June 30, 2020

ER 6.13, Be Still My Heart: My Bloody Valentine

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

Iconic

Summary: I guess David’s thing is playing things at high volume early in the morning, because here he is again, making noise. He’s looking through Ruth’s records and has put on a cha-cha song. Over at Elizabeth’s, she’s also dealing with a parent, since her mother’s staying with her. Isabelle wants to come observe a procedure Elizabeth is doing later in the day, but Elizabeth tells her it’s not allowed. Isabelle thinks her daughter has enough pull to change the rules.

David has switched over to the Oklahoma! soundtrack, and Mark is singing along to “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” while shaving. David bugs him about getting a prescription refill, but Mark says family members aren’t allowed to do that. David wonders what the point is of having a son who’s a doctor if he doesn’t get perks like prescriptions. Isn’t it enough to be able to tell people your son is a doctor?

At County, Amira is decorating for Valentine’s Day and Yosh is handing out valentines. Luka confirms that they celebrate the holiday in Croatia; they even have those little hearts with the messages on them. Paramedics bring in Jean, who wants Carter to be her doctor since he was so wonderful with her husband, Barry. Abby starts her off with an examination, thinking she has an infection.

Mark and Elizabeth meet up on the way to work, looking forward to having dinner together that night. Elizabeth warns that Isabelle may come visit the hospital, and Mark shouldn’t be too excited to meet her. They start goofing around in the snow, which leads to Elizabeth running into the ER, screaming, while Lucy’s trying to talk to her next patient, Paul Sobriki.

That’s right, friends. It’s THAT episode.

Dave and Chen are trying to work together on a patient named Hudson, who was in a fender-bender. They’re acting like squabbling siblings, so they miss the part of their patient’s history where it turns out he’s a doctor himself. Mark takes over the examination as an amused Hudson reports that the residents are asking the right questions but not waiting to hear his answers.

Carter doesn’t remember Jean or her husband, but he tells Abby he’ll come see her anyway. First, Lucy pulls him away to help her with Paul, who’s had a headache for a couple of days. It seems like a migraine, though he doesn’t have a history of those. Carter approves of Lucy’s suggested treatment, saying he trusts her judgment and doesn’t need to examine Paul himself.

He heads on to see Jean, pretending he remembers her. Abby wants to give her every treatment available, but Carter isn’t sure Jean would want all of that. Mark asks Carter if he’s overseeing Lucy’s work with Paul, and Carter says she presented the case to him. Mark reminds him that if he’s going to supervise med students, he needs to, you know, supervise them. Carter goes to check on them, finding that Paul is now altered and saying strange things. Carter chastises Lucy for not giving him all the details about the case before. Lucy says he was fine before and she was about to get Carter.

Romano pages Elizabeth to the OR for an unscheduled procedure on a patient named Gretel. Romano is uncharacteristically concerned about the patient…who happens to be his dog. (That’s right, friends. It’s THAT episode, too.) Once Paul has been knocked out with a sedative, Lucy and Carter prepare to give him a lumbar puncture to see if he has meningitis. He wakes up when Lucy sticks him with the needle, so Carter holds him down and tells Lucy to keep going. She has trouble with the procedure, and it’s not helped by Paul begging her to stop.

I guess dogs and humans have the exact same anatomy, because Elizabeth and Romano are fine operating on Gretel. Romano acts like it’s totally normal to remove your own dog’s tumor, because what else should he do? Let a doctor specially trained to operate on dogs, who’s familiar with dogs’ anatomy and care, do the operation? Romano would be crazy to let that happen!

Chen and Dave tell Mark that Hudson had been in remission from cancer for 15 months, but it’s come back. They disagree about the best treatment, and Mark gets them to admit that they haven’t even asked Hudson what he wants. Mark takes over the case and tells them to be quiet.

Abby checks on Jean, who’s doing better after getting fluids, though she thinks Yosh’s TLC and valentine are what have helped the most. She didn’t think she would get a valentine this year, since her husband died a few months ago. Barry was always very thoughtful and remembered all their special occasions. She shows Abby a pin he gave her last year; she didn’t tell him that he got her the same pin the year before. It says “be still my heart.”

