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ER: Season 15 - T-Minus-6 (Review)

Noah Wyle in ER

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 17th episode, entitled T-Minus-6.

What’s the story? The Banfields explore their options with an adoption agency. Carter (Noah Wyle) holds his own in spite of the procedural and technological advances made to emergency medicine since he’s been gone. Brenner (David Lyons) has concerns about Lucy’s foster family. Morris (Scott Grimes) treats a couple who takes his advice a little too far. Sam (Linda Cardellini) gets quite the shock when her mother comes into the ER. Neela (Parminder Nagra) makes a decision about her future. Banfield (Angela Bassett) discovers Carter’s secret.

Why so good? Once again, the focus of this episode was primarily on Carter (Noah Wyle) and how he struggled to cope with the changing pace of life in the ER. It provided doubts, triumphs and tragedy… as well as confirmation that Carter was, indeed, back for a medical reason.

Having been stabbed in one kidney during one of the more shocking and memorable ER episodes, Carter had since contracted an infection while serving in Darfur and now needed a kidney transplant. He jokingly told Banfield (Angela Bassett) that he’d returned in the hope of persuading her to donate one of her own to his cause.

But despite finding some humour from his predicament when discussing it with a colleague, quieter moments when the character found himself alone gave an insight into just how serious the doctor’s plight has become. He looked haunted and drained on a couple of occasions.

Not that this affected his overall medical performance. Carter may have been rusty, but he proved he had lost none of his ability and won a tussle with Neela over how to save one patient from brain damage and paralysis, before bravely performing open surgery in a bid to save a mother who had been injured in an explosion.

In typical ER style, however, Carter’s first day back wasn’t all about triumphs. The mother eventually perished in spite of his best efforts – an outcome that was only revealed a little later, rather than mid-surgery.

Carter’s pain at having lost the battle was evident, as was the admiration of his once sceptical co-worker, Gates (John Ramos), who found him to praise the bravery of his endeavour.

Wyle’s decision to return to the ER for the final episodes is an inspired one, and a welcome reminder of just how special the show was in its heyday – not that the quality has diminished in the slightest.

Elsewhere, another of the key developments concerned Dr Brenner, whose reaction to hearing that Lucy’s new foster father had walked around naked at home reminded viewers of the demons he’s harbouring from his own childhood abuse.

In a moment of hot headed fury, Brenner challenged the father in the street and even lunged at him, before realising the error of his ways and retreating. The final moments of the episode found him drunk at Neela’s apartment, desperately attempting to hold himself together. The scene ended with him storming out.

Brenner was once a brash, borderline male chauvanist. But thanks to some quality writing, we’ve been able to peak under the outward charisma to find a person who is both sensitive and deeply troubled. It’s tribute to Lyons that he remains such an intriguing character.

Neela, meanwhile, underwent her own crisis of confidence, clashing with Carter and her boss, before deciding that she no longer wanted to remain at County General. Does this pave the way for her departure at the end of the series, possibly into the arms of Ray?

Sam Taggart, meanwhile, displayed a great deal of sadness and sensitivity in dealing with her dementia-ridden mother, while Gates continued to offer a shoulder to cry on and a sounding board. Surely a reunion is on the cards?

And Morris once again came up trumps in the humour stakes – encouraging and then discouraging a “play-it-safe” couple to take some risks before one of them went too far and became involved in a collision with a motorcyclist.

It may just have been another day in the ER, but the blood, the drama, the moral and ethical dilemmas and the heartbreak scenarios were all present and correct, making this yet another absorbing entry into this final series.

What’s more, George Clooney’s return is only a heartbeat away…

Read our review of the previous episode

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