December 20, 2022

ER 12.10, All About Christmas Eve: Jingle Bell Shock

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 5:07 pm by Jenn

This doesn’t capture even a tenth of how cute Luka is in this episode

Summary: Luka’s on his way to work, and he’s in a great mood. He’s even wearing a Santa hat, since it’s Christmas Eve. He gives a Furby to a hospital employee who needed to buy one, then asks how Pam the paramedic’s mom is doing and gives her a book. He hands out candy canes to kids in the waiting area and “ho ho ho”s his way into the ER. He gives a scarf to Frank (who says the last time he got a present was when a helicopter fell on Romano) and a neon stethoscope to Neela. Morris gets NSYNC’s greatest hits and Pratt and Ray get Bears tickets.

As an additional present, they don’t need a full staff in the ER this evening, so Luka’s going to let some of them leave early with pay. Pratt predicts that this will jinx them into being swamped. The residents play rock paper scissors to determine who gets to leave. Neela is apparently the queen of the game, and she knocks out Morris, Pratt, and Ray. She and Gallant are heading to Jamaica for their honeymoon, so now she has extra time to pack.

Morris calls Clemente an “evil elf” when he comments that Morris must be gay since he likes NSYNC. How professional, Clemente. Frank advises him to call Jodie, since she’s been calling incessantly yet again. Clemente asks if they can change the main number. Of…the hospital? Frank suggests that Clemente work somewhere with a different extension – maybe Cambodia.

Luka tries to surprise Abby with a kiss but instead scares her into almost dropping the cake she brought in for the hospital’s Christmas party. He offers her a present he got her but she says she can’t open it now. He’s fine with her opening it the next morning, which makes her wonder if they made plans to spend Christmas together. Apparently she agreed to it last night. She doesn’t remember, and he teases that that’s probably not the only thing she forgot saying. Y’all, he is SO HAPPY. It’s unbelievable.

As Sam was informed previously, Steve has been moved to a Chicago prison from Colorado. She visits him and tries to find out why he was moved, but he won’t tell her. He asks if she still has a bunch of stuff he gave her and Alex, then warns that some authorities might come looking for them. Sam tells him not to try to contact Alex. Steve claims he’s found God and is changing, but she doesn’t want to hear it.

Paramedics bring a woman named Tamara to the ER after a car accident. She starts seizing as Luka and Ray tend to her. Haleh’s looking for people to sing with her at the staff party that night, and when Eve volunteers, Haleh says she needs people who will have her back, not stab her in it. OOH. Haleh, watch out or you’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list. Actually, now that I think about it, Santa wouldn’t dare put Haleh on the naughty list. Morris volunteers next, insisting that he can sing. Haleh tells him he can audition. She extends that invitation to Weaver, too, but Weaver decides to keep up her ten-year streak of abstaining.

Abby discusses a patient with Clemente, an elderly man named Mickey who started out with a cough and is now experiencing pain. Tamara’s awake and alert, and she knows it’s Christmas Eve and she’s in Chicago, but she thinks it’s 1986. Ooh, so close. Just 20 years off. She needs a medication that’s only in the drug lockup, and Haleh tells Luka and Ray she can’t go get it because she’s the only nurse in the trauma room. Eve comes in and clarifies that they’re short some of the nursing staff because Santa Luka sent them home.

Neela’s on her way out for her honeymoon, and she confides to Abby that she’s nervous because she and Gallant are having Christmas dinner with his parents before they go to Jamaica. Gallant told them about the marriage over the phone, and apparently their response was to hang up. Luka pulls Abby away for some “department chief business,” like, keep it in your pants for 20 minutes, Luka. A kid uses a crutch to hold mistletoe over Abby and Neela’s heads and urges them to kiss: “Britney and Madonna did it.” Sorry, kid. You’ll need to ask Santa for something else.

Ray tells Tamara and her husband, C.J., that she has a condition caused by low sodium. She’ll need to stay overnight, even though she feels better, but Tamara doesn’t want to be away from her kids on Christmas. Abby and Luka discuss their plans for the next day, and he tries to get her to guess what her present is. Ray interrupts to get Luka to convince Tamara to stay. Abby tells Luka that he’s going to love what she got him. He doesn’t think she actually got him a present. She makes some guesses about her gift, and he tells her to page him when she figures it out.

Eve makes plans with her boyfriend on the phone, then chastises Sam when she shows up late for her shift. She’s not too upset, though, and she tells Sam that her football-playing boyfriend (a linebacker for the Bengals) might flake out on her. Weaver and Pratt go to meet an ambulance bringing in a six-year-old named Danielle who was shot. Her mother, Nadine, explains that she was an innocent bystander caught in some crossfire. She talks to the police while Weaver, Pratt, and Abby work on Danielle. Chuny finds Danielle’s Christmas list as Pratt tells her to contact Olivia.

Some sunglasses-wearing blind kids sing carols in the ER as victims of some sort of holiday disaster argue with each other. There’s a Santa, a guy credited as Hanukkah Harry, and a guy credited as Kwanzaa Kenny. I don’t think I want any more details. Luka and Ray talk to Tamara, who doesn’t get or care about the risk she’s taking by leaving the hospital now. She reveals to Luka that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few months ago and has a very poor prognosis. She doesn’t want to pursue treatment, and she intends to spend Christmas with her family, who don’t know she’s sick yet.

Abby lets Nadine know that they’re still working on stabilizing Danielle so she can have surgery. Nadine laments that their neighborhood has always been dangerous. Her husband is out of town and will be back tonight, but she hasn’t been able to reach him yet to tell him what happened. Haleh continues to try to recruit singers, giving Clemente a pass when he proves he’s not very talented. Clemente tells Mickey that his blood tests are normal, so he can go home. His cough is probably from a virus. But Mickey’s having chest pain all of a sudden, so he should probably stick around.

Sam asks Santa, Harry, and Kenny questions I said I didn’t want the answer to, like what happened. Harry explains that someone complained that their company only celebrates Christmas, so their boss made things more diverse. And then I guess they started fighting? We never find out. Santa makes an inappropriate comment about an overweight patient, so Eve threatens to hurt him. Okay, I know he’s a jerk but you can’t threaten physical violence against Santa! You’ll get coal in your stocking for the rest of your life!

A surgeon named Jessica Albright, who’s covering for Dubenko, comes to Danielle’s trauma room to complain that she hasn’t been sent to surgery yet. Oh, so sorry the unstable six-year-old gunshot victim wasn’t able to align with your schedule, ma’am. Weaver tries to pull rank to make Albright back off, but she’s not impressed. She’s annoyed that they’re holding an OR for a patient who hasn’t been sent up yet. Again, she’s six, and she’s not stable. Shut up, Albright.

The sunglasses-wearing singers are still at it, and unlike carolers we’ve seen here before, they’re on the quieter side, so I don’t think they’re disturbing anyone. Tamara and C.J. leave with Luka’s blessing, since she promised to come back after her kids open their presents in the morning. Eve complains to Sam that her boyfriend is going to spend Christmas at his mother’s, without Eve. Sam suggests that they spend New Year’s together instead.

Santa is rude to the blind carolers, which means this guy should never, ever be allowed to play Santa again. Eve tells him to sit down and shut up. Santa continues mocking them, so Eve punches him, then pours his urine sample on him. Okay, she’s definitely getting coal this year. Weaver thinks it’s time to bring Nadine into Danielle’s trauma room to say goodbye; they’re not going to be able to save her. Olivia’s been waiting with Nadine, but she leaves when Pratt comes to get her. Pratt reluctantly tells Nadine that they haven’t been able to save her daughter. Nadine should go be with her now.

Weaver gently explains to Nadine that they’ve done everything they can for Danielle, but she’s lost too much blood. Nadine reminds her unconscious daughter that God does things for a reason, and maybe this is because God wants Danielle to be with Him. Weaver puts a hand on Pratt’s arm so signal to him to stop giving Danielle chest compressions. Nadine tells Danielle that she can let go if it’s time. God and her parents don’t want her to be in pain. Nadine promises that she and her husband will always love Danielle, and she doesn’t need to be afraid. Suddenly Danielle’s heart starts beating again on its own.

Santa demands that Eve be fired, but it doesn’t look like Sam is going to corroborate his story about what happened. The carolers can’t/won’t, and they think he deserved it anyway. Santa complains to Clemente, who spots a woman at the admit desk and flees. It seems Jodie has gotten tired of calling and has come to see Clemente in person. He tells Frank to get rid of her, then hides behind a bunch of IV stands so he can get down the hall without being seen.

Olivia tells Nadine that the owner of the store where she and Danielle were shopping IDed the shooters, and the police are on the way to arrest them. Pratt tries to get Danielle’s OR back, but now she has to wait. He promises Nadine that if no one comes down in the next two minutes, he’ll take Danielle upstairs himself. I’d love to see Albright try to argue with him. His stubbornness would come in handy here.

Abby auditions for Haleh with “Silent Night.” Let’s just say that no one will be able to sleep in heavenly peace while she’s singing. Chuny is even worse (though I suspect that Laura Cerón is singing badly on purpose, because her voice is actually nice; she just can’t stay on key). Ray proves why he plays guitar in his band instead of singing. After his audition, he tells Morris that Haleh makes Debbie Allen’s character in Fame look like Mother Teresa.

Luka blasts Eve for attacking Santa, but she has no regrets. He tells her to apologize or she’ll lose her job. Eve gloats that only the nursing supervisor can fire her. Mickey has undergone a bunch of tests but none of them has turned up anything. Now he has a headache. Clemente accuses him of making it all up and tells him he needs to leave so an actual sick person can have his bed. It sounds like Mickey’s just lonely and doesn’t want to spend the holidays alone.

Jodie approaches Clemente, so he makes up a disease Mickey has that will keep Clemente busy treating him. Jodie, an ICU nurse, calls bull. Clemente tells Haleh to admit Mickey, then tries to get rid of Jodie. She’s married to a cop, and Clemente is justifiably worried that the guy will track him down.

Luka and the nursing supervisor question Sam about Eve’s behavior. Sam doesn’t want to talk behind her boss’ back, especially when there isn’t a lot of positive stuff to say about her, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. She objects to the nursing supervisor’s decision to fire Eve the day before Christmas. Clemente tries again to send Jodie away. He didn’t know she was married when they got together, and he broke up with her when he found out. He wants her gone before her husband finds him. Jodie thinks he still has feelings for her, so they should act on them while she’s in town.

Danielle finally gets taken up to surgery, though Albright doesn’t think they can save her. Can we have Dubenko back, please? I don’t even like him that much, but he’s definitely better than this twit. Weaver praises Pratt’s work on their patient. He tells Olivia that the police should make the shooters come to the hospital to see what they did. She takes him to the ambulance bay, where a bunch of people are holding a candlelight vigil for Danielle. Unfortunately, Chuny comes out to tell Pratt that they lost Danielle’s pulse, and she’s on her way back to the trauma room.

Sam runs into Eve, who’s crying in the lounge – not because she got fired but because her boyfriend broke up with her. Sam realizes too late that Eve doesn’t know about her termination yet. Clemente has to get right back to work after a quick hook-up with Jodie; he tells her he’s setting up a new life for himself and needs to avoid drama. She says that her husband, Bobby, hit her, and obviously she couldn’t go to the police. She left him and would clearly like to be with Clemente now. He’s free to contact her at her hotel while she’s in town.

At the admit desk, Frank and Abby tease Clemente a little about Jodie (Abby’s talked to her multiple times when she’s called). Abby tells him his fly is down. Luka takes Abby with him to meet an ambulance, asking her what she’ll be cooking for Christmas. She asks if he has amnesia about their previous relationship, since she definitely doesn’t cook.

The police did, indeed, bring Danielle’s shooters to the hospital so they can see the consequences of their actions. Weaver rejoins Pratt to try to stabilize her. Olivia asks if she can bring in the shooters, and Pratt sends Nadine out since she doesn’t want to see them. The shooters deny that they shot a little girl; they didn’t realize the bullet went through someone else and hit her. Pratt tells them that Danielle’s probably not going to survive. When they’re in jail, they should remember what they did to her. He hopes it was worth it.

Eve confronts Luka for getting her fired on Christmas Eve. He tells her she’ll be missed. “Bite me,” she snarls. All you’re doing is getting yourself more coal, Eve. She says she tried to do something good and elevate the ER. “Screw yourselves. You all suck,” she tells the staff around the admit desk, fulfilling everyone’s fantasy of what they’d say if they were fired or quit their job dramatically. When Sam tries to calm her, Eve accuses Sam of trying to steal her job and calls her Judas. Nope, that’s Easter.

Pratt checks on Nadine while Danielle’s in surgery and tells her that things are looking much better for her. He promises that the shooters will pay for what they did. Nadine would prefer if they would stop instead. The community turns their backs on the kids and doesn’t educate them, then wonders why things like this happen. Pratt notes that people have choices. “Some people don’t know they do,” Nadine says.

Luka’s first shift as the chief of the ER is done, and Weaver thinks he did pretty well. The mother of the kid Alex spent the day with brings him to Sam, letting her know that he told his friend that his father is dead and that his friend’s father is going to die, too. The mom thinks Alex needs help, and until he gets it, he’s not going to be hanging out with her son. Luka offers to help Sam out, but she brushes him off.

She asks Alex why he lied about Steve, and Alex says that he doesn’t need his father, which is basically the same. Sam insists that Steve loves Alex, but Alex thinks a father who really loved him would call. He doesn’t think Steve misses him. When Sam says he does, she’s lying for him.

The staff holds their party at Ike Ryan’s, and it looks like the only singer who made the cut to sing with Haleh is Morris. She sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while Abby buys a snow globe at the mini-mart, because Luka was right and she didn’t get him anything. Clemente plays chess with Mickey (aww!) and Sam takes Alex to visit Steve. Pratt sits with Nadine until her husband finally arrives.

Abby leaves the hospital, walking through the growing vigil for Danielle. Morris finally gets to sing something, and he sounds terrific. Abby joins Luka at the party and gives him the snow globe, which is only part of his present. She opens hers, a compass. “It seems we always find each other,” he explains. She takes him outside so they can talk in private. She’s really enjoyed the past few weeks that they’ve been back together, and she doesn’t want to ruin their rekindled relationship. But she has big news: She’s pregnant. With that, Luka’s awesome Christmas ends with him in shock.

Thoughts: Has anyone on this show ever had a planned pregnancy? It might just be Weaver and Sandy, and that was only out of necessity.

Honestly, Luka being as happy as he is makes anything I might want for Christmas feel insignificant. I feel like I’ve gotten presents for the next five years.

When Morris loses rock paper scissors to Neela, he tries to argue that his paper is actually sheet metal. Ha!

I admit I’m a sucker for montages of bad auditioners. They should have given us more.

November 5, 2022

Buffy 4.8, Pangs: Just Like Old Times

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:03 pm by Jenn

I love that there’s an arrow in the stuffed pilgrim

Summary: A guy in a very ’90s fleece vest is walking through the park at night when he hears noises behind him. He spins around and comes face to face with Buffy. Though he looks like a normal college student, he’s a vampire, and he’s very unhappy to see the Slayer. He tells her to go back where she came from, since things were great before she came. “And they say one person can’t make a difference,” she says as she stakes him. She seems to feel someone else’s presence, so she looks around a little, but she doesn’t see anyone. That’s because the person watching her is a master at lurking – it’s Angel.

UC Sunnydale is breaking ground on a new cultural center, and the dean, Guerrero, introduces an anthropology professor so she can give a speech before the construction begins. Buffy, Willow, and Anya are in the audience, and Xander is on the construction crew. Anya gushes over his masculinity (I will say that he has impressive biceps) and how much better this job is than his last one. Willow misses the free hot dogs on sticks, though. Anya says she’s imagining having sex with Xander right now. Considering those biceps, she’s probably not the only one.

The professor likes that they’re breaking ground on the cultural center right before Thanksgiving because living in a melting pot is about contributions from other cultures making ours stronger. Willow objects – Thanksgiving is about one culture killing another; we just don’t talk about it. Buffy thinks part of her anger comes from the way her mother raised her. Sheila doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus Day, and Willow thinks her viewpoint is right.

Buffy decides she’s better off not celebrating Thanksgiving this year, since her mom is going out of town. Anya disagrees, since she enjoys ritual sacrifices. Buffy says that’s not what Thanksgiving is, but Anya points out that it involves killing and eating an animal to commemorate something that happened in the past: “It’s a ritual sacrifice with pie.”

