September 14, 2021

ER 9.10, Hindsight: One of the Writers Saw “Memento” So Now We Have to Watch a Backward Episode

Posted in TV tagged , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

Sorry not sorry I find broody Luka so hot

Summary: An ambulance is carrying a patient to the hospital, along with a passenger one of the paramedics thinks is from County. In the ER, Frank is trying to spread Christmas cheer by dressing as Santa, but he’s not great at it. (We learn later that Christmas is the following week.) The kids keep getting scared. Abby tries to get Pratt to stick around in case he’s needed, but he’s not feeling as generous as the holiday should make him feel.

In one of the trauma rooms, Susan looks grim. Abby approaches a woman named Laura and escorts her into the trauma room, where her fiancé, Rick, is unconscious. He thought he was stressed from exams, but clearly something more serious was going on. Some carolers are singing in the hallway, and Weaver practically bah-humbugs them. Susan and Abby tell her how poorly Rick is doing. Weaver orders Abby to get Luka back to the hospital. Abby tries to argue that he’s not ready. Susan says he missed what was wrong with Rick, and Abby says Luka’s burned out.

Jerry’s dressed as Santa, too, so now we have dueling Santas. Romano’s staying out of that. (He’s also staying out of the episode, since this is the only time we see him.) The ambulance arrives, carrying Harkins and Luka. Luka just has some cuts and scrapes, but Harkins is in bad shape. Gallant clearly blames Luka. Luka says Harkins was walking at the scene, but now she’s pretty unresponsive. Gallant asks Luka what happened.

To find that out, we have to go back in time. Oh, yeah, this episode moves backward. We join Luka and Harkins in his car, which has crashed. To add insult to injury, Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is blaring on the radio. Luka tells Harkins to call 911 while he goes to check on the people in the car they hit. On his way, he spots a homeless person putting a giant plastic candy cane in a shopping cart.

The people in the other car are a father and son, and the father doesn’t realize that Luka was the other driver. The kid, Dwayne (talk about adding insult to injury – don’t name your kid Dwayne), is having trouble breathing, so Luka goes back to his car to get a toolkit. He needs pliers for something. Harkins is mad at Luka, like, that can wait; let’s take care of people’s injuries first.

When they get back to the other car, Dwayne is unconscious. Luka uses a scalpel to cut into his airway, then removes whatever’s blocking it. After paramedics take the father and son away, Harkins, who’s been struggling to stay upright, collapses. Luka thinks she might have internal injuries.

In the ambulance on the way to County, Luka tries to take control of Harkins’ care. The paramedic in the back with him doesn’t want to do anything too invasive, but Luka knows that Harkins will go into cardiac arrest without…whatever it is he needs to do. He stabilizes her, then broods.

We rewind again to the moments just before the car crash. Luka’s driving too fast on icy roads while bickering with Harkins about a medical case. He thinks she’s too inexperienced to know what she’s talking about. As they fly around a corner, Harkins spots the same homeless person who picked up the candy cane. Luka swerves to avoid hitting him.

Rewind! Chen tells Luka that the OR is ready for a preteen patient named Jane. He lets her take over the case, even though he caught whatever’s wrong with Jane because he insisted that she have a head CT. Abby finds Luka in the lounge, planning to leave his shift early (he was filling in for someone anyway). Abby lectures him that what he does outside the hospital only remains his personal business until it prevents him from doing his job or hurts his patients. She wonders if he even cares that there’s a kid in the ER who’s as good as dead.

Luka obviously cares, but he can’t bring himself to respond to her. He leaves the lounge without a word. On the street, Harkins catches up to him and asks him to get coffee with her. She thinks he could use some company. Luka says he must have given her the wrong idea last night. Harkins assures him that he didn’t. She asks him to give her a ride home.

Rewind: Susan, Harkins, and Chuny are tending to Rick. Abby’s also in the trauma room, looking shell-shocked. Luka thought Rick had the flu, so he stayed in the waiting area for longer than he should have, since no one thought he was a critical case. Susan asks Abby about Luka’s treatment choices, but Abby doesn’t know what he did. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough to help Rick. Abby says that Rick was a lot sicker than anyone realized.

Rewind: Susan, Luka (who has a small cut on his cheek), Chuny, and Harkins try to stabilize Rick, who isn’t breathing on his own. Luka has trouble intubating him. Harkins determines that Rick has suffered some sort of brain injury. Luka goes to update Laura, reporting that Rick has leukemia but didn’t know it. If he’d gotten blood tests earlier, he could have received the proper treatment in time. Unfortunately, he went too long without oxygen and probably won’t recover.

Laura’s understandably upset that Rick wasn’t treated sooner. Luka agrees that he should have received better care. Laura asks if Luka believes in God, or believes God punishes people. He tells her this wasn’t God’s doing. She asks him to pray with her, but Luka tries to pass her off to a hospital chaplain. Laura ignores him and takes his hand to start praying.

