August 25, 2020

ER 6.21, Such Sweet Sorrow: Moving On

Posted in TV tagged , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

I love a happy ending

Summary: Carter is lying awake in bed in the middle of the night while some sad Bush song plays, talking about pain and stuff. He goes outside to smoke a cigarette. Carter! What would your grandmother say? Carol’s also awake, but it’s because one of the twins is crying. In case it hasn’t been made clear over the past six months, Carol is a single mother to twins and has to do all the parenting on her own.

Abby grabs a little more sleep than her co-workers, taking a 20-minute nap during her overnight shift, but Haleh wakes her up to tend to a patient. Abby asks Haleh and Lydia if they’re hazing her because she’s a med student, or if they just hate her. The nurses joke that they hate her. Abby says she never thought she would get into med school. She just wanted a change. Haleh tells her to shut up.

Mark is looking through photos at home, organizing David’s things after his death. Rachel is in town, and Mark watches her sleep and tells her he loves her. Since he and his father rarely said it to each other, Mark clearly wants to make sure he says it to Rachel as often as possible.

When Carol gets to County for her shift, she finds Luka playing basketball outside. He asks if the flowers he gave her on her birthday upset her. He knows they weren’t as meaningful as the animal crackers Doug sent her. Luka asks if Carol’s still in love with him. Carol admits that she’s still angry with him for leaving, and that clouds her other feelings. But she also makes excuses for him not coming back when he found out she was pregnant.

Carol could have moved to be with him, but she wanted him to see her as important enough to come back for. Luka says he still loves his wife, but he needs to get on with his life. He offers to help Carol get the girls to daycare. And now Carol will spend the whole day thinking about how to get on with her own life.

Abby examines a woman named Kathy who may have an infection. Abby’s getting more confident in her work, and even thinks she doesn’t need to get Dave to sign off on the patient before she’s discharged. Abby knows she’s seen more cases like Kathy’s than Dave has. Chuny offers to run the case by Weaver, but she’s been working long hours and Haleh doesn’t want to bother her. They’re happy that Mark will be coming back to work today.

Weaver comes to the ER yelling for Amira, who’s not there. A guy named Frank Martin has been sent there from personnel to work as a clerk. He has no experience (he was a cop for 26 years before this), so Weaver isn’t impressed. She borrows Lydia’s rape whistle, tells Lydia to call everyone who’s late, and blows the whistle to wake Dave from a nap. He has 30 seconds to find a patient and start looking “compassionate and engaged.” Frank starts regretting his life decisions.

Carter and Chen get yelled at for being five minutes late for their shift, then get to work. Weaver tells Dave to keep an eye on Abby. Malik tells the morning shift that a terminal cancer patient is being brought in via ambulance. Dave comments that Carter looks rough, and Carter admits that he’s been having trouble sleeping. Dave says he thinks Weaver has it in for him. Oh, you picked up on that? Carter goes to the bathroom to splash some water on his face and try to prepare himself for a long day.

Weaver and Carol start examining Sheila O’Brien, the patient with terminal cancer. Her liver isn’t functioning properly, and her husband, Steve, wasn’t able to wake her up. She has a DNR, but Steve wants them to make her comfortable. He’s brought their two young daughters with them, and the older girl says it’s always her job to bring some of her mother’s things with them to the hospital.

Carter is much peppier when he goes to see his first patient, Mrs. Wyatt. Weaver sends him a second patient, Mr. Papazian, who’s having breathing problems. Chen offers to help Carter, but he says he can handle two people at once. He goes back and forth, asking each one questions about medications and allergies. Chen watches him, concerned.

Sheila’s liver appears to be failing, and there’s nothing Weaver can do for her other than make her comfortable. Steve tries to grasp the fact that his wife doesn’t have much time left. He asks Weaver and Carol to do everything they can to keep Sheila from suffering. Abby discharges Kathy, asking her to wait a minute so Abby can get her a list of clinics that treat STDs. Kathy says she’ll wait outside, so she can smoke. Abby runs the diagnosis by Dave and asks him to sign Kathy’s chart.

