April 20, 2021

ER 8.11, Beyond Repair: Worst Birthday Ever

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

Two people who had very bad days

Summary: Abby’s asleep – drink! She wakes up to the sound of her neighbors yelling at each other. She ignores her ringing phone but rushes to pick it up when she realizes Maggie is calling to wish her a happy birthday. Weaver and Sandy’s relationship has moved along quickly, and they’ve spent the night together. Sandy teases Weaver about her snoring. This is easily the happiest we’ve ever seen Weaver in six seasons.

Carter brings Millicent home from her rehab center, and they’re surprised to find Eleanor at the mansion. Millicent clearly hates Eleanor and doesn’t bother trying to hide it. Leaving for work, Abby passes her warring neighbors, Joyce and Brian. Brian is terse but Joyce is friendly and invites Abby over for coffee sometime. She also offers Abby a ride, though the car isn’t working, so she couldn’t follow through on that even if Abby had said yes.

Eleanor has agreed to go to a luncheon for a pediatric cancer charity, since Millicent doesn’t want to attend. Carter tells Eleanor she doesn’t have to go; Millicent always accepts their offers to look good, but never actually goes. With Jack out of town, Eleanor has decided to stay a while, knowing she won’t have to run into him. Carter tells her he knows they’re getting divorced. She doesn’t seem too broken up about it.

Paramedics bring in a homeless man named Andy who was found in a Dumpster. Abby recognizes him as a frequent patient nicknamed Icicle Andy. The ER is cold, and Frank blames the holes in the ozone layer. Abby passes Andy off to Susan as Frank remarks that he thought Andy died last year. “The iceman cometh back,” Abby replies. Heh. When Susan, Abby, Gallant, and Malik try to warm Andy up, Abby accidentally snaps off one of his frostbitten fingers. “Ah, he gave you the finger, huh, Abby?” Malik quips. Heh again.

A boy named Douglas wanders in and Abby tries to get him to leave. He’s looking for his mom, who he says was treated in that trauma room. Abby takes him out and passes him off to Frank to look for his mother. Frank might not typically be a good choice for someone to look after a child, but he just asks Douglas if he wants a donut.

Abby then joins Luka to treat a woman named Meryl who fainted after feeling sick for a few days. She’s been taking fertility drugs and might be having a bad reaction to them. She tells Abby she got tired of waiting for the perfect man and decided to have a baby on her own. Abby notes that she hasn’t seen Luka lately, and he tells her he’s been working nights. His new year’s resolution is to help out more, so he’s going to spend some time working with Doctors Without Borders.

Mark complains to Frank about the temperature, and Frank tells him to get used to the cold since we’re moving toward another Ice Age. Mark tells Elizabeth that he found a lighter in Rachel’s clothes, and since Andrew was smoking pot, now they have reason to believe that Rachel is, too. Mark considers searching her room, but Elizabeth thinks that’s too big a violation of her privacy.

Carter and Chen do some window shopping at the mall, pausing at a toy store so she can look at a kids’ doctor’s set. She laments that she’s not allowed to send any presents to her son. But his parents are still in touch with her and sent her a video of him walking. Chen worries that all of the decisions she’s made recently have been bad. She reveals that she asked a waitress at Doc Magoo’s if she remembers Weaver getting any pages the night Paul died. The waitress didn’t remember pages, but she saw Weaver come back later and find her pager in the bathroom. Now Chen is armed with some very damning information about her former boss.

Andy didn’t make it, so Abby and Malik do whatever nurses do after a patient dies. Abby finds Blackhawks tickets in Andy’s pocket, and Malik tries to call dibs. She tells him that’s grave-robbing. Malik argues that no one’s going to claim the body of a homeless man, so the tickets will just go to waste. Abby ignores him and keeps the tickets.

After giving Gallant some guidance on a patient (demonstrating that she still has her med-school knowledge), Abby sees that Frank still hasn’t returned Douglas to his mother. Frank can’t find any records of a woman with her name checking in that morning, and he thinks someone just dumped Douglas there. Abby disagrees, since Douglas said his mother was treated in a trauma room.

