August 30, 2022

ER 11.16, Here and There: Love and War

Posted in TV tagged at 5:02 pm by Jenn

Left: a future snowman

Summary: Susan and Pratt walk out of the ER with Neela, who’s leaving for the night. Susan asks if she’s heard from Gallant recently. Neela hasn’t, thanks to Internet problems on his end, but she assures Susan that she’ll say hi when she does talk to him. And then we go to Iraq to see Gallant! Yay! He’s seeing off an Iraqi patient his unit just saved. A co-worker offers to redress a bandage Gallant has on his arm, but he says he’s okay.

Neela goes home and finds Ray’s bandmate Bret sleeping on her and Ray’s couch. He and his girlfriend just broke up, and since he made Neela a mix CD of blues songs, I’m going to guess he’s not that upset about it. Neela’s annoyed that Ray keeps letting people crash at their place. Ray thinks she’d like Bret if she got to know him, but I don’t think Neela’s interested in making any friends.

She writes a letter to Gallant, saying she’s worried about him being in Iraq but is sure he’s taking care of himself. He’s also writing a letter, joking that he’s been too busy to get in touch because the unit spends so much time partying. Neela tells him that she finds herself thinking about him at random times. Gallant says that people at County probably don’t even remember him. “I’m the tall, good-looking Black guy with the best bedside manner in the place,” he writes. “Tell Pratt I said that.” Heh.

Neela thinks Gallant’s day-to-day life must be a lot different from hers, but really, it’s not. They both do normal doctor things, handling trauma cases and giving stitches. It’s just that sometimes there are the sounds of bombs in the distance where Gallant is, and the lights don’t always stay on. He writes that sometimes he wonders if he’s doing the same things Neela is. They both say that makes them feel closer to each other and gives them hope that they’ll see each other again soon.

Neela, Pratt, and Sam meet a medevac helicopter on the roof as Neela voices over that she has some areas she needs to work on. Their patient, Doris, has had both of her arms severed and really hopes they can be reattached. Gallant has a patient whose unit was ambushed and isn’t sure if his fellow soldiers survived. Gallant writes that his two years at County helped him prepare for his work in Iraq (as much as anyone can be prepared to be a medic in a war zone).

Doris tells the trauma team that she lost her arms trying to unjam a machine that binds books. Pratt assures her that there’s a good chance they’ll be able to reattach them. A new med student named Rosales arrives, and Susan assigns him to Neela. Neela writes to Gallant that she’s rarely confident in her own decisions, so the thought of helping students makes her nervous. People think she always has the answers, even when she doesn’t. But she also feels like her co-workers should have more confidence in her. She’s felt like she’s been sleepwalking ever since med school.

Gallant leads a trauma team including soldiers named Clemente and Larabee. He voices over that he doesn’t mind all the responsibility he has. Clemente tries to distract the patient, Perry, by talking to him about his home state, Vermont. She notes that it must be freezing there right now. “Thank God you’re not there, huh?” Larabee says. “God or Don Rumsfeld?” Perry replies. Heh. And ugh.

Gallant writes that responsibility cuts both ways as he hands Perry off to a surgeon named Kilner. Like Neela, Gallant has a newbie just arriving, Whitley. She already looks like she’s in over her head and all she’s done is walk into the medical tent. Gallant feels weird being seen as a veteran in the unit after just eight months. Whitley asks how long it took him to get used to working there.

Rosales must have asked Neela the same question, because she tells him she hasn’t yet. Rosales knows the ER is rough, and he’ll have to get focused – he and his wife just had a baby, so he’s been fully immersed in newborn life. He’s only 24, but he and his wife want three kids before they’re 30. Neela jokes that she has a lot of catching up to do. Rosales comments that it must be hard to balance her job with her social life.

They take Doris to surgery, and Dubenko asks them to stay and take a look at the condition of Doris’ arms with him. Neela voices over that she sometimes feels both proud and jealous of Gallant. Dubenko is happy about how reattachment-ready the arms are; if you lost a limb, this would be the ideal condition to have it in. Neela writes that she doesn’t feel like she has a purpose or a role to fill like Gallant does.

