December 15, 2020

ER 7.15, The Crossing: Unburdened

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

No matter how you feel about Benton, this is impressive

Summary: Luka is broodily examining a patient as Weaver chats with Legaspi. They’ve just wrapped up a mass trauma, treating 37 people and only losing two. Weaver is pleased with Luka’s work and thinks things have quieted down enough for him to go home. Things go slow-motion as he leaves, then comes back in, telling Abby he wants to check on Bishop Stewart. He says he’s fine, but there’s clearly something distracting him. He goes to the ICU to see Stewart, who’s having trouble breathing. Luka tells him he’ll need to be intubated soon. Stewart is ready to die and doesn’t want any extreme treatments.

Seven hours earlier, Abby is dealing with a difficult patient in the ER as Mark wraps up a shift. Randi complains about the lack of sunlight and asks if the groundhog saw its shadow. Carter says the two things aren’t connected. Mark tells Carter to let Weaver know that he’s finishing his competency testing, which he keeps making jokes about, like, you’re facing literal life-or-death situations every day. Maybe take this seriously.

Malik introduces Carter to Rena Trujillo, a pediatric intern who’s helped to calm down an anxious child. Up in the OR, William is observing Benton, who’s become something like a mentor to him. William doesn’t know how he’ll answer the question of why he wants to be a doctor at his med-school interview the next day. He admits that he always thought it would be cool. Shirley tells Benton that as soon as he’s done with this surgery, he needs to go to the ER to help with a mass trauma.

Carter chats/flirts with Rena after they’re done with their patient. She asks him to sign a time sheet for her so she can collect hours for her internship. Abby grabs Carter for the mass trauma, which we finally learn is a train derailment. Carter and Luka are being sent to the site, leaving Chen behind as the highest-ranking doctor on call. Randi turns on the news and sees the full extent of the disaster.

Luka and Carter arrive at the crash site, and the incident commander, a firefighter named Davis, tells them the crash was caused by a stalled car on the train tracks. Their first priority is helping another firefighter whose legs are stuck under the train. Luka tells Carter to deal with that while he triages others. The trapped firefighter, Lorcan, apologizes to Davis for jumping into an unsafe situation, as if that’s his biggest problem right now. Carter urges Davis to get his crew working to lift the train ASAP.

Luka goes to the driver of the car that stalled on the tracks, Shannon. She doesn’t seem to be injured too badly. Carter thinks Lorcan will need to have his legs amputated before the train can be moved, which means he needs a surgeon in the field. Luka crosses the crash site and takes in all the destruction and injured passengers. He has a flashback of the aftermath of a similar disastrous experience.

Inside the train, Luka finds a woman who can’t find her son. She’s been impaled by something and can’t move her legs, but she’s more worried about her son. Luka goes looking for the boy, Myles, climbing up to the roof of the train so he can get access to the car Myles might be in. He finds the boy under a bunch of debris and has another flashback.

Elizabeth comes to the scene and gets an update on Lorcan’s condition. She slips and falls on the ground but keeps going. Davis asks Lorcan if he should call Patty, Lorcan’s ex-wife. The divorce just went through, and the firefighters were going to go out and celebrate after their shift. Lorcan just wants to do whatever needs to be done so he can get untrapped. Back inside, Luka and a firefighter free Myles from the debris.

Weaver arrives at County to help everyone prepare for all the patients coming in. Benton tells William to keep shadowing him and ask any questions he has, but stay out of the way. Dave brings in the first patient and Benton starts working and teaching at the same time. William gets yelled at by Haleh, which I think is a rite of passage in the ER.

Carter triages more patients on the scene as the firefighters work on moving the train. Elizabeth says that she thinks her slip-and-fall earlier strained her back. Davis wants a stop to the effort in case the train shifts the wrong way and puts more weight on Lorcan. Elizabeth realizes that Lorcan’s vitals indicate he won’t live long enough to be freed from under the train. She needs to amputate both his legs. Lorcan is understandably resistant to this idea, but if it’s this or bleed to death, he doesn’t have a choice. Good thing Elizabeth has a former surgical intern to assist her.

Mark continues joking through his last competence tests. Dude, shut up. Also, the test, which involves matching arrows of different orientations and colors, looks tricky, so maybe concentrate instead of yapping. Your career is on the line. Elizabeth and Carter do the best they can in their makeshift OR as Lorcan decides he wants Davis to call Patty after all. Elizabeth starts feeling pain and tries to work through it.

Luka runs around the crash site, helping as many people as he can. He decides to ride to the hospital with Myles and lets Carter know that Myles’ mother still needs help. Carter tells him that Elizabeth is having contractions, but she says she can keep operating if she gets connected to a fetal monitor. The paramedics don’t have one, so Luka makes some quick decisions: Carter will continue the amputation while Elizabeth goes to the hospital with Myles.

