Previously on ER: Elizabeth hated the new surgical Attending, Dr. Dubenko. Neela was all lethargic and depressed since deciding her life was wrong, and had to settle for a job at the creatively named Jumbo Mart. Luka asked Sam to move in with him. Howard ignored Abby's question about whether he has OCD. Carter convinced Elizabeth to perform an illegal operation: transplanting a liver from one HIV patient into another.
We open in a tenement that looks a lot like the set they use for Abby's apartment, but without a sad sack sleeping on the couch. A woman is clutching her children to her while screaming and crying. We hear a man's voice outside the door as he pounds on it, threatening to kill her and all of the kids. Somebody clearly didn't receive his copy of Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. To punctuate his threat, the man shoots through the door; the mother freaks and wails and weeps while her son says, "Mama, please!" She trembles, "We gotta go." Then she turns toward the open window and you can see in her eyes that there's an epiphany happening. "We gotta go where he can't find you," she says. Where, outside? Good plan. He'll never go there. She hustles her two girls to the window as the door bursts open. "Mama!" shouts her son. We smash to the credits, and wave goodbye to Alex Kingston's card.
While driving Ella to school, Elizabeth is on the phone with Carter. "The transplant wasn't a total success," she says. "I still have to meet with the medical executive committee." Ella starts waving around some photographs. I hope one of them is a photo of what happens when you drive and talk on your cell at the same time, although I guess a snapshot of a fiery death wouldn't be a good or logical thing for a little girl to have. Elizabeth tells Carter she's nervous, too, and then hangs up the phone. "Mommy, is this Daddy?" Ella asks, holding up a close-up of Mark. "Yeah, you know that," Elizabeth smiles. Then Ella holds up a picture of her grandparents and asks who they are. "Are they dead too?" she wonders. Elizabeth bites her lip and considers this for a good long time, because it's her last plot and she wants to make it count.
Alex and Sam walk to County. He's yammering on about not wanting to go to another field trip because he's already been to that museum a million times, despite only having lived in Chicago for, what, seven months? That's a lot of repetitive field trips. Perhaps Sam should be concerned that her son's school is stupid. And wait -- it's still July in ER time; possibly, it's August, but storylines dictate that it can't be that far off from everything that happened on Independence Day. Is Alex even supposed to be in school yet? At any rate, Alex waxes rhapsodic about how Luka taught him to rob all fifteen stores in the Vice City game. Sam is heartened that Alex is enjoying his criminal education. "You like it over there at Luka's?" Sam asks oh-so-casually. "Guess so," Alex answers. Sam wants to know how Alex would like moving in with Luka. "Are you serious?" he replies, and his tone is sort of happy. "You want to?" Sam isn't sure because they've never done it before. "We lived with Dad," he offers. Then he brightens and asks if this means he can put their TV set in his bedroom. Sam figures they should think about it a bit more. Why? She wants it, and he's fine with it -- she should just go for it, unless she's really worried that giving him a TV in his room will make him more inclined to perform some playground surgery. By the way, I love that they've totally toned down making Alex a freak. I'm guessing the show sensed it went too far with that initially.