Big ups to Sars, who did this twice last week.
Previously on ER: Carol and Luka barbecued; Holling informed Mark that he didn't plan to do his dying in Mark's "cramped apartment"; Carter wiped out at his locker; Finch told Carter she wouldn't lie for him; Carter told Mark he'd "made a mistake"; Weaver ignored Romano's orders, and he suspended her.
The elevator doors slide open and we see the back of Robert "Rocket" Romano's bald head. "Luka!" he bellows heartily. "What is that, Croatian for 'lucky'?" Luka "Black Beauty" Kovac, sitting at a nearby desk, impatiently replies, "No. 'Luke.'" Romano asks him whether he's sure about that, like, no, Rocket, you know more about Luka's first language and first name than Luka himself does. Now, go get back in your high chair or the strained peas will all be gone before you get any. Luka even less patiently assures Romano that he is, in fact, sure. Romano breezily observes that Luka seems to be dragging, and, getting up to walk down the hall with Romano, Luka informs him, "I worked four shifts in the last three days. We're two hundred charts behind in coding, and haven't done one Q/A in the past week." As they walk side by side down the hall, it is painfully clear how very short Paul McCrane is. It's no wonder they normally have him acting opposite Alex Kingston; when he's in surgery with Eriq LaSalle, McCrane's got to be standing on nine phone books. Anyway, Romano tells Luka that if he can "prove [his] mettle," Romano will "anoint [him] temporary chief. Or not." He hands Luka the new schedule, which shows Luka working the midnight shift. "Tonight?" Luka asks, incredulously. "Or tomorrow morning, depending on how you look at it," Romano drawls. Luka refuses to work the shift, and Romano wheedles, "Luka, Luka, Luka, listen to me. This is important, because no truer words have ever been spoken: The last four letters in 'American' are 'I can.'" When this rousing speech has (predictably) no effect whatever on Luka, Romano puts it another way: "Cover this, and I'll owe you. Don't, and you're fired." Wearily, Luka asks when Kerry's coming back. "Who says she is?" Romano rhetorically replies, and takes off.
A completely demoralized Luka asks Randi to tell Mark that he went to Doc Magoo's; he manages to leave the hospital just in time to miss a trauma coming in from the ambulance bay, attended by Doris, some random male paramedic, and Cleo "Less Human Than Human" Finch. The patient, a sixteen-year-old boy, was involved in a single-vehicle accident in the course of which his car spun out and struck a guardrail; fortunately, he was wearing his seatbelt. Doris gives Finch the rest of the bullet: There was no loss of consciousness, but the patient did complain of abdominal pain.