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ER: Season 15 - Parental Guidance

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 fourth episode, entitled Parental Guidance.

What’s the story? Dr Banfield (Angela Bassett) defends herself ably during a mugging. Dubenko (Leland Orser) returns to work, due in no small part to Brenner’s organized protests. In return, Brenner (David Lyons) asks a favour of Dubenko. A young gymnast comes into the ER with injuries consistent with a fall, but Banfield and Gates (John Stamos) each think a different family member may actually be to blame. Sarah (Chloe Greenfield) neglects to ask Gates’ permission before getting her tongue pierced.

Why so good? Angela Bassett’s new ER chief Dr Banfield (pictured) took centre stage again for this highly enjoyable latest episode in the landmark 15th and final season of this fine medical drama.

Firstly, she fought off a mugger and dealt him more injuries than her own, and then took the lead in a case of possible child abuse. The young gymnast in question appeared to have been pushed off a wall by her possibly abusive mother, but as she and Gates debated who was to blame, a new culprit emerged.

In truth, the real identity of the person responsible for the gymnast’s injuries was obvious some time before the ER staff realised it, but the issue was still well-handled and prompted some interesting questions over the role of social services and medical personnel in suspected cases of child abuse. If anything, it underlined how nothing is ever as easy as it seems when tackling such incidences.

The resolution of the case, as Banfield confronted the true aggressor (and we’re deliberately not revealing it here), was chilling in the extreme, and yet another example of the way in which ER doesn’t shirk from some of the tougher material it covers.

As Banfield, Bassett is quickly making the character her own – emerging as tough but sensitive, and a harbourer of hidden secrets (from her past) that are gradually, even painfully, being revealed. Bassett appears to be another worthy addition to an already glittering array of extended guest stars.

Elsewhere, there was a nice father-daughter moment between Gates and Sarah, as he got to grips with his daughter’s sexual awakening and attempted to “be there” as much as he could – balancing the need to be firm, with supportive. Gates, as played by John Stamos, is rapidly becoming one of our favourite characters.

We’re also warming to David Lyons’ egotistical Australian doc Brenner, whose pursuit of Neela continued with fresh impetus. Perhaps he’s not the womanising wretch everyone has him pegged to be after all? But then again…

And talking of Neela (Parminder Nagra), there was even a shot of her e-chatting to another of the ER‘s former favourites – Dr. Ray Barnett (Shane West), last seen in a hospital bed having lost both his legs in an accident. West did not appear, but perhaps this opens the door for another cameo as the show reaches its final days?

All in all, a strong – if unspectacular – helping of ER that just goes to prove how consistently entertaining it can be, even when not trying too hard.

Read about the previous episode

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