The professor ends her speech and makes the ceremonial first dig. Anya’s unhappy, since she wanted to watch Xander dig. He gets his chance next, so Anya’s day is made. She imagines having sex with him again. “Imaginary Xander is quite the machine,” Buffy comments. Suddenly he falls through the ground into some ruins.

That night, Angel lurks around Buffy and Willow’s dorm, where they’re talking about the accidental discovery of an old mission everyone thought was lost. Well, Willow’s talking about it; Buffy’s at the window, still feeling like she’s being watched. She wonders how an entire mission could be lost. Willow explains that there was a huge earthquake in 1812 and everyone thought it was leveled. They built over it like they did with the church the Master was in. It makes Willow wonder what else is underground. In Buffy’s experience, it’s mostly sewers full of demons.

Midterms are over and everyone in the dorm is excited to go home for Thanksgiving. Not Buffy, though, since she doesn’t get to have a family holiday. She decides to host her own Thanksgiving for the Scoobies. Willow’s disappointed that she changed her mind about the holiday being a sham. Buffy says it is, but it’s “a sham with yams. It’s a yam sham.” She wants to recreate the memories she has of childhood Thanksgivings, since everything’s different now. “Well, I supposed there could be slight yams,” Willow allows. She suggests not inviting Anya, but Buffy wants to capture the spirit of everyone having a place to go.

Spike has been out in the cold (well, as cold as it gets in L.A.) since escaping the Initiative, and he’s still trying to stay a step ahead of them. Riley, Forrest, and Graham search for him while discussing their Thanksgiving plans. Riley only gets a short break since Spike is still at large. Forrest doesn’t see him as much of a threat, since he has that implant that keeps him from hurting people. He taunts Riley for being a Mama’s boy, since he obeys Walsh’s orders so closely.

Anya goes to Xander’s the next morning, wanting to accompany him to the worksite so she can watch him dig some more. But he’s sick, and she thinks it’s bad enough for him to stay home. She knows about illnesses since she gave a lot of them to horrible men when she was a vengeance demon. She decides to stay with him even if she might get sick, too, since it would be romantic for them to die together. Xander says she’s a strange girlfriend. She appreciates being given that label. (Maybe not the strange part, though.)

In the mission, green smoke drifts out of the hole Xander made when he fell. The anthropology professor is eager to take a look around down there, though she’s disappointed that the cultural center will have to be built somewhere else. The green smoke enters a display case in her office and surrounds a knife. It takes human form, and the human uses the knife to slit the professor’s throat.

Buffy and Willow search the office that night after hearing about the murder. Willow found out that the professor had an ear cut off, so they could be dealing with a witch, since there are some great spells that are improved with ears. Or maybe it’s an ear-harvesting demon that’s building another demon out of ears. Or maybe the professor cut off her own ear, like Van Gogh. Actually, Willow can’t make that theory work. Buffy realizes that something’s missing and IDs it as a Chumash knife from the early 1800s.

She goes to Giles’ place to both update him on the murder investigation and start cooking for Thanksgiving. He’s familiar with the Chumash, who were indigenous to the area. He thinks the knife was a convenient weapon for the killer, but Buffy says there was also a big pair of scissors nearby, so the killer purposely chose the knife. She’s annoyed that Giles doesn’t own a turkey pan. He asks why they’re not doing this at Buffy’s house. She says he’s the patriarch, and in American tradition, the patriarch hosts. Otherwise, it’s meaningless. He guesses she just wants him to have to clean everything up.

Buffy heads out to get more supplies, and as soon as she leaves, Angel emerges from another room in the apartment. He’s there because his buddy Doyle (from the spin-off) had a vision about Buffy, and Angel thinks she’s in danger. He wants to do more than just keep an eye on her. Giles reminds him that he doesn’t have to protect Buffy; she’s not his responsibility anymore. Angel points out that she’s not Giles’, either, but he’s obviously not going to ditch her to look after herself.

Giles wants to tell her that Angel’s around, but Angel doesn’t want to get in her way. Giles thinks there’s a connection between the vision and the mission. Obviously something in the ruins was disturbed and is angry. Angel says it could have been trapped but was released when Xander fell through. He suggests that Giles talk to a priest named Gabriel who has a long history with the town.

Angel wants to go follow Buffy again, and Giles says that she would object – it’s not fair that Angel gets to see Buffy but she doesn’t get to see him. Angel tells him that he’s not exactly enjoying this. He doesn’t like being on the outside looking in on his ex. He’d forgotten how bad it feels. Spike can relate, since he’s unable to join some other vampires as they feed on a human. Poor Little Match Girl Spike!

Buffy and Willow meet up downtown, discussing the importance of homemade whipped cream. Buffy promises this is the last thing she’ll be so old-fashioned about. Not that she has time for anything else, since she has to take a break from cooking to meet with Father Gabriel. Riley joins the two of them, having spotted them a few blocks away and run to catch up with them. Willow ducks out to give them some privacy.

She heads into a coffee shop, where Angel grabs her, putting a hand over her mouth so she can’t scream. She thinks he’s evil again, but he tells her he’s there to help Buffy. Willow urges him to tell her, but Angel thinks that would make it worse. She rants that leaving for someone’s own good is bull; you can’t just run away because there are problems. She apologizes, explaining that she’s dealing with personal stuff.

She gets that Angel wants to keep his distance. He laments that everything’s different now. Willow asks if it’s true that he’s working with Cordelia. (It is.) She’d love to talk more about that but Angel is focused on helping Buffy and doesn’t have time for the personal stuff. Well, maybe he has time for one question: Who’s the guy Buffy’s talking to?

Buffy’s telling Riley about the Thanksgiving she has planned for the Scoobies. She invites him to come if he doesn’t have plans, promising that she’s a great cook “in theory.” Riley says he’s leaving tonight; he got a last-minute flight home to Iowa. “That’s one of the ones in the middle, right?” Buffy asks. Heh. Like her, he has happy memories of childhood Thanksgivings. He always has fun back home. They paraphrase the Robert Frost quote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

…Unless you’re Spike, in which case, no, Harmony doesn’t have to take you in. She’s been doing some self-help reading and has taken control of her own power. She refuses to take him back. He tries to seduce her, but she remembers her reading at the last minute and won’t give in. She even has a stake ready for him. Spike doesn’t think she’d actually kill him, but she definitely looks angry enough. He asks for someone to eat before he goes, but she chases him off.

Buffy goes to meet Father Gabriel at his church but she’s moments too late – the man who killed the professor is there, and he’s strung up the priest to kill him as well. Buffy fights the man, who tells her, “I am vengeance. I am my people’s cry. They call for Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice.” Buffy asks if they told him to start an ear collection. They fight some more, and just as it looks like Buffy’s going to be able to finish him off, something makes her stop. Hus says she slaughtered his people and is now killing their spirit. Then he turns into a bunch of birds that all fly away.

Buffy takes all this back to Giles, wondering why she didn’t take Hus out. “I like my evil like I like my men: evil,” she says. She thinks guilt stopped her. Giles reminds her that Hus killed innocent people. She pauses the conversation to give him instructions for cooking the potatoes. He doesn’t have a ricer! How could Giles not have a ricer? Also, what’s a ricer? He dryly says they’ll mash them with forks, which the Pilgrims must have done. Back to Hus: Buffy wants to stop him, but she’d prefer to do it without killing him.

Willow arrives with books and peas. Buffy objects to the peas being frozen. Willow didn’t have time to buy and shell fresh ones, since she was reading about the Chumash’s battles. Giles says they were peaceful, but Willow’s research says that changed after the white settlers came along. Buffy worries that the peas will be mushy. Giles announces that he likes mushy peas. “You’re the reason we had to have Pilgrims in the first place,” Buffy shoots back.

Willow continues that the white settlers enslaved and imprisoned the Chumash, hanging the ones who tried to rebel. They were sent to a mission, where they got sick. Another group was accused of stealing cattle, and after they were killed, the killers cut off their ears to bring back as proof. In other words, Hus’ desire for vengeance is pretty justified, and he’s carrying it out by doing all the things that were done to his people.

A wolf watches from outside as the three discuss when and how to handle the situation. Giles wants to stop Hus, Buffy wants to wait until after dinner, and Willow thinks they should actually be helping Hus in some way. They can at least bring the tragedies that happened to the Chumash to light. Maybe they can even give them back their land. Buffy tries to keep the peace, eventually heading back to the kitchen to tend to the turkey.

Giles quietly tells Willow that he thinks Buffy’s in danger. Willow tells him she saw Angel (he may have lost his edge when it comes to being stealthy). As they’re about to start bickering again, Xander and Anya arrive. Giles and Willow are concerned since Xander looks so sick, but Buffy just notices that he doesn’t have the rolls he was supposed to bring.

Hus gathers some more weapons from the anthropology department as Xander tells the Scoobies that the doctor he saw couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with him. Buffy thinks his illness is related to Hus – the Chumash in the mission got sick, so maybe Xander has what they had. And what did they have? Malaria, smallpox, and syphilis. Xander has all three? The Chumash are so generous! Willow assures Xander that since the illnesses are mystical, they should go away once this is all over.

The question now is how to make this all be over. Giles snarks that they should give Hus some land. “Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles,” Buffy admonishes. “It’s sort of an end in itself,” he mutters. Xander wants to go back to the part where he has syphilis. Anya assures him that, while it’ll make him blind and insane, it won’t kill him. (The smallpox will, though.) Willow thinks she might be able to find a spell that can cure him. Anya unhelpfully offers Xander some pictures of what will happen to him.

Willow says that Hus is just doing what was done to him. Xander notes that he didn’t give anyone syphilis. Giles says that when Xander freed Hus’ spirit, he saw Xander as one of his oppressors and punished him accordingly. Giles wonders why he targeted the professor and Father Gabriel. Xander doesn’t care – Buffy just needs to slay Hus. She says there’s some debate about that. Willow adds that there are two sides to the situation. “Well, the representative from syphilis votes yea,” Xander says.

Willow argues that it’s not that simple. Xander doesn’t agree – Hus is a vengeance demon, so he needs to be killed. Anya’s taken aback by her boyfriend’s attitude toward something she used to be. Willow and Giles note that Hus is a spirit, not a demon, and they don’t know what will kill it. As the group starts to argue about the complexities of the situation, Buffy blurts out that the pie she’s been making needs more condensed milk. She’s going to focus on dinner right now so they can have a perfect Thanksgiving. Giles tells her that Hus won’t stop. His vengeance won’t be satisfied. “Hatred is a cycle,” and he’ll just keep killing.

There’s a knock at the door, and when Buffy opens it, she’s confused because no one’s there. Spike pops up and asks for help. He’s covered in a blanket to keep him safe from the sun, but when she shoves him back, he gets a little burned. He begs to be invited in, but Buffy and Giles both refuse. Spike tells them he can’t bite anyone, asking Willow to back him up. She reminds him that he vowed to kill her and Buffy, so she’s not really motivated to help him out here, but she confirms that he “had trouble performing.”

He says he’s been neutralized for good: “Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies anymore.” He can’t bite or hit anyone. Buffy doesn’t consider that enough of a reason to help him. He offers up information on the commandos. What does Buffy have to be afraid of? Well, Hus, who’s summoning more spirits to help him in his quest for vengeance.

Giles has invited Spike in but the Scoobies are taking all precautions by tying him to a chair. He complains that Buffy’s tying the ropes too tightly and cutting off his circulation. She reminds him that he doesn’t have any circulation. He says he came to her in friendship (“well, all right, seething hatred”) and she shouldn’t mistreat the person who’s offered her information. However, he won’t give up that information until he’s gotten something to eat.

While Anya takes over cooking and Spike asks for brandy, Giles realizes that other than Xander, Hus has gone after authority figures. Buffy thinks Dean Guerrero could be next. Willow hasn’t found a “nice, non-judgmental way” to kill Hus, and she says they’re not in a western. They’re dealing with one oppressed warrior. Buffy really feels bad about this (not bad enough not to keep giving Anya cooking instructions in the middle of the conversation) but they have to stop Hus. Apologizing won’t cut it.

“Oh, someone put a stake in me,” Spike says, annoyed. “You got a lot of volunteers in here,” Xander replies. Spike tells the Scoobies that the settlers won. They came in, killed the Chumash, and took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. Caesar did it, and his famous quote isn’t, “I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.” History is about defeating your opponents. They can’t fight Hus if they’re feeling apologetic.

Buffy and Willow say they don’t want to fight anyone. Willow would like to sit down and talk to Hus, but Spike doesn’t think he’d feel better after chatting with someone he sees as responsible for genocide. It’s kill or be killed here. “Maybe it’s the syphilis talking here but some of that made sense,” Xander says. Giles grumbles that he said a lot of that stuff earlier but no one listened to him.

Buffy decides that warning the dean should be the priority right now. Willow and Anya volunteer, and Xander apparently feels well enough to tag along. Spike would prefer if he stayed, since he thinks he can bite someone if they’re dead, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be long before Xander is. Buffy tells the Scoobies to hurry, not because they need to save the dean but because dinner is being served in an hour.

Spike requests food again, asking if Buffy and Giles knows what happens to vampires who don’t feed. Apparently they turn into living skeletons. Buffy offers him gravy, since that has blood in it. “Do you know what else has blood in it? Blood,” he replies. She considers gagging him so the Scoobies can have a peaceful dinner. She’s determined to make sure it’s quiet and civilized.

An arrow flies into the apartment and lodges into a wall. Hus has arrived. Buffy tells him that they really do feel terrible about what happened to the Chumash, and they’re trying to help. “You can have casinos now!” she exclaims. The other spirits join Hus and fire more arrows into the apartment. Still tied up, Spike can’t do anything to defend himself, and he almost takes an arrow to the heart.

Willow, Xander, and Anya leave the dean’s house, having confirmed that he’s safe. Willow thinks he got a crazy vibe from them. Xander says it’s probably because Anya started things off with, “Everybody got both ears?” On the plus side, the dean’s wife gave them a pie. They run into Angel, whom Anya, meeting him for the first time, describes as “large and glowery.” Xander suspects that he’s evil again, making Angel wonder why everyone thinks that. Willow says he’s there to protect Buffy. “I haven’t been evil for a long time,” Angel protests. Willow adds that Buffy doesn’t know he’s there.

He reports that all the weapons were taken and asks why the Scoobies went to see Dean Guerrero. Willow explains that they think Hus is going after leaders. Angel says that since Hus is a warrior, a leader to him is the strongest fighter. That means the Slayer. Angel says he’ll call her and warn her while the others head back to Giles’. He breaks the locks on some nearby bikes so they don’t have to walk.

Giles takes Angel’s call in the middle of the war zone, casually saying they’re fully aware of the situation and currently under siege. Since he’s British, he says thank you. Buffy asks who called and Giles just says, “Someone.” Spike, who’s full of arrows, would like to know what the plan is. Buffy goes for Giles’ weapons chest and takes an arrow in the arm. Spike announces that apologizing wouldn’t be such a bad strategy after all. He calls out to Hus that they’re sorry. Yeah, Hus doesn’t care.

As the other Scoobies bike across campus, Buffy and Giles start fighting back against the spirits. Xander arrives just as one is about to fire another arrow, and he hits the spirit over the head with a flowerpot. Anya and Willow team up, using gardening tools as weapons. The spirits start entering the apartment, which they soon discover was a mistake, since Buffy’s really good at hand-to-hand combat. Spike just stays put and keeps getting shot with arrows.

Buffy stabs a spirit but her knife doesn’t have any effect on him. Willow and Anya’s tools aren’t doing much, either. Angel arrives, takes in the scene, and jumps in to snap the neck of the spirit Willow and Anya are fighting. “What’s he like when he is evil?” Anya asks. Inside, Buffy fights a spirit while another sneaks up on her. Angel throws something into his chest from the courtyard without Buffy even noticing.

After some more fighting, Buffy discovers that Hus’ knife can hurt the spirits. But before she can start killing, Hus suddenly turns into a bear. “You made a bear!” Spike says in horror. “I didn’t mean to,” Buffy replies meekly. “Undo it! Undo it!” he yells. He tries to get away, scooting his chair around, but he tips over and ends up on his back.

Xander manages to save the day by distracting the Hus-bear. He calls him Gentle Ben and throws rolls at him for giving Xander syphilis. Buffy’s able to run up behind Hus and stab him with his knife. He turns back into his human form, then goes up in green smoke. The other spirits do the same, and the fight is over. Angel stays outside, never seen by Buffy. “What happened? Did we win?” Spike asks from the floor.

He’s allowed to sit at the table with the Scoobies while they eat dinner together. Despite all the complications, apparently the food turned out well. Willow feels bad for fighting the spirits, and Giles tells her that instincts take over when violence is involved. “Yeah, that’s the fun,” Spike says. He’s annoyed that after all the fighting, none of the Scoobies bled.

