May 25, 2021

ER 8.16, Secrets and Lies: The Breakfast Schlubs

Posted in TV tagged at 4:54 pm by Jenn

Remove Carter and this is a group I’d be fine spending a whole day with

Summary: Abby’s asleep – drink! She spent the night on Luka’s couch, having insisted on letting Luka keep his own bed. He uses her facial injuries as an excuse to touch her. Guys, just get back together already! Carter takes breakfast to Susan’s place, but she’s not home. She arrives just as he calls her to remind her that they were going to go to an early yoga class together. She tells him she spent the night at Mark’s (also on the couch). Carter realizes he might be a chump here.

Once Susan has gotten ready for the day, the two of them walk to the El station together. Carter’s being passive-aggressive about how his girlfriend spent the night with a married man. She won’t tell him why, so he complains that she’s keeping secrets. He notes that she wouldn’t be happy if he spent the night at… Susan fills in Abby’s name for him, but Carter names some co-worker he’s clearly never spent more than five minutes talking to. Susan admits that if he spent the night at Abby’s, she’d kill him.

Carter thinks it’s perfectly reasonable for him to be upset that his girlfriend spent the night with a guy she used to be attracted to. Susan denies that she ever liked Mark. Plus, she thinks Carter’s trying to deny that he ever liked Abby. She says Mark is like an older brother to her, and she doesn’t want to sleep with him. Carter says he doesn’t want to sleep with Abby, either. At least one of them is lying.

The two of them are at County now, and Weaver puts them right to work. Paramedics have just brought in a guy they had to free from a torture swing. His dominatrix, Medusa, complains that he told her his weight could be supported by the swing, but he was obviously lying. Gallant arrives just in time to help with the patient, who refuses to take off his mask. Yeah, I can’t blame him. Medusa tells the staff that they’ll have to reimburse her for anything they cut off of him.

Carter enlists Abby and Malik to help tend to the patient (we’ll call him Brad, after the actor playing him), who most likely just has a bruised butt. They’ll have to take off anything he’s wearing that has zippers on it so they can give him an x-ray. Luka joins the group as Gallant tries to remove Brad’s horsehair tail and probably rethinks his decision to become a doctor.

Carter notices that Medusa has an injured finger from when Brad fell on her. She refuses to leave Brad, since he’s wearing $2,000 worth of her stuff. Abby comments that she can file for workers’ comp, since she suffered a work-related injury. Medusa tells Carter to go ahead and fix her finger in the trauma room, without any kind of painkillers. She doesn’t even blink when he does it. Carter’s intimidated and Abby’s amused.

The trauma – which was never really a trauma – is over, and Carter shoos away all the staff members gathered outside the room, hoping for something juicy to happen. Abby jokes that they should have sold tickets. Susan notices that Medusa left her bag of tricks behind, and she and Abby decide to take a peek inside. The guys aren’t interested, so Abby calls them boring. We get a bag’s-eye view as the women open it. Even Luka and Carter can’t resist looking inside. Gallant, however, is too much of a gentleman to join them.

Opening the bag accidentally releases a blow-up doll, which Abby tosses to poor Gallant. Abby then throws a strap-on to Luka. Susan tries to make Carter try on a mask while Abby picks up a whip and jokes about pursuing a new career. Of course, that’s when Weaver comes into the room. She separates Gallant from the others and lectures them on liability and being unprofessional. They could face a hearing for their behavior, and they’re on thin ice with Weaver.

As she goes next door to talk to Gallant, Carter puts the blame on Abby and Susan for dragging the guys into the situation. Susan notes that they could have left the room. Luka sides with Carter (for probably the last time ever). Susan wishes they’d told Weaver that Gallant wasn’t involved. Carter adds that they should have said he and Luka weren’t involved. Susan pegs him as the kid who always told on other students in elementary school. They check on Gallant, who doesn’t want to talk to them.

Today’s gossip at the admit desk is that Elizabeth moved out of her and Mark’s house. Yosh says he never thought they were right for each other anyway. Malik says Elizabeth is too much woman for Mark. He’s right! Thanks, Malik. Frank would like the gossip to stop so he can get some work done. You can’t convince me that Frank doesn’t love hearing about everything that’s going on with his co-workers.

Susan catches Weaver as she’s heading to human resources to tell them what happened. Susan wants to take full responsibility for the incident, since she instigated it. As they’re talking, Weaver opens her locker but doesn’t look inside. Susan sees the strap-on in the locker and tries not to freak out. Weaver won’t let anyone off the hook, since from what she saw, everyone was involved. She turns toward her locker and jumps at the sight of the strap-on.

