I'll Be Home For Christmas

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Heathen: B | Grade It Now!
I'll Be Home For Christmas

As a receptionist rambles on about boring surgeries and packed schedules, Peter sits tensely in the Surgi-Center director's office. The man glances at Peter through the glass, but doesn't look particularly moved; Peter shits a ton of bricks, then uses them to build a spanking new fireplace that will ensure a good first impression. Fade to commercial.

Dec. 20. Judge Alter. The Courthouse of the Triumph of Eyebrows. Benton chases down Judge Alter, waving the letter that confirms his favorable employment situation, and trying to gloss over the man's unease by saying it came in after hours. Alter studies it. "This is not your hospital," he duhs. Benton acts blasé, saying he worked out a much better situation at the new place. Alter can't believe all this happened in twelve hours; Benton half-truths that it was always a possibility, but that he didn't want to mention it until everything was ironed out perfectly. "Look, I needed to cut back my hours, and I did," Benton argues. He snagged an 8 AM to 5 PM weekday, with work-free weekends. "You told a different story yesterday," scolds Alter. "I don't like being lied to." Benton pulls the whole paternal-determination routine, growling that he's only doing what will be in Reese's best interests. Alter shoots him a withering look, then turns on his heel and leaves Benton lonely and helpless as a tot with no lunch money in the cafeteria.

Benton, en route to County General, bumps into Dr. Elizabeth "One Maid A-Milking" Corday. "Sneaking coffee?" he teases. "Tea," she says, then compliments his appearance. "Date?" she asks. "No, court date," he answers bleakly. Elizabeth bows her head and asks how it's going. "It's out of my hands now," he answers. He makes an offhand comment alluding to how many hours he has left before he goes, and that gives Elizabeth pause. "I'm leaving at the end of the week," he explains. "I had to quit." Elizabeth, for once, has lost the power of speech. I find that I quite like her this way. Benton explains that he needs to change his life for Reese's sake, and that Romano won't cut him enough slack to make it work any other way. Lizzie is astounded that Romano didn't fight harder to keep Benton, and is still in total shock that Benton would quit. "I've got to go," he metas, responding to his screaming beeper. He leaves her alone, still agape, and partly grieving.

Susan, in one of the trauma rooms, huddles over a twelve-year-old kid who fell from a ladder while hanging Christmas lights on his house. Where is Stan? Are we done with him already? Dang. I wanted to learn about life and love and dumpster-diving. Carter enters with the kid's parents in tow. The mother, played by Lea Salonga, exposits that her son Ben smacked against a bike on the way down, but notes that he's waking up. Enter Benton, who gets the bullet; Carter adds that Ben might have a liver or spleen laceration. Benton would prefer to "control the pain," which is med-speak for "drug him up but good." Mostly, he prefers not to remove the spleen unless absolutely necessary. And the liver, Benton? What of the liver? The LIVER? Guess he's ruled that out. Lea freaks at the word "remove." You should see her when she has to take off her nail polish. Carter calmly says that Ben can live without a spleen. Seriously, nobody knows what a spleen does, so why would anyone think the spleen is important? Lea and her husband launch into a whole bit that's supposed to be endearing, in which they fret about whether she can donate hers, and if not, whether one of the visiting extended family might have a matching spleen to sacrifice. "Sir, we don't transplant spleens," Benton says, almost serenely. And for some reason, that's my favorite line of the entire episode. Carter moves to escort the panicked parents to the waiting room; Lea offers to give blood to her son, but faints before she can say anything else.

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