August 16, 2022

ER 11.14, Just As I Am: Not Quite Perfect

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

And now we know where Weaver got her red hair from

Summary: Weaver is outside a hotel on a windy night. She looks determined as she goes in and knocks on a door, calling for someone named Helen. She tells Helen she doesn’t want to leave things like this. But if Helen does, Weaver will go away like they never met.

Sam and Susan head into County together as snow falls. Susan’s not thrilled with the weather but Sam is in a great mood. Sounds like someone’s living arrangements have turned out great. In the waiting area, a woman with a gash in her leg asks to be seen; she was cut by the blade of someone’s ice skate. It’s not clear if it was on purpose or not.

Abby and Neela talk about Jake, who’s been spending the night at Abby’s recently. He’s working nights and it’s closer to the hospital, but Neela doesn’t think the arrangement is solely based on convenience. Abby assures her that they’ve been getting to know each other in ways that aren’t just physical. Apparently Jake’s name is really George. It’s a funny story! Kind of! Abby realizes that Neela doesn’t care.

Luka hands off patients to Carter and Weaver as he wraps up a night shift. Ray’s also leaving, and Neela tells him a couple of things about their shared apartment, which doesn’t sound like a great place to live. Susan tells a curious Neela and Jane that Weaver’s going to work a couple of shifts a month to stay up on her skills and see what the department needs. Neela thinks Susan must find that awkward, but Carter tells her Susan loves it since Weaver runs everything and Susan gets a break from being in charge.

Pratt comes in as Weaver, Abby, and Jane are starting to tend to a man who was stabbed. Weaver tells Pratt to take Jane and see a patient with Pick’s disease (a type of dementia). Pratt protests but Weaver doesn’t listen. Poor Pratt, he has to work with someone who knows what she’s doing and just happens to talk a little more than he’d like. Boo-hoo.

Dubenko and Jake come to the ER to see if the stabbing victim needs surgery. They heard he was stabbed with a screwdriver and wonder what kind it was. Dubenko seems to like Jake, and Jake appears to be doing well in his surgical rotation. Weaver, however, doesn’t like Dubenko questioning her decisions. Susan ends their bickering by calling Weaver away to see a patient named Sharon who said Weaver treated her before. Dubenko leaves Jake in the ER with “Mr. Screwdriver” (thanks for coming up with a name for him so I don’t have to) and instructions to stitch him up. This will leave Jake and Abby in each other’s orbits for a while.

Sharon is actually Helen, and since Weaver doesn’t recognize her, this means we’ve rewound to an early time. Sharon tells Weaver that she’s not sure she really needed to come to the hospital. She said she had shortness of breath but she seems fine now. She asks Weaver if she likes her job and whether she always wanted to be a doctor. The answer to both questions is yes. Helen thinks that means Weaver was lucky because she got the opportunity to fulfill her dream. Weaver asks Haleh to pull up Helen’s records from the last time she was in the ER.

Pratt tries to examine the woman with Pick’s, Mrs. Devon, who cut her hand. Her daughter, Charlotte, is understandably upset that her condition is worsening and she might not be able to be cared for at home anymore. When Weaver quizzes Jane on Pick’s disease later, Jane gives her a textbook answer, and Weaver guesses that she didn’t learn anything from Pratt. Okay, but does anyone? Weaver wants Jane to learn how to handle real patients and their families. She tells Pratt to help Charlotte find a facility for her mother, even though that’s something a social worker would normally do.

Weaver asks Sam if Mr. Screwdriver has been taken care of yet. Sam hesitantly says that Dubenko wanted the ER staff to do some things first (in violation of Weaver’s orders). Abby and Jake chat about something weird she said in her sleep (“let’s polka”), then get busted by Weaver for…I don’t know, taking a moment out of their day to to laugh with each other. Chill, Weaver.

Haleh tells Weaver that “Sharon” doesn’t have any records from a previous visit, and now she wants to leave. Weaver finds her in the ambulance bay and asks her to wait until her test results are back. Helen says they’re unnecessary because she’s not sick. She just needed a reason to come to the hospital. Her real name is Helen, and she’s Weaver’s mother.

Weaver cancels Helen’s tests and wraps up some loose ends so she can take a long break. Abby and Jake don’t even get berated for hanging out. Frank is shocked that Weaver’s leaving during a shift. She and Helen go to a diner, where Helen says she got a letter Weaver sent her four years ago. She wanted to see Weaver in person instead of writing her back. She’s in town for a week, though Weaver notes that she lives in Indiana and could have easily come to Chicago anytime.