Paul is mentally stable again, and tells Lucy that his wife is probably out shopping for Valentine’s Day, which is why Lucy can’t reach her. He doesn’t have meningitis, but Lucy hasn’t figured out his diagnosis yet. Paul wants to go back to the diner where he usually studies (he’s in law school); he’s been avoiding the library since there have been some muggings there recently. Lucy picks up on a little paranoia. She wants to do a CAT scan, assuring Paul that he won’t be affected by the radiation.

Romano is the only one taking the Gretel situation seriously until she has a seizure that leads to heart trouble. Romano wants to do everything himself, but Elizabeth won’t let him. Mark gives Hudson his diagnosis, which comes with only about a year left to live. He decides to have chemo, since radiation on his esophagus could leave him unable to eat. If he only has a year left, he wants to still be able to enjoy food.

Lucy chats with a friend of Paul’s who used to study with him in the library. He tells Lucy that Paul has been acting weird for a few months, seemingly wearing the same clothes all the time. They went to the same college, and Paul did really well there, but now he’s cutting classes. He also picks fights with the friend over dumb things like parking spaces.

Jean is doing worse, and since she’s unconscious now, Abby has to make a decision about her care. Carter runs to join her, getting delayed by Lucy, who wants to talk to him about Paul. She thinks he might have a psychiatric disorder. Carter ignores her and goes to Jean’s room, where Abby has given her dopamine to help her. She didn’t want heroic measures, but Abby doesn’t think dopamine falls into that category. Carter warns that she’ll flood Jean’s lungs if she gives her more fluids. Abby will have to make more hard decisions.

Paul and his friend get into an argument in the hallway when Paul accuses the friend of following him to the hospital. Mark and Carter separate them, and Malik takes Paul back to his room. Mark has to rush off to see to Hudson, so the friend tells Carter to let Lucy know about the fight. Hudson is unstable and needs radiation immediately, even though he wanted chemo instead. Mark says he won’t live long enough for chemo if he doesn’t have radiation now.

Carter blasts Lucy for not keeping a better eye on Paul. Lucy thinks Paul has schizophrenia, and she’s planning to call for a psych consult once she’s presented the case to Carter. Carter needs to get back to Jean, so he tells Lucy to page psych now and hand Paul off so she can see other patients.

Jean is conscious again, but Carter was right about the fluids, and her lungs have been affected. Abby wants to intubate her and treat her infection, thinking that’ll be the end of the story. Carter points out that she’s elderly and has multi-organ failure. If she undergoes intubation, she might never be able to be extubated. He reminds Abby that this isn’t about what she wants – it’s about what Jean wants. Jean stops breathing, a complication of the heart failure that’s going to kill her.

As Carol and Luka get read for a trauma that’s coming in, Romano and Elizabeth finish Gretel’s surgery and move her to a recovery room. Romano thinks Elizabeth’s joking when she asks if Gretel has insurance. Isabelle picks this moment to show up for Elizabeth’s fancy laser surgery, instead seeing her tending to a dog. So much for making a good impression. Romano makes an even worse impression when Isabelle says she’s in town for some lectures on wave-particle duality, and Romano says that sounds horrible. Isabelle clarifies that she’s giving the lectures.

Carol, Luka, and Cleo meet a couple of ambulances bringing in a family from a car accident. The young kids, Robbie and Julia, only have minor injuries, but their parents are in serious condition. Cleo and Haleh try to tend to the kids, but Robbie’s more concerned with his parents’ conditions than his own. Isabelle watches from the hallway as Elizabeth finally gets to put her skills at treating humans to use. Julia slips out of her and Robbie’s exam room and almost gets a glimpse of her father’s bloody trauma before Cleo pulls her away.

Luka and Carol work hard on Robbie and Julia’s mother but ultimately can’t save her. They go next door, where Benton and Elizabeth aren’t having much more luck with the father, and let them know that his wife has already died. Benton realizes the father isn’t going to make it, either. Luka and Carol volunteer to tell Robbie and Julia that they’re now orphans.

