May 11, 2021

ER 8.14, A Simple Twist of Fate: Did You Learn Your Lesson?

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 5:02 pm by Jenn

This looks like something out of “The X-Files”

Summary: Susan’s asleep – drink! Lydia wakes her up in the lounge, where she was just going to rest her eyes for a little while. That was hours ago, and now she just has a few more hours until she has to be back at work. Weaver wants her help now with an animal attack, since Mark is in the pediatric ICU with Ella. Susan is eager to get updates on Ella’s condition, though it doesn’t seem to have changed.

At the admit desk, Weaver and Frank are fighting about bagels. A pharmaceutical company has brought over a bunch of food and branded products to try to get the hospital to use their drugs. Weaver doesn’t like how the company will just add the marketing costs on to their drug prices, and elderly patients will be the ones paying the jacked-up amounts. Frank is willing to accept the consequences. Weaver gives Susan an update on Ella, then puts her to work. Susan goes for a bagel, but Weaver guilts her into giving it up.

Up in the pediatric ICU, a doctor is ready to extubate Ella and see if she’ll breathe on her own. Mark and Elizabeth lend a hand with what is obviously a doll. After a tense few moments, Ella wakes up and starts breathing. Joyce is still hiding out from Brian, waiting for him to head out for the day before she leaves Abby’s apartment. She’s going to visit him at his school later that day (hoping he won’t get angry while he’s with his study group) to tell him things need to change.

Abby is firm with her: If he won’t commit to changing, Joyce has to leave him. She tells Joyce she’s free to stay in the apartment while Abby’s at work. Joyce hopes the group therapy Abby has recommended will actually help, since Brian wouldn’t continue counseling sessions the last time they tried. She thinks that if Brian knows she’s serious about leaving, he’ll change. Abby leaves for work, passing Brian’s apartment and trying to avoid him. Brian asks if she’s seen Joyce, and Abby pretends she hasn’t.

Mark lets Susan know that Ella’s doing really well. In fact, if she doesn’t have any seizures in the next 48 hours, they’ll know she’s okay. Paramedics bring in the animal attack victim, who was bitten by a sloth. Wow, embarrassing. Dude, you got attacked by the laziest animal in the world. Maybe you should lie and tell people it was a tiger. Chen spots Mark heading back to the pediatric ICU and tells him she didn’t file the mandatory paperwork reporting Ella’s drug overdose. Mark says he’ll take care of it.

Eleanor is still by Mickey’s side as he gets ready to start chemo again. He doesn’t have a lot of options, other than medications he didn’t receive last time. Eleanor worries that he’s being experimented on. Carter tells her it’s more about luck. He advises Eleanor to leave and get some rest, but Eleanor doesn’t want to leave Mickey alone while he gets his treatments.

Susan tends to a woman named Ginger who accidentally swallowed a ring. Okay, let’s be more specific: She was sucking a guy’s fingers and swallowed the ring. Even more specifically: It’s the guy’s wedding ring, and Ginger isn’t his wife. Susan says Ginger will just pass the ring in the next few days, but the guy would like to get the ring back before his wife notices it’s missing. Susan suggests an endoscopy, but Ginger objects even before she knows that it involves having a tube shoved down her throat.

Yosh tells Susan he’s sick and heading home. Frank is also sick. Susan joins Abby to help with a patient, but Abby gets called away to take a call from Joyce. She accidentally locked herself out of Abby’s apartment and is worried that she won’t get back in without Brian finding out she’s there. Abby tells her to come to County and get her key.

Elizabeth gives Ella a bottle as Kit tells Mark that Rachel’s on the phone for him. Elizabeth asks if Rachel’s been charged with anything. When Mark says no, Elizabeth figures out that he didn’t tell the police about the drugs. Mark’s excuse is that he wasn’t the attending physician at the time, so it’s not his responsibility. Elizabeth doesn’t think Rachel deserves any special treatment – she was in possession of Ecstasy and a baby consumed it. It’s a crime. Mark doesn’t think that having Rachel arrested is a solution here. Elizabeth wants him to do something, anything, to deal with the problem he’s been avoiding for months. He hasn’t even contacted Jen yet.

Frank is too sick to keep working, which leaves Susan out one desk clerk and four nurses. Frank says he’s called in people to fill in for the sick employees who, coincidentally, all ate the food from the drug company. Chen realizes she’s next up for illness. Frank tells her he’ll add her name to a class-action suit. Abby goes home to get Joyce and discovers that Brian found her first and beat her up. Joyce doesn’t want to go to the hospital, but Abby can tell just by looking at her that her cheekbone is broken.

