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ER: Season 15 - Haunted (Review)

ER, Neela

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 fifth episode, entitled Haunted.

What’s the story? It’s Halloween night, and the interns continue to be paired with the residents. Gates’ (John Stamos) teaching methods with Daria, and her responses, belittle Sam (Linda Cardellini). A school fight results in a stabbing and a nose that won’t stop bleeding, with Brenner (David Lyons) treating the victims and being deeply affected by the truth behind their confrontation. The staff, especially Neela (Parminder Nagra), are enthusiastic about a surprise visitor.

Why so good? (SPOILER WARNING) Don’t read on if you don’t want to find out the identity of the surprise visitor in this episode!!

Episode five of the 15th and final season of ER, appropriately entitled Haunted in honour of its Halloween theme, had all the usual patient dilemmas and involving character arcs, but was notable for the return of one character – Dr. Ray Barnett (Shane West).

Last seen in a hospital bed having lost both of his legs following an accident, Ray returned in a Frankenstein mask to surprise the ER staff and, in particular, former roomie and frustrated love interest Neela.

Their reunion was typically touching. At first, it was all smiles, for both characters and viewers, as two old friends were reunited for the first time in a while. Then came the awkwardness, as each tip-toed around the other over the issue of feelings and the events that led up to Ray’s accident.

Ray, however, was in a good place mentally. Now walking with the aid of prosthetics, he had come to terms with his injuries and seemed to be on top of his feelings for Neela.

Neela, on the other hand, still had to deal with the guilt she felt over her part in Ray’s accident, not to mention the feelings she still clearly held for him. The big question, therefore, was whether they’d get together at the end of the episode.

The resolution was surprisingly poignant, complicated – as ever – by the continued presence of Australian doc Brenner, who harbours his own feelings for Neela, and who found himself surprisingly emotionally affected by the case he was treating.

Neela and Ray are no strangers to love triangles, of course… it was, after all, one involving the two of them and Gates that contributed to Ray’s accident. But on this occasion, Neela wanted to let Ray back into her life, and the final moments between them as they lingered over a kiss, had you praying that Ray would stay.

He didn’t… admirably walking away and casting one last glance in Neela’s direction as he got into his car to drive away. But will he return? And have the foundations been put in place for Neela’s happy ending to the show? Maybe… the hopeless romantic in me writes.

Needless to say, the episode belonged to Shane West and he was terrific as Ray… reminding us of why he was one of the show’s popular characters, and why his exit was quite so shocking.

But Neela, too, impressed as she juggled some complicated emotions, and the ever-improving Brenner (David Lyons) continued to show hitherto untapped emotional depths.

His reactions to a case involving a bullied schoolboy and his wreck of a mum (played by Michelle Pfeiffer’s sister, Dedee), were a salient reminder of how ER has always been able to mix interesing medical cases with involving personal stories over the course of an episode (something that Grey’s Anatomy has seldom been able to do).

Of note, too, was a shooting involving a police officer and a Halloween reveller, that afforded Gregg Henry a strong extended cameo as the guilt-stricken officer responsible for accidentally discharging his weapon. His scenes with Angela Bassett’s Dr Banfield were particularly strong.

And Gates (John Stamos) mixed some touching bonding scenes between himself and a young patient with some inadvertently chauvanistic comments at the expense of love interest Sam Taggart. There was definitely a touch of Clooney’s Dr Ross about him throughout this episode.

All in all, then, another outstanding episode that marked the welcome return of another past favourite.

What did you think?

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  1. You are so right:
    “Needless to say, the episode belonged to Shane West and he was terrific as Ray… reminding us of why he was one of the show’s popular characters, and why his exit was quite so shocking..”
    Thanks for your amazing review!

    Joana    Feb 8    #
  2. I hope Shane returns and whisks Neela off into the sunset.

    Tracy    Feb 10    #