May 24, 2022

ER 11.2, Damaged: Life, Improvised

Posted in TV tagged , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

Two sad men

Summary: Carter wakes up in the middle of the night, thinking he hears the baby crying and Kem calling for him. When he goes to the nursery, it’s, of course, empty. Sam’s also having a sleepless night; she’s returned to Chicago and is staying with Luka. She’s sure that Steve will eventually come back and cause trouble again. Luka invites her and Alex to move in with him, but she doesn’t want to make the decision to live together because of fear. If it ever happens, it’ll be because they want it.

Luka isn’t the only one with house guests – Neela is crashing on Abby’s couch. Since she gave up her apartment when she left for Michigan, she had nothing to come home to when she came back to Chicago. Her parents are on their way for a surprise visit. Neela didn’t tell them she ditched her internship, but they called the person who was supposed to be her new boss and learned the news from him. Abby’s like, “I’m getting out of here as soon as humanly possible, but good luck.”

At County, Luka greets Carter with, “You look like Hell.” Thanks, man! They catch us up on Chen and Pratt – they’re both recovering from the car crash, and Pratt is eager to get back to work. Paramedics bring in a man named Kyle whose mother found him altered. Thanks to the war in Iraq, Kyle is missing part of one leg and has received skin grafts. Carter uses him as a teaching case for Ray, who thinks he has meningitis. Kyle’s mental state is stable now, but he doesn’t believe Ray when he says they’ll make him better.

Weaver chastises Abby for doing things for her patients that others can do instead of moving them along to take on more cases. She needs to delegate to med students and nurses. One of those med students is Penny, who’s supposed to be shadowing Abby today. Sam asks Abby to co-sign an order, and Abby notes that last week, she had to get the same permissions she’s now allowed to give on her own.

Abby and Ray delegate stuff to Sam, who complains about how busy her workload is. Haleh offers to take some things off her plate. Abby tells Haleh that she seems to have screwed up the decimal point on a medication, and she should double-check it next time. Haleh is offended and tells Abby that her mixture was right; Abby always mixes it a different way. It looks like Haleh will give Abby a pass this time, since Abby apologizes, but I don’t think that’s going to happen often. Penny tells Abby that nurses are the backbones of hospitals. Thanks, Penny! You can go away now.

Neela’s father would like to know what’s going on with his daughter. She announces that she’s not sure she wants to be a doctor. She doesn’t know if she’s good at it. Mrs. Rasgotra says she’s good at everything. Mr. Rasgotra feels like she’s punishing them after they put her through med school. Neela says she just wants to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Mrs. Rasgotra brings up Neela’s siblings; her salary as a doctor was supposed to put them through school. Neela promises to help as soon as she can. She hopes to get a non-intern job at County.

Malik and Chuny are cold to Abby because of how she treated Haleh. Howard asks Abby for help treating a teen named Marta who has a dislocated shoulder. Haleh questions Abby’s medication orders for Marta, but Abby sticks to her first decision. She has Penny help her as Howard joins Haleh in second-guessing Abby’s orders. As soon as Marta’s shoulder has been fixed, her aunt Rosario, who brought her in, wants to leave, but Abby has found a gash on the girl and wants to clean it out.

Kyle has a sinus infection that’s spread to his brain, and he’ll need surgery to drain it. Kyle’s mother says that he just got home a few days ago after being injured months earlier. Carter gives him a spinal tap and detects an infection. He tells Kyle to get some rest, but Kyle has trouble sleeping. He dreams that he’s still the person he used to be, then wakes up to remember that he’s not anymore.

Abby is having trouble continuing Marta’s care since Marta doesn’t speak much English and no one speaks enough Spanish to take down her medical history (I guess Chuny’s busy). She also hasn’t provided an address or phone number. Abby tells Penny to bring over a security guard while she talks to Marta and Rosario. She wants to give Marta a more thorough exam.

Abby asks about Marta’s injury, which Rosario says is from playing rough with her sisters. But Abby finds marks on Marta’s back that are definitely signs of abuse. Rosario tries to leave with Marta but security stops them. Abby chases Marta, who angrily says she doesn’t want to be touched. Abby promises not to hurt her.

Weaver doesn’t approve of Ray’s CBGB’s shirt and jeans under his doctor’s coat, and she cautions him not to make any of his patients uncomfortable. He thinks she doesn’t like his painted nails, visible tattoos, or messy hair. She tells him the whole look is a problem. Ray says he’ll talk to his band mates about changing his look. I don’t know why he needs their permission, but okay.

