RS (rainbowstevie) wrote,

ER and a doubleshot of Without a Trace; also, I AM NOT GOING CRAZY NO SIRREE BOB

Yeeeah, so, the paper-writing has not been going so well.  I've got 6/10 pages on the theory paper, but I feel like only about half the material is good enough to stay, because it's six pages of raw text and by the time I finish rewriting the half-done thoughts and cutting out the conversational rambling, the word count always shrinks a good deal.   But am I worried about the fact that I have only four nights to accomplish all this writing?  Nah.  Maybe a little, in a repressed panic sort of way that will manifest itself in hysteria within 48 hours time.

Also, I upgraded to a Plus account today out of desperate desire for icon space.  I am giving it a one-week trial to see if the ads drive me (or you) insane before I actually add more icons.

In other news, I am quietly trying not to explode with jealous rage that I could not work the Scarlet Letter course into my schedule for next semester, but my roommate could.  Especially since the class is taking place at the same time as one of my other courses.  Right down the hall from it, as a matter of fact.  The universe is clearly having a field day MOCKING AND TAUNTING ME.

K, I've been holding onto some of these reviews for a really long time, so I'm going to post them now in order to feel some measure of productivity.  Damn it, Voice, when are you going to invent my text-translating machine?  If all these words were about how The Scarlet Letter is a feminist novel, we would have been done a week ago.

ER: 300 Patients

Intro: 300! 300 episodes – what a milestone. I know I can’t claim I’ve been there from the beginning, but I am so proud of this show. Sure, I might have done a bit of bitching and called for its death knoll when Carter left, but after a sub-par year they hired John Stamos and skyrocketed back to former glory, and I’m glad they’re still around. I don’t know if I’ll feel the same way without Luka and/or Abby, but for now, this is good. This episode was so good that I watched it twice (less a bit of fast-forwarding on patient care); I love the way they worked that theme in, subtly rather than in a grand-slam event, even though it pained me to have Morris win the crazy bet. Luby Love had to take center stage, after all. But I’m not going there yet.

Also, the dancing Santa was hilarious, as was the good-natured complaining about holiday movies being broadcast too early, and a whole host of other things that made the very beginning seem like this was a real working hospital staff and not just a bunch of actors. My particular favorite line? From Gates, naturally, delivered with just the right blend of sarcasm and humor: “Frank, you romantic fool.”

Christmas: Have to say the writers knew what they were doing in doping me up to prepare for the sad ending: send in the animals! Specifically, a giant dromedary camel. I had no idea they were that tall, but Google says they can get up to 7.5 feet at the shoulder. They’re also really cute, in a homely sort of way, no matter what anyone says. They have great fuzzy heads. Even though that whole scene was really fairly pointless, in the grand scheme of things, it gave me not only a camel but also Dubenko (bad hair nicely disguised by a wig), Neela (managing to look adorable even in a shepherd’s costume and long curly beard), good natured Gates-and-Neela sniping, and the tidbit that Frank’s dad used to raise horses. It also gave me Harold being unnecessarily awkward while sloooowly pulling Neela’s ringing cell phone out of her back pocket and then replacing it, but I’m trying to forget that.

Memorial Ceremony: Worst part of this episode; just one long slideshow of some of the most irritating guest stars ever (Ray Liotta, I’m looking at you, although I did smile fondly at Neela’s Street Urchin). And it was WAY too cheesy for me to even pretend to be moved by it. As for Julia, I still feel nothing between her and Tony, although Frank’s blunt “Are you banging the chaplain?!” was one of the more amusing quotes of the night.

Patient Cases: The second worst part of the episode was the doomed woman, her ineffectual husband, and his meeting their previously surrendered Down Syndrome child. I found myself bored and irritated with the storyline by turns. Taking a solid “meh” was Sam’s (temporary?) move to the paramedic world, where I feel compelled to point out that Grey’s has the monopoly on smashed ambulances this week, and the accident lacked the same shock value - except for the part with the incensed bystander repeatedly kicking the driver of the other in the head, in some bizarre retribution for his hitting a young girl. WOW. Can’t say I didn’t see that coming, but it was still visceral. Also, that seems like a fast road to manslaughter charges.

Abby v. Neela: Very uncomfortable to watch. Not only was I writhing in embarrassment at her catching Abby somewhere she wasn’t really supposed to be (“…are you watching TV?”), it’s hard to believe that she’s only just now cottoning on to the drinking thing. That being said, the angry incredulousness in the latter’s voice on “IF I love them?” was a beautiful thing to hear, and even though she was out of line, I couldn’t help being impressed by the way Abby threw caution to the winds and took Neela to task for lecturing her on love. No – you did not just go there – oh yes she did. Hitting way below the belt in reference to Ray. I saw “21 Guns” the other day for the first time since its original airing, so I’m still smarting over Gallant’s death and don’t feel like remembering her season 13 dating debacle, but WOW. And the tight voice/clenched jaw with which Neela admirably kept her temper under control and simply ordered Abby to leave spoke volumes about what was simmering beneath the surface. Solid chunk of acting all around.