The next day, Abby, Susan, Carter, Luka, and Gallant gather in a lecture hall somewhere for an all-day training session on sexual harassment in the workplace. Carter is still complaining about how the women got him in trouble. Dude, you were joking around with them. The only person here who has a legitimate complaint is Gallant, and he’s keeping his mouth shut. Be more like Gallant. Anyway, everyone knows that the strap-on wound up in Weaver’s locker, but no one will confess to putting it there. Carter disagrees with Susan that the act was funny. Dump him! Dump him right now!

As the five naughty boys and girls wait for their punishment to start, Susan notices writing on the chalkboard and recognizes it as the Walt Whitman poem “I Sing the Body Electric.” She’s surprised that Abby’s familiar with it, though Abby mostly knows it from a song from Fame. Susan loves Fame; she always wanted to be Coco. She sings a bit of the song, annoying Carter.

He complains that the session hasn’t started and that their instructor hasn’t arrived yet. Luka, who’s folding a paper airplane, says the snow probably delayed the instructor. Carter thinks they should leave. Gallant speaks for the first time, saying they should wait. They were told to be there at 0800, so he’s staying until someone in charge tells them they can leave. Carter teases him for his rigid military behavior, saying no one’s going to court-martial Gallant if he leaves. No, but it’ll probably get back to his med school and he could get in trouble with them. Luka sides with Gallant – if they leave, they’ll probably be told to come back next week.

Abby lights up a cigarette, which Gallant tells her to put out, since they’re in a public building. Carter thinks the whole thing is funny. Susan wonders if this is their punishment – being observed to see how they act under stress, or how their social structures change. Maybe they’ll form alliances. That makes Abby think of Survivor, which she loves. Carter, of course, thinks reality TV is beneath him. Abby gets him to admit that he’s never watched it, so he should shut up.

Susan admits that she watches Fear Factor. Abby loves it, too. The women are quickly becoming friends, especially as Carter keeps making stupid comments and they keep laughing at him together. Carter thinks that reality TV will give way to televised executions and a torture channel. I’d watch that if Carter were the one being tortured.

Susan asks why he’s so annoyed, and he tells her she knows. She tells him to grow up. She admits to everyone that she slept on Mark’s couch a couple nights ago, and Carter’s mad. Carter thinks he’s justified, since she spent the night in the apartment of a recently single man who’s still in love with her. Abby makes a face that says, “Oof, that sounds familiar.” Susan denies that Mark is in love with her.

Luka hasn’t heard about Mark and Elizabeth’s separation, so Abby fills him in. Susan tells Carter that it was an emergency; she only spent the night because Mark didn’t have anyone else to help him. Carter asks for details about the emergency, and Susan snaps that it’s none of his business. Carter smirks as Luka asks if Mark and Elizabeth are getting divorced. Susan tells Carter that when he learns what’s going on, he’s going to feel very small. “Abby’s been sleeping on my couch. Nothing’s happened,” Luka says casually.

Now Carter’s even more annoyed, and Susan knows it. She tells Abby that Carter still likes her. Carter angrily asks for a new topic of conversation. He tries to make small talk with Luka about football, but Luka isn’t a football fan. He suggests they talk about the Bulls instead. Carter says they suck. Who knew Carter was secretly a cranky toddler? He needs a snack and a nap.

Abby tries to be friendly to Gallant, asking how long he was in the Army. He tells her he’s in the Reserves, which is how he’s paying for med school. He can be called up to active duty at any time, but he doesn’t think that’ll happen. If he gets called to serve, he’ll be fine. In fact, he’s eager to fight. Slow your roll, Gallant. This is the spring of 2002. You’re going to feel a lot differently about that soon.

Abby mentions that Luka was in the Army; Croatian men are all required to serve. Plus, Abby’s brother, Eric, is in the Air Force, currently working as an air traffic controller in Saudi Arabia. Gallant has a brother in the Air Force – in fact, he has siblings in multiple branches of the military. It’s a “family business,” as Gallant’s father is a career NCO.

Gallant’s twin sister, Susan, is the only adult Gallant child who’s a civilian. He jokes that she’s the black sheep of the family and they try to hide her when company comes over. Carter asks how she managed to avoid a military career. Gallant says she has cerebral palsy and is a teacher instead. (Except when we meet her later, her name is Valerie and she has MS. I think the writers feel this is close enough.) Carter feels a little embarrassed about prying.

Gallant asks Susan what her father does. She says he just sits around all day, seeing how high he can raise his cholesterol. Luka’s father is train conductor, but that’s just to pay the bills so he can paint. Abby didn’t know that. Luka says she never asked. Gallant asks about Abby’s father, but she hasn’t seen him in years, so she has no idea. And Carter’s father is in finance. Susan takes a dig at the family, saying Carter’s super-rich. Abby wants to know how super-rich the family is. Carter isn’t sure, but it’s somewhere in the hundred millions.

