June 7, 2022

ER 11.4, Fear: This Episode Will Wreck You

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

People come and people go but Noah Wyle continues to cling to his paycheck

Summary: A man is pounding on the door of the third-floor apartment where a woman named Nichelle lives with her young kids, Kali, Saige, and Tamira. The man threatens to kill them, then fires a bullet through the door. Nichelle moves the kids away as Saige asks what’s going on. The man starts breaking down the door, and Nichelle looks at her only escape option: a window.

Elizabeth is on her way to work, talking to Carter on the phone about how she’s facing a meeting with a committee about Douglas’ transplant. Ella is with her, looking at pictures of Mark and his parents. She’s now old enough to understand that her father and grandparents are dead, though she may not get exactly what that means. Apparently Alex never goes to school because Sam always has to find something for him to do; today he’ll be going to a science museum. She brings up the possibility of moving in with Luka, and while Alex is interested, he doesn’t jump straight to saying yes.

Neela’s new job at the mini-mart across the street from County definitely isn’t very stimulating. Howard buys a coffee, and when he takes forever to count out exact change, Abby says she’ll pay for it. She tells Neela she thinks Howard has OCD. Abby is spending the day on a paramedic ride-along, having been unable to talk her way out of the mandatory requirement by pleading that she gets carsick.

Carter talks to Weaver about the meeting that could lead to Elizabeth losing her medical license and/or job at County. He wants to speak on her behalf and take some responsibility, since he talked Elizabeth into doing the transplant, but Weaver notes that he wasn’t the one who picked up a scalpel. As a cheery Pratt arrives for his shift, Weaver tells Carter that she thinks some doctors are using work to deal with PTSD. Carter assures her that Pratt’s fine, but Weaver says she wasn’t talking about him.

She’s concerned that Carter is taking on more work so he doesn’t have to face his grief over the baby’s death. That could cause him to relapse. A woman named Wendall Meade tries to join them in the elevator but they don’t catch the door for her in time. Weaver reminds Carter that he’s been through a lot and is an addict, so he shouldn’t tempt fate. He promises that there won’t be a problem. Weaver will take his word for it, but she won’t approve him to work extra shifts. She encourages him to do something fun that doesn’t involve hanging around the hospital.

Susan’s back from maternity leave and wants to take on the role of chief of emergency medicine. She turned it down previously, but her circumstances have changed. She’s realized she’s not a baby person, and Chuck is fine being a stay-at-home father as long as Susan can earn enough to make up for the loss of his salary. She’ll get $1,000 more a week, but she’ll have to make a two-year commitment, which is fine with Susan. Weaver happily hands off some of her responsibilities.

Abby’s ambulance is the one that responds to the scene showing the aftermath of what happened at Nichelle’s apartment. She and Saige are fine but Kali and Tamira are lying on the pavement outside the building, badly injured. Nichelle tells the paramedics that her husband tried to kill the kids. Kali’s conscious and she asks Abby if she’s an angel who’s going to take her to Heaven.

Pratt quizzes the med students, showing them the exact amount of patience you would expect. He takes them with him as he examines a man named Mr. Hayslip who has some bumps on his shoulder. These bumps are what he was asking the med students about, so now he understands why they were clueless. He spots Chen down the hall and goes to greet her. She was supposed to get the cast on her leg from the shooting/car crash removed, but she doesn’t want to wait for an available orthopedist, so she borrowed a cast-cutter to do it herself. Pratt offers to lend a hand.

The paramedics start to take Tamira and Kali to the hospital. Nichelle worries that her husband will come back, but a paramedic (Dumar) promises that the police will protect them. Nichelle doesn’t want to split up the kids, so Abby convinces the paramedics to take Nichelle and Saige along, too. Dumar reminds Abby that she’s just supposed to be doing a ride-along.