Shannon is now in an ER trauma room, next door to a train passenger. Benton leaves Dave to tend to the passenger alone so he can help with other patients. William is still observing everything, probably happy that he doesn’t have to deal with things like LOSING A PIECE OF BONE FROM HIS LEG. I didn’t need to see that, show. Chuny tells Benton that Carter is on the radio looking for guidance in Lorcan’s amputation.

Myles goes into respiratory distress just before he can be loaded into a medevac helicopter. Elizabeth doesn’t want to delay the trip to the hospital, so she tells the pilot to fly while she intubates Myles. Meanwhile, Benton tries to give Carter instructions for the amputation, but all the noise at the scene and the helicopters overhead make it impossible for Carter to hear him.

Abby meets Elizabeth and Myles at the hospital and sends Myles off with paramedics while she tends to Elizabeth (good idea, since Abby was an OB nurse). Elizabeth admits that she hasn’t felt the baby move for a while. Back at the crash site, Myles’ mother is finally being transported to the hospital. She tells Luka to make sure Myles is taken care of in case she doesn’t make it to the hospital alive.

Carter and Benton clear up their communication issues and Benton talks Carter through the amputation until Weaver calls Benton away to help someone else. Benton tells Carter to call him on his cell so he can work away from the radio, but Carter doesn’t have his phone with him, and Davis and Pam the paramedic don’t have phones, either. (This was 2000, before everyone had a phone with them 24/7.)

Chen examines Elizabeth and assures her that her early labor can be stopped. Benton moves Myles into a trauma room just as Dave is finishing up declaring his patient dead. Now Benton has access to a phone, so he’s able to go back to helping Carter. Davis tells Lorcan that Patty will meet him at the hospital, but now Lorcan doesn’t want her to see him in this condition.

Benton might be a genius, as he’s able to keep talking Carter through a procedure he himself can’t see while drilling a hole in Myles’ skull (and accidentally splattering William with blood). Benton realizes he needs to do a more extensive procedure on Myles, which will need his full attention. He gives Carter some final instructions, which Carter will need to follow while Lorcan thrashes around with only Davis to try to calm him.

Myles’ mother has declined by the time she reaches County, and Luka has to shock her in the ambulance bay. Mark arrives to be with Elizabeth, who’s still having contractions, though the baby isn’t in distress. Myles is stabilizing, so Benton gets back on the phone with Carter, who’s almost done with Lorcan. Chuny calls Weaver away to talk to Shannon while Benton takes Myles to the OR. William is left alone in the trauma room, holding the phone, while Carter yells for Benton. “Good luck,” William tells him before hanging up.

Luka and Benton both have patients who need surgery, and unlike the last time they worked a trauma together, they’re both willing to let the other’s patient go first. Luka thinks Myles should be the priority and lets Benton go first. Shannon asks Weaver about some of the patients she saw in the ER and whether they’ll survive. She doesn’t want to call her parents because she doesn’t think they would understand. “I thought it would be painless,” she says. “The train would hit my car… I’d just be gone.”

Lorcan is finally transported from the train site, minus his legs. There’s no surgeon available to finish up Carter’s work, but he’s stable. Romano arrives, wearing a gi, and criticizes Carter’s field amputation. Weaver defends Carter, pointing out that Romano didn’t answer his page and come do the amputation himself. Romano says he can’t wear his pager in the dojo. Does anyone find this entertaining? Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so. After some more crabbing, Weaver tells Carter that he did great, and Lorcan was lucky he was there.

Weaver has summoned Legaspi to the ER to talk to Shannon. Legaspi asks when Weaver will be off work and says to feel free to wake her when Weaver gets home. I guess Weaver is okay with the “lesbian lifestyle” after all. We’re back to the first scene of the episode, but before Luka goes to see Stewart, we get more: Randi tells Luka that Myles is okay and his mother has feeling in her legs again.

William meets up with Benton after being put to work by some nurses who thought he was a volunteer. Benton thinks he can talk about this experience in his interview, but William is no longer sure he wants to go to med school. Everything he saw tonight was traumatic. Benton tells him he’ll get used to it, but William doesn’t want to get used to seeing these sorts of things. At least now he knows before he puts in all the work (and money) training for a job he doesn’t really want. Benton urges him to go to the interview anyway; he should keep his options open.

Elizabeth’s contractions have stopped and the baby is okay, but she’ll need to go on bed rest for a little while. Abby tells her she just needs to slow down. This is where Abby catches up with Luka before he goes to see Stewart. In the ICU, Stewart asks Luka how long he has. Luka says just a few hours. Stewart thinks Luka came to give confession. He says Luka believes he’s lost his faith, but it’s never left him.

Stewart blesses Luka and invites him to unburden his heart. He’ll take Luka’s burden with him when he dies. Luka admits to him for the first time that he lost his family. His wife, Danijela, wanted to move someplace safer, but Luka was still finishing his internship. He went out one day to get some supplies, leaving his family at home. He was on the street outside the building when a mortal shell hit it. Luka ran inside, passing by his injured neighbors to try to get to his family.

