Blood Relations

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Heathen: C+ | Grade It Now!
Blood Relations

This is one of the sickest things I've ever seen on ER: a placenta, which Neela yanks out of Vicky and drops onto the scale, where it lands with a sickening splat. It looks like someone dumped out a can of tomato paste and stuck a blueberry Twizzler into it for color. Lauren and I shriek and cover our eyes, and I kid you not, it takes us ten minutes to stop moaning, "Oh, NO, sweet holy shit Jesus crap fuck, no!" We're eloquent when we're in agony. This only underscores how ignorant of childbirth and its intricacies I hope to remain, until such time as I'm in labor and so doped up that I won't even be able to lift my head to catch an accidental glimpse of my pasta explosion of an afterbirth. The baby is pinking up nicely, but his carbon monoxide levels are very, very high. Susan explains to Vicky that they need to clear that out of the baby's blood, and she starts to say, "One way of doing that is..." and then as she continues to describe hyperbaric therapy, Carter opens his fat yap and talks over her. "It's kind of like scuba diving," he says. Susan's still talking, by the way, and Carter keeps going with an explanation of how hyperbaric chambers take you down to a pressure that's like being under sixty-six feet of seawater, at which point your blood can absorb three times as much oxygen as it normally would. This speeds up the recovery and counteracts the toxins much more quickly than just hanging out in a trauma room. Susan trails off halfway through this speech; it's not played like she's annoyed at this or anything -- it's just a weird choice on behalf of the writer or director to have them speaking at the same time.

Vicky wants to touch her baby before it gets taken down, so Susan and Carter sigh and wheel him over to his mother. "Ohhh, he's beautiful," Vicky coos. Carter and Susan smile. Then Carter's like, "Yeah, whatever," and snaps back into action, wheeling the baby away. It's kind of funny, actually -- reminiscent of National Lampoon's Vacation, when Chevy Chase has just robbed the till at the Grand Canyon and then runs outside to hustle the family into the car to get away. Beverly D'Angelo's all, "Don't you want to enjoy the view?" So he puts his arm around her and stops, and gives a perfunctory satisfied smile at the view for three full beats, then goes, "Okay," and drags her off into the car. It's like that.

Carter orders Neela to truck the baby upstairs to the chamber. We cut back to a truly hideous long shot of Vicky watching her baby leave, legs still spread and the blue sheet hanging between them, stained with blood. It's profoundly disturbing, like she's just had rough sex gone wrong. And people think Janet Jackson's breast was bad? Susan tells Neela that she needs to do the time with the baby in the hyperbaric chamber, because she's done her NICU rotation and can handle it, and as an Attending Susan can't be gone that long. Neela blanches and asks how long it takes. "A couple hours. Is that a problem?" Susan asks innocently.

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