Susan treats a man who was impaled by a falling icicle. Weaver comes in to tell Susan she’s sick and has to go home. Oh, Weaver. You couldn’t resist the lure of the bagels, could you? I get it. Carter isn’t sure the person starting Mickey’s treatments is qualified, but Babcock reminds him that County is a teaching hospital. The person should probably be supervised, though. Mickey starts coughing up blood, but it’s not from anything the inexperienced doctor did. While Carter and Babcock discuss options, Eleanor runs out.

Carter follows her and reminds her that he’s only helping with Mickey’s case because she asked him to. Eleanor struggles to say she couldn’t handle seeing Mickey in so much pain. Carter asks what she expected. This is just what she did with Bobby – she bailed when she couldn’t handle watching him suffer, and now she’s leaving Mickey alone when he needs support the most.

Paramedics bring in a girl named Ariel who started wheezing while eating alone at a buffet. Mark has decided to continue avoiding his problems by working for a few hours. Ariel was eating shrimp and lobster, so it’s pretty obvious that she triggered an unknown allergy. As Mark gives drug orders, he suddenly finds himself unable to say the name of a medication. Susan is concerned.

Abby takes care of Joyce, who keeps making excuses for her and Brian’s explosive relationship. She claims that 95% of the time, he’s awesome. She didn’t get a chance to tell him he needs to get help, so Abby thinks she can assume that Brian isn’t going to change. While Elizabeth is on the phone, Rachel slips in to see her sister. Elizabeth manages to not blow up at her, but she tells Rachel that if she really wants to make things better, she can move out. Rachel doesn’t try to fight her.

The ER is started to fill up, and Susan’s the highest-ranking person on shift, so she has a lot to keep an eye on. The fill-in desk clerk is someone from accounting, which probably isn’t the best fit, but oh, well. Rachel tells Mark that Jen is going to buy her a ticket back to St. Louis, but she’ll need a ride to the airport. Mark tells her no one wants her to leave Chicago; she just needs to give Elizabeth some space. Rachel tells him that Elizabeth told her straight out to leave the house. Mark promises to talk to her, but Rachel is willing to go, since Elizabeth doesn’t want her there.

While trying to convince Rachel to be patient, Mark bites his tongue hard enough to make it bleed. He sends Rachel home so they can talk more that night. Meanwhile, Susan talks to Ariel’s mother and stepfather, who tell her that Ariel has put on some weight recently and is eating a lot. Susan offers to have her talk to a nutritionist.

She notices Mark bleeding and tells him to stick his tongue out for her to examine. His tongue goes to the side, even though he thinks he’s sticking it out straight. He and Susan both realize that that may be a problem. Mark goes to the bathroom and studies his face in the mirror, trying to determine if there’s anything else he should worry about. After splashing some water on his face, he bangs his head against the paper-towel dispenser a couple of times. Yeah, that’ll help.

Luka’s annoyed that he just got off an airplane, he’s in to work on his day off, and Susan doesn’t have anything in the ER under control. Susan is very Weaver-ish toward him. Abby welcomes Luka back from his work with Doctors Without Borders and says she was expecting a postcard while he was gone. He tells her she should get email. Aww, 2002, you cutie. Anyway, the two of them are back to being friendly, like they never had a horrible breakup.

Susan gives Mark a quick neuro exam and thinks he’s fine. Mark disagrees, guessing that his tumor is back. She tells him he should get an MRI if he’s really worried, but this could be from stress over Ella, or just inflammation from his treatments. Mark blows her off and goes to treat a new patient, a little boy who got burns from an airbag after a car accident. Mark’s immediately angry that his father let him sit in the front seat.

The writers bring back that early-series plot about substitute nurses who don’t have the same work ethic as the regular ER nurses, this time with Abby filling Carol’s role. Brian shows up and demands to see Joyce; he knows she spent the night at Abby’s and came here with her. He claims that Joyce tried to hit him with a baseball bat. Abby tells him that Joyce is speaking to the police, so if he really wants to see her, they can go right now. That scares him off.

Elizabeth comes down to the ER to tell Mark that Ella’s neurological scans are all fine. She’s annoyed that he’s working instead of staying with their daughter. She announces that she’s going to go home to shower and change her clothes. Mark replies that the “evil daughter” is there, so she should beware. He’s upset that Elizabeth told Rachel to leave. Elizabeth asks what it will take for Mark to finally realize that this is an impossible living situation.

Mark says he won’t choose between his daughters, but Elizabeth tells him she’s choosing for him. He asks what message it sends to Rachel if he lets Elizabeth send her away. Elizabeth thinks she’ll realize that she has to grow up and take responsibility, that her actions have consequences. Mark thinks Rachel has learned that already – she’ll never do anything to harm Ella again. Elizabeth hopes he’s right, because as long as Rachel is living in their house, Elizabeth and Ella won’t be.