Frank tells Abby she dated something wrong; it’s the 11th, not the 10th. Abby says she was expecting the day to be horrible, but it’s turned out okay. Dave thinks it has something to do with astrology. This leads to Frank listing the moons of Jupiter. The nurses aren’t entertained. Kathy collapses in the ambulance bay, so Abby and some nurses bring her back to the OR. An ultrasound shows that she ruptured…something that shouldn’t rupture and needs emergency surgery.

Carter – now even peppier than before – goes to check on Mrs. Wyatt and Mr. Papazian. Mrs. Wyatt hasn’t received her antibiotics yet, since Malik’s been busy tending to Mr. P. Carter decides to get the medication himself. Mark arrives and Carol expresses her sympathy over David’s death. Mark is trying to get him into a VA cemetery. Carol thought David wanted to be buried next to Ruth, in San Diego, but Mark doesn’t know what David wanted.

He comments that Carol looks tired, and she says Tess hasn’t been sleeping. She adds that Luka blames teething. Mark remarks (…heh) that Luka sees the girls enough to know things like that. Carol gets defensive, saying she’s already struggling enough. But Mark isn’t being critical – he wants Carol to be happy. She admits that she still feels unsure. Mark thinks she just doesn’t want to make herself vulnerable again.

Sheila’s awake, and she tells Steve and Carol that she wants to go home. Steve tells her she needs to be admitted so they can make her comfortable. Weaver suggests to Steve that they arrange for hospice care so Sheila can die at home. Steve is uncertain, but Weaver helps him understand that it’s what his wife wants, and it would make her death more comfortable. Carol resists the decision as well, but Weaver tells her they need to respect Sheila’s wishes.

Carter brings Mrs. Wyatt her antibiotics, then checks on Mr. P., who’s doing a lot better. Mrs. Wyatt immediately has trouble breathing, though. She had the same reaction when she once received a medication she’s allergic to. Carter quickly remembers that she said she was allergic to the exact medication he just gave her. He gives her something to counteract the reaction, then tries to cover up his mistake when Malik and Chen come in. Chen is suspicious and asks some questions, but Carter snaps at her. He runs to the bathroom and starts crying in a stall.

Elizabeth interrogates Abby and Dave over missing whatever it was Kathy had that ruptured. Abby admits that she bypassed Dave in the treatment process, since she thought her experience in OB qualified her to make the diagnosis and treatment plan. Elizabeth blasts her for this, then tells Dave that the staff thinks he’s lazy and careless.

Chen tells Mark that she’s concerned about Carter’s behavior and mood swings. She thinks he should see a psychiatrist. She’s even used the DSM-IV (not the DMS-IV, Ming-Na) to diagnose him with bipolar disorder. Mark points out that Carter was almost killed just a few months ago, and he feels responsible for Lucy’s death, so of course he’s struggling. Chen wonders if that’s all that’s going on. If they care about Carter, they should try to help him.

Steve tells Carol that just two years ago, Sheila was vibrant and happy all the time. He wishes he could go back and make up for all the time he spent away from her because he was working. He kept working long hours even after she was diagnosed, which he now sees was a horrible decision. Carol is clearly regretting her own time missed with the man she loves, and how happy he used to make her.

Sheila stops breathing, and Steve begs Carol and Connie to keep her alive until their daughters (who are in the cafeteria) can come say goodbye. Carol sends Connie to get Luka instead of Weaver, then bring the girls to see Sheila. When Luka arrives, Carol asks him to authorize the use of a breathing device that will keep Sheila alive without violating her DNR.

Weaver arrives just after they stabilize Sheila, and Luka’s annoyed to learn that he treated her patient without knowing it. Weaver pulls Carol and Luka out of the room and confronts Carol for going against Sheila’s wishes and not respecting Weaver’s authority. If Carol can’t do what she’s told, she shouldn’t be working there. Carol apologizes to Luka for getting him in the middle of the mess, but he doesn’t want to talk to her.