Abby wonders how Carter’s made it to his early 30s without getting married. He jokes that his family members come with a “built-in gold-digger alarm.” Susan’s surprised she hasn’t set his off. Carter says it’s embarrassing to be super-rich, since everyone assumes your life is perfect. Susan has no sympathy for him, which is kind of harsh, considering he lost a brother as a child. Money couldn’t heal Bobby’s cancer.

Luka and Susan both grew up without a ton of money but always had what they needed. Susan never even knew her parents struggled with bills. Abby still wants to know how much money Carter has. Carter notes that he didn’t ask to be born into wealth. A woman comes to the lecture room to let the students know that their instructor is having car trouble and will be there soon. They’ll have to keep waiting until he gets there.

Carter decides that snooping hasn’t gotten the group in enough trouble in this episode, so he tries to pick the lock on a cabinet in the room. Abby raids the vending machines and brings snacks in for everyone. Susan says she’s starting to feel like she’s in Waiting for Godot, though when she saw it a few years ago, she didn’t get it. Luka tells her it’s about the futility of life, and how death is the only thing we can expect to achieve. Susan didn’t realize the play was so depressing.

Carter comments that she should be glad she didn’t grow up in the Balkans. Oh, shut up. Luka defends his home country, though Carter notes that it’s easy to get blown up there. Luka says it’s safe now. Carter wonders why he’s in the U.S., then. Uh, ’cause his whole family died, you cretin. Shut up forever. Luka jokes that he immigrated for American barbecue.

Susan tries to get Luka to admit that he put the strap-on in Weaver’s locker. He doesn’t crack, and Abby says she’s innocent, too, though she wishes she’d thought of it. Susan targets Gallant next, and Carter accuses her of trying to throw suspicion off of herself. She notes that he hasn’t denied being the guilty one.

Gallant looks at the chalkboard again and says the Whitman poem is about slavery – he was an abolitionist. Gallant read the poem when he minored in English lit at Howard. Abby also studied English lit, and Susan’s surprised to learn that she went to Penn State. Abby accuses the others of thinking she’s dumber than they are because she’s a nurse. Gallant says he doesn’t, but she tells him he’ll learn how to be condescending before he graduates med school. There’s a test you have to take, and Carter jokes that he got an A.

Abby continues that everyone looks down on Gallant’s family for serving in the military, as if there’s something “pathetic” about defending the country for bad pay. She reveals that when she quit med school halfway through her third year, she was second in her class. Susan asks why she quit, and Abby says doctors just can’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to be them. Carter points out that she had to leave because Richard wouldn’t pay her tuition. Abby argues that she chose not to go back.

Susan thinks Abby should finish, since she was over the hard part already. Abby says she realized she’s proud of what she does – she makes more of a difference in her patients’ lives than doctors do. She sees fewer patients and doesn’t have to rush through her duties to clear the board. She thinks the others can’t understand why she made a different choice than they would have. At this point, Abby’s a little worked up, since she can’t get a window open so she can smoke a cigarette. Why didn’t she have one when she went to the vending machine?

Carter finally breaks into the cabinet he’s been messing with. “Great, now we’re felons,” Gallant remarks. The cabinet contains fencing gear, so Carter and Luka decide to play around with it. Luka says he did some fencing when he acted in college. The guys start fencing, and Abby guesses that they’re trying to impress her and Susan. Susan laughs at her for hooking up with both of them. Abby denies ever sleeping with Carter, but apparently the lie he told Rena about them having dated has made its way around the hospital.

Susan confides to Abby that she and Carter haven’t slept together yet, despite having started dating months ago. Abby says that violates her friend’s second-date rule – you should sleep together by the second date because if the sex is bad, you’ll end things then and stop wasting your time. Susan says she and Carter have had some “almost spark moments.” I guess those happened off-camera. Abby says chemistry can’t be forced.

As the women keep talking about Carter, the guys go from just messing around to taking out some hostilities on each other. Susan thinks Abby is the elephant in the room when it comes to her relationship with Carter. She wonders why Carter and Abby never got together. Abby blames timing. Carter takes a sword to the wrist, and Luka offers to end the match, but Carter isn’t about to quit while he’s behind. Abby predicts that this won’t end well.

Carter lunges at Luka, who deflects him. But moments later, Carter gets Luka on his knees and cuts him on his back. Luka gets mad and slashes him on the cheek. Carter tackles Luka, and the others have to separate them. Abby tends to Luka while Susan chastises Carter for being a baby. She sees Carter watching Abby and offers to let her check him over instead. She kisses Carter, hoping to feel something, but I think it’s pretty clear (at least to the audience) that this relationship is a big, fat nothing.

