May 18, 2021

ER 8.15, It’s All in Your Head: Yay, It’s Time for Doom and Gloom!

Posted in TV tagged , , at 5:01 pm by Jenn

Admit it, you wouldn’t be able to resist this

Summary: Mark is in New York, in the waiting room of Dr. Burke’s office, where someone decided it was okay to play the song “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” Hey, person who chooses the music, don’t play that for patients with brain tumors! Burke looks at Mark’s brain scans and determines that his tumor has returned. This time, it’s inoperable.

The tumor will grow and affect Mark’s normal functions like speaking and talking. His only option is gamma knife radiation treatment, which he can have in Chicago, but it’ll only give him four or five months. Burke notes that the original tumor was expected to kill Mark, but instead, he lived long enough to get married and have another child. In other words, he’s dying and just needs to deal with it. Thanks for your help, Burke!

Back at home, Rachel is still on her best behavior, making breakfast for her father. Elizabeth left him a message asking him to bring some of Ella’s things to the hospital when he comes in for his shift. Rachel thinks that Mark went to New York for a conference. He’s set to work a double shift, which can’t be a good idea.

At County, Carter is getting off the night shift and passing patients off to Chen. Chen keeps getting messages from someone named Randall, so Frank offers to handle her possible stalker for her. Jerry and Frank are working together for the first time, and it doesn’t seem to be going well. Paramedics bring in a teenager named Theresa who’s been in a coma for a year and is taken care of at home. Her mother thinks she’s in discomfort, though Chen isn’t sure how she can tell.

Frank tells Abby that Luka called and wants her to meet him in the ambulance bay with a patient’s x-rays. Frank and Jerry bicker instead of helping her find what she needs. She takes the x-rays outside, where Luka pulls up, followed by a cop. He explains that he was about to get a speeding ticket, so he told the cop he had an emergency, then used Abby to make it look like he was telling the truth. It works.

Carter joins them outside, surprised that Abby volunteered to work an undesirable shift. She explains that it keeps her out of her building while Brian’s home – he’s out on bail until his trial. Abby doesn’t seem to have any lasting effects from her attack, or at least she doesn’t admit to Carter that she has any. He tries to make sure that she’s not suffering from depression or PTSD.

Susan catches up to Mark at the roach coach, where he tells her his tumor’s back and he’s going to start the gamma knife treatment today. He hasn’t told Elizabeth anything. Susan is just getting off a shift, and she offers to come back later to see if he’s okay after his treatment. She doesn’t want him to go through this alone.

Frank tells Mark that he’s firing “that new guy,” AKA Jerry. If Jerry doesn’t go, Frank will. I think we know who everyone would choose if forced to decide which one of them should keep his job. Mark jumps right into his shift while Malik and Chuny help Abby look for a new apartment. Luka offers to let her stay with him until she finds a place to live. Abby says she doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Luka asks why not. “Yeah, Abby, why not?” Chuny teases. Abby comments that Luka’s new sportscar seems flashy, but Luka’s like, “YOLO! Also, if you move in with me, you only have to sleep with me on the weekends. Haha, JK, LOL…unless…”

Elizabeth is called to the ER to consult on Mark’s patient, Mr. Nevinger, who has some serious burns and is having trouble breathing. It’s awkward for the estranged spouses to work together, but honestly, it’s about the same as if Benton were called in to consult for any other doctor. Mark goes to talk to Mr. Nevinger’s wife, who’s a nurse at Mercy and is familiar with possible treatments for her husband’s condition. She explains that he was painting furniture in their garage when he sustained the burns.

Mark and Elizabeth have a short, cold conversation about their shared patient before he asks her and Ella to come home. She tells him she’s not trying to punish him for anything; she just obviously doesn’t want Ella to be around Rachel. They’re staying in a hotel right now, and Elizabeth can’t say when she’ll feel comfortable coming back home.

Weaver joins Mark to treat a boy named Aaron who’s unable to feel his limbs after a sledding accident. A cop explains that Aaron’s father got drunk or stoned and pulled Aaron and a friend on a sled behind a snowmobile. Weaver notices that Mark keeps looking at the clock. He talks to Aaron’s father, Mr. James, who says he knew it was wrong to pull the boys in the snowmobile, but the kids talked him into it.