Giles compliments Buffy for her successes both with the meal and the battle. She’s disappointed that Thanksgiving wasn’t as perfect as she’d hoped. Xander thinks it was pretty traditional – there was a lot of anticipation, then a big fight, and now they’re all tired. Giles notes that everyone survived. Buffy cheers up, agreeing that her first Thanksgiving in charge was successful after all, since they all got through it.

Xander suggestively tells Anya that his syphilis seems to be clearing up. “And they say romance is dead,” Buffy comments. “Or maybe they just wish it.” Willow thinks they might have started a new tradition. Okay, maybe not, but with everyone working together, it was like old times. “Yeah, especially with Angel being here and everything,” Xander replies casually. Buffy looks up in surprise and everyone waits to see how she’ll react. Spike smirks at the blindsiding. “Oops,” Xander says.

Thoughts: This is the first Thanksgiving episode of a TV show I remember discussing the unsavory history of the holiday. And yet it still manages to give us scenes of togetherness and friendship without being sappy.

I was going to write something about Buffy, Willow, and Anya’s outfits at the groundbreaking ceremony, but nothing I could say would capture their essence. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words, so here’s the picture.

Anya is blunt and self-centered and doesn’t get a lot of social cues, but if you watch her during the Scoobies’ scenes, she takes really good care of Xander. She definitely cares about him beyond just having sex with him.

July 12, 2022

ER 11.9, ‘Twas the Night: Chen’s Father Wants to Take a Long Winter’s Nap

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

No final Carter/Chen scenes? Tragic

Summary: Chen is cleaning out her father’s bedpan in her kitchen when he calls for her from the living room. She doesn’t come fast enough for his tastes so he breaks something to get her attention. They have a conversation in Mandarin, the only English coming from Chen when she says she can’t do something. He begs her until she changes her mind.

Carter goes with Wendall to buy a sofa bed her brother can sleep on when he comes to visit. Since the store doesn’t want to make a delivery on Christmas Eve, Carter suggests that they tie it to the roof of his car and take it themselves. As Wendall goes to finalize the sale, Carter notices a girl nearby who’s choking. He gives her the Heimlich and saves her, but her parents misinterpret what’s happening when they see him with his arms around her. Carter starts to explain that he’s a doctor, then decides to just flee the scene.

At County, Sam and Luka discuss Christmas traditions while waiting for an ambulance. She wants to let Alex open a present on Christmas Eve, which is what she did as a kid; Luka says no way. Sam notes that if Alex opens something tonight, he won’t be so eager to open more in the morning, which will give them a chance to sleep in. Plus, it’s fun. Luka teases that Sam just wants to open a gift tonight, too.

The ambulance they’re waiting for carries a man named Robert who fainted and hit his head. Abby joins Sam and Luka as they discuss how cold it’ll be that night. A number of homeless people are already gathered in the hospital, seeking warmth, and are waiting to be taken somewhere else for the night. Abby sees on Robert’s chart that he has lupus and hepatitis C, among other problems.

Luka tells Morris to stop eating and get to work. Susan wants Abby to get on it, too, before Abby can even take off her coat. Carter’s at work now, and Susan asks him to keep bugging the proper authorities to come get all the homeless people in the waiting area. She and Weaver talk about their holiday plans and make arrangements to get together. They’re friends now! Their kids are totally going to be best friends one day! Weaver gives Carter a Secret Santa gift, not bothering to hide that she’s regifting something.

Robert’s wife, Carol, arrives as Abby’s trying to get in touch with his regular doctor. Carol is super-involved in her husband’s care and thinks her personal files on his condition are more thorough than his medical records. Abby can’t get Robert’s doctor to come see him, since he thinks Robert’s problem is with his heart, not his kidneys. Carol provides the name of Robert’s cardiologist and wonders why no one’s writing things down. Maybe because you’ve already written everything down?

Ray helps shepherd some of the homeless people while Neela works with a fourth-year med student, Jake Scanlon, who just transferred to County. Ray tells the homeless people that they’re going to a Holiday Inn, courtesy of the mayor. He’s lying, but he thinks it’s okay because now all the people who aren’t really sick are leaving, and the staff can focus on the ones who actually need treatment.

Luka and Sam are off for the night, and before they leave, they check in with Abby on Robert’s care. She’s now trying to get his cardiologist to come see him. Chen is supposed to be working but when she comes by to pick up medication for her father, she asks Luka to cover for her. She offers to work New Year’s for him. Luka turns her down but Chen says it’s a family emergency. Though Luka clearly feels bad, he won’t take her shift.

Jerry introduces Chen to a woman named Margaret who will be filling in as a desk clerk for the night. Apparently she’s a Grinch. Robert’s cardiologist won’t even come in to examine him, so Abby’s in a bind now. She tells Jake he can go home, since med students don’t have to work on holidays, but he says he volunteered. Abby thinks that’s crazy. She’s even considering inventing a family next year so she can take Christmas off.

She tells Robert and Carol that the cardiologist thinks Robert’s kidneys are causing his problems, so he’s passing the buck like Robert’s regular doctor did. Maybe Robert should get new specialists. Jake must be pretty smart because he recognizes an acronym Abby uses, while Malik doesn’t. Chen asks Susan for one last shift switch after weeks of them, but Susan can’t cut her any more slack. Chen thinks that Carter, Abby, and Morris can handle everything, but Susan doubts it. Chen says she understands, then quits.

Ray’s done with his shift, which means we don’t have to see him anymore in this episode, yay! Paramedics bring in a boy named Harry who was hit by a car. Carter orders Ray to stay, ignoring the fact that he has a flight to catch. Nooooo, we were going to get a break from him! Harry’s mother, Mrs. Price, and her daughter Mattie tell the staff that Harry was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Harry sweetly reassures his little sister, who must be scared to see him in the hospital.

Abby tries again to reach Robert’s doctor, sympathizing with him for not appreciating how pushy Carol can be. Carol hears her but doesn’t say anything about Abby’s comments. Pratt’s on his way out to some party or concert or something – he’s looking forward to seeing a just-becoming-famous-at-the-time Kanye West. He delays his departure when a pretty woman named Raphaella shows up asking for a doctor. She specifies that she’s there for Morris, who appears to be her boyfriend.

Susan tells Abby, Neela, and Pratt that Chen just quit. Susan thinks she’s just burned out. Neela gives Abby a present she found in the lounge with her name on it. Someone thought her Secret Santa gift should be a book about rats and lice. At least that person spent a decent amount of money, unlike Neela’s Secret Santa, who gave her a Pez dispenser. Still, I’d rather have Pez than that book.

Pratt leaves as Malik escorts in a man named Beidermeier, who needs detox for an IV drug addiction. Abby catches Margaret removing all the angels from the admit desk’s collection of Christmas decorations; she wants to keep religious artifacts out of the public hospital. Abby, who isn’t even religious, tells her to put them back. Susan tells Carter that Chen quit, but he’s barely listening, since he’s taking care of Harry. Susan decides that they should close to trauma. Ray complains about how much the homeless people in the waiting area smell. Shut up, Ray. Especially since patients are listening, including Mrs. Price.

Susan seems to have decided to stick around, but Ray still wants to leave. He says he promised his mother he’d come visit for Christmas. No one cares, Ray. While Harry’s stable and they’re waiting for him to be taken to surgery, Carter goes to help Abby with Robert. Susan wants to go home for a couple of hours, then come back to lend a hand, but Carter tells her to take the whole night off; he’ll call her if they get busy.

Robert’s declining and having more trouble breathing because of fluid in his lungs. Abby tells Carter that no one will come give him dialysis to help with the fluid since he just had dialysis yesterday; they insist that the fluid is from some other problem. Abby thinks they rushed him through dialysis because they were busy due to the holidays. She’s waiting to hear back from the renal attending.

A new surgeon, Agbo, comes to examine Harry, so Carter goes back to him. He tells Abby that no one knows what her patients need better than she does. She ducks out of Robert’s room to apologize to Carol, who isn’t too broken up about being called pushy (I assume she’s been called that before). She’s brought down Robert’s extensive medical records from wherever they’re stored so Abby doesn’t have to wait for them. Compared to the hospital’s records, Carol’s are much faster to get through, so Abby agrees to look at them.

Pratt goes to Chen’s house, and though she tries to send him away, he follows her in when her father calls for her. Pratt determines that he’s sundowning, getting worse at the end of the day. He notices that Chen has a large supply of Ativan and potassium. He guesses she’s planning something and demands to know what’s going on.

Harry’s getting worse, and Agbo realizes he may have nicked a blood vessel while doing a procedure on him. Mrs. Price prays for her son while the staff works on him. Mattie blurts on that this is her fault. Mrs. Price yells for her to be quiet, so Carter snaps at them both to leave. Mrs. Price won’t go, and Carter’s too busy to follow up. Once Harry’s stable, Carter tells Neela to take Mattie to the family room and page a social worker.

Abby checks on Robert, who’s stable now. She wants him to have his head scanned to be sure he doesn’t have any brain injuries from his fall (plus, he had a brain infection in the past). Jake offers to take him since Abby needs to discharge another patient. Neela hangs out with Mattie, asking if she’s excited for Santa to come tonight. Mattie sadly says that Santa isn’t coming for her.

Ray joins them and tries to connect with Mattie by saying that he and his brother fought a lot as kids. Sometimes kids get hurt by accident. Mattie admits that she was mad at Harry and threw his book out of the car. When he went to get it, a car hit him. Ray assures her that it’s not her fault that Harry was hurt. Mattie’s upset that she couldn’t help her brother and had to get her mother. This negates the story Mrs. Price told about being in the car with the kids. Mattie says she was at work, and the kids were alone in the car – they live there.

Chen has told Pratt that her father has asked her to help him commit suicide. He no longer wants the treatments and equipment that are the only things keeping him alive. He asks her every day to help him die. Chen doesn’t want to just remove the support methods and let him die naturally; it would take days and he would suffer. Pratt suggests putting him in a nursing home, but Chen tells him that as a Chinese woman, she has to respect her elders.

After a short break where they both calm down, Pratt presses Chen again to at least put her father in a nursing home for a month so she can have a break. As doctors, they do everything they can every day to save people, even if they only get a few more hours. Chen can’t just take someone’s life away. She says that quality of life is what matters. She can’t let her father keep living the way he is. Since she can provide him with what he needs, she’s going to. Pratt asks why she hasn’t done it already. He thinks she knows it would haunt her for the rest of her life. She admits that she hasn’t worked up the courage yet.

When midnight strikes, Margaret makes a deadpan declaration: “Christ is born.” Abby catches her unplugging Christmas lights and threatens to beat her to death with a fruitcake if she does it again. I think Santa’s skipping Abby this year. Neela complains that they’re having a “loser’s Christmas.” She should speak for herself, since Raphaella’s visit has made Morris’ night a lot more fun.

Abby examines a little boy named Rudolfo, and I can’t believe she doesn’t make a Rudolfo/Rudolph comment. Neela thanks Ray for trying to help with Mattie. He admits that he’s an only child. Just leave, Ray. Something happened to Robert’s central line when he was getting scanned, and now he’s bleeding. Because of a lupus complication, he can’t clot properly. Carol worries that this will be what kills him. She says she’s not ready for him to die. Abby sends Jake to get blood so she can fix Robert’s central line. Carol wants a surgical attending to do it instead.

Harry’s still stable, and Carter tells Mrs. Price that they’ll keep him in the ER overnight before sending him to the ICU. Neela gets her to tell the full story about the family’s situation. She left her husband three weeks ago and didn’t have any place to stay with the kids. It was fine while they were in school, but the kids had nowhere to go when Christmas vacation started. She had to leave them in the car while she worked. Taking them back to their father is out of the question – he’s abusive, and while Mrs. Price was willing to put up with it herself, she left when he turned on Harry.

Carter gently says that they’re concerned about everything Mrs. Price has gone through. Wendall comes in with Mattie, and Mrs. Price says she told the kids not to say anything about their situation because she was afraid they would be taken away. She has a job, so their living conditions are just temporary. She won’t call them homeless. Wendall knows of a house they can stay in with other people fleeing domestic violence. She promises it’s safe. Mrs. Price apologizes to Mattie for yelling and asks her daughter not to be scared of her. Mattie apologizes, too, but Mrs. Price says she didn’t do anything wrong.

Carter confers with Wendall, who says the only bad guy here is the hit-and-run driver (well, and Mr. Price). They shouldn’t punish Mrs. Price. They pass Morris and Raphaella, who got food from the cafeteria’s “holiday feast” that doesn’t actually look edible. Carter invites Wendall to get dinner with him but she says she just lost her appetite. Just then, Margaret tells Carter that Kem is on the phone for him. Ohhhhhh! Carter can’t take his eyes off of Wendall as he talks to Kem.

While Chen sleeps, Pratt gets up to tend to her father. He gets agitated, so Chen gives him a sedative and tells him she’s sorry for what he’s going through. Pratt finally sees just how bad his condition has gotten. Back at County, Morris lets Raphaella give staples to an unconscious Santa. Neela calls him out for violating HIPAA, among other policies. Then she has to run to help Carter break up a fight between Margaret and Beidermeier, whom she caught stealing from drug lock-up. She wants to have him arrested but Carter just tells her they’ll handle things without her.

Dubenko is in the ER to do Robert’s central line, though he’s decided to let Abby do it herself. He trusts her skills and doesn’t care what Carol wants. Abby thanks him for coming in and he says it’s his job, like he’s surprised she would expect him not to come in on Christmas Eve. He tells Abby that legally, the attendings she called have to come in or they could lose staff privileges. They’re taking advantage of the fact that she didn’t stand up to them. Abby, like many interns and other female doctors, wants to be popular instead of an advocate for her patients. He offers to finish up with Robert while she deals with the attendings. P.S. He’s her Secret Santa.

Jake goes with Abby as she gets back on the phone. He takes responsibility for the hiccup with Robert’s central line, but she says the tech is at fault. Plus, she shouldn’t have sent a student with Robert. Jake promises that the complication won’t happen again. Abby asks what he’s learned and he replies that he should always go home when she tells him to.

Chen has another conversation with her father in Mandarin, and from the tone, it’s clear even to non-Mandarin-speakers that they’re saying goodbye. She tells Pratt that he thanked her and said she was a good daughter. Pratt assures her that she is. She fills a syringe with potassium, and though Pratt offers to inject her father, she decides to do it herself. He’s barely conscious, so he dies peacefully. Chen says something to him in Mandarin and kisses him goodbye.

A drunk Santa asks for a cab voucher in the ER. Instead of asking where his sleigh is, Jake just says they’re not ready to discharge him. A dialysis tech finally arrives for Robert, happy to make double overtime for a holiday job but confused about why he’s treating someone he just treated yesterday. Abby pretends that Robert’s doctor gave orders for dialysis, but the tech guesses that he never came in to see his patient. The tech isn’t surprised, since the doctor is a jerk, but he needs official orders. Abby asks him to get started and then call the doctor. Carol finds out that Abby went behind the attending’s back and thanks her.

Wendall pulls Carter away from a patient to give him a Christmas present (another regift). He lies that he has something for her but didn’t bring it. She tells him to give it to her on her birthday in a few weeks. She casually asks about his phone call, apparently knowing exactly who Carter was talking to. He just says Kem is good. He’s amused by Wendall’s gift, a head lamp. He thanks her with a kiss, and she leaves as soon as she can.

Morris and Raphaella bring a bunch of sliders to the night staff. Abby and Neela determine that Rudolfo only needs antibiotics, but they decide to get him admitted to pediatrics so he can spend the night in a warm bed. Rudolfo worries that Santa won’t find him since the hospital doesn’t have a chimney. They tell him Santa can find anyone, since he sees everything, but Rudolfo will have to go to sleep before he comes. Abby and Neela guess that Rudolfo’s father doesn’t have any presents for him, so they decide to get him something from the mini-mart across the street.

Chen sits with her father’s body for an hour or so, then tells Pratt she’ll call the mortuary in the morning. She’ll then have to take her father to China to be buried next to her mother. After that, she’ll probably visit their hometown and see some relatives, but now that she’s quit her job, she has no plans beyond that. Pratt offers to help with anything she needs. Chen thanks him for what he’s already done and cries in his arms.

Though Neela is Sikh and her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she’s used to England’s holiday traditions, as well as her family’s affection for “anonymous kindness.” She takes Abby to the child-life center so they can take all the toys and books there and give them to the homeless kids in the ER. (Wendall kindly provided a key.) Tomorrow they can shop the post-Christmas sales to replace everything they take. They don’t have wrapping paper but Neela says they can steal bows from the cafeteria’s decorations.

