November 29, 2022

ER 12.7, The Human Shield: Better Off Dead

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 5:00 pm by Jenn

Sir, I’m going to need you to start taking hints. Like, immediately

Summary: A man named Vincent Jansen and a ten-year-old girl named Sydney are eating breakfast in a coffee shop. Sydney isn’t hungry, so she’s coloring on her place mat. Jansen spots someone across the room on the phone, watching him, and asks the waitress for the bill. The waitress says there’s a delay because a machine is out. Jansen gets antsy and pays in cash, telling Sydney they’re going. She decides not to take her picture with them.

They leave through the kitchen, and Jansen scans the parking lot, then takes Sydney’s hand. He tells her he liked her picture and they should keep it. Sydney notices before he does that a police car is speeding toward them. Jansen picks her up, then points a gun at the cops who emerge from the car. He holds Sydney in front of him as the titular human shield and heads toward their car. Paramedics arrive next, including Zadro and a guy named Tony Gates. They hide while a cop shoots Jansen, then approaches to check on Sydney. She’s been hit as well.

At County, Sam yells for security since a big guy named Darrel is holding Clemente up against a wall. He doesn’t appreciate Clemente’s method of checking him for internal bleeding. Clemente wipes Darrel’s own crap on his nose, which gets Darrel to drop him. On the plus side, he’s not bleeding internally! On the down side, now he wants a tetanus shot.

K.J. is MIA, and Eve wants to punt him from the ER. He’s a volunteer, so she should probably calm down. Clemente gathers the residents to tell them they’ll be introducing new equipment and procedures to bring the ER into the 21st century. For starters, they’ll have patient communication boards so patients who are intubated can point to or mark questions or requests. Abby uses her board to write, “This is a%$,” which she flashes at Ray behind Clemente’s back.

Next, the ER will be using something called freedom splints instead of wrist restraints. The splints look like oversized versions of those floaties you put on kids’ arms before they learn how to swim. Clemente and Eve request a volunteer to demonstrate, so Pratt kicks Jerry’s wheelie chair toward them. Neela arrives during the demonstration, and since she’s dressed up, Frank and Clemente make comments (Clemente’s are in Spanish) that should definitely get them disciplined for sexual harassment. She’s dressed up because Gallant is coming to visit. Yay!

Sam pops out of an exam room to tell Clemente that Darrel put his head through a supply cabinet. Clemente tells Ray to distract Darrel (like a rodeo clown) so he can give him a tranquilizer. Why not put the freedom splints on him? Luka comes by, announcing that there are gunshot victims coming in and getting everyone mobilized. Well, except Jerry, who’s still stuck in the freedom splints.

While waiting for the ambulances, Luka tells Abby that a father used his daughter as a human shield. She lets him know that Clemente is making some changes in the ER. She wonders if he’s going to be the new head, which is the rumor. Luka clarifies that she’s talking about the guy who got her and Neela suspended for working on a chimp. If Clemente wants the job, Luka says he can have it: “Maybe he can open a petting zoo in the doctors’ lounge.” Heh.

Sydney arrives first, and when Abby asks her name, she says Jansen calls her Mezoti. (Apparently this is a Star Trek reference.) A cop explains that Jansen isn’t Sydney’s father – he kidnapped her. This cop, Yau, is the one who took down Jansen, but he insists that he had a clear shot and didn’t hit Sydney. He thinks Jansen’s gun accidentally fired when he went down. Sydney asks if Jansen’s dead. She’s also concerned because she dropped her stuffed dog.

Sam tends to a college freshman whose dormmates drew on his face while he was passed out. Frank bugs her about firing Haleh, and of course, when Sam says she was just following orders, he makes a Nazi comparison. Hey, Frank? Don’t compare the firing of one person to mass genocide. Also, shut up. He gives her a letter that Steve sent from prison.

Pratt joins Luka as an ambulance brings in a cop named Howe who was shot in the arm during the gunfight. Luka was told that Jansen had critical injuries, but he’s not there yet. K.J. finally turns up and Pratt sends him to the blood bank. Howe’s really anxious about his injuries, which Pratt and Ray assure him are fixable. Eve distracts Howe by talking about which station he’s from. Her father and brother are cops, and it turns out she and Howe both know a guy named Joe. Howe asks if he’s Eve’s brother. Nope – he gave her her first orgasm. Pratt, Ray, and a paramedic all stare at her for that.

Dubenko’s still using his robot, which saves him a trip to the ER if a patient doesn’t need his immediate attention. He does a consult on Sydney, then goes to check on other patients. Yau tells Luka and Abby that Sydney has been IDed as a girl who was kidnapped in upstate New York in August. She confirms to Abby who she is. Yau quietly says that they need to give her a rape exam. Sydney still just wants to know if Jansen is dead. Chuny checks Sydney and finds signs that Jansen raped her multiple times. Sydney explains that they played a “married game” and Jansen loves her.

