Sunday, February 11, 2007

13.11 City of Mercy ... by surprise Guest Recappers ...

Next on CR…two would be/should be award winners guest-star in a Very Special CR. Fresh from their controversial but sometimes inspiring roles on ER boards, Californiagirl and Josie join Cranky in a performance that will take your breath away. A special CR to remember, or to try very hard to forget.

Fade in as Cranky places a box of PG Tips in her bedroom window in Philadelphia….

Cut to…Californiagirl looking pensively out of a window in California (Visual: beaches, Golden Gate Bridge)

Cut to…Josie looking pensively out of a window in Scotland (Visual: a castle, men in kilts…)

Cut to…Tall dark Croatian looking up, pensively, at a window…

Cut to…..


We gotta help her Josie,


I know. She’s not been well, the computer has played up….


………she has three kids……and a job….


We can help her, but it won’t be the same. We can’t be as funny…..or make with the links….or the alliteration…


One recap. We can do it Josie…..together….

Cut to a Salon. Soft lighting. We hear (Doctor Love playing in the background)….


Where did you say it hurt Cranky?


Crazy bitches fell for that one alright….

City of Mercy – The Recap

Previously on ER – Hope invites Morris to a Bible group; Ray wonders if Neela really thinks he’ll hang around till she finds out McEgo is just jerking her around with jerk being the operative word; McEgo tells Neela she makes him think (as if) about his life; Sam introduces Gentle Ben, Male Nurse to the staff and later he asks her if he can buy her a drink, “like a date?” asks Sam (where did I hear that before?), and she must be shocked as we all are that anyone would want to date her with her hair in its current condition; we meet Teller, a street urchin, aka Frodo, and he knows Neela’s secret name, MayDay (wasn’t that Sam on Cheers secret name?); Abby reacts strongly to finding out that there is a crazy, angry guy, other than Carter following them, and Luka didn’t tell her right away; and Luka pulls a Brian on Ames aka Bird threatening to kill him if he comes near his family.

We open to the ping of the elevator doors revealing a very somber Luka dressed as Rudolph. Nice antlers, but the nose? and Abby as a Christmas elf, green smock, elf hat, whole bit. They do not look like they have the Christmas spirit.

They’ve been up in pediatrics. Abby says it was “kinda fun” till one kid called her Rudolph skank. Called Abby a skank? Hey Chemoboy did you post on TWOP during season 9? Luka tells her one of them asked him if she was Sleepy or Sneazy. Wouldn’t Doc or Grumpy be more appropriate? Abby is offended, and says she’s an elf not a dwarf. Sam and Gentle Ben, Male Nurse are amused. Ben comments on Luka’s antlers. Whoa Ben, I don’t think you should be eyeing Luka’s antlers. Dubenko comments that they lost the pool – thus the crazed costumes. Ray tells Luka he’s got one hot dwarf. Abby takes issue with this, saying “I’m not a dwarf, I’m an elf damn it”, while lobbing a cookie at Ray’s head. Good to see that she managed to hit her target this time. Must mean that she has stopped throwing like a girl, as she did when she wantonly tossed End Table Frog at Luka in Parenthood and hit the blinds instead, making Mongo Joe aka MoJo cry.

We cut to the Hope/Morris Bible group where a discussion of vice comes up, and how to convert our vices to virtue. “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” plays in the background. Clearly Morris would like to be a merry gentleman because he thinks lust should be turned to consummation which amuses the group. Then he self corrects, saying to purity as opposed to chastity, spiritual purity as opposed to corporeal purity. He disses abstinence and proclaims you can be moral and not chaste, which seems to interest Hope. And may I say, for the record, that as a character on a nighttime drama being chaste is probably not an option. If it were, then watching my season 6 DVD wouldn’t be so painful. Could Mark Greene just keep his shirt on for 5 minutes? Or for all eternity? Eww.

Righteous Rudolph is pouring some coffee. “So you’re not mad at me anymore?” He’s in the locker room with the Exasperated Elf. He tells her it’s the first time in a week he’s seen her smile. She tells him the holiday spirit is just so infectious. And, Abby let me tell you, after Luka’s season 9 antics, you are very lucky that’s the only thing that’s infectious. Turns out they were both waiting for the other to lighten up. Does that mean they’ve been out of the Salon for a whole week? No wonder they looked so unhappy in that elevator . . . Rascally Rudolph tosses his antlers aside. The now more Effervescent Elf tells him not to try and be charming in that ridiculous outfit, and he mutters innocently and shmoozes “Who me charming?” and moves in, ostensibly to help Enchanted Elf undo her zipper, but this turns to neck suckling. I think the last time they discussed his charm was in I Do so pretty much we can guess that charming is code for time in the Hair Salon, and if history repeats, Luka’s getting lucky tonight. Eager Elf reaches behind her, stroking his hair and removing the nose because Randy Rudolph seems to do his best work in dim lighting. “Back off Rudolph,” she says arching and turning to provide Luka with some quality neck time, with a smile on her face. I am so with you on the neck thing, Abby. Bitch. “Be nice” Luka entreats. As she faces him, “You be nice” Abby instructs. They lock lips and then, in between kisses, during which time they never break nose to nose contact, Abby warns him he’s not going to get his special present. He wants to know what kind of present. She tells him a slightly naughty one which he says are his favorite kind and the kissing resumes. Awwwww and Bitch.

They are interrupted by Officer Former Buzz Cut who tells Luka that Ames has taken out a restraining order on him. Luka thinks it’s ridiculous. I think restraining Luka could possibly have its merits. OFBC says the judge didn’t think so and that Luka threatened to kill Ames. Abby looks at Luka “What?” Uh-oh. Luka’s gone from the Hair Salon to the Doghouse. He shifts his weight, uncomfortably, but hotly, dressed in his black turtleneck. You should have known this would be a bad day when you put that on. OFBC tells Luka he should have let it go, that now he looks like the crazy one. If you think he looks crazy now, you should have seen him a few minutes ago with the nose and antlers. Abby is clearly pissed at Luka’s regression to Neanderthal Man (ooo Luka in a loin cloth – nice visual) and slams her locker as we cut to funky updated ER logo and music, and C-Girl and Josie wipe the sweat from their brows because this recapping gig is not as easy as it looks. Next time anyone feels like writing an email complaining about how long it takes for these to go up, just try to recap from the start to the opening credits. I think you’ll feel differently. It ain’t easy friends. You’ll be kissing Cranky’s . . .. .garment hem.

After the now not-so-new credits, we are in the ambulance bay with Ray still sporting the pornstache which is still really not working for him, McEgo in a woolly hat to go with his woolly face, and Paramedic who tells them “Rufus Taylor, 35, going 60 on the Grand Ryan, hit an embankment”. Rufus is strapped onto a gurney (which, by the way, we Brits call a trolley - and I’m just telling you this to explain the cultural variations that can affect recapping, and also to remind you know that C-Girl and I are doing this, separated by about 6000 miles and an 8 hour time difference) and says he hit an icicle that was really big and he didn’t see it. Can you hit an icicle? Whatever. Ray and McE (who I shall now abbreviate to and refer henceforth to as “ME” which is kind of fitting anyway and saves awkward keyboard moves) has removed the woolly hat, but sadly not the woolly face, start wheeling Rufus into the hospital. ME asks if anything hurts and Rufus says his stomach. Ray directs them to Trauma One and asks what the RTS is on this one? ME is all “What?” to which Ray cuttingly responds “Revised Trauma Score”. Evidently this is a measure to assess traumatic brain injury. Maybe he should use it to score Neela who obviously has some brain defect since she keeps trying to jump ME. Well not me, but ME.

ME asks “what’s the matter with you?”. Ray points out that his shift was over but he couldn’t go because ME was late. ME looks at his watch and downplays saying only 5 minutes, well 10 minutes but he’s here now, so go. Ray takes the opportunity to take moral high ground and assert his seniority pointing out that much as he would like to he can’t leave ME alone. The growth herrumphs and follows. Moral high ground? Doesn’t that belong to Luka? On his High Horse of Moral Superiority.

We cut to a white fake Christmas tree with purple baubles and to a party, that I think is meant to be, in “full swing”. As a bit of a Party Girl myself, I know from swinging …..well, not that kind of swinging - and let’s just say, I have known better. We hear tinkling music and Neela appears, pushing her way through the throng to be greeted by Moby, beaming broadly and saying “Merry Christmas Neela” in a very bright, sing-songy voice. He asks where she has been, to which she replies that she has been “on the floor” as she assumed they were rounding. Moby assures her that the Surgery Christmas party is the one time of the year when they get to forget about disease and death and celebrate goodness and kindness. So good news for all the diseased and dying patients I guess. Moby says he’d prefer black tie, sushi, buffet and Veuve Clicquot. “But,” he sing-songs “it’s Crizappy (artistic licence) and I love it”. Neela watches him bemusedly and asks if he’s alright, to which he claims it’s the punch talking. Dubenko comes up behind him and breaks the news that there is nothing remotely alcoholic in the punch. I guess it’s not Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor then.