A homeless woman sings “O Holy Night” as Abby and Neela play Santa. Margaret decides to shut up for once and not tell the woman to keep her religious music to herself. Carter and Wendall distribute blankets to the homeless adults, who I hope get presents, too. Ray comes back with a story about not getting a flight out and a hint that he might not really have been going to see his mother. He reports that it’s snowing. Abby tells Neela that Ray was going to see a girlfriend, not his mother. He tricked Neela into taking his shift with a family-related sob story. Grr!

The staff goes outside to look at the snow. Robert’s doctor arrives, furious that Abby approved his dialysis without his agreement. Abby stands up for herself and says she actually did him a favor since he didn’t come in when he was supposed to. If he reports her for going behind his back, she’ll report him for not doing his job. Everyone heads back inside as Neela gets revenge on Ray with a snowball to the back. Chen calls a mortuary to report that her father died in his sleep overnight. She gets permission for Pratt to sign the death certificate, since he’s already there. And with that, Chen’s secret is safe.

Thoughts: Jake is played by Eion Bailey. Mrs. Price is played by Dale Dickey.

Farewell to Ming-Na, who stayed on the show a lot longer than I would have, considering how little she got to do and how much the writers disrespected Chen.

Why is everyone so against working on Christmas Eve? If it’s between then and Christmas, choose Christmas Eve. Then you won’t miss out on seeing your kids open their presents.

I had Harry’s plotline confused with one from a different episode, so I wasn’t expecting a happy ending (which is sad, since I shouldn’t expect a sad ending in a Christmas episode).

June 18, 2022

Buffy 3.10, Amends: Ghosts of Christmases Past

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

“Santa says you’re on the naughty list. Sorry, buddy”

Summary: In Dublin in 1838, a man named Daniel is trying to flee from Angelus. He owes Angelus money from a card game but can’t pay it. Angelus is willing to accept Daniel’s blood instead. Daniel’s scared, but Angelus thinks he should be more cheerful since it’s Christmas. Angel wakes up from a dream about this, shaken by the memory. He goes downtown and runs into Buffy, who’s doing some Christmas shopping. They both say they’re doing well, but Angelus spots Daniel nearby, so he’s obviously lying.

Buffy tells Xander and Willow about this encounter at school, worrying that something’s going on with Angel. Willow encourages her to talk to Giles, but Buffy knows he won’t want to hear about Angel. Willow thinks Angel’s feeling down about spending the holidays alone. Buffy’s frustrated because she’s trying to stay away from him. She just wants a quiet Christmas break.

The friends discuss their holiday plans: Buffy will be celebrating with Joyce, Xander will be camping in his yard, and Willow will be being Jewish. Cordelia boasts that she’s going skiing in Aspen and won’t miss the Scoobies. Buffy notes that she’s back to her old self. Willow thinks they should cut her some slack after what happened to her. Also, Willow’s really into forgiveness right now.

Oz approaches hesitantly and takes Willow to a classroom for a private talk. He tells her that it was horrible to see her with Xander, but he can’t ignore the friends’ history. He’s not sure the two of them will ever be totally over. That said, Oz misses her so much that he feels like he’s lost a part of himself. He’s willing to try to move past her cheating and get back together. Aww, it’s a Christmas Hanukkah miracle!

That night, Buffy and Joyce go to a Christmas tree lot. Joyce suggests inviting Faith to spend Christmas with them. Buffy isn’t really close to the other Slayer, but Joyce guilts her into not letting Faith spend the holidays alone in a motel room. Buffy asks about inviting Giles over, too, but Joyce quickly shuts down that idea. Buffy comes across some dead trees, which an employee says died without warning.

Some demons with symbols carved over their eyes chant somewhere. That’s two nights in a row where Angel wakes up from a disturbing dream. Buffy goes to Faith’s motel to invite her over for Christmas Eve dinner, but Faith claims to be going to a party that night. Giles is surprised to get a visit from Angel, their first in-person encounter since Giles’ abduction. Angel humbly asks for help, not sure where else to turn. Giles grabs a crossbow just in case before inviting Angel into his home.

Angel reveals that he’s been dreaming about the past, dreams that are so vivid that he feels like he’s reliving his memories. He thinks they’re connected to his sudden, inexplicable return from a demon dimension. He might get some peace if he found out why he was sent back. As Giles asks if Angel believes he deserves peace, Angel sees Jenny standing behind him. Giles doesn’t think Angel should become complacent, since the last time he did, bad things happened. Angel is shaken by the sight of Jenny, whom Giles can’t see, and runs out.

He goes home and goes back to sleep, dreaming this time of another past Christmas. Angelus pulls a maid named Margaret away from a party as she protests that she can’t risk getting fired for not doing her job. She has a son she needs to support. Angelus threatens to make a scene to get her to shut up. When he vamps out, Margaret again brings up her son in an attempt to get his sympathy. Angelus just says he’ll kill her son, too. He feeds on her, then looks up to see Buffy nearby. This time, Angel’s not the only one having the dream.

Jenny comes to the mansion, telling Angel that she can’t leave him alone because he won’t let her. He apologizes for killing her, but she’s not there for that. She turns into Daniel, who says he doesn’t want to make Angel feel bad. He wants to show Angel who he is.

Buffy tells Giles about the dream, which she knows was Angel’s since there were things in it she didn’t know about. Giles tells her that Angel came to see him because he wants to know why he’s back. Giles has been looking into that. Buffy wants to help, but only so she can fully separate herself from her ex. She promises they’re not seeing each other anymore. Giles agrees to help, and Xander, who was eavesdropping from right outside Giles’ office, also offers to lend a hand. He chalks it up to Willow’s Hanukkah spirit. Besides, he doesn’t have anything planned for the Christmas break.

Willow doesn’t, either, so she ends up joining the others for a research session. She tells Buffy that Oz is going to come over on Christmas Eve, while her parents are away. She’s nervous about how to make Oz trust her again. Buffy says that Xander has a piece of Willow that Oz can’t touch. Willow just needs to show Oz that he’s more important to her than Xander.

Angel is now dealing with a visit from a guy whose family he killed. That guy turns into Margaret, who reminds Angel that he took more pleasure in killing than most regular beasts would. When Angel tries to escape her, he runs into Daniel, who says he was supposed to get married the week he died. Angel tries to argue that the demon inside him was responsible for his crimes. Jenny’s back, and she doesn’t buy that excuse. It’s not like he was a great person when he was human. As Margaret puts it, he was “a drunken, whoring layabout” and a disappointment to his parents.

Angel says he was young and didn’t have a chance to mature. Margaret taunts that he was worthless even before he became a demon. Angel tearfully begs the ghosts to stop, but Jenny says he needs to remember that cruelty is the only thing he was ever good at. It’s not a curse – it’s his destiny. She’ll show him what she means.

The Scoobies fall asleep at the library, and Buffy and Angel share another dream. This one is of them having sex, but it ends differently than it did the last time. There’s an eyeless demon in the room, and instead of losing his soul, Angel bites Buffy. When he wakes up, Jenny’s with him. She knows he wants Buffy and encourages him to take what he wants. He should put all his frustration and guilt on her – he’ll be free again. He can’t live forever with all his pain. This is why he came back. If he takes Buffy, he’ll be ready to kill her.

Giles has found some information on the First Evil, a power older than humans and demons that could have brought Angel back. Buffy recognizes some drawings of eyeless demons from her most recent dream. (Understandably, she doesn’t want to go into details about this one.) Giles IDs them as Bringers, AKA Harbingers, who serve the First Evil. They can conjure manifestations of the dead and send them to haunt people. Buffy guesses that’s what Angel’s been dealing with.

The problem is that the First Evil isn’t a physical being, so Buffy can’t fight it. She can, however, fight the Bringers. She and Xander visit Willy the Snitch, who greets her by yelling out who she is so any demons in his bar who don’t want to be killed will leave. Xander tries to be intimidating but falls way short of his goal. Willy claims not to be familiar with the Bringers, but he’s heard some rumors about beings that live underground fleeing town. Maybe the Bringers have pushed them out. As Buffy and Xander leave, Willy compliments Xander’s intimidation tactics.

Back outside, Buffy complains that there are way too many underground locations to search. Xander thinks they should take a break to celebrate Christmas, then go back to Scoobying. Willow seems to agree with this idea, since she’s fully invested in having a nice night alone with Oz. But she thinks they should have sex to confirm their recommitment, and he doesn’t want to rush into that. When they have sex for the first time, it should be because they both want it for the same reason. He doesn’t want Willow to feel like she has to prove anything to him.

Buffy teases Joyce for building a fire in the fireplace, since they’re in Southern California and it’s hot out. “Angel’s on top again?” Joyce asks, referring to what they should put on the top of the tree. Faith shows up after all, and Buffy seems genuinely happy that she’s there. She goes upstairs to get some presents and finds Angel waiting for her. He’s tempted to have sex with her, and Jenny tries to talk him into it, but Angel ends up telling Buffy to stay away from him. She urges him to control whatever’s messing with him, but he gets overwhelmed by Jenny’s words and ends up jumping out the window.

Buffy asks Faith to stay with Joyce while she goes looking for Angel. She heads to Giles’ place and asks him to help her figure out where the Bringers are. She knows Angel won’t last much longer, and if he loses his soul again, she might have to kill him. Back at the mansion, Jenny continues trying to convince Angel to sleep with Buffy. She doesn’t think Angel is strong enough to fight temptation. Angel would rather die than hurt Buffy, but Jenny doesn’t think he has the strength to kill himself. He says he doesn’t need strength, just the sun. He ignores her as she says this isn’t the plan (though she’s fine with it).

With no leads on the Bringers’ location, Buffy and Giles turn to research again. He reads that the Bringers live in a place where nothing grows above or below them. Buffy remembers the dead trees in the lot and heads over there. She digs a hole in the ground and finds the Bringers’ lair. From there, it’s just a matter of simple slaying (not too hard when the creatures you’re slaying don’t have eyes). But Jenny shows up and taunts that Buffy can’t fight the First Evil. It’s beyond sin and death: “I am the thing that darkness fears.” It’s everywhere and in every evil thing. “All right, I get it, you’re evil. Do we have to chat about it all day?” Buffy asks.

Jenny tells her that Angel will be dead by sunrise. Buffy refuses to let that happen, but Jenny says she has no idea what she’s dealing with. “Let me guess: Is it…evil?” Buffy replies. She races to the mansion but Angel isn’t there. She eventually finds him standing on a hilltop, waiting for the sun to come up. She begs him to go inside but Angel has seen what he is and will always be. He knows now that he was brought back to be evil.

Buffy tells him he can’t give up just because the First Evil says it was responsible for bringing him back. Angel’s desperate not to become a killer again, but he doesn’t have the strength to fight it. He knows she shared his dream and is aware of what the First Evil wants. He wants her so badly that he can’t fight temptation, even knowing he’ll lose his soul again. He’s weak and always has been. The demon in him doesn’t need killing – the man does.

Buffy tells him everyone’s weak and fails at some point. Even if the First Evil brought Angel back, it’s because it needs him, and Angel can hurt it. He has the power to do good and make amends. If he dies now, he’ll only be remembered by his horrible deeds. Angel tells her to go since she can never understand what he’s done. Buffy refuses to leave him, even hitting him to try to knock some sense into him.

He hits her back, then realizes he’s acting like the monster he doesn’t want to be. He tearfully asks if he’s “a thing worth saving” or “a righteous man.” He thinks the world wants him gone. “What about me?” Buffy asks. She loves him and tried to make him go away, but even killing him didn’t help. She hates how hard this is and how much he can hurt her. She knows everything he did because he did it to her.

Buffy wishes that she wanted Angel to die, but she doesn’t. She can’t feel that way. He asks her again to leave so he can be strong. “Strong is fighting,” she tells him. “It’s hard and it’s painful and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do.” They can do it together, but he’ll have to be brave. If he’s a coward, he can burn. If Buffy can’t convince Angel to live, then she doesn’t know what will. But she won’t stick around and watch him give up, and he can’t expect her to mourn.

Suddenly snow starts falling on them. Around town, the Scoobies notice and are a mixture of stunned and happy. Thanks to the sudden cold front, Sunnydale has a white Christmas…with no sun. Buffy and Angel walk downtown, hand in hand, and enjoy their peaceful Christmas together.

Thoughts: David Boreanaz is really good in this episode, and I say that as someone who isn’t really impressed with his acting in the first two seasons (at least when he’s not Angelus).

Buffy has short bangs in this episode and they make me feel homicidal. Fortunately, they’re gone by the next episode.

Aw, Faith hung up some Christmas lights in her motel room. She’s not as hard as she wants everyone to believe.

We’re going to pretend that the First Evil/Jenny being able to touch Angel didn’t really happen, since we find out later in the series that that’s not possible. Everyone on board for that? Great.

February 15, 2022

ER 10.10, Makemba: Merry Kem-mas

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 4:58 pm by Jenn

Hi, I’m here to make you think the episode will be more interesting, but it won’t be

Summary: Oh, the weather outside is frightful, and Abby is trying to cross the street to County without stepping in an icy puddle. The waiting room is full and includes a puking Santa. Merry Christmas Eve! Weaver puts Abby to work as soon as she steps into the ER, not even letting her stop to change into dry shoes. Weaver leaves and Frank tells Abby she’s going home to wait for the Ghost of Christmas Past. I bet it’s Romano.

Gallant gives Neela a CD of Sikh rap as Luka tells Abby she can change her shoes before she starts working. Frank tells her that Carter sent a care package from the Congo and everyone got presents. Luka confirms that Frank sent some toys to Carter’s clinic. Abby’s present is a box that Luka says tribesmen use to store potions. I’m not sure what Carter expects Abby to do with it.

Gallant puts on Neela’s CD and Frank makes racist comments as the two of them dance. Shut up, Frank. Valerie and Pratt are also there. Abby doesn’t get any holiday cheer from their happiness. She also leaves her present at the admit desk.

In the Congo, Carter opens a Christmas present from Kem. It’s a nice beaded bracelet that used to belong to her father. Carter can clearly see that this is a meaningful gift. He gives Kem his own sentimental present, a set of little silver dishes from his childhood. He also gives her a plane ticket and invites her to come back to the U.S. with him. “I want our baby to be born in America,” he says. That’s right, Carter knocked someone up!

Seven months earlier: Carter, Debbie, and Angelique send Luka to the States, then head back to the clinic. Carter starts training a new volunteer and demonstrates how much he’s learned about how the clinic operates. That night, Carter meets up with his co-workers at a bar, where some of them are talking about capitalism and commercialism and democracy. Kem speaks up that American intervention in Iraq isn’t a problem as long as they don’t dismiss legitimate concerns and ignore the democracy already built up there.

Debbie introduces Carter to Kem, who’s setting up a treatment project for people with HIV and AIDS. Carter’s surprised that she’s able to use her funding for expensive treatments. Kem says they’re not using American medications. Debbie explains that because of laws allowing other countries to ignore American patents, India has a cheaper treatment option.

A guy named Peter is annoyed about where the money’s coming from. Kem points out that if her program shows that the drugs work, she can get funding from rich countries and the UN. Debbie and Carter (who I think are the only Americans there) laugh about how America’s money is still good for something. Kem takes Peter to the dance floor, and Carter looks jealous when he realizes they’re together. Debbie notices.

Back at the clinic, a patient isn’t improving, so Carter approves some additional tests. The man’s wife, Celine, knows he’s going to die, and she knows he has AIDS, but she and her kids haven’t been tested. Carter offers to test them, but Celine doesn’t see the point – if they’ve been exposed, there’s nothing the clinic can do. Carter says they can give her medicine to try to keep her from passing it to her unborn baby when she gives birth.

Carter does the tests, then goes to Kem for medication when they all come back positive. Kem says Celine should receive support and counseling, too, but Carter says her most pressing need is medicine. He wants Kem to let her into her program, which doesn’t have enough funding to include Celine. The qualifications are strict and a committee picks ten people each month to participate. Meanwhile, the AIDS ward in the hospital Kem works out of is full. She asks Carter who she should exclude to make a spot for Celine.

October: Luka sends Carter the medication from County, adding a bunch of Halloween candy to the package. He invites Elizabeth to throw in a little note saying hi. When Carter gets the package, he shares the candy with Angelique and a new volunteer, Ginny. Angelique sees the note from Elizabeth and asks if she’s blonde (she thinks Elizabeth is a love interest, and I guess she thinks Carter has a type).

