Season 1, Episode 05:
Directed by Charles Haid
Written by Robert Nathan
Into That Good Night
Doug and Carter are resting in the hospital's lounge late one afternoon when Carol rouses them from their sleep, telling them it's too early in the day to be sleeping on the job.
In the main receiving area, Mark is busy having an argument with Jen about why she can't give him some news over the phone when Doug arrives and tells Jen that Mark will be there to hear the news himself. As Doug takes charge over the wing, Haveh tells him that two critical patients are arriving from a head-on car accident — one a pregnant mother, the other a gangbanger who caused the accident. The mother is wheeled into one of the rooms and, after an examination, doesn't appear to have any serious injuries — though things soon take a turn when the staff realize she may be going into premature labor several weeks early.
Mark meets with Jen at a nearby boardwalk and she delivers the news she received — a job offer for a position as a legal clerk, in Milwaukee. Mark realizes that this means if she takes the job, she'll either have to take transit for several hours per day to reach the office, or the family will have to uproot from Chicago and move to Milwaukee. Mark congratulates her on the offer, but expresses concern that the opportunity he was given at Cook County (as chief resident) won't be present if the family moves from the city. Mark and Jen are left at a loss as to their next step...
The pregnant mother's water breaks and Doug realizes that she's going into labor, leading him to call the hospital's Neonatal unit to inform them that a premature baby is on the way. As they wheel the mother out, Mark arrives back at the ER and tells Susan about Jen's job offer, while Carter watches as Benton questions the female gangbanger about her actions prior to the accident. Benton orders a drug screen for the gangbanger after she tells him she wasn't taking drugs.
A short time later, Doug arrives back in the waiting area and tells Carol that the mother delivered in the elevator, and that the baby is currently being monitored in Neonatal. Afterwards, Carter approaches him and asks how he would administer a sexual disease test on a patient who has a burning sensation when urinating. After showing how the procedure is done, Doug asks who the "lucky girl" was, and Carter tells him it's Liz, the patient he met several weeks earlier. Doug tells him to be more careful next time while Carter becomes morose.
Susan is having an argument with her mother over an unknown topic when a patient suffering from an apparent heart attack is wheeled in, diverting her attention. The patient, who identifies himself as Samuel, appears to need a heart transplant, and briefly flatlines before the staff are able to resuscitate him. Despite this apparent danger, and the knowledge that this has happened multiple times before, Samuel is otherwise happy with the situation. He asks for the staff to call his family. Outside, Mark runs Samuel's test results by Benton, who suggests calling Dr. Kayson in the Cardiology Unit. Afterwards, Kayson reveals an ultrasound on Samuel's chest, while Samuel talks to Mark and suggest that no matter how busy his job may busy, he should always find time to spend with his family. Susan also attempts to suggest a course of action with regards to Samuel's treatment, but runs into friction with Kayson after he contends the stress would kill Samuel in less than two hours.
As Mark's shift ends, he stays around in the hospital lounge, telling Doug and Carter (who are both still on rotation) that he's never had a heart patient case last as long as Samuel's. After Doug leaves to treat an elderly patient who needs an x-ray, Carter tells Mark that he heard about the latter's wife's job opportunity, and asks him if he's going to stay at County. Mark replies that he doesn't know, and is still mulling his options.
Outside at the ambulance bay, Susan is talking to Cvetic about Dr. Kayson's cold treatment of her during Samuel's assessment. When he tells her that she shouldn't worry about what he says, she counters that he's on the hospital's review board and that if she wanted to make a recommendation on Samuel's case, she would need his recommendation anyway. Cvetic tells her that she shouldn't let it get to her before heading back inside.
Mark goes back to Samuel and tells him that, despite the hospital's best efforts, it is incredibly unlikely that they will get a donor in time, and that he won't last the night. He also tells Samuel that his family is on their way to the hospital to see him. He also asks Mark to call him Sam, and imparts some advice to make the most of the moments he gets with his family instead of work, as might not get the chance to choose both in the future.