Moby looks chastened or maybe just feels foolish that he can’t tell alcoholic from non alcoholic punch (bet Abby could – just sayin’), and he departs. Dubenko then introduces “Manish Mater” who is going to be helping them out. Dubenko then asks if he can get everyone’s attention and clinks a glass, like you do at weddings and Bar Mitvahs to stop the chatter. Dubenko tells them that it’s fitting at this time of charity and compassion to announce the opening of Chicago’s only paired exchange program. There is applause, and then Dubenko tells them that as an additional yuletide treat they will be doing their first kidney swap today. So is that a bit like those football (soccer to you lot) cards that kids collect at great hidden expense and barter with? I’ll swap you my Beckham for your Rooney - but with bodily parts instead? What’s a kidney worth exchanging for? “I’ll give you my kidney for your liver.” “Nah, I’ve got three livers already.” Dubenko then brings the excited gathering to a close by suggesting that everyone should get back to work before they all crash from a sugar high. I suspect that Dubenko has never been in a room with a load of three-year olds blasted on Coke and doughnuts (yes, doughnuts, and don’t look at me like that: that’s how we spell it) because if he had, he would surely know the true meaning and joy-to-behold - and contain - of a “sugar high”. I can’t say that the party-goers look all hyper and acting out, but I guess this is what surgeons enjoying themselves on non-alcoholic punch look like. Hope it doesn’t end in tears before bedtime.

Katey greets Neela from the other side of the room….followed by a tall man who drools her name, tells her she the “golden girl” Dubenko created a special residency spot for and he lingers with her hand in his for a lot longer than he should. Neela somehow manages to say that it’s a pleasure to meet him, and he responds, in what I think he thinks is a sexy growl that “the pleasure is all mine” - and I think we all share Neela’s sense of revulsion as he licks his lips and then her relief when he asks to be excused for a minute. Ugh….why do I feel unclean and not in a good way? If you want a sexy Christmas growl then just think back to last Christmas and Luka’s “I’ll help” to Abby when she said she had to change. Now that’s a sexy growl - and now I feel unclean in the best possible way – if you get my drift – and I think you do.

Abby and Luka are walking briskly out of the hospital and into the ambulance bay, where they liked to have their wee tiffs last season. I sense a little tension between them. Abby is wearing the rather nice but, in my opinion, not very practical cream-coloured coat that she was wearing in TMNS when she berated Luka for not telling her about Ames and, basically, treating her like a kid who had to be protected all the time. Abby is clearly pissed off, saying angrily “You went to where Ames works?” to which Luka retorts “The police wouldn’t do anything.” Abby goes on “.and you threatened to kill him – and I’m the one who over-reacted?” Luka is immediately defensive and indignantly asks “You think I made this stuff up?” Abby still walking fast and angrily, responds that she thinks he “got carried away”. Luka, still in defensive mode, tells her that he did it to make him stop. “Well, mission accomplished,” she says cuttingly. “He’s scared, and he’ll have you arrested if you go anywhere near him.” Luka stops in front of her, making her stop too. She looks at him as he says fiercely (and I can’t think of another word to describe the forcefulness with which he says this) that he didn’t know what else to do, and he did it because…wait for it…"I love you. And I love Jo." Why Luka? I mean this is so sudden. I'm a happily married woman. [Uh Jo . . Josie . . dear . I think . .I think Luka means his son, Joe. He loves Abby and he loves Joe.] Oh, oh well yes, of course then…. ….not that I was willing to share anyway. Bitch. Oh well, on with the recapping. On with the recapping? Luka just said ILY in a forceful, way. I think we need a moment . …. Actually, I think we need to take a break here to consider the significance and the meaning of what has just occurred. Does he really love her? Or does he just think that he loves her? Is he simply clinging to the idea of a family and settling for the insta-family he created with Abby when she fell into his arms and his bed that night all that time ago? What do reindeers signify? Is Google my friend? Okay, enough of this mindless pondering. Now, we can go on with the recap. He continues, “and I wasn’t going to let that asshole keep threatening us. Okay.” With that he turns and walks away, leaving Abby looking quizzical and maybe a bit worried, but not really angry anymore, as she follows him out of the ambulance bay and onto the street. Nice scarf by the way Luka. Is that by chance the Split Decisions scarf? That must be his “I’m feeling feisty” scarf. I’m telling you if you want to understand this show forget the lyrics and scene cuts. It’s the hair and clothes.

Hope wonders if her Bible group was too geeky. Morris says not at all. Too geeky for Morris? Is that even possible? Hope assures him the group found him “advanced.” I don’t know if that says something about Morris, or something about the group, but I’m scared. Morris sees donuts and starts to dive in, but then looking at Hope says he was joking because that would be gluttony. I think I see a theme.

“Lenore Simpkins” Sam announces pushing a gurney. She was found on the street, has frost bite. Morris steps up and says he can’t wish her a Merry Christmas because of separation of Church and State. Lenore wants to know if he’s kidding. Hope thinks he is.

As we cut to Neela and Katey, she tells Neela she has plans with Ray and wants to know if that’s “cool”. Considering Ray’s current facial hair issues, cool is a bit strong. More like better than ME. “None of my business.” Neela says in a rather unconvincing way. Katey thinks she looks annoyed. Neela says her friend from vascular has been in the bathroom for 10 minutes. Katey divulges that Rob has an “auto-stimulation issue” apparently aggravated by Neela, who is the new Abby that all the men just have to have. She then goes on a jag listing just about every slang phrase for masturbation there is. Someone spent a lot of time thinking about this one. Maybe the writers need to focus on some vice transformation themselves. Anyway, this is way too much information on Rob, including that his nickname is McCreamy. A little jibe at the competition perhaps? And ewww. Rob comes out rubs his hand through is hair. Is anyone else having a “Something About Mary” flashback? Then of course he extends it to Neela. No, not that . . .his hand. Neela is disgusted, as are we all, and rejects the hand. Now if she’d only reject the stubble, we’d be getting somewhere. “Gotta go” says Neela. I find myself reminded of Carter, a train and his hand. Will it never stop?

Now we’re with Gentle Ben, Male Nurse or Gentle for short, Sam and Lenore who is getting oxygen and a new gown. What about her frostbite? And as it’s Christmas and Lenore is homeless, I’m letting her keep her name. It’s the least I can do. Sam asks if that’s better and Lenore agrees it is. Although, I have no idea what oxygen has to do with frostbite. But if you say so Sam, seeing as you know everything about medicine and all. Gentle asks what Sam’s doing for the holidays. Okay, you’re working, people. Must you flirt in front of the patients? Take it to the break room, the hall, the ambulance bay, the drug lock-up, etc. Or at least like Luka and Abby, save it for the obtunded patients. Sam is taking Splinter to see The Return of the Evil Zombies. Aww that’s so festive. And she wonders why the kid has issues? Gentle wants to know if they can have that drink before, but Sam has presents to wrap. Gentle nods and smiles, but you can tell he knows he’s being blown off. It’s okay. She’s rejected better. Crazy bitch.

Sam notices a band on Lenore’s wrist. City of Mercy it says – thus the title – boy those writers – always thinking. Sam asks if she was in the hospital recently. Lenore reveals she was in the City of Mercy till last night. Now she’s in the City of Sin. Good luck with that Lenore. Sam wants to know what for. Lenore says a chest cold – the winter’s been hard. I think Cranky can attest to that. She’s unsure how long she was there and Gentle asks if they released her. Lenore tells them the ambulance was supposed to take her back. Back where? She’s homeless. So they left her in an alley near 18th street. How cruel is that? That is wrong. Just wrong. Gentle and Sam exchange looks.

As we move to The Triangle 2.0. ME wants to put in a line into Rufus. Ray thinks it’s not a good teaching case. ME retorts he knows how to put in a line. Yeah? Then why don’t you know how to use a razor? Neela tells Rufus that they need to do an operation to stop the bleeding in his abdomen and does he have someone he wants to be with him. He says no, but asks if it can wait, he doesn’t really want it. Ray tells him it’s okay and he’ll be fine. Um. . .guys .. consent. . . … just a detail . .but you might want to think about it … Rufus complains his karma isn’t good. It’s not the best time to go under the knife. Karma again? These writers like the idea of karma. . . .ME tells him it’s alright they treat the naughty and the nice all year round. And those are just the doctors. Neela assures Karma that it’s the best thing. We hear off- screen “Mayday” in a small hobbit like voice. Oh no! I think it’s the return of the kids from Oliver.

As Karma is wheeled away, Neela turns around to see who’s calling her. Frodo pops out from behind a supply cart and intones that Lizzie is sick. Lizzie? Not Romano’s Lizzie? Naw . . .Neela tells Frodo they were worried about him, but he says again Lizzie is sick, and they need to come. Neela asks if she’s a friend, if she has what Paulie had which was rabies. Yikes! But Frodo doesn’t know. He says again she needs to come. “Wait there” she tells him and moves off. Of course we’re back on Ray and ME. You know the one thing McEgo has done is make the character of Ray much more appealing in comparison. Must be why Ray and Luka haven’t shared the screen lately. Cause really no comparison there. Ray a third year resident, is telling ME a first year intern what to do which is really so shocking, and one would hardly expect an intern to take orders from those with more knowledge and experience, but ME asks if the next thing he’ll tell him to clean toilets. Frankly, I wish he’d just put his head in one. Neela comes through the doors and asks for ME. Ugh. ME turns to go, Ray asks if he’s just leaving. ME turns with a disgusted look and asks if Ray has a toenail extraction for him. I wonder, so what if he did? IT’S YOUR JOB. Get over yourself. He reminds me of Sam in season 10 and 11 who seemed shocked she actually had to take orders from doctors or at least Luka. Annoying way to introduce characters. Sam has improved since the end of Lame . .I mean Samka . . .but still. Personally, I continue to suffer from PTSD from season 11. Ask Josie. Ray asks, keeping his cool, if ME is too advanced for this stuff. Yeah you and Morris, ME – really advanced.

