October 6, 2020

ER 7.5, Flight of Fancy: Turns Out Benton Isn’t as Perfect as We’ve Been Led to Believe

Posted in TV tagged , , at 4:53 pm by Jenn

The only person having a worse day than Benton

Summary: The ER is short-staffed, so Mark is trying to get out of going on a med-evac flight to pick up a patient. Benton pops in to complain about how Mark gave one of his patients a medication Benton didn’t approve. Mark says he’s too busy to talk about that now, and Benton says that’s not his problem. Nice attitude to have in your new position that Romano could easily take away for any reason or no reason at all.

Abby’s trying to reach Luka, who’s late for his shift, but he’s not answering his phone. Mark tells Romano that without Luka, and with Mark expected on the med-evac flight, they’ll need to call in backup. Instead, Romano assigns Benton to cover the ER for the day. Mark tells Benton he’ll only have to do it until Luka arrives. Elizabeth walks Mark to the helicopter, which will take him to Indiana to pick up his patient. They’re supposed to meet with a wedding coordinator at noon, though Mark says Elizabeth can handle all the planning.

Cleo thinks that Benton’s “brilliance” will be wasted in the ER. Just as I’m about to start gagging, we learn that she’s actually being sarcastic. They’re on the outs because she thinks he dumped her. After all, he was going to pick up and move to Philadelphia without discussing it with her. Benton points out that he’s staying in Chicago and working a ridiculous job, but Cleo knows he didn’t do that for her.

Benton’s first patient is a sick boy who definitely isn’t in the mood for a medical exam. Cleo, who actually has experience treating children (and was annoyed that Benton took the case from her), takes over. Mark’s patient, Tom, has a heart condition and is on the list for a transplant. His fiancée, Janet, will be meeting him in Chicago.

Benton and Dave work on a patient who was stabbed with a pencil. And you thought your office was a hostile work environment! Romano steals the patient, since he needs surgery, and reminds Benton that he’s confined to the ER today. Benton gets puked on as Carter comes down the hall, happy to confirm that the great Peter Benton, surgical genius, is slumming it in the ER today.

Carter treats a teen named Trent who cut his hand while carving something in art class. Chuny calls Carter out of the room to speak to Trent’s grandmother, Mrs. Larson. She tells him that Trent has HIV…but doesn’t know it. His grandparents, who have been raising him since his mother died of AIDS when he was two, wanted him to be a normal kid. He thinks the medications he takes are for a vitamin deficiency.

Carter says that Trent needs to know his condition. Mrs. Larson says they’ll tell him when he’s older and can better understand it. Uh, he’s in high school. High schoolers can understand HIV. Carter points out that he could be having unprotected sex. Mrs. Larson says she knows her grandson and there’s no way he’s sexually active. Oh, you naïve, naïve woman. Carter notes that he has a legal right to tell Trent that he has HIV. Mrs. Larson decides they should leave, but Carter has a security guard take her to the waiting area.

Mark and Tom bond over their engagements, and Mark calls Randi to arrange for Janet to meet them when they arrive at County. Carter calls Trent’s regular doctor to ask if there’s anything he might need to know about Trent, just in case, oh, I don’t know, Carter were to accidentally stick himself with a needle he’d used on Trent. Abby still can’t reach Luka, so she asks Randi to call the manager of his hotel and have someone check on him.

Luka’s not there – he’s at the police station, asking for information about the mugger. The detective on the case hasn’t been able to identify him, and he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about it. He tells Luka it’s probably better if they don’t know who the mugger is. This way, the mugger’s family can’t try to sue Luka for wrongful death. Luka doesn’t care about that; he just wants to know the name of the man he killed. The detective urges him to remember that he acted in self-defense.

Carter stitches up Trent’s hand, then sits him down for an important talk. Trent believes his mother was a drug user and died of an overdose. Carter informs him that his mother actually died of AIDS, and passed HIV to Trent during her pregnancy. Trent denies this at first, then asks why his grandmother never told him. Carter says she was trying to protect him. Trent’s upset that he’s been lied to his entire life.

About 20 minutes outside of Chicago, Tom starts having chest pain. Mark and the flight nurse determine that he’s having a heart attack and debate whether they should land the helicopter. Mark thinks they should keep going. Carter talks to Trent about his sexual practices and the importance of using condoms. A case manager will be helping him out from now on, and Carter has gotten him an appointment with a teen HIV center. Plus, Carter is happy to talk to Trent again if Trent wants.

Mark stabilizes Tom, then gets a call from Elizabeth telling him that Janet’s on her way to County. Something goes wrong with one of the rotors on the helicopter, but the pilot knows how to land without crashing. Elizabeth gets worried when she hears shouting over the phone and doesn’t know what’s happening. Tom is probably wondering what will kill him first, a crash or his heart condition. It won’t be a crash, since the pilot lands in a junkyard and everyone is able to get out of the helicopter and far enough away to be safe if the fuel tank explodes.

