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ER: Season 15 - Heal Thyself (Review)

Anthony Edwards as Dr Mark Greene in ER

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 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 seventh episode, entitled Heal Thyself.

What’s the story? While out for a mind-clearing run, Banfield (Angela Bassett) encounters a desperate situation and finds herself trying to rescue a very young girl from drowning in a nearby lake. Painful memories of her son in mortal danger and Dr Greene’s (Anthony Edwards) heroic attempts to save him are triggered during the experience. Meanwhile, Gates (John Stamos) attempts to pull some strings to help out a homeless war veteran, and the interns continue to struggle in the ER.

Why so good? Heal Thyself was almost certainly one of the final season episodes that long-term ER fans were looking out for… not least because it marked the return of departed former favourite Dr Mark Greene (played by Anthony Edwards).

And while news of his ‘comeback’ prompted much initial head-scratching when it was first announced (given that the character is dead), ER‘s writers found a suitably brilliant way to revisit him.

And, ironically, it was show newcomer Dr Banfield who made it possible, as the circumstances surrounding the loss of her son were finally – and heartbreakingly – revealed, while being mirrored by a present day case involving a child who had fallen into a lake and been submerged for the better part of 20 minutes.

Banfield’s torment stemmed from the loss of her son to leukaemia, a condition only diagnosed following a seizure the child suffered while playing in the park. Dr Greene battled valiantly to save him, but the diagnosis of leukaemia meant there was no time.

The scenario played out amid the backdrop of Greene’s own need for chemotherapy and afforded two more past seasonal regulars their own cameos – namely, Laura Innes’ Dr Kerry Weaver (who checked in to see the progress of the case), and Paul McCrane’s gruff Dr Romano, who didn’t miss the opportunity to bark some orders at Greene for failing to get to his treatment on time.

All three ensured that Heal Thyself was a classic episode – a five-star classic at that. Edwards slipped back into his Dr Greene persona effortlessly and it felt like old times at County General, albeit momentarily.

Greene was always a carer, and his words of comfort to Banfield were extremely touching… while his selfless decision to stay on and battle for his patient was typical of the man who often put patients before his own concerns.

McCrane’s Dr Romano was also a nice blast from the past… reminding us in a short space of time why he was another of the show’s favourites, despite his gruff demeanour. He also cared, as his little pause with Greene over their cancer exchange proved.

Hats off, too, to Bassett whose portrayal of Banfield was excellent, especially following the death of her child. She went through the range of emtions, from heartbreak, guilt, anger, despair and confusion without over-playing them.

And while there was the odd moment where sentimentality threatened to take over (a dream sequence involving Banfield’s imagined reunion with her child), the episode generally earned your tears, rather than manipulating them, especially during the final, poignant moments between Banfield and her husband.

Strong, too, was the moment when Banfield revealed to Morris (Scott Grimes) the truth behind the tragedy she harboured… especially in his overwhelmed response. It was another example of Grimes’ under-appreciated value to the show.

Heal Thyself was, therefore, another masterclass in how to involve viewers emotionally… just like ER has been doing for years. It will live long in the memory and was a fitting tribute to the memory of another of its long servants, co-creator Michael Crichton, who had passed away in the days before the episode aired in America.

To mark this, another former favourite, Eriq La Salle (aka Dr Benton), appeared before the episode began to say a few words.

Crichton, like ER, will be sorely missed.

Read our Michael Crichton obituary or our review of the previous episode Oh, Brother

What did you think?

  1. It was pure classic TV as only ER knows how. Revisiting Mark Green was like going back in time.. I almost felt young again

    James    Feb 26    #
  2. Can’t wait for Clooney’s return if it’s as good as Edwards’. I was in tears too

    Simone    Mar 5    #