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ER: Season 15 - Love Is A Battlefield (Review)

ER, Scott Grimes

Review by Jack Foley

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 13th episode, entitled Love Is A Battlefield.

What’s the story? Morris (Scott Grimes) faces a complicated case involving a young girl hit while riding her bicycle. Gates (John Stamos) finds it very difficult to let go of his feelings for Sam (Linda Cardellini). Neela (Parminder Nagra) becomes quite flustered when Brenner (David Lyons) returns from Australia.

Why so good? Another week, another strong episode in the 15th and final season of ER. Love Is A Battlefield offered strong character development and a compelling stand-alone medical case.

The case involved a young teenage girl who had been hit by a car while riding her bike, and the complication stemmed from what really happened. Was she the victim of a motorist who had jumped a red light (as she claimed?). Or had she ridden deliberately in front of his path? And if so, why?

Morris suspected the problem may have stemmed from the girl’s boyfriend, but was forced to look on powerlessly as she refused to confide in him. He did, however, find an ally in Officer Claudia Diaz (Justina Machado), the undercover detective he had befriended in a previous episode, and who was now marking her time as a beat officer.

As ever, Grimes made the switch from joker to serious actor in exemplary fashion, perfectly conveying the frustration of his situation, and anger at the perceived failure of the system to intervene.

The surprising conclusion of the episode came after Morris made the desperate decision to leave the hospital and go and find the teenager, for fear of what her boyfriend might do in the future… or what she may do to herself. A plea to her father had apparently fallen on deaf ears – until he got to her home and found a crime scene.

As ever, ER conveyed a difficult story in unrelenting and involving fashion and offered no easy answers in the outcome. We won’t get to see the repercussions of what transpired, but the look on Morris’ face as he watched his patient being taken away in an ambulance spoke volumes for his continued concern… and ours.

That same unflinching approach to reality was extended to another aspect of the week’s plotting, this time involving Dr Banfield (Angela Bassett)‘s continued attempts to get pregnant again via IVF.

With the support of her husband (brilliantly played with just the right amount of empathy and support by Courtney B. Vance), she attempted artificial insemination, only to find that the procedure had failed. The final scene between them, as Russell cradled his distraught wife in his arms after she’d come round to learn the news, was devastating – but crucially not overplayed.

Strong, too, were ongoing storylines involving Gates (John Stamos) and Sam (Linda Cardellini) and their will they/won’t they relationship – something that has become far more compelling than the endless will they/won’t they that pre-occupies Grey’s Anatomy.

And Neela’s feelings for Brenner (Lyons), who continued to grow as a character by bringing back gifts for his colleagues from his recent trip to Australia. The two ended the episode in a passionate clinch after Neela finally admitted and gave it to her feelings for him.

The final word, however, goes to two more of the episode’s guest stars, veteran director Garry Marshall (of Pretty Woman fame) and Debra Mooney, who played an elderly couple who had been married to each other (and divorced) three times. Their spiky banter was brilliant early on (“I’ve got a pain in my ass, and he’s standing over there”), while their obvious feelings for each other were expertly relayed once the medical case involving Mooney got serious.

As ever, ER juggled humour, emotion, ongoing character development and thought-provoking cases of the week with effortless ease. It really will be missed.

Read our review of the previous episode

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