November 2, 2021

ER 9.17, The Advocate: How I Killed Your Lover

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

Haaaaaaaave you met Keith?

Summary: Weaver is at a City Council meeting, arguing against the closing of a clinic that helps a huge amount of underserved people. Thanks in part to Alderman Bright, the vote goes in her favor. He’s proud of her tenacity and thinks she could become surgeon general someday. As the two of them go to his office to chat, he dodges a call from someone about an amendment allowing gay marriage. Bright says he’s sympathetic to the cause but it will never pass, and he won’t allow the amendment to tank his bill.

Alone in his office, Bright tells Weaver that he needs a favor. Remember how he has syphilis? His partner is showing symptoms as well. Make that his top-secret partner who happens to work for him. It’s all consensual and legal, and the two are in love, so this isn’t an issue of Bright wanting Weaver to break any laws. He just needs her to treat his partner and not tell anyone. Weaver says no, since she could lose her license, and she’s already risked it once to treat Bright himself. He tells her he understands…but they’re voting that afternoon to possibly eliminate emergency services at County, so…you know…she might want to change her mind.

Carter’s Jeep is in the shop, so Millicent has him dropped off at County before she goes to do whatever it is she does all day. He gives her back the engagement ring he’d planned to give Abby, since he never offered it to her. He doesn’t think Abby knows he was planning to propose. Carter suspects that Millicent is relieved, since she’s never exactly sung Abby’s praises. Millicent gives the ring back to him and tells him she trusts his choices. He can marry whomever he wants.

It’s that time of year when med students put in their bids for where they want to serve their residency. Gallant is considering specializing in emergency medicine and staying at County. He still has a few years left in his military obligations, but he can roll them into his residency. As a guy shows up looking for Weaver, Susan complains about all the drinking that lands people in the ER around St. Patrick’s Day. On a positive note, she’s looking forward to a quick trip to Las Vegas with Chen and some other co-workers. Susan tries to sneak a peek at Abby’s hand, but she’s not wearing a ring, so Susan just looks weird.

Luka, Elizabeth, and Abby start to tend to an unidentified teenager who was found unconscious at Union Station. Myers wants to talk to Luka, who was supposed to continue having sessions with him but keeps blowing them off. He doesn’t see the point in therapy. As Myers leaves, Luka voices over that it’s hard to connect with the patients he treats. They come in at their most vulnerable, and the staff gets to know a little more about them, but it’s all temporary. There’s no real connection. The voiceover is coming from a conversation Luka’s having at another time with someone we can’t see.

Elizabeth asks her patient, now ID’d as Molly, if she remembers what happened to her. She’s been participating in a boot camp-type program for troubled teens, and she says one of the counselors beat her. Elizabeth wants to call Molly’s mother, but Molly says her mother was the one who sent her to the boot camp.

The guy looking for Weaver finally finds her and reveals that he’s the secret partner Bright wanted her to treat. Weaver tries to keep a poker face over the fact that he’s, well, a he, since she assumed Bright was seeing a woman. Keith is also a lot younger than Bright; he’s in grad school. As Weaver gives him a shot of penicillin, Keith says that he hopes he didn’t give Bright syphilis. OH, HONEY.

Carter treats a woman named Mrs. Sanberry, who’s showing signs of arsenic poisoning from the wood-processing plant where she worked for many years. Away from the patient, he and Abby commiserate over how Mrs. Sanberry and her husband keep sniping at each other. Molly’s mother, Mrs. Banks, arrives, having been called by the boot camp. She claims that Molly ran away the second day of camp, so no one there could have assaulted her. Mrs. Banks sent her there because she’s been acting out for three years. Elizabeth silently thinks about how lucky she is that Rachel no longer lives in her home.

Anspaugh tells Weaver that County’s budget has passed without any cuts. He appreciates whatever she’s been doing to maintain a good relationship with Bright. Just then, Frank tells Weaver that Keith has been brought back in after passing out across the street. When Susan wonders if he has any allergies, Weaver realizes he must be having a reaction to the penicillin she gave him. She lies that she doesn’t know why he was looking for her earlier.

Once Keith is stable, Weaver leaves a message for Bright to call her back ASAP. She casually tells Susan that Keith works at City Hall, but Susan has already connected the dots, since Keith and Bright both have syphilis. (She thinks Bright left without having it treated, though, since Weaver covered up his treatment.) Weaver plays innocent, saying they don’t know for sure that Keith’s allergic reaction was to penicillin.

As Keith regains consciousness, Weaver finds an excuse to send Abby out of his trauma room so she can talk to him alone. She tells him that the doctors will figure out what happened, but he needs to keep quiet about his connection to Bright. “We have to protect him,” she insists. She suggests a cover story: Keith took a friend’s penicillin so he wouldn’t have to see a doctor.