Weaver’s upset that she spent so much time tracking Helen down, and Helen didn’t get back to her for four years. (Though I guess you could argue that Weaver could have also gone to see her at any time, so this is kind of on both of them.) Helen starts to leave but Weaver begs her to stay. Helen says she’s in Chicago with her church choir for a festival concert. Weaver’s face falls a little when she realizes that Helen is a devout Christian. Helen has to go to a rehearsal but wants to talk with Weaver again.

When Weaver goes back to County, she interrogates Jake and Abby while they’re working on a trauma with Dubenko, Susan, and Sam. Dubenko wants Jake to insert a chest tube, which Weaver isn’t sure he’s ready to do. While she’s lecturing him, her ice queen demeanor slips a little. Susan assures her that they have things under control, so Weaver leaves. “That was fun,” Sam says. Heh. Susan would like to know why Weaver’s so mad at Jake and Abby.

Carter and Neela examine a woman named Mrs. Bulowski who has neck pain. She and her husband both insist that Demerol works best for her and she can’t take anything else. Carter suspects that she’s an addict. Neela thinks they should give her the benefit of the doubt and the medication. Weaver hears the tail end of their conversation and sides with Neela, mostly because giving Mrs. B. the drugs will get her to leave.

Weaver checks on Jane, who’s giving Mrs. Devon stitches, and asks where Pratt is. Jane tells her obvious lies to cover up the fact that Pratt dumped Mrs. Devon on her to do other stuff. Weaver finds him and chastises him for not following her instructions to supervise Jane. In the background, Abby and Jake start to leave a trauma room, then go right back in so Weaver won’t see them. Heh. Weaver complains that the residents aren’t good at their jobs, but Susan tells her Pratt isn’t the problem. Weaver should take another break.

She actually listens. She goes to the church where Helen said her choir was holding their concert and hears them rehearsing the hymn “Just As I Am.” Helen spots her but tries to keep her focus on the music. When they get the chance to talk, Weaver notes that some of the choir members brought their families. Helen reveals that she’s divorced and has two children in their 20s. Weaver says she always imagined Helen with a “happily-ever-after family.” Helen tells her that the divorce was difficult but her church saved her.

Weaver drops her crutch, and Helen asks why she needs it. Weaver explains that she has congenital hip dysplasia. Helen worries that that came from her, but Weaver says there’s no way to know. Helen reveals that part of the reason she came to Chicago now was that she recently learned that Weaver’s father died. Weaver thinks she means her adoptive father, but Helen is talking about her birth father.

They go for a walk and talk about Weaver’s biological father, Cody. He and Helen were teenagers when Helen got pregnant. She lived in South Carolina and was sent to a home for pregnant teens in Indiana, where she had family. Helen and Cody both wanted to live together and keep the babies, but they were too young for that to work. Helen decided that Weaver needed a family who could take better care of her.

Weaver admits that she’s not sure things turned out for the best. Yes, she had two parents and a happy childhood, but she always felt like she’d been rejected. Helen’s sorry that she was never able to see or hold Weaver after she was born. No one told her that Weaver had a hip problem. Weaver says she used to wonder if that was why she was given away – because she was “not quite perfect.” Helen tells her that all Jesus’ children are perfect. Weaver asks if Cody went with Helen when she moved to Indiana. Helen says she never saw him again. She thought about him over the years, though she thought about Weaver more.

Neela tries to deal with the Bulowskis, who are upset that Mrs. B. is still in pain even after being given Demerol. Carter thinks she’s talked Neela into giving her more. Weaver returns to a busy ER, now in a better mood. She doesn’t even comment when she catches Abby and Jake chatting while stitching up Mr. Screwdriver together. She knows Dubenko gave Jake a bunch of orders that would keep Mr. Screwdriver in the ER for a long time, so she doesn’t blame Jake for him still being there.

Ray comes in to fill in for Morris, who’s sick. Weaver hands the Bulowskis off to him, telling him to review Mrs. B.’s chart and get rid of them. Jane helps Charlotte find a facility for Mrs. Devon, since Pratt couldn’t be bothered. At least he’s checking in on Mrs. Devon herself. She keeps dropping a tissue box on the floor so he’ll keep picking it up. I think he’d rather deal with that than get another lecture from Weaver, though.

In the lounge, Weaver confides in Susan that “Sharon” is her birth mother. Susan’s happy that her long search is finally over. Weaver is also happy, as well as nervous because she hasn’t shared everything about her life yet. She tells Susan they’re going to dinner but she’ll try to stop back at County later.

Helen and Weaver talk a lot at dinner, giving us a little information about Weaver’s past: Her adoptive parents were “wannabe missionaries” who set up schools and did civil engineering stuff in Africa. Weaver was singled out more for being white than for using a crutch. They moved to Minneapolis when she was 12, and her parents both died when she was in college. Helen’s sorry that they didn’t get to see her become a doctor. She’s proud of Weaver.

