September 6, 2022

ER 11.17, Back in the World: Keep Moving Forward

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

I’m Steve now. You’re welcome

Summary: Kirk has returned to the ER and is asking for Neela. She’s supposed to be done with her shift, but Abby tells her to tend to him first. Pratt asks if Neela’s talked to Gallant since she helped arrange for Jamila to be treated at County. Pratt insists on talking to Gallant the next time he’s in touch, since Neela didn’t give him the chance during their previous phone call.

He takes an interest in a woman named Olivia who’s talking to a patient who came in with a minor stab wound. Even though someone has already taken care of the patient, Pratt gets involved in the case so he has an excuse to talk to Olivia. She’s with a group called Ceasefire that tries to prevent violence. She’s surprised Pratt hasn’t heard of it, since County sees so many shooting victims. Pratt just gets to take advantage of another excuse to try to talk to her more. She’s not interested.

Sam gets stuck in traffic while driving Alex to school. He tells her that Steve (who never returned after “Drive”) wrote him a letter and claims he’s coming to visit soon. Sam tries to gently remind Alex that Steve often makes promises that he doesn’t keep. Neela agrees to examine Kirk again even though she’s never found a major problem with him. Dubenko tells her that Jamila has arrived, and he’d like to talk to Gallant. Neela’s shocked to learn that Gallant came to Chicago with Jamila.

Carter’s finally using his family’s fortune for health care: He’s making plans to build a clinic. He’s working with County, and Anspaugh and Weaver are directly involved. Everything seems like it’s going great, but Carter’s disappointed that an HIV/AIDS care plan has been scrapped. He doesn’t care if it’s too hard to staff that part of the clinic – he won’t sign off on pretty grounds and a restaurant if it means patients with HIV and AIDS can’t get the treatment they need.

Paramedics bring in a 12-year-old named Victor who has a gunshot wound. He explains that he had a gun in his pocket for protection and it accidentally went off. Neela leaves Gallant a message, wanting to know if he’s really in Chicago. Abby busts her for ditching Kirk, but Neela thinks this is more important. She lies that she knew Gallant was coming. She admits that she has feelings for him, though she’s not sure how they developed when they’ve only spoken once in the past year. Their letters were all “speculative,” so nothing could have formed there.

Neela confides that she’s furious that Gallant came back to Chicago and didn’t reach out to her. But she also feels like she’s fooled herself into thinking he would want to get in touch. Abby’s like, “I don’t think you need my input on this conversation you’re having with yourself.” Neela wonders if she’s pathetic for making up a love life she doesn’t really have. Abby thinks it makes sense that her friendship with Gallant led to romantic feelings.

Gallant goes to see Jackson’s family and give his daughter the llama he bought her. Back at County, Pratt notices a scar on Victor’s stomach. Apparently he’s been shot before. His mother, Mrs. Hopkins, arrives and isn’t surprised to hear that Victor had a gun on him. She reminds him that she told him to keep the safety on.

Sam explains to Susan that Victor is an “aspiring vigilante.” His mother gave him the gun. Time for a social worker to get involved! Susan tells Sam that someone called for her, sounding agitated. She got a similar call the day before. Sam thinks it was a patient she took care of last week and there’s nothing to worry about. Luka overhears and suspects she’s keeping something from him.

Neela tries to keep her cool while talking to Kirk, who doesn’t seem to want to accept that he has a muscle spasm and won’t heal overnight. He keeps coming back because he believes in Neela and thinks she can fix him. She agrees to do a full exam, during which she discovers that he’s wearing a unitard under his clothes. She tells him to change into a gown, but he says he can’t. His wife used to call him Clark, like Clark Kent. She said she saw through his facade to his “secret strength.” She died a few months ago. Now he wears a superhero unitard on bad days to make him feel better.

Sam tells Luka that she thinks Steve is the one who’s been calling her. She doesn’t want to run away again, and she also doesn’t want Luka to take this on, since it’s her problem. He corrects that it’s their problem. Pratt presents Victor’s case to Carter, and the two learn more about his problems. He insulted a classmate who shot him on his way home from school last year. The shooter only spent a few months in juvie and is now back at school. Mrs. Hopkins didn’t know what to do to protect her son, so she gave him a gun.