Carter takes Ginny to see Celine, who’s eight months pregnant now and nursing one of her young children. Carter gently tells her that she can’t nurse the new baby. Ginny pulls Carter aside to tell him that Celine will have to breastfeed the new baby – she lives in a refugee camp, and the only formula available there has to be mixed with lake or river water, which could be diseased. It’s better for her to take the 3% risk of passing HIV to the baby through her breast milk.

The next time the staff hangs out at the bar, they talk about war and American imperialism again. Trivia: Carter voted for Gore. Angelique explodes on some European volunteer so he’ll finally shut up about the subject. Thank you, Angelique. Everyone goes to dance except Carter and Kem (Peter’s away). They talk about her program, which is going really well. They’re using a combination pill that allows patients to only take two a day, unlike American patients who have to take seven.

Carter asks where Kem is from. Her father was from the Congo and her mother is French. She married a man from England, so Kem grew up in London and spent summers in the Congo with her dad. Carter tells her he’s from Chicago, which she doesn’t seem familiar with. She’s never been to America, though she’s seen it in movies. He invites her to dance.

The two end up talking until the bar closes. Kem asks about Celine, then gets annoyed when Carter admits that he had a friend send some medication from the States. Drugs from outside the country are supposed to be registered with the government. Carter’s spending $1,200 a month on one patient, money Kem could use to treat four people. He’s also doing it without waiting years for funding and approval like Kem has had to. His way isn’t sustainable. Eventually Carter will leave the Congo, and what will happen to Celine then?

Carter apparently plans to keep supplying Celine with medication for the rest of her life. He notes that Kem’s patients’ future will also be uncertain if her funding runs out. Kem says that he can’t start treating a patient when he doesn’t have a guaranteed supply of what she needs. Kem will be able to guarantee her patients a supply once the government sees that her program is successful. She’ll be able to save millions of lives. Carter says he’s just trying to save one. “One’s not enough!” Kem replies. She storms off and Carter jokingly asks if she wants him to walk her home. Read the room, Carter.

Sometime later, Kem goes by the clinic, looking for Celine. She’s told Angelique about the drugs Carter’s gotten from the U.S., and Angelique isn’t happy. But Kem has a new American sponsor who’s going to give her $15,000 a year for the next five years, so now she can admit more patients, including Celine. That sponsor is Carter. Hmm, looks like he just bought his way into Kem’s heart.

Thanksgiving: We revisit the scene where Lily and Chuny were looking at pictures and brought up Carter. Then we go to him and Kem in the Congo, now in a relationship. He asks why she came back to the Congo after getting her education overseas. She explains that she came to settle her father’s affairs after he was killed by rebel soldiers. He was an engineer who spent 30 years trying to improve the water supply in the area. He just drove through the wrong place in the country, where they killed people from his culture.

In the clinic, Carter has a wheelchair race with a boy as the staff and patients cheer them on. Kem comes by to tell Carter that Celine didn’t come to her appointment at the clinic that morning. She was last there two weeks ago, right after her husband died. Her health is good, so something must have happened. They head off with Charles to find her at her refugee camp.

Celine’s fine, but she missed her appointment because her oldest child, Lamia, is sick. They take him to the clinic to treat him for pneumonia. Celine tells Carter she only slept with her husband, never anyone else. (I assume she’s worried he’ll look down on her if he thinks she’s been with a lot of men.) Once he’s done with Lamia, Carter goes outside for a break and encounters Kem. Lamia will need the same medication Celine takes, but they don’t have the right dosage for a child. Carter’s upset that Kem won’t do any work to try to figure out how to get it. She tells him to go home and complain to his government about not helping people from third-world countries. Carter goes out in the rain and yells.

The next day, I guess, Carter goes to see Debbie at her Red Cross clinic and asks her to get a few things while she’s on a supply run in Kinshasa. He wants Christmas decorations and small presents. At home, he wraps some presents for his care package to County, and Kem sees one for Abby and asks who she is. Carter says she’s a friend. At least he hopes she’s still his friend. Kem admits to being a little jealous. Yeah, don’t be.

She announces that she thinks she might be pregnant. She asks if he’s mad, which is a weird thing to say. They’re actually both happy about the news. Even though they’ve only been together for six weeks, and she has a whole program to run, they want to have a baby together.

We catch up to the present, with Abby arriving for her shift on Christmas Eve. This time we see Valerie and Pratt chatting a little; he’s awkward around her now that he knows she has MS. In the Congo, Debbie brings some oxygen to the clinic, which has been running low. She lets Carter believe she had a hard time finding the decorations and presents he wanted, but she’s actually brought a ton of stuff. The American embassy let her take their old decorations.

That night, the staff opens the gifts from County. Carter got a card from County’s staff and a letter updating him on everything he’s missed in Chicago, including Romano’s death. In the morning, the kids are surprised to receive presents. Carter stuffs a pillow down his scrub top and puts on a fake beard to play Santa. He takes a present to Lamia, even though the boy is unconscious and might never wake up. Carter sheds a single tear for the one patient he hasn’t been able to save.

Then we go back to his gift exchange with Kem and his invitation for her to join him in the U.S. He has to go back to settle Millicent’s estate, which he’s been putting off for months. He admits that he ran away from that responsibility, as well as himself. He wasn’t happy because something was missing in his life. Kem doesn’t want to leave her program or her life in the Congo, which Carter understands. He invites her to come visit for a month or two and see what his life is like. Plus, she’ll get great prenatal care in America. Then they’ll figure out where to raise their child. “What was missing in my life isn’t missing anymore,” Carter says.

Thoughts: Like the other Africa episodes, this one has good intentions, but if it didn’t lead to any kin of push for funding to treat or prevent HIV and AIDS in third-world countries, what was the point?

Can we talk about the irony of Carter and Kem apparently having unprotected sex while trying to treat people for an illness commonly spread through unprotected sex?

Luka sending Halloween candy to Carter is so sweet. I like that they’re not rivals anymore.

February 1, 2022

ER 10.8, Freefall: Helicopter 2: The Helicoptering

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:57 pm by Jenn

So long, farewell, don’t come back

Summary: Romano is overseeing a trauma case Abby, Sam, and Neela are working on together. It’s not going well. Abby made the wrong call with medications, and Romano gets Neela to tell him what she should have used instead. (He is, unsurprisingly, racist in the process.) The patient doesn’t make it, but it’s okay because it’s just a practice dummy.

It’s Thanksgiving, but Abby doesn’t have any family in town, so she doesn’t seem too disappointed to have to spend the holiday at work. The ER is busy, and Luka can’t find a room for his patient, Mr. Garland, who has pneumonia. He needs IV antibiotics and isn’t thrilled to be away from his family on Thanksgiving. Luka asks Abby about her training, and she laments that she looked dumb. He thinks she’ll catch on in time.

Frank is annoyed that no one on the night shift decorated the admit area for the holiday. He thought his only responsibility was organizing the staff potluck. Sam has left Alex home alone, which sounds like a disaster in the making. She’s happy to only be working until 3:00, when she’ll get to spend Thanksgiving with her son for the first time in years.

Neela goes to grab a coffee from the desk and learns that the nurses have a coffee club with monthly dues. Looks like Abby’s still in the club. Susan’s overseeing med-student assignments, so maybe she’s more involved with them than I previously thought. Pratt catches Morris picking through charts for a patient who doesn’t have something gross wrong with them. Frank snaps a picture of the two of them with an old camera he found. He wonders what else is on the film roll.

Abby tends to a woman named Loren who worries that she’s having a miscarriage. She’s also HIV-positive. Lily asks Abby to work a nursing shift that night, even though she usually only does them on weekends. Susan offers to let her off her med-student rotation at 5:00 so she can take a nap before clocking back in. Abby resists taking one for the team, but agrees to work if no one else can come in.

Morris examines a man who’s been treating his glaucoma with some special medication his nephew gave him. That “special medication” should stay in his pocket so any cops who happen to be in the ER don’t see it. (That’s my way of saying it’s pot.) Coop is taking care of a man named Fritz who accidentally cut himself with an electric carving knife.

Paramedics bring in a man named Mr. Westbrook who was in a car accident. Pratt and Elizabeth quiz Morris as they start to work, but Morris wants to go back to his glaucoma patient. Pratt chastises him for giving up a great learning opportunity. Abby asks for a second person to be in the room while she performs a pelvic exam, but when Neela offers, Abby turns her down. Luka’s having trouble getting Mr. Garland admitted, but Mr. Garland is very patient and is willing to wait. That makes a total of one patient in the hospital who understands that you can’t always get treated right away.

As Neela learns what a turducken is, Abby does Loren’s pelvic exam and confirms that she’s miscarrying. Loren suddenly passes out, so Abby calls the admit desk to get Frank to find someone who can help her save her patient. Westbrook doesn’t want to be treated at County, so he starts to call his lawyer. (No, I don’t know why he thinks he needs a lawyer.) Pratt tells him he can’t use his cell phone in the ER, but Westbrook ignores him.

Pratt takes the phone from him just as Romano arrives. Westbrook went to Wharton with County’s CEO, which makes him a VIP, so Romano’s there to suck up and berate Pratt for not giving him special treatment. Pratt says he treats all his patients the same. Romano regrets letting Pratt continue working at County after his previous missteps. Pratt refuses to sign any papers allowing Westbrook to be transferred to another hospital, even if tests show he’s stable enough to go. Romano says it doesn’t matter, because Pratt’s fired.

Loren’s stable, despite some blood loss, but she’ll need to have a procedure to complete her miscarriage. Abby acts like it’s not a big deal, but Luka pulls her out of the room to say that because of some fibroids, it won’t be that simple. Abby needs to be more careful about what she tells patients. Pratt has ignored Romano and is still seeing patients. He even tries to get back on Westbrook’s case. Romano tells him that they’ll be meeting with Weaver and Anspaugh at the end of Pratt’s shift. Pratt comments to himself that this is the only way Romano can avoid spending Thanksgiving alone.

Frank snaps another candid picture as various staff members do various medical things. Morris gives his patient a prescription and tells him to stop using pot. Gallant arrives as Luka and Sam tend to patients who have had to hang out in the hallway because the ER is too full for them. Mr. Garland is still being patient; it helps that he likes to people-watch. Luka tells Sam to get restraints for him, which confuses her, since Mr. Garland is totally calm.

Coburn comes to see Loren, who needs exploratory surgery and could need a hysterectomy if Coburn can’t control her bleeding. Loren refuses to consent to that. Abby pulls Coburn out of the room to ask her to consider other options. She thinks Coburn is jumping to the most damaging solution because Loren has HIV.

Romano intervenes and sides with Coburn. He doesn’t think a woman who has HIV should be having children. Abby notes that Loren’s viral load is low and her chances of transmitting HIV to a baby are less than 3%. Romano says Loren will die before her kid turns ten. Coburn agrees to try something less invasive, but she can’t promise not to have to perform a hysterectomy.

Chuck brings Susan some flowers that he says he took from a dead patient at another hospital (I can’t tell if he’s joking or not). He wants to get together that night, but Susan isn’t interested. Westbrook’s transfer has been approved, and Chuck will be one of his flight nurses. Romano declines to accompany his patient to the roof as he’s loaded in the helicopter. Fair.

Abby sends Loren to surgery, promising to scrub in on her procedure later. Coop discharges Fritz, who says he doesn’t need painkillers – he’s immune to pain after ten years of marriage to his wife, Berta. Neela gives a girl helium (apparently it’s used for asthma patients sometimes) and demonstrates some good bedside manner.

Frank tells Romano that Westbrook left his watch in his trauma room, so Romano tells Neela (“Indira”) to take it to the roof. Frank thinks Romano won’t take it himself because he’s scared. Romano takes the bait and says he’ll go with Neela. As they’re leaving, Morris’ patient returns and complains that Morris stole his medication. Morris is currently in an alley, about to smoke that medication.

Luka and Sam take Mr. Garland to the ICU, and Luka uses restraints to attach him to a pillar so the ICU staff can’t get rid of him. Luka lies that Mr. Garland is a troublemaker and might leave against medical advice. He doesn’t buy Kit’s excuse that they can’t take more patients, since the ER accepts more than they can accommodate all the time.

Romano and Neela are quiet as he tries to hide his anxiety in the elevator on the way to the roof. The muzak is Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” When they reach the roof, Romano has a bit of a staredown with the helicopter. He stays in the elevator while Neela takes the watch to Westbrook. As Chuck is loading Westbrook on the helicopter, a flight nurse from the hospital where they’re taking Westbrook says that they’re at capacity and Chuck can’t come. Chuck says he has to, for insurance purposes, so the other nurse will have to leave.

Romano rushes back downstairs and outside to the ambulance bay, needing fresh air. He spots Morris smoking and sends him to the admit desk for a timeout. He’s not allowed to move until Romano comes to get him. On the roof, Neela and a nurse head back to the elevator after putting Westbrook on the helicopter. A strap on their gurney gets caught and they pause to free it. The helicopter suddenly comes back down, spinning on its side. Debris flies at Neela and the nurse, and a big chunk of metal hits the nurse in the back. The helicopter tips over and falls off the roof.

In the ICU, Luka and Sam are bickering over whether it’s okay to force the staff to admit Mr. Garland. Outside, the helicopter explodes, rocking the hospital. It falls out of the sky into the ambulance bay, landing right on top of Romano. No, really. No, REALLY. Romano is dead, and it’s because a helicopter fell on him. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

The ER staff starts preparing for mass traumas. Abby tells Susan that there was a helicopter crash, and Susan immediately worries that Chuck was involved. At this moment, she realizes she cares about him more than she thought. Abby gives Neela and Lester a crash course on triage and sends them to the ambulance bay to assess patients. Morris stays put at the admit desk, since Romano told him not to move.

Susan goes outside to see how bad the situation is. Uh, it’s bad. A bunch of people are hurt and a bunch of stuff is on fire. Susan is still worried about Chuck, but she has to set that aside to take care of a patient. Fritz is hurt but wants the staff to work on Berta first. Abby tells Susan she can go wait inside and let everyone else take care of the patients, but Susan isn’t going to sit out a mass trauma, even though she’s having trouble keeping her emotions under control.

The ICU is on fire and the phone lines are dead, so the staff can’t call for help from other departments. Luka has to undo Mr. Garland’s restraints to move him to safety, but he can’t find the key. Freaking A, Luka. Back outside, the staff is moving quickly to get patients into the ER. A firefighter tells Susan that so far, four people have been declared dead. Abby again gives Susan the chance to sit this out, but Susan won’t take it.

Luka tries to help a woman whose intubation melted because of the fire. ICK. He and Sam are both keeping their cool as they deal with critical patients in the middle of a smoky room. Weaver arrives outside, relieving Susan of her position as the current highest-ranking staff member. She’s not happy that Susan doesn’t know where Luka and Romano are, since she’s supposed to be the incident commander, but when Susan tells her that Chuck was on the helicopter, Weaver backs off.

Weaver joins Gallant to treat Fritz as Berta is taking up to surgery. Anspaugh has also arrived, having selflessly skipped out on Thanksgiving dinner to come lend a hand. Staff members transport patients around, including Dwight, who may have a concussion. Pratt praises Severa for continuing to work with an injured hand.

And then, like an angel from Heaven, Chuck steps off an elevator. He got taken off the flight at the last minute and has brought down another patient instead. Coop, who’s working with Susan, spots Chuck across the ER and comments that he thought Chuck was dead. Chuck gives Susan a wave through the window, having no clue that she thought the worst had happened. She runs to him and grabs him in a tight hug. He complains that the flight nurse who came with the helicopter wouldn’t let him fly with her. Susan points out that that woman saved his life. She has to go back to work, but she takes a moment to be relieved that he’s okay, with just a scrape on his back.

Luka’s having trouble with his patient in the ICU, and the department is short-staffed, so it’s basically just him, Sam, and Kit taking care of everyone. Luka finally stabilizes his patient, then goes to help Kit as Sam heads to the OR to get some more supplies. In the ER, Pratt is tending to a patient with a carotid injury that’s left him paralyzed. From the next trauma room, Weaver tells him to send the patient to surgery. Pratt doesn’t think he’ll live that long, so he preps for a procedure in the trauma room.

Coop’s asthma is acting up, so he takes some helium, which of course makes him sound funny. Suddenly Chuck collapses in an exam room. Abby realizes his back is bleeding. Neela goes looking for a doctor, but everyone’s busy. She goes back to Abby, who’s working with Lester to revive Chuck. He needs to be intubated, but none of the med students wants to take the lead. Abby steps up and gets it done, but Chuck has an injury to his spleen and needs a central line, something an attending usually handles.

