June 1, 2021

ER 8.17, Bygones: If Your Husband’s Dying, It’s Time to Stop Fighting

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

This is Mark’s “oh, crap, something’s wrong” face

Summary: Let’s check in on Elizabeth, shall we? Ever since Rachel accidentally almost killed Ella, Elizabeth and Ella have been staying in a hotel. It doesn’t look fun, and Elizabeth doesn’t look happy. While Mark shaves at home, cutting himself, Elizabeth does a puzzle with Ella until the nanny arrives. Elizabeth’s trying to get Ella to say “mama,” but Ella isn’t cooperating. Rachel is keeping up her new personality, doing her homework and getting ready for school on time. On the way to work, Elizabeth spots Mark leaving the El station and stays back so he won’t see her.

At County, Romano tells Elizabeth that since she hasn’t gone down to the ER all month, she’s on trauma call this week instead of catching up on elective surgeries. Mark examines a woman named Joanne who started feeling sick while bird-watching. Her husband, Paul, thinks she had a panic attack, but Joanne objects. She asks Mark to find a place to hold on to some eggs they found that may be about to hatch.

Jerry offers the staff some vegan brownies from his sister’s new baking business. You may be shocked to learn that they’re not very popular among this crowd. Gallant’s wearing his military uniform since he just attended a recruitment breakfast. He didn’t get any potential soldiers, but he did get a college student’s phone number. Mark’s like, “I have something else for you – these eggs.” Yes, I want to be treated by the intern who’s carrying around a nest of eggs all day like a crazy person!

Weaver issues some orders as everyone gets started with the day’s work. Susan offers Mark a vegan cookie, but he knows he’ll just throw it up later (and not because of the ingredients). Abby apologetically tells Jerry, “There’s something to be said for animal fat.” Elizabeth comes down as a man comes to the admit desk, looking very sad. He doesn’t talk, but Chen sees that his jacket is embroidered with his name, Martin.

She has Malik take him to an exam area so she can deal with a woman being brought in with burns from a school fire. A firefighter tells Weaver that the fire is massive enough that all engines in the area are dealing with it, so they should prepare for a bunch more patients. On top of that, Weaver has a patient with stab wounds.

Abby’s still working the night shift and is still staying at Luka’s. Carter offers her a room at his family’s mansion, in case she wants better accommodations. Susan overhears and asks Carter if he’s made any progress in getting together with Abby. (Clearly not.) She bumps into Elizabeth, who doesn’t appear to know that Susan has been hanging out with Mark so much.

While Gallant looks for a baby warmer for the eggs, Elizabeth joins Mark and Weaver to treat the stabbing victim, Diana. She’s a college student who was attacked in her bed. The friend who found her, Shelly, says she didn’t see anything and doesn’t know who would attack Diana. Susan comes in during the trauma to remind Mark that he’s supposed to be somewhere. Mark asks her to have his appointment changed. Shelly passes out, so Weaver goes to take care of her, leaving Mark and Elizabeth behind to treat Diana together. They stay polite and professional.

Carter tries to make conversation with Martin, who still isn’t talking. Carter doesn’t think this is an emergency that should be dealt with in the ER, but Chen can’t help feeling like there’s something off with him, so she wants to help. They determine that Martin isn’t deaf, so his inability to speak isn’t connected to his hearing. Chen asks him to write down what’s wrong with him.

Elizabeth and Romano operate on Diana as he berates Elizabeth for taking too long in the trauma room before bringing her to the OR. He asks if she and Mark are still fighting, and if their separation is temporary or permanent. He advises her to “stay away from love – it does things to the brain.” Diana starts declining, so maybe Romano should pay more attention to her than Elizabeth.

Mark tells Joanne that she has extensive liver damage. She realizes that some foraged mushrooms she recently ate must have poisoned her. If they can’t come up with a successful treatment option, she may need a liver transplant. A second stabbing victim comes in, making Chen worry that they’re looking at a killing spree. Lily comes in to tell Weaver that a wall collapsed at the school that’s on fire, injuring some firefighters. Chen spots Martin outside the trauma room and asks Lily to take him back to his exam area. Weaver’s patient, the second stabbing victim, is able to whisper to Weaver, “I loved her.”