Pratt removes Chen’s cast, which he notes doesn’t have anything written on it. Chen admits that she hasn’t left her house in weeks. She only came in because her father had to be admitted for a third round of pneumonia, among other problems. Pratt says she could have called him for a ride, but Chen isn’t eager to get back in a car with him. She asks if he ever thinks about Elgin. I’m guessing he thinks about Elgin a lot but doesn’t want to admit it.

Kali and Tamira arrive at County, and Carter and Pratt take over their care. Nichelle is understandably distraught, and Carter tell Chuny to get her connected with Social Services (and also get her out of the trauma room). He asks Abby if they caught the father. Dumar tells Abby they have another call to take, but Abby is in nurse mode and doesn’t want to leave Kali, so she tells Dumar she’ll wait until they come back after their next run. He reminds her that she has to do 12 hours of ride-alongs to get the proper amount of credits.

Elizabeth undergoes interrogation at the committee meeting, which is attended by Weaver, Anspaugh, and Kayson. She dances around the question of whether the rest of the surgical team knew they were participating in an illegal operation. Elizabeth stresses that there was a time crunch, so they had to bypass regular procedures. And since Douglas is doing great, she doesn’t see the problem. You know, other than the part where everything she did was illegal. She thinks breaking the law is less important than saving Douglas. Anspaugh notes that Derek was the patient; Douglas just benefited from his death.

Weaver reminds Elizabeth that she broke hospital policy, as well as state and federal laws. Any of those infractions are grounds for her termination and/or revocation of her license if the situation is reported to the state board. Dubenko arrives and Elizabeth objects to his presence, even though he’s on the medical ethics committee (which, as Kayson points out, she would have known if she’d followed protocol and presented the case to them). Weaver looks sad, but there’s nothing she can do here. Elizabeth will just have to wait for the committee’s decision.

She joins Luka, Ray, and Sam as they take care of Tamira, who’s four and just keeps calling out for her mother. Luka tries to distract her with a conversation about the Wiggles. He explains that he likes to keep up with kids’ TV so he has something to talk to younger patients about. “I hate the bloody Wiggles,” Elizabeth says as she heads next door to check on Kali. Carter asks how the meeting went; he doesn’t think Elizabeth will face any steep consequences. Kali asks for “angel,” making sure Abby’s still with her.

The med students duck into the room to tell Pratt that Mr. Hayslip has a huge mass in his chest. Carter tells Pratt he can go; he’s fine with just Howard as backup (and Abby’s still there until she needs to go back on the ride-along). Sam calls Elizabeth back to Tamira, who’s declining. She asks if they should bring Nichelle back in to say goodbye, but Elizabeth is confident that they can save Tamira.

Susan is already struggling in her new role and wonders if the universe is punishing her for being a bad mother. She and Jerry complain to each other about how Neela isn’t great at making coffee or toasting bagels. Weaver nags Susan to step up her pace, then informs her that another ER is closing for renovations soon, so County will have double the patients. Jerry simultaneously congratulates Susan on her promotion and submits a request for time off/demand for a raise/letter of resignation if he doesn’t get both.

Kali is unstable both physically and mentally. Nichelle panics over her and Tamira’s conditions, believing the staff isn’t doing enough for them. Abby calms her and assures her that they’re helping the girls. Pratt and the med students return to Mr. Hayslip with the unfortunate news that he has stage 4 lung cancer. The lumps are a sign that it’s spread to his skin. Pratt tells the med students to stay with Mr. Hayslip for emotional support, but probably also because he doesn’t want to deal with them anymore.

He goes to Kali’s trauma room and takes over for Howard. Dubenko gives Pratt and Carter some instructions, mentioning a piece of equipment they didn’t know was available. Saige comes in, asking hesitantly if his sister is going to die. Carter promises that they’ll do everything they can for her. He tells Howard to take Saige out of the room, but Howard says that’s a social worker’s job. Next it would fall to a nurse, but Chuny’s the only one there and Carter needs her. Saige says he’d rather talk to Pratt anyway (possibly since they’re both Black), so Pratt leaves with him.