As Neela hands off all her cases to Luka so she can leave, Carter starts talking to Haleh and Lily about Gallant’s rumored return to the States. The nurses think he went to Texas to visit his parents. Once she’s done with her shift, Neela goes out to the roach coach to get her usual daily order. She spots Gallant coming over from the El and runs into his arms. Just friends, eh?

They go to popular County hangout Ike’s to talk about why Gallant didn’t tell Neela he was in Chicago. He says he was only at County briefly because he had to go do something. He came back to see her. He thought it would be easier to leave without seeing her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She tells him everyone wanted him to visit, but he feels strange “being back in the world.” He doesn’t want to answer a bunch of questions about what it’s like in Iraq.

Neela asks how long he can stay. Gallant has to fly back in the morning, since he was only given enough time to get Jamila settled. Frank calls to bug Neela about a chart, but she brushes him off. She asks Gallant about a scar on his forehead, which he says wasn’t from anything major. She ignores a page as he tells her about going to see Jackson’s family. It hurt him to have to show up in uniform because he knows Jackson’s wife had to get the news about his death from men in uniform.

Kirk won’t leave County and won’t listen when Abby tells him that Neela’s gone for the day. She decides to track Neela down and make her deal with him. Steve shows up and Luka intercepts him before he can see Sam. Pratt asks Olivia to talk to Victor, hoping she can work her anti-violence magic on him and get him off that path before he goes too far down it.

Neela and Gallant play pool and flirt until Abby shows up. She changes her mind about getting Neela to deal with Kirk, since Neela’s having a good time. Olivia talks to Victor and Mrs. Hopkins, trying to convince the boy that he can be tough by staying away from trouble instead of getting in the middle of it. Maybe one day he can be the president and fix schools so kids don’t have to live in fear. Victor wants to be a pilot instead, but either way, he’ll need to stay out of trouble.

He doesn’t know how to avoid bad kids since they follow him around. Olivia volunteers Pratt to walk him to school for a week. Pratt objects, but you know he’ll go along with this if it means Olivia might go out with him. She tells Victor that if he gives up his gun, she’ll have someone walk him both to and from school every day after that. Each week, that someone will be bigger and scarier.

Steve insists on seeing Sam, and Luka struggles to keep him calm until she’s available. As Victor’s being taken up for surgery, Sam examines him and finds that he has some tingling in one of his legs. She looks at his x-rays and sees that the bullet is missing a chip. Ray wants to keep things moving, but Sam’s worried that they’ll be operating in the wrong place. Ray protests, so Sam sends him to talk to Carter. She spots Luka with Steve and almost walks away, then goes to talk to her ex on her own.

She tells Steve that her relationship with Luka is serious, and he claims to be glad that it’s working out for her. He asks if anyone’s called or come looking for him. It’s nothing big; he just owes someone money. He asks to borrow some from Sam so he can take Alex on a short trip. After that, he may not see Alex for a while. Sam reminds him that Alex has school. Steve doubts he’ll miss much, since he’s in the third grade. She tells him that Alex is in the fifth grade. She won’t agree to the trip, and surprisingly, Steve backs down. She offers to let him see Alex (with her present), but Steve says he needs to get going. She also agrees to give him money.

Gallant and Neela discuss her struggles to adjust to her role as an intern. She’s trying to figure out who she is after being seen a certain way for so long. He tells her she can be someone different if she wants. At County, Frank tells Luka that he got bad vibes from Steve and had a detective friend look him up. There’s a warrant out for his arrest in Colorado.

Luka approaches Sam to discuss that with her, but she rushes off to make sure Ray did what she told him to. He did, and Sam was right about a bullet fragment being in an artery. He and Pratt both praise her for making a good catch. She returns to Luka, who tells her that Steve committed a robbery and someone got hurt, so he’s in a lot of trouble. Luka wants to call the police, but Sam won’t send her son’s father to prison.

Susan bugs Sam to work a few hours of overtime, refusing to take no for an answer. People have lives, Susan. It’s not her fault you’re short-handed. Luka tells Sam he’ll go home and relieve Alex’s sitter. Susan wants to emerge from her baby cocoon and have more of a social life, so she invites Carter to bring Wendall over for dinner with her and Chuck. Carter accepts the invitation but declines for Wendall, who stopped talking to him after Kem’s phone call. He admits that he feels like he’s “fallen off the tracks” and hasn’t been able to get back on.