Luka, Sam, and Kit are working on the last critical patient in the ICU. Trivia: Sam used to be a surgical tech. Somehow, there’s an OR available, and Anspaugh takes the patient right up, complaining that he has to miss Thanksgiving. Oh, wah. At least you don’t have metal in your spleen like poor Chuck does. Sam realizes she’s two hours past the time she was supposed to go home. Luka tells Mr. Garland that his burns aren’t too bad. “I liked it better downstairs,” Mr. Garland replies. “I only had pneumonia downstairs.”

Fritz doesn’t make it, and once Weaver declares him dead, she goes next door to check in with Pratt. He couldn’t get a surgeon to take his patient up, so he’s doing the procedure Weaver told him not to do. She’s surprised to see that the procedure worked and the patient is no longer paralyzed. I’m sure Pratt will get yelled at later, but for now, it’s hard to argue with his results.

Neela goes looking for an attending again, which is how Susan learns that Chuck is now a patient. Abby admits to doing procedures she wasn’t supposed to as a med student, but she gets Susan to sign the paperwork saying she did them. Elizabeth comes to get Chuck so he can go to surgery. Susan heads up with them, tearfully thanking Abby for saving his life. Abby and Neela have their first quiet moment in hours, wondering if the chaos is over.

Later, Coburn tells Abby that she tried to be conservative while treating Loren but she ultimately had to do a hysterectomy. I think Abby’s just grateful that she considered all her options before making the decision. Alex arrives, excited because there was a big disaster. He invites Luka to join him and Sam for dinner at a diner, since Sam didn’t have time to cook. Sam resists, but Alex talks her into letting him come.

Anspaugh goes to get Pratt so they can have their meeting with Romano, who’s MIA (of course). Weaver is still tending to a patient and tells them to fill her in later. Romano has sent Anspaugh a bunch of Pratt’s disciplinary letters, and it’s enough to merit a suspension, but Anspaugh doesn’t buy any of it. Since Romano’s the only one who’s complained, and he didn’t bother to show up to this meeting, Anspaugh won’t take him seriously. Plus, he saw Pratt in action today and knows he’s a great doctor.

Alex wants French toast for dinner. No one cares. He’s annoyed with Sam for ruining their Thanksgiving, and he starts to burn a little figurine in the candle on the table. Luka wisely excuses himself. Sam asks Alex why he invited Luka, and why he considers a man over the age of 30 his friend. She knows Alex is trying to fix them up. Alex says Luka’s his friend, not Sam’s.

Abby gave some orders for a patient hours ago, but because of all the chaos, none of the nurses completed them. Abby confuses the patient by saying she’ll do it, since she’s a nurse now. Lester and Neela ask Abby a couple of questions about treatments, and she demonstrates her medical knowledge. Someone took the time to develop the pictures Frank took earlier, and Lily and Chuny laugh over one of Pratt. Morris is still at the desk, since Romano hasn’t let him out of timeout. Pratt can’t believe he sat out the entire mass casualty.

The other pictures on the film roll are from a couple Christmases ago, and Chuny points out Mark to Neela. Lily gives Abby one of her with Romano in the background. There’s a staff photo that includes Mark and Carter, and Lily asks if anyone has heard from Carter recently. Frank says he sent a postcard a month ago. Chuny asks how he is, and Abby says she doesn’t know. Cut to Carter in the Congo, with a beard and a woman named Kem who wants him to come back to bed. So I’d say he’s doing pretty well.

Chuck is out of surgery, and Susan visits him with the flowers he gave her earlier. He jokes that he should fake his death more often. He knew the two of them would end up spending the evening together. Awww, you guys, she loves him! Outside, Abby returns from a coffee run and meets up with Neela, who’s impressed with how well they handled the day’s crisis. It was a roller-coaster. She usually hates them, but she liked this one. Abby offers her coffee, and Neela says she’s not in the club, but Abby bought an extra one. Meanwhile, a crew lifts up the helicopter and finds Romano’s body underneath.

Thoughts: Kem is played by the fantastic Thandie Newton, who is ten times more talented than she ever gets to show in this series.

I have to wonder what went through Paul McCrane’s (Romano) head when he found out how his character was going to die. “A helicopter? Again? …Seriously?”

Ugh, naming a German character Fritz is so lazy.

The scene where Susan and Chuck reunite gets me every time. Even if you don’t like or care about them together, you have to enjoy that moment.

September 14, 2021

ER 9.10, Hindsight: One of the Writers Saw “Memento” So Now We Have to Watch a Backward Episode

Posted in TV tagged , , at 4:56 pm by Jenn

Sorry not sorry I find broody Luka so hot

Summary: An ambulance is carrying a patient to the hospital, along with a passenger one of the paramedics thinks is from County. In the ER, Frank is trying to spread Christmas cheer by dressing as Santa, but he’s not great at it. (We learn later that Christmas is the following week.) The kids keep getting scared. Abby tries to get Pratt to stick around in case he’s needed, but he’s not feeling as generous as the holiday should make him feel.

In one of the trauma rooms, Susan looks grim. Abby approaches a woman named Laura and escorts her into the trauma room, where her fiancé, Rick, is unconscious. He thought he was stressed from exams, but clearly something more serious was going on. Some carolers are singing in the hallway, and Weaver practically bah-humbugs them. Susan and Abby tell her how poorly Rick is doing. Weaver orders Abby to get Luka back to the hospital. Abby tries to argue that he’s not ready. Susan says he missed what was wrong with Rick, and Abby says Luka’s burned out.

Jerry’s dressed as Santa, too, so now we have dueling Santas. Romano’s staying out of that. (He’s also staying out of the episode, since this is the only time we see him.) The ambulance arrives, carrying Harkins and Luka. Luka just has some cuts and scrapes, but Harkins is in bad shape. Gallant clearly blames Luka. Luka says Harkins was walking at the scene, but now she’s pretty unresponsive. Gallant asks Luka what happened.

To find that out, we have to go back in time. Oh, yeah, this episode moves backward. We join Luka and Harkins in his car, which has crashed. To add insult to injury, Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is blaring on the radio. Luka tells Harkins to call 911 while he goes to check on the people in the car they hit. On his way, he spots a homeless person putting a giant plastic candy cane in a shopping cart.

The people in the other car are a father and son, and the father doesn’t realize that Luka was the other driver. The kid, Dwayne (talk about adding insult to injury – don’t name your kid Dwayne), is having trouble breathing, so Luka goes back to his car to get a toolkit. He needs pliers for something. Harkins is mad at Luka, like, that can wait; let’s take care of people’s injuries first.

When they get back to the other car, Dwayne is unconscious. Luka uses a scalpel to cut into his airway, then removes whatever’s blocking it. After paramedics take the father and son away, Harkins, who’s been struggling to stay upright, collapses. Luka thinks she might have internal injuries.

In the ambulance on the way to County, Luka tries to take control of Harkins’ care. The paramedic in the back with him doesn’t want to do anything too invasive, but Luka knows that Harkins will go into cardiac arrest without…whatever it is he needs to do. He stabilizes her, then broods.

We rewind again to the moments just before the car crash. Luka’s driving too fast on icy roads while bickering with Harkins about a medical case. He thinks she’s too inexperienced to know what she’s talking about. As they fly around a corner, Harkins spots the same homeless person who picked up the candy cane. Luka swerves to avoid hitting him.

Rewind! Chen tells Luka that the OR is ready for a preteen patient named Jane. He lets her take over the case, even though he caught whatever’s wrong with Jane because he insisted that she have a head CT. Abby finds Luka in the lounge, planning to leave his shift early (he was filling in for someone anyway). Abby lectures him that what he does outside the hospital only remains his personal business until it prevents him from doing his job or hurts his patients. She wonders if he even cares that there’s a kid in the ER who’s as good as dead.

Luka obviously cares, but he can’t bring himself to respond to her. He leaves the lounge without a word. On the street, Harkins catches up to him and asks him to get coffee with her. She thinks he could use some company. Luka says he must have given her the wrong idea last night. Harkins assures him that he didn’t. She asks him to give her a ride home.

Rewind: Susan, Harkins, and Chuny are tending to Rick. Abby’s also in the trauma room, looking shell-shocked. Luka thought Rick had the flu, so he stayed in the waiting area for longer than he should have, since no one thought he was a critical case. Susan asks Abby about Luka’s treatment choices, but Abby doesn’t know what he did. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough to help Rick. Abby says that Rick was a lot sicker than anyone realized.

Rewind: Susan, Luka (who has a small cut on his cheek), Chuny, and Harkins try to stabilize Rick, who isn’t breathing on his own. Luka has trouble intubating him. Harkins determines that Rick has suffered some sort of brain injury. Luka goes to update Laura, reporting that Rick has leukemia but didn’t know it. If he’d gotten blood tests earlier, he could have received the proper treatment in time. Unfortunately, he went too long without oxygen and probably won’t recover.

Laura’s understandably upset that Rick wasn’t treated sooner. Luka agrees that he should have received better care. Laura asks if Luka believes in God, or believes God punishes people. He tells her this wasn’t God’s doing. She asks him to pray with her, but Luka tries to pass her off to a hospital chaplain. Laura ignores him and takes his hand to start praying.

Rewind: Luka has started treating Rick and thinks he’s about to stabilize. He tells Susan that Rick had pulmonary edema (fluid in his lungs) and had to be intubated. Susan realizes that that intubation went into Rick’s esophagus, which means he hasn’t been receiving enough oxygen. Luka first blames the difficult sight line through Rick’s vocal cords, then says a nurse might have accidentally moved the tube. Chuny gives him a great “I KNOW you didn’t just say that” look.

Susan offers to take over Rick’s care, but Luka keeps working. The team finally gets Rick’s blood work, which alerts them that he has leukemia. That’s making him bleed, which has led to sepsis. Luka tells Susan that Rick just had a simple fever when he came in. There was no reason to believe that he had anything other than the flu.

Rewind: Luka tells Harkins that an operation could save Jane; Harkins should have done what Luka told her to do when he told her to do it. He adds that whatever happens outside the hospital shouldn’t affect their work. Harkins asks if this is about last night. Oh, boy, I hope whatever happened last night is worth all this build-up!

They go to Rick’s trauma room, informing him that he’ll need to be intubated and put on a ventilator. Rick’s last words before being intubated are instructions for Laura to hock her engagement ring if she needs money. Luka has trouble intubating Rick (as we already know), and he has Chuny take Laura out of the room, since she’s starting to panic. Since Rick starts stabilizing after the intubation, it makes sense that Luka wouldn’t realize he’d done something wrong.

Rewind: Pratt suggests that Frank dress like Santa every day. “Why not? You dress like a doctor,” Frank shoots back. Yosh is looking for tinsel, which for some reason is in the drug lock-up. Also, there was a “security breach” and one of the branches on Yosh’s menorah got bent. Fun fact: Yosh converted to Judaism at some point. Pratt compares him to Sammy Davis, Jr. Ah, yes, the only other person of color to ever convert to Judaism. Thanks for your input, Pratt.

A detective comes in asking for information on a man named Vladko, who was assaulted. Luka and Pratt treated him but claim not to remember what happened to Vladko’s attacker. They tell the detective he can look around. Abby tells Luka that Rick’s hemoglobin is low, so they should give him a more extensive work-up. Luka doesn’t seem too concerned, and he needs to stabilize Jane first, so he passes the job on to Abby.

Jane is seizing, and Luka’s annoyed that she’s still in the ER instead of having a CT. Harkins says they’re backed up, but Luka doesn’t accept that as an excuse. He tells Harkins to let CT know that he’s bringing Jane up whether they’re ready for her or not. But first he has to go tend to Rick, who’s starting to show signs of having fluid in his lungs. Luka gives some treatment instructions, then ducks out to take Jane up for her CT.

Rewind: Luka and Abby examine Rick, who doesn’t seem too sick. Luka says he shouldn’t have to stick around too long for treatment. He gives Abby instructions for tests, disagreeing with her suggestion that they check his hemoglobin. He thinks Rick just needs to be hydrated. Abby asks if she and Luka are okay, after last night. Luka looks blank, so she clarifies that something happened in a bedroom. He doesn’t remember – he was drunk. He brushes that off and tells Abby not to worry so much about Rick. He just has the flu.

Rewind: Susan is tending to Luka, who’s just received the cut on his cheek. Someone dressed as an elf punched him. As Laura thanks Luka for looking after Rick, the elf tries to excuse his punch by claiming he was just reaching up for something. Abby chats with Rick and Laura, who are about to have a visit from his parents. Laura thinks they don’t approve of the couple’s engagement (they’re only 19 and 20) or of Laura in general. Rick and Laura are going to elope to Reno on New Year’s Eve.

Susan cleans up Luka’s cut and lightly chastises herself for hosting a party last night even though she had to work today. She’s on call through the holidays since she’s single and doesn’t have a family. Luka says he doesn’t mind working on Christmas; the holiday isn’t what it’s supposed to be anymore. He and his family used to spend lots of time together, but with them gone, he doesn’t do anything. Susan invites him to come to her place for Christmas dinner and hang out with her and her friends who can’t get home for the holidays.

Rewind: Luka and Pratt take care of an old man who wants to file charges against his attacker. His daughter arrives and asks about what happened. She’s upset that the hospital is also treating her father’s attacker. They shouldn’t be helping the person who attacked a harmless old man.

In the hallway, Pratt tells Luka that they should just be honest about what happened. Luka argues that they’re dealing with an 80-year-old man who was just trying to outrun his past. At the admit desk, Frank tries to get rid of two elves who are trying to get in to see their friend. He’s using Yosh’s menorah as a kind of cattle prod to get them to back off. When Frank asks if the guys don’t have reindeer to milk, one of the elves throws a punch, hitting Luka instead.

Rewind: Abby asks Harkins if she got home okay the night before. She warns Harkins to be careful. People are gossiping about her and Luka. Harkins insists that there’s nothing going on. Abby tells her that Luka doesn’t always think things through. Pratt and Luka tend to their old guy while next door, Gallant is trying to calm another old guy, obviously this guy’s attacker. The two men yell at each other until Gallant takes his patient to surgery.

Rewind: Luka and Harkins examine Jane, who was at hockey practice when she suffered a head injury. Luka tells Harkins to make sure she gets a CT. His shift is supposed to be over, but he decides to hang around until Jane is discharged. Gallant offers to show Harkins some interesting case, then asks how long she stayed at Susan’s the night before. So clearly a) Gallant has a crush on Harkins and b) he doesn’t know she left the party with Luka.

Rewind: Pratt and Luka chat with their older patient, finally cluing us in that he’s the man who attacked Vladko. The man, Ivo, reveals that Vladko worked for the Ustasha, Croatia’s version of the Gestapo. He told them where to find Ivo’s family. Ivo was able to hide, but his whole family was taken away and he never saw them again. Seeing Vladko 60 years later, living his life like he never committed atrocities, set Ivo off. He remembers Vladko’s face like he just saw him yesterday. Obviously this is when Luka decides to help Ivo evade arrest.

Rewind: Chen arrives to fill in for someone. She wants to know what’s going on with Luka and Harkins; they were dancing at Susan’s party. Luka has been at work for a couple of hours, hungover, and it sounds like he’s the one Chen is there to take over for. Paramedics arrive with Ivo, and when Luka learns that he’s Croatian, he offers to stick around and translate, if necessary. Abby tells him he can go.

Rewind: Weaver’s impatiently waiting for Luka to arrive. Carter pops into the episode for the first time so we can learn that he’s going to Boston for the holidays. Luka and Harkins arrive at the same time, and Weaver tells Luka he’ll only need to stay for a couple of hours until Chen can come in. Frank, Yosh, and Chuny notice that he and Harkins came in together. Gallant doesn’t think Harkins is the type to hook up with an attending. Carter passes his patients on to Luka, telling him Jane is complaining of a migraine and Rick seems to have the flu. So Luka wasn’t the only one who didn’t think Rick’s case was serious.

Rewind: Abby tries to nicely shoot down Frank’s plan to dress as Santa. Weaver asks Abby to call Luka and have him come in; she has to go to a meeting and the ER is busy. Abby knows he’s not in good shape to work, but Weaver doesn’t listen to her. When Abby calls Luka’s apartment, Harkins answers. Abby doesn’t recognize her voice. She tells Luka to come in for a couple of hours, and when he resists, Weaver orders him in. Harkins realizes she shouldn’t have answered the phone.

Rewind: The staff does a Secret Santa gift exchange at Susan’s party. She winds up with edible underwear, and Carter gets fuzzy handcuffs. These people learned nothing from “Secrets and Lies.” Gallant and Harkins seem pretty close, even sharing a cup. Abby’s present is a snow globe, but her Secret Santa doesn’t identify him- or herself.