Richard shows up and takes Abby across the street for coffee so he can tell her he’s getting remarried. Dude, on her birthday? I’m glad Abby left him. His fiancée is a teacher and has a six-year-old son, so Richard will finally get to have the kid he’s always wanted. Abby didn’t realize he wanted to be a father. She, like me, can’t believe he told her this today of all days. He doesn’t know what she means, since he obviously forgot that it’s her birthday. Abby graciously tells him that she hopes this marriage works out better than theirs did.

Carter and Susan have lunch in the lounge, and Abby catches them kissing. Carter apologizes for not telling her sooner that they’re dating. He tries to downplay the relationship as a friendship, but Abby notes that Carter’s never kissed Frank like that. She tells Carter not to worry about it. Douglas is still hanging around the ER, so Abby offers to bring him some food. She bugs Frank to work harder to find his mother. Frank asks if he can have the Blackhawks tickets if he succeeds.

Gallant can’t find Luka, and Meryl’s having trouble breathing, so Abby tries to help. As Luka joins them, Frank tells Abby that he thinks he found Douglas’ mother; she came in last night with a headache that was actually a brain bleed. Douglas spent all night in the waiting room with no idea what was going on. To make things worse, his mother died. Abby tells Frank to find Douglas’ father and bring him some food.

After Abby has successfully figured out what’s wrong with Meryl and helped stabilize her, she bugs Frank some more about his lack of people-finding skills. She tells him to act like the cop he used to be. Weaver was the mother’s doctor, and she’s not in yet, so Frank offers to page her and make her come in and tell Douglas his mother died. Too late – Douglas overhears the conversation, so Abby has to give him the news herself. He refuses to believe that she’s dead and runs around the ER, looking for her.

While Douglas was running around and crying himself to sleep, Frank found his father, who’s on a business trip in Australia. He can’t get a flight out until the next night, so they’ll have to turn Douglas over to Social Services. Could this kid’s day get any worse? Gallant asks Abby if they do psych transfers to other hospitals – he has a patient with minor injuries from a slip-and-fall who wants to be taken somewhere else. Abby goes to see the patient herself and is stunned to see that it’s Paul Sobriki.

Abby has security restrain Paul, who asks Susan to call his caseworker. Abby pulls Susan out of the room to tell her who Paul is. She wants to have him transferred before Carter can see him, but since Paul might have a head injury, Susan doesn’t want him moved yet. Abby tells her to at least move Paul to another room, since he’s in the same trauma room where he stabbed Carter and Lucy. She adds that they need to erase his name from the board so Carter doesn’t find out he’s there.

Abby takes Douglas to the morgue so he can be completely and utterly traumatized by the sight of his mother’s dead body. Abby’s like, “Maybe my day isn’t so bad after all.” When they return to the ER, Weaver chastises Abby for taking him, but Abby needed a way to get to him believe that his mother was dead. She hasn’t called Social Services yet, since she’d rather find a family member who can take Douglas until his father gets to Chicago. Weaver reminds her that that’s not her job.

Randi’s entertaining herself by reading people their horoscopes. Frank’s is pretty accurate – he’s cranky and no one likes him. Carter is open to new ideas and is compassionate. Randi asks Abby for her sign, but Abby isn’t interested in hearing her horoscope. Carter notices that his patient was moved from the suture room, and Abby distracts him from going to see the patient who was put in there instead (Paul).

Paul’s caseworker tells Susan that Paul was found not guilty of his attacks on Carter and Lucy because of his schizophrenia. He spent some time in a psych facility, but he’s now out on conditional release. The caseworker thinks Paul is justified in being agitated right now, since he’s been out on release for just a few days and was brought to the scene of his crimes. Apparently a professor from Paul’s law school got some colleagues to help arrange for his early release.

Abby’s annoyed, but the caseworker doesn’t think Paul will become violent again. He wants Paul’s restraints to be removed. Abby objects, but the caseworker notes that Paul is lucid and coherent, and has been stable for more than a year. He needs to be treated with respect right now. Abby laughs at that, but Susan seems to agree with the caseworker.