ME thinks if Ray has a problem (hee me thinks), he should just spit it out since he doesn’t speak “Bitchy.” No, more like “Ass.” Ray thinks he’s fluent and hee. Ray tells Neela to get someone else, his intern is busy. Neela tells Ray to stop being an idiot, she needs Tony’s help. Really Neela? Who’s the idiot? Now, Ray’s even looking good next to you. Something is terribly wrong here. If only Ray would deal with his facial hair, I might find some use for this character. She tells them she’s had enough, “Either slap each other silly or kiss now and get it over with”. Hmmmm tough choice. Stubble on stubble, or wimp-to-wimp combat. I just can’t pick. ME and Ray seem to have a hard time with their decision as well. Out here in California our governor has a name for men like you two - “girlie-men”. I kid you not, the Governator calls ‘em like he sees ‘em.

Luckily the scene ends before they either slap each other silly or come out of the closet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. When we see ME again, Frodo is dragging him down the hall telling him he can take him to Lizzie. ME intones that it doesn’t work that way. Because ME is all about the rules. Yeah, right. Seems Frodo came back to check on his friend Paulie, the rabid child, he thinks his friend is doing well. ME doesn’t answer. And can I just ask why ME is in his underwear? It gets worse every week. Looks like long underwear I grant you . .but please. Put some clothes on, the scrubs are even free. We know when Luka’s in scrubs it means death, mayhem and general destruction, but apparently tptb haven’t figured out code for your general state of dishevelment. So, don’t be afraid. If you show up in boxers, one of these days, I won’t be held accountable for my actions. ME wants to send an ambulance to help Lizzie. Frodo wants ME and Mayday to come. ME thinks they can’t. (me thinks, I still love that). Frodo says Lizzie might “pass”. He really is Dickensonian isn’t he? ME wonders how he fell through this time warp. Me wonders when this scene will end.

Aw, we cut to Ray. I think maybe Neela was onto something with this Gates/Ray thing. Shipper name Gay. Wow that works. Maybe tptb are going to go for it be bold . .daring . . cutting edge. Yeah, easy for me to say – it’s not my triangle. Ray is telling Morris he’s leaving which if you remember he was supposed to do at the start of the show. Morris says he can’t go he’s got no Kovac, Weaver or Pratt, he’s flying solo. Ray says he doesn’t want to be there when it crashes and burns to the ground. Explaining that’s the odds maker’s prediction when Morris is the only attending. Hey, I’ll take those odds. Josie, get our bookie on the line would you . .and while you’re up . . maybe one of those cigars . ..oh yeah and the Scotch . . .No . .no not your husband silly.. . yeah the good stuff. Recapping is thirsty work.

Just then Morris’ Sperm- Donor-Daughter who looks sort of like Lindsay Lohan in The Parentrap, the new one, let’s go with Lindsay since I suck at the re-naming game, approaches the desk, and Morris asks her what she’s doing there. “Daddy?” she intones sadly. I’d be sad too honey – genetics and all. Hope echoes with surprise, “Daddy?” Hmmmm. Not so advanced now is he Hope? Ray informs Gentle that it’s one of Morris’ “Petri dish kids”. Now Ray, I’m sure many fine people originate in Petri dishes, don’t be narrow minded. “And that there are four that we know of,” he says ominously. That we know of? You mean tptb are going to grace us with an ongoing, outpouring of outrageous offspring? (What? I warned you I’m not Cranky.) Alarming. Hope agrees to take Lindsay to the lounge, and Morris suggests she read her a story. How old is she? And why are co-workers always into taking care of others offspring while they are on duty? Is that for real? Who is working this shift? I know last Christmas Luka sent everyone home in his post coital, pre-baby-daddy state of perpetual bliss, but he’s not getting any this year. I think he expects some work out of you people. Now if OFBC hadn’t so rudely interrupted them in the break room, Luka might have come out of there ready to shut down the whole department in honor of the festivities. But really, your lack of work ethic, sometimes it’s a little crazy. Hope must agree with me as she gives Morris a quizzical look as she walks away. Run, Hope, run fast. Although, Mope is sort of a cute shipper name, better than Homo which wouldn’t really be fitting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

ME approaches and tells Morris he needs a half-hour. No, you need a bath. Like me, Morris longs to be rid of the man with the small rodent infestation on his face, and says simply “Okay.” Ray feeling that everyone jilts him for ME wines, “Hey wait, you’re trying to leverage me and you’re just going to let him go”. But Morris who seems to have some sort of working knowledge of hospital hierarchy unlike others I might name . . . .or ridicule, says “you’re a resident, he’s an intern”. “I have a date.” Ray moans. “So, my daughter is here”, pouts Morris, “you don’t see me shirking”. Hmmm Morris your memory is incredibly short. I seem to recall you’ve done a fair bit of shirking over the years including smoking pot on duty, and Maxim in the Men’s room. Need I go on? I thought not. Anyway, he says to Ray “Fine go, I’m already over you.”’ Which is good because I don’t think I could take a Ray/Gates/Morris triangle. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ME then asks Sam if she has a car, but she took the El. Gentle’s car is in the garage. Poor ME. He complains he has to check out a patient for Neela. Ray overhears. I notice ME doesn’t ask him. Playing hard to get huh? ME wanders away as he realizes no one really cares about him, or his problems, or his lack of personal hygiene.

Sam hangs up the phone saying “Tell her it’s the second time I called”. She’s trying to reach some big wig (and Sam could use a wig) at City of Mercy to find out how and why they dumped Lenore on the street. Good work on the rehab to the character tptb, but the hair. Can we talk about the hair? I like the cut, so much better than those cupie doll curls when she was with Luka, I mean her hair got frizzier and frizzier . .it was frightening. But the color –the roots, the bleached out look. Really? Is this the best you can do? Mercy says Lenore walked out on her own, but an administrator is getting into it. You better hope that Eve didn’t get a job at Mercy after she left County. She was none too happy with you. Gentle says “Looks like they already have.” meaning an administrator getting involved. We see Lenore on a gurney being wheeled by two paramedics. Hey, can they just snatch a patient like that? A doctor hasn’t even seen Lenore. Oh I forgot – Sam is an entity unto herself. I thought they were fixing this character. Sam gets in front of the gurney saying “She’s not ready for transfer”. “You the nurse on this one?” Paramedic A asks. “We’re from Mercy we’re going to take her off your hands. Our supervisor said it was all a misunderstanding.” Remind me to avoid hospitals with mercy in the title. Lenore wants to know if they’re taking her back outside. Sam adamantly says no that they aren’t taking her any where until someone explains what’s going on. I’m glad to see Sam is finally using her bitchiness for goodness instead of evil. Paramedic A says “A patient ended up in the wrong place let’s not blow this out of proportion”. You mean like ME’s ego? Good idea. They try to push through past Sam. But Gentle becomes tough and says “You heard the lady. Turn it around.” I don’t know why Sam can’t just do her karate on them. The paramedics apparently only succumb to male authority and reluctantly give up.

Now we’re on the streets of Chicago with Frodo and ME. The woollen cap is back. He appears to be wearing clothes, which is a plus, he’s carrying some sort of red backpack. He must have stuffed stolen hospital supplies into it taking a cue from Carter, as we know it doesn’t have any personal grooming materials in it. What is it with this backass Robin Hood routine – take from the poor to give to the destitute? And as always the furry friend is well attached. I understand Goran is very involved with PEETA, maybe they should be alerted to this strange situation. ME asks how far it is. Frodo says, “just across the bridge”. I’m sure it must also be over the river and through the woods. They start to cross the street without looking, always a good plan, when a car honks at them. ME says, “Watch it jerk-off.” Because it’s always someone else’s fault. Guess who it is? That’s right - it’s Ray! (I so wish he had a trunk monkey right now.) He’s sort of smirking and, still, the pornstache isn’t working for him. Although, I can’t help but notice he keeps turning up around Gates. I don’t know Roomies. I’d start to worry, the signs for Gay are really coming together. Ray yells that he heard ME needed a ride. Okay, seriously sort of sweet that Ray heard ME was doing something for Neela and wanted to help. And yeah, I admit it I liked the t-shirt scene last season. Okay Roomies, you have my blessing. Godspeed. I am, after all, vaguely reminded of Season 9 Luby, when a man and his true love were separated by a man and his over-sized ego.