Gallant and his team treat another patient as he voices over that some days, he doesn’t feel like any of his victories are big enough. Whitley praises his skills, which he credits to his years at County. She asks if he left a wife or girlfriend back in Chicago. “Nope, not really,” he replies. They go into the OR, where Kilner is removing Perry’s leg, despite the team’s hope that it could be saved. Gallant voices over that he has to believe they’re fighting the war for something real, something that matters. They have to see all the soldiers as heroes instead of victims.

Gallant tells Kilner about his newest patient, whom Kilner would like to classify as “good Iraqi or bad Iraqi.” Gallant says he’s on the U.S. side, so Kilner approves him for surgery. Whitley asks if he would have to wait longer if he were on the Iraqi side. Gallant tells her they have to be careful about suicide bombers.

That night, he plays basketball with a mini-hoop, no doubt thinking about the big one he used to play on at County. Neela sees Pratt out there and asks if he misses Gallant. She’s been thinking about him more recently. Pratt says there’s nothing wrong with that, smirking like he knows it’s because she has a crush on Gallant. She asks if he wants her to send Gallant a message in her latest letter. Pratt says to tell him to get back to Chicago in one piece so the guys can have a rematch.

The next day, Gallant does rounds in the medical tent. He voices over that some days, even small things hit hard. He checks on Perry, who’s understandably not happy about losing his leg. Gallant voices over that it’s hard to send soldiers home with less than they came with. It’s even harder to see reservists and guard members who showed up for what should have been short duties but got their tours extended. They went from committing to a weekend a month to a tour with no end date.

A supply shipment has just come in, and Gallant is happy to hear that some things he asked for are in it. A soldier named Jackson slips him a couple of Cuban cigars and chats with him about the Bulls. Gallant tells Whitley that he doesn’t smoke, but the cigars are to celebrate because he recently delivered a baby. A soldier comes to him with a scorpion sting, which Gallant calls “no big deal.”

County is super-busy, since cases seem to increase in the winter. Neela and Rosales go see their next patient, a woman who appears to have scabies. I guess that’s better than a scorpion sting. Neela feels bad complaining to Gallant when he must have much bigger things to worry about. She checks on a patient named Gus, voicing over that she’s still waiting for that 1 percent of her day where she feels like she’s making a difference. Frank tells Neela that waiting time for a bed is up to 18 hours (freaking A), so Susan wants her to do some quick exams and discharge people in the waiting area who don’t need to stay.

Gallant examines the scorpion sting while simultaneously busting Larabee for having a contraband cell phone. It’s a security risk, since the Iraqi troops can pick up the signal. Larabee doubts that they have that kind of technology. Neela and Rosales deal with the patients in the waiting room, starting with a boy whose mother claims his fever is 112 degrees. (She clarifies that that’s Fahrenheit. In Celsius, he’d be dead. Actually, in Fahrenheit, he’d also be dead.) Neela calls her bluff.

A man named Kirkendall asks Neela to examine his back pain so he doesn’t have to keep waiting. (I’m not typing Kirkendall over and over – he’s in the next episode, too – so he’s Kirk now.) She tells him it’s nothing serious, but he wants to stay for a full exam. She advises him to go home and treat his pain with over-the-counter painkillers, since the alternative is waiting endless hours. Susan observes all this and chastises Neela for sending Kirk home without starting a chart. Neela argues that he left on his own.

As a woman runs into the waiting area and asks for help for her brother, who’s in the car, Gallant, Whitley, and another medic head outside their perimeter to do triage. If any civilians are in critical need of help, the unit will give it, but if not, the patients will be sent to a civilian hospital. The unit only treats civilians on a limited basis to preserve supplies and beds. They don’t have an interpreter with them, but Whitley’s fluent in Arabic. She was at the Pentagon on September 11th and started learning the language the next day.

