November 3, 2020

ER 7.9, The Greatest of Gifts: Merry Kissmas

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:03 pm by Jenn

Sorry, but Carter holding a baby isn’t as hot as Luka holding a baby

Summary: It’s early in the morning a little before Christmas, and Chicago is experiencing its first major snowfall of the winter. Carter stayed past the end of his shift to help with a big car accident, and even took over running things from the temp attending who was filling in for Mark. Weaver apologizes for having Carter work nights, but now that Mark has left his position, he was needed. She tells him to take an extra hour in his day off before he has to report back to work in the afternoon.

Carter heads home and crawls into bed, but moments later, his pager goes off. Back at County, Chen is in labor, and has summoned Carter as her birthing coach. She thought she could deliver by herself, but she decided she needed a friend with her. Carter is sweetly supportive and willing to give up sleep to stay with her.

At Cleo’s, she and Benton are asleep, but she wakes up when she hears voices in the living room. He tells her it’s just Kynesha, who’s been staying there, but Cleo makes him go check on her. Kynesha has brought a friend over and is complaining about how uptight Cleo is. She tells Benton that her friend is just staying there for a little while since she got locked out of her house.

Mark and Elizabeth are in New York to see a specialist. Mark notices a boy in a red hat with pompoms on it and remembers seeing the same hat on a kid in Chicago at Thanksgiving. Elizabeth wonders if it’s a sign. Mark makes a dark joke, and Elizabeth urges him to be optimistic. Mark thinks he’s just going to hear more bad news from the specialist. He hasn’t told Rachel about his tumor yet, and Elizabeth believes it’s because he thinks the specialist can help him, and he wants to be able to tell his daughter that he’ll be okay.

The parents Chen has chosen to adopt her child have arrived, wanting to be there for the birth. Carter greets them and lets them know that everything’s going well, but Chen is uneasy about letting them be in the room. James and Linda aren’t happy that they traveled all the way from Portland only to be sidelined. They worry that Chen is going to change her mind about the adoption. Carter promises that he’ll bring the baby to them as soon as he’s born. (For the record, James is Black and Linda is Asian, giving the baby adoptive parents of the same races as his birth parents.)

Down in the ER, Randi suggests that they send Chen flowers. Weaver tells Randi to leave her alone (probably because she knows Chen is placing the baby for adoption and doesn’t want to be congratulated for giving birth to a child she won’t raise). Legaspi comes down for a consult, and Weaver gives her a Christmas present. She has the hiccups, so Legaspi suggests that she drink water upside-down.

Cleo complains to Benton that what was supposed to be a single night hosting Kynesha has turned into a week. Benton hasn’t been able to find Kynesha’s mother, and he doesn’t want to hand her over for foster care. Cleo says she’s manipulating Benton. She gets two more days before Cleo kicks her out.

Just as Benton notices a little girl sneaking around near the ER, he hears a woman yelling and runs to help her. Her son, Jeff, was attacked by a dog, which bit through a facial artery that’s bleeding a lot. Weaver hiccups through the trauma. Chen has progressed quickly, and it’s already time to have the baby. Carter coaches her as Coburn handles the delivery. Chen doesn’t look at the baby and declines to hold him.

Later, Chen thanks Carter again for being there for her. He tries to downplay exactly how much of her anatomy he saw. She thinks he was surprised that the baby is half Black; she never told him who the baby’s father is. The baby is now with his adoptive parents, who would like to see Chen. Carter assures her that the parents seem great. He offers to stick around a little longer, but Chen talks him into leaving.

Mark checks in for some language tests and mapping at the hospital in New York. Elizabeth is eager to meet the specialist, Burke, but he’s busy and probably won’t see them until later in the day. Weaver reassures Jeff’s mother, Shelly, that he’ll be okay and his scars shouldn’t be too bad. Mona, the owner of the dog, shows up and Shelly demands that she put the dog down. Too bad she does this in front of Mona’s son, who now has to worry about his dog dying. Thanks, Shelly, and merry Christmas, Mona’s son.

Benton spots the little girl he saw earlier hiding in a utility closet. The girl, Taylor, says she hurt her foot, so he goes in to check it out. She’s supposed to be in the blood bank, donating blood to her sister, Nicole, who has leukemia. Every time Nicole gets sick, Taylor has to go to the hospital, too, in order to help her. This time, they’re going to a procedure called leukapheresis, where Taylor’s blood is drawn, some white blood cells are removed, and her blood is replaced. Benton promises he can heal her foot without taking any of her blood.