Elizabeth runs into Stan on her way back to the ER, where Susan is giving Mark some eye drops. Elizabeth asks about charges on her and Mark’s credit card from New York. He lies that he ordered something over the phone. Joanne’s sister, Terry, arrives so they can find out if she’s a match to possibly donate part of her liver to Joanne. Terry’s a college basketball player whose team has made it to the playoffs, and that’s more important to her than saving her sister. Elizabeth is okay with putting the brakes on the discussion until they know more.

Weaver finds Shelly in the second stabbing victim’s trauma room, where the victim is hooked up to a ventilator. Shelly IDs her as Renee, Diana’s roommate. The two aren’t close; in fact, Diana’s moving out in a few weeks to live with Shelly. Weaver gives Shelly the sad news that Diana didn’t survive. Chen tells Martin that she called his house and heard his voice on his answering machine, so she knows he can talk. He gives her his hat, and she gets that he’s trying to tell her something, but she can’t figure it out.

Elizabeth tells Terry that they can try some treatments for Joanne, but a transplant would completely cure her, so that’s the best option. Terry guesses that she’s a match. She doesn’t want to take on the risk of undergoing surgery, and she doesn’t want to sit out the rest of the season (her last, since she’s a senior). She asks if Joanne can wait a month for surgery. Elizabeth says that’s not a good idea. Terry asks what they would do if Joanne didn’t have a family match. She’d have to go on a waiting list for an unrelated donor. Elizabeth thinks Joanne would donate if she were Terry, but Terry disagrees.

The conversation is interrupted when a car comes speeding into the ambulance bay and crashes into the roach coach. Charlie, the guy who runs the cart, takes a hit and suffers burns from some hot water. The people in the speeding car bring in a boy named Viktor who almost drowned in the bathtub. Mark wonders why Viktor’s parents, the Evanses, brought his doctor with them instead of just bringing him straight to the ER. They also didn’t try to resuscitate him.

Weaver and Elizabeth are tending to Charlie when Ella’s nanny shows up in the ER with her. Mark questions Viktor’s doctor, Felicia, who calls herself a “socialization therapist.” She takes a call from another patient, so Mark sends her into the hallway. As she leaves, he spots Elizabeth with Ella and the nanny. Fortunately, they’re there for a good reason, not an emergency: Ella said her first word, and the nanny wanted to bring her to her parents. Despite Elizabeth’s efforts to make “mama” Ella’s first word, she said “dada.”

Mr. Evans explains to Mark that they were playing a bonding game with Viktor. The bath was supposed to recreate the womb. Mark isn’t clear on how dunking a kid in water bonds him to his parents. Elizabeth sends him to the hallway to see Ella, then returns to Charlie, who good-naturedly complains about having Weaver as his doctor since she never buys from the roach coach. Haleh tells Weaver that Renee’s mother has arrived. Weaver asks if there’s any news on the firefighters at the school, which, of course, means she wants news on one specific firefighter.

She talks to Renee’s mother about her condition, which is stable but uncertain. Renee’s mother is sad to hear that Diana died. Weaver asks about Renee’s moods and behavior recently, but her mother doesn’t think that’s relevant, since Renee’s a victim here. Weaver reveals that Diana had defensive wounds on her arms from trying to fight her attacker, but Renee doesn’t. Her mother insists that Renee didn’t hurt Diana and definitely didn’t hurt herself. She thinks Diana and Renee were best friends.

Mark tells the Evanses that Viktor’s stable but on a ventilator. They’ll need to speak with a social worker. Mr. Evans tells Mark that they adopted Viktor from Prague last year, and he hasn’t connected with them yet, so they brought in Felicia. Mark coolly says that they put Viktor in danger; if they needed counseling, they should have gone to a real counselor.

