Serial Watcher – ER – Episode 13-23

13 proved to be an unlucky number for ER, as its 13th season, which ended this week, was one of its most lackluster, to say the least. However, the season finale, “The Honeymoon Is Over” was actually better than most of the recent episodes, even if it did feature one of the lamest cliffhangers ever in the history of the show.

What I liked about this week’s episode was that they didn’t shy from the potentially dangerous area of the war in Iraq. ER has tackled this topic before with Michael’s numerous tours to the warzone, the last one causing his death, but this time they took a different route. They took a direct approach against some of the actions done by soldiers there, and the military’s treatment of the servicemen.
It started with what seemed like a standard drug addict who wants some pain killers from the doctors. But as the episode progresses we learn what Kyle (that patient) is really going through. He served in Iraq as a translator. He was injured there but was discharged before getting the treatment he needs and now there’s no one to take care of him, even as a veteran. Kyle is suffering from trauma, as he witnessed US soldiers interrogate Iraqi prisoners, some of them innocent civilians, and torturing them even when it was clear the prisoners had no information to share. The sights he’s seen, the cries he heard they were all still haunting him and that’s was causing the pain.

It’s rare for a prime time show on a major network to take such a stand against the soldiers. Usually when the war in Iraq is concerned, the criticism is expressed towards the government but the troops are spared. This time the criticism is aimed directly at the soldiers, for committing crimes and displaying unnecessary cruelty towards innocent civilians who aren’t a part of the war. That was a bold, showing not only that the war in Iraq doesn’t just hurt terrorists and that the US is performing illegal actions over there, but even the American soldiers are hurt by those actions, that the torturing side is also paying the price. I guess you need to be an established and safe show in order to take this stand as the producers are pretty confident in their status within the network and among the viewing public.

In another hospital Ray is being treated after his accident. He lost both his legs and he has to move back home with his mom. Ray blames Neela for never moving forward with him, for sending mixed messages constantly pulling him closer and then pushing him away, with Gates as the latest example. In a way he blamed her for the accident (And his friend Katie said it clearly later) as he was checking his messages (Including Neela’s) when the accident happened. Ray left and of course Neela was very upset about it, but we’ll get back to her later.

Back in County general, Moretti was spending his first day as chief, and he didn’t like what he saw, calling a staff meeting where he chastised everyone for doing a crappy job and giving excuses. I really don’t know how to read Moretti. He doesn’t seem like the bastard that Rocket Romano was (And I loved Romano he’s still one of the best characters in the history of ER), as he seemed to have faith in the staff and to believe they can do good things there, unlike Romano who just hated everyone. Moretti actually seems motivated to help the ER staff get better, to be a mentor. But then turns around and tells Abby she needs to get used to having a chief she’s not sleeping with. If he was a womanm I’d call him a bitch what’s the proper term for a guy (And no, douche isn’t strong enough, and neither is ass-hole)?

The final moments and the cliffhanger focus on Neela. Upset over her farewell from Ray she goes to an anti war rally and as gunshots are heard and chaos ensues, she falls to the ground and gets trampled by the masses. That’s it. Compared to other cliffhangers we’ve had in recent years (Last year’s kidnapping, Alex running away, Pratt’s car being shot etc.) this one is pretty lame. Not to mention it came out of nowhere. It’s like the writers realized the season finale is ending and they have nothing planned, so they scrambled to write something that will generate some sort of suspense. It did have a connection to the war storyline, but still, it’s a very unsatisfying ending.

And that word, unsatisfying, sums ER pretty well. This show should have ended years ago. When Carter left they had a perfect opportunity to tie everything up together the series started with him arriving in County General and could have ended with him moving to Africa, making it about his growing up. But instead, they’re just dragging this on and on. It used to be a great show, and now its best episodes are just not bad. Watching ER has become a chore, rather than fun, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to do this chore anymore, and I think there are many more out there who feel the same. Have a great summer vacation ER, I’m not sure I’ll wait for you to come back.

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