Elizabeth comes to the ER to talk to Weaver about Dave, but runs into Mark instead. She gives him the pearls David gave her and suggests that Mark give them to Rachel instead. Carol tracks Luka down and he tells her she had no right to put him in that position. He went against his superior and could lose his job. He accuses Carol of taking advantage of their personal relationship. Carol says she did what she thought was right. Luka says she was allowed to make that decision for herself, but not for him.

Carol gets amused at how mad Luka is, like, he could get in a lot of trouble, Carol! Maybe you should take this seriously! She says she kind of thought she was immune to Luka’s anger. He softens a little when he says she’s not. Carol promises it will never happen again. Luka kisses her, and she kisses back for a bit, then breaks it off, though she pretends everything’s okay.

Carol finds Frank reading to Sheila and Steve’s girls and asks Frank to take the younger one to see her mother. She stays behind with the other girl, who’s old enough to understand that her mother is about to die. She doesn’t want to just have a dad – she wants a full family like she used to have. Carol takes her to her mother’s room, where Sheila’s awake again, and she watches the family as they prepare to go from four members to three.

Carter hides out in an exam room for a while, until Mark comes to check on him and casually ask how he’s been doing. He offers to give Carter a referral for a psychiatrist. Carter at least pretends to be open to seeing someone. After Sheila dies, Luka comes to Carol while she’s finishing paperwork and invites her to get dinner. She doesn’t seem that excited, so he tells her she doesn’t have to accept if she doesn’t want to.

The remaining O’Briens come by, and Steve thanks Carol for everything she did for the family. He asks if she believes that they have soulmates – one person everyone’s supposed to find and love. Steve didn’t used to, but now he does. He doesn’t think he’ll ever love anyone the way he loved Sheila.

Carol quickly goes from thinking this is a sweet sentiment to applying it to her own life. She tells Mark she has to leave and won’t be at work tomorrow. She’s going to drop the girls off with her mother, then catch a plane somewhere. First, though, she tells Luka she can’t have dinner with him. She tells him she’s sorry, but she has to go find out if Doug is still in love with her.

Carol’s still in love with him, and has been since she was 23. Doug makes her life feel complete when they’re together. He’s her soulmate. She knows Luka will find someone who will love him the way his wife loved him. She kisses him goodbye, then leaves the hospital, crying. After squaring away the twins, Carol rushes to the airport and catches a plane to Seattle. Her seatmate tells her she almost missed it.

Mark takes Rachel to the waterfront and invites her to come to San Diego with him to bury David’s ashes next to Ruth. Rachel says she’d like that. Mark admits that he and David had a hard time coming around to liking each other, though now Mark can’t remember why. He gives Rachel the pearls, which she loves. He asks her not to grow up too fast, which is funny because the next time we see Rachel, she’s been aged slightly (and is played by a different actress).

Carol arrives in Seattle and knocks on the door of a house. No one answers, so she goes around to the backyard, which looks out onto a lake. Doug is there, and he’s surprised but happy to see her. He asks where the girls are, his only line of the episode. Carol says it’s beautiful there, and the two of them kiss, then grin at each other. And that’s the last time we’ll see either of them until season 15.

Thoughts: George Clooney only agreed to come back for this episode if his return wasn’t advertised, since he didn’t want to pull focus from Julianna Margulies in her last episode. The show kept his appearance so secret that only Margulies and a couple of crew members knew about it. Unfortunately, the plan backfired, since the viewers didn’t care as much about Margulies leaving as they did about whether Clooney would make an appearance.

It’s not clear if Frank is supposed to be the same character Troy Evans played in “24 Hours,” but it fits.

Thanks to Mark’s attack in season 3, I get tense every time we someone on this show in a bathroom.

All those months where David was dying and no one asked him where he wanted to be buried? Really?

’90s ’00s music alert: “Taking You Home” by Don Henley

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