Luby Love, Or Lack Thereof: Oh, God. Here we go.

Loved the beginning. I hate saying children are cute, but…when Joe’s babbling “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma” rather than screaming his head off, the moppet is kind of appealing. Plus, there was Luka in full-on Daddy mode. And Croatian. And the perturbed, brooding look he wears so well when something isn’t settled with him and he’s debating how long to let it go unresolved before he does something about it.

What I loved more was The Confrontation, Stage 1, on the lovely new tree-lined street apparently around the corner from the ambulance bay. “I know you, I know when something’s wrong.” His voice right there kills, me but not as much as the next words, especially given how stoically resigned he looks. “Do you still love me?” Poor Luka. He’s so honestly and completely clueless about what’s wrong between them that it almost makes me forgive him for pulling a Mulder. Almost.   

“Oh my God! Of course I still love you; why would you even ask me that?!” Her response is instant and indignant, and that’s where I breathe my first half sigh of relief, because that’s exactly how she reacted with Neela, and that has to mean something, right?

“…and then we’ll go to Croatia, and everything will be different.” OH. Ouch, I can hear the Anvil of Doom striking. By this point, even Luka is fed up with her flimsy excuses, and there is definitely some anger creeping in with the disappointment and frustration in his expression as he walks away. Skip to:

Luby Family Love! Oh, how I have missed quiet scenes like this. This clip from the previews literally kept me going all week. More love for the moppet, and Luka continuing to sprinkle in Croatian words while urging Joe to talk and otherwise entertaining him, and for Abby settling in on the couch and just watching them for a moment. Some days I think she really is struck by the fact that she has this, it’s real, and it’s her life now, and she seems almost overwhelmed (in a good way). At least that’s what I got from the visibly swelling emotion in her expression before she leaned over to kiss the back of his neck, and the way his voice just sort of trailed off as his focus switched entirely from the toddler to her overwhelmed me. “Luka, I need help” came across with somewhat awkward delivery, but I forgot it in the wake of the massive wave of squee that followed with him holding her hand against his cheek.

Also: I’m pretty sure I remember saying something about Abby needing to break down in front of him in order to get the lines of communication opened. This’ll do, thank you. And I love, at least for one more commercial break, that he lets her come to him and doesn’t push her away or push her into speaking.

Then there is The Confrontation, Stage 2. Once more Abby’s lines of dialogue come off rather weak and apathetic; I’m not really sure why. I’m choosing instead to focus on Luka, who’s selling a rather spectacular performance on facial expression alone, around a few sparse responses, of listening and trying to understand without entirely letting go of his own hurt. Words cannot express how relieved I am with the way the whole Moretti revelation went down, though. She didn’t say it outright, and she didn’t mention names, but the phrase “things I’m ashamed of” implied the message well enough while simultaneously expressing her utter self-loathing over this fact. This was honestly what I was most worried about, because as I’ve hypothesized before, I think the only circumstance under which Luka would ever walk away from her is if she did something like…well, cheat.

I waited for the blowup, but it didn’t come. Just a long, long beat of silence. The slow exhale and the pose of dejection identical to that of his wife.

And then he falls apart. This is the part where my eyes bulged out of my head, because somehow in all the ways I worried and fretted over how this scenario might go down, I never expected to see them both upset and apologizing for being at fault. In fact, it’s just a titchy bit scary when Luka starts moaning about how it’s all his fault for not coming back sooner, because yeah, it is, but – put down the whip, Luka! It’s okay! We forgive you! Abby is not entirely blameless here! Just take her soft, meek apology and bow your heads in mutual sorrow.

The episode ends on Chaplain Julia’s excessively schmaltzy voiceover, which annoys me, but even that doesn’t annoy me as much as the fact that Abby decides to pack up and head off for rehab that night (…can you do that on such short notice?), and that Joe gets in the way of any reassuring physical contact (stupid moppet!), leaving them to make do with palms pressed against opposite sides of the glass before Abby drives off into the darkness, leaving Luka standing there alone with only an oblivious Joe and some chilling background vocals for company. OH MY GOD, WHAT IS IT WITH WOMEN DRIVING AWAY FROM THEIR LOVED ONES THIS YEAR?!  

Overall consensus: The episode sort of sputtered its way to an ending, disappointing in light of how amazing the first quarter or so was, but it served its purpose as a memorable milestone marker. I’m pleased with it. That was a good way to conclude its 2007 run.


Without a Trace: 6.9, One Wrong Move

Oh good Lord. What did I say about taunting me with “previously on” scenes from the season finale? Unless they involve Danny, Elena, and possibly Carlos, I don’t care! Stop talking about it! Apparently, this is turning into a season-long plot arc, although the fact that I can’t recall any press articles about a season-long plot arc tells me that it either can’t be a very good one, or this show has just become so insignificant that it’s not worthy of media coverage. It could easily be both.