Julia’s too young to really grasp what it means that both her parents are dead, but Robbie gets it. He asks to see his parents’ bodies. Luka, who we know from previous interactions with kids believes in telling them the truth, says that’s fine. He prepares the kids a little for the scary sight they’re about to see, which turns out to be too much for Julia. Robbie goes into the trauma room alone, takes a last look at his parents, and cries over his mother’s body.

Hudson is awake but probably wishing he wasn’t, since Dave and Chen are looking after him again. Even though Mark went against Hudson’s wishes, Hudson is grateful. Chen and Dave keep bickering, and Mark tells them he only had one child because he didn’t want to listen to two of them argue. Just wait until season 8, Mark. Then you’ll wish you’d never had any children.

Elizabeth goes looking for her mother, and Mark tells her that they met. In fact, the three of them are going out to dinner, along with David. Mark says Isabelle arranged it all; she “has a way about her” that makes her hard to turn down. Elizabeth meets up with Isabelle at Doc Magoo’s, where Isabelle claims Mark (who “has a way about him”) organized the group dinner. She thinks he’s trying to set her up with David. Isabelle says she had no idea how difficult Elizabeth’s job is.

Lucy finds Paul in the lounge, where he says he was looking for coffee. Chuny and Lydia are getting ready for a staff Valentine’s Day party, though they only have one small cake, and it’s blue instead of red or pink. David resists being set up with Isabelle and says it must have been Elizabeth’s idea. Mark tells him it’s just a friendly dinner. He tells David he can skip it if he wants.

Carter bugs Lucy about still looking after Paul; she’s called psych twice but they haven’t been able to send anyone to see him. Carter tells her to let Malik stay with Paul while she does her job. Lucy’s fed up with Carter and ignores him. David and Isabelle get along better than expected, bonding over their children’s heroic medical actions. They restaurant they’re at doubles as a piano bar, and they laugh together over how bad one of the singers is.

Shirley checks on Gretel, assuring Romano that not everyone at County thinks he’s crazy – just the ones who were part of the operation. Romano lives alone, so Gretel’s the only one he goes home to. Shirley makes the insane suggestion that Romano try to show compassion for people the same way he shows it for Gretel. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. She tries to keep Romano from giving Gretel a dog biscuit, since she’s not supposed to have any food yet.

At the restaurant, David sings “They Call the Wind Mariah,” definitely showing up the previous singer. Mark says he used to do this sort of thing to embarrass Mark as a kid. He agrees with Elizabeth that David is pretty brave. Back at County, Abby’s still sitting with Jean in the last moments of her life. Abby admits to Carter that he was right and she shouldn’t have chosen the treatment she did for Jean. Jean dies and Abby whispers, “Be still my heart.”

David and Isabelle duet on “I Remember It Well” as Elizabeth and Mark discuss the movie it’s from, Gigi. Elizabeth watched it a bunch as a kid because Isabelle liked the movie’s lesson – women shouldn’t define themselves through men. Mark thinks the evening is really bizarre.

Abby’s smoking on the roof again, even though it’s freezing outside. Carter brings her some coffee and suggests she find a warmer place to mope. She tells him that in OB, everything is almost always happy. This is the first time she’s seen someone old die. Carter gives her good news and bad news: She’ll never get used to it. They decide to go back inside for the Valentine’s Day party.

In the ER, “Battleflag” by Lo Fidelity Allstars is blasting, to ensure that we always associate it with this episode. The nurses cut the cake, and Lydia says there’s a bigger knife in the lounge. Amira says she couldn’t find it. Carter realizes that Lucy still hasn’t seen the patient he’s been telling her to treat. Lily reports that she’s still waiting on Paul’s psych consult. Abby asks Carol and Luka if the patients mind the loud music, but it’s so loud that they can’t hear her.

Carter goes off to find Lucy, but Paul’s room is dark. Carter spots something on the floor – one of Yosh’s valentines – and when he straightens up after grabbing it, Paul appears behind him in a dark corner. He sneaks up behind Carter and thrusts something into his back. Carter touches the spot and his hand comes away bloody.