Frank thinks he got rabies from a fish that bit him while he was reeling it in. Carter says it’s just an infection. Thanks for your contribution to this episode, Frank. Abby confirms for Carter that Mrs. Sanberry has high levels of arsenic in her blood; maybe she’s depressed and tried to kill herself. He notices a patch on the back of Abby’s neck, and she tells him she’s trying to quit smoking. In fact, she stopped smoking a few days ago, but Carter didn’t notice.

Molly isn’t happy about her mother being at the hospital, since Mrs. Banks lied about where they were going when she took her to the boot camp. Elizabeth angrily tells Molly to stop yelling and struggling. Instead, Molly kicks an equipment tray into her mother’s face. As Elizabeth has Molly restrained, Mrs. Banks tells Weaver that her daughter has been acting out like this since she was two.

Luka has a new patient who doesn’t even make it to a trauma room before Weaver tells him to declare time of death. The man is Sikh and was shot by someone who tried to order him to leave a bus. Cool, another reason to feel depressed about racism in America, and for Luka to feel depressed about everything in general. Weaver notices Susan and Abby extubating Keith and goes in to make sure he doesn’t say anything he shouldn’t. Keith tells Susan and Abby exactly what Weaver suggested he say – he took a friend’s penicillin when his ex-girlfriend told him she had syphilis.

Gallant is struggling to examine a very unhappy baby who might have an ear infection. He blows up a glove like a balloon, which makes the baby happy. Gallant asks Luka to write him a recommendation for his dean’s file, but Luka declines without giving a reason. Weaver tries to reach Bright again, then confronts Luka for blowing off therapy with Myers. He insists again that he doesn’t need it.

Keith is declining again, this time because of a perforation in his stomach. Weaver blames Abby for bagging him too hard. Susan defends her, but Weaver ignores her. Abby checks in next door, where Molly is experiencing a complication from her assault. She has a hematoma near her eye, and the collection of blood is affecting her vision. Elizabeth has to make a small incision next to her eye to drain the blood. Molly gets scared and asks for her mother to stay with her.

Luka voices over that when a patient is scared, you say everything will be okay, no matter how bad things are. Secretly, he’s always disgusted with himself, with his co-workers, and with the system. Elizabeth makes the incision. It’s gross. Ugh. I have a thing about eye trauma. Elizabeth leaves Luka to stitch Molly up so she can go help Weaver and Susan with Keith, who needs surgery.

Now that she’s not scared anymore, Molly no longer has any desire to see her mother. Luka points out that she was just there holding Molly’s hand, so she must care. Molly argues that that doesn’t make up for all the years they’ve spent fighting. She thinks her mother hates her. She doesn’t care, since Molly hates her, too. Luka thinks she’s still the scared girl she was just a few minutes ago. It’s better for Molly to be at home with someone she constantly fights with than on the street, being assaulted. Molly asks him to talk to Mrs. Banks about letting her come home.

Weaver watches Keith’s surgery through a gallery window, unable to do anything when the surgeons lose his pulse. Luka and Gallant fix up the guy who shot the Sikh man, which you know Luka is thrilled about. Romano comes by for a consult and accidentally gets his reattached arm stuck under the head of the patient’s bed. Obviously he doesn’t have enough feeling in the arm to notice.

Carter and Abby send Mrs. Sanberry off for treatment, now a little amused about how much she and her husband fight. Hey, Pablo’s back! Hi, Pablo! Carter invites Abby to get dinner, but she has plans…with her AA sponsor. She’s back on the wagon. Gallant tells Luka he’s thinking of applying to County for his residency match; he wanted a letter of recommendation for his application. Luka still doesn’t want to write it.

The two hear yelling from the ER and rush in to find the baby choking on the glove balloon Gallant blew up for him. Luka fishes around the baby’s throat for it, trying to go by feel instead of sight. He voices over that he has a lot of skills as a doctor – maybe not the same skills as his colleagues, but enough to help him save lives. Just today, he helped save Molly’s sight, and he saved the baby. But he didn’t feel anything.

Anspaugh wants to meet with Weaver and Romano, but Bright is just now arriving at the hospital, so Weaver wants to deal with him first. She’s quietly furious with him for not taking her calls earlier, and for forcing her to treat Keith off the record. He didn’t survive surgery. Before Bright can react to the news, Romano approaches, and Bright puts on his politician face to pretend he’s just there to check on a staff member.

He takes Weaver to a quiet spot where they have enough privacy for her to rant about everything that went wrong. Bright argues that he told Keith he was going to receive penicillin, and Keith clearly didn’t know he was allergic to it, so this would have happened whether he was treated off the record or in the manner he should have been.

