October 13, 2018

The X-Files 8.15, Deadalive: Return to Me

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:20 pm by Jenn

Someone’s about to become a fifth wheel, and his name is Doggett

Summary: Mulder is being buried in Raleigh, for some reason, and all the usual suspects are in attendance (including Maggie, which is nice). Scully is sad but at least her hair looks great. She points out to Skinner that Mulder was the last living member of his family, but the real tragedy was that after all the searching he did for the truth, he never found it. She’s having a hard time believing that they’re at his grave. Skinner says he’s having a hard time believing that Mulder’s the last.

Three months later, Kersh summons Doggett and Skinner to his office to tell them they’re being praised for their work finding Mulder. (They didn’t really find him, but okay.) Doggett’s even being promoted, which means he gets to leave the X-Files. Doggett appreciates the support, but he’s not sure he wants to leave the X-Files. Kersh advises him to take the opportunity.

Scully’s now visibly pregnant, and Doggett has nicknamed the baby J. Edgar. He tells her he’s not leaving the X-Files. She thinks he would be crazy to give up a chance to advance his career, but Doggett knows Kersh’s real motives: Scully goes on maternity leave in a few weeks, and if Doggett is out of the X-Files, Kersh will shut it down. Scully assures him that he doesn’t owe her anything. Doggett says that, despite the fact that they’ve completed their mission to find Mulder, the case isn’t closed. Scully, like Kersh, thinks he should leave while he can.

In the ocean off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, a fishing boat spots a man’s body in the water. It’s taken to a morgue in Wilmington, and the medical examiner notes some cuts and scars, but nothing else remarkable. His assistant sees the man’s mouth moving, as if he’s trying to speak. The police call Skinner, who in turn calls Doggett to let him know that the body is Billy Miles’. But he’s not just a body anymore – he’s alive.

The two head to North Carolina, deciding not to say anything to Scully just yet. Skinner wants to dig up Mulder’s body and make sure he’s not still alive, too. Doggett thinks this is insane – his body was too far gone to still be alive, and that was three months ago. But Billy may have been in the water for months, and he’s still alive, so Skinner thinks there’s a chance here.

They exhume Mulder’s body and take it to a coroner’s office, where the coroner has failed to follow Skinner’s orders to keep things quiet. Doggett tells the gathered crowd that they’re not opening a casket in a room full of people. The medical examiner tells Skinner not to get his hopes up; this isn’t a situation where they open the casket and a mummy pops out. But at least Mulder’s still inside the casket, so this isn’t a situation where they open it and he’s missing.

Scully meets up with Skinner and Doggett the Naval Hospital in Annapolis, demanding to see Mulder. He’s been upgraded from dead to alive, though he’s hooked up to a bunch of machines and isn’t awake. Doggett doesn’t want Scully to see him like this, but it’s not like Scully’s going to come all this way and not go sit at the bedside of the love of her life.

Doggett goes to the office to see Kersh, who’s annoyed that Doggett and Skinner went behind his back. He hopes that Doggett takes his promotion offer seriously. He also hopes that Doggett drops this whole Mulder thing: “If it looks bad, it’s bad for the FBI.” He shouldn’t go digging for more answers. Scully, meanwhile, is looking for answers about Billy, who’s in about the same shape as Mulder, though with more scarring on his body. He has a seizure while she’s with him, and she thinks there’s something wrong with one of the machines he’s attached to.

At FBI headquarters, Skinner collapses in a hallway, then starts writhing in pain. He heads for an elevator and comes face to face with Krycek. Skinner tells him to go to Hell. He starts writhing again, thanks to the pain-causing device Krycek’s holding. Skinner figures that out and decides they should have a talk after all.

They go to Mulder’s office, where Krycek says he wants to give Skinner the chance to save Mulder’s life. Skinner says no, which Krycek notes is pretty bold of a guy who can be in excruciating pain in seconds, thanks to Krycek. Skinner relents, so Krycek tells him he has a vaccine that will fight the alien virus Mulder has. Skinner tries to grab the pain-causing technology from Krycek, whose reflexes are better.

Billy wakes up, and despite his months in the water and the fact that he was declared dead just hours ago, he’s well enough to get up and walk around. He finds a shower and washes off all the gross skin covering him. Meanwhile, Doggett finds Scully sitting by Mulder’s dead and expresses concern that the situation is bad for her. She shouldn’t let herself believe that his chances of survival are good. Scully angrily tells him that whether or not the truth is painful, it needs to come out.

The two are told that something’s going on with Billy, and they find him wandering in a hallway, looking…well, not near death, like he was just minutes ago. He claims not to remember much of what happened to him, just being in the water and then on the ship. Doggett explains that he was on a fishing boat, but Scully knows that’s not the ship Billy was talking about. He says they took a lot of people this time, and he knows why: The aliens are here to save them.

Doggett leaves, because even after everything he’s seen an experienced, he still can’t accept all this alien stuff. He asks Scully if it’s really that important whether or not he believes. He’s willing to admit that this is a medical mystery, but that’s it. Scully thinks he’s more than a skeptic – he’s “bullheaded.” He asks if she believes Billy’s story, and she doesn’t answer.

Skinner finds Scully studying scans of Billy’s head, which are all totally normal. Skinner thinks she should see that as encouraging, since it means Mulder could end up fine, too. But Scully knows there should be something off in the tests. Billy literally shed his skin and became a different person. Skinner asks about the possibility of an alien virus, an idea Scully’s willing to entertain if it means helping Mulder. He tells her about the vaccine, adding that it’ll cost them something big.

Doggett goes to Perkey, West Virginia, where Absalom is being held. Doggett wants to know more about the returned abductees Absalom and Jeremiah were retrieving. First Absalom makes Doggett say his name, because Absalom is weird. He sees himself as a prophet and doesn’t get why Doggett would ask for his help if Doggett doesn’t believe in him.

Skinner stops in Mulder’s hospital room, where Krycek is lurking. Skinner’s ready to do whatever’s necessary to get the vaccine. Krycek tells him he just has one job: Don’t let Scully have her baby. That’s too steep a price for Skinner, even if it means saving Mulder. Krycek says it’s about which of them is more willing to make a sacrifice to get what he wants.

Doggett returns to the hospital, passing Krycek and getting a weird feeling about him. While Skinner stares intently at Mulder, Scully tells Doggett that she believes Mulder has a virus that’s keeping him just alive enough to transform him. Doggett has heard the same thing from Absalom, who says that without him, returned abductees get resurrected as aliens. It’s part of the aliens’ plan to take over the world.

Scully thinks this makes sense – Billy’s supposedly malfunctioning machinery showed two heartbeats, but I guess one was just his alien heart coming out. If they don’t do something, Mulder will turn into an alien. She needs doctors to keep him stabilized while she administers the vaccine she asked Skinner to get for her.

Doggett goes to talk to Skinner, who’s locked himself in Mulder’s room. Doggett kicks down the door and catches Skinner disconnecting Mulder from his machines. Skinner admits that he has to kill Mulder in order to save Scully’s baby. Krycek is still in the building, hanging out in the parking garage, and when he sees Doggett looking for him, he ties to run him down. Doggett tries to jump through Krycek’s window, and the two struggle for a while until Krycek throws Doggett off and drives away.

But then Krycek comes back and flashes the vial of vaccine, taunting Doggett. He drops it on the ground, where it shatters. Doggett runs at him, still not getting that he’s no match for Krycek’s car. Krycek gets away for real this time, and Doggett has to tell Skinner that he failed to get the vaccine. He confirms that Skinner was right not to trust Krycek.

Doggett goes to see Scully, who tells him that, by taking Mulder off of his life-support machines, Skinner actually saved him. The machines were incubating the virus, and now, off of them, he may recover with just antivirals. Doggett then goes to the office, where I think Kersh wants an answer about whether he’s taking the new job, but they don’t talk about it directly. Kersh just says that things are about to get crowded in the X-Files office. (Which means Scully probably still won’t get a desk.)

Scully’s by Mulder’s side when he finally wakes up. “Who are you?” he whispers, but he’s just teasing. (Not funny!) He doesn’t remember what happened, but he can tell from her face that it was bad. “Anybody miss me?” he asks. Scully laughs and cries at the same time. Doggett comes by and sees them together, but leaves them alone to have a private reunion.

Thoughts: Everything on this show is about vaccines, isn’t it? And after more than eight years, the writers still don’t understand what a vaccine actually is.

Kersh is basically saying, “We don’t need answers as to why a seemingly dead man is now not dead anymore.” What kind of an FBI agent is he?

I imagine Mulder gets a lot of leverage out of being declared dead. “Mulder, you need to take the garbage out.” “Hey, Scully, remember when you left me in a grave for three months because you thought I was dead?” “…Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

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October 9, 2018

ER 2.13, It’s Not Easy Being Greene: Off Days and Days Off

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:51 pm by Jenn

ANGST! SO MUCH ANGST!

Summary: Mark is out for a jog on a snowy day, on his way to the hospital even though he has the day off. Haleh calls him dedicated while Chuny calls him sad. Weaver tells Susan that she and Morgenstern think Susan would make a great chief resident next year. She gives Susan instructions on a procedure she’s performing while talking about time management and how Susan will be able to balance her job responsibilities and Susie.

Carol’s upset to learn that she’s had her shifts cut. It doesn’t get better when Jeanie complains that she’s been given more shifts. Jerry tells Carol that she can join an investment club for $2,000 and get $10,000 to $20,000 within ten days. Carol educates him on the wonders of pyramid schemes. Let’s hope it’s not too late for Jerry to get out. Vucelich tells Benton that he wants him to go to Paris to present info on their study. They’ll need to find another patient for the study soon, since some Norwegian doctors are doing the same research.

Benton asks Malik where Carter is, and Malik says Carter’s late but will be coming any minute. Cut to…a sex joke, since Carter’s in bed with Harper. He tells her some of the things he thinks about to “delay the inevitable,” like procedures and equipment inventory. I think it’s safe to say that Carter has the world’s worst pillow talk.

Mark tells Susan that Jen is suing for full custody of Rachel, and is painting him as a distant father. They give each other TB tests while they discuss the possibility of Susan becoming chief resident. She’s not sure she could do it while working fewer hours than other chiefs have. Mark advises her to be warmer with Weaver, since they’ll be working closer if Susan becomes chief. Doug learns that Mark is working on his day off and just laughs.

Benton sticks Carter in the ER while he goes hunting for another study participant. Carol chats with a patient named Mrs. Henry who got dizzy while working in her garden. She raises earthworms, which generate a beloved kind of fertilizer and sell for a good amount of money. Carol’s inspired to go into this line of business. Mark’s patient, Alan, had a seizure and now has an erratic heartbeat.

Carter wants to get an interview for his residency, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s interested. Harper brings him an x-ray, thinking her patient has an aortic aneurysm and needs to see Vucelich. Carter can’t see the calcification she thinks is on the scan and advises her not to call Vucelich. She passes the patient along to Carter and goes off to help Mark. Seconds later, Susan glances at the x-ray, sees what Harper saw, and diagnoses an aneurysm.

Alan’s heart rhythm gets more erratic, so Mark kicks his wife, Mrs. Wimbur, out so he and Harper can try to figure out what’s wrong with him. He’s smart enough to know that nurses are valuable sources of information, and he asks Haleh and Lydia for their input (low potassium and cocaine, respectively). They stabilize Alan, but only briefly.

Carter presents Harper’s patient’s x-ray to Vucelich and Benton, who confirm that Harper’s diagnosis was right. They praise him for the catch, and he doesn’t tell them that Harper was the one who read the x-ray correctly. Lydia and Haleh, however, were both wrong about Alan, and Mark still doesn’t know why he’s having heart problems. Alan gets worse, requiring CPR, but after 20 minutes, he’s not any better. Susan joins the group and first suspects what Haleh did, that cocaine is a factor. When Mark says he’s clean, she says Alan might be acidotic.

More time passes and Doug comes in to try to help. Eventually, close to an hour goes by, and the doctors are unable to save Alan. Mark laments that he was only 32. He gives the bad news to Mrs. Wimbur, but he’s unable to tell her what caused her husband’s death. She blames Mark, since she was originally told that Alan could be saved.

While Jerry tries to escape his pyramid scheme, Susan tells Weaver that she officially wants to be considered for the chief position. Weaver’s like, “Oh, great! Now go take care of some more patients.” Carol takes Mrs. Henry for tests, though Mrs. Henry is worried about having to leave her worms in her truck. She figures no one will steal them, even though they’re worth $5,000, but she fears that they’ll freeze to death. She asks Carol to bring them into the hospital and feed them some table scraps.

Susan’s patient, Mrs. D’Angelo, is suffering a lot of pain from stones in her gall bladder. She wants surgery, but since her condition isn’t life-threatening, her insurance won’t pay for it. (God bless America.) Mark calls pathology to ask for a rush on Alan’s autopsy so he can answer his medical mystery. Susan tells him to go home, but Mark doesn’t appreciate being accused of killing a patient and running the risk of being sued. Susan assures him that he did everything right.

