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ER: Season 15 - Separation Anxiety (Review)

John Stamos 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 eleventh episode, entitled Separation Anxiety.

What’s the story? When a drug deal goes bad, two brothers sustain serious injuries and are brought to the ER. Tensions continue between Gates (John Stamos, pictured) and Sam (Linda Cardellini), coming to a head when Tony is the last to know Alex is about to be released from the hospital.

Neela (Parminder Nagra) has to tell a young girl with sickle cell anemia that she must have an operation, and the case leads her to consider specializing in pediatric surgery. A feisty patient takes Morris (Scott Grimes) into her confidence. Banfield (Angela Bassett) ponders her choices about expanding her family.

Why so good? It’s a measure of how much we’ve come to care for the central characters in ER that an episode devoted largely to their personal concerns can remain so absorbing. ER has always been able to do the big episodes well… but it’s the writers’ attention to the small details, as well as the characters who occupy the show, that has helped it to be so enduring.

Separation Anxiety had medical cases to solve and lives to save. But at its heart were the ongoing concers of its medical staff.

For Gates (Stamos), it was the continued frustration caused by his fallout with Sam (Cardellini). Admittedly, Sam’s irrational response to their relationship in the light of her son, Alex’s accident is more akin to something that Grey’s Anatomy‘s Meredith Grey might do – and, at the moment, her character is arguably the least sympathetic on the show.

But the plot device makes for some nice tension, as Gates attempts to make amends, prove his worth and move on. In a delicious end to the episode, Gates staggered from a bar and bumped into one of his interns, before deciding to take her home for a no-strings attached night of passion. We can probably guess, even at this stage, that their one night stand will bring further complications.

Yet, unlike the comings and goings of the Grey’s Anatomy staff, we actually can be bothered to care about Gates and the outcome of his indiscretion. Stamos has ensured that Gates is a loveable rogue, and a flawed hero. He’s prone to mistakes, prone to selfishness and even prone to sexism (albeit inadvertently), but when push comes to shove he does care, and viewers are in no doubt over the strength of his feelings towards Sam.

That same level of care can be extended to the ER‘s newest incumbent, Dr Banfield, whose renewed attempts to get pregnant with her husband gave us something else to root for. And it looks as though her efforts aren’t going to be easy – but we’re rooting for her, whilst being given a fascinating, and often heartbreaking, insight into how difficult it can be to conceive for an older woman.

My own personal favourite story of this episode, however, came from one of my favourite characters: Archie Morris (Grimes). His attempts to calm down a loud, mouthy and possibly violent female drug dealer were hilarious – with Grimes once again delivering one priceless expression after another.

The eventual revelation that his patient was an undercover cop also led to some really nice, even intimate moments between them, as Morris slowly became aware of the fact there was chemistry between them… only to have his suggestion of a drink turned down.

Nevertheless, their interplay was fun and provided a nice interlude to some of the more weighty issues.

Separation Anxiety may not have been a classic episode, but it’s proof that viewers should never be bored in the ER‘s company. As ever, the hour zipped by.

Read our review of the previous episode

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