Everyone finds quiet ways to amuse themselves while they keep waiting for the instructor. Susan breaks the silence by accusing Gallant again of putting the strap-on in Weaver’s locker. Gallant notes that that could get him expelled. Abby asks Susan about her decision to return to Chicago after living in Scottsdale. Susan says she likes the gray skies of Chicago. But she was also running away from an ex.

Gallant asks Luka about his time in the military and whether he saw any action. Luka cautions him not to romanticize military service. Abby decides to spice things up by asking Luka how old he was when he lost his virginity. Freaking A, this is why you’re in a sexual-harassment seminar! You can’t ask your co-workers questions like that! Luka just smiles and says he doesn’t want to play this new game. Abby says she and Susan made a bet about which of the five of them was youngest when they first had sex.

Luka still doesn’t want to participate, so Abby goes first: She was 16 and it was the longest 20 seconds of her life. Susan cracks up. She jokes that her first time was with Mark. Carter’s not amused. Susan says that it was really when she was 15, in a shed behind the guy’s father’s radiator repair shop. The women ask Gallant next; he was 14 and risked being struck by lightning by having sex with a girl in a church balcony after choir practice. He lets himself enjoy being the current leader in the rankings of youngest sexual experiences.

Carter takes the prize when he admits that he was 11. He had sex with a maid who was in her 20s. Yeah, that’s rape. Stop laughing, everyone. Luka is last to go, and though he doesn’t win the game, he wins something much more important: the hearts of the audience. His first time was on his wedding night. The women feel bad for making him admit that, but he says it’s a good memory. They were young and his wife was religious, so they waited until they were married.

Susan changes the subject to the acting Luka mentioned he did in college. He did Hamlet, which makes Carter brag that he played Horatio in a production. Yeah, well, Luka played Hamlet, so take that, rich boy. Carter tries to show him up by reciting the “to be or not to be” monologue. Luka takes over, doing it in Croatian. Carter’s like, “I’m going to be very quiet and pretend I don’t exist anymore.”

The instructor finally arrives and starts the session. When they’re finally done, the students leave together. Luka and Carter shake hands to show there are no hard feelings. Susan and Abby agree that they enjoyed hanging out. Abby and Gallant head to County for a shift while Susan admits to Carter that she didn’t think she’d like Abby, so she’s happy to have gotten to know her better.

Then she chastises Carter for being so macho and trying to make himself look good to Abby. He doesn’t need to worry about anything going on between Abby and Luka. Susan asks him to kiss her again, but there’s still no chemistry there. They both get that their relationship needs to end (yay!), and they’re both okay with it. In fact, Susan encourages Carter to tell Abby how he feels about her. As Carter heads off, he confesses that he was the one who broke into Weaver’s locker. It used to be his, and she never changed the combination. I’m guessing she will now.

Thoughts: Brad is played by Brad Grunberg.

When will TV shows stop ripping off The Breakfast Club?

There are two inside jokes in this episode:

  1. Two ER cast members appeared in Fame. Paul McCrane (Romano) was in the movie version and Erica Gimpel (Adele) was in the TV show.
  2. Fear Factor was hosted by Joe Rogan, Maura Tierney’s co-star on NewsRadio.

This episode has too much dialogue. I miss traumas. They’re a lot easier to recap.

Carter is more obnoxious here than ever, and I can’t believe anyone ever wants to date him after this, let alone someone who witnesses firsthand his behavior.


  1. Ben said,

    A few years ago, Noah Wyle gave an interview where he admitted he had been unkind to several of the actors who joined the show a long way into its run. He said that he recognized that Goran Visjnic was a much better actor than him (he cited Goran’s Shakespeare leading man performances in Croatia) and his insecurity about that made him act like a jerk to Visjnic. So maybe the Carter-Luka tension here wasn’t a random story decision for ER.

  2. Nick Rivers said,

    You’re right, this was such a Breakfast Club sort of episode without the actual interest for me because the characters were mostly unlikeable to some degree (though Gallant is sweet and innocent and Luka hadn’t started his slide into debauchery yet). I guess the only interesting things for me was how completely different Susan was from the early seasons, and seeing just how petulant Carter can be towards Luka (unsurprising considering his real-life jealousy) and the Abby situation. I do like that Abby and Susan are becoming friends, though, because that makes a lot of sense. If it weren’t for the complete and total lack of chemistry between Susan and Carter, I’d never believe they hadn’t had sex though they were dating for months. I mean, what were they waiting for? I guess an actual spark moment instead of ‘almost’ ones? Loved your line about those happening off-camera. Their obvious lack of chemistry really makes me believe those rumors about how he treated her on her first few seasons on the show. It feels like she purposely keeps him at arm’s length.

    And Ben above is correct about the jealousy Wyle felt towards Visjnic which really shows in more than a few episodes. Great acting, Noah.

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