Vucelich and Benton operate on Harper’s patient while Carter assists by suctioning. The patient has a bad reaction to the anesthesia, and Vucelich blames Benton for not getting a full history. Once he starts getting things under control, Vucelich realizes that since the patient had never had an operation before, he wouldn’t have known about an intolerance to the anesthesia, so he wouldn’t have mentioned it in the history. He extends an olive branch to Benton by inviting him to lunch. Weaver gives Susan some advice on Mrs. D’Angelo’s treatment; it sounds like she’s trying to teach, but Susan takes it as criticism.

Mark meets with Morgenstern and Kathy Snyder, a hospital attorney, who announces that they’ve worked out a settlement with Sean O’Brien. Morgenstern’s happy to put this behind them, but Mark isn’t – this will be a black mark on his record and will follow him for the rest of his medical career. Kathy points out that they could lose millions if they go to trial. Mark insists that he didn’t do anything wrong, so he shouldn’t admit that he did. Kathy says that experts disagree. Morgenstern does, too, but Mark refuses to settle. He’ll hire his own lawyer and fight on his own if he has to.

Carol and Chuny take a look at Mrs. Henry’s worms, which Carol sees as a key to getting the money she needs to fix up her house. Lydia feeds them some yogurt. Harper finds Carter to bask in the glory of making her diagnosis, but her mood quickly darkens when she realizes that Carter didn’t give her any credit with Vucelich. He says he meant to, but everything happened fast. Harper doesn’t accept his excuse that Vucelich and Benton just assumed that he’d made the catch.

Mark tells Susan about the settlement and how Morgenstern is blaming him for Jodi’s death. Susan says that it was a tough diagnosis that any of them could have missed. But when Mark asks what she would say if she were called to testify in court, she doesn’t want to give an answer.

Jerry tries to convince Malik to start their own investment club, but Malik’s no idiot. Carol goes looking for the worms, but they’re missing from the room where she stashed them. Doug examines a teenager named Ray who’s been having headaches and dizziness, but seems mostly fine.

Carter interrupts Vucelich and Benton’s lunch to tell them that Harper made the diagnosis. Vucelich blasts him for taking credit, but since the patient isn’t a candidate for the study, it doesn’t really matter who made the diagnosis; no one will get a finder’s fee. After Carter leaves, Vucelich calls him a “strange boy.” Benton questions the patient’s exclusion from the study, but Vucelich just casually says that the patient has neurological problems that make him ineligible.

Susan tells Mrs. D’Angelo that they’re not going to give her an ultrasound because it’s clear what her problem is. There’s no point in spending the money. She’s been able to secure a slot for surgery at the end of the year, but since it’s only February, that doesn’t do Mrs. D’Angelo any good. Carol, Lydia, and Wendy (R.I.P. Vanessa Marquez) find the worms outside and rush them to a trauma room to warm them up. Susan rushes in to help, thinking they have a real, human patient. She makes a hilarious patient as Carol tries to break the worms out of the block of ice they’ve become.

When nothing abnormal shows up on Ray’s tests, Doug talks to him, trying to find out if his problems are stress-related. Ray says things are fine, but he’s clearly upset about something. He tells Doug that there’s something wrong with him. Doug thinks he’s just having normal teenager anxieties, but Ray has a secret: He’s come to the conclusion that he’s gay. He doesn’t know what to tell his father or brothers. He’s sick of pretending to be someone he’s not.

Doug calls for a psych consult, just wanting to give Ray someone to talk to. Haleh doesn’t appear to agree with this form of treatment. Benton tells Harper she made a good call with the aneurysm, but it’s too little too late. Susan calls Harper and Carter in to help tend to a patient as Weaver looks on. Harper tells Carter to shut it when he tries to offer some help. Mark and Doug meet up at a diner, where Mark admits that he may have killed Alan. He heard a murmur on examination, and he should have done more to save him. Doug thinks Mark is holding himself to too high of a standard.

Harper screws up something on the patient, and Carter tries to take the blame, but Harper wants to own up to her own mistake. Susan and Weaver discuss treatments, but Susan makes it clear that she’s not going to give in to Weaver just because Weaver has seniority. Susan ends up being right, and she gloats a little too much, asking Weaver questions that she would normally ask an intern or med student.

Mark goes to the morgue to find out if Alan’s autopsy has solved any mysteries. Haleh advises Doug to talk to Ray himself instead of continuing to wait for a psych consult. She asks if Doug is trying to avoid having a difficult conversation with Ray because he’s gay. Doug insists that he’s not homophobic, but he doesn’t think he’s the right person for the conversation because he has no expertise on the subject. Haleh doesn’t seem convinced.

The pathologist, Dr. Upton, doesn’t find anything abnormal with Alan’s heart. She tells Mark that medicine is an art, and it’s ambiguous. Sometimes there are no answers. In this case, she can’t determine Alan’s cause of death. Mrs. Henry is ready to be released, but her worms won’t be going home with her. Carol couldn’t save them. She gives the news as if she’s telling any patient’s family about a death.

Jeanie finds Benton looking over the protocol for Vucelich’s study. He wants to know if Vucelich is dropping patients with bad outcomes from his study so his results won’t be skewed. Harper yells at Carter for his behavior all day, which he blames on his poor odds at getting a residency at County. He’s forgotten a bunch of Benton’s patients’ orders and has to keep working.

Weaver calls Susan on getting a fact wrong in her impromptu Q&A in the trauma room. Susan finally blows up at her, saying it’s not worth it to be chief resident if she’ll have to put up with Weaver always looking over her shoulder. But Weaver thinks this reaction means Susan’s more qualified to be chief resident than she thought. Ray’s father arrives to take him home, and Ray pretends his trigonometry classes are the cause of his headaches. (Dude, I feel you.) Doug invites him to talk if he ever wants to, but Ray’s ready to go back to being his fake self.

Benton goes looking for records on Helen Rubadoux, who was also dropped from Vucelich’s study. He pulls out a few more files while he’s at it. Jerry’s come into a bunch of money, thanks to his pyramid scheme, so he’s ending the day on a good note. Carol has been able to salvage a few worms (she claims Mrs. Henry gave her some), so she’s going to see if she can make some money with them. Carter finally finishes his tasks and apologizes to Benton for being an idiot earlier. He also has to confess to being late with some orders. Looks like the golden child is slipping. Benton finds something interesting in a patient file and makes a phone call.

Mark smooths things over with Susan, admitting that he was in denial. He’s not sure he should keep practicing medicine. Susan says they all ask themselves that. Mark hopes the job is worth losing his family over. He now knows that Alan’s death wasn’t his fault. He did everything right and Alan died anyway. The lesson is that they can’t win. Mark asks if anyone thought it was strange that he came to work on his day off. Susan lies that they didn’t. (She’s a bad liar but he doesn’t catch on.) Then Mark ends his day the way he began – running.

Thoughts: Freaking animal plots. Just…why?

Carol: “What happened to those worms in radiology?” Susan: “They’re doing a consult.” Ha!

Mark needs a hobby. I don’t even think about work when I have a day off.

October 6, 2018

The X-Files 8.14, This Is Not Happening: The Aliens Giveth and the Aliens Taketh Away

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Spoiler alert: It’s happening

Summary: It’s almost 1 a.m. in Helena, Montana, and Richie Szalay is chasing what he thinks is a UFO through the desert. He tries to take a picture of the bright light shining down from the sky, but his camera won’t work. “This is not happening!” he yells as the light slowly disappears. A man approaches from the direction of the light, but when Richie calls out to him, the man runs off. Richie chases him, but trips over an unconscious body on the ground. “This is not happening,” he says again.

In D.C., Doggett takes a look at Mulder’s long-unused nameplate while waiting for Scully to meet him in the office. They go up to meet Skinner, who tells them about the incident in Montana. Richie thinks that the man he saw running away from him was an alien. Skinner reminds Scully that she and Mulder met Richie; Skinner thinks Richie’s experience in Helena might have something to do with Mulder. And if that’s not enough, the body Richie came across belongs to Theresa Nemman.

The three agents fly to Helena to see Theresa, who’s not doing well. Her doctor, Desai, has never seen someone who’s been treated so badly. The only words Theresa has spoken since she was brought to the hospital were a request for her baby. Desai thinks she was experimented on. The damage he describes sounds like what Mulder also experienced earlier in the season. Scully asks about little metal implants, but Desai hasn’t seen any of those.

Doggett gets some info that leads the agents to Richie. He explains that he’s in Montana looking into his friend Gary’s disappearance. He had no luck for a long time, but a bunch of UFO sightings in Montana have been reported in the past few weeks. Doggett asks about the man Richie saw, telling him they found shoeprints left behind by his Nikes. He doubts that the aliens would wear shoes like that. Richie’s like, “Do Nike-wearing humans have spaceships?”

Doggett leaves, thinking this is all just a dumb story from a nutbar. Scully asks if he really thinks a human is responsible for Theresa’s condition. He replies that it doesn’t matter – their job is to find Mulder. Scully thinks this is a break in the case, but Doggett says it’s just hope. He wants Scully to admit that, though she badly wants to find Mulder, she’s also afraid to.

Scully has a nightmare about Mulder undergoing experiments on a spaceship, then wakes Skinner up to express her fears that Mulder’s dead. The two stand outside their motel and look up at the stars. Scully says she and Mulder once talked about how starlight is so old that we can see stars that are already dead. Mulder said souls reside up there, in light that never dies. Scully hopes he’s right. Skinner tells her she doesn’t need to prepare herself for the worst. There’s no reason to believe that Mulder won’t come back to them just fine.

Jeremiah Smith goes to Theresa’s hospital, turning himself into Desai to tell a nurse he wants to have Theresa transferred somewhere else. He’s wearing Nikes, so that’s a strike against Doggett. In the morning, Scully learns that Theresa’s gone missing. Doggett calls her and Skinner out to the desert to talk to an agent named Monica Reyes. He thinks her background in religious studies and ritualistic crimes will help their investigation.

Instead of presenting her theory, Reyes asks Scully what she thinks happened. What actually happened is most likely different from what they want to have happened. Scully would rather stick to the facts, which are that Theresa was left there with strange injuries. Reyes doesn’t think those injuries came from ritualistic abuse or cult practices. But since the people who were allegedly abducted were all believers, maybe they all joined a UFO cult.
UFO
Doggett thinks this makes sense – Theresa escaped, and the leader came back to get her so she wouldn’t turn him in. If they find the cult leader, they might find Mulder, too. Reyes thinks Theresa’s still alive, though she doesn’t have any proof, just a feeling. Scully walks away, telling Doggett that Reyes hasn’t been any help. For example, she hasn’t explained how Desai, who supposedly requested Theresa’s transfer, could be in two places at once. Doggett tells her that if she suggests this is the work of another alien bounty hunter, they’ll have to part company. “Enjoy your new company,” Scully tells him.

Jeremiah has taken Theresa to what looks like some old Army barracks, but not to kill her – he wants to heal her. They’re with a man named Absalom who’s very grateful for Jeremiah’s healing powers. Scully runs into Reyes at the hospital, looking at Theresa’s medical records. She sees no signs of the implants Scully asked about earlier. Scully wonders why Reyes would ask about a common piece of evidence of alien abduction if she’s not a believer. Reyes says she’s open-minded and doesn’t “not believe.”

She continues that she specializes in satanic-ritual abuse, which makes Scully think they could have some really interesting conversations in the future. Reyes was a black sheep in the New Orleans field office because of her beliefs, or “spiritual notions.” She believes there are energies in the universe that she’s sensitive to. She just gets feelings. Though she doesn’t get any about Mulder, she can feel Scully’s fear, and she thinks Scully should stay open. Fear won’t help her or anyone else.

Reyes drives off somewhere, trying to fight temptation to light up a cigarette from her pack of Morleys. Her car starts acting weird, like Mulder’s has done twice in the past. She sees a light out in the desert and pulls over. Jeremiah and Absalom are also out there, dropping off another returned abductee. She tries to detain them, but they drive off, leaving another body behind.

This time, the returned abductee is dead – it’s Gary. Scully does the autopsy, fighting back tears as she worries that Mulder has suffered the same fate. Richie arrives and identifies the friend he’s spent months looking for. Scully gathers herself, ready to do her job. Meanwhile, Reyes approaches Doggett to offer comfort, knowing he’s hurting for Scully. He can’t believe that she’s able to work through her fears to do her job. Reyes knows he can relate, but Doggett would rather not discuss that. Reyes ignores him to give us a little exposition: Doggett spent three days looking for his missing son, fearing the worst. Doggett says that’s why he can’t stand conversations about spaceships.

Reyes insists that’s what she saw, but that’s not important right now. She’s ID’d Absalom, who used to lead a doomsday cult that thought aliens would take over the world at the turn of the millennium. When they didn’t (possibly because he thought they would come in 2000 instead of 2001), he started dabbling in credit card fraud. Reyes ran a trace on his license plate and knows where to find him.

Absalom and his buddies are having dinner together at his compound when Jeremiah announces that they need to get everyone inside. He knows the FBI is coming, and they need to make sure the agents can’t find “him.” The agents lead a raid on the property, nabbing Absalom and coming across a completely healed Theresa. Jeremiah is nowhere to be seen (but since he can shapeshift, he could easily be hiding in plain sight).