The woman at County leads Neela and Rosales to her car, where her little brother is unconscious and barely breathing. Her mother explains in Spanish (as translated by Rosales) that they went to a clinic but were told they couldn’t help. They’ve brought along a note from the clinic doctor telling County’s staff to rule out meningitis.

At a perimeter gate, Gallant and the other medics examine the civilians. Gallant feels bad for turning away a sick girl, Jamila, so he gives her and her mother something to rehydrate her, since the hospital she would have to go to isn’t very good. Whitley laments having to send away patients when they’re so close to a place where they could get treated. Gallant says that even in the U.S., Jamila wouldn’t be admitted for treatment, so he can’t justify having her stay here.

Jackson drives by on his way to make another supply run. Gallant asks for fruit, which I assume would be hard to find fresh in the desert, so there’s no way they’re getting anything other than canned stuff at their camp. As he drives off, Gallant sees Jamila running after a scarf the wind has swept away. Suddenly one of the supply trucks explodes nearby. Gallant runs with some other soldiers to get their colleagues out.

Neela rushes the boy from the car into the ER as Gallant tends to Jamila, who’s been badly burned by the explosion. Everyone critically injured in the blast is taken back to Gallant’s medical tent. Gallant has picked up some Arabic and is able to talk to Jamila and her mother, Hayat. Neela runs the boy’s trauma, sounding much more confident than she usually thinks she is. She voices over that at a time like this, she’s able to focus only on what she’s doing. That’s when she knows who she is.

Gallant tends to Jackson, whose injuries are bad enough to get him discharged after treatment in Germany. He’s disappointed to have to leave like this. Clemente updates Gallant on Jamila, who’s going to need a lot of treatment. Pratt determines that Neela’s patient has a bladder infection, but he also might have meningitis. Neela tells Rosales that she’ll let Pratt make decisions about the boy’s treatment.

Gallant goes to Kilner, who’s practicing at a makeshift shooting range, for guidance on treating Jamila. Kilner wants her to be stabilized and discharged, while Gallant knows that’s not enough. But there’s no facility nearby that can handle her needs. Kilner says they’ve done all they can for her. They need to accept their limitations. “That sounds like a fancy way of saying you don’t care, sir,” Gallant replies. Ooh, someone’s channeling Carter!

Kilner doesn’t appreciate being criticized for supposedly not caring, since he’s been in his role for 20 years while Gallant hasn’t even been there a year. Gallant obviously respects that, but he wants to do more for Jamila. There may be a facility in Kuwait that can treat her before transferring her to another country. He would need approval from the State Department, but he’s willing to pursue it. Kilner gives him the green light.

Pratt and Malik bring a piece of machinery to the ER to treat Neela’s patient. It’s something they haven’t used before, but Neela’s familiar with how it works, which impresses Pratt. She wants to call the state medical board to report the clinic doctor who didn’t treat the boy. Pratt balks at that, since clinic doctors provide essential care that their patients wouldn’t get anywhere else. Neela doesn’t think the quality of care this particular doctor provided was any better than no care at all. Pratt argues that the boy has been well taken care of in every other way. If they shut down the doctor, they’ll just hurt his patients.

Gallant makes calls from his camp, trying to get someone to approve sending Jamila somewhere else. Clemente admires him for trying to help her, even if he hasn’t been successful. Gallant is unhappy that they don’t have the resources to give Jamila better care, but Hayat is grateful for what they’ve been able to do so far.

Instead of calling the state medical board, Neela calls the clinic doctor and threatens to report him if he ever sends over another unstable patient. Pratt asks if she’s gotten past whatever’s been bothering her all shift. She spits out that he treats her like she’s “God’s gift to medicine,” then turns around and humiliates her in front of a student. If he trusts her, he should just give her some space. If he doesn’t, he should say so. Pratt says he doesn’t trust her – she could be the best doctor there, but she’s too in her head.

Neela acknowledges that but doesn’t know how to change. She hasn’t grasped that this is how her life is now. Pratt tells her that work can’t be the only thing in her life. She needs to go out and have fun sometimes. When was the last time she went on a date? “Why does everybody seem to think I need to get laid?” Neela asks. Uh, I don’t think anyone said that, Dr. Projection. Amused, Pratt tells her it helps.