Dave reports to Elizabeth that a call went out about the helicopter, and first responders are on the way to the landing site. Elizabeth still isn’t sure if there was a crash or if anyone was hurt. Dave tries to reassure her that it was just an emergency landing, not a crash. Benton steps up as a leader and gives everyone instructions to keep doing their jobs. Meanwhile, Luka wanders around Chicago, looking for anyone who might have known the mugger.

Tom is still stable, but he only has 15 minutes left in his oxygen tank, so the EMTs need to get there ASAP. Since the group is surrounded by huge stacks of car parts, the EMTs will have trouble finding them in the junkyard. Mark asks the pilot if he has any emergency flares they can use to signal their location. The pilot tripped over something and injured his leg, so Mark volunteers to go to the helicopter (which is now leaking gas) to grab the flare gun. Well, if the helicopter explodes, I think that’ll give the EMTs a good idea of the group’s location, but no one asked me, so…

Benton grabs Abby from yet another phone call to Luka so she can help him with a patient. The woman needs help removing a roll of money from her…uh…”birth canal.” She’s also in a hurry because she has a cab waiting for her. She’s not going to…pay the driver with…? No, no, that’s crazy. Malik pulls both Benton and Abby away to treat a baby with breathing problems. Thanks to her time in OB, Abby knows about treating babies, but Benton doesn’t, so it’s a good thing Cleo soon comes in to take over.

Haleh asks Benton if he wants to close the ER to new traumas, since they’re already over capacity. Benton says yes, but Carter thinks it’s a bad idea, since they’ve gotten some bad press about all their closures. Benton shortly asks Carter what he would do, but Carter says he doesn’t know. Well, in that case, stuff it, Carter. Benton also doesn’t know what to do, and Haleh warns him not to ask her opinion, since she doesn’t get paid enough to make those kinds of decisions.

Hey, guess who’s having sex? Trent! Sorry, Grandma. He’s brought in his girlfriend, Emma, so she can get tested for HIV. EMTs find the group in the junkyard and take over transporting Tom. The closest facility is just a few minutes away, but Mark insists on having him taken to County. A paramedic reports that County’s closed to traumas, so Mark overrides that decision. Meanwhile, Janet arrives at County and learns for the first time that something went wrong with the helicopter. She tells Elizabeth that she and Tom have been engaged for three years. He got sick right after he proposed, so they haven’t had time to get married.

Benton is really overwhelmed, so Connie offers to ask Weaver to come in on her day off. Benton refuses, even though patients are leaving without being seen and Randi has to bring in a second board to keep track of all the patients. Maybe Benton should have gone on the flight and left Mark in charge of the ER. Dave suggests having non-emergent patients sit in the waiting area to free up exam areas. Haleh says the doctors order too many tests, which increases waiting times. Complaint after complaint comes in about all the chaos, and Benton finally realizes he’s in over his head.

On the way to County, Tom starts declining again. Everyone disagrees with Mark’s decision to have him taken to County instead of a hospital they could already be at by now. Mark tells them to shut up and keeps helping Tom. When they get to County, there’s a shortage of trauma rooms. Chuny starts to move her patient, but the nurses don’t remove his rapid-infuser first, and blood sprays everywhere. This is what greets Weaver when she arrives to lend a hand.

Dave tells Benton that his patient is complaining of a smooth tongue. Dave thinks that’s a symptom of pernicious anemia, but Benton thinks the patient needs to get a life. Weaver complains that the ER can’t function without her for one day. Benton says he’s never seen it that busy before, but Haleh says it’s always like that. Romano has heard from the Chicago Tribune that the ER closed to trauma, and he wants to yell at Benton about it. Weaver says they’re open again, then starts giving orders to get things back in shape. Romano tells Benton that his work today doesn’t make it look like the per-diem job is a good fit.

As Carter goes to tell Emma that she has HIV, Mark fills Janet in on how Elizabeth is going to treat Tom. He’s not sure if Tom will live long enough to get a heart transplant. Janet asks if they can make arrangements for her and Tom to get married in the ER. That might give him something to live for. Emma thinks her diagnosis is a death sentence, even thought Trent has lived with HIV his entire life and is healthy. Carter suggests that the teens talk to a counselor to help them adjust to their new realities.

Weaver tells Benton that Romano was out of line to expect Benton to master managing the ER on his first try. When a patient comes in with a possible ruptured aneurysm, Benton gets right to work, ready to demonstrate that he’s good at his job. Unfortunately, the patient (one Benton approved of having transferred from somewhere else) has been waiting to be seen for two hours. Benton didn’t know that his condition was so serious.

Once Tom is stable again, Mark tells him that Janet’s working on getting a marriage license. Tom says he wanted to wait until he’d gotten a transplant to marry her, so she wouldn’t be saddled with a heart patient as a husband. Dude, she’s been with you for three years since you got sick. I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker for her. Anyway, Tom probably only has a couple weeks left if he doesn’t get a transplant.