Rewind: Luka has started treating Rick and thinks he’s about to stabilize. He tells Susan that Rick had pulmonary edema (fluid in his lungs) and had to be intubated. Susan realizes that that intubation went into Rick’s esophagus, which means he hasn’t been receiving enough oxygen. Luka first blames the difficult sight line through Rick’s vocal cords, then says a nurse might have accidentally moved the tube. Chuny gives him a great “I KNOW you didn’t just say that” look.

Susan offers to take over Rick’s care, but Luka keeps working. The team finally gets Rick’s blood work, which alerts them that he has leukemia. That’s making him bleed, which has led to sepsis. Luka tells Susan that Rick just had a simple fever when he came in. There was no reason to believe that he had anything other than the flu.

Rewind: Luka tells Harkins that an operation could save Jane; Harkins should have done what Luka told her to do when he told her to do it. He adds that whatever happens outside the hospital shouldn’t affect their work. Harkins asks if this is about last night. Oh, boy, I hope whatever happened last night is worth all this build-up!

They go to Rick’s trauma room, informing him that he’ll need to be intubated and put on a ventilator. Rick’s last words before being intubated are instructions for Laura to hock her engagement ring if she needs money. Luka has trouble intubating Rick (as we already know), and he has Chuny take Laura out of the room, since she’s starting to panic. Since Rick starts stabilizing after the intubation, it makes sense that Luka wouldn’t realize he’d done something wrong.

Rewind: Pratt suggests that Frank dress like Santa every day. “Why not? You dress like a doctor,” Frank shoots back. Yosh is looking for tinsel, which for some reason is in the drug lock-up. Also, there was a “security breach” and one of the branches on Yosh’s menorah got bent. Fun fact: Yosh converted to Judaism at some point. Pratt compares him to Sammy Davis, Jr. Ah, yes, the only other person of color to ever convert to Judaism. Thanks for your input, Pratt.

A detective comes in asking for information on a man named Vladko, who was assaulted. Luka and Pratt treated him but claim not to remember what happened to Vladko’s attacker. They tell the detective he can look around. Abby tells Luka that Rick’s hemoglobin is low, so they should give him a more extensive work-up. Luka doesn’t seem too concerned, and he needs to stabilize Jane first, so he passes the job on to Abby.

Jane is seizing, and Luka’s annoyed that she’s still in the ER instead of having a CT. Harkins says they’re backed up, but Luka doesn’t accept that as an excuse. He tells Harkins to let CT know that he’s bringing Jane up whether they’re ready for her or not. But first he has to go tend to Rick, who’s starting to show signs of having fluid in his lungs. Luka gives some treatment instructions, then ducks out to take Jane up for her CT.

Rewind: Luka and Abby examine Rick, who doesn’t seem too sick. Luka says he shouldn’t have to stick around too long for treatment. He gives Abby instructions for tests, disagreeing with her suggestion that they check his hemoglobin. He thinks Rick just needs to be hydrated. Abby asks if she and Luka are okay, after last night. Luka looks blank, so she clarifies that something happened in a bedroom. He doesn’t remember – he was drunk. He brushes that off and tells Abby not to worry so much about Rick. He just has the flu.

Rewind: Susan is tending to Luka, who’s just received the cut on his cheek. Someone dressed as an elf punched him. As Laura thanks Luka for looking after Rick, the elf tries to excuse his punch by claiming he was just reaching up for something. Abby chats with Rick and Laura, who are about to have a visit from his parents. Laura thinks they don’t approve of the couple’s engagement (they’re only 19 and 20) or of Laura in general. Rick and Laura are going to elope to Reno on New Year’s Eve.

Susan cleans up Luka’s cut and lightly chastises herself for hosting a party last night even though she had to work today. She’s on call through the holidays since she’s single and doesn’t have a family. Luka says he doesn’t mind working on Christmas; the holiday isn’t what it’s supposed to be anymore. He and his family used to spend lots of time together, but with them gone, he doesn’t do anything. Susan invites him to come to her place for Christmas dinner and hang out with her and her friends who can’t get home for the holidays.

Rewind: Luka and Pratt take care of an old man who wants to file charges against his attacker. His daughter arrives and asks about what happened. She’s upset that the hospital is also treating her father’s attacker. They shouldn’t be helping the person who attacked a harmless old man.

In the hallway, Pratt tells Luka that they should just be honest about what happened. Luka argues that they’re dealing with an 80-year-old man who was just trying to outrun his past. At the admit desk, Frank tries to get rid of two elves who are trying to get in to see their friend. He’s using Yosh’s menorah as a kind of cattle prod to get them to back off. When Frank asks if the guys don’t have reindeer to milk, one of the elves throws a punch, hitting Luka instead.