Carter grabs a nap in the on-call room but gets woken up again by his pager. Chen is trying to leave the hospital and wants a ride home. A social worker suggested that she see the baby, saying it’s better for both sets of parents. Chen admits that she’s not sure she can say goodbye. Mark undergoes an MRI while looking at pictures and doing a kind of word-association thing. Elizabeth observes as a couple of doctors look at his scans and debate whether he should have surgery. She’s upset by how casually they discuss his chances and how much time he might have left.

Lily tells Cleo that Kynesha is on the phone, saying something about Cleo’s car. Kynesha claims it was stolen by unknown thieves. While Cleo calls the police, Romano yells at Benton for “stealing” Taylor and refusing to take her to the blood bank. Also, he calls her “it,” so I don’t think Romano is in the Christmas spirit this year. Benton wants Taylor’s parents to come get her, and he wants someone to fully explain to her the procedure she’s going to undergo to help her sister. Romano cares more about Nicole and orders Benton to send Taylor to the blood bank.

Carter tells James and Linda that Chen has reluctantly agreed to see the baby. Linda’s worried that Chen will regret not seeing him before the adoption papers are signed in three days, which might make her change her mind about the adoption. The social worker suggests that Carter take the baby to Chen, and after Chen is done saying goodbye, she can hand the baby back to Linda. Carter takes the baby to his birth mother, who cries over him.

In New York, Mark is nervous about the conversation doctors are having about his best course of treatment. They still haven’t met Burke, and Mark wonders if he only meets patients he can help. He knows the MRI tech didn’t think he could be helped. Mark wishes the discussion group called itself something other than the Tumor Board, though Elizabeth notes that the name is fitting. They make up new names to amuse themselves. Mark asks if Elizabeth will still have the baby if he doesn’t survive. She says she will.

Weaver’s hiccups went away, but only temporarily, so cross a spoonful of sugar off the list of attempted remedies. Malik passes along his mother’s hiccup cure, standing on your head and swallowing. Legaspi comes back to the ER to see if Jeff needs counseling after his dog attack. Weaver asks if she’s opened her present yet. Carter comes back down for another nap, but James follows, distressed that Chen wants to nurse the baby.

Jeff is worried that his father will be mad about what happened. He was going to “put it back” before his dad found out. Legaspi thinks he’s upset about the dog attacking him unprovoked, but Jeff reveals that there was provocation. He opened his Christmas present early – a BB gun – and tried it out on the dog. (Cue the entire audience saying, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”)

Linda now regrets forcing Chen to see the baby. The social worker is familiar with this kind of dilemma and knows Chen will come around when she sees how well Linda and James are going to care for the baby. They send Carter to talk to Chen, who is doubting her decision to place the baby for adoption when she has the means to take care of him. Carter reminds her that James and Linda really want him, and Chen is giving them a wonderful gift.

Chen worries about what could happen if her child tracks her down in 18 years and wants to know why she gave him up. Carter thinks the truth is enough: Chen wanted to give him a good home. She feels like a coward, and like she’s choosing her bigoted parents over her child. Carter tells her to keep them out of this. If she wants to keep the baby, she can. If not, she needs to know she’s not abandoning him. She’s creating a family.

The police find Cleo’s car, which she thinks Kynesha stole and then abandoned when it broke down because she couldn’t drive stick. She tells Benton to bring Kynesha to see her, or she’ll send the police to Kynesha. Taylor’s mother, Melissa, comes to the ER to get her, and Benton tells her that Taylor feels she was only born to help Nicole. Melissa fully admits that they had an additional child because they were desperate to save Nicole (though they were planning to have more kids anyway). She hates being judged as if she’s done something wrong. Melissa loves Taylor no matter how useful she is for her sister.

The social worker brings James and Linda to Chen’s room so she can give the baby to them officially. They tell her they’re naming him Michael. Chen gives him over and Linda sings “Baby Mine” from Dumbo. Elizabeth gets a call from Price telling her that her malpractice case may go to trial. Yeah, Elizabeth, no one cares anymore. There’s much more important stuff going on.

Burke finally arrives and gives Mark and Elizabeth the news that, despite what the Tumor Board thinks, he believes the tumor is operable. It hasn’t invaded Mark’s language center as much as the surgeon in Chicago thought. Burke has perfected a procedure to remove the tumor, and many of his patients have survived 24 months and counting. He has a slot open for surgery on December 31st, so Mark can start the new year without his tumor.

Carter’s next attempt at a nap is interrupted yet again when victims of a van/motorcycle crash are brought into the ER. Dori (the nurse played by a Real Housewife) finds painkillers in the motorcycle rider’s pocket. Benton and Cleo come home to find Kynesha on the front steps, worried about the whole car situation. She didn’t take it, but she thinks her friend from that morning did. She didn’t want to say anything because she thought Cleo would kick her out. She has nowhere else to go.