Joyce won’t talk to the cops and takes back her story that Brian hurt her. They can’t find him, so Abby gives them a couple of places to look. She tells Joyce that Brian came back the hospital looking for her. Abby and Luka want to find Joyce a safe place to stay, but Joyce wants to go home. Abby asks what will happen in the future of Joyce and Brian have kids. Does Joyce want him to hurt children, too? She needs to wake up and see that this is her chance to get away. If she goes back to Brian, she’s sending the message that what he does to her is okay.

Carter catches up with his mother at the family’s mansion. Eleanor has made arrangements to go to Cape Cod for a little while. Carter tells her that kids get over stuff, and if she goes back to the hospital right now, Mickey will forget that she abandoned him. Eleanor thinks Carter was right about her getting too involved, but he thinks he was wrong about that.

Eleanor points out a tree in the yard where Carter and Bobby would built a fort and play Tarzan and Cheetah. Bobby pushed Carter out once, but Carter didn’t rat out his brother. Eleanor never really thought about how Bobby’s death affected Carter. In fact, she never spent much time as Carter’s mother at all. Carter asks if she has time now.

She tells him she doesn’t want to betray another little boy. Bobby believed her when she told him he would get better, but he didn’t. Carter says Bobby was just pretending. He didn’t want Eleanor to be sad. He made Carter promise to make their mother happy. They hug, and Eleanor tells Carter she loves him, something I doubt he heard much, if at all, when he was growing up.

Abby’s back at home, talking to Joyce on the phone from wherever Joyce is spending the night. She buzzes up a pizza delivery guy, but the person who comes to her door is Brian. He acts apologetic and admits he needs help. He just wants to talk to Joyce, even if she won’t forgive him. Abby refuses to tell him where Joyce is. Brian starts getting aggressive, saying he won’t let Abby take his wife away from him. She tells him to leave or she’ll call the police. As soon as he’s gone, she locks the door. When he knocks again, Abby calls 911, then, for some reason, opens the door (with the chain on). Brian kicks it in.

Sometime later, Abby wakes up alone in her apartment, her face bloody. She locks the door again, then locks herself in the bathroom. Back at County, Susan talks to Ariel about how she needs to eat better. Ariel is fine being overweight, and though Susan says it’s important for her to be comfortable with her body, gaining a lot of weight in a short amount of time could lead to health problems. Plus, she’ll be in high school soon, and she’ll want to attract boys. Susan, come on. Ariel says she hates boys and doesn’t ever want them to touch her.

Susan starts to figure out that Ariel’s stepfather is doing something horrible to her, but then we abandon that plot so Susan can help Luka take care of Abby. Luka doesn’t like that Brian knows where Abby lives. He nicely looks away while Susan and Connie help Abby put on a gown. He wants to give her morphine, since she may have a broken nose, but Abby doesn’t want any narcotics. Susan notices a bruise on Abby’s thigh and wonders if Brian raped her. Luka, unlike Brian, is able to hide his rage.

Elizabeth returns to County, where Mark is sitting with Ella. He wants to talk about Rachel, but Elizabeth has had enough of thinking about her for the day. Susan gives Abby a rape exam but doesn’t find any signs that she was assaulted. Other than her nose, she’s fine, at least physically. She doesn’t seem to regret stepping in to help Joyce. Susan offers to let Abby stay with her until Brian’s in police custody, and it takes Abby a while to accept her help.

Susan tells Luka that Abby’s okay, then lets him go home. Things are quiet again and the admit desk isn’t a disaster area. That’s thanks to Jerry, who apparently retired but now wants to come back to work. Unfortunately, he snagged a bagel and some cream cheese, so he’s probably not going to want to be at work much longer.

Luka tracks Brian down at a bar Abby said he frequents and gives him a taste of his own medicine. Brian still blames Abby for taking away Joyce, but Luka says Brian did that himself. Brian promises to move out of the building and never come near Abby again. Luka makes it clear that if he ever touches Abby again, Luka will finish him off.

Back at County, Carter and Eleanor both sit with Mickey while he undergoes whatever it was he was supposed to undergo when he started coughing up blood. It’s tough for Eleanor, but Carter looks proud of her. Meanwhile, Mark gets an MRI.

Thoughts: I think at this point it was pretty common knowledge that this was Anthony Edwards’ last season, so no one was too surprised when Mark’s tumor came back. It’s hard to write out a character married to another character without either sending them both away or killing one off.

I like that Rachel basically accepts that there will be consequences for her actions and seems willing to face them. When Elizabeth tells her to move out, all Rachel says is that she’ll have to call Jen. She doesn’t make excuses or beg to stay. I think she genuinely doesn’t want to make things harder for Elizabeth.

