ER: The couples, the wedding and the commitment in I Do

I Do tells as story about an impromptu wedding, but it is another couple who we hear firmly state their commitment to each other.

Episode 9 in season 12, titled I Do, is yet another episode that shows just how well thought-through the ER stories are. It starts with Neela and Michael having fun under the covers and we understand that Michael spontaneously asked Neela to marry him that same day. We spend the episode thinking that the title refers to them, watching them happy, giddy and nervous as they plan the wedding that takes place later at the hospital chapel.

Luka’s reply is as much a commitment as any wedding vow.

Not until the absolute last second do we realise that the words in the title did not refer to their wedding at all, or at least not only, but to Luka’s ”I do” to Abby’s question, if he really thinks they should be doing this (being together). Luka’s reply is as much a commitment as any wedding vow. Although he whispers it, his statement is loud and clear.

I do A and LNeela says “I do” in the morning on the train, stating that she does want to get married, but we never get to hear them say the words during the ceremony. The difference between the last shot of Luka and Abby hot and heavy in bed, and the one of Neela and Michael on the train, gives us a hint of the different fates of their relationships, unfortunately.

I do N and MThe reality of that impromptu decision seems to have caught up with the young doctors and, in addition of the expression in their faces and their body language, I can’t help but to put relevance to the fact that they are riding backwards on the train.

Read more about I Do in the post about Luka’s story, where it is presented from his perspective: ER’s Abby and Luka, part 1: Luka’s story through 10 episodes

I Do is written by Lydia Woodward and directed by Gloria Muzio.

Note! Photo and video are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

More about great episodes here: ER: Great episodes
Like Abby and Luka? Check this page out: ER’s Abby and Luka

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ER’s Abby and Luka: 10 moments showing how Split Decisions is encompassing everything about these two

Split Decisions — while sweet, serious, hilarious and hot — touches on so many pain points of Abby and Luka’s past at the same time as it so charmingly shows their utter excitement of the future.

I didn’t realise at first that writing about Split Decisions would be such a long post. Although I love the episode I have never seen it as an absolute favourite, but watching it again, I see how brilliantly it touches on so many pain points of Abby and Luka’s past at the same time as it shows their excitement of the future, and it does this while sweet, serious, hilarious and totally hot.

The quick glances they share are filled with uncertainty and care, grief and sadness, compassion, love and understanding in the middle of all excitement. All in just about a second.

There are so many delicate scenes with them adjusting to the fact that they are having a baby. The scenes are confirming just how it was never about not wanting for Abby, only to have the courage to keep the baby. Now she is so excited, yet at the same time so scared, in the sweetest emotional mix. Here are 10 glorious moments:

1. The excitement of having a baby

That first bedroom scene, filmed partly from above, is just filled with little miracles including Luka’s groaning answer “barely” to her demanding “are you awake?” And yes, although the hormones keeps her from sleeping, it is obvious, so does her excitement.

SD excitementIt is worth noting that it is mostly Abby’s excitement that is expressed in this whole episode. That Luka wanted more than anything to have another child we already know and we learn that he has already told his father. And that very happy “we’re having a baby” says all about what he feels. Yet, in the rest of the episode, and actually all through the pregnancy he is rather low-key about it. He has no need to express that excitement, he happily bears it inside of him, perhaps on purpose letting Abby’s excitement be prominent.

2. Jokingly facing Abby’s past

Abby has no plan telling her mother until maybe he’s in high-school, she tells Luka. “He?”  ”I just think I would be better with a boy. The mother-daughter dynamics just scares the hell out of me.” I love how they are so much more comfortable with talking to each other. Not only does Abby express her feelings about her mother, Luka has the courage to joke a bit about it, remember how he emphasises ”your mother”?

3. The comfortable breakfast scene with the uncomfortable subject

SD breakfastThen there is the breakfast scene with Abby declaring she wants be prepared and therefor go comparison-shopping. They are so comfortable together at the table you get the feeling she has already moved in, but they still dance around the subject about actually doing so. Luka has kind of asked her once, and Abby broke up with him, so he won’t do that mistake again. Abby seems defensive and starts taking about her own apartment. She is obviously scared about committing and moving in, still it might be that she would have wanted Luka to ask. Abby in a nutshell these days, excited but super-scared, and Luka is taking it easy, he won’t push as he did once before.