Rewind: Abby asks Harkins if she got home okay the night before. She warns Harkins to be careful. People are gossiping about her and Luka. Harkins insists that there’s nothing going on. Abby tells her that Luka doesn’t always think things through. Pratt and Luka tend to their old guy while next door, Gallant is trying to calm another old guy, obviously this guy’s attacker. The two men yell at each other until Gallant takes his patient to surgery.

Rewind: Luka and Harkins examine Jane, who was at hockey practice when she suffered a head injury. Luka tells Harkins to make sure she gets a CT. His shift is supposed to be over, but he decides to hang around until Jane is discharged. Gallant offers to show Harkins some interesting case, then asks how long she stayed at Susan’s the night before. So clearly a) Gallant has a crush on Harkins and b) he doesn’t know she left the party with Luka.

Rewind: Pratt and Luka chat with their older patient, finally cluing us in that he’s the man who attacked Vladko. The man, Ivo, reveals that Vladko worked for the Ustasha, Croatia’s version of the Gestapo. He told them where to find Ivo’s family. Ivo was able to hide, but his whole family was taken away and he never saw them again. Seeing Vladko 60 years later, living his life like he never committed atrocities, set Ivo off. He remembers Vladko’s face like he just saw him yesterday. Obviously this is when Luka decides to help Ivo evade arrest.

Rewind: Chen arrives to fill in for someone. She wants to know what’s going on with Luka and Harkins; they were dancing at Susan’s party. Luka has been at work for a couple of hours, hungover, and it sounds like he’s the one Chen is there to take over for. Paramedics arrive with Ivo, and when Luka learns that he’s Croatian, he offers to stick around and translate, if necessary. Abby tells him he can go.

Rewind: Weaver’s impatiently waiting for Luka to arrive. Carter pops into the episode for the first time so we can learn that he’s going to Boston for the holidays. Luka and Harkins arrive at the same time, and Weaver tells Luka he’ll only need to stay for a couple of hours until Chen can come in. Frank, Yosh, and Chuny notice that he and Harkins came in together. Gallant doesn’t think Harkins is the type to hook up with an attending. Carter passes his patients on to Luka, telling him Jane is complaining of a migraine and Rick seems to have the flu. So Luka wasn’t the only one who didn’t think Rick’s case was serious.

Rewind: Abby tries to nicely shoot down Frank’s plan to dress as Santa. Weaver asks Abby to call Luka and have him come in; she has to go to a meeting and the ER is busy. Abby knows he’s not in good shape to work, but Weaver doesn’t listen to her. When Abby calls Luka’s apartment, Harkins answers. Abby doesn’t recognize her voice. She tells Luka to come in for a couple of hours, and when he resists, Weaver orders him in. Harkins realizes she shouldn’t have answered the phone.

Rewind: The staff does a Secret Santa gift exchange at Susan’s party. She winds up with edible underwear, and Carter gets fuzzy handcuffs. These people learned nothing from “Secrets and Lies.” Gallant and Harkins seem pretty close, even sharing a cup. Abby’s present is a snow globe, but her Secret Santa doesn’t identify him- or herself.

Abby and Carter get ready to leave, since he has a night shift. She goes to the bedroom to get her coat and runs into Luka. He turns a key on the bottom of the snow globe, which plays “What Child Is This?” (That’s a pretty good indication that he was her Secret Santa.) He notes that he and Abby don’t talk much anymore. She says they should fix that. They can get coffee sometime or have dinner with Carter. Luka touches her arm and says he misses her. Abby thinks this is the alcohol talking, so they should wait until another time to have this conversation.

Luka says that Abby doesn’t seem happy. She says she is. He wants her to be happy, but if she’s not, she should admit it. He admits that he made mistakes in their relationship. “Don’t make another one,” she warns. She heads out with Carter as Luka continues drinking. Harkins invites Luka to come dance with everyone else, telling him when he declines that she’s not going anyway.

Sometime later, the two end up at his apartment. She’s not there to sleep with him – she seems to just want to make sure he’s okay – but when he turns on the charm, no one can blame her for giving in. Harkins doesn’t resist a kiss from him, though she says she’ll sleep on the couch. Luka asks why she wants to be a doctor. He became one to help people. She assures him that he does that every day. Luka continues that he just helps strangers, and he won’t be doing that tomorrow, since he won’t be working.

We jump back (well, forward) to the beginning of the episode. As Weaver, Susan, and Abby work on Harkins, Gallant asks Luka what happened. All Luka says is that Harkins needed a ride home.

Thoughts: Three recognizable guest stars in this episode:

I hate stunt episodes! Hate them! (When we get to the Buffy episode “Once More, With Feeling,” I’ll deny ever saying this.)

Today we mourn the loss of Luka’s Viper. I cared about it more than Harkins.

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