We see Morris stroking his chin, looking worriedly in through the window into the break room. Where Hope, who is supposed to be working, Lenore still hasn’t seen a doctor people, is looking at a book with Lindsay. Lindsay wants to know what a pancreas does? Boy, Hope you better be glad she’s only on page 154 and not 210 . . .wow think of the embarrassing questions from that page. Hope tells her it makes hormones that help you process sugar in your blood. “What are hormones?” Lindsay wants to now. “Whoa …” says Morris. Maybe if you had some Morris you wouldn’t be afraid to discuss them huh? He thinks she’ll find out about them soon enough. Probably true. Remember what happened with Alex and Luka’s Maxim? Gee was that embarrassing, and he was just a little older. Betcha Luka’s let that subscription run out. [C-Girl – I don’t think Luka needs Maxim anymore, now that he has a fully functioning Hair Salon at home - and I don’t get the impression he needs triple lattes anymore either. Insert usual refrain here..] And now I’m looking at Morris’ facial hair . ..what is up with the men on this show? Does Maura slip Goran a twenty now and then to be clean shaven? I wouldn’t blame her . . .I mean think of trying to do the neck sucking scene with stubble boy. She’d have a total grimace instead of that beatific smile. .. .clean . . shaven … .Goran . .. .um . . . . . hot breath on the neck . . .okay . . ..I need a moment . . . .there . all better. Morris had thought Hope would read from Dr. Suess not Dr. Rosen but Lindsay likes gross stuff. Which is no doubt why she’s come to see you, Morris.

Morris says it’s good to see her and asks what she’s doing there. Lindsay says she ran away. Can I just say that even though Hope has almost the same hair cut as Sam, sans the bangs, the color is so much better. Only her hairdresser knows for sure. “Why sweetie?” Morris wants to know. He means why Lindsay ran away - not why about the hair thing. “Because of Donald, Mom’s new husband.” I thought it was strange she called Morris “Daddy” after meeting him only once. I guess she’s needing a father figure right now. Apparently Donald won’t let her celebrate Christmas and says there’s no such thing as Santa. Let’s call Donald “Grinch” unless he’s Jewish . .. then let’s call him a Schmuck (thanks Josie). He says there’s no elves, no reindeer (well now we know that’s not true, cause Randy Rudolph and the Angry Elf were just playing some reindeer games in the locker room a little while ago). He also says that Christmas is just made up to get people to spend money . . . .hmmmm seeing as I just paid my Christmas visa bill and ouch! maybe Schmuck/Grinch has a point. Hope assures Lindsay that’s crazy. So, Lindsay has decided to spend the holiday with her “real Dad”. She looks at Morris with a sweet moppet face. Aww. Morris is moved but gives Hope a face like “what do I do?” she looks back like it’s up to you. You’re the advanced one.

Now we’re with Karma and Neela. “Chrystal meth” says Karma “nasty stuff”. “Makes you lie, makes you paranoid.” Probably some delusions as well. Does it also make you want to post on ER boards? Hmmmmmm (Hey Josie, be a love and get our detox center on the line. What? No not botox, that’s next week. D-e-t-o-x. Yes. When? Oh, I think as soon as possible have you noticed what we’re doing?) Um, yes where was I?

Actually, this is a serious scene so let me back track. Karma’s waiting for his surgery, it’s dark except for some low lighting, Christmas lights and the light from his monitor. He says he’s clean now. “Good for you,” Neela says. Yeah, good for you Karma. It’s too late Karma tells her, his wife and kids moved away as far as they could. Oh no, Karma, that’s so sad. He’s almost teary as he says he messed up so much, missed so much when he was high. He gives Neela a piece of paper that he struggled to write on. I was hoping it was his consent form. But no, he says, “This is where they live.” He tells her they’ve gone a long time without hearing from him on Christmas and asks Neela to send his children something if things go wrong. Neela tries to reassure Karma, but he asks her to promise. She thinks it won’t be necessary, but agrees. “Thank you,” says Karma, “thank you.”

We’re pulled away from this touching moment to Ray and Tony’s excellent adventure. Complete with time travel. As we ride in the car with Frodo, Bilbo and Golum (guess who’s who), Ray wants to “call it in”, which I take it to mean get professional help instead of having to rely on ME, but Frodo tells him if they make anyone come, the kids will just run away. You mean seeing the gristle on ME’s face won’t make ‘em run? Tough little bastards. “We’ll be fine.” says ME confidently. I have a bad feeling about this. From the look on Ray’s face he shares my concern. “It’s here.” Ray stops the car, and Frodo yells “Hurry”. They are in a dark, dirty alley. Ray looks around bewildered. ME looks right at home. “What are we doing?” Ray wonders. “Helping kids.” ME responds with great self-importance. Damn he’s reminding me of Carter tonight. Putz. (I don’t know C-Girl. Those reminders are everywhere apparently, but I’m sure they aren’t meant to turn up in these scenes. Just sayin’) Frodo leads them to a hole in the wall. ME dives right in. Ray thinks it looks like a big mouse hole. I think ME’s fuzzy, facial, friend is trying to return to it’s home of origin.

Neela and Dubenko are in surgery. She thinks the jejunum looks good (part of the small intestine), Dubenko thinks the liver looks good. I think they’re getting sort of personal for just meeting Karma. Lucien has a phone call from Victoria. I’m trying to remember the name of that satisfaction facilitator from last season. He’s not still . .. . .hiring is he? Blue dress or red dress Victoria wants to know. By the way, Karma’s guts are on large screen in the background. Eww. He thinks blue is nice. I agree especially after staring at Karma’s red guts for the past five minutes. “Date tonight?” inquires Neela. Jealous Neela? Not every man is pining for you. “Something like that,” Lucien responds. Lucien Dubenko, man of mystery.

Anesthesia interrupts the chit-chat. BP is down 86/40. Uh-oh Karma. I have a bad feeling about this. The peritoneum feels tense to Neela. I hate that when that happens. Open it up, suggests Dubenko. Oh no, heart rate’s up to 120. Last time this happened there was a hysterectomy. Don’t think you have to worry about that though Karma. Bright side. Neela calls for suction. He’s bleeding out. Man, Karma knew this was not a good idea. They give us an aerial of his innards, and there’s a lot of blood. Karma – you are lucky you are just here on a black turtleneck day, and not a Luka scrub top day. It could be even worse. Lost the pulse .. .. compressions . .epi . ..I think we all know the drill. “Call for more blood,” says Dubenko calmly. Neela thinks the blood is coming too fast. They are doing chest compressions and jabbing things into his gaping abdomen. “Hold compressions,” Dubenko says. “He’s back in sinus.” Yeah Karma. Good work Dubenko tells Neela. She says, “Once you’ve seen one superceiliac aortic tear you’ve seen them all.” Getting sort of big for your britches there, aren’t you Neela?

Oh good we’re back in the dark, scary, narrow place with Frodo and co. Frodo tells them not to be scared. Ray says sarcastically he feels much better. ME thinks Ray had gigs in worse places. I think ME should shut up, since he’s the one that looks right at home on this not so excellent adventure. We emerge into the Hobbit’s underground lair. A girl lies moaning and gasping surrounded by a gaggle of the Oliver children. They are upset Frodo didn’t bring Mayday. But he says, “They’re okay. They helped to save Paulie”. Ray checks her pulse – it’s rapid, she’s sweating. He asks her if she knows the date. She says it’s Christmas. ME feels her belly which we now see is very large. “She’s pregnant,” he tells Ray. Ray says, “She’s very pregnant. She’s crowing,” which means he can see the baby’s head. Lizzie says she’s sorry, she doesn’t know how this happened. And Ray and ME share a look as we hear a train rattle overhead.

When we come back, Lizzie is pushing and Ray wants to know who the father is. And that matters right now because? Frodo says it doesn’t have a father. But Ray thinks it has to. Clearly he was in class the day they covered that. One of the hobbits says that Lizzie gets men to help them. She’s shushed. ME says the shoulders are stuck. Ray coaches him to give firm downward pressure on the head. Ray trades places with ME to do the birth. Now ME wants to know what men. I still don’t know why that matters right now. But we find out there are at least two that give the kids food and a place to stay if Lizzie takes care of them. That is really sad. I’m going to let Lizzie keep her name too. Ray saves the day, and the baby is born. It’s a boy. As the baby cries we hear “What Child is This” played slowly on piano in the background. I am of course reminded of the last ER Christmas we heard that tune from the snowglobe Luka gave to Abby when he told her he missed her. Thanks, David “Snowglobe” Zabel. Of course then the tune was “What Child is This,” but the lyrics were “Greensleeves” “Alas, my love you do me wrong to treat me so discourteously, for I have loved you for so long, delighting in your company . . . .GREENSLEEVES” (Uh C-Girl . . ) “Who but my lady . . ” (C-GIRL . . . .um you might want to remember not everyone who reads this is a luby.) Really Josie? Is that . .. possible? (Um, yes dear, I’m afraid it is.) Oh okay, if you say so, then moving on. . . .

ME looks really pained. You’d think he just had the baby. Ray gets the baby ready and hands it to Lizzie. We pan over the faces of the hobbits. “He’s mine?” asks Lizzie. She thinks he’s tiny. There are a lot of white candles burning in the background artistically arranged, and I wonder if the kids have been stealing Martha Stewart’s Living out of the trash. Because really who has time for all that crap anyway? I mean besides Luka. Now ME’s on his phone. Frodo wants to know what he’s doing. ME’s calling for help. Now you’re calling for help? Lizzie tells Frodo to get them and run. ME tells them Lizzie and the baby need a doctor, and Ray says they don’t have what they need here. Apparently, ME isn’t as good at stealing supplies as other people I could name .. ..or disdain. Lizzie is more agitated and shouts for them to run.