4. Luka never getting those jokes

First he is as usual not getting Abby’s joke. “Maybe a little mobile of famous Croatian diplomats?” Ok, it was not the best of jokes, although Abby tells it adorably. Later he makes me squirm uncomfortably as he is trying to make a joke about identical twins and custody and just fails miserably. He should just leave it be.

5. That crotch glance!

SD crotch glanceI can’t help but blush a little every time I watch Abby’s quick glance at Luka’s crotch while uttering her infamous ”if your mutant Croatian seed causes me to have twins…”. Is that only me?

6. Saying it out loud for the first time

Again Abby’s excitement and the need to make it real shines through when Abby tries to express it out loud when the nice clerk lady asks who it is for: ”It’s for me… us. We’re having a baby. Together.” Finally, she got to say it and it felt good.

It reminds me of an episode in season 13 when they have decided to get married, but Luka does not want to tell the colleagues in the ER. He does say it to a random pair of patients though, and you could feel how he loved saying it out loud, to make it real, without revealing it everybody.

7. Being a normal guy

SD Abby and Luka making faceIt’s is not often Luka gets to be the “normal” guy, in this case the one that is not happy to be be shopping, trying things on etc. The subtle eye-roll and making that one face is rather sweet and funny though, because we know he really wants the baby and actually is the epitome of support. It’s like Luka wants it to be normal, not always have everything affected by his past. Then again, it will pop up…

8. Thoughtfully facing Luka’s sad past

SD Abby and Luka yesMaybe this is my favorite moment of the episode, the looks they give each other before and after Luka answers “yes” to the question from the clerk lady if the baby is their first. Abby didn’t know what to answer, but Luka quickly came to her rescue. It’s alright he seemed to say, there is no need to give all the details to a complete stranger. And the quick glances they share are filled with uncertainty and care, grief and sadness, compassion, love and understanding in the middle of all excitement. All in just about a second.

9. The screwball comedy when facing Luka’s embarrassing past

SD ScrewballThen it suddenly turns into screwball comedy as a woman from the hospital pharmacy walks into the baby store and Abby forces Luka to hide behind the stalls. He does not get why and Abby’s ”Oh Luka, every woman who works in the hospital knows who you are. Trust me” is funnily double-sided, if you ask me. Does she mean they know him because he is the tall, hot and handsome doctor at the ER or because he slept with half of them those months as he slowly fell into his depression?

10. The hotness and that magical fall to the floor

SD Hotness 2They make their way to the changing room and the rest is just sweet, hot and heavy conjoining. I just need understand how they in practice did that falling towards the floor? The squeaky rabbit letting us know they reached the bottom just finishes this Luby episode that is nothing but pure perfection.

The episode is written by R. Scott Gemmill and directed by Richard Thorpe.

Note! All photos are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

You find more about Abby and Luka here: ER’s Abby and Luka
And more ER : More ER greatness

ER: The brutal masterpiece that is Be Still My Heart

Be Still My Heart is the beautiful title of the masterful 13th episode of the 6th season, an episode full of sadness, cocky doctors and those warnings we just didn’t see.

“Be Still My heart is” what an old lady tells Abby her late husband used to say to her and what becomes a comfort to her as she herself now is dying. And I can’t help thinking that those same words is something the parents, dead after a car accident, would want to whisper to their young children as they get to see their parents’ bodies in the trauma room.

Be Still My Heart, Valentine's Day, Lucy and CarterThe title also serves as advice to us viewers, even if we don’t understand it until afterwards. Because it is a heartbreaking shock we are given at the end – without a doubt the moment in TV that has shocked me the most –  and it is all delivered with such brilliance.

We already got our share of sadness in the episode and felt Lucy’s frustration over not getting support from Carter as her migraine patient is behaving exceedingly odd. We think it is time to relax, the drama has calmed down and we let ourselves be embraced by the cheerful party atmosphere. It’s Valentine’s day, the ER is decorated, the candy is o display at the counter and the music is playing loudly. Lydia’s ”there’s a bigger knife in the lounge” gives us warning that we do not understand, before we distanced by the heavy beat try to process what we see.

Showrunner John Wells, the scriptwriter Lydia Woodwards and the director Kerry Weaver show exceptional skills and how very thought-throug every episode of ER is.

