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ER: Season 15 - A Long, Strange Trip (Review)

David Lyons in ER

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we’ve decided to take a look at each episode of the 15th and final season of ER. On this occasion, it’s the 14th episode, entitled A Long, Strange Trip.

What’s the story? Gates (John Stamos) and Morris (Scott Grimes) tend to an elderly man who was assaulted on the street. Sam (Linda Cardellini)‘s sister shows up unexpectedly. Brenner (David Lyons) and Dubenko (Leland Orser) clash while treating a mother thought to have late stage cancer. Dr. Morgenstern (William H Macy) returns to the ER to assist a former mentor who is seriously ill.

Why so good? A nostalgic episode in many ways, this was another example of ER at its best.

The main thrust of the emotion came from Brenner and Dubenko’s attempts to treat a mother who they thought had late stage cancer, and the unexpected role in proceedings that another patient had to play.

The elderly patient in question was a man named Oliver Kostin (Rance Howard) who initially was found staggering into the ER ambulance bay having been the victim of a suspected mugging. He was also prone to seeing the ER staff dressed in the uniforms of their predecessors, from around the ’60s.

But it transpired that Oliver was a former ER great – the man responsible for turning it into the operating and emergency facility it is today, and a great diagnostic practitioner.

It was Oliver who realised that the female patient with cancer didn’t have cancer, but TB. But his diagnosis was made all the more incredible by the revelation that he was also sufferging from dementia and had little grasp of reality.

Oliver’s presence afforded the opportunity for another favourite ER regular to make a fleeting return – in this case, William H Macy’s Dr. Morgenstern.

An accomplished character actor, Macy brilliantly conveyed the pride and heartbreak of a man who knew he was witnessing the final moments of Oliver – a man he referred to as a mentor, and whom we knew was also a father figure.

His pride at Oliver’s brilliant diagnosis was plain for all to see, while his sadness at the loss of a friend was brilliantly conveyed. When Oliver did eventually pass away, his loss was sorely felt by every viewer and member of the ER staff.

Brenner, too, stood out in the episode… once again getting to show the sensitivity that has increasingly become a feature of his time at County General. His optimism for the cancer patient was unflinching, and he even clashed with Dubenko’s brusk, matter-of-fact approach on several occasions.

After initially considering Brenner’s addition to the series to be inconsequential, the character has grown into something of a favourite and praise must go to Lyons for making his transition so endearing.

Another favourite, meanwhile, continued to impress in this episode. Morris (Scott Grimes) reverted back to more jokey demeanour as he attempted to put his burgeoning relationship with Detective Claudia Diaz into context… and cope with the protective comments of her colleagues as they took it in turns to warn Morris about the repercussions of breaking her heart.

As ever, ER juggled the big emotional stuff with moments of light-relief in expert fashion…

Read our review of the previous episode

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