As Carter’s complaining that no social worker has arrived, Wendall shows up. She tells him she’s covering two hospitals at the same time, so she has an excuse for being late, but she’d like to know his for being a jerk. Chuny smiles at that as she borrows something from Tamira’s trauma room, where Elizabeth and Dubenko are both consulting. When Tamira declines, they both rush to stabilize her. Dubenko wins and Elizabeth isn’t happy about it.

Wendall meets with Nichelle, who’s too traumatized to talk about what happened. She just wants to pray for her daughters to live and her husband to die. She laughs/cries that he gave her her children, and now he’s going to take them away. Saige asks Pratt if Nichelle will be okay. Pratt stays optimistic, both about the family surviving and about the police protecting them. Saige wets himself, and Abby tells Pratt where he can get the boy some clean scrubs.

A detective tells Abby that the police haven’t had any luck finding Nichelle’s husband. He may have left the state a year ago. No neighbors saw or heard anything, so the police haven’t been able to confirm that he was there. He goes to talk to Nichelle, who says her husband drinks a lot, so he might be at a bar.

Dubenko surprises Elizabeth by praising her for performing Douglas’ transplant. Just when she gets the chance to start liking him, he overrules a decision she made for Kali. Howard brings Abby back to Kali’s trauma room, where Dubenko’s equipment hasn’t done what he hoped it would do. Kali heartbreakingly murmurs that she wasn’t a bad girl and she wants to go to Heaven. “I want to go with you, angel,” she tells Abby before passing out.

Howard counts to himself (“one, two, three, squeeze”) over and over as he bags Kali so she can breathe. He has to concentrate harder as the other staff in the room communicate, tossing out numbers that interfere with his counting. Eventually it becomes too much for him and he yells for everyone to shut up. Meanwhile, Sam tells Luka that the girls’ conditions made her want to call Alex. He asks if she’s decided whether or not they’re ready to move in. Susan overhears and jokingly warns Sam not to do it. Sam tells Luka they’re discussing it but need a little more time to decide.

Howard’s OCD interferes again as he asks Abby to triple-check things on Kali’s chart before giving her another transfusion. While his desire to do everything right is admirable, they don’t have the luxury of time here. Pratt tends to Saige, who admits that he was scared back in the apartment. He wishes he’d done something to stop what happened. Pratt reminds him that he’s just a kid. Saige thinks that, as the oldest, he’s responsible for his sisters, even though he’s only nine. Pratt says that he couldn’t have stopped his father from what he did. “He was never there,” Saige reveals.

Kali’s doing much worse, and Howard is convinced that it’s because they screwed up her last transfusion. Wendall brings Nichelle in, wanting her to be with her daughter (though Carter doesn’t think that’s a good idea). Carter, Abby, and Elizabeth are prepared to keep working on Kali, but they all realize that they can’t do anything for her. They stop so Nichelle can say goodbye to her. When Nichelle realizes they’re done trying to save Kali, she just yells, “No!” over and over.

Elizabeth goes to Weaver’s office, where she learns that Weaver has advocated for her to stay on at County, just in an instructional position (without tenure) instead of as a surgeon. Elizabeth notes that she’s worked there for seven years and will lose tenure because of a single patient. Weaver reminds her that she broke the law and had to have known there could be serious consequences. Elizabeth thought she would get more support and appreciation for saving Douglas’ life.

She threatens to go public about the hospital’s willingness to let Douglas die if the state board revokes her license. She feels like what she did was extraordinary. Weaver agrees, but that’s not what the hospital is there for. They have enough trouble meeting the community’s basic needs. Elizabeth asks if they’re really expected to get through each day doing just enough when they can do so much more.

Abby finds Howard packing up his locker in the lounge. She wants him to talk about his obvious OCD, but he won’t listen. She assures him that the staff didn’t do anything wrong – Kali’s father, not the staff, is responsible for her death. Howard thinks his thoroughness should be praised instead of scrutinized. As he storms out, Abby tells Susan what’s going on. With Howard quitting, Susan has yet another problem to deal with.