Scully and Doggett question Absalom, threatening to talk to his 46 followers if he doesn’t give them answers. Absalom says he just goes to retrieve the returned abductees when they’re dropped in the desert. He only wants to help them. Doggett asks if he helped Theresa when he left her for dead. Scully notes that the abductees coming back with injuries that aren’t consistent with other narratives about alien abductions. Absalom says he was right about the invasion at the turn of the millennium – that’s when this all started.

Reyes listens from outside the room as Scully tells Absalom that he’s not a credible witness, so he should focus on telling the truth. Absalom insists that he is. He has video cameras around his compound to help the abductees feel safe. Scully asks if any of those cameras have recorded how Theresa was miraculously healed. Absalom says no, Scully emotionally reminds him that she needs truth, then asks if he has video footage of Mulder. Again, he says no. Outside the room, Skinner tells Reyes that he thinks Absalom’s hiding something. She agrees.

Scully goes to her motel room and thinks she sees Mulder, but when Reyes joins her, she doesn’t see anyone. They regroup with Doggett and Skinner to watch some tapes from Absalom’s compound. They can see a body in Absalom’s truck, but they can’t see whose it is. Scully recognizes Jeremiah, who also appears on footage from the compound. Scully puts together that Jeremiah must have healed Theresa. The footage shows Jeremiah turning into Doggett during the raid, even though Doggett never went into the building.

The agents return to the compound to search for Jeremiah. No one will tell Scully where he is, but she singles out a man wearing Nikes and tries to get him to reveal himself. He won’t admit to anything, but Scully’s sure he’s Jeremiah. Reyes leaves the room to take care of something else, and when Scully turns back to the man, he’s shifted into Jeremiah. He warns that if she exposes him, she’ll endanger others. He’s saved abductees all over the country – he’s the only one who can.

Scully asks about Mulder, and Jeremiah says he was at the compound at one point. Before he can give any details, Skinner calls her away. Jeremiah asks Scully to protect him. The agents head to the woods, where they’ve found a body. It’s Mulder, and he’s (allegedly) dead. Scully runs off, insisting that he needs help, and sees a bright light in the sky. A spaceship hovers over the compound, illuminating one of the buildings. Scully runs inside and looks at all the returned abductees, who are screaming in fear of being taken again. But this time, Jeremiah’s the one who vanishes. “This is not happening!” Scully yells when she discovers him missing. To be continued…

Thoughts: Eddie Kaye Thomas, who plays Gary, was also in Scorpion with Robert Patrick. (The three people who watched Scorpion: “Oh, yeah, I remember that.”)

If you drink every time a ford of the word “happen” is spoken in this episode, you’ll be drunk by the halfway point.

This week’s lesson: When planting or retrieving abduction victims’ bodies, use a vehicle that can’t be traced to you.

October 2, 2018

ER 2.12, True Lies: Heirs Apparent

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 5:09 pm by Jenn

Could you be mean to this man? Never

Summary: Rachel’s asleep – drink! Mark wakes her up and serves her breakfast, getting the hang of this single-father thing. Jen calls to check on them, and for some reason thinks Mark is bad-mouthing her to their daughter. Rachel’s struggling with her parents’ split and the fact that they live so far apart. She thinks Mark will eventually move back home. He decides to distract her with pancakes and ice skating.

Helen is well enough to be discharged from County and moved to a nursing home. Vucelich avoids questions from Ruby about when she’ll be able to walk. He invites Benton to a dinner party at his place that night; he’ll be able to put in some face time with some prestigious bigwigs. He’s also encouraged to bring a guest. Ruby’s concerned that Helen isn’t really ready to leave the hospital, but all the doctors involved think she is. Carter ushers them out the door, as he’s been told over and over is his goal. Whatever happens to Helen, she’s not his responsibility anymore.

Mark brings Rachel to the hospital for a few minutes before they go ice skating. She holds Susie while Mark tells Susan that the past few days have been tough. He invites her to come skating with them, an idea Rachel doesn’t like. She’s starting to display the attitude we’ll see a lot of when she’s a teenager. Carol tells Doug that his dad keeps calling, but Doug doesn’t want to talk to him.

Carter tells Benton that he finally got rid of the Rubadouxes. He asks who Benton will take to Vucelich’s party, vetoing his first choice, Jackie. Carter suggests Jeanie, laughing at the idea of Benton bringing his sister to a party full of surgeons and their trophy wives. Benton knows he’s right and quickly invites Jeanie to the party. She accepts once they establish that it’s not a date.

A patient comes in after a car accident that left him impaled on a guardrail. (Owwwwww.) A maintenance man has to bring in a saw to cut him off of it. Mark, Susan, Rachel, and Susie go skating (Susie’s in a little sled; it’s cute), but only three of them have a good time. Rachel clearly doesn’t like that her father has a new woman in his life, even though they’re just friends.

“My first medical consult!” the maintenance man declares as he finishes his work with the saw. Hicks arrives to help Benton and Carter take the patient to the OR so Vucelich can operate on him. Just then, the Rubadouxes return – Helen passed out. Benton tells Carter to take care of her but not “make a career” out of her. In other words, treat her and street her again.

The skaters return to the hospital, where E-Ray is filling in for a sick Jerry. Desk clerk is actually a better job for E-Ray than nurse, as he’s better with computers and administrative tasks than he is with medicine. He’s also a licensed daycare worker, so he offers to look after Rachel. Hicks and Benton operate on Mr. Guardrail, waiting for Vucelich to join them. Since he’s going to take a while to get there, Benton insists he can do the operation himself. Hicks agrees to let him.

A drunk woman is brought to the ER in respiratory distress, and Susan soon loses her pulse. Lily sees from her ID that her name is Barbara Dean, and today is her 50th birthday. She looks older than that, probably as a result of lots of partying. Helen (whom Ruby calls Sylvie, which is really confusing) is unconscious, and Carter and Jeanie tell Ruby that she may have had a stroke. Ruby’s worried that he was right about her leaving the hospital too soon.

E-Ray entertains Rachel by showing her pictures of skin lesions. He thinks she’ll benefit from “confronting [her] fears in a supportive and nurturing environment.” Susan calls Barbara’s daughter, who wants nothing to do with her mother. Lily finds her medical records, which show lots of alcohol-related injuries and illnesses. Doug’s father calls yet again, and Doug tells E-Ray to say he died. Carol has big news for everyone: Morgenstern is in the suture room, wearing a Catholic schoolgirl’s uniform. They all run off to see.

Benton’s attempts at surgery aren’t going so well, and he loses his shot at proving himself when Vucelich finally arrives to relieve him. Hicks takes responsibility, saying she let Benton’s enthusiasm cloud her judgment. Benton just looks on as she and Vucelich finish up. Aww, poor Benton. Now he won’t get to sit at the big kids’ table!

Ruby’s distressed over Helen’s condition, and Carter isn’t as sympathetic or gentle as he’s been in the past. A bunch of staff members giggle over Morgenstern’s clothes, considering taking a picture they can use as blackmail material for the next several years. Mark and Susan finally go in and learn that Morgenstern lost control of a caber, a huge log thrown in the Highland Games. His schoolgirl’s uniform is really traditional Scottish attire. Mark determines that his leg is probably broken.

Benton tells Jeanie he has to stay late at work, so their dinner non-date is off. Noah and his brother Kenny come in after being hit by a car; Noah only has minor injuries, but Kenny’s hurt pretty badly. Noah says that he doesn’t know where their mother is, and their father isn’t around. (It seems like the actor screwed up the line, or it was poorly written; it’s the mother who isn’t around.) Carol recognizes him as a previous County visitor.

Carter gets stuck between a rock and a hard place, where Ruby is the rock and Benton is the hard place. Carter’s trying to get Helen admitted to County, but Benton thinks he’s spending too much time on something unimportant. Barbara has a do-not-resuscitate order in her records, but Susan wants to put her on a respirator to treat her breathing problems. Barbara refuses to revoke the DNR.

Benton tries to leave a message with Vucelich’s assistant canceling his attendance at the dinner party. The assistant says that unless he has a terminal illness that will kill him before the party, he’d better be there. She also admits that he’s a last-minute addition because someone else canceled, and Vucelich’s wife doesn’t like empty chairs. He should think of this like surgery: If Vucelich requests his presence, he shouldn’t decline.

Morgenstern plays bagpipes in the suture room while waiting for his x-rays to come back. He’s disappointed that having to wait to get a cast on his leg means he’ll miss partaking in the haggis and reciting Robert Burns’ “To a Haggis.” He practices while Mark takes a phone call. Benton tells Jeanie he can make it to dinner after all, so she’ll be expected there, too. Jeanie is somehow fine with this.

Rachel plays jacks with Malik, who’s used to playing with girls since he has four sisters. Carol tells Doug that she remembers Noah because he came in with his father last fall after his father passed out drunk. DCFS is now getting involved. Doug blasts Dave Donovan, the DCFS rep, for not getting the kids out of their home where they’re obviously unsupervised. Dave says he’s familiar with the family and didn’t think the kids needed to be removed – their father’s gotten sober and is going to AA. The kids were playing hooky; their dad isn’t responsible for what happened to them.

Jeanie bugs Carter to tell Ruby that Helen’s doing poorly, so he needs to prepare himself to say goodbye. Carter brushes her off. Barbara’s daughter, Karen, comes in but doesn’t want to actually talk to her mother. Susan urges her to make peace before Barbara dies. After making calls to multiple departments in an attempt to get Helen admitted, Carter finally gets neurology to accept her for a nerve study she’s probably not really qualified for. He no longer cares; he just wants her off his hands. He also still won’t tell Ruby how serious Helen’s condition is.

Mark decides it’s time to tell Rachel that he and Jen aren’t going to get back together, and he won’t be moving home. He wishes it didn’t have to be this way. Jen arrives to pick her up, but Rachel doesn’t want to leave her father. She screams as Jen carries her away. Benton goes to Vucelich’s party, where Jeanie is already socializing and is probably better liked than Benton will ever be.

Kenny and Noah’s father comes to County, and Doug interrogates him on where he was while his kids were playing in the street and getting hit by a car. Carol tries to mediate as Doug blasts the father for making multiple visits to the ER in the past because of his drinking. Carol finally pulls Doug aside and tells him to call his dad if he wants to yell at a father. Noah and Kenny’s dad is doing the best he can.

Morgenstern’s family comes to see him in the ER, playing bagpipes and drums. They’ve even brought the haggis. Haleh enjoys herself until she learns what’s in haggis. Karen’s now sitting with Barbara, remembering the times she saw her mother unconscious when she was a kid. She used to be afraid or angry; now she doesn’t have the energy to be either. She’s not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Vucelich’s dinner party is exactly how you would expect a dinner party full of rich, white people to be. Benton praises the work of one of his colleagues, and another says that Vucelich considers him “the heir apparent.” Benton confides to Jeanie that after his horrible showing in surgery that day, he doesn’t think he’ll be the heir anymore. He expects Vucelich to kick him off his study. The two of them try to figure out which part of their meal is a truffle.

As Doug sees Noah’s father hugging him, trying desperately to be a good parent, Vucelich asks Benton if they can speak alone. Benton prepares himself for the worst. Barbara’s declining quickly, and since she signed a DNR, there isn’t much Susan can do for her. Now Karen wants more time with her mother, and she’s distressed when Barbara flatlines and Susan and Lily do nothing.

Vucelich offers Benton a cigar and booze, neither of which he wants to partake in. (I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned before, but Benton doesn’t drink.) Benton apologizes for performing badly in surgery and backs up Hicks’ earlier assertion that he overstepped his bounds. But Vucelich knew that would happen, and that Hicks would keep an eye on things. He likes that Benton keeps one eye on details and one on the horizon, like all good surgeons.

Vucelich says he enjoys looking at puzzles and assessing risks. Benton replies that that’s why he’s enjoyed being on Vucelich’s team. Vucelich wasn’t sure, since Benton never expresses that enjoyment. He was afraid he was seeing something in Benton that Benton doesn’t see in himself. Benton says he wants to see it. Vucelich likes that. Back at County, Doug finally calls his father but hangs up before he gets an answer. Susan and Mark come in, and the three end their tough day with some of Morgenstern’s family’s booze.

Ruby finds Carter as he’s doing paperwork and blasts him for lying. He knows now that Helen will never get better, and will never be able to leave the hospital. He’s sure that Carter knew the whole time but didn’t say anything, even though Ruby thought they were friends. Carter argues that he was just doing his job. He admits that he doesn’t know if Helen got worse because she was released from the hospital.

Carter lists all the things he did for her, but Ruby knows that he only sees him and Helen in terms of their problems, not as people. He just wants Carter to tell him the truth. Carter yells that Helen’s dying, and Ruby thanks him, finally getting confirmation of what he’s been fearing. He no longer wants Carter to call him by his nickname. They are definitely not friends.

Thoughts: Vucelich’s assistant must really hate Benton, because why else tell him he didn’t make the first cut for the guest list?