ME stops Frodo and tells him that he, Lizzie and the baby need to spend the night in the ER that the others can stay. Ray protests that they all need help. ME looks Frodo in the eye and promises not to call Foster Care or Social Services. Ray looks at him like he’s nuts. But ME waves him off. “Promise?” asks Frodo. “Yeah” says ME looking him in the eye. “Promise.” Off a frustrated Ray.

Now that we’re out of that dark and scary place, with that dark and scary man. I feel a bit unclean. Josie dear, be a love and get our exterminators on the line. I feel a little itchy. What? Main problem? I’d say a small furry creature. What? You think we should just get a cat? Hmmmm maybe Neela should get one. I’d like to see it go for ME’s jowels. He he.

Karma’s in recovery with Neela at his side. Dubeko comes in and tells her Karma lost a lot of blood, they won’t know his neurologic outcome for awhile. Oh bummer Karma. We find out that Victoria is Dubenko’s sister. He spends every Christmas with her. Awww and to think I had you pegged for that satisfaction facilitor. Sorry, Lucien. (And sorry, CGirl – I should have mentioned earlier - the satisfaction facilitator was called Shauna.) Neela wants to know younger or older. He says both. Turns out she’s two years older but “stuck at 17” (sort of like ME). She had a car accident the night of her prom when her boyfriend was drunk. Neela thinks it’s awful. Lucien thinks it could have been worse. He says he has to go, they have a nice dinner planned, she likes to dress up. Thus the red or blue call. Off Neela taking a piece of paper out of her pocket as Karma lies connected to a lot of tubes.

Here’s Sam and Lenore. Lenore’s still on oxygen, but Sam says her level is back up. But what the hell about her frostbite? Leonore asks if she can stay there, but Sam thinks she’s getting better and doesn’t need to be hospitalized. Don’t you need to find out what her oxygen level is without the tube there . .. . .is she going to wheel a canister around homeless? And why is Sam making these decisions? The only thing a doctor has said to this woman is that they couldn’t wish her a Merry Christmas. Sheesh people. Sam wonders if there’s somewhere she wants to go. “Not the street.” I’m with you on that Lenore. ME and his furry friend are out there, roaming the tunnels of Chicago. Sam wonders if she has any family. Her parents are in Gary, Indiana where she grew up. Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, not Lousiana . .. .that’s all I can remember but great tune from The Music Man . . . Lenore hasn’t talked to her parents in a long time. She thinks they wouldn’t recognize her. Sam says she’ll be back. As she moves off, Gentle approaches and asks if there’s been word from Mercy. “Not yet,” says Sam. “She’s all alone in the world.” says Sam sadly. Gentle thinks the least they can do is clean her up and get her a new set of clothes for Christmas. Uh-oh Sam, first he’s checking out Luka’s antlers, now he’s taking an interest in fashion, sort of a queer eye perhaps? Maybe he’s a switch hitter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Oh look there’s Morris, finally, a doctor that’s working. He tells Sam that drunk Santa needs a banana bag. And I know what you’re thinking but it’s an IV bag with nutrients in it. Why are the Santas always drunk in this ER? Hope thinks it’s sad. I think it’s redundant. Morris thinks it’s sloth. So the writers haven’t forgotten their clever theme yet?

We pan up to Lizzie in a wheelchair holding her baby, as ME pushes the chair through the ER announcing they have a 15 year old postpartum, needs stitches, warmer and pedes consult. Great with the patient confidentiality there ME. And no, he can’t do anything right. Sam wants to know where they found them. Ray again with the sarcasm intones they “followed a star in the northern sky”. Trauma two says Morris. ME then mutters to Ray that Child Services is on their way. Frodo is shocked “You did what?” Ray looks surprised too. You mean ME actually lied and manipulated????? I’m so shocked. Except not.

“What?” Frodo asks again. “You promised.” Uh, I think ME’s word is about as good as a Confederate dollar bill. Ray is still surprised reminding ME that he promised them he wouldn’t get them into the system. But ME nonchalantly says that he got them here. Clearly lying is not new to this man, nor does it bother him. Frodo looks devastated. “You said we could trust you.” Ray tells ME, “Nice job, Gates.” Again with the sarcasm, Ray? You might want to vary it just a tad. Frodo stares disbelieving at ME. ME doesn’t seem to get the problem with lying. Putz. Very attractive character. I understand that we’re supposed to be drawn in by the characters flaws so we can see growth. But could you give us something to like about them while they’re on the road to salvation . . please.

We cut to a woman with a disgusted face as she is confronted by the seedy side of humanity in the County ER, and she’s not even looking at ME. “You from Mercy?” Sam asks spotting a fish out of water. We find out it’s Hillary Learner. Sam wants to know if it’s her policy to dump destitute patients on the street. Dumper says it was a mistake and that was why she sent her people. Her people? Like have your people call my people? That’s how we do it here in California, but I didn’t think in Chicago. Sam says she’s not going to release her so they can dump her again in an alley. Okay, I’m with you Sam in theory. But again. YOU ARE NOT A DOCTOR. Hello? You can’t release anyone sweetheart. Just so you know.

“Come with me,” Sam directs. She tells Dumper since she behaved badly, here’s her lump of coal. I have to say Dumper, feel lucky you are only getting a lump of coal and not a well-thrown suture kit causing a lump on your head. Ask Luka. Sam tells Dumper she’s going to take Lenore to Gary, Indiana. Dumper complains that’s over an hour a way. Sam tells her she’ll be paying for round trip service. Now wouldn’t a round trip for Lenore defeat the purpose? But I’m still with you Sam on the idea. Just you know one way will probably work better. Now Sam’s really worked up into a huff. I haven’t seen her this angry since she kicked her personal punching bag in the form of the hot Croatian to the curb. She tells Dumper if she ever gets wind of Mercy dumping more patients that she will call the cops and the news so fast that she’s not sure if Dumper would be fired or arrested first. Again, I like the bitchiness for good, instead of evil, Sam, it’s a step in the right direction. Dumper looks chastised. I clearly remember Luka wearing that very same expression much of season 11. Did I tell you, I have PTSD from season 11? Ask Cranky. Anyway, Dumper says she’s got the message. Sam pulls back the curtain and we see Lenore all dressed up and ready to go. Good for you Lenore. Sam introduces Lenore to Dumper and tells her Dumper is going to make sure she gets to see her parents for Christmas. Lenore smiles brightly. Considering how good Lenore looks, I think Gentle might find work with the Fab Four. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Now we’re in the hallway. We hear Ray off screen before we see him saying, “We, by which I mean to say, Dr. Gates promised no foster care.” That’s ME, Ray not WE . .ME. Try to follow along. Although, I suppose WE could be the royal form of ME. We’ll think about it for next time. The suit he’s talking to thinks that would be a mistake. Uh- duh . .you think so? Suit thinks there are laws. Guess he doesn’t know they don’t apply to ME who by the way is back in his long underwear with a really large watch on his wrist. Do you think he’s compensating? Me too. He tells Ray and Suit that it took a light touch to bring the kids in. Light touch? Is that what they call it now? Ray wants to know, like me, if that’s what ME calls lying to them. ME says he wasn’t going to take a chance on losing them again. Ray thinks he’s turned them into every bad adult these poor kids have ever been screwed by. I think ME is every bad adult anyone has ever been screwed by. ME thinks Ray is being sweet and naïve. I think if ME knew about Ray’s storyline from last year, he wouldn’t use the words sweet and naïve when Ray has just used the words screw and kid in the same sentence. Just sayin’. Suit is going to send a van to get the other children. Sorry Suit – don’t see a van going down that mouse whole. Good luck with that.

Ray thinks if they pick them up today, they’ll be gone tomorrow, that they have to convince the kids that they’ll be safe and protected. Suit says they’ll try to keep them together in a group home, but he can’t promise they won’t end up in foster care. ME verifies they’ll follow-up and make sure the kids are okay. Suit thinks they always do. Ray thinks the kids are smart and know that’s not how it goes. Suit says it’s the best he can do. Ray says it’s not good enough. Go Ray, you’re sort of compensating for that pornstache now, and for that thing with the 14 year old last year.

Oh good heavens, the Triangle 2.0 is out for a stroll, and in formation. Neela in front, Ray behind and to the left, ME behind and to the right. Uh-oh. But if we look at it from the other way. Ray is on Neela’s right side. So it may be good Roomie voo-doo after all. (Come to think of it Luka was to Abby’s right when the Triangle 1.0 went for a ride in the elevator in season 9, so not to fear Roomies.) Neela’s looking at ME over her shoulder saying she can’t believe he got CPS to agree to that. ME does the right thing for the first time all night and tells her it was actually Ray. Ray thinks the trick is getting the kids to accept it. We find Frodo on a bench in the hall. ME tells him they can live together in a group home. Frodo doesn’t like the sound of it and starts to run, but ME catches him and tells him it’s not safe out there. Frodo says they survive, that no one hurts them. ME thinks what Lizzie’s doing hurts her. I’m with you on this one ME. Neela tells him if they weren’t sleeping in old, abandoned buildings Paulie wouldn’t have gotten sick. Frodo says, “But you fixed him, and he’s getting better”. Neela tells him Paulie died. A detail ME left out earlier. Frodo turns to ME. “I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you.” If I had a nickel for every time ME has said that, somehow I imagine I’d be a rich woman. Ray looks like his assessment of ME is set in stone now, and it jives with mine. I guess tptb aren’t going to go with Gay. I hate that when they dangle a ship in front of you, and then just pull it out from under you. Frodo says he wants to see Paulie and starts to run again. ME grabs him again and says he knows he lied, but he won’t anymore. If I had a nickel …. well, you know the rest. ME tells Frodo the way they are living isn’t working. Sort of like ME’s razor. “You can’t go on like this anymore,” says ME. Frodo looks like he’s beginning to get it. Ray tells him Lizzie agreed to go to the group home so she can keep her baby. Ray also says that ME will visit them every two weeks to make sure things are okay. Do you really believe that Ray? Cause I’m thinking one visit. . .two at the max. ME however tells Frodo if he ever needs him to call and he’ll be there. .If I had a nickel .. . Ach I’m done with you ME. Putz. He keeps talking, but I’ve stopped typing. Yada . .yada.. bitchcakes (C-Girl, I don’t know if that will catch on). .. .

