ER: Next of Kin
The thing that stroke me about this episode is that it really seemed to forget a lot of the final act of the previous episode, "First Snowfall" -- the tension between Abby and Maggie that was so sweetly resolved seems to have faded away. I choose to assume that the writers of this episode wanted to make the waters a little more murky, and force more responsibility back onto Maggie. It occurs to me that Maggie now has the chance to be real mother for Eric; she can guide him through this illness and this transition. The phrase "second puberty" was stuck in my head a lot of this episode. Maggie has the perspective, but Abby has the sheer desire to make things better. I felt for Abby in this episode. She has been putting out fires her entire life with her mother, and now she was told that she wasn't wanted. Abby might not be my favorite character, but Maura Tierney plays her with such conviction and such power, and it is wonderful to watch week in and week out.
Tom Everett Scott is always a good actor. A MANIC Tom Everett Scott is simply hysterical. He has lots of priceless little moments, that go by so quickly that you think that Aaron Sorkin had written them. Lines like "bi-polar show and tell" and "you need cable..." come to mind. I don't know how many more episodes Eric has with us, but he is a great character. Of course, I really like the interaction between Eric and Abby, and I now find MT and TES to be familiar enough with themselves to play brother and sister. They have a familiarity and a chemsitry that was lacking earlier. I really like seeing how Abby deals with her brother - it works well as a
vehicle for character development.
Abby's final scene on the stairs outside, with her homage to the perfect cigarette, was superbly done. The line "cancel christmas" just echoed as though it were said in a loud hall after a book being slammed down.
Poor Carter, I'll be glad when this particular storyline is over, just for his sake. Carter has shown that he can be the sweet attentive boyfriend. We get it. It works. They care about each other. But Carter's role has just flattened in the last few weeks. I'm not saying that I need "all Carter all the time" - in fact, I have enjoyed the break, but I just don't like the hot/cold effect we're getting right now.
On the other hand, the rest of the ensemble got some real quality screen time. Kuddos - I think that having an actor directing helps to ensure this. Paul McCrane, for the record, did a solid job on this episode. I wasn't wowed, which is good, but I wasn't disgusted either.
The abandoned baby storyline has been done before, but I really liked, horror of horrors, Leslie Bibb's Erin Harkins and her role in this. Remember the scene with Chen, Harkins and Carter. Harkins showed that she was pissed off without getting pissed off. She was still trying to learn, but she could voice her disapproval. It was a nice and fresh balance, and I enjoyed watching it.
Erin Harkins annoyed me with the Morgan storyline. I've been thinking about it since I first saw the episode, and I think that I was more upset about the lack of respect or recognition the transgender storyline was given. I think the show accurately portrayed a lot of feelings about this, including Harkins' simply not getting it. I was EXTREMELY touched that it was Pratt, of all people, who championed Morgan and her decision. The stark contrast between the two points of views was very effective - and I was just wanting someone else with more authority in there to guide them. Instead of Carter being the guy Harkins goes to after she can't find Pratt, imagine if the two of them went to him, the Chief Resident, on how to best deal with a situation that obviously neither of them were ready for. Could have been like a teaching hospital. This was one of those situations where there was no obvious right or wrong, but the lack of communication certainly did not help. I guess that it wasn't Leslie Bibb's acting that annoyed me, but rather Harkins inability to respect an obviously very difficult choice that Morgan had made. And I don't think that Erin did anything wrong; she just didn't do anything right either. But, that's just my take on it. Other people are free to disagree...
On a thirty second side note, I simply adored Pratt and his interactions with Morgan, especially during the initial trauma scene. The lines like "second best doctor" and the "pink cast" were wonderful, and really showed how much this doctor is learning. And at the same time, he was never out of character. It's the mark of strong acting and stronger writing.
Speaking of stronger writing, even though she was not a main feature of this episode, Susan is getting good folks. Really good. The old Susan, the one we loved, is back. Sherry Stringfield is simply a delight to watch, and she deserves a reward for most imporved character on this show. It might have taken her a while to regain her bearings (Season 8), but they are doing it really REALLY well right now. I love the Susan who bitches, who moans, who has a sharp tongue and incredibly kind.
I almost forgot, there was a HUGE nurse quotient in this episode. Thank goodness!!! We saw folks we haven't seen in quite a while. Conni! Yosh (with a decent haircut!) The nurses are such great secondary characters, and it's thrilling to see them actually have lines and have a purpose.
Chen and Conni with the baby were wonderful. And the only two people who I wanted to see take care of him. I loved the tiny bit of foreshadowing between Melody and the baby, and how Melody's desire for the baby reflected back onto her love and fear of her own son. This was an extremely subtle scene, and it was WONDERFUL!
Kovac has the quiet and sweet way about him, and yet he is falling. This story arc is extremely interesting and very depressing. Last night, I caught a few minutes of "Such Sweet Sorrow." Remember that sweet and innocent man, the one that was so in love with Carol, and the look of disappointment and yet acceptance that appeared on his face as she confessed her love for Doug. Okay, it's a great scene. But compare it to the Luka we have now, the empty shell that he has become. It is still a good doctor, and a good person, but he is in this downward spiral, and I am loving every minute of it. Goran Visnjic is handiling this so brilliantly -- I just hope and pray that the writers can "restore" Luka or at least make him really miserable and then make him happy in the end. I just hope that the writers don't destory him too much. I guess we'll have to keep on watching to find out...
I know that I said it above, but gosh I loved Susan in this episode. Poor Gallant, while trying to present a patient, gets to hear Susan gripe about Kovac being late. But then when she walks in, she is kind and compassionate. "Otherwise you wouldn't be here, right?" Just priceless.
Elizabeth was the kind and compassionate surgeon that I remembered. More importantly, she acted like a surgeon. Very nice.
Susan: Kovac, you're late.
Kovac: Blame my alarm clock
Susan: Oh yeah, what's her name.
Pratt: Are you sure
Erin: I've seen my fair share of penises
Yosh: Oh, and Dr. Weaver called and asked that you cover the finance committee meeting at two.
Susan: She asked?
Yosh: Well, not exactly...
Gallant: Oh, Dr. Lewis
Susan: I used to think that would be so cool to hear. Doctor Lewis...
Yet another Hysterical Susan line
Susan: Don't ask me. I named my dog "puddles" Talk about a self fufilling prophecy.
Wonderful Pratt line:
Pratt: Hey hey hey! The man took a bullet to the head. He's not dumb!
Talk about pride in your loved ones. If I'm ever on trial, I want Pratt on my side.
Matilda: I'm an old arthritic woman and I can't hold my arm out forever, now take it!
Maggie: But Abby, I'm here now!
But not for long...Sally, I mean Maggie.
I loved the scene where Matilda dies, Kovac is in the foreground watching, while Haleh, Conni and Susan are in the background. Haleh complaining that she needs the overtime and can't play bingo. All the while, Kovac has a $10,000 check in his pocket. This just highlights the sadness in Luka's heart - he could have given the check to the nurses, but he uses it on hookers. Really a likeable guy, isn't he?
Last great line that really reminded me that yes, this IS a teaching hospital:
Gallant: So you made up a diagnosis?
Susan: No, I stretched one.
Luka: Sounds unethical?
Susan: So is eavesdropping.
Carter: Hey, I feel bad about what happened too, but like it or not, she's his only family.
Pratt: Define family...
This is the one of the few times that a closing line has really informed a closing scene, where we see the departing families all wisk out of the ER, and we are left to wonder what family is, and what our next of kin should
- Michael C :)