Abby goes back to Kali’s trauma room, where Carter is cleaning up her body. She can tell he’s struggling to deal with the death of a child. He asks how she’s doing and she admits that this was a hard day. She feels for both Carter and Nichelle, having lost children. Pratt comes in to tell them that Saige said he hasn’t seen his father in a while. Someone has also uncovered the news that his father died a year ago.

Susan scrambles to find a first-year intern who qualified to match at County but doesn’t currently have a job. Somehow there are only four in the whole country. Ray offers to talk to a friend who took off a year to live with wolves. Yeah, we’re going to pass on her, Ray, but thanks for your help. Jerry thinks Susan could change Howard’s mind, but she tried, and all he did was unlock and relock his car doors. Ray mentions a neurologist who wants to get into emergency medicine. The downside is that he’s 60. Ray, stop helping! Susan is happy to learn of a candidate in Milwaukee, but Sam brings her down by revealing that Tamira died in the OR.

Wendall and Pratt tell Abby and Carter that police confirmed Nichelle’s husband’s death last year. According to Saige, Nichelle struggled to function after he died. She wound up taking Valium three times a day, then stopped when she ran out of money last week. The doctors guess that quitting cold turkey after months of taking it caused psychosis and hallucinations. Abby wonders what really happened in the apartment, since Saige hasn’t told anyone.

Abby’s in trouble for missing her ride-along, like, is this her last chance ever to do it or something? Nichelle has received some Valium, so Wendall, Carter, and Pratt hope she’ll be able to tell them what happened. Susan calls an intern candidate, but he probably won’t be a good fit in Chicago since he doesn’t speak English. There’s another prospect but his tattoos and piercings outnumber Ray’s, so that’s probably a bust, too.

Carter and Wendall gently ask Nichelle to explain what happened in the apartment. She’s not sure, but she’s lucid enough to know that her husband wasn’t there, since he’s dead. We see the opening of the episode again, this time without anyone banging on the door or shooting into the apartment. No wonder Saige was confused – his mother was yelling at someone who wasn’t there. Nichelle remembers the hallucination, then what happened to Kali and Tamira: She told them to jump out the window so their father couldn’t get to them. Saige is only alive because he wouldn’t jump, too.

Abby goes across the street to invite Neela to get dinner with her. Neela still has an hour left of work; her shifts at the mini-mart are longer than at the hospital. Plus, the only skills she’s learning at the mini-mart are ones like cleaning out the hot dog machine. Susan joins them and orders a coffee and an intern to replace Howard. Abby tells her that Neela’s having a very early midlife crisis combined with a delayed teen rebellion. Susan is desperate, though, and she knows Neela can’t be enjoying her new job. She’s right, and it just takes one complaint from a customer to get Neela to agree to take Howard’s spot.

Carter meets up with Elizabeth by the river, where she tells him she’s not taking Weaver’s offer. There isn’t enough of a future for her at County, so she’s leaving. Carter offers to talk to Weaver for her but Elizabeth feels good about walking away now. She’s lost Mark and other friends, and she has no reason to stay in Chicago. She’s known that for a while now but hasn’t let herself accept that she needs to close this chapter of her life and move on.

He asks where she’s going to go next. She hasn’t made a firm decision but she plans to go back to England for a while. She asks Carter to apologize to everyone and say goodbye for her. She doesn’t want to cry in front of everyone. She starts to leave, turning back when Carter asks what to tell everyone. “Tell them…it’s been lovely,” she replies.

Thoughts: Wendall is played by Mädchen Amick.

Goodbye to Alex Kingston, who smartly decided after a full season of getting nothing to do that it was time to leave. She’ll be back a couple more times, though.

Now that I’ve recapped this episode, I plan to never watch it again, and hopefully someday forget about it entirely. It’s heartbreaking just thinking about it.

I think it’s really interesting that Alex asks Sam if she wants to live with Luka. I don’t see him as the sort of person who thinks of others a lot.

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