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ER: Season 15 - Another Thursday At County (Review)

Angela Bassett in ER

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 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 second episode, entitled Another Thursday At County.

What’s the story? Everyone in the ER is trying to cope with the loss of their colleague and feels defensive towards the new Chief (Angela Bassett) and her tough disposition. Gates (John Stamos) and the new interns treat a bio terrorist, who has a lethal secret that endangers them all. Neela (Parminder Nagra) makes a great effort to get Dubenko back on the surgery staff.

Why so good? Another Day At County felt like just another day in the life and times of ER – that’s to say, a workmanlike episode… but one that’s still above average for this long-running show.

It was notable for heralding the arrival of the latest ER Chief, Dr Catherine Banfield (played by Angela Bassett), and for placing Gates at the centre of a life-threatening situation.

First, Bassett. As ever with a new recruit, the actress – hitherto best-known for big screen roles in What’s Love Gotta To With It and Strange Days – had to work fast to establish her credentials. And, as ever, she proved tough but fair.

Nurse Samantha Taggert (Linda Cardellini) was an early recipient of Banfield’s no-nonsense approach, while Dr. Archie Morris (Scott Grimes) also seemed to be continually put out by her presence.

Banfield’s best moment came in an angry exchange with Morris, when she quietly but firmly allowed him to rant before her, apologised for the loss of his friend (Pratt) the week before, and then informed him, succinctly, that this would be the last time they had a heated conversation of this type. A tearful Morris knew he’d been out of line and was left to rue his words… and Banfield’s warning.

Elsewhere, Banfield’s firm stance with her doctors was offset by the compassion she showed towards patients – allowing one mother some brief moments to say a farewell to her child before he entered life-threatening surgery.

Thus far, Bassett appears to be another worthy addition to the show. While she may lack the immediate charisma of past chiefs Stanley Tucci and John Leguizamo, she’s measured in her approach and clearly harbouring a personal pain (as evidenced by the final shot of a photo of her with her family, now apparently absent from her life). She should be an interesting character to watch develop.

The big drama came from Gates’ encounter with a bio-terrorist patient – whose subsequent treatment under protest unleashed a potentially deadly toxin into the air. Quarantined with a group of first day interns, Gates attempted to keep on top of the situation, make do-or-die choices, keep his interns on the ball and even save the life of a second patient, who had been in an adjoining booth suffering from asthma.

Needless to say, he excelled and John Stamos provided another effortless display of his bravery, heroism and undoubted charisma. He’s fast become another of the show’s most popular characters.

Unlike season opener Life After Death, Another Thursday At County didn’t hit any real emotional highs, but it zipped along at a cracking pace and was never less than compulsive viewing.

In its early days, this 15th and final season looks to be bringing things to a close on a high.

Read our verdict on the emotional season opener

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