Carter, Benton, and Vucelich are lucky that Ruby never sues for what could probably be classified as medical malpractice.

Yvonne Zima (Rachel) is great in this episode, and especially impressive when you realize that she was only seven at the time.

It seems like this episode confirms what’s been obvious for a while – Benton’s way of practicing medicine doesn’t work. Carter tried it and got burned. He’s a much better doctor when he ignores Benton and forms a relationship with his patients. He has to see them as people, like Ruby says, and not like medical cases to be worked through before he can go home for the day.

September 29, 2018

The X-Files 8.13, Per Manum: Alien-Baby Baby Mamas

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:16 pm by Jenn

“Don’t worry, Scully. We’ll get you knocked up. We’ll get you knocked up real good”

Summary: A woman named Kath McCready is in labor and would be totally fine with putting off this whole giving-birth thing until tomorrow. The baby’s heart rate starts going wild, so her obstetrician, Dr. Lev, says it’s time for an emergency C-section. He sends Kath’s husband off to get ready for surgery, then gets to work. Kath thinks something’s wrong, and I’d say it definitely is, since that baby is an alien. (Good luck, friends and family who look at baby pictures and have to pretend that thing is cute.)

Remember how Scully’s pregnant, even though that hasn’t been mentioned for multiple episodes? She’s gotten an ultrasound and is starting to show slightly. When she gets to work, she meets Kath’s husband, Duffy Haskell. He contacted the X-Files eight years ago, before Scully started there, because Kath had been abducted by aliens. Now she’s dead, and Duffy blames “them.”

Doggett explains that Duffy wrote Mulder some letters about the abduction years ago. Now Kath has had an alien baby, and Duffy thinks that’s why she was killed. She was abducted multiple times and underwent procedures. The results were exactly like what Scully’s gone through. And like Scully, Kath was supposedly unable to have a baby, at least until the aliens implanted her with an alien embryo. Duffy thinks all the doctors Kath saw were in on the conspiracy. They killed her and stole her alien child.

Scully accepts Duffy’s supposed proof, an ultrasound, and sends him away. Then she jabs at Doggett for bringing her a case that sounds insane. Doggett knows Scully’s history from the X-Files and says he thought she’d be interested in the case because Kath’s history is just like hers. Well, except for the pregnancy part. Scully coolly tells him to stay out of her personal history, whether or not it’s documented in the X-Files.

Flashback! Some unspecified time ago, Scully and Mulder meet up in an elevator after she has a doctor’s appointment. She admits that the aliens’ tests left her unable to conceive a baby. She’s struggling to accept that she’ll never have a child. Mulder makes his own confession: He knew she couldn’t conceive. Her ova were taken during an experiment, and he had them sent to a lab for testing. They’re not viable, so even if Scully were able to get them back and try in vitro fertilization, she still wouldn’t be able to have a baby.

Back in the present, Doggett catches up to Scully and asks what she wants to do about Duffy. She says there’s no need to do anything. She goes to Zeus Genetics in Germantown, Maryland, and takes a look around when no one greets her in the lobby. She hears a woman named Mary Hendershot crying and yelling as Dr. Lev tries to calm her. Before he can see her, Scully hides…in a storage room full of fetuses. Lev finds her there, and Scully pretends she came to the office with Mary.

Scully heads home without getting busted further and calls her doctor, James Parenti. As she waits for him to come to the phone, she compares her ultrasound to Kath’s. She tells Parenti that she’s scared and wants him to compare them as well. He’s not in his office, but he’ll look at them as soon as he can. And the reason he’s not in his office is because he’s in the fetus storage room at Zeus, looking at Kath’s alien baby.

Flashback! Scully has taken the ova to Parenti, who disagrees with Mulder about their viability and thinks she can get pregnant. In fact, they can start trying right away, as soon as they get a father. Parenti suggests an anonymous donor, but Scully has a much less anonymous man in mind. She’ll just have to figure out how to ask him to make a baby with her.

In the present, Parenti tells Scully that her and Kath’s ultrasounds look fine. He tells her it’s normal to be worried, but right now her only concern needs to be telling the FBI about her pregnancy. At the office, Doggett gets a call from Parenti’s office about the ultrasound, which is a real jerk move, Parenti. Doggett was doing a background check on Kath and Duffy, even though Scully thinks they should drop the case. He thinks she was at Parenti’s to investigate as well, even as she says there’s nothing left to do.

Doggett accuses Scully of keeping secrets and lying, which makes it hard for him to do his job. Scully says Parenti is her doctor; she wasn’t at his office on business. Doggett is satisfied with that and turns his attention back to Kath and Duffy, calling Duffy a piece of work. Turns out he’s the president of Ohio’s MUFON and has written some not-so-nice letters. For example, he wrote Lev to threaten to hurt him if anything happened to Kath. Mulder was so concerned about the letters that he passed them along to Skinner.

Duffy insists again that Lev killed Kath and stole the baby. Doggett says that he can’t find any confirmation that Kath and Duffy were married (not sure what that has to do with anything, but okay), and no history of foul play on Lev’s part. He’s an expert in the field of birth defects, and his peers respect him. Duffy, however, has made threats that have put him in the FBI’s radar. So which of these two men is the one the agents need to be concerned about?

Duffy tells the agents that Lev and his colleagues have taken everything from him. He thinks there are other women out there who have been through the same things as Kath. As soon as he leaves, he calls Lev to tell him that the FBI is trying to poke holes in his story, just as Lev suspected. They’re at risk to lose Mary, so they need to let her go. Ooh, conspirators!

Flashback! Scully has asked Mulder to be her baby daddy, and amazingly, he’s had to take some time to think it over instead of immediately saying yes and/or proposing marriage. He wants to make sure that having a baby together won’t come between them. Scully thinks that means he’s saying no, but he’s saying yes. They’re going to do this in a lab, though, and not the old-fashioned, naked, sexy way. How disappointing. In the present, Mary comes to Scully’s apartment and warns that their unborn babies are both in danger.

Scully, Skinner, and Doggett meet up at a diner so Scully can announce that she needs a leave of absence. She won’t tell Doggett why. He’s thrilled to be woken up in the middle of the night to be told he’s on his own with the X-Files now. After he leaves, Skinner urges Scully to tell Doggett the truth, but she says she can’t. She follows Doggett out and insists she’s not doing anything behind his back. He reminds her that she’s supposed to be watching his back. She promises that if she were putting him at risk, she would let him know. Scully heads off with Mary, which just makes Doggett more suspicious.

The women go to Walden-Freedman Army Research Hospital to tell their stories to a team of doctors headed by a Dr. Miryum. Mary doesn’t have medical records with her since she can’t trust her doctors. She was friends with Kath and thinks the doctors killed her because she saw too much. Since Mary’s 40 weeks along, Miryum thinks they should induce labor and deliver right away so they can get some answers. An agent named Farah brings Doggett some information he found while running Duffy and Kath’s background checks. Duffy’s fingerprints match those of a David Haskell, who supposedly died in 1970 and was buried in an honor-guard cemetery.

At Walden-Freedman, the doctors induce Mary, who confesses to Scully that she’s afraid of what’s inside her. She realized early on that her boyfriend couldn’t have fathered her baby, and it must have been the result of an abduction. She’s unsure of what kind of baby she’ll be having. Miryum gives Scully an ultrasound and pronounces her baby healthy. She offers to do an amniocentesis to find out the baby’s sex.

Doggett meets up with a guy named Knowle Rohrer, who was supposed to find out if Duffy and David are the same person. Knowle says he could have been a CIA agent who had his death faked, but that doesn’t explain why he went to see Scully and Doggett about his wife’s alien abduction. Doggett thinks it’s tied to the alien conspiracy, which Knowle denies exists. (Hmm, sounds like something that someone who’s part of an alien conspiracy would say.)

Left alone in her exam room, Scully finds a VHS tape (kids, ask your parents) labeled “Nancy Boxwell, 11-23-00.” She goes to Mary’s room and tells her they have to leave. Meanwhile, Doggett goes to Skinner and asks how to get in touch with Scully. He thinks Duffy has misled all of them. His plan the whole time was to get Scully to go wherever she is. Skinner says she’s safe, but since Scully’s at a hospital, and doctors have been killing women, and doctors work in hospitals…well, Skinner can connect the dots, right?

Skinner calls the hospital while Mary and Scully sneak out. They run into Knowle, who says he’s a friend of Doggett’s and will take them someplace safe. Scully, like an idiot, doesn’t question it. They’re supposedly going to another hospital so Mary can have her baby in safety. They have to hide from some MPs, and of course Mary’s now in active labor, so this is a bad situation all around. Scully orders Knowle and his colleague to stop the car so Mary can have the baby.

But Knowle keeps Scully away, telling her it’s for her own safety. He sedates her while his colleague delivers the baby as what looks like an MP watches from afar. When Scully wakes up, she’s back at Walden-Freedman with Doggett by her bed. He now knows she’s pregnant and assures her that she and the baby are both fine. So are Mary and her son, who’s human. Scully thinks there was a baby swap as part of a cover-up.

Doggett says that the doctors’ official ruling is that Scully got worked up over her fears for her baby and overreacted to Mary’s situation. Scully says that Miryum lied to her – she showed Scully a tape of another woman’s ultrasound to make her think her baby was normal and human. Doggett says they just taped Scully’s procedure over someone else’s. (Still not a great practice by that hospital, but at least better than what Scully thinks happened.) He sent Knowle and his colleague to help Scully and Mary, so whatever they did was on his orders.

Scully refuses to believe this: The whole thing was a cover-up, and Scully and Mary are pawns. Doggett’s just glad Scully’s okay, though he’s annoyed that she never told him she was pregnant. She admits that she was afraid the FBI would use it against her and take her off the X-Files, which means she wouldn’t be able to keep looking for Mulder. Doggett reminds her that he promised he would help with the search, and he’s still going to.

One last flashback! Scully comes home from her last attempt at in vitro with the news that it didn’t succeed. Mulder gives her a comforting hug and a kiss on the forehead, and tells her to never give up on a miracle. In the present, Scully puts her hand on her stomach. So the mystery remains unsolved: Is the baby Mulder’s or an alien’s? (Or some third option presented in season 11 that I don’t want to even entertain?)

Thoughts: Knowle is played by Adam Baldwin. Kath is played by Megan Follows.

Knowle Rohrer might be the worst name I’ve ever heard. Top five, at least.

Scully’s hair is so big in this episode, I guess because it’s full of secrets.

When Duffy leaves to get scrubbed for the C-section, he tells Kath, “Don’t wait for me.” Yeah, here’s a guy who understands how emergency C-sections work.

The recap title comes from what David Duchovny called Gillian Anderson while presenting her with an award: his “alien-baby baby mama.”

September 25, 2018

ER 2.11, Dead of Winter: Jeanie Deserves Better Than…Just…All of This

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

I’ll be your mommy, you cutie pie

Summary: It’s a snowy, windy night in Chicago, and the ER is relatively quiet. Jeanie learns that a baby in respiratory arrest is on the way in, and she goes to wake Susan. Susan promises she’s getting up, but Jeanie has to go back and make sure, like a mom waking her child for school. Elsewhere in the city, Mark is alone in his quiet apartment, living the bachelor life. At least he can drink juice straight out of the bottle without anyone getting on his case.

Shep and Raul respond to what they think is a call to tend to a drunk man who slipped on some stairs and hit his head. The police on the scene actually have something much more important for the paramedics to deal with: a dirty apartment full of kids in tattered clothes. There are no adults at home, and the oldest child isn’t even ten.

Susan fills Mark in at the hospital – in all, 22 kids were found in the apartment. They’re all malnourished, and the parents haven’t been identified or found. The police arrested a man who claimed to be an uncle. Some of the kids are now at County, with lots of medical problems because of their malnutrition and neglect. Doug takes charge while Mark talks to one of the older kids, Ty. Some of the kids are his siblings, and some of the others may be his cousins, but he’s not clear on everything. Shep tells Mark that only about half the kids had clothes.

Ruby listens nervously as Benton, Carter, and Vucelich discuss Helen’s condition nine days after her surgery. Though the surgery went fine, Helen is experiencing some complications, including paraplegia. Benton thinks she should go to a care facility. Vucelich disagrees and asks for Carter’s opinion. Carter thinks a few more days of treatment at County will do the trick. Vucelich allows him to take over the case.

Mark and Lydia examine Ty, who says he’s always made sure the kids have enough to eat. His mom gives him her food stamps when she doesn’t need them. He asks about Trey, who has cerebral palsy. Mark says he’ll check on him, asking Lydia to find a dental school that can send students to examine the kids’ teeth. (Smart thinking.) He learns from Susan and Jeanie that at least one of the kids has lice, so all the kids will need to be treated. He tells Susan she can leave, since her shift is over, but Susan wants to stick around and make sure all the kids are okay.

Doug and Malik are examining Trey, who has cigarette burns and welts. Someone better be going to jail after all this. Benton goes to the front desk to answer a page but instead runs into Al (Jeanie’s husband, not Lydia’s boyfriend). Even though Carter said that Jeanie told him she and Al are through, Al is there to pick Jeanie up for breakfast. In the midst of the crazy morning, Mark gets a summons from a process server. Jen is filing for divorce.