Weaver’s bigger regret is that her parents didn’t get to meet Henry. She shows Helen a picture of herself, Henry, and Sandy. Helen thinks Sandy is the baby’s nanny and that Weaver has a husband. Weaver glosses over the details of how she became a single parent without mentioning who Henry’s other parent was. Helen quotes scripture to remind her to keep her faith and stay close to God.

Weaver tries to gather herself in the restroom before going back to her and Helen’s conversation. She gets to see pictures of Helen and Cody when Helen was pregnant. Helen mentioned earlier that they were 14 and 15 at the time, but seeing a picture of them drives home how young they were.

Weaver finally tells Helen that Sandy was her partner, Henry’s other mother. Helen is stunned by the realization that her daughter is a lesbian. Since Weaver didn’t come out until after her adoptive parents had died, Helen notes that they never knew about the choice she made. Weaver says firmly that it’s not a choice, it’s who she is and how she was born. Helen wants to pray, but Weaver refuses to sit there while Helen no doubt tries to ask God to forgive her sins.

Helen follows her out of the restaurant and apologizes for offending Weaver, though she believes homosexuality is wrong: “It’s not what God created.” Weaver asks why people like her always say things like that. Helen replies that people like Weaver are dismissive of people of faith. Weaver argues that Helen doesn’t have faith that God knew what He was doing when He made Weaver the way she is.

Helen says God loves her and created her, but Weaver thinks that sounds threatening somehow. Why is it that while people are being murdered and dying of starvation, Christians think gay people are dangerous? “The world isn’t perfect,” Helen says. “It’s what we make it.” Weaver notes that Helen just said it was perfect because of God. Weaver knows all the same scriptures; she grew up in the church. She also knows that “the welcome sign’s not out for everyone.”

Helen asks if she hates all faith. Weaver tearfully says she just hates that her own faith excludes her and tells her she’s a sinner because of the people she loves. Helen still believes it’s because Weaver made a choice to love women. Weaver replies that the only choice she made was to stop living a lie about who she is. “I was alone in my soul,” she says. Helen decides to end things there and go back to her hotel.

Ray can’t get rid of the Bulowskis, who are frequent fliers at other hospitals. He asks Carter to get rid of them so Weaver doesn’t get mad. Carter calmly tells Mrs. B. that her regular usage of Demerol may have caused a dependence. Mr. B. blows up at him, saying he doesn’t understand pain like Mrs. B. does. Wrong! Carter doesn’t mention his own struggles with addiction, though.

Mr. B. looks like he’s going to take a swing at Carter, so Carter hits him first, then restrains him. Mrs. B. jumps on his back, and when Ray pulls her off, she clocks him in the face with a bedpan. Neela picks it up and goes over to help Carter, then realizes, “What the hell am I doing?” Ha! Security breaks things up as Weaver arrives and asks who’s winning. Sam’s amused that Neela almost jumped into the fight. Jerry wishes he’d gotten to see that.

Charlotte had to go pick up her kids, so Jane is looking after Mrs. Devon (and doing a pretty good job of it). Pratt gives Weaver an update, then tells her he’s willing to oversee Jane again. He’s realized that she’s really good at her job. And he’s probably also realized that he can get her to do everything he doesn’t want to. Luka comes in a little early to see Sam, since they don’t get to spend much time together while he’s working nights.

We’re back at the first scene of the episode, with Weaver going to Helen’s hotel room. We skip ahead to Helen letting her in and brewing some coffee. She’s been thinking about their reunion for a long time and never pictured it going the way it did. She wonders if Weaver turned out the way she did because she was given up. Weaver says Helen doesn’t get to feel guilty for placing her for adoption, then make herself feel better because Weaver had a good life. If Helen’s disappointed, it should be in the limitations of her faith, not Weaver’s life.

Helen says she gave birth and then gave up her child for what she thought were all good reasons. She later realized that she broke her own heart. Her faith was the only thing that gave her hope and courage. She can’t abandon it, too. Weaver asks Helen if she can accept her daughter for who she is. Helen says she can love her, but Weaver doesn’t want love without acceptance. She tells Helen it was nice to finally meet her, then hugs her goodbye and leaves.

Thoughts: Helen is played by Frances Fisher, who’s only five years older than Laura Innes. She was originally supposed to be played by Sissy Spacek, who’s only three years older than Fisher.

Laura Innes is always great but she really brings her A game in this episode. She makes you feel sad for Weaver for how her long journey to find her birth mother has ended up.

People spent years wondering why Weaver needed a crutch. The explanation is a little anticlimactic.

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