Jerry ducks in to tell Luka that Jansen has been brought in. Luka leaves Abby and Chuny to take care of Sydney, and joins Neela to tend to a guy who…let’s be honest, they maybe shouldn’t expend too much energy saving him. Luka’s annoyed that the paramedics didn’t insert a chest tube, but Zadro says they didn’t have time. Jansen shot through their windshield and almost hit Gates. Gates flirts with Neela, who snaps at him to stop it. Yes! Yes, Neela! That’s the way to handle that! Clemente wants to lend a hand but Luka freezes him out.

Howe’s still freaking out about his injuries, so Eve distracts him again. Sam comes to get something and offers to take over for her. Sydney asks if anyone found her stuffed puppy. No, but Yau got her mom on the phone. Abby tells her that Sydney is doing well and is a brave kid. She holds the phone so Sydney can talk to her.

Dubenko comes to the ER in person as Abby assures Sydney that they’re going to take care of her and she’s safe there. Sydney asks about Jansen, and Abby says she doesn’t need to worry about him anymore. Clemente comes in next and talks down to Sydney like she’s five instead of ten. He and Abby disagree about whether Sydney’s low blood pressure is bad or good, based on the treatment Clemente wants to start. Abby would like to confer with Luka, but Clemente shuts her down, since Dubenko backed up his treatment choice.

Luka, Neela, and Malik stabilize Jansen, and Luka praises Neela for her work. He’s heard that Gallant is visiting and hopes to see him this time, since he didn’t the last time Gallant was in town. Neela’s looking forward to a longer visit with him. Jansen wakes up, then thrashes against the team. He grabs Neela’s arm, even though he’s cuffed to the bed, and Luka has to help free her. A cop comes over with his gun drawn, but Luka tells him not to shoot.

He blames Jansen’s impulse-control problems on his head injury, which otherwise shouldn’t cause any lasting damage. Jansen asks where Sydney is and Neela replies, “Safe from you.” He insists that he took care of her and didn’t hurt her. Luka doesn’t buy that, since he raped her. Jansen says she loves him and needed and wanted him. The team ignores him as Dubenko comes to see if he needs surgery. Jansen says he’s sure that Neela wants him to die. She replies that she wants him to shut up. He needs surgery, but he says maybe the team should let him die.

K.J. brings blood to Howe’s trauma room, and while Pratt’s working, he tells K.J. that Eve isn’t happy with him. K.J. says she doesn’t like him. Pratt tells him to respect her because he’s on her turf and is lucky to be working there. He could be doing his community service in a soup kitchen instead. Howe’s arm starts spraying blood and K.J. passes out. Yep, I was waiting for that.

Luka goes to check on Sydney and is annoyed that Clemente is going with a different treatment plan than Luka would have. Neela calls him back to Jansen as Jerry comes in to tell Clemente that Darrel stopped breathing while he was getting a CT scan. For the record, this Darrel stuff doesn’t go anywhere, so I don’t know why they keep bringing him up. Clemente gives Abby instructions for Sydney’s treatment, leaving her to once again have to decide whether to listen to him or Luka.

Jansen’s declining but there won’t be an OR open for him for another ten minutes. Luka doesn’t particularly want to save him, but he thinks Jansen deserves to rot in prison instead of take the easy way out by dying, so he’ll do what’s necessary. Dubenko calls for emergency surgery right there in the ER. Meanwhile, Sydney also declines, and when Abby summons Luka to help her, he overrules Clemente’s instructions.

Howe’s good now, so Pratt goes to make sure K.J.’s okay. He thinks passing out will actually work in K.J.’s favor – now Eve will feel sorry for him and hold off on booting him. Eve tells the cops waiting for news on Howe’s condition that he’s okay. Sam learns that she comes from a family of cops and was engaged to one before he was killed on the job. Sam asks why a prisoner might be transferred from one state to another. Steve is being moved from Colorado to Chicago. Eve says she’ll see what she can find out.

Zoe is back in the ER, this time with her father. He found the prescription Neela gave her and wants to talk to her. Neela’s busy and Sam won’t give Zoe’s father any information that Zoe won’t provide herself, so he threatens a malpractice suit. He has lawyers! Sam, unphased, replies that she has Jerry, who will gladly remove him from the hospital if he doesn’t sit down and wait quietly for Neela. Once he’s subdued, Jerry tells Sam that he hates violence. Sam knows, but Zoe’s father doesn’t. Jerry gives him an intimidating look to continue the act.

Dubenko uses Neela’s hands as clamps as he operates on Jansen. Jerry comes in to tell Neela that a lieutenant in Iraq is on the phone for her with an urgent message. Neela doesn’t have time to realize what that could mean before Jansen starts bleeding out. Luka and Abby also have to cut Sydney open in the ER, and things don’t look good.

