ER

Season 8 Episode 21

On the Beach

1
Aired Thursday 10:00 PM May 09, 2002 on NBC
9.1
out of 10
User Rating
339 votes
34

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Mark decides to use his remaining time to help "fix" Rachel; he takes her to Hawaii to show her where he grew up; he teaches her how to surf and how to drive a stick shift. He catches her chasing one of his Percocet with a shot of vodka and confronts her about wasting her life. One day after surfing he has a seizure, and Rachel contacts Elizabeth, who soon arrives with little Ella. Elizabeth wants to take Mark home, but he refuses. Very early one morning, he dies. At his funeral stateside, old friends and colleagues pay their respects.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Be Generous.

    10
    Wow. I have never cried that much at television... ever. What an amazing send off for Mark. Realistic and perfect in every way. The acting was spot-on for the Greene family and also the funeral and end scenes. So sad to see him go but what an excellent episode to depart on. I will honestly miss Mark unlike any character ever. What a story arc; one of the best in television history. This show has its touch-and-go moments for me, but this episode proves that the writers really know what they're doing and can do it well. Mark Greene <3moreless
  • One of the very best episodes of the series, total tearjerker!

    10
    No matter how many times I watch this episode, I always cry like a baby at the end. Watching Mark say goodbye to his daughters and live out his last days in Hawaii is bittersweet and then the scene at the cemetery and all of the cast members and former cast members have gathered, it was so sad and poignant. The only thing missing was Carol and Doug. Too bad they couldn't lure them back for a cameo. Even the music that plays during the funeral brings a tear and I will watch this episode every time that it comes on. What a great episode!moreless
  • See Review

    10
    This is the best ER episode that they ever made. It shows the struggle with death and the struggle to try to do all the things that the main character of the show, Mark Greene, wanted to do, especially "fix Rachel". You become intimate with the main character in a way that you never have and really mourn the ending when he succumbs to the tumor. This episode will bring out every emotion in you.



    The acting is great, the story is great, the direction is great. And the song that Mark's daugghter plays for him on the casette player is just icing on the cake.moreless
  • One of the best episodes.

    10
    I am a huge fan of ER! This episode takes the cake though. I cry every time I watch it, however there was one huge dissapointment, why didn't they bring Doug and Carol back for Mark's funeral??? They brough Peter and Cleo back, you would think with Doug and Carol being his closest friends, they would have been there. Besides that, it was great. The writers did a fantastic job with this episode. It was great closure on different levels. Thank you for doing a great job. I only can hope that the writers get their edge back for the upcoming shows...moreless
  • The first show I ever watched that totally brought me to tears...what a way to begin!

    10
    There is not much more to say about this episode than has already been written. I never really watched ER when it aired on primetime at the time, but once it began to be shown in syndication on TNT every morning, I watched a few episodes & kinda got sucked in. As it turned out, right when I began to watch it, it was near the beginning of of season 1... so I really kind of got in right at the start (I believe the primetime airings were about at season 8 at the time).



    I work 5 days a week so I would record both episodes every morning & watch them that night. At 2 showings every morning, 5 days a week, the series moved along at a pretty good clip, and it wasn't long till the episodes concerning Mark's brain tumor began (a few months I guess). By then I was very sucked into the show & cared about the characters (I should mention that I am a 44 year old male with a wife & 9-year-old daughter).



    When the "Orion" episode aired, I knew things were going to get sad, as Mark's last day sorta choked me up a bit. When the episode "The Letter" aired, which ended with Carter reading the letter about Mark's death, I was a bit confused, as in "did I miss something?". However, the very next episode, "On the Beach", made me realize that we were seeing the events that led up to the letter written by Corday.



    I do not think I ever cried so hard over a TV show as I did during the entire last half of this episode. Mark's gradual deterioration, memories in my mind of how he used to be in earlier episodes & thinking "how did it ever get to this point?" Also, the sadness of his sticky relationship with his rebellious daughter, who, on the surface, didn't seem fazed at all about Mark's impending death or his attempts to bond with her & point her in the right direction in life once he is gone. How heartbreaking it must have been for Mark to tell Rachael about how she used to love "Over the Rainbow" as a little girl, and she didn't even remember. Part of the reason it hit ME so hard is that my daughter does not live with me, but with her mom, my ex-wife, in a neighboring state and although I see her fairly often (every 5 weeks or so for 4-5 days at a time), I've always felt that I was not as big an influence in her life as I should be, and seeing how much bigger & grown up she is every time I see her, and (coincidently) how she had this little music box as a young girl of about 3 years old that played "Over the Rainbow" and she was never without it (and now does not even remember having the toy or loving the song) really hit kind of close to home.

