ER
Four Corners

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Heathen: C | Grade It Now!
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Four Corners

Carter begins his story inside a car. Rolling down his limousine window, Carter gazes at the passing graveyard, clearly headed there for a funeral. There's been rather a lot of gazing and staring in this episode, which is taxing my mental thesaurus. Perched beside Carter is his mother, clad in a black suit and wide-brimmed matching hat, sitting stiff as a double bourbon and ice-princess pale. We see the coffin come out of the hearse, Carter in position as a pallbearer, then move to a snippet of the ceremony. During the priest's oration Carter's mobile phone rings, a repulsive sign of our era. What could be that important during a funeral? Does Abby have a hangnail? He switches off the ringer and gently clasps the hand of his emotional grandmother, Gamma. Yay! She's alive!

Ice Queen and Carter return to the limo, an appropriately frosty silence in place. "Dad did a nice job with the eulogy," Carter offers. Ice Queen boredly says he worked on it for ages, and when Carter expresses his certainty that Grandpa Carter would've loved it, she offers only an uninterested "Yes." Trying another tactic, Carter says, "Gamma seems to be holding up," but he gets a snotty "Yes, I expect she would" in return. Ah, saved by the cell phone this time: Abby calls to alert him about a problem with little Holly Evans, who hasn't been admitted to the ER despite already having spent a night at the hospital. Carter presses her for Holly's stats and then orders the limo driver to stop at County General so that he can impress Abby with strong language and manly assertiveness. He promises his mother it won't take long, but she's too chilly to answer. She might actually be frozen in place.

Holly is bedded down in a high-traffic area, where talk-show brawlers are bitching about the program while waiting for treatment. Abby tries to quiet them while Carter soothes his patient. "I'll make sure you get your own bed and room upstairs," he says. "You said that last night," grouches Holly. He swears it will happen, tells her that Abby will chat with her in the meantime, and stage-whispers that Abby will call him again whenever Holly needs him. "Thanks for coming back," Holly says sweetly.

Carter orders a course of medicine for Holly while he dials her regular physician, Dr. Wiseman. "Nice suit," Abby remarks. "Who died?" "My grandfather," Carter replies matter-of-factly. Abby whips her head up and regurgitates the foot lodged in her throat. "Wow, are you okay?" she asks, apologizing for her accidental lack of tact. Abby invites him for coffee, but Carter declines, citing the throng of two hundred mourners swarming his house expecting to offer condolences over champagne and caviar, which is acceptable because it comes in mourner's black. "There's coffee there," Abby notes pointedly, but Carter brushes aside her words, saying he couldn't possibly subject her to that. Translation: not only does he want her to come, but he wants her to help him cope with desolation the only way he knows how -- by playing Strip Eulogy.

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