300 Patients is a beautiful but sad Christmas episode where Abby with a push from the hospital chaplain finally finds the courage to ask for help.
”Sometimes using all your strength means asking for help” is the message of the story the chaplain, played by Reiko Aylesworth, tells Abby in the lounge at the ER. ”I thought maybe you needed to hear it” is her reply when Abby asks her why she told her the story. And she was right, Abby did need to hear that.
Remember way back in season 8 when Abby and Luka broke up. “I don’t want help, I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want to be saved” she told Luka. Her childhood, abandoned by her father and coping with a “crazy” mother, made her feel inferior and people trying to help her made her feel patronised. She had no-one to rely on as a kid and had been used to take of herself, so she wanted to be independent. And now she is also utterly ashamed.
The Christmas episode of season 14, 300 Patients, is a truly heartbreaking one, although not tragic as such. The scene at home that starts with Luka playing with Joe, preparing him for the impending flight to Croatia, and Abby coming to sit behind them before the finally gets the courage to take the chaplain’s advice. This is probably one of my favourite Luby moments ever.
Abby is terrified of admitting the truth – the drinking, the cheating and the putting Joe in danger – afraid of what will happen if she does. Luka’s pain is somewhat the same, knowing something wrong, but also afraid of finding out and what that will do to them, confronting her without daring to ask the questions out loud. Abby’s kissing him on the neck before finally saying those words: ”I need help.” Luka freezing, but then never taking his eyes away from her. Two people so evidently in fear and in pain.
Their continuous scene is four minutes long, which seems really unusual for a such a scene, just two persons talking quietly. It’s a heartbreaking one. The confession, the sadness, the wish to get more information than there is a strength to offer. There is no fighting or arguing. The blame is put only on themselves, never on each other.
“This is how we do it together, you have to help me do it alone”, is Abby’s final solution for them to move on. The guilt ridden Abby knows this is on her to fix. He will take Joe to the funeral in Croatia. She will go to a rehab facility. The heartbroken, but ever supportive Luka, finds his strength to – reluctantly – agree. It’s not a happy Christmas for the two of them, but finally they are on some kind of path forward, without quite knowing yet where it will lead.
300 Patients, also the 300th episode of ER, is written by Joe Sachs and David Zabel and directed by John Wells.
Note! All photos are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.