Neela and Dubenko stabilize Jansen, who’s then taken up to the OR. Clemente joins Abby and Luka, shocked that Sydney’s condition was as bad as it turned out to be. He thought his treatment plan was reasonable. Luka snaps that Clemente killed her. Abby tells them that they need to keep Sydney alive until her parents arrive, since they think they’re on their way to reunite with her. Luka doesn’t think they can save her, but Clemente wants to keep working.

Gates tries to chat with Neela, who couldn’t be less into him or more obvious about it. Still, he tries to invite her to a hockey game. When she turns him down, he asks if she’s into opera or the theater instead. Buddy, learn to take a hint. Nope, instead he invites her to hang out at home and help him study (he’s a fourth-year med student). Instead of telling him that she’s not interested and/or is seeing someone else, she just says she might hang out another time. Neela, what happened to that backbone you’ve been showing all episode?

She finally has time to call back the lieutenant. She asks Frank if he has anything sarcastic to say. Knowing she’s probably about to get bad news, he quietly says no. As Neela dials the lieutenant, Zoe’s father approaches her and demands to know what Zoe’s prescription is for. Neela refuses to tell him anything. Ray overhears from down the hall and steps in to take the heat for Neela. She pulls him away and reminds him that he committed statutory rape. He should let this go and let Neela take care of this.

Clemente and Abby are still working on Sydney, while Luka has moved to the corner to show that he’s not taking part in this anymore. Abby finally tells Clemente that he needs to stop. Poor Sydney dies without getting to see her parents again and without her stuffed dog.

Neela reaches the lieutenant, who tells her over a staticky connection that there was an incident in Mosul that resulted in a lot of casualties. When the connection clears, he says that Gallant…has a heavy patient load and won’t be able to visit as scheduled. He asked the lieutenant to let her know. Gallant himself is totally fine, to Neela’s relief.

Clemente still thinks his treatment plan for Sydney was the right choice, since it works 95 percent of the time. Luka coolly says that he should tell her family that. He doesn’t care that Clemente did what he thought was best – not everyone agreed. Though Luka knows enough about Clemente from their brief time working together to know that he would have done what he wanted even if Dubenko hadn’t supported it.

Luka says the staff has been there a long time, and Clemente needs to fit in with them, not the other way around. They fight over taking risks and trying to be more cutting-edge, and Clemente angrily says that when he sees a problem, he wants to fix it. His nose suddenly starts bleeding, and Eve rushes over with some tissues. She thinks they should hold a debriefing and help everyone calm down, since people seem tense today. Ray’s like, “Can’t we just drink instead?” He asks Sam who she thinks would win in a fight between Luka and Clemente. You know, that’s a great question.

Abby finds Clemente bleeding, and when he blames it on Luka, she reasonably thinks Luka hit him. Clemente insists that he’s fine but Abby takes care of him anyway. He tells her he’s sorry about Sydney. Whatever Luka thinks, Clemente was trying to save her. He seems to be grasping now that he screwed up, and Sydney’s death is hitting him harder.

Luka asks Weaver if she’s found someone to run the ER. Since Clemente is a front-runner, Luka offers himself up to be considered for the role. She doesn’t think it’s his “style,” but he’s ready to change that. Eve tried to make the debriefing mandatory but Luka doesn’t care. He gives his own version of a debriefing at the admit desk: “Today sucked. Good night.”

Pratt gleefully accepts a patient so he has an excuse not to go to the debriefing. Neela doesn’t have anyone to go to the dinner she planned for Gallant, so she invites Ray to take his place. Eve, Abby, and Clemente were the only ones who showed up for the debriefing, so Eve calls time of death on it and lets Abby go. At least Clemente thought it was a good idea. They agree that the department needs work and a kick in the butt.

Yau thinks Sydney might be better off dead after everything she’s gone through. Abby doesn’t feel like anyone deserves that. He gives her Sydney’s stuffed dog, which was finally recovered from the parking lot where the shootout took place. She sadly tucks the dog in next to Sydney’s body. On their way out of the hospital, Neela and Ray run into Zoe’s father. More specifically, Ray’s face runs right into his fist. Neela yells for security as Zoe’s father beats up Ray, then threatens to kill him if he ever goes near Zoe again.

Abby goes to Luka’s apartment to confront him for putting her in the middle of his issues with Clemente. Luka won’t drop it, since he thinks Clemente’s treatment plan was wrong. Abby tells him it doesn’t matter who was wrong or right – Sydney died. She was ten years old and had already suffered for months. Abby can’t stop thinking about what she must have gone through and how scared she was. She hates that they couldn’t save her. As she fights back tears, Luka slowly approaches her. He takes her face in his hands and kisses her. Then he pulls back and they just look at each other.

Thoughts: Gates is played by John Stamos. Jansen is played by C. Thomas Howell.

Laura Innes (Weaver) directed this episode.

The way Pratt forces Jerry to “volunteer” for Clemente and Eve’s demonstration cracks me up. I love when the characters goof off together.

It really did feel up until now like they were going to put Abby and Clemente together. That makes Abby and Luka’s kiss even more surprising. And I really like them together, so I think it’s a great development.

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