Okay, a little more for Ray. ME and Ray are alone in the hall now. Ray tells ME he knows he’ll say anything to seal the deal, and in a rare moment of character self-awareness on this show, that Ray has done that himself, “but these are messed up kids, you have to draw the line somewhere.” “What line is that Ray?” wonders ME. Ray looks down. “If you’re making promises, you have no intention of keeping. Just cut loose, minimize the damage. Okay?” I have the feeling he’s not talking about the kids anymore. And the Roomies go wild. ME has managed to clue in it’s not about the kids. “No it’s not.” Ray says, shaking his head, he turns and walks away. Off ME taking it in.

We open onto the warmly dappled, but not un-illuminated, sitting room in the Batcave. Abby is holding MoJo who is wearing a fetching stripey sleep suit. Luka is in the background, hanging decorations on a twinkling Christmas tree by the window. I wonder if he is hanging the bar mat decoration with a picture of Abby as little girl and the word “Abigail” in childish handwriting that we saw in If Not Now, when Abby was still trying to decide if she could go ahead and have MoJo? Not that she knew it was a MoJo back then. And hasn’t she come a long way since then? Who’d have thought that she would take to motherhood like a proverbial duck to water? Also in the background, I see a new couch! And new lamps! Looks as if, despite the coolness between them over the last week, that they still welcomed new furniture into their home. And I think that it really is a home now Before, it was Luka’s Bachelor Bat Cave, with macho black leather couch and no soft features - even when their was another female presence and child (or was it two children?) in the apartment. Hmmm interesting. The Batcave never became their home in all that time but, with Abby there, and the addition of all little extras and tchotchkes, not just the baby-specific ones, it really does feel and look like a shared and cosy family abode. The new couch seems to be upholstered in a light coloured fabric which looks nice but – like the white coat – may not be that practical once MoJo starts smearing chocolate all over it. Amateurs!

Abby bends down to put a babbling Joe into a crib or, maybe, it’s just a playpen because would they have a downstairs and an upstairs crib? (Maybe so Jo, remember the great let’s buy two of everything debate? That ended in some serious elephant squishing . .good times . .) She says to him, how about he gives her a few hours to wrap presents. There is soft music in the background which doesn’t sound as if it emanates from either of their CD/record collections, being neither Barry Manilow, Jewel, 70s Stevie Wonder nor The Clash. Maybe it’s just background ambience, added by the production people and of no real significance. Is there any throwaway music on the show? (No, but check out the snowglobe on the end table if you want some significance. That and their hair . . look at the sheen . . the gloss . . .). Abby straightens up, looks over at Luka, and then walks over to the table which has lots of bits and pieces on it, including wrapping paper and boxes. She seems to gather herself for a moment and then turns to Luka and asks “Can we talk?” Luka looks down at the decoration he is holding and says “Sure”, but carries on hanging the decoration. Abby becomes more confident as she says to him “This scares me”. Luka, looking a tad worried, and still not really looking at her asks “What? Ames?” Not flinching, Abby tells him “What it’s doing to you.” Luka looks pensive as she continues “To us”. She walks towards the new couch. “It took us so long to get here. All of us.” Sitting down but never taking her eyes off him, “and the way you’re acting, it’s taken over our whole lives. It makes me scared we’re going to lose this.” Luka looks serious, takes in what she is saying and comes over and sits down on the coffee table, opposite her. He has his arms folded across his body, almost as if he needs to hold his feelings in, and he starts to talk to her in a quiet voice. “When Jasna and the kids died” he begins. [Okay I should stop right here, but I don’t want to spoil what feels like an incredibly important moment for Luka and Abby, so I’ll keep going and we will come back to this, but Jasna?] He continues, “I needed to make a change and I decided to move here.” As he is talking, his eyes are sad but focused on Abby. “It made my brother really angry. He said I was a coward, that I was running away.” Abby looks down, clearly moved. She looks up at him again as he tells her that “It’s only recently that I’ve come to know that he was wrong.” His voice starting to crack a little, “I wasn’t running away. I was running to you.” More emotional now, “and I’ll never let anything take this away.” Now he looks really sad and scared, and he and Abby are gazing at each other. She reaches out and caresses the side of his face, just as he did to her in that amazing scene in Bloodline when she told him that she had had a hysterectomy. He closes his eyes and leans into her hand, again just as she did to him. He takes hold of her wrist and kisses the palm of her hand. Then they reach towards each other and she puts her hands on either side of his face and, very gently, kisses his forehead. He leans into her and has his hands in her hair. They stay like this for a moment and Abby says softly “Have I mentioned how hot you look in antlers?” Luka smiles, they nuzzle into each other, and he sighs with relief and kisses her forehead and hair. They stay, in this position, holding each other.

That was an incredible scene: unlike way back when Abby told Luka that he didn’t need to talk, now she wants talk, pushes Luka to talk. She isn’t going to take no for an answer, she expresses her fears about losing what they have, making it clear that this relationship is so important to her; and, Luka, in trying to convey why he has been so afraid of the threat he senses Ames might pose and why he has reacted as he has, finally talked about the past and told Abby how much she mattered to him and that she was, in effect, his destiny, and that he was not married to a ghost anymore. It was powerful and emotional, making it so clear that this really is a love relationship that they both value. But Jasna? JASNA? We all know that Luka’s dead wife – the ghost of The Longer You Stay when Abby and Luka had that foreplay-slash- break-up fight - was called Danijela, and it was his daughter who was called Jasna. In A Walk in the Woods back in S7, in that wonderful love scene, Abby actually asked Luka what his wife’s name was and he quite definitely said “Danijela”. I may even be forced to rewatch the scene, purely in the interests of science and recapping you understand, to make sure that he really did say “Danijela”.

So what was going on here? Is Luka just very forgetful? You know what it’s like: if you are like me you have to go through the full list of family members and pets and the whole darned phone book before you manage to stutter out the name of the one you mean or are, actually, talking to. Still, you would think he would remember which one was his wife and which one was his daughter, especially as they died tragically leaving a long trail of grief, loss and guilt that Luka has only now really broken free of. Or, perhaps, is Luka suffering from false memory syndrome? If so, what memories are real and what are false? Is he, in fact, a war criminal and the whole “back story” is nothing more than a façade? Or worse, is he not even Croatian and comes from Essex where he has a wife and three kids who are still waiting for him to come home after nipping out to get a newspaper? I do know of someone who actually did that. Was Luka just so emotional in the moment that he blurted out the wrong name? If that was the case, wouldn’t Abby have at least registered that he had said the wrong name? Or was it a mistake that got into the script and, somehow, was never spotted? Zabel wrote this episode and you would think that he would have remembered or noticed down the line, or that someone, somewhere, at some point would have said “Hey guys. It’s Danijela, not Jasna” and everyone would have smacked their foreheads and said “duh…of course it is”. .and changed it. Didn’t Goran notice? Or Maura? Maybe they did, but the scene had been so well done that they didn’t know that they could capture the moment again and, anyway, reckoned that no-one would notice. Clearly they do not understand the fervour and obsessionalism within the online community. On the other hand, after watching the episode with my unspoiled husband (aka Lay Male Viewer or LMV for short), I asked if he had spotted the mistake. LMV was dumbfounded that anyone would know or remember such a detail, let alone notice. He also muttered words like “except for fanatics like you” or was it “lunatics”? I have decided not to let this little teeny tiny detail mar what was, in my opinion, a lovely and very important scene. But really ER Continuity People. Tut tut! (Translator’s note: That’s British for please remove your heads from your asses.)