Gallant needs Abby’s help with something again, and she’s not happy about it. Meryl is upset that the drugs that were supposed to be helping her get pregnant have led to serious medical problems instead. She hates that women grow up praying they won’t get pregnant when they don’t want to; then, when they do want to, they can’t. She hopes she didn’t miss her chance. A few years ago, she had an abortion. She wanted to wait until she was ready to have kids, but maybe she waited too long.

Chuny reminds Abby to call Social Services for Douglas, and as Abby goes to the phone, she spots Samantha Sobriki with the little girl she was pregnant with when Paul attacked Carter and Lucy. Malik bugs Abby about the hockey tickets, and she’s apparently gotten tired of the whole thing, so she hands them over, telling him that Susan wants one of them. Carter approaches Abby just as Paul is wheeled down the hall. Abby tries to keep Carter from seeing Paul, but the second Carter hears Paul’s voice, he recognizes it.

Carter slowly approaches Paul, who apologizes. Samantha tells Carter that Paul’s out on conditional release and even has a job. Paul says the person who attacked Carter and Lucy wasn’t him. He’s in treatment and is okay now. Carter blankly says he’s glad Paul is okay, then goes down the hall to the bathroom. As “Battleflag” comes up on the soundtrack, Carter splashes water on his face, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one’s behind him. He seems okay, then leans over and throws up in the sink.

Weaver and Sandy go to the Blackhawks game together, but Weaver panics when she spots Susan and Malik there. Sandy easily figures out that Weaver’s not out at work. She’s upset that Weaver came on to her but is now trying to hide their relationship. Sandy says she doesn’t have time to be with a woman who doesn’t want anyone to know they’re together.

Douglas talks to his dad on the phone, getting the promise that he’ll be in Chicago the next day. His dad lives in L.A., so Douglas will have to move, but Abby thinks he’ll like California, where it’s warm and sunny and he can go to Disneyland. Samantha approaches Abby with a note for Carter and tries to convince Abby that Paul isn’t a threat to anyone. He has a disease, but he’s being treated – the goal of any hospital. She won’t give up on her husband or their family. Abby wishes her good luck.

She finds Carter in the lounge and gives him the note, which he won’t take. She invites him to get dessert across the street, but Carter says he has to get home. He pretends everything’s fine. A social worker tries to take Douglas somewhere for the night, but Douglas begs to stay with Abby instead. She tells him she’s not at the hospital all the time, but he can come visit her whenever he wants. She has to watch as the social worker carries him away, crying.

Gallant has more questions for Abby, who’s fed up with him treating her like she’s his attending. If he wants to be a doctor, he needs to start acting like one. Aww, Gallant. It’s not you. Mark goes to Rachel’s bedroom to talk to her, but she’s not there, so he starts snooping through her things. In her backpack he finds a cigarette pack that holds both cigarettes and condoms.

Rachel catches him and says she bought the cigarettes on a dare and got the condoms in health class. Mark accuses her of lying, but Rachel says it doesn’t matter what she says, since he never believes her. Mark confirms that he can’t trust her. Rachel dramatically yells that she’s smoking, taking drugs, and having sex. Okay, but can you do all that quietly?

Carter hired a private-duty nurse for Millicent, but Eleanor sent her home, planning to take care of Millicent herself overnight. Carter asks why Eleanor is suddenly in town, making big decisions. She should stop trying to be helpful, since she doesn’t actually help. Carter’s made all of Millicent’s medical decisions, so Eleanor needs to consult with him. Eleanor says she’ll call the nurse back, but she’s not leaving – she won’t let Jack break up their family.

Carter scoffs that they’re barely a family, since Eleanor hasn’t been much of a part of it for 20 years. Eleanor tries to leave the conversation, but Carter refuses to let her make herself out to be the wronged party. He reminds her that he was stabbed, and Eleanor and Jack didn’t come see him for three weeks. They’ve kept their distance for Carter’s whole life.

Eleanor asks if Carter blames her for his addiction. He yells that he blames her for not being his mother. His brother died as a child, and Eleanor checked out of the rest of her maternal duties. Eleanor doesn’t know how to respond, so she just goes to bed. Carter notes to himself that she’s running away like she always does.