The father of Aaron’s friend tells Mark that Mr. James shouldn’t be allowed to operate any kind of motor vehicle, since he only has half a brain. He’s not just being mean – Mr. James tells Mark that a few years ago, he suffered a head injury in a construction accident, and now his mental capacity is lower. So really, I’d say whoever let Mr. James be in charge of kids is the person responsible for this accident.

Abby learns that she no longer has to appear in court to testify against Brian – the trial has been canceled. Now she really will need to move, since she can’t count on Brian going to jail. Mark tells Mr. Nevinger that his wife and kids are there to see him, and he’ll need to talk to them now, since he’ll have to be intubated. His lab work shows that he was taking amphetamines. Mr. Nevinger admits that he’s been working two jobs and needs help to keep going. Mark guesses that he lit up some meth while painting in the garage, and the ignited fumes caused his injuries.

Romano bugs Elizabeth about…eh, who cares? He wants her to do some paperwork Benton was supposed to come by and finish up. Chen gets flowers from Randall, so Frank offers to run a background check on him. Jerry thinks law enforcement should stop invading people’s privacy. The fight escalates until the two get physical and accidentally slam Chen into the desk. Boys, boys, you’re both idiots! There’s enough idiocy to go around!

Paramedics bring in a man named Dennis who has multiple gunshot wounds. His eight-year-old daughter Brianne is with him but doesn’t appear to be injured. Elizabeth joins Chen to work on Dennis while Weaver and Gallant check on Brianne. Gallant tells Weaver that cops found her hiding under a table; it looks like she saw her father’s shooting.

Weaver turns on the impressive child-whisperer skills we’ve seen her use before. She refuses to let the cops talk to Brianne until she’s talked to a psychiatrist. A detective points out that Brianne might be able to ID the person who shot her father. Dennis is a drug dealer and murder suspect, so if his shooter finds out there was a witness, he might come after her. Brianne’s mother is an addict and a possible suspect, so they can’t rely on her to offer support. Elizabeth tells Weaver that Dennis didn’t survive.

Mark goes in for treatment, trying to keep things light. When the tech tries to keep things light as well, Mark isn’t as amused. It’s hard to joke about brain matter. Elizabeth comes to the ER looking for Mark, since they have an appointment for Ella, but Mark didn’t tell anyone where he was going. The tech advises Mark to have someone responsible stay with him that night in case he suffers any side effects. Mark says Rachel will be there, though he mentioned earlier that she was spending the night at a friend’s house. Mark goes straight from treatment to Ella’s appointment, but it’s already over.

The assistant DA who was supposed to be prosecuting Brian tells Abby that he cut a deal for parole and 40 hours of community service. 40 hours?? Rory Gilmore got 100 hours for stealing a boat! The ADA says that since Brian has no prior arrests, he got off easy. He’ll have to go to therapy, but Abby knows that won’t do anything. The ADA says it doesn’t help that someone beat Brian up a few hours after he attacked Abby. Abby didn’t know about that, though the ADA doesn’t believe that.

Mark checks on Aaron, who’s recovering feeling in his limbs. He tells Aaron that his father should have known better than to pull kids on a sled behind his snowmobile. Aaron says he does know better, but the kids convinced him to do it. Mark leaves to talk to Elizabeth, who’s understandably upset that he missed Ella’s appointment. The good news is that Ella’s recovering well from the overdose, but she might show long-term effects in the future.

Weaver gently tells Brianne that her father died. She needs to talk to the police so they can find the person who killed Dennis. Brianne admits that she saw her father’s shooter and can ID him, but she doesn’t want to tell the police. Weaver thinks it was Brianne’s mother, but she’s wrong: It was Brianne herself. She just wanted to watch TV, but he told her he would shoot her if she turned it on while he was asleep. She decided to shoot him first.

Mr. Nevinger doesn’t want to see his wife and kids, but this is the last chance they’ll have to talk to him, since Mark needs to intubate him soon. Mrs. Nevinger insists that she can handle seeing her husband in his rough condition since she’s seen patients in worse shape. Mark lets her into her husband’s trauma room, but no one stops her from looking at his lab work. She’s furious that he broke his promise to quit using drugs. Abby spots Brian heading into the building as she gets home, and she realizes she can’t handle going inside.