Abby and Carter get ready to leave, since he has a night shift. She goes to the bedroom to get her coat and runs into Luka. He turns a key on the bottom of the snow globe, which plays “What Child Is This?” (That’s a pretty good indication that he was her Secret Santa.) He notes that he and Abby don’t talk much anymore. She says they should fix that. They can get coffee sometime or have dinner with Carter. Luka touches her arm and says he misses her. Abby thinks this is the alcohol talking, so they should wait until another time to have this conversation.

Luka says that Abby doesn’t seem happy. She says she is. He wants her to be happy, but if she’s not, she should admit it. He admits that he made mistakes in their relationship. “Don’t make another one,” she warns. She heads out with Carter as Luka continues drinking. Harkins invites Luka to come dance with everyone else, telling him when he declines that she’s not going anyway.

Sometime later, the two end up at his apartment. She’s not there to sleep with him – she seems to just want to make sure he’s okay – but when he turns on the charm, no one can blame her for giving in. Harkins doesn’t resist a kiss from him, though she says she’ll sleep on the couch. Luka asks why she wants to be a doctor. He became one to help people. She assures him that he does that every day. Luka continues that he just helps strangers, and he won’t be doing that tomorrow, since he won’t be working.

We jump back (well, forward) to the beginning of the episode. As Weaver, Susan, and Abby work on Harkins, Gallant asks Luka what happened. All Luka says is that Harkins needed a ride home.

Thoughts: Three recognizable guest stars in this episode:

I hate stunt episodes! Hate them! (When we get to the Buffy episode “Once More, With Feeling,” I’ll deny ever saying this.)

Today we mourn the loss of Luka’s Viper. I cared about it more than Harkins.

May 8, 2021

Felicity 4.8, The Last Thanksgiving: Look at This Bunch of Turkeys

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:10 pm by Jenn

Felicity is all of us

Summary: Felicity is painting at the dorm apartment when Meghan calls to tell her she’s working on a spell to get Felicity and Ben back together. It involves hair and unicorn root. Felicity is skeptical, but Meghan has confidence in the spell – it’s the same one she used to get the Spice Girls back together. They’re not currently back together, but Meghan’s sure they will be sometime. She’s been so busy with the spell that she forgot that Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

Meghan invites Felicity, but Sean reminds her that Ben is coming, so Felicity shouldn’t be there. Meghan also remembers that their oven is broken (Sean melted some shoes in it) and asks if they can cook at the apartment. Felicity doesn’t want to hang out with Ben if it’ll make him uncomfortable, but the idea of having one last Thanksgiving with all her friends appeals to her, so she gives in.

Noel’s brother Ryan is in town for the holiday, and he bugs Noel about keeping in touch with their mother, who doesn’t know that he’s supposedly gotten his life together. Meghan invites Ben to Thanksgiving at Felicity’s without telling him it’ll be at Felicity’s. Ben was planning to spend the holiday at the hospital with his father anyway. As he leaves, Noel comes in with Ryan, and there’s a lot of awkwardness. Sean and Meghan invite them to the group dinner, which Noel wisely wants to avoid.

At Dean & DeLuca, Javier tells Felicity that he and Samuel have been fighting a lot. Javier has brought Mami with him so they can both get a break. Felicity invites him to Thanksgiving so the show can justify Javier being there instead of with his husband. Ben arrives for a shift and ignores Felicity (and also the fact that there’s a cat drinking from a mug). She urges him to come to Thanksgiving so he doesn’t have to spend it alone.

Ugh, do I have to deal with Elena and Trevor? I do? UGH. Trevor admits that he failed some low-level English course his freshman year, so he’s retaking it. Meghan arrives with food, happy to learn that Tammy and Gaby are away for the holiday. Elena and Trevor get invited to dinner, which Elena didn’t know was happening there, so…great job, Felicity. But after Trevor leaves, Elena admonishes Meghan for inviting Trevor, since she’s not sure she wants to date Trevor now that she knows he’s not that bright. Meghan offers to bring her some sort of test.

Lauren and Ben visit Mr. C., who’s doing a lot better, then try to figure out what to do for Thanksgiving dinner. He tells her he was invited to one but doesn’t want to go. Lauren talks him into going. Noel admits to Ryan that he got fired from his new job and screwed up all the dynamics in his friend group by sleeping with Felicity. Ryan knows about the whole Noel/Felicity saga and says his brother isn’t making very good decisions. Noel doesn’t like having his older brother question him. He should just be on Noel’s side.

Meghan gives Elena her intelligence test, noting that since people have to take a test before they get a driver’s license, people should also have to take a test before they date. Ben and Lauren arrive, making Meghan think her spell is working. She gives Javier a death glare for being nice to Lauren. Felicity tells Meghan and Javier that everything’s fine; Lauren is just friends with Ben, and even if she were more than a friend, Ben is allowed to see other people. Felicity’s nice to Ben, who’s cold to her. Where’s your spirit of giving thanks, Ben?

Noel mopes at Epstein Bar, where a woman named Dana shows interest in him. Javier tries to make Ben feel bad about bringing another woman to Thanksgiving at his ex’s place. Ben promises he’s not trying to hurt Felicity. Javier tells Mami he’s just trying to help. Meanwhile, Lauren chats with Felicity, and they’re both friendly with each other. The temperature drops about 30 degrees when Ben joins them.

Elena and Trevor take a break for a makeout session, but she gets turned off when he mentions using Cliff’s Notes for an assignment. She pretends she’s having trouble with a med-school application because she can’t remember which planets are between the sun and Earth. Trevor says they’re Mars and Venus, and why does Elena need to know that to get into med school?

Noel and Dana go to a hotel together as dinner starts at the dorm apartment. Javier’s sad that this is probably the gang’s last Thanksgiving together, but they all know that nothing lasts forever. He wants them all to put the group’s drama aside and be thankful that they’re together. Meghan asks Elena about the test, which Trevor is already failing. Meghan gets annoyed when Ben and Lauren start having a conversation between themselves. Elena quizzes Trevor on the capital of Washington. Trevor doesn’t know it, but Sean does. Javier’s just bored by the conversation at his end of the table.

Meghan decides to help the Felicity/Ben thing along but offering to set Lauren up with someone. She talks about how hard it is for women to find guys. Trevor says it’s hard for guys, too, though Javier says he’s never had any trouble getting dates. Lauren says she’s not ready to date again after a bad breakup with a guy she’s been in love with since high school.

Sean and Ben try to get Meghan to back off. Meghan plays innocent about intending to sir up trouble. She and Sean disagree about whether Ben did anything wrong. Javier tries to defuse the tension by suggesting a game of Yahtzee. Ben says the only thing he did was waste the last year and a half of his life. OUCH. Felicity just gets up and leaves the table. As Ben follows her, Meghan criticizes Javier for suggesting Yahtzee. Felicity tells Ben she doesn’t know how many times she can apologize. If it’s so hard for Ben to be around her, why did he come to dinner? He tells her it was a mistake, and he and Lauren leave.

Ryan is the only person at the loft when Noel calls looking for help. Dana robbed him and left him handcuffed to a bed, naked. Gee, Noel, I don’t know why Ryan thinks you’re making bad decisions. He’s also upset that Noel ditched him for Thanksgiving. Ryan in turn ditches Noel, leaving him to be rescued by a locksmith.

Ben feels bad that he took Lauren to a disastrous dinner, but she’s used to it, since her family is kind of crazy. She can see that Ben and Felicity still have some things to work out, and she thinks he should call Felicity. Back at the apartment, Elena tells Trevor that Meghan is Wiccan, then asks if he knows when the winter solstice is. Sean knows this one, too. He figures out that Elena is giving Trevor Meghan’s intelligence test.

Felicity apologizes to her friends for the horrible evening, as if it’s her fault. Javier decides to go home to his husband, and Trevor decides to distance himself from a woman who thinks he’s dumb. Elena says she just wanted to figure out if they’re right for each other. Clearly, they’re not. Trevor leaves as Ben returns, making Meghan think her spell is going to be successful.

Ben tells Felicity he’s sorry for bringing Lauren. Not the problem, dude. He admits that he wanted to hurt Felicity because she hurt him. Every time he looks at her, he wants the pain to stop. He’s ready to leave, but she asks him to stay a few more minutes. He sits next to her on the bed and slowly takes her hand. They kiss, then get horizontal. So…that’s it?

Elena’s now regretting giving Trevor the intelligence test, since maybe it doesn’t matter how smart he is. Javier returns, announcing that he’s leaving Samuel. Mami’s sick and Samuel doesn’t care, so Javier doesn’t want to be with him anymore. Noel finds Ryan outside the loft and promises to call their mother and tell her that his life is kind of a disaster right now. Ryan mentions that their father had depressive episodes when they were kids; Ryan has had them, too, and thinks Noel might be in the same boat. It helps to talk to someone when he’s down.

Elena finds Trevor at Epstein Bar and shows him one of her med-school applications, which is blank in the section where she’s supposed to list extracurricular activities. She’s spent so much time studying in college that she doesn’t have anything to put there. Maybe education and intelligence aren’t everything. Trevor thinks she should write that she tutored people, because she’s really good at it. Also, he doesn’t feel dumb with her, so he’s okay with their imbalance of intelligence. He offers to tutor her in playing darts.

After moping for a while at the loft, Noel calls Pavone to ask for a referral for a therapist. At the dorm apartment, Ben follows up sex with the desire to flee, thinking he made a mistake. A year ago, he would have felt like he deserved to be cheated on, but now he knows he doesn’t. He says he’ll call Felicity later, then leaves.

Thoughts: Why would Meghan care about getting the Spice Girls back together? Sounds like a waste of unicorn root.

Elena giving Trevor an intelligence test makes her look like the dumb one.

Do you think anyone invited Richard to the group dinner? Do you think he was upset that Mami got to come and he didn’t?

April 13, 2021

ER 8.10, I’ll Be Home for Christmas: Does Santa Visit Perjurers in Jail?

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:57 pm by Jenn

Benton, you have a child. Please learn how to hug

Summary: It’s December 13th and Carter is horrified that Susan rooted for the Suns while living in Phoenix. They appear to be dating, but they’re acting the way they always have, so it’s hard to tell. Susan makes Carter buy her breakfast at the Roach Coach as he takes a phone call from Jack. He reports to Susan that for the first time in nine years, his parents will be in Chicago for the holidays.

At County, Romano is in a good mood and wants to share some Christmas cheer with Benton by enlisting him for an operation on an alderman. Benton wants to discuss his schedule first, since he needs more flexible hours to spend time with Reese. Romano pressures him to accept his surgery offer instead.

An enthusiastic Santa is ringing a bell and asking for donations in the ER. She complains that no one will give a break to “a female Santa in a man’s world.” Weaver tells her she can’t ask for donations in the hospital. Ms. Santa says she works at the Salvation Army, but when Weaver asks to see her ID, Ms. Santa admits that she just eats there.

Luka arrives late for work and isn’t very apologetic about it. Abby asks Chuny when Weaver’s going on Christmas vacation. Chuny calls her Scrooge and says she’ll never leave. Abby tries to lighten the mood with Luka, but he’s mopey because no one knows where Nicole is. Apparently she stole from her last job, too, so she’s burned a lot of bridges in Chicago. No wonder she wanted to go to Canada. He finally admits that Abby was right about Nicole being a habitual liar.

Sandy brings in a couple of kids who are slightly injured, but not so badly that they can’t fight with each other. She reminds Weaver that they were supposed to make plans to get together, but Weaver never called. She’s clearly gun-shy about getting into a relationship, and she’s also clearly worried about her co-workers finding out she’s a lesbian.

Susan asks Benton to check out a cut a man (later ID’d as Stan) sustained while running from police at the airport. He didn’t have a ticket or any ID. Stan says he’s going to miss his flight, but if he doesn’t have ID, he’s not getting on a plane, so… He also doesn’t appear to know who he is. Benton notices Ms. Prager across the ER and ditches Susan and Stan.

In the lounge, Ms. Prager tells Benton that Judge Alter has denied some motion she filed, and now wants Reese to pick which father he wants to live with. Um, what? He’s four! No judge would ask a four-year-old to make that decision! Ms. Prager says he wants Reese’s opinion, which is totally reasonable, but…come on. If he says he wants to live with Mickey Mouse, will the judge send him to Disney World? Ms. Prager is annoyed that Benton keeps trying to fight Roger when Roger is willing to compromise on visitation. Benton refuses again, so Ms. Prager warns that he’s making Roger look like the better option.

Weaver chats with Sandy again, finally extending a lunch invitation. Sandy recognizes Stan, who’s serenading the ER, and tells Susan he’s homeless. Stan tells Susan that whatever Sandy told her isn’t true. He has amnesia and definitely isn’t this guy who sounds like a rough character. If he were smart, he’d clean up, get a suit, and go to the airport instead of spending the day on the street, alone, at Christmastime.

Benton has made at least a small compromise and has agreed to meet with Roger and Wharton before they’re supposed to see Judge Alter. They want Roger to get visitation with Reese every other weekend, plus two weeks in the summer (a common arrangement for divorced parents). Ms. Prager wants to renegotiate for a little less time, but Benton refuses the deal outright. He announces that he won’t negotiate his time with his own son. Roger notes that he’ll have to take his chances with the judge.

Carter visits Millicent in her no-doubt super-expensive medical facility, where Jack is already with her. He’s alone, since Eleanor won’t be in town until later in the week. Carter and Millicent are both happy to have Jack with them for Christmas, but Jack clearly doesn’t feel the same. Oh, go be WASP-y in Aspen or Aruba or wherever rich white people go for the holidays. No one wants you here anyway.

Back at the courthouse, Alter uses a sign-language interpreter to ask Reese about his two dads. He calls Benton “Daddy” and Roger his other daddy. Alter asks which dad gives him better care when he gets hurt. Reese says Roger, but it’s because his Band-Aids have cartoon characters on them. And that’s why you don’t ask a four-year-old which parent he wants to live with.

December 19th: The custody trial continues, and Roger talks about how much time he’s spent with Reese – more time than Benton has. He makes Reese a priority, which is what’s in his best interest. Carter meets Jack at Doc Magoo’s for lunch, which is just hilarious. Carter wants to know why Eleanor is still in Costa Rica, especially since her mother-in-law is in the hospital. Jack announces that 1) Eleanor isn’t coming after all, and 2) they’re getting divorced. Carter immediately guesses that someone had an affair, then that Eleanor got bored with her marriage. Jack reveals that he’s the one who left.

Back in court, Benton testifies that he let Carla take on a lot of the parenting while he pursued his career, but it felt right because Reese was with his mother. Now that things have changed, Benton is going to adjust his hours so he can spend more time with Reese. He’ll work regular hours on weekdays and have all weekends off. The judge asks for proof of the new schedule by the end of the day.

As soon as court is adjourned, Benton tries to call Romano, who’s in surgery. He starts to head to County, but Roger pulls his car up behind Benton’s to confront him for lying about his schedule change. He thinks Benton is treating Reese like a prize to be won so he can give Jackie a son to replace Jesse. Benton moves toward him like a punch is going to be thrown, but Roger makes it clear that that action will send him straight to Alter. He tells Benton he can’t change who he is.

Weaver and Sandy meet up for their lunch date but can’t find the restaurant they were going to go to. They decide to go to Weaver’s place and order in instead. At County, Benton tries to talk to Romano about his schedule again. Romano is willing to listen this time, but he won’t give Benton nights and weekends off. They work in an urban trauma center; they can’t schedule when emergencies happen. Benton will work when Romano wants him to or not at all.

In response, Benton resigns. His bluff called, Romano agrees to give Benton weekends off. It’s not enough, so Benton says he’ll finish out the week, then be gone. Romano yells after him that he’s giving up a major career so he can play Mr. Mom. Um, that’s Dr. Mom, sir. Actually, it’s Dr. Dad, because the term “Mr. Mom” is ridiculous, but I don’t expect Romano to grasp that.

Abby takes a newborn to the OB floor after he was brought in by paramedics. The mom went into labor in a department store, and the baby was delivered by a shoe salesman. I hope he got a big Christmas bonus for that. And I hope the kid gets free shoes for life. As she’s leaving, Abby spots Nicole in a recovery room. She reads in Nicole’s chart that she really was pregnant, but she isn’t anymore. (It’s not clear if she miscarried or had an abortion. Your guess is as good as mine.)

Benton goes to the clinic where Cleo now works and tells her he quit his job. She told him there’s a position open there, so Benton asks to meet the person doing the hiring ASAP, so he can get proof of his new job and hours. Cleo reminds him that she just started working there, so she can’t ask her new colleagues for favors this quickly.