Later, Elizabeth goes looking for Mark, but he’s not in the ER. She asks Susan where Mark is – she knows Susan is covering Mark’s patients, and it’s clear that something’s going on. Susan just tells Elizabeth to talk to Mark. Elizabeth presses her, so Susan tells her to think about what might be going on that Mark might want to protect her from. Elizabeth figures it out and confirms her hunch with a visit to the oncology department, where Mark is receiving chemo. He sees her and realizes his secret’s out.

Back in the ER, Weaver and Carter tend to a firefighter who made it out of the school fire. He tells Weaver that a few firefighters are still in the school, their whereabouts unknown – and Sandy’s one of them. Elizabeth tries to brainstorm treatment options for Mark, but he tells her that even with what he’s already doing, he has ten months left at most. She’s sad that he didn’t tell her the tumor was back, but he doesn’t think she could have helped him. He didn’t expect her to come back and be his wife just because he got sick. I guess he means he didn’t expect her to drop her anger at him and Rachel just because he’s dying.

Chen sent Martin to psych, but I’m not sure how anyone could have helped him there if he still won’t talk. He offers his hat to Chen again, still not getting his message through to her. He puts on a matching scarf, so Chen guesses that someone knit the accessories for him, and something happened to that person. Weaver goes to tend to an uninjured boy from the fire who tells her that the firefighter who saved him was a woman. Weaver asks Jerry to call and find out if all the firefighters have been found.

Carter shows Susan his “box of wonders,” a basin holding all the stuff he’s scoped out of patients’ stomachs. She recognizes one of her pens. Amazingly, it still works. She ditches it when she finds out it was scoped from a different part of the body, not a stomach. Ew, Carter, why would you keep that? Elizabeth tries to gather herself before returning to the surgical floor, where Terry tells her she won’t donate to Joanne. Joanne has always been selfish, so Terry wants to be selfish as well.

Furious, Elizabeth goes to Romano’s office, looking for someone to yell at, but he’s not there. She sits down and cries. When Romano enters, she tries to hide her emotions, then tells him that Mark’s tumor is back. Romano demonstrates sympathy, even trying to justify Mark’s decision not to tell Elizabeth anything; maybe Mark was protecting her. She laments that they haven’t worked out their problems. She says she doesn’t think she can be the strong one again. She doesn’t think Mark expects her to be by his side anyway. Is she supposed to move back home just to watch Mark die? “Yes,” Romano replies softly. After all, they’re married and she loves him.

Adele tells Chen that police found Martin’s mother’s body after an apparent heart attack. She thinks Martin’s inability to speak is a conversion disorder brought on by the trauma of finding her. He has a sister coming in from out of state, and psych has agreed to let Martin stay until she arrives. Adele moves on to the Evanses (busy day for her) while Mark blasts Felicia for her unorthodox methods. She thinks she’s already made progress with Viktor, so…I guess she should be allowed to do whatever she wants.

Viktor wakes up and reaches for his mother’s hand, so Felicia is even more convinced that her methods work. As Adele warns the Evanses that this is abusive behavior and they might not get to keep Viktor, Mark has trouble with his hearing; everything gets echo-y. Haleh notices that something’s wrong with him. Mark decides he needs to cut his shift short, and when Weaver chastises him, he announces that he just had a round of chemo and is going home early.

Luka comes home from a day out and finds Abby looking at apartment listings (and drinking a beer). Luka’s been dating, as we’re about to kick off that weird period in the series where he’s a womanizer. He doesn’t say anything about Abby’s drinking, just asking her if there are more beers in the fridge. Abby, just live there. You and Luka are fun together, even when you’re not dating.

Carter leaves for the night, running into Susan in the ambulance bay. She looks down, like she’s coming to terms with Mark’s impending death. Carter feels bad for accusing her of sleeping with Mark when she really was just trying to help him. Gallant leaves for the night, hiding something under his jacket. Carter and Susan bust him and see that some of the eggs hatched. Aw, ducklings! Susan accidentally breaks an unhatched egg. I hope the ducklings imprint on Gallant. That would be awesome.