Pete Tuteur from the Department of Children and Family Services arrives as Jeanie, Malik, and Chuny give the kids lice treatments. Jeanie demonstrates that she’s great with kids, and one of the girls must agree with me, because she asks if Jeanie will be her mommy. Benton checks in with Carter, who hasn’t decided yet what to do for Helen. He give a nurse some instructions, ignoring her when she tells him the risks.

Pete tells Mark that a couple of the kids from the apartment are supposed to be living with their grandmother, but he hasn’t located her yet. The kids’ alleged uncle is living large on all the government payments he gets for taking in the kids. His other money comes from selling crack. Mark thinks this is an argument for welfare reform, because this situation must be the norm, and everyone must be taking advantage of the system. Shut up, Mark.

Susan needs a surgical consult for one of the kids, who has a mass. Mark tells her that Jen has served him with divorce papers, so he’ll have to get a lawyer. Susan invites him to hang out with her at home that evening, but he declines. Shep and Raul stop by again, and Randi admires how cute Raul is. Shep and Carol tell her Raul’s gay, so she’s not his type. Benton gets another page, and again doesn’t know who it’s from. Randi is no help.

Shep tells some of the staff about how horrible the conditions were in the apartment. He blames the kids’ mothers – why can’t “these people” just take care of their children? Benton and Malik take offense to the phrase, while Randi defends Shep, saying he didn’t mean anything racist. Shep says if he’d meant something discriminatory, he would have said “black people” instead of “these people.” Malik calls him David Duke anyway.

Carol jumps in as Shep goes off about personal responsibility. He points out that Benton’s a surgeon while Shep, a white guy, is a paramedic. Benton says it’s not that simple, and the system doesn’t work equally for everyone. Shep says it seems to be working pretty well for Benton. Jeanie pulls Benton away, but Malik makes sure Shep knows the argument is his fault.

Loretta comes in with her kids, Annie and Jimmy, and Mark determines that Jimmy has strep throat. The family has moved into a new house, and Loretta is still at her new job. Lydia takes the kids to the family room so Mark can talk to Loretta about some vaginal bleeding she’s been having. Jeanie brings Benton in to examine Susan’s patient, Michael, as Benton realizes that Jeanie’s the one who’s been paging him. He complains that she’s been wasting his time by not waiting around to tell him what she needs. Susan points out that things have been hectic in the ER all day.

Benton isn’t very gentle in his examination of Michael, and after he’s done and leaving in a huff, Jeanie follows. She tells him that if he’s mad, he should take it out on her, not a scared little boy. “Is that it?” Benton asks, saying possibly the worst thing he could say right now. Jeanie keeps standing up to him, finally telling him to either find a way to be compassionate or leave medicine.

Mark tends to a man named Mr. Mills who appears to have had a heart attack. Benton could learn a lot from Mark, who’s able to take charge of the patient and steer his son outside without being rude, short, or heartless. Jeanie goes to meet with her supervisor, Bobbi, who wants to go over Jeanie’s first student assessment. She’s skilled, but not assertive enough, and she may not be cut out for the ER. Jeanie thinks the assessment is from Benton, but it’s from Carol. Bobbi accepts that Carol might be annoyed that Jeanie’s encroaching on her turf, but Jeanie still needs to demonstrate that she can cut it in the ER. Jeanie promises she can.

Doug has learned that Jen has filed for divorce, and he’s surprised that Mark couldn’t make things work. What does that mean for Doug in the future? (Don’t worry, Doug. You’ll be just fine.) Susan’s still at work, and Mark tells her to leave by 5. A woman named Mrs. Proulx arrives, looking for the kids from the apartment. She’s their grandmother, and it seems like she has no idea what kind of conditions they were living in.

Carter butts heads with a nurse again, then shares a cup of coffee with Ruby. Ruby tells him about Helen’s past in musical theater. Carter admits he did Pippin and The Fantasticks in school. I can’t believe no one else is around to hear this and tease him about it later. Ruby emotionally tells Carter that he’s not ready to lose his wife.

Jeanie pulls Carol aside to talk about her assessment. Carol says Jeanie is “competent but timid.” She needs to become more aggressive to survive in the ER. Jeanie asks if she’s done something to offend Carol, but Carol promises that her critiques aren’t personal. Jeanie needs to stop waiting around to be told what to do. But Carol also doesn’t like that nurses with 20 years of experience have to answer to physician’s assistants with only a few months of training. Jeanie says that she took four years to complete two years of school because she had to work full-time. Carol doesn’t care – Jeanie has to stop looking for validation and just do her job.

Benton tells Vucelich that Helen’s paralysis isn’t getting better. Vucelich thinks it’s a small price to pay, considering how badly she needed the surgery they performed on her. Benton’s worried that he’s to blame for the complications, but Vucelich assures him that his technique was perfect. They’ll have to exclude Helen from Vucelich’s big study, though. He formally invites Benton to join the team. Mark tells Mr. Mills’ son, Howard, that his father’s prognosis isn’t good. Howard thinks he’s ready to die, especially in the wake of the death of his wife of 50 years. Benton gets some extra money and perks from joining Vucelich’s team, so his day is looking up.

Susan tells Mrs. Proulx that Trey is well enough to be taken into custody by DCFS, and he’ll be going to an emergency shelter. There will be a court hearing next week, when Mrs. Proulx can attempt to get custody. She tells Susan and Pete that the kids were living with her until a month ago, all with their own beds. Then their mother took them, insisting that she was doing better. Mrs. Proulx says their mom used to be a great parent, but drugs changed all that. She says goodbye to the kids, reminding Ty to take care of Trey. She leaves the hospital sad and alone.

Mark’s next patient is having stomach pains and thinks she just overate. He assigns Jeanie to give the patient a rectal exam and collect a stool sample. Chuny smiles to herself over Jeanie’s bad fortune until Mark tells her to help. Carter tells Vucelich that Helen’s condition still isn’t changing. Vucelich tells him that’s not important – they just need to get her “buffed up” so they can send her to a care facility. She’s not going to get better, so they just need to polish her up and send her off to be someone else’s problem. Carter worries that the things he’s tried have made Helen worse, but Vucelich reminds him that she’s dying no matter what.

In the cafeteria, Shep tries to make peace with Malik, who’s not interested in appeasing a white guy who wants to make sure the black guy likes him. Carol and Raul try to call Shep away, but he persists. Malik finally says he doesn’t think Shep is a bigot, though he clearly does. Shep loudly tells Carol and Shep how he can’t be racist because his EMT partner is Latino and they play basketball with a bunch of other non-white people. Malik manages to not laugh at him from the next table.

Benton examines Mark’s patient, Mrs. Saunders, and realizes that she didn’t overeat – she’s in labor. Her sister’s shocked since she didn’t know she was pregnant, and supposedly went through menopause. Jeanie joins Benton to deliver the baby, despite the fact that neither really knows how. Ruby thinks Helen’s doing better, and that Carter will be able to fix her up. Carter gently tells him that Helen may need long-term care. Ruby insists that Helen is strong and will eventually be able to go home with him. He appreciates that Carter, unlike his colleagues, actually cares about them.

Doug and Chuny tell Mark that Mrs. Saunders wound up having twins. In much more depressing news, Loretta has cancer. Her phone isn’t working, so Mark decides to go to her house and give her the news in person. Jeanie meets Al at Doc Magoo’s, unsure what he wants to talk about. He tells her that they should give their marriage another try. They can even have kids, like she’s wanted. Jeanie’s tired, both from her exhausting job and from how much work this relationship is. Al says he’s done playing around and is ready to get serious, but Jeanie just walks out.

As Mark looks for an address that doesn’t appear to exist, Benton tries to make up for his earlier treatment of Michael. He explains that the boy has a hernia and needs to have an operation to fix it. Michael’s scared, but Benton tells him he’ll be fine and it’s not a big deal. He even agrees to stay with Michael for a while. Mark decides to go to Susan’s after all, and the two settle in for the evening with pizza and beer. Carter is woken up by his pager, having given the number to Ruby. Ruby has some questions for his new favorite doctor, and Carter probably has some regrets about his kindness.

Thoughts: Carter looks like he’s playing dress-up in his white doctor’s coat.

Jeanie calling out Benton for acting like a child is sooooo satisfying.

Shep: “My sister dated a black guy for two years.” Ha! Shep doesn’t even have a black friend he can use for an “I have black friends” argument – he has to go with his sister’s ex!

September 22, 2018

The X-Files 8.12, Medusa: As If Public Transportation Weren’t Awful Enough

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:29 pm by Jenn

I’m sure Sephora has something that will help that feel better

Summary: The Clay Street subway station in Boston is quiet and mostly empty, except for a couple of people waiting for a train. One of them, an undercover cop, reports a possible 1013 (thanks, Chris Carter), a man who might be about to jump on the platform. When the train (which is being called an M here instead of a T, so the show could use M trains in L.A. for filming) arrives, the reporter, Officer Philbrick, gets on. He thinks he’s alone, but his 1013 is following him.

As he approaches Philbrick, the train screeches to a stop. Philbrick drops his gun and tries to grab for it as the 1013 closes in. There’s screaming. Sometime later, the regular commuters get on the train, and a woman sees Philbrick’s dead body, the skin on his face half missing and showing his skeleton underneath. I hope her boss lets her take the day off to recover from this trauma.

Scully and Doggett go to the Transit Operations Center and meet Karras, the deputy chief of the transit police, and a lieutenant named Bianco. Scully wants to examine the body, but Karras is more interested in getting the trains back on schedule. They’ve had to shut down the system for hours, and Karras wants things back to normal by 4 p.m., four hours from now. Scully says their priority is finding out why Philbrick is dead.

Bianco has a theory: The train lost power, and someone killed Philbrick with acid or lye. Scully says his theory isn’t important; they need to find out exactly what the killer did and try to prevent him from hurting anyone else. Bianco says no biological or chemical agents were found. They’re dealing with one single suspect. Doggett points out that that’s just what they’re telling the press; who knows if it’s the truth? Karras repeats that he just wants the FBI to get things ready for reopening by 4 p.m.

Doggett and Scully meet Steven Melnick, the chief structural engineer, and Hellura Lyle, from the CDC. Melnick built the track and is familiar with every inch of the station. Scully’s confused about Lyle’s presence, though, since she was told there were no pathogens in the station. Lyle quips dryly that she must just be there for moral support. Karras says they’re just covering their bases. Scully is there because she’s an expert in “equivocal death.” Melnick laughs at that, since “you’re dead or you’re not, right?” Lyle asks about Doggett, who says he’s there because he’s a good shot.

The ragtag team of heroes suits up in tactical gear, though Scully doesn’t think she needs to venture into the tunnel with them. She wants Doggett to be her eyes and ears while she hangs back and focuses on Philbrick. Doggett agrees, though he’s not sure what he’s supposed to be looking for as Scully’s eyes.

Scully goes to the station’s control center and confirms for Doggett, Melnick, Lyle, and Bianco that the third rail has been shut down, so they can go wherever they need. Thanks to surveillance equipment she gave Doggett, she can see everything the team sees. It’s incredibly hot in the tunnel because the ventilation system has been shut down, so the heroes are immediately uncomfortable. Doggett wonders why the ventilation system was turned off if they’re looking for a person. Bianco asks why, if that’s the case, he brought a weapon along.

The heroes pass by a puddle that I’m sure would look kind of weird if this show used any kind of lighting. Suddenly, Melnick feels something on his neck. He ends up with a burn. He thinks it’s from landfill seepage, and Lyle guesses that the same stuff that dripped on Melnick is in the puddle they walked through. Doggett tells her to get a sample. He thinks Philbrick’s death was from a toxic leak, not homicide. But this means Karras’ insistence that there were no contaminants in the station might be a lie.

Lyle gets a sample from the puddle and somehow transmits it to Scully in the control center. It’s just sea water, though. Scully decides to contact someone to get a molecular analysis. Karras reminds her that she only has four hours. Dude, unless you want all those commuters to die, just let her work. In the tunnel, Bianco and Melnick see someone behind Doggett, but Doggett and Lyle don’t see him. The team keeps moving.

Bianco’s too hot to keep on his bulletproof vest; he figures if the killer wanted him dead, he would have shot already. The team comes across a tunnel from the old subway system, which means they’re now at a fork in the line. Karras says the old line is decommissioned, so there’s no point checking it out. It’ll take them a mile out of their way. The heroes take a quick look around, and though Bianco agrees that it’s a waste of time, Melnick notes that there are a lot of places to hide in there. In fact, someone’s hiding there right now.

Doggett gets knocked out by the unseen attacker, who’s now dead, looking much like Philbrick did. “Would you call that equivocal?” Melnick asks. Lyle takes some photos to send to Scully as Melnick sees something and tries to approach it. Bianco thinks the case is closed, though – the attacker fits the description of the 1013 who’s suspected of killing Philbrick. The 1013 is dead, so their work here is done. Doggett ignores him and approaches the thing Melnick saw. Well, things – three dead bodies.