Carter tends to some of the people from the van, kids on their way to a Christmas pageant. He winds up in the biker’s trauma room, looking for something in a cabinet. The biker’s painkillers are on the counter, and Carter grabs a bottle and takes a couple of pills, almost on autopilot. Moments later, he realizes what he did and runs to the bathroom to throw up the pills. He fights back tears over his impulsive decision.

He quickly pulls Abby away from a patient and tells her he took two Vicodin, then threw them up. Then he hands them over to her, like, at least put them in a cup or something! EW! Abby asks if he’s going to tell Weaver. Carter knows he’ll either lose his job or get sent back to rehab. He’s not sure this counts as a relapse, since the pills never got into his system. Is this the “I didn’t inhale” defense? Abby tells him to say he’s sick so he can get out of his shift and go to an AA meeting with her.

Mark and Elizabeth hang out at Rockefeller Center, watching people skate, as he goes over his plan to fly out and see Jen and Rachel so he can tell them about his diagnosis and treatment. He mentions living New York for a couple of months as a kid, which Elizabeth didn’t know about. Mark says he can’t tell her everything; he has to keep her interested. He regrets that he’s gotten sick, which she didn’t sign up for, but she reminds him that marriage means sticking together through all the hard times. Mark spots another kid in that red pompom hat, and Elizabeth says it must not be a sign after all.

Dave is annoyed that Weaver wants him to do another shift, since Carter had to leave. Dave thinks Carter just wants to sleep. Hey, at least you’re getting a scene in this episode. Luka’s not in it at all. Weaver’s still hiccuping, so she tries Randi’s remedy, drinking a cup of water after dropping a lit match in it. Legaspi comes to thank her for her gift, a first edition of a book she loves. However, she doesn’t want to be friends with Weaver, since Weaver is straight and Legaspi isn’t.

Weaver argues that they get along well and should keep hanging out. Legaspi kisses her, clarifying that she can’t just be friends with someone she has feelings for. On the plus side, it looks like Weaver’s hiccups are gone. Chen’s mother calls her hospital room, but Chen doesn’t want to talk to her. She’ll be spending Christmas alone while Michael starts his life with his new parents.

Thoughts: Lots of familiar faces in this episode:

Helping Chen through labor is the first good thing Carter’s done in this season, and the first time he’s seemed like his old self. I appreciate that the show never tried to put the two of them together – they just let them be friends.

How do you drink water upside-down without choking? Well, I guess if you’re choking, you’re not hiccuping, so there you go.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Carter was really, really good with Deb in this episode. And I thought he handled the relapse really well too and was glad to see it. I agree he and Deb never had romantic chemistry even though they’re playful with each other a lot — it’s a very sibling-esque relationship they have and they clearly care about each other and have protected each other in the past. It’s nice.

    I don’t know anything about AA meetings but are there meetings at like all hours of the day any day of the week? Abby’s all “I get off in ten minutes so let’s go find a meeting” and this is pre-internet so how easy was it to find an AA meeting at any given moment? I’ll have to go look that up.

    Loved how cocksure and arrogantly confident Dr. Burke was when he met Mark and Elizabeth. I totally get that they were there as patients, not physicians, but I guess I’m a little surprised at how Elizabeth has kind of taken a bit of a passive approach to Mark’s treatment. She’s been aggressive in making sure he gets a second and third opinion, but maybe she doesn’t have any background in surgical oncology or neurosurgery, because otherwise you’d think the surgeon side of her would come to the forefront under the circumstances. I could see that being her coping mechanism with the horrific situation she and Mark are suddenly in. I’m a little surprised the writers didn’t go that route with her character during Mark’s illness. It almost feels like ever since she got involved with Mark in the first place her surgical side really took a backseat on the show whereas for her first few seasons that was the main thrust of her character even when she was dating Peter.

    I really love that Deb’s baby’s adoptive parents were a mixed-race couple. Great choice for the storyline.

    The mother of the pseudo-guinea-pig child whose sister had leukemia… I’ve never had a child with cancer so naturally I can’t understand what she’s dealing with emotionally but it was interesting how Benton seemed more concerned about the child’s emotional state than her mother did. I have a feeling that all her life she’ll grow up thinking she was either her sister’s savior or that she failed her sister, depending on how the treatment goes. Interesting ethical dilemma with that storyline.

    Cleo’s right about Kynesha. Yes, the girl’s got problems and needs help, but Peter being guilted into helping her because she was his nephew’s girlfriend is dumb. The whole thing is just a mess.

    Every time I see Legaspi I always think of Mitchell’s performance in Gia. She was a good addition to this cast, temporarily or whatever it is; she handled Maggie well in a recent episode and seems capable at her job. Too bad she wasn’t around when Lucy was still there.


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