Weaver tracks down Sandy, who made it out of the fire completely fine. Weaver wants to talk, but Sandy isn’t interested. Finally Weaver admits that she was worried when Sandy went missing. Sandy was right – kissing Weaver in front of her co-workers did her a favor. She kisses Sandy passionately and the two hug each other.

Elizabeth leaves the hotel and moves back into the house with Ella. As a peace offering, she asks Rachel to look after Ella while she checks on Mark. Rachel has figured out that Mark’s tumor is back but hasn’t said anything to him. Elizabeth prepares herself for another round of taking care of her sick husband, then gets to work. Instead of discussing their problems or Mark’s illness, they just talk about Ella’s first word.

Thought: Mr. Evans is played by Peter Scolari.

I don’t think the writers were implying anything when they made the stabbing storyline about same-sex attraction while also revisiting Weaver’s attraction to Sandy, but the optics certainly don’t look good.

Holidays with Joanne and Terry’s family are going to be REALLY awkward from here on.

I like how Susan handled things with Elizabeth. It was unfair of Mark to put her in a position of keeping secrets from his wife, but Susan found a way to fix that without actually betraying his trust. (Though at this point, Susan betraying his trust is the least of his problems.)


  1. Ben said,

    Beyond the certainty that ER wasn’t going to leave Mark Greene to die alone (or even worse, with only Rachel around) and therefore Elizabeth was destined to go back and be with him in his final weeks, I have a ratio chart for WHY she did so in the context of the show’s storylines:
    1. 50% being devastated by Terry’s decision regarding Joanna, and knowing that she couldn’t live with herself by doing anything that was anywhere near that cruel to her dying husband.
    2. 40% Romano being human and compassionate (in a great scene for Paul McCrane) and her actually listening to him.
    3. 9% that it was important for Mark to spend time with Ella before he died.
    4. 1% that she genuinely loved Mark and missed him. I’m being very generous by putting 1% here instead of .1 or .0001%.

  2. Nick Rivers said,

    I do like that Susan really leaned into her maternal instinct in taking care of Mark once Elizabeth checked out, though of course her motivations were valid and she didn’t know what was really going on with him. She wasn’t smug or self-righteous about it with Elizabeth and seemed to tread the line very carefully for all involved. And the way Susan revealed the secret was pretty masterful, considering. I’m glad Elizabeth didn’t get all bitchy and snotty with her like usual.

    The Joanne/Terry storyline was an interesting one and it’s hard to know which side to be on in that one. I know most would see Terry’s perspective as misguided and selfish, but we don’t know how bad things were between them growing up.

    The Diana/Shelly/Renee storyline… woof, that was a rough one. But I like those complex cases that sort of unravel in real-time along with the viewer so we too are just as out of the loop as the doctors and nurses are. But shit, I didn’t put two and two together with that storyline and the Weaver/Sandy one.

    Romano was surprisingly tender in this, though it’s hard to forget he’s also been completely in love with Elizabeth since Day 1 anyway. But his advice was kind, and borne of friendship, plus he actually listened more than he spoke, all of which is so damn unlike him it was almost startling.

    I’d argue against Ben’s ratio above — from my perspective it was more along these lines:
    – 5% regarding Terry’s decision towards Joanne and how that was mainly the tipping point for everything else
    – 10% Romano’s advice, which she already knew in her heart, but needed someone else to say to her (and coming from him, when he wasn’t one prone to such sympathy and comforting advice, meant more than if it was coming from Kerry or Susan for example)
    – 10% the Ella thing, though it seemed more important for him to spend quality time with Rachel than Ella, probably because she would actually remember it and needed his guidance more at that point in her life
    – 75% that she genuinely loved Mark and missed him. Her anger with him was over his coddling of Rachel, not her feelings for him having dissipated.

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