Doggett examines the corpses, which he thinks were squatters. Scully sees that they have the same tissue degradation as Philbrick and the 1013. They may be dealing with a contagion after all. Doggett summons Lyle over to tell her the CDC may have been wrong, but she sees someone else running through the tunnel. No one else sees anything, and Bianco says again that they need to just leave already. Scully tells Doggett that he needs to keep searching.

Karras tells Scully he’ll get a crew in the tunnel after rush hour, but right now everyone needs to get out. Scully points out that a contagion might mean a spreading infection. Karras reminds her that the only thing they’ve sampled is sea water. The CDC says there’s no contaminant, and he believes them. The three men must have been killed by the 1013. Scully’s like, “So he killed four people, then killed himself the same way? Uh-uh.” She refuses to risk the contagion spreading before she can figure out what it is.

Doggett asks for a ruling, so Scully tells him to leave the bodies and go after the person Lyle saw. Whether he’s killing people or is infected, he’s a threat. Doggett tells the others that “the boss” has given orders, and they’re following them. As they continue their search, Bianco asks Doggett how well he knows Scully. Why send him down to the tunnel instead of going down herself? Doggett has no time for questioning Scully’s judgment, even if it means he and his team members are the ones putting themselves at risk. Who’s really in charge here?

Scully informs Doggett that the team is about 50 yards from where the train stopped. Melnick feels something electrical on his arm and starts yelling – his arm is now covered in wounds, all of them burning. All Scully can prescribe is water. She thinks they’re dealing with a biochemical weapon. “A lot of people might be taking cabs home,” Doggett tells the team.

Scully studies a map of the grid and finds the only place where the man they’re looking for could be hiding. Lyle says Melnick isn’t well enough to go anywhere, so Doggett and Bianco leave the two of them behind for a Hazmat team to come collect for quarantine. Doggett isn’t aware that Bianco has come in contact with the contaminant himself, and his arm is starting to glow.

The Hazmat team collects Melnick and Lyle; she’s fine but he’s getting worse. Scully promises that she’s working on figuring out a treatment. She follows the Hazmat team as they bring out the three dead bodies, but they won’t tell her where they’re going. Karras calmly says that they’ve arranged for whatever happens next. Scully accuses him of knowing the three bodies were down there earlier. She certainly hopes that he didn’t allow the heroes to go into the tunnel knowing they could be at risk for contamination. Karras gives in and lets Scully send the bodies to the CDC.

Doggett and Bianco come across an old stop in the abandoned tunnel but still don’t see whoever it is they’re looking for. Scully’s away from her post, so Doggett can’t get her input. Bianco thinks it’s time to make their own call and stop pretending that Scully knows what she’s doing. Doggett notices Bianco’s infection, which has started spreading to his face. He thinks this is a reason to keep searching the tunnel.

Bianco doesn’t want to stick around when he could be the next to die, but Doggett notes that he doesn’t seem to be reacting to the contaminant the way the others did. Bianco starts to leave, but Doggett and his gun force him to stay. Well, at least until Bianco can catch Doggett off-guard, kick him, and run off. (Doggett’s been knocked out twice now in this episode. I hope he also gets to take some time off of work.)

Scully’s now back on comms, too late to see what happened to Doggett or understand why he’s not answering her. A marine biologist named Kai Bowe arrives with the analysis of the water sample. It contains high levels of calcium, and appears to contain a medusa, a bioluminescent creature. Bowe’s like, “Wherever this thing came from, it’s pretty incredible.” Scully’s like, “It’s killing people, but okay, we’ll go with ‘incredible.’ I mean, sea water that eats off people’s flesh – that’s definitely incredible, in the sense that no one’s going to find it credible.”

Scully continues that something triggers the harmful nature of the creature, since it’s not just killing people on contact. And they’d better figure out that trigger soon, because Doggett, still unconscious from Bianco’s attack, has become infected. Scully’s finally able to rouse him and see that his hands are now glowing. Bianco, who was just there yelling for help, is gone now. Scully announces that she’s sending a Hazmat team for Doggett, but he wants to keep moving. He knows he has the best chance to stop Bianco from continuing the spread of the contagion.

As Bowe calls the CDC for backup in figuring out the medusa’s trigger, Scully tells Karras that they have to block all the exits to try to contain the potential outbreak. Karras says no – there are already passengers in the station, waiting for the trains to start back up. Scully relays this to Doggett, who now has only 20 minutes to find Bianco and/or the man he’s been looking for in the tunnels. Since he hasn’t triggered the medusa by moving around, he figures he can keep moving without doing any more damage.

Doggett comes across Bianco, who’s collapsed in the tunnel. Scully alerts Bowe to some glowing on the ground, and realizes that Karras has left the control center. She tells Doggett to leave, but Doggett won’t abandon Bianco. The two make their way out of the tunnel, which is glowing more and more as the contaminant progresses. They spot someone else – a boy who wants Doggett to follow him somewhere. The fact that he’s not infected makes Scully realize what triggers the infection: sweat.

Sweat acts as a conductive agent, like electricity, that makes the infection worsen. Since the boy is so young that his sweat glands haven’t full developed, he’s basically immune. Of course, since it’s super-hot in the tunnel and Doggett’s been running around down there for four hours, he’s pretty sweaty. The boy leads him to a spot where a big leak has caused all the walls to glow. Doggett thinks this is the source of the contagion, a leak from the bay. The boy can walk through it without being affected. Scully think he’s showing Doggett the way out.

Doggett goes back to get Bianco, and the two follow the boy to the main system, which is glowing from contagion. Even worse, the trains have started up. Like Mulder before him, Doggett has a stupid idea: Use the third rail, his gun, and the contaminant to create an explosive that burns up the organism. He almost gets hit by a train, but since he’s still in a season and a half of the show, he doesn’t. Scully’s worried when she loses communications with her partner, because she’s clearly started caring about him, but he’s okay.

Doggett ends up in the hospital, though the organism is gone, so it’s just a precaution. Scully lets him know he can leave. Melnick and Bianco need some plastic surgery to deal with their wounds, but everyone’s healthy. Doggett complains about Karras’s recklessness, which could have led to hundreds of people getting infected. Scully tells him that since he destroyed the organism, and they have no data on the pathogen, no criminal charges can be filed. Karras will just be credited for doing his job to keep the trains running. Scully, however, knows that Doggett was a hero. Doggett wants her to have the credit, since she figured out what was going on. He was just her eyes and ears. Scully, however, doesn’t seem comfortable letting herself claim the win here.

Thoughts: Karras is played by Ken Jenkins. Lyle is played by Penny Johnson. Melnick is played by Brent Sexton.

I like the concept of this episode, of Doggett teaming up with strangers to go on a hunt. I think it was a good choice to have Scully watching from afar, seeing things the people in the tunnel might not have. Plus, since she’s pregnant, she didn’t have to spend the episode worrying about getting sick.

I think it’s interesting that in earlier seasons, Mulder would have made the call about Scully’s role, but here, she decides where she’s the most useful. And I like that Doggett keeps letting her call the shots throughout the episode. Neither of them has a clue what’s going on, but she’s slightly less clueless, so he lets her take the lead.

September 18, 2018

ER 2.10, A Miracle Happens Here: A Christmas Carol

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 4:54 pm by Jenn

It’s Santa! I know him!

Summary: Shep’s alarm goes off at 5:45, and he has to be rudely awoken by some annoying Santa-themed rap. Carol’s already up and around, trying to get a fire going in her newly discovered fireplace, since the furnace went out during the night. She can’t get the flue open, so Shep suggests that they have Christmas at his place. Carol insists on having it in her new home and tries to think of ways to make it work. Shep will probably win this round, since there’s now a hole in the roof letting snow in.

Some carolers sing “Carol of the Bells” at the hospital, and their lovely voices almost make up for their hideous outfits. (The women are wearing caps with snowmen on them. If they have children, those kids are now dead from the humiliation.) The group is from the recovery wing, and they invite the ER staff to sing for them at 4 p.m. Apparently Carol made the arrangements but didn’t tell anyone. Unfortunately, no one can sing. Susan and Doug try to volunteer Mark, who’s not in yet, as he’s with the hospital’s lawyer. Sean O’Brien is suing him.

The lawyer tells Mark that the case is going to take a long time to move forward, and he plans to settle anyway. It’s better to leave Mark with a black mark on his record than for the hospital to have to pay out a million dollars. Mark heads off to find a bathroom, running into Sean and his son, who’s now about a year old. Sean definitely doesn’t want to make small talk with the man he’s suing for his wife’s death.

Some costumed skaters doing an on-ice nativity play were injured by a Zamboni, so Susan, Doug, and Harper are busy in the ER. Officer Al eases Susan’s fears by reporting that baby Jesus was played by a doll. However, the Zamboni driver appears to be drunk, so I think he’ll be spending Christmas in jail. Meanwhile, Mark will be spending it moping by himself, since his family is in Milwaukee and his wife is sleeping with someone else.

Carter wants to observe an operation Benton’s performing, but he hasn’t finished his work from the night before, since he was busy trying to comfort a patient’s family. No one’s going to be a nice person on Benton’s watch, even on Christmas Eve, so Carter doesn’t get to observe. Carol tries to round up participants for the carol singing that afternoon, but no one wants to sing. Doug mentions that the cops are charging the Zamboni with a DUI, even though he wasn’t technically driving a car. Mark dubs it a ZUI.

Benton scrubs in with a couple other surgeons who a) don’t want to make small talk with him and b) don’t even know his name. Vucelich informs them that their patient has changed his mind about having surgery, but he thinks he and Benton might be able to get him to change it back. Carol tends to a patient named Stan Calaus who cut himself while carving a wooden toy. He and his wife used to sell their goods at craft fairs; now he has a whole crew helping out, and they still have more orders than they can keep up with. Carol tells him he would make a great Santa, but he must hear that a lot.

Vucelich tells Benton that part of being a surgeon who employs cutting-edge techniques is selling his methods to patients. He lets Benton take the lead in convincing the patient, Mr. Chamberlain, to let them operate. Mark has signed up to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Doug nicely offers to take one of those shifts. Mark would rather work than spend the holidays alone; Rachel will be with Jen until Christmas night.

Shep brings in an unconscious woman named Hanna Steiner who was carjacked. Mark notices tattooed numbers on Hanna’s arm, and he and Shep have to tell Malik that that means she’s a Holocaust survivor, because wherever Malik went to school growing up, the school system sucked. Mr. Chamberlain tells Benton and Vucelich that he doesn’t care what techniques they’re using; his wife, Macy, wants him to wait, so he is. Carter arrives with Macy, having convinced her that the procedure is the way to go. This is the family Carter spent the night talking to, and they love him now. Vucelich rewards him with the offer of scrubbing in.

Hanna regains consciousness and asks about Tirzah, her granddaughter. She was in the car when it was stolen. The car has been found by the police, but there was no baby inside. Mark and Haleh’s day just got a whole lot worse. They try to call Hanna’s son, but she doesn’t think that’ll do any good, since he lives far away. Mark tries to encourage her to get a CT scan while they wait for news on the baby. Hanna says something in Yiddish, and when Mark understands her, Hanna decides to defer to his medical recommendation.

Al shows Susan the ruby earrings he wants to give Lydia for Christmas. He’s uncertain about the choice, since they’re nothing that special or expensive, but Susan promises that they’re perfect for Lydia. She finds Mark fighting with Jen on the phone about wanting to keep Rachel with her a couple more days so she can go to a party with her cousins. He complains to Susan about Jen’s horrible timing in having an affair. She invites him to spend the holiday with her, Susie, and her parents, though I’m not sure that’s better than spending it alone.

Vucelich and Benton operate on Mr. Chamberlain as Carter observes closely. Vucelich thinks Benton is lucky to have a student with such a good rapport with patients. He lets Benton finish up, but Benton gets flustered since they’re rushing for a personal-best operating time. They don’t break their record, thanks to Benton, but Carter gets to help out, so at least one person in the operating room is happy. Weaver spots an old friend named Mlungisi who’s in town for a visit. She hugs and kisses him, showing more affection than she will in the entire rest of the series. Carol, Mark, Haleh, and Randi are stunned.

As a man rushes his teen son in with a bullet wound in his shoulder, Mark chats with Hanna, trying to help her stay positive that Tirzah will be found safe. She covers the numbers on her arm and tells him it’s easier to be a victim of discrimination when you’re a child because you don’t know any different. Mark notes that she’s seen the worst in people. Hanna says she’s also seen the best, like Tirzah.

Mark tries to assure her that the carjacker just wanted the vehicle, so he won’t hurt the baby. Hanna knows that the best way to get revenge on those who have hurt you is to keep living your life like they don’t own you. But then something like this happens and you remember that everything can be taken from you. Hanna admits that when she was getting her CT scan, she prayed for the first time in 50 years. She asks if Mark knows Yiddish and if he’s religious. Mark says he’s the child of a lapsed Catholic and an agnostic Jew. She teases that he’s no good to her; she can’t ask him to pray for her family. Mark says he’ll try.