Weaver and Carter briefly make some small talk about Kem and Henry. Neela comes by to talk to Weaver after leaving her parents at the mini-mart across the street. Penny can’t keep control of one of her patients, who smacks Carter in the face with a metal dish. Neela finds Weaver, who already knows she left her internship in Michigan because the department head called to ask if County noticed that Neela has any psychiatric problems. Yikes Neela asks for a job while she figures out what she wants to do. Weaver doesn’t have anything for her and advises her to go back to Michigan before it’s too late.

Abby examines Marta alone, noticing that she calls Rosario “mamacita.” Marta admits that Rosario isn’t her aunt. “She keeps us,” she says. Also, the girls she lives with aren’t her sisters. Abby gently asks if Rosario is the one who’s been hurting Marta. Marta says she won’t say any more; it’s a secret. Abby presses her to spill, and Marta says men hurt her.

Jerry gives Carter Kyle’s military medical records, which include a picture of Kyle back when he was a happy young soldier, not the depressed, struggling person he is now. Luka brings up the subject of living together with Sam, telling her he’s in love with her. He invited her to move in because he hopes she feels the same. He’ll give her time to figure that out, and he’ll be waiting when she decides she’s ready.

Two guys drive up in a truck from an aquarium, bringing in a guy named Fahey who was bitten by a nurse shark. The shark is still chomping down on Fahey’s leg, and the challenge is to pull it off without hurting it or Fahey. Also, Fahey has to keep spraying the shark with a hose so it doesn’t suffocate. Abby asks Chuny to help her get Marta’s medical history. Luka and Sam are moving Fahey and his shark buddy to a room when Howard comes down the hall, not looking where he’s going, and bumps into their gurney. Fahey and the shark fall off, and Howard yells at the sight of the shark.

Across the street, Mr. Rasgotra announces that Neela is going back to Michigan. Mrs. Rasgotra separates them by sending her husband to get a cab. She tells Neela that she gave up her dreams for her own future to get married and do what Mr. Rasgotra wanted her to do. Neela needs to take this opportunity that’s been given to her. Her family worked hard to give Neela the future she said she wanted. Neela says again that she needs time, but Mrs. Rasgotra tells her that time’s up.

Neela argues that she’s always done what her parents told her to do. She took viola lessons because they wanted her to, and she played the music they wanted her to play instead of being creative or improvising. Mrs. Rasgotra says you can’t improvise on a viola. Neela replies that you can try. That’s what she wants to do now – navigate her life without the structure she’s always had to stick to.

Marta opens up to Chuny, revealing that she was kidnapped in Mexico when she was 12. She’s not sure how much time has passed or how old she is now. She was brought to Chicago and made a “damaged girl,” a plaything for men who can do whatever they want to her. She hasn’t spoken to her family since the one time she was able to sneak off and call them. She told them she didn’t know when she would be home and that they shouldn’t be sad. Abby promises to help Marta, whose real name is Tesoro (treasure).

Mrs. Rasgotra informs her husband that they’re going home and Neela is staying in Chicago. Mr. Rasgotra doesn’t argue, but he tells Neela they can’t help her financially. Neela is fine with that. Her father tells her that when she was little, she wanted to be a bird so she could fly far away. “Well, you’ve finally done it, haven’t you?” he says.

While Rosario talks to a detective, Penny tells Abby that she called the factory where Tesoro’s parents work in Mexico and was able to get their phone number. The detective complains to Abby that Rosario is asking for asylum, claiming to be a victim of the traffickers just like Tesoro and the other girls. The girls will be put into foster care and the INS will get involved. That makes Abby more eager to reunite Tesoro with her family.

Neela’s back, and she’s willing to just hang out for a few hours until Abby’s shift is over, since she has nothing better to do. Uh, how about look for a job and/or an apartment? Abby tells Tesoro that she may be able to go home, but Tesoro doesn’t think her family loves her or wants her anymore. She’s been gone too long. Abby calls them, and of course they’re thrilled to hear from their daughter.

Carter checks on Kyle, who’s declined surgery but doesn’t fight when Carter tries to change his mind. He asks if Carter is a Democrat. Carter says yes, most of the time. Kyle complains that people talk badly about the war, but he thinks it’s good because it’s provided a lot of people with freedom. Carter knows that Kyle was previously engaged, but he pushed his fiancée, Karen, away when she tried to visit him in the hospital. Kyle doesn’t think she’ll be able to get past what’s happened to him.