He has more extensive flashbacks of his memories from earlier as he tells Stewart the story. Danijela told him to find their son, Marko, who was under debris like Myles was. Luka started to take their daughter, Jasna, off for help, but he realized that Danijela was bleeding to death. When Luka turned to help her, Jasna stopped breathing. Luka tried to save both of them, praying that someone would come to help him. If he had taken Danijela to the hospital, she could have been saved, but Luka couldn’t leave Jasna. He prayed for help but no one came.

Luka tried to hours to revive Jasna, only stopping because he exhausted himself. In the end, his whole family died. Stewart acknowledges that he couldn’t bring himself to sacrifice one family member to save another. If he had, he would always feel guilty. Stewart says the mysteries of life and death make up our faith. They’re “gifts of love and life,” as is Luka, so he shouldn’t turn his back on them. Stewart finishes the ritual, telling Luka he’s forgiven of his sins and should find peace. Luka stays by Stewart’s bed all night, and in the morning, the bishop is dead.

Thoughts: Lorcan is played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Rena is played by Lourdes Benedicto.

Isn’t Carter still on probation? Chen should have gone to the crash site. Actually, no – Benton should have gone, and then he and Luka could have a redo of “May Day.”

When Benton gets on the radio with Carter, he asks what Carter’s doing in a tone of voice that makes it seem like he thinks Carter got bored and started cutting off someone’s legs. Maybe Carter should have explained up front that he was just finishing an actual qualified surgeon’s work.


  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Ahh, another mass casualty episode, my personal favorite! I really liked how they bookended this one. I felt it was really deftly handled as you see it from the two perspectives, before and after the event. The only bummer is that Mark isn’t allowed to be around for most of it because we know how great he is in a mass casualty crisis like this. Or at least the old Mark was great — the new Mark might have let the pinned fireman bleed out, the mother with the metal bar in her back die, the suicidal girl walk out of the hospital…

    I liked seeing how Deb took charge of the organization and logistics for receiving all the mass casualty patients. And Benton did a great job in this one; I love how the situation showcased his talents for multitasking because we don’t necessarily see that all that often from him. He was calm and patient with Carter and knew how to navigate him blind through what he was doing so it was great to see that mentor/student relationship again. And Carter getting to perform surgery again, in the field! Fuck Romano for ripping him a new asshole. Carter should have yelled right back at him with Benton right behind him yelling too.

    You’d think that on some level Mark might actually welcome the competency testing, because you know he’s insecure about what may have been lost with the tumor and the treatments. On the other hand I imagine he fears the competency testing like nothing else because it would prove that he’s changed, or that something intangible within him has changed. Doesn’t mean it’s permanent, but damn, consider the possibility and don’t joke about it. Or gossip about it with all the other staff so they all think Weaver’s an asshole for requiring it even though deep down several of them are likely secretly grateful she did something about the behavior they’d ALL been witnessing.

    I did not understand that arrow test he was doing or why he got a few of them wrong. Seriously, what the hell was that?

    Luka The Hero running through the wreckage all nicely backlit by spotlights and wearing that cool flight physician satiny bomber jacket with a turtleneck that he somehow flatters him though turtlenecks look pretty wretched on most other dudes. The writers of this episode sure knew what they were doing here. Mmmm mmm mmm.

    I was glad to see Weaver reconciled with Legaspi. It wasn’t her fault her friends were being such assholes at that dinner though I still maintain she should have packed up and left with Kerry after the cracks they were making at the table.

    Having William shadow Benton around was a great idea though I thought Benton might want to make more of an effort to tell him that it wasn’t so much that he’d get used to seeing all that kind of trauma, but that he should think about all the people Benton helped save that day. That’s the part that matters. You never get used to losing someone and mass casualty events don’t happen every day, at least not in the same city!

    The words “bed rest” in collaboration with Elizabeth’s character is a welcome development for me. She simply doesn’t really seem to bring anything meaningful to her storylines anymore. She flails and bitches and complains and it’s all tiresome by this point as she’s fallen far from the cocksure Elizabeth that first arrived at County. Yes, go away for awhile, Elizabeth.

    I remembered from my initial watch of the show in the 90s how powerful Luka’s confession was to Bishop Stewart and it definitely held up over the last 20+ years. I have a feeling if he’d managed to save his wife, she would have died anyway from a broken heart from losing both their children, so there was absolutely nothing he could do. Still hard to watch all these years later. Cromwell deserved that Emmy and it was a real kindness for him to receive Luka’s confession as his dying act. I hope Luka was able to tell him how much good he’d accomplished in the world before he died.

  2. Sue said,

    At the very end of this episode when the priests are sitting in the chairs and are chanting. Over to the left as you are facing the screen there is something that runs out and comes back. At first it looked like a mouse but i dont think it is that. The last and third time it darts out it looks like it kind of jolts the priest hand. Anybody ever see this ⁉️❓ Has to be a Big Blooper for this episode. I have another Blooper on this thats even way better. But i have to find it. Thank You

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