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ER

Season 9 Episode 1

Chaos Theory

0
Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Sep 26, 2002 on NBC
8.8
out of 10
User Rating
136 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Season Premiere: Abby, Carter, Chen, Pratt, and Stan will be confined to the ER for two weeks, while all of the other patients are evacuated and sent to different hospitals. While on the roof arguing with Luka about the use of a helicopter, Romano backs up into the tail rotor, and has his arm severed above the elbow. Anspaugh arrives to perform surgery, and reattaches the arm. Susan is stuck on the roof with a dying patient. After 2 weeks, the ER reopens. While all of this has been going on, Elizabeth has been in London, working at her father's hospital, where her supervisor doesn't like the American mannerisms and vocabulary she's picked up. She ultimately decides to return to Chicago.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • About the episode

    10
    It got great sound mixing.
  • Aftermath of smallpox.

    9.3
    It was.. shocking first.. and somehow different. On the first - it was really the going on of the last episode by the rythm - all the action, all the tempo, motion. The way those two patient end up at the front and Romano - oh.. it was horrible to look. And then Susan, all alone with a patient, trying to do everything all by herself knowing that she cannot - it most have been horrible. And when Gallant finally comes - it is too late.



    Kovac and everyone else are on the ER trying to save Romano and Anspaugh comes in to help him. Poor Romano - he did not deserved it.



    And Elizabeth - she is in England but doesn't like there much - she has changed a lot and in the end, she decides to go back.



    And Carter and his chaose theory and Abby... the end was much was calmer, and trying to improve and develop some character storylines. Beautiful episode.moreless
  • The Chaos Theory, Or: Sh*t Happens

    8.9
    Poor, poor Romano... This episode was, in 2002, advertised as containing the "most shocking event ever on ER", and I didn't believe a single word. After all, NBC is notorious for its hyperbole in previews and in addition, just the last few episodes of the previous season had been about the most dramatic rollercoaster ride the show had ever seen in Mark Greene's very sad death. So you can imagine my surprise that "Chaos Theory" did in fact shocked me when totally out of the blue in an otherwise standard rooftop scene, Rocket Romano, everyone's favorite love-to-hate character, gets his arm chopped off by a helicopter rotor. It would later turn out to be the catalyst for some overdue deeper characterization (and humanization) of a once comic relief character on the show.



    A+ for that.



    But the rest isn't so bad either. Susan tries to save a man in cardiac arrest while alone on a recently evacuated hospital floor. The smallpox scare that dominated "Lockdown" do effectively took a backseat to these (brief) medical cases and a lot of character development for the upcoming season: We can see right away that with the alcoholism and the need for perfection, Carter and Abby's new relationship won't be all fun. Corday is out of place in England and longs to go home - which, however, after Mark's death, is an empty home, beautifully conveyed by a brief reprise of Mark's dying motif in the score.



    Season premieres on ER are usually mixed bags, but "Chaos Theory" ranks as one of its finer examples in that special category: Eventful and indeed shocking, but not yet in the territory of ratings stunts, as well as finely attuned to the characters which, in the end, are what the show is about, workplace drama or not.moreless
  • Back to the hospital lockdown due to a smallpox scare!

    9.2
    We start with the hospital being evacuated and closed down for two weeks, with just Abby, Carter, Chen, Pratt and Stanley left inside. They can only watch as the patients are removed. Luka's car accident patient is very nervous of going by helicopter, and it turns out he was right to be. Up on the roof there is a patient jam and in the confusion Romano goes too close to the tail rotor and has his arm cut off.Luka then has to fight to save his life. Chen and Pratt help, and Romano is transferred by road. One of the other patients isn't so lucky, although Susan did everything she could.



    Romano has his arm sewn back on; his only visitor is Kerry, who refuses to make decisions on his behalf. Romano's temperament has not improved with his injury.



    The two weeks pass slowly for the 'in-mates' although Abby and Carter are clearly now an item. Carter is still on a campaign to stop her drinking, and 'fixing' her, which Abby does not appreciate. Finally their quarantine is over and the hospital reopens - all the other staff having had two weeks leave!

    Abby and Carter walk to the lake and talk about chaos theory; Abby strips off and goes for a swim, confounding Carter once again!moreless
  • The Butterfly or the Tornado

    10
    Chaos Theory was amazing to watch. The beginning was a bit slow for me, kinda like Outbreak, chasing down a monkey. But once the story moved inside to the hospital and seeing the outcome of everyone stuck in there.



    Abby and Carter finally realizing that they belong together. Finding a way to work through what they might think will be wrong with their relationship.



    Hearing Carter and Pratt discuss in little words about losing limbs, in reference to Romano. Wow. Great way to put that in there, to lighten up the mood.



    And Abby... Beautiful as ever. When she dyed her hair and it had dried. She was so pretty. Loved the way she looked so different. Very Impressive.