We cut from this gentle scene to Lindsay in the family room, reading and the door opening to Hope saying in a sing-songy voice (why do they all have sing-songy voices in this episode?), “I think she’s in here Santa.” Enter a large Santa in all the gear – red outfit, white beard – “ho-ho-ho-ing” (but actually ho –hoing and not the man-ho- ing Luka did in season 9 – just to clarify) and “Has anyone seen a little girl called Melia Simons?” Hope joins in “That’s her right there”, pointing to Lindsay-Melia. Santa continues “my reindeer needed a little rest so I thought I’d come by and say hi”. He sits down next to Lindsay-Melia, who has been smiling throughout this. Santa holds out his hand to L-M and says “How do you do. I’m Santa Claus. Can’t stay long” and then glancing at Hope and then back to L-M, “Got to deliver presents to the whole Western hemisphere tonight.” L-M says “Nice try Archie. I know it’s you”. (I’m wondering where the Santa suit came from on such short notice. I’m thinking Morris mugged the drunk Santa, but I don’t like to accuse falsely.) Santa looks all astonished and, glances at Hope who gives an outstretched question-shrug look, “Who’s Archie?” L-M assumes a world-weary knowing look, pulls the white beard down as she tells him that she’s nine years old and she knows there’s no Santa. What? There’s no Santa? What about the Easter Bunny? And the Tooth Fairy? Don’t tell me that they don’t really exist either. Oh lordy. Archie-Santa tells L-M that she’s a bright girl, but that she’s wrong. Oh thank god for that then. But my hopes are shattered when L-M confidently tells A-S that it’s a fake beard and a dumb suit. A-S then spins the Tinkerbell line that if millions of kids believe in the same thing, it becomes real. Yeah, yeah..right. Then, A-S tells her that every time you are generous or help someone, or are thoughtful, that’s a bit of Santa too. (Hey, I tell my kids something like that . . .You mean I’ve said something even vaguely like something Morris is saying . . . Yikes! Don’t tell CPS) Hope watches and I do declare that she really has fallen for A-S because she gives a decidedly mushy-gooey-eyed look. L-M, however, speaks for the nation when she says “What are you talking about?” A-S tells her that Santa basically represents magic and proclaims that he still believes and asks L-M not to spoil it for him.

With that he pulls on the beard and the three of them leave, coming out - and I don’t mean coming out as in coming out (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – into a corridor where A-S espies a little girl in a wheelchair, with her arm in a cast. She gets all excited and he “ho-ho-ho-es” over to her and tells her what a nice girl she has been all year and asks to sign her cast. Little girl nods and, surreptitiously checking out her name from her hospital tag, and writing at the same time, A-S says in that signature sing-songy voice that is the theme tune for this episode, “To Greta. Keep on being nice. Love Santa”. Of course Greta is completely amazed and rhetorically asks L-M if it’s the real Santa. L-M assures her that it is and, we find that the sweet innocence of childhood has indeed been preserved and kids still believe in magic. Looks as if Hope does too……..

Now we are back with Neela and Karma. Karma must be in the recovery room after the surgery. Neela tells him that he lost almost a third of his blood volume. Wow! That’s a lot and definitely more than an arm full. She tells him that she has a present for him and places some gift-wrapped parcels in front of him and then, indicating towards the doorway, says “these are from them. Things were touch and go for a while so I called them.” Two children – a boy and a girl – approach him. A woman, who I assume is his ex-wife, stands back at the door. Karma is overcome to see his children and even I can feel a little tear forming as he tells them, sadly, that they are all grown up. That must be so bittersweet for him to see them again, but also having to acknowledge how much he and they have missed and lost. I’m glad Neela called and that Mrs. Ex-Karma allowed them to see their dad. (Aww, see Karma, I told you it was just a black turtle-neck day and not a Luka-scrub-top-the- gates- of- hell-open-and-all-manner-of-evil-ensues-day.)

Just then Dubenko comes in all smartly dressed in a dark suit and a tie. Neela tells him that he looks nice. He thanks her and shyly proffers a parcel roughly wrapped in a bit of blue cloth and tied with white cord – “this is for you. Merry Christmas, Neela”. He tells her that he doesn’t normally do this, as work presents end up being something impersonal like organic soap, or edible or bad for you. Has he forgotten that he was Abby’s Secret Santa in S11, and bought her a book he was dying to discuss with her? Oh dear. Tough call - Snowglobe playing tune of lost love vs Rats, Lice and History: you be the judge. Neela opens the box and takes out a pair of surgical glasses. They look sort of like coke bottles with arms. Fetching – if that is the sort of thing you like. “Wow” she says. Dubenko tells her he bought them in medical school, his very first pair. Neela seems genuinely touched and tells him that it’s a lovely gift. (I just want to add here that C-boy and I are both really glad Lucien’s curls of power are back. We missed them. Yes, we are all about the hair.)

Okay, then things seem to turn, and I’m having a definite “Dubenko hitting on Abby in S11” recall moment. You know, when he told her to meet him in his office at 7 to discuss a paper and then, when she arrived, he put his coat on her and took her to Ike’s, ordered food for her and then started asking where she was from, did she like foreign movies and generally making her - and us - feel very uncomfortable. I’m getting the same uncomfortable, OMG vibe now and I think Neela might be too, especially as Dubenko stutters, “Listen. You’re an intern, I’m an attending and there are certain protocols, certain hierarchies that preclude me from….” Neela is also obviously having the same thoughts as me and he goes on, “but it’s Christmas, so I’m just going to say it.” Neela now looks decidedly concerned and who can blame her? (I just have one question. Why do the protocols preclude Dubenko – but not others that I might name . . or lust after?). As she and Abby are such good friends, no doubt she knows about Dubenko’s not-a-date-date back then and maybe even about his oh-so romantic offer last season to Abby to be his possibly last shag before surgery for prostate cancer. Not that I blame him for wanting one last “hurrah” as he so quaintly called it, but it was a decidedly eeeww moment – for Abby…and us. Luckily Abby was able to find him a professional to give him the personal help he wanted, saving herself…and us….from the fate. There is a long pause, when these thoughts may well be passing through Neela’s mind too, finally broken by Dubenko saying to her, “You’re a really good surgeon. A few more years and you’ll be great.” Neela smiles and there are tears in her eyes as she says thank you, but I’m not sure if it’s relief that he didn’t ask her to sleep with him or because of the professional compliment he just paid her: again, you be the judge. Dubenko asks if she is going to try them on, which she does to Dubenko’s appreciative “beautiful – if you repeat this conversation to anyone, I will deny it.” He tells her he will see her for rounds the next day. Clearly Lucien is not a silk lingerie man then; a girl just has to show him her equipment and he’s transported. Hey, each to their own. There’s somebody for everybody….apparently. Well, maybe not for ME….and by ME, I don’t mean me…..

As is my wont, I am forced to ask: What does it all mean? Does Dubenko have a thing for interns? If so, what sort of a thing? Is it all female interns or just some interns? Is his workplace behaviour inappropriate? Or is he just a Wee Nebbish and we should feel kind of sorry for him? Once more, you be the judge.

We cut to Hope at Admit, checking notes on the rack and looking over at Santa Archie hugging Lindsay-Melia goodbye. Pratt appears! Where the hell has he been? Not seen him all episode. He greets Morris and asks him what’s going on. Morris said they did okay and they have a banter about what that all means but, essentially, Morris tells him that they got through the board, and Pratt tells him that he can gloat now, about what a great manager you are, and saved Jerry, you diagnosed DID.. ..yada yada. As Pratt has only just arrived, I don’t really have any investment in writing about him and was about to type yada yada for whatever he was going to say anyway, so thanks Pratt for sensing my mood. Morris looks at Hope and announces “You know what, I’m going to go with humility this time. For real.” He leaves a dumb-founded Pratt and millions of viewers (and, depending on your sources, that might be 10 million or 16 million but definitely #1 in the “demographic”), muttering “humility?” (And we congratulate the writers for maintaining their theme throughout the episode. They forget character names, people disappear, storylines are dropped and yet .. . every now and then continuity shines through. . .you know when it’s really important . . .or not . ..)

As Santa-Morris walks away, Hope chases after him and “heys” him. She catches up and tells him that she learnt a lot watching him today. Learnt a lot watching Morris? Josie shakes her head and move on… Morris claims that “well, I’m full of it Hope” to which I-Think-I-Might-Be-Falling-For-You-Hope assures him “I get it Archie”. Errrm, forgive me if I’m wrong Hope, but I thought the whole point about you was that you don’t get it. She tells him that she knows he doesn’t believe half of what he says. Does that mean we don’t have to either? Showing us that she too must obviously have been partaking of the weed (although hopefully not in the midst of helicopters crashing into the ambulance bay…..although now that I’ve mentioned that, I can think of one doctor who really does deserve to be squidged by a falling copter and, no, not Morris because, like Hope, I actually have hope for him. You’ll never guess who I’m thinking of. Ah you read my mind. Am I that transparent?) Anyway, Hope is also rather transparent here as she tells Morris that she saw someone who was trying to be good and that was half the battle I assume she means Morris here), but she is shifting around and I would say that I see a bit of flirting going on. And that is quite a low cut camisole Hope, if you don’t mind me mentioning – but if you are flirting, then way to go girl: use your assets. Morris seems affected and wishes her a good holiday. This was not what Hope was angling for (as I suspected) because, as Morris heads off, she calls out “What are you doing..?” and looking a little shy and awkward she adds “ I thought maybe we could….ahem” and she rolls her eyes a bit to cover herself “..get a drink, see what happens.” Hope honey. I think you know very well what might happen. Just sayin’. To prove that very same point, Hope goes all coy and giggles. Morris looks at her with the same concern as me - and rightly so - as Hope announces that “chastity has always been over-rated”. I’m with you there Hope. “Purity of spirit” she tells him is “what it’s all about”. Oh come on Hope. You just want to get laid, so quit with the cutesy conversation and cut to the chase. Morris is almost speechless and he stammers “what are you.....saying?” Morris, I think you know what she’s saying. They look at each other and Hope sort of shrugs a little and looks at him more. Then Morris does something unusual. He stops and actually thinks about what he is going to say next. “You know what?” and then he grimaces and groans and looks as if he is pain, which I think he may be considering what comes next. “I don’t think so.” Hope looks astonished and considering what a big step this must have been for her, I can’t say I blame her. Way to boost a girl’s confidence Archie. You know, there are better excuses like “I’d love to but my mother is in hospital, dying” or “My cat’s hair needs washing”. He then admits that he hates that he’s saying this – and I should think so too. Then he tells her that it’s like “some dorky angel has taken control of my mouth, ” grimacing again, “but no.” Hope looks crestfallen and asks him why. Morris becomes serious. I know, not words that usually go together. He tells her that it’s Christmas and people get lonely at Christmas, that they might do something they regret or which might get in the way of a deeper relationship in the future. He apologises and runs down the corridor and up the stairs, leaving a bewildered Hope (and an angry drunk ex-Santa whose costume it seems he had taken) in his wake. (So, I was right about the stealing from Santa thing. The moral of the story is: Don’t eat donuts . .. but um stealing clothing from inebriated and unconscious patients is fine and dandy . . .hmm, a little ER moral relativism for you. Just when I thought they were on a continuity jag with this theme. Speaking of continuity lags, since we had a monster big one in this ep, tip for ER fact checkers. It’s simple Pose as a newbie on any ER board, and ask a question. You will get more information than you can imagine. We’re talking, quotes, clothing worn, hairstyles, names of wives, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, the last time someone’s toe nails were clipped anything you want. It’s all out there. Trust me. There’s no excuse for sloppiness now. Just check with the lunatics, I mean the fans.)