He leans on a supply tray to try to keep his balance, but it collapses and he falls to the floor. He calls for help but the music drowns him out. Carter clutches his back and tries to get up, but he’s too weak. He looks across the room and sees that he’s not alone. Lucy is also on the floor, bleeding. They both lose consciousness.

Thoughts: Paul is played by David Krumholtz. Robbie is played by the late Anton Yelchin.

Laura Innes directed this episode, which is probably why she’s not in it.

To me, this is the most memorable episode of the series. When I think of ER, this is the episode I think of. I still remember how shocking the ending was when it first aired.

There’s discussion later about who’s to blame for what happened with Paul. Carter absolutely dropped the ball by not getting more involved in the case, but ultimately I blame the psych department. It shouldn’t take three phone calls to get them to the ER.

Who came up with the dog plot? I want to have a word with you.

3 Comments »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Just rewatched this one and in hindsight, Carter was bad at supervising his med student, blew her off repeatedly, blasted her when things went south with one of her patients — this after she repeatedly tried to get him to consult with her on the patient — and while the outcome of this episode isn’t directly his fault, he really shouldn’t be supervising med students for a long, long time thereafter. He does not have the natural instincts or patience of Mark or Weaver when it comes to teaching and training and this is unfortunately a direct result of how badly he supervised Lucy. It’s kind of a strange ending to their professional relationship because I actually thought they were getting better at the student/teacher dynamic, especially after she called him out on it. So instead, they regress, and Lucy dies. UGH that episode is next and I kind of just want to skip it, but that’s not fair to Kellie Martin, so I’ll suffer through.

    Anton Yelchin was such a huge talent. What a loss.

    There’s a YouTuber I’ve watched for more than a year now who started off just casually filming his arborist stuff, but within the past few months things have devolved into a full-blown psychiatric crisis for the dude; he was involuntarily committed once, and was concerned he might have schizophrenia, which his (virtual) therapist didn’t agree with. But in some of his videos, he’s starting to show some signs of Paul-esque paranoia and is pushing family and loved ones away for overdramatized or possibly full-on-fictional transgressions. It’s disturbing to see this episode with that in mind!

    • Caty said,

      Rewatched just now too and completely agree re: Carter. There’s of course a lot of factors that have nothing to do with him, like the the incompetence of the psych department, the incredibly loud music, the fact Mark and Luka assumed Carter had it covered when they ought to have done rounds, etc. And of course there seemed to be other patients with more pressing needs. But the episode is also careful to set up that all of these things are exacerbated and catalyzed by Carter’s failure to take Lucy seriously or supervise her appropriately— Mark’s role in this episode is very deliberate.

      IMO Carter was a poor fit for the Mark Greene moral-center-of-the-show role, and this episode goes a long way to explaining why. A big part of ER and *the* ER is the many kinds of teaching and mentorship that take place in it; Greene is the patient teacher at the center of the show who facilitates that while also continuing to learn himself, etc. But even though Carter never again drops the ball this badly, he doesn’t ever seem to show much interest in teaching and mentoring, beyond the basic requirements of being a chief resident or attending at a teaching hospital. After this, the most I remember is that he repeats Mark’s words to Gallant, chews out Pratt some, and tells Neela to be more assertive.

      • Jenn said,

        Carter is very exclusive about who’s worthy of his teaching. Benton was that way, too – if a student didn’t shine, Benton wasn’t going to waste time on him or her. When Lucy shows she’s competent, Carter is more willing to mentor her. When she fails, he distances himself. Mark, on the other hand, waits to pass judgment until he sees how someone performs.

        In this episode specifically, I blame Carter more than Mark because Mark thought he could trust Carter to oversee Lucy. As a resident, Carter should have had a better handle on what his student was doing. It’s like Mark delegated to Carter, and Carter was the one who screwed up. Mark and Luka thought Carter had it covered because he’s proven in the past that he can handle that responsibility and doesn’t need to be micromanaged.


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