    The best part for me was the end when they were walking on the beach and Carter explained the whole Chaos Theory, with the Butterfly and Tornado. Great Writing. Loved seeing Abby try to lighten him up bu jumping in the water naked... Definetly the Tornado.



    moreless
Alex Kingston

Alex Kingston

Dr. Elizabeth Corday

Goran Visnjic

Goran Visnjic

Dr. Luka Kovac

Laura Innes

Laura Innes

Dr. Kerry Weaver

Maura Tierney

Maura Tierney

Nurse Abby Lockhart

Mekhi Phifer

Mekhi Phifer

Dr. Greg Pratt

Ming-Na

Ming-Na

Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen

Paul Freeman

Paul Freeman

Dr. Charles Corday

Guest Star

Paul Hipp

Paul Hipp

Craig Turner

Guest Star

Harrison Page

Harrison Page

Stan

Guest Star

Laura Cerón

Laura Cerón

Chuny

Recurring Role

Troy Evans

Troy Evans

Frank

Recurring Role

Lily Mariye

Lily Mariye

Lily

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

    • The book Chen is reading is called Bereft: A Sister's Story by Jane Bernstein.

    • Romano says to the nurse bringing him his food that the "prostetics department [can] come fit me for a hook." It's a nod to an upcoming episode in which Romano really does get a hook when his insurance won't cover a robotics arm.

    • Noah Wyle, now first in the credits, is the only member of the original cast that has been on the show since the very beginning. Sherry Stringfield was also part of the original cast, but she left the series in the Season 3 episode "Union Station." She returned in the Season 8 episode "Never Say Never," reprising her role of Dr. Susan Lewis after a five year absence.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Abby: Do you think it's possible to die from boredom?
      Chen: I don't think so.
      Abby: What if your mind wandered off in a daydream and you forgot to eat or drink for days?
      Chen: Then you'd die of starvation and dehydration.
      Abby: Caused by boredom.

    • (as Hersch is being transferred to another hospital)
      Hersch: I've never been in a Catholic hospital.
      Romano: Well, you'll like the nuns. Nice calves.

    • (Elizabeth meets her mother at a restaurant)
      Isabelle Corday: You're late.
      Elizabeth: I had a bowel resection.
      Isabelle Corday: Before lunch? Lovely.
      Elizabeth: I washed my hands.

    • Carter: You could get a tattoo.
      Abby: I could get "Carter...
      Carter: Yeah...
      Abby: ...Sucks."

    • (Abby and Carter are walking on the beach)
      Abby: Chaos theory?
      Carter: Yeah; a virus mutates in the Congo, we evacuate an ER in Chicago, Romano gets his arm cut off...
      Abby: You lost me.
      Carter: Seemingly random events, all part of a larger equation.
      Abby: I'm hot.
      Carter: A butterfly flaps it's wings in China and creates a tornado half way around the world.
      Abby: Are you hot?
      Carter: I'm saying there is an inherent unpredictability about everything: evolution, life, love, relationships.
      Abby: So what am I? The butterfly or the tornado?
      Carter: No, you are chaos in general.
      Abby: Thanks!
      Carter: I'm just saying, you're chaos to me, the unknown in me. And I'm your chaos, too.
      Abby: You're hardly chaos, Carter!
      (they are in front of the sea, staring at it)
      Carter: I'm just saying there's a risk in anything that you do. Don't you want to get the odds in your favor? I'm drawn to you. It's kind of that simple. I've been drawn to you for two years, but chaos always seem to rule and I don't want it to rule. I want to know where it's taking me. You know what I mean... (Abby has been taking off her clothes)
      Abby: No! (she goes to the water)
      Carter: The tornado, definitely the tornado!
      Abby: Are you coming?

    • Carter: You want me to talk to you? I want to help you, not because I'm a nice guy, or because I'm worried about you, but because I want to be with you.
      Abby: You want to fix me.
      Carter: I want to help you.
      Abby: You want to fix me so I'm good enough.
      Carter: No, I want it to work.
      Abby: Well, I'm not broken.

    • Chen: I take back everything I said about you, Pratt.
      Pratt: Really?
      Chen: No, but thanks for the pizza.

    • Susan: We need to evacuate.
      Carter: The ER?
      Susan: The entire hospital. Everybody but you.

    • Susan: You know Kerry, I think we did a great job, all things considered.
      Kerry: Yeah, we kicked ass.

    • Abby: (referring to the monkeypox) Do you think someone did this on purpose?
      Carter: Does it matter? Viruses mutate. That's what they do. We're more likely to control bio terrorism than Mother Nature.

    • Romano: (talking on the phone) Hello, who's this? You like your job? You wanna keep it? Well, then you tell your chief of staff, you know who that is? Good! Well, you tell "Jonesy" that Robert Romano is sending over four critical patients, all of whom I expect to be treated like his own mother, but without the inappropriate touching!

    • Romano: (regaining consciousness) Oh, no. I'm at County.

  • NOTES (6)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Title: "Chaos Theory"
      Strictly speaking, chaos theory refers to the branch of mathematics that deals with complex systems that are predictable in principle but unpredictable in practice. In other words, these systems obey predictable rules, but their behavior is so sensitive to slight changes in conditions that small, localized occurences in one part of the system are magnified over time and can have widespread consequences throughout the system. This can significantly affect the outcomes of seemingly unrelated events, causing unexpected final results and thus giving an impression of randomness. The classic example often used to describe this concept is the "butterfly effect"; the beating of a butterfly's wings can lead to a hurricane if the tiny turbulence it causes happens to generate a critical combination of air pressure changes.

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