ER: Season 15 - What We Do (Review)
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 18th episode, entitled What We Do.
What’s the story? A camera crew shooting footage for a documentary interviews members of the ER staff. Detective Claudia Diaz (Justina Machado) is brought in, critically injured with gunshot wounds. Neela (Parminder Nagra) laments the lack of communication between her and Brenner (David Lyons). Sam (Linda Cardellini) struggles to reconcile with her mother. Carter (Noah Wyle)‘s condition worsens quite suddenly.
Why so good? What We Do allowed the ER characters to take it in turns to talk to camera about their experiences of working in the hospital. Yet it was a curious episode given the dramatic storyline that ran concurrently.
From having read the brief synopsis prior to tuning in, I’d been expecting another emotionally draining 45 minutes at County, given that Detective Claudia Diaz was about to suffer critical injuries in a shooting, which would almost certainly put Archie Morris through the wringer.
But while the storyline was absorbing and typically touch and go, the frequent interludes offered by the presence of the documentary team proved distracting… even more so when Carter (Noah Wyle), the doctor treating Diaz, suffered a downturn in his own personal fortunes, caused by a sudden acceleration of his kidney complaint.
Hence, two lives hung in the balance, suggesting a much more frenetic pace for the episode. Instead, we got the monologues which, while interesting and thought-provoking in their own way, seemed at odds with what was happening in the rest of the episode.
It was one of the few cases that an ER suffered from possibly being a little over-ambitious. But the drama was, nonetheless, first-class.
Carter and Morris both, almost predictably, offered the most poignant on-camera observations as they were forced to take stock of their place at the hospital and the events that had brought them to that point in their career.
But every cast member registered in some way, which is testament to both the quality of the writing and the sensitivity of the performances that have enabled us to care about one and all in some way.
As for the drama, Carter was last seen being driven away by ambulance to await a potential donor to save his life, while Diaz was seen in recovery as her hopes of survival seemed strong. Morris, of course, was by her side… hoping and praying that his newfound love interest would pull through.
As ever, Scott Grimes portrayed Morris with the right amount of comedy and sadness… his early gesture of painting his flat as a surprise for Diaz as touching as it was nicely relayed by the actor. He has grown in stature as an actor of tremendous calibre during his time in the ER.
And Wyle, too, continued to make Carter one of the most likeable and sympathetic characters on the show – a good guy whose current predicament was all the more heartbreaking. As with all great actors, he can convey a lot with very little and his torment and anguish at being incapacitated was plain for all to see.
Elsewhere, the relationship complications between Neela and Brenner finally came to a head, with the former finally discovering – via Morris – why the latter was proving so emotionally cold towards her.
Her reaction – or over-reaction, depending on how you viewed it – was similarly heartbreaking and left Brenner devastated. Again, while not every viewer may have agreed with Neela’s handling of the situation, it’s a further tribute to the bravery of the screenwriting that not every character will always appear to make the right choices at any given time.
Film crew observations aside, this was another gripping episode that brought us one step closer to the series finale…
What did you think?
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