I vaguely remember reading about a woman who diagnosed her own brain tumor after watching this episode and realizing she had the same tongue problem as Mark. Who says TV isn’t educational?

Abby cracking the door open for Brian makes no sense. She knew how dangerous he was. It seems out of character for her.

This episode should have been a springboard for Abby and Luka to get back together. Unfortunately, it’s not, and we end up having to endure a bunch of crap instead.


  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Weaver may have thrown a fit about the sponsored bagel breakfast, but she sure doesn’t seem to mind all the Zofran ads all over the hospital in several episodes. Or some other pharmaceutical with a Z, I can’t remember which. But they were ubiquitous there for awhile, so a bagel here or there doesn’t seem like a big deal. How hypocritical that she went ahead and ate one after railing at Susan and Frank about them. I hope her food poisoning was more explosive than everybody else’s for that alone.

    Man, Eleanor was bugging the shit out of me in this episode until the very end. Copping an attitude at Carter and Dr. Death for discussing his treatment while the kid’s puking up blood (but it wasn’t like he was bleeding out, so settle down Eleanor) then running away like usual. Being bitchy at Carter for a chemotherapy treatment the kid needed like it was his fault the kid has cancer or something or that there weren’t a lot of options besides chemo for his care. Maybe she could have injected him with her magical money-infused special cancer curing million-dollar bill syringe since money seems to cure all her other problems most of the time and waving it around makes her feel better. Ugh, she was obnoxious. Sorry, Mary.

    The Ginger actress was also in Total Recall and had a memorable few scenes including stabbing one of the bad guys in the junk!

    Doesn’t Joyce have any other friends or family members at all that can come and try to talk some sense into her? Hendricks did a good job with this role because I was extremely frustrated with her denial. And that same damn denial led to Abby having her nose broken. But it also led to that great Luka scene in the bar and just like that he’s completely redeemed himself for all the shitty things he’s done with the Nicole situation and the crap he said to Abby. Mmm boy. I think I like the slightly longer hair better, though. But no complaints after this episode. Well, except for knowing now from your postscript that Abby and Luka don’t hook back up again after this, for awhile anyway. That’s disappointing to know. I was sure they’d have Luka come back in and get his hand stitched up, and maybe Brian shows up with his busted face needing treatment, then one of the nurses would casually mention both coincidentially-timed situations to Abby the next day, then Abby shows up at Luka’s doorstep… but I guess that’s only in fanfic-land. Damn. I guess she still needs to deal with her crush on Carter first, or something.

    I don’t know that this was the standard DV argument back in 2002, but by now we all know that DV escalates, and what starts off as a sprained ankle can lead to a broken collarbone can lead to more broken bones and can lead to death. And when the victim is trying to leave, that’s the most dangerous time for them, as we all saw with Brian taking out his anger on Abby. Imagine how badly Joyce would have been beaten if she’d been there too. I don’t think she would have ended up in the ER but probably the morgue at that point.

    I also caught that Abby was drinking again. They focused on the wineglass a few times just to drive that point home. Uh oh. Her robe was very nice, though. You’d think the paramedics might have grabbed a sweater for her or something before taking her out on what was obviously a freezing night. I like that Susan convinced her to stay over. I don’t remember if they ended up as friends but they should be. Also, I don’t know that it’s been mentioned yet but holy shit Abby’s apartment is NICE. No wonder she didn’t want to move in with Luka! I wouldn’t give up that place either.

    Rachel handled the scene with Elizabeth well. And I can understand Elizabeth’s perspective, but damn, would you have let her stay if she’d been arrested instead like you originally wanted? There was no way she was going to let Rachel continue to live there no matter what she did. At least Rachel was wise enough to see this (and Jen too for that matter). She could have lived like a nun the rest of her youth and Elizabeth never would have trusted her again. You’re right that she accepted responsibility (much as Elizabeth refused to admit this). Bratty as she’d been to this point, I did feel bad for her in this episode as there has been genuine remorse from her ever since it happened. She could have just run away from home after giving Elizabeth the pills once she realized what happened but she came to the hospital to talk to her dad, she came to see how Ella was doing, she tried to talk to Elizabeth, she apologized several times. She did everything she knew to do and it’s a credit to her that she kept facing the uncomfortable situations time and again knowing how much Elizabeth was resenting her. Ugh, and she’s about to lose her dad too. Why you gotta make me feel sorry for Rachel!

    Much as Eleanor bugged this episode, I did tear up at the end when Carter was in with the little boy and Eleanor was there too. Nicely done.

  2. Sally said,

    Didn’t Abby open the door the second time because she was waiting for a pizza delivery? ….This was a very intense episode! I was kind of sorry Luka didn’t keep pulverizing that monstrous abuser. “I’m sick, I’m sick!” they all whine after doing the most monstrous things.

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