This is the first time in many episodes that I have had the heart - and interest - in actually writing a review this season. Based on the previews I was looking forward to this one. I was looking forward to seeing William H. Macy in the ER again. I knew it would be a sepcial moment. Interestingly enough the ONLY current character that knew his 'Dr. David Morgenstern' was Chuny. And it was sweet. But the episode didn't belong to Macy, as I thought it would. It belonged to the story surrounding the old guy on the gurney. The wanderer from a nursing home who had been assaulted on the street. The 'dreamer' who came 'home' when he needed help...and who was effectively portrayed by the actor that gave us Ron Howard. Dr. Oliver Kostin was played by his father, Rance Howard.
Intercut through a bevy of stories that brought us Sam's sister a diabetic shoplifter trying to beat the system to purchase her insulin, a TB patient misdiagnosed with cancer and a polio patient in an iron lung who was a candidate for a totally rocking surgery. Totally.
This was an episode that was a blend of the old and the new. In his advanced state of dementia, Dr. Kostin saw the 'old' ER with period costuming, dialog and equipment. And then saw the new ER that he envisioned as the 'dreamer' who once said per Morgenstern that 'a person had a better chance of surviving a bullet wound in Viet Nam than a car accident in Chicago.' He heard himself called a 'dreamer' in his head and then watched as the ER team went into practiced action to stabilize a gunshot wound in the next trauma room. His dream come true. It was a beautifully done moment.
I thought the gathering around his gurney as Dr. Morgenstern told them all what they owed to the older man would be schmaltzy. It wasn't. It was carried off excellently by the wonderfully expressive Macy. There were some interesting camera angles as well.
And so I bought the story of Dr. Kostin. I loved seeing the medical advances portrayed as they were. I loved Neela's insistence in pursuing the NOTES surgical procedure for her iron lung patient, Dubenko's confusing reluctance to be positive in the face of despair, Kostin's silent bedside diagnosis of a now unfamiliar TB in a neighboring patient and the absolutely perfect casting choice of Shannon Woodward to play Sam's sister rounded out what was a very, very nice episode. Bravo!