Gallant tells Kilner that he hasn’t been able to make arrangements for Jamila, so he’d like to have her stay at the camp extended. Kilner can’t spare a bed, and he wants her discharged by the morning. The girl is still in a ventilator. You’re a monster. Out of options, Gallant turns to Larabee for a last-ditch effort. He uses the contraband cell phone to call Neela, who’s thrilled to hear from him.

There’s a shift change while they’re talking, and now Luka, Sam, and Morris are on. Sam wonders how expensive the phone call is. Frank grumbles that the taxpayers will have to pay for it. Sorry you had to pay, what, 12 cents so Gallant and Neela could talk for ten minutes, Frank. I know how you hate to see other people happy. Pratt’s annoyed when Neela hangs up without letting him talk to Gallant.

Gallant checks on Jackson, who will be going back to the States in a few days. He shows Gallant a little camel figurine he bought his daughter. Gallant sneaks him the cell phone so he can call his wife. Neela goes to the surgical wing to talk to Lieberman, a surgeon who helped Dubenko successfully reattach Doris’ arms. She tells him it’s important.

Gallant chats with Perry, trying to convince him that while losing a leg sucks, things could be worse. Larabee cheers him up with some maple syrup. Gallant gets a letter from Neela but doesn’t have a chance to read it before Kilner tells him that Lieberman has agreed to underwrite Jamila’s care. Gallant plans to send her on a flight that’s already going to the States. He just needs Kilner’s approval for that. Since the higher-up channels have already said yes, Kilner does, too.

Clemente sees how happy Gallant is, and he picks her up and swings her around in a big hug. She invites him to share a hidden beer with her. She’s definitely expecting that to lead to something else. But Larabee comes to get Gallant with the news that Jackson is declining. In Chicago, Neela goes home and finds Bret still hanging out, which means she doesn’t get a chance to read her own letter from Gallant. He wants to teach her about Robert Johnson and the blues and stuff Neela doesn’t care about.

Gallant, Kilner, Larabee, and Clemente treat Jackson while Neela and Bret continue drinking. She admires his passion for music, since she doesn’t feel passion for what she does. He thinks she has enough of it. He puts their empty glasses on top of Gallant’s letter and kisses her. They take things further as Gallant and his team try but fail to save Jackson. Gallant keeps working way beyond the point where he can do anything. He and Larabee can’t hide their emotions over the loss.

Neela decides things are moving too fast with Bret, so she tells him he’s great but she’s not into this. She needs to go to bed so they don’t go too far. She compares it to putting a small Band-Aid on a cut that’s too big for it. Having sex with Bret would be “very nice,” but it wouldn’t fix anything. “I’m a tiny Band-Aid?” Bret asks, not quite getting what she means. Neela tells him that she doesn’t want to be with him just because she’s lonely. Still confused, he notes that the cure for loneliness is usually to be with someone. That makes sense to her, but she’s still going to bed (with her letter).

The transport helicopter arrives for Jamila, but a medic is hesitant to move her in her condition. Kilner asks if he would take her if a doctor went along. He gives Gallant 72 hours’ leave to take Jamila to Chicago and get her settled. Neela reads his letter, which encourages her to be positive. He wishes he could take some time back home to enjoy himself before going back to Iraq to finish his job. On the helicopter, Gallant reads Neela’s letter, which tells him to be safe. She worries about him a lot, but mostly about how long it will be before she sees him again.

Thoughts: Larabee is played by Josh Gad. The actor who plays Gus comes back in season 14 as an intern named Harold.

Ugh, extended voiceovers are annoying to recap.

It’s a little scary that Gallant has so much responsibility in Iraq. At County, he’d have a bunch of people overseeing his work, but in Iraq, it seems like it’s just Kilner. But Gallant’s the right person for the job. I’d trust him with my life.

Imagine being a med student on the first day of your ER rotation and your very first case involves severed limbs. Talk about jumping into the deep end of the pool.

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