Last time on ER, Luka was sweating up a storm in the Congo, while Carter was having a bad day at County that led to his making the non-Abby-approved decision to help Luka's short-staffed outpost. His Congolese outpost, that is, because clearly Luka is himself not short-staffed in any way. But, let's face it, it's going to be a long summer without new Luka, so I've got to cure myself of the lust, and I'm hoping I can do that with a little tough love in this recap. Pray for me.
We fade up on a drab plane -- the kind of shaky, crowded, stale-smelling coach cabin that reminds me precisely why I don't relish flying. An enormous ass in an African-print muumuu is waddling down the aisle, and then squeezes into a window seat past two unfortunate people who are clearly thinking, "Why me? WHY ME?" Dr. John "I Dreamed Of Africa" Carter sits tiredly in the window seat ahead of The Giant Ass, looking kind of miserable. "Day One: Travel," reads the Graphic Of Hey, We Didn't Use Our Entire Budget For These Last Week, After All. The plane hits a bump and squeezes a few drops of premature perspiration from Carter's pores -- premature because if his skin knew how much sweating he's going to be doing later, it would save up every drop. The man sitting next to Carter says something in French that Carter doesn't understand, because money can't buy language aptitude. "Long journey," the man says in English. "Yeah, I started yesterday," Carter says, appearing rude but probably just out of it. "Chicago," he adds. "Ah, Chicago! Michael Jordan, right?" the man asks with a smile. Carter reciprocates the grin. The man draws out of Carter that he's a doctor, and that from their destination -- the capital Kinshasa -- he's traveling east to Kisangani. "A doctor in Kisangani," the man says with a knowing chuckle. "You will be busy." Carter adopts what will be the first of many nervous expressions.
A man with a French accent meets Carter at the airport. There are men with guns everywhere. They are not the fashion police, though, for if they were, they'd have shot Carter for his open-to-the-navel white blouse and aviator shades. At least he's removed the jean jacket he was wearing, which appeared to have the kind of puffed sleeves that would've sent a young Anne Shirley into dreamy fits. The French man introduces himself as Charles, and asks "Dr. John" how he's feeling. "I could use a shower," Carter says wryly. I wish Charles had handed him a pile of wet-naps and called it a bath, because Carter's expression would've been classic ("Gamma always said that wet-naps were for peasants!"). "The next plane is only three hours. And not so much nice as the last one," Charles says helpfully.