time together (they haven’t seen each other in three years). Isabelle comments that Elizabeth looks well, which must mean she has a boyfriend. Wow. I mean, she does, but still. Elizabeth says his name is Mark and he’s lovely. That lovely man is currently clucking like a chicken at Cleo for not wanting to continue their basketball game. She shuts him up with a three-point shot.

Lucy goes to the roof, where Abby’s ending her day with a cigarette, despite having not smoked for two years. She’s used to OB, where she just delivered babies. She was never bitten or puked on or had to trick a mentally ill mother. Lucy invites her to throw money off the roof with her. Well, at least Abby can say she had a memorable first day on the job.

Thoughts: Darnel is played by Shia LaBeouf.

Chris Marquette, who plays Marty, only grew to five-seven, so…good casting.

I hope everyone enjoys The Abby Show because that’s what we’re getting from now on. My feelings for Abby go up and down, but my feelings for Maura Tierney never change: She’s awesome.

So Weaver wants sick doctors to stay at work and keep infecting and exposing people to a contagious illness? Someone call the CDC!

I think Abby and Lucy would have been good friends. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to confirm that…


  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Man, I didn’t watch Even Steven or any of his other youth stuff, but Shia LaBoeuf was a great child actor. He was decent in Constantine but I haven’t seen him in other stuff yet. Hope he retained his skills; I know he has had a shitton of troubles.

    Maura Tierney was a great addition to the cast. I don’t remember another character in the show making such a strong first impression as Abby when Carol was in labor. Calm, competent, skilled, capable, and caring. She’s a good doctor but she was a fantastic nurse. I don’t remember if she ever second-guessed her decision but I doubt they really linger on that much like they did with Carol.

    I like that they’re fostering a friendship of sorts (even just with basketball) with Mark and Cleo. Besides Benton, she hasn’t really bonded with many others, so I like that they gave Mark another basketball player pal like Doug. And him suggesting to her that she try to bluff Marty into telling her what’s really going on — it’s those little side bits that consistently illustrate how excellent Mark’s instincts were as a physician and how adept he was at thinking outside the box. Contrast that with Carter who tries to convince Deb to break the rules (and Doug with similar behavior for that matter) and there’s a big difference. Creative problem-solving is such a valuable skill in so many different types of professions.

    Abby’s a third year and I don’t remember what year Lucy was, but Lucy always seemed so much younger than Abby. I mean, literally, the character was, since Abby had already had a career as a nurse before going into med school, but I agree they would have bonded well.

  2. Lolabossanova said,

    Great synopsis. One of my favorites so far. Bless you for writing these.

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