Back at County, Adele tells Mark that they can’t reach Aaron’s mother, so they’re not sure what to do with the boy right now. Mr. James is facing consequences for his actions, despite his reduced mental capacity. Mark thinks the boys should be punished, but Adele couldn’t get them to admit that they pressured Mr. James to pull them. Mark confronts Aaron, who has no sympathy for his father. Aaron says Mr. James could have put his foot down with the boys, but he didn’t. Mark tells Aaron that Mr. James has lost everything – his wife, job, and family – but thinks he and Aaron are still buddies. Aaron needs to be a better buddy.

Mark is starting to feel the effects of his treatment, and Susan finds him taking a break in the ambulance bay. She bugs him to tell Elizabeth about his condition. It won’t take long for her or Rachel to figure it out. Mark knows they’ll start treating him differently as soon as they know, and he doesn’t want them foreseeing his death while he’s still alive. He gets lightheaded when he stands up, so Susan insists on taking him home.

Elizabeth is surprised to learn from Haleh that Mark went home a little early. She takes over Mr. Nevinger’s care, telling him to worry about getting better instead of the possible effects his condition might have on his marriage. She tells him to give his wife some time. Yeah, let her stay in a hotel with your kids until she comes around. It might help that you could be dying.

Once Mr. Nevinger is in the burn unit, Elizabeth talks to Mrs. Nevinger, who doesn’t want to have anything to do with her husband right now. Elizabeth tries to convince her that her husband needs her. Mrs. Nevinger says her sons need a father, but instead they have a drug addict with major burns. Elizabeth argues that Mr. Nevinger is still the same person they thought he was. Mrs. Nevinger remains unsympathetic to her husband’s pain, but Elizabeth thinks he’s suffered enough.

Weaver suspends Frank and Jerry for fighting, but they say nothing happened. Chen even backs them up. Carter shows up for another night shift, so Chen gets to pass patients off to him like he did to her that morning. Randall shows up, and Carter helps Chen come up with an excuse not to go out with him. He’s persistent, so she finally tells him that she doesn’t think things will work out between them. I’ll take him! He’s cute! Chen tells Carter that Randall is waaaaay too invested in a relationship with her after just one date, during which she gave him a hand job during a movie. Carter chokes on his dinner.

Abby goes to Luka’s to take him up on his offer to stay with him. She leaves when she realizes there’s already a woman there, but Luka changes her mind, clarifying that there are multiple people there hanging out. Elizabeth meets up with Benton (oh, hi, Benton!) to go over his paperwork, and she confesses that she thinks she may have left Mark. She asked him to put his family first, but he won’t do it. Well, at least not in the way she wants him to, which means putting her and Ella ahead of Rachel. She confides that she blames Mark for the overdose. Benton asks what would happen if Mark did send Rachel away.

Susan tends to Mark, who thinks he can take care of himself. He realizes he can’t close one of his eyes, so Susan tapes it shut for him so he can sleep. She puts a blanket over him and lets him sleep with his head in her lap. So, to sum up, the only person who knows Mark is dying is the woman he once had romantic feelings for. There’s no way this could go wrong!

Thoughts: Vondie Curtis-Hall (Roger) directed this episode. The tech who does Mark’s treatment is played by his wife, Kasi Lemmons, who’s known more for her directing than her acting.

I think Theresa’s plot was cut from the episode, or maybe just the broadcast I recapped from. Apparently she was pregnant. The plot is mentioned in the episode description, so it’s weird to cut it from the episode, but oh, well.

Luka’s complete personality shift starts here and carries over into season 9. I’ve never understood what kicked it off.

“You give a guy a hand release during Harry Potter and he wants to marry you” is not a sentence I ever expected or wanted to hear. Also, shame on you, Chen! That’s a children’s movie!

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Wow, I’m finally caught up to you in real time!

    Um, THANK YOU for that gif of Luka in the Viper. Holy shit, what a good car for him. And what a clever move to shirk the ticket that way. Damn this guy’s good.

