ER
Chaos Theory

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Heathen: D+ | Grade It Now!
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Chaos Theory

As Romano continues to strong-arm them into giving him the copter, Luka frantically shouts that Colin’s losing his airway. “Intubate him and take him in your Viper,” spits Romano. “He’s not safe to transfer!” Luka retorts, irate. Susan peacefully points out that the argument isn’t really doing much to save anyone’s life. Romano glibly agrees, offers them the chopper when he’s done with it, and turns to push his gurney toward the helicopter. But his clipboard slips onto the ground; because a clipboard’s a handy thing, Romano bends over to pick it up. He’s distracted, though, so when he stands -- in slow-motion -- he ends up right in the path of the chopper’s tail rotor. He is facing the camera when the chopper lives up to its nickname, slicing his left arm clean off above the elbow; it flies off above the camera and into arm heaven, and Romano falls to the ground in a heap, now officially an Army of One.

Blood splatters both the nurse and Monty. Luka and Susan look up, and their eyes widen as they run toward the scene of contrived plot point revolving around a man whose name, if you remove the “arm,” spells simply, “Noo!” We go to commercial wondering if next week Luka’s going to lose a leg in a tragic can-can accident involving an axe-swinging lumberjack.

I watched Romano take leave of his arm in slow-motion on my TiVo over and over again, and it really is quite hilarious when you do it that way. The arm takes flight with an awesome whooshing noise, and the blood splatter on his coat begins a second or two before the arm comes off. Paul McCrane winces a half-second too soon, as well, but that’s okay because he’s probably upset that his character is so stupid as to stand near a helicopter and not pay attention to the spinning lethal blades. Seriously, hasn’t he seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? I think chopping off Romano’s arm was a bad idea, mostly because it required him to get uncharacteristically stupid -- yes, accidents happen, fine, but he was really being stupidly careless here. It feels like a cop-out.

Romano opens his eyes through a pained haze and sees distorted versions of Susan and Luka hovering over his body. “Where’s the arm? Do we have the arm?” Luka shouts. They’re scrambling to find anything that will stop the bleeding or at least stem the tide. Romano’s stump looks robotic -- there’s all these long green wiry things hanging out and I’m sure they’re supposed to be tendons, but they look like circuitry. I keep expecting him to sit up and go, “Number Five is ALIVE.” But just then, Romano’s green, woozy head lolls to the side, and he vomits -- first in a slow pool, then a sea of chunky Campbell’s split-pea soup, which streaks down his cheeks and into his ears. They roll him over and again try to clamp any of the major RoboStump arteries that are gushing blood. On three, Luka tightens the makeshift clamp and a spray of Romano juice hits the shoulder of her lab coat. “Tighter,” Susan winces. “Don’t clamp it,” mutters Romano weakly. I’m wondering if this will be an issue later, but no one ever really explain why they shouldn’t clamp it, so who knows. Romano whimpers that he’s cold and Luka screams for blood, any blood at all. We pull out of the scene on an echo of Luka shouting, “Dr. Romano, what’s your blood type?” We come to rest several feet away on the Arm of Darkness lying like a loaf of meat on the helipad, begging for a veggie garnish and a side of mashed potatoes.

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