Jerry, Malik, Sam, and Luka read up on nurse sharks at the admit desk, making the obvious jokes about a nurse shark in a hospital. Carter snaps at them to stop goofing off and go back to work. Luka tells him he can leave his shift early. Yay, now Carter can go home to his empty house and be depressed by himself! Paramedics bring in a man named Tom who says he was hit in the head with a tire jack. He and his boyfriend, Zack, were the victims of a hate crime.

Abby runs Zack’s trauma, which gives her seniority over Haleh and Malik. He declines, so Abby tells Sam to send Luka over. Luka doesn’t want to leave Tom, who needs to be intubated, so he tries to send Howard in his place. Robert, a friend of Tom and Zack’s, is hovering around, and Sam tries to convince him that they’ll do everything they can for Tom. “You can’t just kill people for kissing in the park,” Robert says.

He goes to Zack’s trauma room, where the staff is struggling to stabilize him. Abby goes through a mental list of the possible solutions, then asks Haleh and Sam for their opinions on a potential treatment. Haleh gently reminds Abby that since she’s a doctor now, she has to make the call.

Carter goes to a pub where he’s enough of a regular for a server to know him and his order. Carter says he wants something different today. Back at County, Zack has been unresponsive for 42 minutes. Abby invites Robert to say goodbye before they declare him dead. Robert thanks Zack for making him strong. He let Robert see who he is and know that it’s okay. Robert tells Sam that he didn’t know he was gay until he got to know Zack and his friends. She takes him to talk to the police, and Haleh gives Abby a nod to go ahead and call Zack’s time of death.

Abby goes next door to help Luka with Tom, as well as complain that he left her to take care of Zack alone. He lets her do a procedure on Tom that stabilizes him until Elizabeth comes to get him for surgery. Abby complains again to Luka, who thinks he was justified in letting her run a code by herself. She’s embarrassed because she didn’t know what to do and had to ask nurses for help.

Luka thinks nurses appreciate being asked for their opinions and treated like they’re working on a team. Abby always did. She doesn’t think it matters, since Zack died. She doesn’t think he got the best possible care. Luka says they gave Tom the best possible care because he didn’t think Zack would survive. Abby will get another chance to save someone.

Carter returns, looking unsteady on his feet. He tells Kyle to call Karen. Bad things happen to everyone, but Kyle needs to give Karen the chance to stick by his side. He’ll get through his medical issues, but he might not get over losing the love of his life. Luka drags Carter away as Abby meets with someone from CPS. Tesoro will have to go to foster care until the INS clears her, but then she can go home to Mexico. Unfortunately, she’ll have to wait a few months. The social worker says they’ll do their best, but Abby doesn’t think that’s good enough here.

She quickly throws together a plan with help from Neela: She’s going to give Tesoro all the money they have on them, buy her a train ticket, and send her home. Tesoro has no idea that she’s sneaking out as she gratefully thanks Abby for her help. In the lounge, Carter laments drinking but doesn’t want to talk about why he did it. Luka urges him to open up, and Carter confides that he keeps dreaming about Kem and the baby. He misses them and all the things he wanted for them. He doesn’t know how to get any of it back.

Neela takes Tesoro to the train station and gives her everything she’ll need to get home. Tesoro’s scared and doesn’t think she can handle it. Abby tells the social worker that Tesoro took off while no one was paying attention, but people are looking for her. Darn County’s lax security! Abby casually invites Carter to go to an AA meeting with her, but he says he’s okay, though he feels like a hypocrite for having a “slip” after he used to give Abby crap about her drinking. She says everyone’s a hypocrite.

Sam has decided that she’s ready to take the next step with Luka. As Carter’s leaving again, he exchanges a glance and a nod with Kyle, who seems to be saying that he’ll give things with Karen another chance. Carter calls Kem just to hear her voice on her voicemail. Neela ends up taking the train with Tesoro so she doesn’t have to face uncertainty alone. Abby tells Haleh that if she ever thinks Abby’s doing something wrong, she should speak up. Haleh assures her that she did everything right with Zack.

Thoughts: Not only are Anupam Kher and Kirron Kher, the actors who play Neela’s parents, married in real life, but Anupam also played Parminder Nagra’s father in Bend It Like Beckham.

Paul McCrane (Romano) directed this episode.

“A sinus infection that spread to his brain” is one of the scariest things I’ve ever heard on this show.

Thanks to a throwaway line from Elizabeth, be advised that Edson still works at County. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with him anymore.

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