    I thought Chris Sarandon had a nice turn as Dr. Burke in his limited appearances. Arrogant yet realistic, cocky yet sympathetic and still manages to be kind throughout even when he’s giving bad news. I always liked the line about how he got an extra year from the surgery that he otherwise wouldn’t have had, and how that’s something to be grateful for. Hard to feel gratitude in a moment like that, but it’s the truth in the end.

    The talk about seizures and gamma knife side effects made me nervous that he’d seize out in the ER like last time but luckily he made it nearly through his entire shift until Susan could rescue him. Damn I’m glad she’s back for this particular arc when he really needs unequivocal support. I’m pretty sure Elizabeth will be less than appreciative of her involvement, but we know Susan doesn’t back down from anything so it should be interesting to watch. I don’t get any sort of romantic vibe between them anymore, but she doesn’t have chemistry with Carter either and they’re apparently dating, so I have no idea where the writers think this will go.

    The fact that Mark hasn’t told Elizabeth about it all kind of makes her look like a selfish asshole when in reality if she’d known what he was going through, she probably would have moved back home with Ella immediately. Maybe not, because she sure does get snotty when she senses that he isn’t 100% laser-focused on Ella 100% of the time — aren’t you back at work too, Elizabeth? Got time to meet up with Peter on the sly after hours about charts and tell him your troubles so long as the nanny’s around, I guess. Anyway. Peter was right, though… Elizabeth wanted Mark to put *her* family first, not Mark’s whole family. Maybe he doesn’t want his tumor to be the reason she moves back. But maybe if your prognosis is less than half a year you can dispense with some of that sort of bullshit, Mark. Tell her, let her take care of you, enjoy what time you have left with them. Yeah, they’ll look at you differently, but that’s coming anyway. It just seems like such a waste of time to beat around the bush. Let me help you out, Mark: “I’m sorry I wasn’t willing to call the police on my daughter for the drugs, or send her home to live with her mother as punishment for what she did, but my tumor’s back and I have less than 6 months and I want to spend the rest of my days with both of my children and my wife in my home. Please move back home and help me.” See how easy that was? For better or for worse, right?

    Jerry and Frank with their conflicts is a nice twist for the front desk and was inevitable, but I’m #TeamJerry all the way. I’ve a soft spot for Frank since the actor was pivotal on China Beach (one of my all-time favorite shows) but he was also a lot less obnoxious on that show. I feel like physical confrontation is beyond Jerry; he seems like he’d be a pacifist (rocket launcher notwithstanding).

    The Mr. Nevinger storyline was sad and kind of reminiscient of Raoul in a way though the latter’s affliction was heroic as opposed to self-imposed. I liked that they made his wife a nurse, and liked even more that his drug usage had been a longstanding issue between them as opposed to something he was sneakily doing without her knowing about it at all. Why he needed to work two jobs while his wife was a nurse at Mercy is kind of beyond me but then again it’s Chicago so who the hell knows.

    Writers, stop beating us over the head with your parallel patient storylines that somehow mirror the characters’ personal troubles. Nevinger with his near-fatal mistake and his unforgiving wife. Mr. James and his brain troubles. WE GET IT.

    Why can’t Abby file for a restraining order against Brian? She lived there first, and he attacked her in her home. I wouldn’t let that sweet apartment go without a fight, har har.

    I liked the Weaver storyline with the girl who shot her father. Sounds like he wasn’t a good guy anyway (especially if he threatened to shoot her for turning on the tv) but jeez, that is one messed-up home life.

    The tech who helped Mark with his gamma knife radiation was so familiar. I think she was also Clarice Starling’s FBI academy friend in The Silence of the Lambs. I had no idea she was married to Vondie Curtis-Hall! (Speaking of which, I just rewatched Passion Fish and he was prominent in that too, alongside Eleanor Carter/Mary McDonnell.)

    That pregnant-comatose-teenager Theresa storyline sounded like it would have been good. Disturbing as hell, but interesting. It was odd that they dropped that storyline immediately after they started it.

    A hand job during Harry Potter?! On the first date?! Chen, what the hell happened to you in the past year?!?

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