The staff is supposed to go to a restaurant for a party later, but since it’s snowing and traffic isn’t moving much, Carol thinks everyone who’s still there at 4 p.m. might as well go sing with her. Susan says her voice is so bad that when she sings to Susie, the baby goes to sleep immediately as a defense mechanism. Carol says they can both just mouth the words, though that won’t be any good if no one else is singing. Carol tries to enlist Carter, but he pleads “chronic tone-deafness and acute stage fright.”

Mark agrees with Carol that Stan looks familiar – just like Jerry Garcia. Apparently it’s Show Susan the Earrings You Bought for Your Girlfriend Day, because Carter wants Susan’s opinion on the earrings he’s going to give Harper. Unlike Al’s rubies, Carter bought Harper real diamonds. He’s worried that she’ll think they’re too much, since they haven’t been dating that long. Susan says Harper will be happy that he thought to get her something so nice.

Some teens bring in a priest who was shot at his church. Jeanie is horrified that someone would shoot a priest. Weaver has arranged to take some time off so she can be with Mlungisi while he’s in town, and since Mark was already scheduled to work, it’s not a hassle. Harper and Randi try to get Weaver to tell them how she and Mlungisi know each other. Weaver just says that she had a farm in Africa.

Susan and Jeanie work on the priest, who asks to speak to Diablo, one of the boys who came in with him. Susan wants the priest to stay calm, but he insists, so Jeanie goes to get Diablo. A baby is being brought in after being found in an adult theater (oh, classy), and the police think she might be Tirzah. Mark and Doug check her over, but she seems fine, just unhappy. Hanna wanders in and recognizes her as Tirzah.

The priest tells Diablo that his shooter wasn’t from the L.G. (which we can assume is a gang). He gives Jeanie his rosary beads for Diablo. Carol checks on Stan, who’s sending off his wife and kids to finish up their work. Mrs. Calaus promises she has both their maps, the naughty and the nice. Carol tells Stan that she’s enjoyed being his nurse today; everyone else she’s encountered has been scroogey. Stan tells her she has to find the Christmas spirit within her rather than rely on other people to show it.

Carol changes her methods, telling some of the staff that she’s going to sing Christmas carols, and they can join her if they’d like. No one does, but at least she doesn’t feel grumpy anymore. Susan and Jeanie rush the priest to an elevator to take him to surgery, but they have to take him back to the trauma room when he destabilizes. The teens who brought him in are eager for information, which the staff don’t have time to provide. Hanna wisely takes Tirzah out of the room while they’re working.

Mark discovers that the bullet severed the priest’s aorta, so they get some scans. By the time Jeanie returns with the films, the priest is dead. The teens are devastated and ask for a priest to deliver last rites. In a much cheerier part of the hospital, Carol sings a respectable version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” to some patients in the recovery wing. Mark, Susan, Doug, Carter, Harper, Malik, and Lydia join her, making up their own lyrics. No one sounds good, but Carol appreciates their effort, and the patients are happy to see them.

Benton lies down in an on-call room, reciting Scripture about Jesus’ birth to himself. Lily grabs him to come take care of an elderly woman named Helen Rubadoux who may have an aortic dissection. When Carter arrives to help, Benton puts him to work doing what he does best – talking to the patient’s husband, Ruby. Carol goes looking for Stan, but he’s already left. The window in his room is open, and Carol thinks she hears sleigh bells. (Also, Stan Calaus is an anagram for Santa Claus. Sigh.)

Carter tells Ruby that Helen needs surgery, and though her odds of survival are only 50/50 because of her age, it’s necessary to give her any chance at all. He suggests a new procedure that will complete the surgery faster, lowering the odds that Helen will have a heart attack. Even better, Vucelich developed the procedure and would perform the operation himself. Ruby asks Carter if that’s what he would do, and Carter says it is, so Ruby gives his consent.

Diablo calls someone to report that the priest has died, so they need to make the L.G. pay. Jeanie hangs up the phone and reminds Diablo that the priest said it wasn’t the L.G. Diablo thinks he lied to keep a truce between gangs. Jeanie asks if the priest would want them to keep up the gang war in his name. She gives Diablo the rosary beads and tells him to help the man who always tried to help others.

Hanna’s large family has arrived with a menorah, wanting to celebrate Hanukkah with her in the hospital. Mark and Hanna both think they should leave and let Hanna rest, but the family doesn’t want her to be alone. As Vucelich and Benton prepare for Helen’s surgery, the staff learns that the snow has forced them to cancel their Christmas party. Carol says she wishes she could have everyone over to her house, but without heat, it wouldn’t be fun. Shep reveals that he spent the day fixing the fireplace, so everything’s good. Carol suddenly wishes she hadn’t invited everyone over.

Mark joins the Steiners as they light their menorah and play dreidel. One of Hanna’s granddaughters says that the letters on the dreidel mean “a miracle happened there.” Hanna’s happy that the family had their own miracle in Tirzah’s safe return. And there was a second miracle – Hanna and Mark prayed together. Hanna felt for decades that God had forsaken her, but she realized today that He’s always been with her in the form of her family. Mark decides to leave the family by themselves.

Things are very festive at Carol’s, and even Benton comes by after he finishes Helen’s surgery. Harper and Lydia admire each other’s earrings, deciding they each like each other’s pairs better. They consider switching, not thinking Al and Carter would notice, but Susan stops them. Jeanie tells Benton she was thinking about him today, knowing this is his first Christmas without his mother. He tells her she made him memorize the Bible verses he was reciting to himself earlier, and always liked to hear him say them on Christmas Eve. Benton notes that this is also Jeanie’s first Christmas on her own.

Shep finds Carol scrounging for more cups in her kitchen and announces that he loves her. That’s fine on its own, but then he goes further, saying he wants to spend his life with her and have kids with her. Okay, you’ve been dating for, like, three months. Slow down. Carol isn’t ready to make a big commitment, but she does appreciate hearing that he loves her.

Mark calls Rachel, promising that Santa will find her at her grandparents’ house. He asks if she wants to stay for the party with her cousins, knowing that if she does, he won’t get to spend Christmas with her. He promises they’ll have their own “post-Christmas, post-Hanukkah, pre-New Year’s Day celebration” when she gets there. He goes back to work as some staff have a joyful snowball fight outside the ER doors.

Thoughts: Ruby is played by the late Red Buttons. The priest is played by Tony Plana.

Clooney mouthing the final “bohm” in “Carol of the Bells” made me lose it.

Carol: “Last chance to spread some holiday cheer.” Benton: “What?” Exactly. “Holiday cheer” is a foreign language to Benton.

September 15, 2018

The X-Files 8.11, The Gift: Surprise! The Gift Is a Bunch of Goo!

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

If you ask me, this is the real gift

Summary: Someone is driving through the rain at night in Squamash Township, Pennsylvania. Drive, someone, drive! The driver approaches a house, carrying a gun, and passes through a door with a cross-like symbol on it. The people inside the house aren’t happy to see this person. The driver shoots a creature in the house, then gets back in the car. We finally see who it is: Mulder. Yay, he’s back!

Now Doggett’s driving his car somewhere. Drive, Doggett, drive! He has a flashback to Scully talking to Skinner about how Mulder was dying but didn’t tell anyone. Then he has a flashback to asking Scully how far she thinks Mulder would go to get the truth. He promises to find Mulder, no matter what that entails.

It looks like it entails Doggett going to Squamash Township to meet up with Sheriff Kurt Frey. Kurt confirms that Mulder visited last spring to look into the disappearance of a woman named Marie Hangemuhl. Kurt says Marie wasn’t really missing, and Mulder wasn’t really investigating. Marie was in her house the whole time; her sister just got worried and called the authorities.

Kurt doesn’t know why the FBI is involved in a crime that’s not a crime. Why send two agents at two separate times, let alone one? Doggett asks if Mulder had a personal connection to the case, since cell phone records show that he came back a week before he disappeared. This is news to Kurt. The two go to the house Mulder visited in the first scene, which we now know belongs to Paul and Marie Hangemuhl. Paul is annoyed that he has to rehash things; it’s a personal matter, nothing for the FBI to worry about.

Flashback! Mulder questions the Hangemuhls, who insist that Marie’s sister is worried over nothing. However, Marie had told her sister that she was leaving town because she was afraid of something. Mulder thinks the two are covering up their knowledge of something or someone coming to the house. Paul angrily says that they had a fight, but everything’s fine now.

In the present, Doggett goes over Mulder’s visit with the couple. They lie that he never came back (and he definitely didn’t shoot anyone in their house, no, siree!). Doggett notices a dialysis machine, and Paul says that Marie has end-stage kidney failure. Doggett tries to ask about the visitor Mulder thought was coming to the house, but Paul counters by asking if Mulder had mental issues. There’s a local folk legend about a creature in the woods, and Mulder thought it was real. He thought the creature was coming to eat Marie alive.

As they leave, Doggett asks Kurt if the couple owns a gun. He saw three holes in the wall that had been plastered over. Kurt is willing to go back in and ask, but Doggett declines. He goes back to Virginia and searches Mulder’s apartment, taking a moment to feed the fish. He finds Mulder’s gun hidden under the sink. In Pennsylvania, Kurt oversees some digging of an area marked with stones in the shape of the symbol that was on the Hangemuhls’ door. Paul has heard rumors about something and has come by to get confirmation from Kurt.

Doggett takes Mulder’s gun to the FBI’s firearms-toolmarks unit and tells Skinner it was missing three rounds – possibly the three bullets that left holes in the Hangemuhls’ wall. But Mulder never filed a report about discharging the three rounds, or even about his visit to the house. The reports he filed during that time period state that he was in D.C. Skinner defensively asks if Doggett’s calling Mulder a liar. Yeah, I think so, Skinner.

Doggett has found blood on the gun, which is enough to prove that Mulder shot someone. Skinner angrily insists that Mulder didn’t kill someone and run away – he was abducted. He thinks this is about Doggett anyway. He wants to give the FBI an explanation for Mulder’s disappearance so Doggett can get transferred off the X-Files. Doggett says he just wants the truth. Skinner tells him to ask Scully, but Doggett says he can’t. She co-signed Mulder’s false reports, so whatever’s going on, she’s in on it. Skinner doesn’t want Scully’s job to be at risk, but Doggett has another idea.

In Pennsylvania, Kurt, Paul, and some others descend on a cabin and yell for someone to bring out…something. A woman emerges and says the something is dead. (The woman doesn’t get a name, but I’ll call her Sheila, since she’s played by the actress who played David’s mother on Beverly Hills, 90210.) Something human-ish runs into the woods, and the people chase him, letting their hunting dogs lead the way. They capture him in a net and drag it back to their trucks as Sheila begs them to leave him alone.

Doggett and Skinner return to Pennsylvania and go to the sheriff’s station looking for Kurt. He pretends he’s just coming back from a hunting trip. The agents ask about a death certificate he filed for an unidentified transient found in the woods. Doggett asks why no case report was filed. The body was dumped outside a cabin the morning after Mulder came back to Pennsylvania. Since it’s logical to assume that Mulder killed the man, Doggett and Skinner would like to examine the body.

Kurt directs the agents to the grave, where the agents discuss whether Mulder would kill someone, and why the people in town would cover it up. But they’re not going to get any answers from the body, since it’s missing from its grave – which was, of course, the spot marked by the stones. Doggett guesses that Kurt is the graverobber. But there’s also another route out of the grave, which means, as unlikely as it sounds, the unidentified man may have crawled out of his own coffin after being shot three times and buried. Skinner’s also interested in why someone left the stones on top of the grave.

Paul is painting the symbol on his door, possibly in blood, when Kurt comes by to tell him that they need to move quickly. Paul says Marie isn’t ready, but Kurt doesn’t care. Marie doesn’t think she can do this, but Paul says they don’t have any other options. Someone else arrives at the house, hauling the creature in his truck. Marie strips naked and kisses Paul, who promises he’ll be waiting for her when this is over. Kurt lets the creature out of the truck and into the house, where it starts feeding on Marie.

Sometime later, Doggett and Skinner come by and demand that Paul tell them why Mulder came back to town when he did. They ask to see Marie, who’s not downstairs with her husband. Skinner sees some blood on the floor, and Doggett says Paul missed a spot when he was cleaning up. In some cave somewhere, the creature is doing gross things to Marie that involve gross noises.

Doggett imagines Mulder’s visit to the Hangemuhls and his murder of the creature. Paul has told the agents that Marie coughed up the blood on the floor. Since Mulder’s not the type to just randomly kill someone, Doggett thinks he shot the transient to protect Marie. Skinner uses a piece of police technology to show Doggett the remains of the symbol Paul drew on the door in blood.

The agents place an early-’00s video Internet call to the Lone Gunmen. It’s late, so the Gunmen were asleep, and Langly isn’t wearing pants. The guys identify the symbol as a medicine wheel, which is associated with Native American shaman. The circle is the continuum between life and death, and the cross is paths of sorrow and happiness. The Lakota teach that these elements are all one. Only enlightened people can see that.