While Susan and Carter intubate a patient who is unresponsive after drinking and possibly taking drugs, Sam's wife and children arrive at the ER, and Mark breaks the bad news to them. Despite Mark's best efforts calling different hospitals, he is unable to get a heart and tells Sam's family that they should spend their last hours with him. As he mulls things over during a break in his shift, he muses aloud to Susan about the only work he could find in Milwaukee being that of a junior resident at a smaller hospital, causing her to react in surprise and disbelief.
While Doug deals with a mother who doesn't have the money to pay for asthma medication for her daughter (prompting him to raid a nearby dispensary to get the medicine himself), Carter gets the results back from his sexual disease test... and expresses relief that the results were negative. His attention is immediately distracted when he sees... Liz, who is back at the ER complaining about an upset stomach. Dr. Kayson is standing beside her and looking on seductively, and she charms him before they start walking to his office, though not before she sees Carter and acknowledges him.
Samuel's family is brought in to see him, and he's able to spend a few minutes talking with them about his hopes for them before his heart finally gives out. As he lays dying, he asks his wife to tell his daughter often about how much he loves her...
The next morning, Mark is outside playing basketball when Doug arrives and tells him he should go back home to his wife, reasoning that the situation over his uncertain future will sort itself out. When Mark arrives home, he admits to Jen (who's just waking up) that he's ready to commit to go to Milwaukee. Jen tells him not to worry about it, and that the transit each day is much less than she thought. Rachel arrives at the bedroom and greets her parents, and the trio hug in the bed as Mark tells them everything is alright...
- Affectionate Nickname: "Poppy", which Samuel uses as an endearing term for his youngest daughter.
- As You Know: Used briefly, as Susan shows Carter (and, by extension, the audience) how to intubate a patient when an unresponsive victim is wheeled into the ER.
- Butt-Monkey: Not only does Carter's uncertainty over whether he has an STD place him in several compromising situations (having to ask Jerry for an STD test, having the same test posted to the bulletin board, having to admit his issue to Doug), he gets used as a basketball backboard by the latter, and by the end of the episode, is left humiliated when he sees Liz walk off with Kayson, showing that she makes a game out of seducing doctors.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The elderly patient who Doug treats for a broken leg, while other coherent and lucid, tells him that she's worried that the x-ray he has to perform will harm her "baby", and insists that she's pregnant. After reassuring her that they'll protect her chest with a lead-lined vest, Doug asks Lydia to perform the procedure and be careful with the patient's baby, leading Lydia to have a Reaction Shot.
- Continuity Nod: After Mark has the conversation with Samuel about making every action count, the former walks out of the examination room, extremely bothered by what he's heard. Carol, having heard the conversation, asks him if he's going to tell her that she should be glad to be alive, referring to her suicide attempt in the pilot episode (and subsequent recovery).
- Contrived Coincidence: The moment that Mark needs someone to rely on to give him advice regarding the uncertainty over whether to follow Jen to Milwaukee, Samuel arrives in the ER to impart wisdom about taking every moment he can with his family.
- A Death in the Limelight: Samuel, whose heart condition is too severe. The staff are unable to get a heart transplant in time, though Samuel does impart some wisdom to Mark, in the form of telling him to enjoy every moment he can with his family. Notably, his situation causes several of the staff members (including Haleh) to burst into tears.
- Dying Declaration of Love: As Samuel dies, he asks his wife to tell his daughter how much he loves her.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The "Previously On" musical cue that plays at the very beginning of the episode (over the title screen) is not present, and the shot plays in complete silence. This would be fixed by the next episode.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Like the pilot, this episode takes place over a short time period and follows several key events in one day of the doctors' lives at Cook County. Unlike the pilot, though, the timestamps have no real relevance to one specific plotline (compare "24 Hours," which revolves around a 24-hour period in Mark's life at the hospital).
- Femme Fatale: Liz is revealed as this, having seduced multiple doctors in the ER. Having apparently dumped Carter with no explanation, she is last seen seducing Dr. Kayson, who escorts her to his office.