    Anyway, watching this episode one evening, alone in my den (my wife never really got into the show), I just lost it and a combination of the sadness of the episode itself & it's correlation to my own circumstances with my own child really pushed me over the edge...especially when Rachael admitted on Mark's deathbed she DID remember the song, and put the headphones on Mark's ears so he could listen to it (and once I found out it was "Over the Rainbow", the waterworks began in earnest!) As a guy, I usually do not get sad at shows but I literally cried my eyes out for nearly an hour afterward, enought that my wife had to comfort me!



    I felt a bit embarrassed afterward, laughing & crying at the same time, but that single viewing (I have not been able to bring myself to watch it again!) of this episode, which has been probably 2 years ago now, has always stuck with me. A brilliantly written episode, that did exactly what it was intended to do...make you sad, make you think, and help you say goodbye to one of the most beloved characters in ER's history.moreless
Noah Wyle

Noah Wyle

Dr. John Carter

Laura Innes

Laura Innes

Dr. Kerry Weaver

Alex Kingston

Alex Kingston

Dr. Elizabeth Corday

Paul McCrane

Paul McCrane

Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano

Goran Visnjic

Goran Visnjic

Dr. Luka Kovac

Maura Tierney

Maura Tierney

Nurse Abby Lockhart

Natalie Bridgman

Natalie Bridgman

Serena

Guest Star

Nick Mita

Nick Mita

Kai

Guest Star

Guy Rodrigues

Guy Rodrigues

Billy

Guest Star

Christine Harnos

Christine Harnos

Jenn Simon

Recurring Role

Yvette Freeman

Yvette Freeman

Nurse Haleh Adams (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Michael Ironside

Michael Ironside

Dr. William Swift (uncredited])

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • (telling Elizabeth about what he put in his list of things he would like to do before he died)
      Mark: ...take the kids to Disneyworld; teach Ella how to ice skate at Rockefeller Center at Christmas time' teach Rachel how to drive; be there to give them both away at their weddings... I told you I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself.
      Elizabeth: We could go to Disneyworld. I'd like that.
      Mark: I haven't been a very good father.
      Elizabeth: Yes, you have.
      Mark: No, I haven't. I wasn't there when she needed me. I was four hundred miles away. Called on Saturdays. Couple of weeks in the summer. You know what the last thing on my list is? Fix Rachel.

    • (Elizabeth wakes up and finds Mark in the kitchen, writing something)
      Elizabeth: What are you doing?
      Mark: Making a list; things I've always wanted to do but never found time for. What? Too morbid? Wanna hear it?
      Elizabeth: Sure.

    • (after falling down half-paralyzed when trying to get out of bed)
      Greene: (pounds his hand on the floor) SHIT!!!

    • Rachel: Can I still come visit Ella?
      Corday: Of course... She's your sister.

    • Rachel: That's slave wages.
      Mark: It was enough to keep me in new records and good weed.
      (Rachel looks at Mark with shocked look on her face.)
      Mark: What you know, Records. LPs. Vinyls. Those funny big black things that your hip hop heroes are always ripping off of their songs.

    • Greene: You set the tone, Carter.

    • Mark: Hi.
      Rachell: Hi.
      Mark: I was just dreaming about you.
      Rachel: You were?
      Mark: The way you used to love balloons. Remember how much you loved balloons?
      Rachel: No.
      Mark: I used to buy them for you, and right when I handed them to you, you let them go. It drove your mother crazy. Sit with me. Sit. I was trying to figure out what I should have already told you, but I never have. Something important, something every father should impart to his daughter. I finally got it: generosity. Be generous, with your time...with your love....with your life.
      Rachel: Okay.
      Mark: I'm sorry, Rachel. I'm so tired.
      Rachel: It's okay.
      Mark: Don't cry for me.
      Rachel: I won't.
      Mark: Be generous...always.
      Rachel: I will. Daddy...I remember the lullaby. I remember you used to sing it to me every night. I remember.

  • NOTES (6)

  • ALLUSIONS (4)

    • The minister is reading bible passage John 11:25 during Mark's burial.

    • Mark tells Rachel that he used to be a surfer and that he smoked weed. This is an oblique reference to his portrayal of "Stoner Bud," a surfer and stoner, in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

    • Title: "On the Beach"
      This episode shares a title with Nevil Shute's 1957 post-apocalyptic novel, set primarily in Australia, about survivors of a nuclear war that has devastated the northern hemisphere. Those not killed in the initial conflict do what they can to fulfill their lives as they face an inevitable death from lethal radiation slowly creeping down from the north. A screen adaptation of the book, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins, was released in 1959.

    • The song playing when Rachel places headphones on her fathers ears to show him she remembers the lullaby he sang to her as a child is Israel Kamakawiwo`ole's rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," a song made famous by Judy Garland in the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. Mark also sings this song to Ella.

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