Abby waits until Nicole’s out of recovery and tells her that Luka’s been looking for her. She wants to know why Nicole told Luka she wasn’t pregnant. Nicole says it’s none of her business. Abby apologizes for accusing Nicole of lying, but Nicole doesn’t really care – Abby was right about Luka’s kindness not being love. She asks Abby not to tell Luka the truth about her pregnancy.

Benton waits impatiently to meet with his potential new boss. First thing the next morning, he gives Alter a letter showing he’s been offered a new job. Alter’s a little suspicious that Benton left County and got a new job in just 12 hours. Benton says it was always a possibility and he just needed to work out the details. Alter’s suspicious again, since Benton never mentioned he was looking for a different job.

Benton doesn’t think it matters, since he got the better schedule he said he would. Alter notes that Benton told a different story yesterday, and he doesn’t appreciate dishonesty. Benton says he’s doing what he needs to do for Reese. He heads to County, running into Elizabeth and telling her he’s done all he can in the custody case. He also lets her know he’s leaving County. She’s surprised that he’s making such a big change so he can keep custody of Reese.

Carter and Susan work on a 12-year-old boy named Ben who fell off a ladder while hanging Christmas lights. Benton comes to give a surgical consult and decides Ben should stay for observation in case he needs to have his spleen removed. Ben’s parents don’t quite get that a spleen isn’t a vital organ, and that they don’t need to get their large family tested to see if anyone’s a match for a donation. As Carter takes them to a waiting room, Ben’s mother, Amparo, faints.

Carter examines Amparo, who says she’s fine. Benton assures her that Ben doesn’t seem to be badly injured. Carter finds a node on Amparo’s neck, and she tells him he doesn’t need to run any tests. She’s already been diagnosed with lymphoma. She hasn’t told her family yet, since she didn’t want to ruin their Christmas. Benton assures her again that Ben will be fine.

Luka and Abby stitch up a man who cut his hand on an ice skate – part of a pair he was shoplifting for his kids. After he’s done, he’ll be arrested. He doesn’t have anyone to watch his kids, so Luka considers posting his bail. (The man has a job, but it pays minimum wage and he can’t afford a security deposit on an apartment, so the family has been living in a motel. God bless America, right?) Abby doesn’t want to tell Luka not to get personally involved with a patient’s family, but she also doesn’t want to tell him not to help out this nice family when he has to spend Christmas without his own.

At the courthouse, Alter asks to talk to Reese again, this time without his dads or their lawyers present. Sure, Benton and Roger will just hang out alone in the courtroom, not getting violent with each other or saying anything they can’t take back. No problem. Back at County, Ben’s family accompanies him up to the OR floor, since he needs exploratory surgery. Carter’s like, “So that’s what it’s like to have a big family of people who all like spending time together.”

Susan and Carter meet up in the lounge to exchange presents, though he forgot to bring hers. He tells her he’s distracted by news of his parents’ divorce and his mom’s absence. Susan thinks it’s a blessing in disguise. Her parents fight all the time and should be divorced. She’s relieved that Carter isn’t having difficulties because of something that has to do with her. He tells her she’s pretty much the only thing going right in his life right now.

Cleo and Jackie join the court proceedings as Alter and Reese come into the courtroom. Alter talks about how, in a typical custody case, each parent retains his or her role as mother or father no matter which way the decision goes. In this case, Alter basically has to void one father’s title as Daddy. Both Benton and Roger love Reese, and both have made sacrifices for him (though Benton’s was sketchy and Alter isn’t happy with him). Alter thinks Reese would do well in either household, but based on Benton’s new job and history as Reese’s father, he gets custody. Roger will get visitation every other Saturday.

Christmas Eve: Benton, Cleo, and Reese decorate her place for Christmas, and Benton invites Cleo to lie under the tree with him and look up at the lights. She notes that they need to get moving or he’ll be late for his last shift at County. “What are they going to do, fire me?” he asks. He remembers lying under the tree as a kid.

Since both of them are going to be working in Schaumburg, Benton suggests that they relocate (by which he means they should get a place together). He’s spent so long working hard, trying to get to the end zone, and now he’s realized that the end zone is his family, not his job. He and Cleo start kissing, but Reese interrupts so they can put the star on top of the tree.

Mark finally appears in the episode as paramedics bring in a six-year-old boy named Teddy who has a gunshot wound. His mother, Paula, states blankly that she shot him. Benton finds Roger waiting for him on the OR floor, curious about whether Benton really got a new job. He said he would change his hours, yet here he is working on Christmas Eve. Benton says it’s his last shift at County. Roger’s there to drop off Reese’s Christmas presents and remind Benton that he’ll get Reese in two weeks. Benton tells him he can come over tomorrow and give Reese the presents in person.

He heads to the ER, where Paula is telling Mark and Susan that she mistook Teddy for a burglar. She heard glass break and thought it was a window, but it was an ornament Teddy dropped. Mark pulls her out of the trauma room so she doesn’t have to watch Benton open her son’s chest. They take Teddy up to the OR, though Romano doesn’t think they can save him. Elizabeth joins him and Benton as Benton tries hard to help Teddy while Romano says over and over that it’s pointless. Benton finally kicks him out. Elizabeth is also skeptical about Teddy’s chances, but she stays to help anyway.

Mark tries to reassure Paula, both that Teddy has a chance to make it and that she shouldn’t beat herself up for shooting him. She says she just wanted to protect her home. Back in the OR, Benton is able to repair the damage in Teddy’s chest, stunning Elizabeth. Even Benton doesn’t know how he did it. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Elizabeth sends Benton to give Paula the good news, telling him that everyone at County will miss him. (Well, except Romano.) Benton doesn’t feel the same way, but he admits that the job has had its moments. He tells Paula that Teddy will recover, then watches Elizabeth wrap up the last surgery he’ll ever perform at County. Passing Romano without a word exchanged between them, he leaves.

Christmas Day: Carter waits for Benton on a bench on his normal jogging route. He learned of Benton’s departure from County in a message, and he knows there’s no way to change his mind. Carter gives him the El token Benton gave him during his second week as a surgical intern. They’d worked on a bunch of patients over the course of half a day, and Carter asked for a break because he was exhausted. Benton kicked him out of the OR.

Carter was so tired that he started crying in the hallway. Benton gave him the token and a choice: Use it to go home or commit to his job and use it to come back the next day. Benton jokes that he was expecting a Rolex. Carter tells him that if Benton gets tired of Schaumburg, he can use the token to come back to County. Or, since the El doesn’t use tokens anymore, he can call Carter and ask for a ride.

Getting a little teary, Carter tells Benton he owes him, then hugs him. Benton breaks it off as soon as he can, pretending he needs to keep jogging before he gets too cold. As he leaves, Carter says he’s a good doctor because of Benton. Benton replies that he isn’t, but he should keep trying.

Thoughts: Paula is played by Anne Dudek, because apparently everything I recap now has to include someone who’s been on The Magicians. Amparo is played by Lea Salonga, and it’s too bad Ming Na isn’t in this episode, because then we would get to see both Mulan’s voice actress and the actress who did her singing.

Roger’s visitation proposal is incredibly reasonable and Benton is a jerk for not accepting it. And it’s not like Roger is some horrible monster who’s a threat to Reese’s safety. He’s a good father and Reese loves him. I get Benton being territorial, but it’s gotten out of hand.

I love Carter and Benton’s scene together at the end. It’s perfect for their characters and their relationship.

This marks the end of Benton and Cleo’s time on the show – almost. They both appear at the end of the season, and Benton returns at the end of the series.

January 30, 2021

Felicity 3.11, And to All a Good Night: Time for Chekhov’s Gun to Go Off

Posted in TV tagged , , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn

The parrot and the turtle

Summary: The ladies of the dorm apartment are planning a Christmas party, but Molly isn’t in the mood for celebrating. Even though she couldn’t walk away from James when Ben hoped she would, she did wind up leaving him, and she’s back in rehab. Felicity thinks that’s something to celebrate. She and Ben will be spending part of Christmas break in Florida (if Sean can get them a car) after a visit from Felicity’s mother.

James calls, and since Molly doesn’t want to talk to him, Felicity tells him she’s not there. He doesn’t believe her, so Ben takes the phone from her and tells James to stop calling. James gets angry, and Ben wonders how Molly could date someone who’s such a jerk. If James didn’t have a gun, Ben would be much more aggressive toward him. This is, of course, exactly when Barbara arrives, along with Meghan, who laughs over Felicity’s mother hearing her boyfriend talking about a dangerous drug addict.

Noel drops in on Felicity at work and tells her that Icebox loves them and wants them to write the first episode of “Loser Pet Store.” Despite this, Noel isn’t feeling the holiday spirit, since he’s single. Apparently Natalie is dating someone else. Felicity tells him that Barbara’s in town, and she’s worried her mother doesn’t like Ben. She invites Noel to the apartment’s Christmas party. He jokes that he’ll bring Natalie’s new boyfriend.

Sean and Richard tell Ben about their new business idea, selling Christmas trees. They’ll triple the prices a few days before Christmas and make tons of money. They want Ben to help them, but he has plans with Felicity and Barbara. Sean threatens to withhold his uncle’s car for the Florida trip, so Ben has to give in.

Tracy and Elena have hit a bump in their relationship post-sex. The sex isn’t the only issue, though: Tracy got accepted into a program that provides medical care and sets up clinics in Africa. He leaves in three weeks. Sean, Ben, and Richard go pick up their Christmas trees, discovering that there are more than they expected. Sean says they’ll need a bigger boat.

This makes Ben late for the play he’s supposed to see with Felicity and Barbara. Barbara didn’t know about the Florida trip, so she’s under the impression that Felicity will go to California with her after the holidays. James calls Molly and asks to meet her. She declines, but he knows she called him in a moment of weakness. He begs her to see him, yelling at her when she says she’s hanging up.

The guys borrow a truck, which Ben rushes to leave in so he can get to the play. It won’t start, but Ben is able to get to the play a little after it starts. Unfortunately, he was supposed to bring the tickets, and he doesn’t have them. Barbara decides to just call it a night and go back to her hotel. Ben encourages Felicity to go with her and have some quality time alone with her mom.

In a cab, Barbara asks Felicity if Ben gets into a lot of fights. (She heard about one from some friend of Ben’s.) More questions about her daughter’s boyfriend reveal that Ben hasn’t declared a major yet. Felicity shuts down the conversation by simply saying that she loves him. Later, she goes to the loft, which now looks like a forest. She tells Ben she feels bad for Barbara, who’s spending her first Christmas alone. She’s using her maiden name again, and it feels weird to Felicity. She’s considering skipping the Florida trip to spend the holidays with her mother.

The next day, Noel shows Barbara some of “Loser Pet Store,” which she seems to enjoy. She also clearly likes Noel more than Ben. She invites him to have dinner with her, Felicity, and Ben that night. Meghan’s impressed that Sean has put together his own Christmas tree lot – when she gave him the idea months ago, he thought it was dumb. He insists that it was his idea, so she asks him to show her his book where he keeps all his business brainstorms. Sean claims it was stolen. Meghan tells him she’ll take a cut of his profits, then. He says no, so she tells him to enjoy the holidays as a single man.

Ben walks Molly home after an Al-Anon meeting and they find James waiting for her. She continues to refuse to talk to him. James tries to intimidate Ben, but it doesn’t work. Ben then goes to meet Felicity, Barbara, and Noel for dinner, mentioning that he and Molly ran into James. Noel brings up James’ gun, which doesn’t make Barbara feel any better. Noel, stop talking.

Barbara gets upset and leaves the table. Felicity follows her to the bathroom, where Barbara expresses concern over all the bad stuff Felicity’s gotten mixed up in. Plus, she’s dating a guy who doesn’t have any direction. Barbara dated a guy like that and knows Ben is just trouble. Felicity should date Noel instead. Barbara thinks the parrot and turtle in “Loser Pet Store” are Noel and Felicity, and that Noel is still in love with Felicity like the parrot is in love with the turtle. Felicity sets her straight and goes back to the table.

After dinner, Felicity and Ben go to the loft and he complains about Barbara picking on him at dinner. Felicity wants him to cut her some slack, since she just got divorced, but Ben says she was being obnoxious. Felicity thinks he’s just upset because he doesn’t have any plans and Barbara got him to admit it.

James calls Molly and tries to get her to admit that she still loves him. He warns her not to hang up. She tells him for the umpteenth time that she doesn’t want to talk to him or see him anymore. At Epstein Bar, Sean gives Meghan an early Christmas present, a leather whip. Dear baby Jesus, please save me from this. She wants to take him to Radio City Music Hall for a show, but Sean and Richard are selling trees. She asks again for a cut of the profits, but he won’t agree. Meghan calls him a cheapskate and tells him to leave. Then she calls the fire department to report a fire hazard.

While Noel and Felicity work on “Loser Pet Store,” she asks him for his opinion on how Barbara treated Ben. Even Noel thinks she was too hard on him. They’re working on the turtle, and Noel says he’s a loser. Felicity disagrees. Tracy and Elena meet with his pastor, Cathy, who tells them God wants them to take responsibility for their sins. Elena doesn’t feel like having premarital sex is a sin. Cathy says they’re at a crossroads in the relationship. They need to decide what they want both separately and together.

A fire marshal named Howard pays the loft a visit and tells the guys to get rid of the trees before they get fined. They can move the trees to Sean’s cousin’s lot, but Ben refuses to help. Sean calls him out for being in a bad mood and mentions the hit his wallet would take if he couldn’t sell the trees. Since Sean lets Ben be late on his rent all the time, Ben kind of owes him.

Felicity comes by to check on Ben, who’s thinking about skipping the ladies’ Christmas party. He feels like she was being judgmental when she asked if he was more annoyed with Barbara or himself. He doesn’t like being asked questions he doesn’t have an answer to, and Felicity shouldn’t have defended her mother for bugging him. Ben suggests that she spend Christmas with her mother instead of him.

Tracy goes to the apartment to tell Elena that he spent 20 years believing that only people who are married should have sex. When he met Elena, she said she was okay with that, but obviously she wasn’t. Now Tracy thinks that if he can’t figure things out by himself, he’s looking in the wrong place. He’s going to Africa.

Ben asks Barbara to meet him at Dean & DeLuca, where he tells her he knows she’s worried about his relationship with Felicity. That bothered him at first, because he felt Barbara was making a snap judgment, but then he started looking at the situation from her perspective. He doesn’t have a major, his dad is an alcoholic, and Noel is right there.

One of Ben’s teachers once said that all the interesting people she knew didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives when they were 20. So if nothing else, at least Ben will probably turn out to be an interesting person. Yeah, that’ll pay the bills. Ben says that Felicity cares about him, and because of that, he thinks he might someday become the kind of person she thinks he can be. Because of that, she means a lot to Ben.

Barbara goes to the apartment and tells Felicity she made holidays plans with a friend, so Felicity can stick with her original plans. Felicity thinks the Florida trip is off, though. Barbara thinks she and Ben will work things out. She admits that it was unfair to compare Ben to her own loser boyfriend. Besides, Barbara had a lot of expectations for her boyfriend, so she’s responsible for that relationship not working out. Felicity doesn’t think that’s fair, but Barbara says she chose the wrong guy. Barbara admires how confident Felicity is compared to when she first came to New York.

Felicity goes to the guys’ new tree lot, but Ben has left to get coffee. Sean admits that they’re not making as much money as he’d hoped. He’s okay as a salesman, but his prices are too high. They wind up giving away trees. Felicity goes home, where the Christmas party is in full swing. She encourages Meghan to go cheer up Sean.

Noel shows up and admires Felicity in her cute sparkly tank top. No matter where their relationship stands, Elena and Tracy are still having fun together. Meghan goes to the lot, where Sean and Richard are making people happy by giving away all the trees. Meghan’s ready to take Sean to the party. Back there, Felicity asks Noel if he’s the turtle. He admits that he is, but he says the parrot is Ruby. She pretends to believe that.

Ben finally gets to the party, and he and Felicity make up. Noel turns to Molly for entertainment and invites her to dance. James sneaks into the apartment as Sean and Richard arrive with a tree. No one notices as he pulls his gun, takes aim at someone, and fires.

Thoughts: This episode was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, father of Jake and Maggie.

How do you not have a major picked out halfway through your junior year? How do you plan to take all the necessary courses in a year and a half? Does Ben have a crappy advisor, or has he just never met with the advisor?

Sean seems okay with selling Christmas trees even though he’s Jewish. I’m surprised no one mentioned that.

We haven’t seen Javier in a while. I demand Javier!

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