ER: Heal Thyself – Recap and review

by Lynn Connolly

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I’m so gutted that this is the last season, primarily because it’s so far been one of the best! Last night’s episode was no different and saw the medics battling personal demons and difficult patients, as ever!

Ice maiden Banfield was mad with her husband, Frank and Tony had to battle bureaucracy while Neela and Dubenko coped with an overwhelming surgical list and a patient with a zillion problems was pooping red. Fears of an internal bleed were ignored though when intern Andrew found out she’d been eating lots of red jelly…

We got to see more of Banfield’s history though which began when she was jogging on Lake Shore Drive, she noticed an ambulance coming to a screaming halt nearby, so rushing over to help, Banfield found a Grandpa frantically searching the icy waters for his grand-daughter, three-year-old Valencia.

As she was riding back to County in the ambulance with Valecia, Banfield ‘flashed back’ to 2002, when she was much happier and enjoying a day in the park with husband Russell and their five-year-old son Daryl. Here’s a clip from this emotional memory…

The experience of her memories maybe softened her normally rigid attitude because when Gates asked for her help in getting Max – the ex-soldier we met last week – set up for a full neurological exam, she caved in and agreed.

Then after much digging around and finally getting hold of his files, Gates confronted Max about the fact that he was discharged on a 5-13 which basically means the army claimed that he had a personality disorder but not only that, they reckoned it originated pre-enlistment, and therefore the army deprived him of subsequent care. Gates however believed Max’s problems were because of a traumatic brain injury and was determined to prove it.

Meanwhile, Banfield again flashed back to 2002 when her son Daryl went into a febrile seizure, something that had happened once before. At the time, Russell wanted to take him to the hospital, but Banfield insisted it was unnecessary…

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Then, Bertha – the lady with red poop – ‘crashed’ from a massive GI bleed. When Banfield asked if she’d complained of abdominal pain or blood in her poop, Andrew lied and said no. Despite everyone’s best and full on ER-styly efforts, after 39 minutes, Dubenko pronounced Bertha dead.

When Neela then tried to comfort an upset Andrew; he admitted that Bertha had told him about her red poop and when Neela angrily demanded to know why he didn’t say so, Andrew equally as angrily retorted that he tried, but nobody listened. After Neela stormed off, Banfield told Andrew there’s no way to be prepared for the death of a patient and that he can’t be a “great doctor” until he’s killed a patient. Let’s hope that’s just the opinion of a cash strapped County and not a global doctor thing!

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Back with toddler Valecia, Banfield wanted to transfer her to another hospital where she believed they’d be better equipped to help her and again, in flashback, we saw Daryl sitting up at home and vomiting blood.

Gates brought her back to present day gritty reality though by asking for another favour; he wants her to convince the neurological ward to re-admit him but while they were debating it, Max fled the hospital.

As if Banfield’s day wasn’t stressful enough already, then Valecia’s alarm sounded and because she wasn’t responding to the defibrillator, Banfield told newbie Tracy to assist her with a thoracotomy which Banfield insisted was the only way to save the little girl.

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While all that was going on, in yet another flashback, Banfield recalls Mark Greene – himself ill at the time as he was undergoing chemo – tending to Daryl and trying to fend off her interference with the plea that she trust him to do what was best for her son. She also remembered that Mark asked her if Daryl could’ve swallowed some poison or something and that prompted her to ask Valecia’s mother and grandfather the same question.

Just as an aside to the recap, wasn’t it great to see Mark again! He was always one of my favourite characters so it was a real pleasure to see him back in the ER. Here’s a clip from backstage footage of Anthony Edwards et al – including the awesome Romano – making this episode…

Anyway, back to the recap and grandpa Luis discovered that his blood pressure pills were gone so Banfield swung into action and administered calcium as an antidote. As they waited for Valecia’s blood results, another flashback saw Greene and Banfield looking at Daryl’s test results and both of them reaching the same conclusion; Daryl had leukemia.

A while later, Valecia had warmed up sufficiently to allow Banfield to shock her heart while simultaneously recalling how Greene shocked her son’s heart. Ultimately, Valecia pulled through but Daryl didn’t…

At this point, Banfield was again back in 2002 and Greene went out of the room because Romano had called him into the hall.

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Again, fantastic to see Robert back too and as was characteristic of him, he gave Mark a dressing down for keeping the chemo suite open for an extra hour while he was tending to Daryl. Just really typical Romano stuff and I loved it!

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Later, Banfield found Morris in the break room, cracking open a beer from his secret stash and because he believes she’s beating herself up over a case, she decides to put him straight and tells him that her son died in Trauma One prompting a shocked Morris to ask how Banfield could bring herself to work in the very same ER?

Banfield sadly confessed that she doesn’t know why she’s most things since that day. She goes on to say that there words for most people’s losses such as orphans or widows, but there’s no adjective for a person who’s lost a child.

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Back in 2002, Banfield made her way to the snowy, cold Riverwalk, where Greene found and explained that Daryl had an atypical presentation of acute leukemia that nobody could’ve picked up on. Numb and refusing to be comforted, when Russell arrived to collect her and thank Greene, Banfield refused to take her husband’s hand…

Back at home in the present day, when she got in from work, Banfield found Russell in the same position she was in just that morning; lying on their son’s bed. Russell then admitted that he resents her for never having cried over the death of their son but she tried to explain that she used to think every day that if God told her she could die to be with Daryl, she would abandon Russell to do so.

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She told him she’s been scared for so long and doesn’t want to be scared anymore. Finally, Banfield began to cry over Daryl, and she let Russell hold her while she did. So is this the start of better things to come for the troubled couple? I’m sure we’ll find out very soon!

Next week’s episode is entitled Age Of Innocence in which Neela directs Andrew through a complicated procedure, and Brenner attacks an accused pedophile, while re-living his own childhood abuse. Expect a shocking ending to this episode!

Age of innocence

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.