I ended up watching the episode in full anyway, first because Vivian, who is one of my favorite characters, was on screen before the missing person, and then because I recognized the missing person, and I thought she was an important recurring character of some sort. I spent almost a quarter of the episode trying to remember her, and by the time I realized that she was actually the woman whose muscles turned to bone on Grey’s Anatomy, I had been sucked into both plotlines of the week.

Plot the First, Red: Viv/FBI Agent’s task force and the abducted girls. This is the most attention I’ve ever paid to the case, which is turning out to be both fascinating and heartbreaking. Human trafficking is by far one of the most disgusting activities I can think of, and it never fails to get to me when used in one of my crime dramas. I’m glad most of the girls ended up being okay, even if the season-long plot arc continues to elude conclusion. The last moment with Viv and the girl in the ambulance was touching, even though I also think it highlighted one of this show’s weaknesses: its tendency to come to a rather abrupt ending at the close of a case, like me running out of space on my 1-page limit for Lit papers and just slap-dashing a one sentence conclusion after the last paragraph.

Plot the Second: Missing mother/ex-(white collar crime) convict. Funny, I know it kept me entertained, but I can’t recall anything I specifically liked about it. Maybe it was just the heartbreaking way it ended, with her idiot of a 14-year-old son accidentally running her over with a truck, and them finally finding her body all bent and broken in the darkness. Damn, that is one tragedy-filled family. The older kid is probably desperate to escape to college and do his best to start a new life.

The Blue & Yellow: Danny! Tripping over yourself to help Samantha out of her car? This obsessive uncling has got to stop. You have Sophie for that, remember? Daughter of the woman you’re dating and clearly going to marry? It’s not that I think you can’t multi-task, because I do rather love you in Uncle Danny mode. I just get cranky when you pay more attention to Samantha in two episodes than you have to Elena all season. I’m also curious whether the JSR shippers are up in arms over the fact that Jack has hardly batted an eyelash since she told him about the pregnancy.

Without a Trace: Claus and Effect

*squints* What was that? Was that - *gasps* A GOOD EPISODE OF WITHOUT A TRACE?! I don’t believe it! And damn it, how is it that the first time all season I neither tape nor download, but only watch it live, it turns out good? I also want to know how it was able to be so good with so few personal elements to it.

Oh right, a lovable missing person. Yep, that’ll about do it.

I freely admit that I yawned through the first five or so minutes, finding myself supremely uninterested in the next Charlie Eppes. But then! Unexpectedly, it turned out that the kid had such soulful and beseeching puppy dog eyes, sparkling with the light of youthful idealism, that I fell in love with him on the spot. Thereafter I spent much of the hour curled up in a ball of fear, sick at the thought that by the time they finally found this male Pollyanna, he was going to wind up dead. Because they always kill the people I like. The more I want someone to be found, as of late, the more likely they are to recover nothing but a body.

And then when they did find him, but the poor guy looked doomed to a stint in jail…I continued to weep all over the sofa cushions. Not fair! Rules should be bent for cute, smart young people who realize they’ve made a…oh, I’m sorry, Danny is taking off the handcuffs? Bzuh? No charges filed? YAY CHRISTMAS MIRACLES! And now for the M&M bites:

The Yellow & the Brown: Sam’s still whining about the fact that her baby daddy refuses to roll over and give up his parental rights, still apparently failing to grasp the fact that the simplest solution to this problem would have been not to let him know in the first place. That eats up most of the ninety seconds allocated per episode for personal storylines (excluding Super Special Backstory weeks), but there’s just enough left over for Jack to wax rhapsodically about how Santa is a dirty old pervert. I want to know how the hell this man even partially raised children if he hates the idea of Santa Claus.

There were some lolz to be had at the end, with Danny cheerfully goading him into playing Mall Santa for a while (which…why did he agree to do that, exactly?) and Jack just barely refraining from giving him the finger, but I am going to have to deduct points from the fact that we did not actually get to see Jack in full Kringle regalia. An icon image is worth ten lines of banter, writers. Duh.

The Green: Was non-existent, which made me cranky because JESUS CHRIST Elena spent the entire time in the mall – and not one mention of what silly popular toy Sophie was asking for, or something? Did Elena and Carlos ever take her to get her picture taken with Santa? Was it a family tradition, or did they scoff at it like Jack? THESE ARE THE PARENTING STORIES I DESIRE TO KNOW. Alternatively, you could have made my shipper’s heart explode had you staked her in the mall with Danny rather than Martin, whereupon they could surely have made some throwaway reference to the craziness of Christmas and how they were looking forward to a nice quiet one. See how easy this is? Do you deliberately go out of your way to avoid dealing with your canon couple? And the CSI: NY shippers think they have it bad this year.

But, like I said, the MP’s case was so compelling, and the MP himself was so very, very pretty to look at, that I wasn’t too fussed about the lack of personal storylines this week. Plus, his name was Glen, my middle name is Glenn, all kinds of connections going on there…

Tags: er, school, tv commentary, without a trace

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