The Gunmen know of a legend of a soul-eater that eats sick people to consume their illnesses. The townspeople could have placed the symbol on the creature’s grave as a sign of respect, or put it on the door as a summons. Since Marie has a kidney disease, Doggett thinks this all makes sense. He’s now pretty sure there was no transient buried in that grave.

He goes to Sheila’s cabin and asks her about the body she supposedly found in the woods. He thinks she believes the same thing Mulder did, that the creature was a soul-eater, and she put the stones on his grave out of respect. Doggett thinks Mulder wanted to protect Marie, and he needs Sheila’s help to figure everything out. She tells him he has things backwards. Doggett hears a noise further in the cabin and goes to check it out. He finds a hidden door in the floor, leading to an underground cave.

Doggett stupidly goes into the cave alone and finds Marie covered in goo. He carries her out as Sheila looks on. Later, Marie reunites with Paul at the hospital, looking happy and healthy. In fact, her kidneys have completely healed. Skinner tells Doggett that Kurt wants to take his statement, but Doggett knows that Kurt and Paul have been in on the whole thing. He’s changed his theory: Marie wasn’t the person Mulder was trying to protect from the soul-eater.

Doggett returns to the cabin, where Sheila tells him that the soul-eater has a gift. People hate him because they need him. Sheila is just the latest in a long line of people who have taken care of him. Doggett presents his theory that Mulder came to Pennsylvania to save himself, not Marie. In flashback, we see Mulder undergoing the same process Marie did. Doggett says that he had an undiagnosed brain disease, and he was desperate for a cure. Sheila says they all are.

She hated how the soul-eater suffered, but she couldn’t bring herself to kill him. So Mulder came back to do it, wanting to take away the soul-eater’s pain. In flashback, we see Mulder firing the three shots; the soul-eater doesn’t try to run or fight him. Sheila kept the soul-eater with her instead of burying him, and now that the townspeople know he’s back, she knows they’ll come to him for more healing. He’ll keep suffering.

Doggett puts the soul-eater in his car and is about to leave when Kurt arrives with some of his posse. Kurt says the soul-eater belongs to them. Doggett argues that the soul-eater is a person and doesn’t belong to anyone. Neither man will back down, but Doggett thinks he can get away with just walking to the car and driving off. He’s wrong, and Kurt shoots him in the back. Before Kurt can get to the car, the soul-eater somehow disappears. Kurt knows he’ll come back, since he always does.

The men bury Doggett in the woods and leave, I guess not thinking Sheila will tell anyone what happened. Of course, since Doggett still has a season and a half left on the show, it’s no surprise when he wakes up in the cave covered in goo. Sheila is nearby with the soul-eater, who’s now dead. For years, the soul-eater took people’s sickness and became sick himself. Now that he’s taken someone’s death, he’s dead. Doggett freed him.

In D.C., Doggett tries to write a case report, but this is obviously a difficult one to explain. He tells Skinner that, after all this, he’s still no closer to finding Mulder. But Skinner thinks that Doggett now understands Mulder and his motives better. He thinks Doggett should skip this report; it’ll open a can of worms for Scully and harm both their reputations. In this instance, it’s better if Doggett and Skinner keep the truth to themselves. As Skinner leaves, Doggett studies a picture of the symbol, then looks up and briefly sees Mulder in the office with him.

Thoughts: Me, typing “Hangemuhls” over and over: “You’re killing me, writers.”

Who’s been paying rent on Mulder’s apartment? Rent in this area is pretty steep. What a waste of money.

Only one Scully scene? RIP-OFF.

September 11, 2018

ER 2.9, Home: Jen Is at the Top of Santa’s Naughty List

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 5:08 pm by Jenn

I’m sure those pencils will keep him warm when he’s sleeping outside in Chicago in December

Summary: Doug’s asleep – drink! Susan wakes him up and asks him to examine Susie, who has a cough. Doug pronounces her happy and healthy, which must be because Susan’s so great with her. They hand the baby off to Connie and go to meet another baby, this one much sicker than Susie. As Haleh takes the frantic parents out of the trauma room, Doug decides that the baby can’t be saved. He has to tell Susan a couple times to stop trying to revive him. Doug gives the horrible news to the parents as Susan takes Susie back from Connie.

Carter and Harper have worked things out and are dating, or whatever the kids call it when they spend a lot of time together and hook up. They try to make out in an elevator but Benton interrupts. They get clumsy in their attempts to find a quiet place where they can be alone, then have to pretend they’re looking for someone’s films when they realize Susan is in their hiding spot. (Thank you, Susan and Benton. I didn’t want to watch that.)

Carol brings stuff in for the hospital’s Christmas drive, trying to get rid of some things her mother wants to off-load since she’s moving. Doug and Mark laugh at her old records and baton. Carter and Harper finally find a make-out spot, but it’s the hospital chapel, and they’re soon joined by some nuns. These two are definitely going on Santa’s naughty list.

Shep shaved! It’s a Christmas miracle! He thinks Carol should be sadder about her mom selling her childhood home. He’s brought in an unidentified patient who’s now drawing something in an exam area. Doug and Mark tend to a man named Ethan Brown who was hurt in a hit-and-run. He’s able to ask for his wife through his possibly broken jaw, but Mark wants him to leave on his oxygen mask and stop trying to talk.

Carol tells Shep’s patient, Mr. Sullivan, that he can’t smoke in the hospital. She and Jeanie tend to his minor wounds as he tells them he’s an architect. He doesn’t seem completely mentally aware, so Carol tells Jeanie to call psych. As Benton notices a hickey on Carter’s neck, the two of them check out Ethan. Jeanie tells Carol that she’s identified Mr. Sullivan, whose real name is Joshua Shem. He has schizophrenia and ran away from his residential home. Because it’s his third time running away, they won’t take him back.

Doug told Mark he can’t work that night, so some of the female employees wonder if he’s going on a date. He remains mum. Ethan’s wife arrive, frantic at first but much calmer when Mark assures her that her husband will be okay. A teenager comes in with her sister, Reba, who was treated for injuries at a skating rink but had a seizure on the way home from the hospital. Looks like she has a head injury that the doctor who treated the cuts on her legs didn’t discover. (That doctor will also be on the naughty list.)

A police officer who came in with Ethan tells Mark and Susan that a witness told him who was driving the car that hit him: his wife. Mark quickly tells Lydia to call security, but Mrs. Brown has already found her husband and is trying to finish what she started with her car (this time with her bare hands). Ho ho ho, Mrs. Brown is getting coal in her stocking.

Mark tells Susan he’s spending the holidays with Jen’s family, clearly a sacrifice he doesn’t really want to make. Susan checks on Reba, who says she doesn’t remember what happened, then promptly has another seizure. Carter runs into Vucelich in the bathroom and says that Benton wanted to have an interview with him, but Carter forgot to sign him up. Vucelich agrees to see Benton anyway.

Susan struggles to end Reba’s seizures, finally guessing that she’s having an allergic reaction to the lidocaine she was given at the previous hospital. Records faxed over from St. Anne’s show that she was given a toxic dose. Weaver thinks Susan should write a case report, then have the hospital pay for her to present it in Miami. Susan doesn’t think she can take time away from the ER to do the necessary research, then leave town when she has both work and family responsibilities. She worries that Mark is disappointed in her for turning down the opportunity.

Dr. Myers meets with Joshua, who declines the offer of medication. He just wants to work on his drawing and go home (though he doesn’t actually have a home). Myers can’t hold him, since he’s not a danger to himself or others, and Joshua says he can take care of himself. Jeanie thinks Myers is just checking this case off his to-do list, but Carol defends him. Myers gets dozens of cases like Joshua every day and does everything he can for his patients. They’ll just have to stall and hope they can find Joshua a new residential home.

Carter, now wearing a huge bandage on his neck, tries to rearrange his plans with Harper since he now has to stay for Benton’s interview. He still hasn’t told Benton about the interview, though. When he tries to bring up the subject, Benton says he doesn’t want to participate in the study Vucelich is interviewing doctors for. Good job, Carter!

Carol catches Joshua trying to leave and admires his drawing of an arch. He says he draws what “they” tell him to draw. She tells him about her new house, and he identifies the style and interior. He tells her there’s a fireplace she didn’t know about. Weaver asks why Joshua hasn’t been discharged, and Carol says she wants to put a sterile dressing on one of his cuts. She’s actually stalling by offering Joshua food, but Weaver’s fine with letting him warm up and have a meal.

Carol hears Doug on the phone, confirming his plans for the evening and promising the person he’s talking to that she’ll look beautiful no matter what she wears. He still won’t give any details on who he’s meeting. Mark then gets a call from a hospital in Milwaukee and learns that Jen and Rachel were in a car accident. Rachel’s fine but Jen’s hurt. Doug offers up his car keys as Mark rushes off to see his family.

Susan calls the hospital back and tries to get information on Jen, but she has no luck. It makes her wonder if County is this tight-lipped. Lydia mentions that she used to date an OR tech at the hospital, so Susan makes her call him. Carter recognizes the arch from Joshua’s drawing as the Sullivan Arch, which he’s seen pictures of in an installment at the Art Institute. Carol remembers that Joshua introduced himself as Mr. Sullivan.

Shep amuses himself by looking through Carol’s old yearbook and the things her friends wrote. He wants to rescue it from being given away. Weaver tells Susan that Morgenstern wants to talk to her about presenting Reba’s case – he’s excited for this great opportunity. Benton ruins Carter and Harper’s plans by giving them more work to do. Jeanie calls around, looking for a place for Joshua, with no luck.

Benton goes to his interview with Vucelich, which turns into a field trip. Joshua’s mother, Madeline, arrives but says she can’t take him home. He’s let go of everything in his past and won’t stay. He was going to be an architect, but a breakdown in college derailed his plans. Madeline gives Joshua some money and pencils, the old thing he still cares about.

Morgenstern helps Susan and Carter tend to a man who fell off a ladder while setting up a Christmas display. He laments that he crushed Rudolph, though he should be more upset about the long, sharp thing sticking out of his arm. I know I am. Morgenstern tells Susan how great Reba’s case sounds, but she again declines the opportunity. He reminds her that she’s a candidate to be chief resident next year. Susan knows she needs to start publishing, but she thinks she’s taken on enough responsibility and doesn’t need “extra credit.”

Mark makes it to the hospital in Milwaukee, and I guess the episode ran short because we have to see him running around instead of just going right to Rachel and Jen. Jen is stable but has a broken leg and possible internal injuries. Despite being a doctor at County, Mark has no standing at this place, so he’s kept away from her as she’s treated.

Susan gets a Christmas card from Chloe that’s full of money. Anyone else would be excited to get $3,000, but Susan isn’t appreciative. Doug, who knows all about deadbeat relatives, advises her to take what she can get. In Milwaukee, Mark finds Rachel and meets a guy named Craig, who was in the accident with her and Jen. In fact, he was driving their car when they were hit. Mark’s too distracted to understand the significance of this.

Jeanie can’t find a place for Joshua, but he’s already taken off. She wonders if she’s cut out for doing this kind of work, since her previous job as a physical therapist let her see her patients’ progress. Carol says they just have to do what they can for everyone. She finds Joshua’s pencils under his bed.

Vucelich takes Benton to an operation so he can see firsthand the work Vucelich does. Benton knows his stuff and is suddenly interested in joining Vucelich’s study. Vucelich tells him to scrub in. In Milwaukee, Jen’s doctor tells Mark that she doesn’t have internal injuries, and surgery to repair her leg went fine. Craig asks Mark to translate from medical jargon to English.

Doug’s dinner date is with his mother, Sarah, and though his relationship with his father is nonexistent, he and his mother get along well. He tells her his father called, and she guesses that he wants money or is up to something. Doug isn’t worried and promises that his father can’t touch them ever again.

Carol takes Joshua’s pencils to the Sullivan Arch, which Joshua has made his home. He says they’re all he needs, but she gives him a blanket, too, ensuring her spot on Santa’s nice list. Carter finally finishes his extra work and meets up with Harper, who’s chatting with Jeanie. She guesses that they’re dating, but Carter says they don’t have time in medical school. Harper mentions that she’s going into the Air Force after med school. Carter teases that she’s going to become an astronaut after that.

Susan runs into a neighbor while doing laundry, and doesn’t correct the neighbor when she thinks Susan is Susie’s mother. It looks like that sounds good to her. Carol puts on some music at home, and she and Shep take hammers to a wall to uncover the fireplace Joshua told her was there. They celebrate by dancing and making out to “Take a Letter Maria.”

The lyrics “take a letter Maria / address it to my wife / say I won’t be coming home” foreshadow the conversation Mark is about to have with Jen (well, if Jen were the husband and Mark were the wife). He’s figured out that Craig isn’t just a friend or co-worker or second cousin or whoever she was going to pretend he was. Jen’s in love with him. Merry Christmas, Mark: Your wife is cheating on you.

Thoughts: Joshua is played by Adam Goldberg.

Jen’s father is a reverend. WELL, HIS CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS SURE DIDN’T STICK.

Susie’s at that age where babies babble in almost-intelligible language. I love that age.

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