- In the opening, Doug interrupts Carter as he's reading a book on "diseases," which foreshadows his obsession with the potential sexually-transmitted disease he picked up from Liz.
- Susan is seen having a conversation with her mother over an unseen individual, which comes into play in the following episode.
- Ivan (the liquor store owner from the pilot episode) is wheeled into the ER with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, having claimed that he's bought a gun for his own protection...
- Framing Device: The time is seen on-screen at several points, much like the pilot, outlining a single 24-hour period for the hospital staff.
- I Have This Friend...: When Carter asks for help with a chlamydia test he wants to administer on himself, over his uncertainty after sleeping with Liz, but couched as a question to Doug about how the procedure would go for a patient.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Played for Laughs — Doug shoots balled-up pieces of paper at a trashcan (with Carter's backside being used as a backboard) while musing about how he could have played for the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers. Becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the episode, when Mark gently ribs Doug for his (weak) basketball skills when they play an impromptu game the next morning.
- Ill Boy: Samuel, who is noticeably pale white, yet acts so virtuous that he has the staff in tears, due to his condition.
- It's All About Me:
Carol: Since when do you believe in God?Doug: Well, I've been contemplating my insignificance in the universe.Carol: I thought you were the center of the universe.Doug: Not always.
- Discussed by Doug and Carol.
- Also invoked by Jen, as her comments about wanting to move to Milwaukee belie the fact that Mark (as the chief resident of a major hospital) appears to be the main breadwinner of the family, even if he is Married to the Job, and her comments about taking transit to work for several hours a day appear to have been exaggerated, as she admits at the end. Regardless, in the next episode, Mark tells Doug that Jen is looking for an apartment in Milwaukee.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Ivan, the liquor store owner who was shot twice by criminals who tried to rob him, buys a gun for his own protection — and promptly shoots himself in the foot, causing him to lose part of one toe.
- Married to the Job: As shown in previous episodes, Mark and Benton are committed to the hospital nearly all hours of the day, with Benton spending his breaks listening to cardiology books on tape and practicing one-handed surgical knots, while Mark continues to miss calls from Jen and Rachel due to how busy work is.
- Mood Dissonance: Samuel, in a nutshell. He's had so many near-death experiences due to his heart problems that virtually nothing gets him down, and he continues to make light of the fact that he nearly dies once per day in a lighthearted tone.
- The Oner: The camera follows Doug and Haveh wheeling the pregnant mother out towards the Neonatal Unit, then follows Mark walking back in and talking to Susan, and then following Carter as he walks over to Benton, who's questioning the female gangbanger.
- Police Are Useless: This episode starts the long-running trend of on-duty police officers hanging around the hospital and harassing staff members over their apparent inability to surrender a patient involved in illegal actions. An officer attempts to goad Benton into releasing the female gangbanger, reasoning that she stole the car that hit the mother and caused her to give birth prematurely. For his part, Benton mentions that she may have an aortic rupture, and also that while he is medically liable for the patient's life, the officer is not.
- Running Gag:
- Yet again, the episode begins with someone (in this case, two doctors) being woken up by another member of the staff in the first scene of the episode.
- The Russian store owner introduced in the pilot is shot — yet again — for the third time in a row, this time via a self-inflicted wound to his leg.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Seen when Doug helps an asthmatic patient and her mother by first raiding a dispensary in the ER for the needed drugs, then borrowing some money from Mark so he can buy the requisite inhaler and medication for them after the mother tells him she's too poor to afford the prescription. This is the first notable instance of Doug's Determinator tendencies when it comes to helping children in the series.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Mark's uncertainty over whether or not to move to Milwaukee is rendered moot at the end of the episode when Jen tells him that she's found a way to make the travel work, and tells him not to worry about it.
- Tagalong Kid: Carter is this to Susan, who teaches him how to intubate a patient and describes the procedure (also a case of As You Know).
- Tempting Fate: Discussed:Jerry: (commenting on the number of active ER cases) Will you look at this board?Carol: Don't worry. It'll get quieter later.Jerry: Uhh, don't say the 'q' word. You'll start a stampede.