Olivia asks Pratt to call her office after Victor’s surgery and let her know how he’s doing. She also fully intends to make him walk Victor to school for a week. Pratt complains that he’s busy, but she won’t accept that as an excuse. Stopping violence is like containing an epidemic with vaccines and medication. Ceasefire reacts to every shooting, even ones where there are no injuries, and arranges a neighborhood response any time a gun is fired. If they stigmatize violence, death rates will drop. It’s working, and she invites Pratt to come by the organization and see for himself.

Neela takes Gallant to her and Ray’s apartment so they can change clothes and then go to dinner. Meanwhile, Luka goes home and catches Steve about to leave with a bunch of his and Sam’s stuff. Alex let him in, and Steve sent the sitter home, then robbed the place. Luka tells him to put everything back. Steve argues that he gets to take back things he gave Sam. Luka decides not to fight him and just go inside.

Steve stops him, and though Luka warns him not to start anything, Steve hits him. Alex comes out just in time to see Steve and Luka fighting. He has a bag with him and says Steve is taking him on a beach trip. He thinks Sam told Steve it was okay. Luka tries to send Alex back inside, but Steve reminds him that Alex isn’t his kid. Luka quietly tells Steve he’s not going anywhere with Alex, and he shouldn’t want to, considering the trouble Steve is in. Steve tells Alex to go back in; they’ll take their trip another time. Aww, now Luka looks like the bad guy.

Neela and Gallant both get changed, and though he’s just wearing a T-shirt and jeans, she’s put on a nice dress. As she turns off the lights to leave, he catches her arm to make her stop. They start kissing and their new outfits quickly come off. Pratt will be soooooo happy that Neela finally got some, since that’s what he’s been wanting for her for a while.

Later that night, while Neela’s asleep, Gallant writes a letter. She wakes up as he gets back in bed and asks about the wound on his arm that was still bandaged when we first joined him in Iraq. He tells her that he had to run into a firefight to get to a patient. He never expected to be in the middle of combat. That firefight is also how he got the scar on his forehead. He wound up having to shoot an Iraqi soldier to protect himself and his patient. Neela’s desire to be someone different resonates with him because he just wants to go back to who he was. “All we can do is keep moving forward,” she says.

The next morning, they go to County to see Jamila before Gallant has to fly back to Iraq. Neela gets paged to the ER, but Gallant doesn’t want to go with her; he says it’s because he doesn’t have time to talk to everyone, but he obviously doesn’t feel comfortable doing it. She’s been paged to help take care of Kirk, whose back pain was actually a rare symptom of a heart problem. She feels horrible for missing it, but it sounds like it’s a hard symptom to catch.

Sam tries to talk to Alex, who’s angry that she wouldn’t let him go off with Steve. She tells him that she, Alex, and Luka are a team now, and Luka had to make a decision last night. He made the one that was best for Alex. Sam assures Alex that it’s okay for him to feel sad. He starts to let out his sadness, and instead of pushing her away, he hugs her.

Neela asks Chuny to call the burn unit so she can let Gallant know she’s been pulled into a trauma. She doesn’t have time, though, and she declines when Abby offers to take over for her. Gallant comes by the trauma room, so Pratt ducks out to talk to him. Gallant has to leave to catch his plane, but he gives Pratt a letter to give to Neela. She’s not supposed to open it unless something happens to him. Pratt says nothing will, but Gallant wants her to have it just in case.

Neela moves with the trauma team as they rush Kirk out of the ER and into an elevator. She and Gallant don’t have time to say goodbye to each other, but they’re able to exchange looks that say how much they’ll miss each other. Luka drives Alex to school, though Alex won’t talk to him. That night, Neela puts Gallant’s letter in a box where she’ll hopefully never have to get it back out. Gallant returns to his camp in Iraq with his own envelope from Neela. She gave him a piece of her jewelry to remind him of her. They both meet medevac helicopters, doing similar jobs in very different places, still thinking of each other.

Thoughts: Steve is now being played by Garret Dillahunt (who I like a lot better in the role). Mrs. Hopkins is played by Adina Porter.

If Neela thinks she only made up a possible relationship with Gallant, County staff is feeding that delusion. Throughout the whole first half of the episode, everyone asks her if she’s seen him.

I want to hug Kirk. What a sweet guy.

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