Weaver wants to come clean, but Bright thinks all their tracks have been covered, so there’s no reason. Weaver is upset that a man died and Bright doesn’t seem to care. He says he does, but for someone who claims to have been in love with Keith, he sure doesn’t seem upset that Keith is dead. He tells Weaver that if she confesses to something that wasn’t her fault, people will treat her like it was.

Bright asks if Keith said anything about him, and Weaver assures him that he didn’t. “He loved you, and I killed him trying to hide that for you,” she tells him. He wants her to make an appearance at a press conference addressing Keith’s death, but Weaver would clearly rather be anywhere else. As she walks away, Bright congratulates her for her successes of the day.

Weaver goes to the meeting with Anspaugh and Romano, which is already tense. Anspaugh has decided to remove Romano as chief of staff and give Weaver the position. After storming out because he’s a child, Romano goes to Elizabeth for treatment for some scrapes he got when his arm was stuck in the bed. He’s running out of patience for making a full recovery, and he knows no one else thinks he’ll regain full use of his arm. He wonders if they all think this is karma. Yeah, he’s brutally honest, but isn’t that better than lying? He doesn’t think he deserves this.

As they leave work together, Carter gets Abby to confirm that she knew he was going to propose the other night. He says the moment didn’t feel right, but he’s not sure why. Maybe that means something in their relationship isn’t working. Abby basically gives him permission to break up with her. Carter says he’s confused because she’s suddenly a completely new person, with her nicotine patch and her return to AA. It’s great if it’s real, meaning she wants to be different, but not if she’s only doing this to prove something to him.

Abby angrily says it’s not about him. She woke up sick of herself, and she wouldn’t blame Carter if he’s sick of her, too. She feels like she’s always disappointing him and that will never change. Carter yells at her to stop with her “fatalistic, black-cloud, nothing-good-is-ever-going-to-happen routine.” Abby says it’s not a routine – that’s who she is. Carter asks what he has to do to get through to her. Well, nothing, right now, because he just gets in his now-fixed Jeep to leave. As Abby heads off on foot, Carter follows her and they silently make up. This relationship is ridiculous.

Luka tries to convince Mrs. Banks to let Molly come home, but Mrs. Banks refuses. Elizabeth, holding Ella, intervenes and tries to reason with Mrs. Banks in a much calmer way. Mrs. Banks thinks Molly will just go back to her old ways. She can’t keep dealing with a daughter who doesn’t want to change. She tells Elizabeth to enjoy Ella while she’s still too young to hate her mother.

In the lounge, Gallant admits to Luka that he feels horrible that the baby choked on the glove. Luka tells him not to worry about it, since they saved the baby. He adds that Gallant is one of the best medical students to come through County in a long time, and the hospital would be lucky to have him if he matched there.

As Luka leaves, he voices over that a recommendation letter from him wouldn’t mean much. He just goes through the motions at work, day after day. It looks like he’s talking to someone in an office, but it’s not Myers – it’s a woman. He tells her about a cartoon he once saw of a man stuck in a room with two doors. One door says, “Do not enter,” and the other says, “Do not exit.” All the man can do is sit there. The camera pulls back to show that Luka’s not in an office after all, and he’s definitely not talking to a therapist. His conversation partner is a prostitute, and she’s ready to get down to business.

Susan happily finishes up her shift as Chen arrives, already dressed for a night in Vegas before they even get on the plane. The news is showing Bright’s earlier press conference about Keith’s death. Weaver is standing behind him, looking shell-shocked. Bright only says generic things about Keith, as if he was just a normal member of Bright’s staff. In the present, Susan and Weaver exchange a glance, Susan looking like she’s horrified and disappointed by Weaver’s actions.

Thoughts: Keith is played by Josh Radnor (hence my recap title).

This episode is pretty timely, since boot camps for troubled teens have been in the news recently.

I really like Susan standing up to Weaver for Abby. As I’ve said before I love how Susan doesn’t look down on Abby for being a nurse – she treats her as an equal. I think it’s because Susan’s spent so many years in the ER and gets how hard all the nurses work.

I don’t think anything ever comes from Weaver’s actions in this episode – not in terms of consequences, but in how what she did affects her. I hate when something big happens and the writers never follow up.

1 Comment »

  1. Patrick Sullivan said,

    When I saw this episode during the first airing I thought it was brilliant that they made the viewer think the Luka VO was him speaking to a therapist when it was really an escort. It just illustrates how big of a problem Luka had with his sex addiction and antipathy. I also recall Anspaugh telling Romano he could share responsibilities with Weaver but Romano wouldn’t accept that.


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