Note! Photo and video are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

More about great episodes here: ER: Great episodes
Like Abby and Luka, check this page out: ER’s Abby and Luka

ER’s Abby and Luka: Using all their strength in 300 Patients

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.

Screenshot toralil, 300 PatientsThe 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.

Screenshot toralil, 300 patients
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.

Screenshot toralil, 300 Patients
“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.

For more about  ER, check out: ER’s Abby and Luka and ER: Favourite episodes

ER: The mesmerising 24 Hours that is the pilot

The ER pilot is a delight to rewatch with it’s dramatic camera work, documentary feeling,  genuine characters and that quote that will stay with the show forever.

I rewatch the ER pilot episode 24 Hours again and it is great. What impresses me the most is the camera work of the medical scenes. It’s like the camera has a life of its own and looks up the drama, zooms in on a character, rests for a while and studies the drama carefully before continuing its observations elsewhere. Sometimes it’s close and sometimes it backs away and captures all the drama and all the motions in the room. It gives a documentary feeling and the realistic and down-to-earth tone together with the genuine characters and that crass humor they use to get through the day, creates a very attractive drama.

Screenshot toralil
It starts with Mark (Anthony Edwards) being on call and being woken by Lydia (Ellen Crawford) to take care of the drunken Doug (George Clooney) who wants a medical pick-me-up shot. This apparently is something that happens oh so often. The cocky but confirmation-seeking Benton (Eriq La Salle) gets the assignment to take care of the new med student Carter who does his first day at the emergency room. Noah Wyle is really, really funny as Carter, the nervous new med student not really knowing what to do, as here in the scene with Troy Evans, who play a polis with a wound, but not the same polis he used to be when starting at the ER as the receptionist, Frank.

Screenshot toralil
I had almost forgot how Carter was in the beginning. He became different after the stabbing and his pain killer addiction in season 7. That innocence we see in the pilot was lost and I’m eager to study that change in him in the seasons preceding that. This is one of ER’s strength, the character journeys, I have written about Abby’s and Luka’s before. We also get the first glance of Susan (Sherry Stringfield) and Carol (Julianna Margulies) in the pilot and when it comes to the characters we get an idea of who they are but mostly an eagerness to get to know them further.

ER pilot Mark and Doug
So many scenes in the episode are beautifully staged and shot, starting from the first scene with Mark and the shadow of Lydia waking him up and the one where Mark and Doug are taking a physical and emotional breather after a truly hectic morning. There is another one with Mark and Carter outside as Carter had to throw up and Mark lets him know it is good to keep your emotions and not get hardened.

Seeing all those famous poses that we then get to rewatch in the intro year after year gives you the chills and and maybe even more so hearing Dr Morgenstern (William H Macy) address the tragedy fronting the ER staff with his famous words to Mark, “You set the tone Mark”, knowing those will be used as a relay baton later on in the show.

24 hours premiered September 19, 1994. It is written by Michael Crichton and directed by Rod Holcomb.

Note! All photos are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

For more about ER, check out: ER’s Abby and Luka and ER: Favourite episodes

ER’s Luka and Carter: The journeys, the brutality and the beauty of Kisangani and The Lost

In Kisangani and The Lost we get a brutal story about war and its victims, a glimpse of the fantastic work of Doctors Without Borders as well as the seeing Carter and Kovac find new purpose and meaning in life.

Nine years into ER it shows with grandiosity how it is still an amazing show. In two episodes, the last of season 9, Kisangani, and the second of season 10, The Lost, the screenwriters John Wells and David Zabel together with the director Christopher Chulack do not only tell an incredibly captivating and brutal story about war and its victims but also about Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières and their fantastic work. They also manage to magically weave in the inner journeys of two doctors, which both come to an end somewhere on the road in Congo. John Carter goes to Kisangani to find a greater purpose in life. Luka Kovac goes there to find any purpose at all, or maybe he goes there to die.

ER Kis 6
Luka spent season 9 being depressed. It was triggered by Abby choosing Carter instead of coming back to him. The reason itself was more likely the pain over the family that died and the guilt of being alive himself. You could also sense a death wish when Luka after having caused the death of a patient drove his Porsche into a building. After using a prostitute as therapist and getting an ultimatum from Weaver he tries to shape up before he decides to once again join Doctors Without Borders.

