Previously on ER: A new blonde with the improbable name of "Wendall" showed up and got sassy with Carter. Ray and Abby butted heads in a classic battle of utter buttheads. Neela got hired by Susan as an intern. And Dr. Dubenko, who is all up in the face of progressive medicine, joined the surgical department.
On a Chicago morning of indeterminate temperature and season, Neela is jogging in nothing but tight pants and a sports bra. She is muttering medical things under her breath to keep her memory fresh: "Shock, epi shock, lido shock, static electricity shock, caffeine withdrawal shock, reading your script and finding out you have to jog in spandex shock..."
Cut to a man's bare feet padding in the darkness -- of course -- toward a door; the person opens it and retrieves a paper. We find out it's actually Abby, so oh wow, Maura Tierney has a major set of man-hooves on her. Abby throws the paper atop a massive, messy pile of unread newspapers and sighs. She then (as she stands there trying to wake up without illuminating any of her apartment on this dark morning) notices a dead plant and pours some water onto it, only to give up and hurl it in the trash with another duck-billed breath of frustration.
Cut to Ray pulling on his pants in the dark, until a girl who is clearly a day-player flicks on a light; she hasn't been told about the show's pitch-black mandate, although in this case, I'm thankful for the shadows cast over Ray's unmentionables. "You going?" she yawns, nude but for the bedsheet wrapped around her body. "Rounds start at 7," he says. "Barely even light out," she sniffs. Well, take that up with the sun, honey. 7 is 7. "Nice meeting you," she waves distractedly as Ray exits hurriedly. I suppose that's one way to avoid paying rent or sleeping at the hospital.
As they shuffle up to County, Abby complains to Neela about the schedule and how she has been too busy to pay her bills. Her credit-card company will be so understanding; I know that when I am swamped, I just call and say, "Sorry, guys, work is really hard," and American Express is like, "Take however long you need -- here, wait, we'll just pay it for you, and we'll give you a few hundred bucks for the emotional trauma. Go get a massage." Neela would rather ask technical questions, but Abby wants her to shut up about her own situation and pay attention to Abby's. Such a fun friendship! Neela grumbles, "Am I destined to spend the rest of my life in a fetid, windowless hospital?" OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT YOUR FACE. Maybe she should've done a window check up at Michigan before she stomped out of there in a quarter-life snit. Abby at least has the sense to point out that Neela was unemployed and now she's not, so she shouldn't whine. "Take it," Abby insists. Neela panics that everyone's probably heard all about her meltdown, and to punctuate her unease, Ray passes by and grins, "Dr. Jumbo Mart! How are you feeling?" He's Marty McFly-ing his way to work on a skateboard while clinging to the back of an ambulance. If only he were wearing suspenders with his jeans. But the best part is that when McDie lets go of the rig, he totally fumbles and can't look the least bit like a habitual skateboarder. Heh.