Abby invites Carter to take a break with her before he takes on any new patients, since it must have been difficult for him to deal with Trent and Emma’s situations. Carter’s okay and is ready to get some new patients. Luka is now at County, but working – he’s in the morgue asking Dr. Upton for information on the mugger’s autopsy. The findings don’t tell him anything about the mugger’s identity, though.

Chuny guides a crying Emma down the hallway as she reports that she and Trent had a fight, and he ran into the street and was hit by a car. Carter overhears and watches from outside Trent’s trauma room as Weaver tries to save him. Someone found a priest for Tom and Janet, though Janet hasn’t been able to reach anyone about a marriage license. Mark and Janet ask the priest to marry them anyway; it’s more for a blessing than a legal marriage.

Luka finally makes it to the ER, unaware that he missed a shift or that anyone was trying to reach him. Weaver tells him this could get him fired. Luka doesn’t seem to care. Since he’s not needed for the night shift he thought he was scheduled for, Weaver sends him home. He’s definitely not in the right head space to treat patients. Abby tries to get him to talk to her, but he doesn’t have anything to say.

The priest “marries” Tom and Janet as Carter sadly covers Trent’s dead body. Emma tells him to leave the room, since Trent’s death is his fault. Mark and Elizabeth clear out Tom’s trauma room so the newlyweds can enjoy their “honeymoon suite.” The priest tells them that if the couple gets a license, he’ll marry them for real, no charge. Mark and Elizabeth missed the meeting with their wedding coordinator, but Elizabeth has decided she doesn’t want anything fancy. They’ll just plan a simple ceremony on their own.

Benton’s patient made it to the OR and will probably be okay. Weaver tells him to just treat patients and leave the management stuff to others. Well, it’s not like he wanted to manage things! Benton goes to see a patient who’s been waiting for a doctor for three hours. She’s an older Black woman who tells him she would feel more comfortable being treated by someone white, since she’s always had white doctors. Benton tells her that, in that case, she’ll have to wait another three hours.

Carter goes looking for Abby, who’s already left for the day. Weaver tries to help him feel better about the decisions he made with Trent and Emma – part of being a doctor is making difficult choices and dealing with the outcome. Carter regrets telling Trent about his HIV, but Weaver says he had to. She invites him to get dinner with her before he goes to an AA meeting.

Benton meets up with Cleo at Doc Magoo’s and mopes about his bad day. Cleo doesn’t think it matters that he couldn’t run the ER; that has nothing to do with his skills as a surgeon. He argues that it reflects poorly on him (though it’s more like it reflects poorly on Romano). Cleo’s like, “Aren’t you glad I was here to listen to you, even though you haven’t been around to listen to me when I have a bad day?” In a much better display of sympathy, Abby goes to Luka’s hotel room, tells him they don’t have to talk, and makes out with him.

Thoughts: Don’t get me started on a family never telling their grandchild about his serious, possibly fatal health condition. I could fill a whole blog post about how horrible that is.

Mark isn’t anything other than perfectly calm the entire helicopter flight and the whole time afterward. No wonder he’s been so successful as an ER doctor.

Even with Luka, the staff for this shift includes five doctors: Benton, Chen, Carter, Cleo, and Dave. Plus, Elizabeth spends most of it in the ER, which means the OR isn’t at capacity. Yes, Luka has more skills and experience than the others on the shift, but the six of them, plus all the nurses, should be able to handle everything without him. A lack of doctors isn’t the issue here – something on the procedure side is screwed up. The ER needs a procedural audit or an efficiency review or something.

This show usually likes having stuff blow up, but I guess they didn’t have the budget to make a helicopter explode.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Watching Benton try to manage the ER was hilarious though he didn’t do the worst job in the world. Certainly wasn’t the best, though, and instead of actually respecting what Weaver and Greene typically do in their ER management, he gets all sulky about it. I think it’s all about management, which is why things got overwhelmed and Peter got overloaded. Weaver or Greene would have been able to streamline things more effectively which is precisely what happens as soon as she comes in. So it isn’t a lack of doctors necessarily but a lack of workflow management experience… though I think actually Carter might have done a better job of it than Benton.

    Speaking of respect, I would have a lot more respect for Cleo if she straight-up dumped Benton right then and there and asked for her keys and stuff back. She’s too good for him even though the writers never really let us see why. He definitely doesn’t respect her or value her and it’s gross to see them together and to know how things end up for them considering how selfish he is right now.

    That Trent HIV storyline was brutal. I’m glad Weaver was upfront about how much she supported what Carter did, but that won’t help his guilt. Grandma bears a lot of the blame here too and frankly Carter saved Emma’s life by telling her about her diagnosis.

    I was thinking about how the docs interact with Peter and noticed only Haleh on the nursing staff is comfortable enough to call Benton by his first name to his face. Carol was too, back in the day. Mark, Weaver, Elizabeth, Romano, and Anspaugh all call him Peter, which makes sense as they’re higher on the skillset totem pole than he is. I actually don’t know what Kovac calls him.


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