Abby runs into Joyce again when she gets home; Joyce is hanging out in their brownstone’s lobby until Brian falls asleep, so they don’t have another fight. She offers Abby a beer and invites her to sit with her and unwind. Abby takes a drink, setting her sobriety back to zero. She tells Joyce it’s her birthday, and Joyce wishes her a happy birthday, unlike everyone else in her life who couldn’t be bothered to all day (except Maggie).

Thoughts: Joyce is played by Christina Hendricks.

Hey, Carter, maybe be more available to your med students so Gallant doesn’t have to keep turning to Abby for help. Why fight so hard to become chief resident if you’re not going to do the job?

I’m surprised they didn’t do more to connect Abby to Meryl’s storyline, since it’s so heavy-handed. I’m also surprised that there’s really no follow-on on Carter and Paul’s encounter. We should have at least seen Carter considering/talking about taking painkillers or talking about going to a 12-step meeting or even making an appointment with Deraad. Instead, he yells at Eleanor and then doesn’t talk about it again.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    I glimpsed one of your screenshots from a later episode with Abby’s mangled face so I’ve been on edge whenever I know that her feuding neighbors are part of an episode. At least it didn’t happen on her birthday.

    Weaver and Sandy’s situation sure did move fast. Maybe Legaspi’s friends weren’t too off the mark with their joke about the U-Haul. I thought they just met! They’re super cute together in the first part of this episode, though.

    Watching Gamma work her ice-cold magic is such a treat. I just love Frances Sternhagen’s work especially later in her career. I was introduced to her as Cliff Clavin’s mom on Cheers, then enjoyed how bitchy she was as Bunny MacDougal on SATC. She’s very warm with Carter, though, and it’s nice to see that side of her too.

    The Douglas storyline was just really heartbreaking on all fronts. I totally thought Abby might take him home with her for a night until his father got to town. I imagine the thought crossed her mind once or twice but I don’t know how legal that is.

    Deb talking about her biological son that she gave up for adoption… I get why she’s feeling regret about it, but I think somewhere along the way she’d accused Weaver of not appreciating all she gave up for her career. I thought that was a little disingenuous, because I think if her parents had been more supportive of a biracial child, she would have considered keeping him, and that was more of a factor to her (complete lack of family support) than the impact it would have on her career. Maybe it was just the final needle in the enormous haystack of reasons to give him up. But nobody forced her into the decision, least of all Weaver.

    Carter’s reaction to Abby seeing him kiss Susan was pretty telling. If there was nothing going on between him and Abby, why would he apologize for not telling her? It’s his private life and he’d moved on, in theory. Of course, his reaction and Abby’s reaction tell us everything we need to know about where things stand between them. I did like how she tried her hardest to prevent Carter from having to see THE MAN WHO STABBED HIM no matter who he’s been kissing. Seemed like Susan was uncharacteristically Weaver-like in this situation — and I think even Weaver would have requested that Sobriki be transferred to another hospital immediately. I didn’t realize he was in the same damn room where he’d stabbed them. Carter’s reaction was very well-done and surprisingly composed… and the barfing was really realistic too. You’d think if Sobriki were really remorseful he’d understand why County staff would be more comfortable if he were in restraints even if he doesn’t technically need them.

    I did love that Abby finally blew up at Gallant. Someone was bound to. But yeah, it wasn’t entirely his fault he was the hairtrigger for her building temper that day. I get why he latched onto her because she was super helpful to him from the start, but I could tell her med student brain was triggered by all his questions and she was frustrated all over again that she wasn’t able to get back to med school (though I thought that was her choice per the blowup with Luka a few weeks back where he resubmitted her paperwork?). Definitely seems like Carter’s checked out of his chief resident duties from a teaching standpoint.

    Along that same theme of people blowing up at the nearest target, Carter’s explosion at Eleanor was satisfying but of course we know he was massively triggered by the Sobriki thing and was just a ticking time bomb anyway. I guess Eleanor made an easy target since he’d never blown up at her before for all her failings in the past.

    Oh man. I TOTALLY didn’t catch that Abby broke her sobriety. I noticed she never suggested to Carter that they both go to a meeting after the Sobriki encounter, which I found odd… and yet it never occurred to me that she took a drink and that was a no-no. Whoops.


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