Now I feel bad that I was dissing him because it’s clear that Morris is being a real mensch here: he doesn’t want Hope to do something she doesn’t believe in for the wrong reasons, and doesn’t want to spoil something they could have later by being part of that. Blimey. (Don’t feel bad. Dissing Morris is right and just. See above.)

We cut to Sam and Gentle, sitting at the bar at Ike’s, talking. Is this their date? Sam is asking Gentle about himself and they both seem very smiley. That’s nice. I like it that Sam, who I can now try to like (although try is the operative word) seeing as how she has stepped away from the tall dark guy, is maybe going to have some fun. She asks him where he’s from, what he’s doing here and by “here” I assume she means Chicago, as opposed to Ike’s. He tells her that he spent a couple of years in the services, managing to avoid Iraq and Afghanistan. Since he’s been back he has spent time as a traveling nurse which Sam’s says she did too but then she got tired of it. Sam then says that he has, what a week left and he says that it’s supposed to be a week but as “this place” (and I’m not sure whether that means Ike’s because he is looking around the bar as he says it or Chicago) seems alright, great people (and I’m not sure whether he means Sam or “people” in general) and what “we did for that lady today…what you did….that was something.” Sam smiles and says “Come on. Everyone deserves a little bit of happiness at Christmas-time” (Yeah, even you Sam. God, I’m feeling generous as we near the end of this recap.) Then Ben tells her “So, I called the Nursing Director and I signed up for another month.” Sam seems taken aback “Really?” but she looks rather pleased. She raises her glass and we all join her in her refrain “Merry Christmas Ben”, to which I would naturally, add “And good luck” and he clinks glasses with her and says “Merry Christmas Samantha”. (I have to note how nice Sam is being to Gentle. When we first met her, the only thing she seemed interested in about Luka was his . .. antlers. For myself, it’s really Luka’s heart, mind and soul that draw me in. I’ve hardly noticed his broad shoulders, strong back, muscular thighs, manly hands, the way his chest has the perfect amount of hair being neither too much nor too little, the thick black hair, strong jaw, breathtaking smile or how his eyes seem to change with his mood or attire (or is that his mood seems to change with his attire? I never can keep that straight). .. um yeah. .where was I . . . .Um, did I tell you I have PTSD from season 11? Ask Anyone.) They exchange little smiles as we cut to…..The Montage!

The music cues up: It’s coming on Christmas. We see a house with lights and an ambulance pulls up with City of Mercy written on the side, and I’m so hoping that Sam went with the one-way idea I told her about it. Because if this baby pulls a u-turn with Lenore still inside . . . .. .I won’t be held responsible . . .

They’re cutting down trees. They’re putting up reindeers and singing songs of joy and peace. Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. . . .

An elderly couple emerges from the house, and Lenore steps out of the ambulance. She’s smiling, and they are clearly moved.

But it don’t snow here, it stays pretty green. I’m gonna make a lot of money, and I’m going to quit this crazy scene.

She hugs her father as she cries, and then her mother holds her tenderly, and she’s still crying. It’s such a sweet scene. Merry Christmas Lenore.

Oh, I wish I had a river, I could skate away on. I wish I had a river so long and teach my feet to fly, Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. . .

Now we cut to Dubenko and his sister dressed in blue. He’s feeding her pumpkin pie from a spoon, and hands her a gift wrapped in red. She smiles adoringly at him as he begins to unwrap it for her. Merry Christmas Lucien and Victoria.

I made my baby cry.

Neela’s alone in her apartment, looking sad, we focus in on a picture of her family taken at her graduation from Med school. The one we all got to go to. She picks up her phone and begins to dial. Merry Christmas Neela.

As we cut to Abby in a sexy Mrs. Claus robe with just a hint of a gold lace bra peaking out the top, her hair is up in her clip (we know from I Do that Luka is into hairclip removal, big time), she has her hands on her hips standing in front of their Christmas tree. She’s smiling at someone, then laughs a little raising a hand like come and get it. Luka moves into screen with the reindeer antlers on his head. I don’t know about Santa, but it looks like Rudolph will be guiding Mrs. Claus’ sleigh tonight, and for his part, Rudolph is in for some serious antler adoration. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

The song continues: He tried hard to help me, you know he put me at ease. As he approaches her, without hesitation, he takes her in his arms and they begin to kiss. She reaches up and removes the antlers, tossing them aside as they kiss, her other hand around his neck. After dropping the antlers and by antlers I mean antlers, her hand begins to caress his face, then moves down briefly to his chest and back to his face. Never breaking the kiss. The song plays in the background. He loved me so naughty made me weak in the knees. I’m so with this musical coordination here because I’m weak in the knees just watching on my small screen. Frankly, I’m not sure how Abby is managing to maintain her upright position, but I don’t think that will be a question for long. Looks like Rudolph’s going down in history tonight. I could wish them a Merry Christmas, but I think it’s a given.

Before we move on, just a brief pause to say I love how Maura and Goran seem to carry all of Luka and Abby’s history from episode to episode. It’s always there, but probably no episode more than this. Where you can just feel everything that’s been between them and how far they’ve come together. It’s so lovely. Really, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better acting team. They make every scene big or small feel real. It’s a treat to watch them.

I wish I had a river, I could skate away on. .

Now a door opens, and it’s Katey. Ray holds some mistletoe over her head. What Ray you need some help? But it doesn’t look like it because Katey kisses him eagerly. As we hear I’m so hard to handle, I’m selfish and I’m sad and I’ve gone and lost the best baby that I ever had . .

As we move to Lizzie, sleeping in her hospital bed. Lizzie’s baby lies sleeping in a crib next to her. We see someone place a stethoscope on the baby’s chest and an enormous watch comes into view. Yes it’s ME.

I wish I had a river I could skate away on.

Frodo enters the room sadly, as we see Suit 1 and Suit 2 through the glass of the door. Hasn’t she been moved to postpartum yet? Frodo puts a stuffed snowman with a green scarf and hat in the crib with the baby. ME and Frodo exchange a look. Frodo’s eyes are moist. Merry Christmas Frodo.

I wish I had a river so long, I could teach my feet to fly. I wish I had a river I could skate away on. . .

A-S slams onto the roof.

I made my baby say good-bye.

A-S is clearly agitated. “Idiot. Moron.” I know ME is, but what are you? He throws off his hat and glasses which is good because he was reminding me way too much of Richard Dreyfus. “She was right there for the fondling, and you just let her go . .Why? Why?” He wonders why he had to be such a good Christian . .”There’s no God . . no Christmas” . .he mutters. Then he yells looking up to the sky “There’s no fricken Santa Claus.” Which could explain why Mrs. Claus is stepping out with Rudolph tonight. As he stares into the sky, and we focus on his face we hear a faint ringing of bells and a faint voice calling “Ho . .ho . .ho . . Merry Christmas.” Morris’ face slowly changes from anger to wonder. “Holy . . .” he murmurs as the camera angle pulls up higher and higher, and we see the lights of Chicago beyond the hospital roof-top. Merry Christmas Morris. And we pan up to the beautiful Chicago skyline as the show ends.

Now this was sort of corny, I’ll admit it. On the other hand, one of the things I’ve so appreciated about season 12 and 13 is that the show is not the all encompassing gloom it was for a long time. The characters have fun, and this is a fun moment. I have to say SG handles it well going from typical Morris, feeling like a schmucky nebbish to a real look of wonder on his face. And, really, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? [Yes it is C-Girl. And it’s been a real mekhaye recapping it with you] Aww, Josie, thanks .. .I think …