ER Kis 2
Carter comes from a very wealthy family and working as an ER doctor at the county hospital for little money seemed like a way for him to do good and give back in a way that his parents did not. When he realises that Abby is not the woman for him at the same time as his beloved grandmother dies he is distraught and when Luka asks him to come to Kisangani he knows he wants to go.

ER Kis 1
It’s a somewhat shocked and astounded Carter that realises the situation at the primitive hospital he has arrived to and gets a lesson in what symptoms means what diseases and what medicines are available. Both we and Carter get brutally aware of the everyday life where pneumonia and malaria are the milder ailments, polio, aids and not to forget the shooting and machete injuries, the worse.

ER Kis 5
While Carter sees the bad things, there is not enough or the right medicines to help, Luka sees the good: “We vaccinated 200 kids today. We saved their lives.” At the very basic clinic in Matenda Carter starts to feel at ease. Luka laughs and seems really happy in the midst of everything. He seems to be at home. When the war comes close he refuses to go back to Kisangani, he won’t leave his patients. He seems utterly calm and in harmony as he tends to his patients after Carter and the others have left. He is not afraid of the danger because Luka is not afraid to die.

ER Kis 9
When the rebels come back he runs to the woods with a child in his arms and it’s like he gets to do what he could not do with his own family. When his malaria stops him he urges the others to continue without him. Captured with tied hands, shaking from the fever, bruised and prepared to die, Luka says a prayer for the first time in a very long while, a prayer that actually saves him. Maybe he is not supposed to die after all. Luka is believed to be dead though and Carter comes back to Congo to find his body. Back in Africa and looking for his colleague he realises that he should stay. He has found his calling at the same time as Luka found his will to live.

ER Kis 4
What is so beautiful with this story also is how Carter and Luka find the respect for each other. While they both were pining for Abby they pretended it wasn’t there, but the fact that Luka asked Carter to come shows that of course there was some respect there already. In Congo it didn’t just grow unlimited. No, it almost feels like love when Luka reaches for Carter to give him a kiss on the cheek and thanks him for saving him. Maybe if you have stood on your knees next to each other, with guns pointed at your heads, there are no other feelings left to have for each other, even if you once fought over the same woman.

Note! All photos are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

For more about  ER, check out: ER’s Abby and Luka and ER: Favourite episodes

ER’s Abby Lockhart: The three amigos in An Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy

In An Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy we get to see our favourite new interns stress, learn and finding their own ways in that messy, energetic, rewarding galaxy that is the ER.

An Intern’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favourite episodes of season 11. It’s about Neela, who is back in the ER after doubting she wanted to be a doctor, Ray, the new intern and Abby of course, finally a doctor.

Screenshot toralil, An Intern's Guide to the Galaxy, Abby
The episode entails so much. It has the doctors challenging them (Pratt demanding them to discharge at least 25 patients each during their 12-hour shift), doctors being supportive (Luka of course, of Abby), doctors telling them to be more assertive (Dubenko to Abby who is letting Ray take over her cases) and doctors reprimanding them (Carter to Ray).

Screenshot toralil, An Intern's Guide to the Galaxy
None of the doctors are mean or obnoxious, they just show different ways of teaching. The interns, or the Three Amigos as I like to call them, are stressed and get a bit too confident, nervous or overzealous, but in the end they all get to learn, grow and find their own way during the shift.

Screenshot toralil, An Intern's Guide to the Galaxy, the three amigos
They get to know each other better as well as the become competitors during the day while both in the beginning and in the end working more as a team. We in turn get to learn more about them, dig deeper into their personalities. And all is done with such nuance and care as always. And it’s funny!

Screenshot toralil, The Intern's Guide to the Galaxy, Abby and Luka
They casually squeeze in a bit of Abby and Luka, thank you very much, and Abby gets to be Abby working on her insecurities: ”I’m trying to embrace uncertainty” is the way she handles the day. What is not as uncertain though, is that Abby cannot take care if her plants!

The episode is written by Lisa Swerling and directed by Arthur Albert.

Note! All photos are screenshots from DVD. Material owned by Warner Bros Entertainment Ltd.

For more about ER, check out: ER’s Abby and Luka and ER: Favourite episodes