ER
Damaged

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Damaged

A freshly arisen Abby staggers through her apartment looking for her ringing phone. But it's not her home phone that's ringing; it's a cell phone, which she answers curiously. Props to Maura Tierney for managing to muster up "morning voice" -- it sounds like a pack of smokes had a party in her larynx. The caller is clearly Neela's mother, and we learn two seconds later that Neela has in fact been crashing on Abby's couch. "It's for you," Abby says, nudging her awake. Neela gulps and takes it. "Hello, Neela?" a voice asks. We smash to the credits on Neela's queasy expression, and we thank the sweet baby Jesus at length that this show doesn't tend to make its main cast members deploy the vomit comet.

When we return, Neela is behaving much as I do at the prospect of a parental visit: running around in a tizzy, shoving things under other things, and basically trying to pretend she is an orderly, tidy person. (Sadly, my mother wouldn't buy that routine if it were on clearance at Neiman Marcus.) Abby can't believe Neela didn't tell her parents about the shenanigans with the internship. Neela says she was waiting for the right time, and she hadn't chosen yet between "Hell's first blizzard" and "the tenth of Never." She rants that her department head in Michigan ratted her out when her parents called, and she distractedly puts a bunch of dirty dishes in the rack as Abby watches with wry amusement. Neela announces that she's completely screwed. Which is inaccurate -- if she were getting laid, she'd probably be way less uptight about her life. Damn you, Gallant. Then Abby coughs up the most incongruous statement ever, and that's up against some stiff competition on a show in which character continuity takes a backseat to whatever the stoned monkeys can type: she says, "They're just your parents!" This from a woman whose relationship with her mother could stress out Siddhartha. As Neela buzzes around chucking bedding and laundry into Abby's room, making a general mess of things, and overdramatizing the dire straits down which she is punting, Abby sweetly tucks back a strand of her friend's hair and asks how long Neela will need the couch. A knock on the door interrupts this tender moment of mutual inconsideration. Neela answers the door and plasters on a happy grin. "Mum, Dad, you remember Abby," she says.

Carter waits pensively for an ambulance, dark circles ringing his eyes. He looks horrible, and an approaching Luka very genially says as much. Carter cracks a lame joke about how the late-night TV was too good to sleep though, but his tortured soul speaks louder than his words. ...Actually, no, his pasty skin and eye bags do the talking, but I was just trying not to rag on Noah Wyle's face. I have failed. Carter and Luka exposit that Chen is okay and entering physical therapy, and that Pratt has been chomping at the bit to return to work despite not even having his stitches out yet. The conversation about two characters that mean nothing to me is interrupted by the arrival of a patient in an ambulance who means nothing to me. I'm not sure in which direction I'd rather they went. Carter goes to Kyle Skinner, a twenty-three-year-old whose face is swaddled in bandages. His mother climbs out of the rig and exposits that he's suffered bad headaches since getting his skin grafts. Apparently Kyle was a hemmit driver near Fallujah, and...well, to put it gracefully, shit got hairy.

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