I had hoped that spending an entire summer away from anything ER would somehow increase my tolerance. Then I remembered that the writers are still dangerous character assassins, so I took up heavy drinking.
Previously on Everyone's Rude, Carter only told his estranged girlfriend Abby that he was leaving for Africa because they bumped into each other at work. Life in Congo sucked, though. Except for Luka's getting laid, Carter and Luka spent their time sweating and being shot at by really angry men in need of happy pills. When he made his hasty exit, Carter instructed Luka not to do anything stupid, like sign a long-term contract. "[Or] get yourself killed," Carter smiled. Luka grinned. Oh, how he grinned. Slurp.
The show picks up exactly where it left off. On a rainy Chicago night, Dr. John Carter gets out of a cab and unloads his baggage -- not Abby, in this case, but in fact actual luggage. Was it raining the last time we saw this? I don't think so. That slapping sound I'm hearing is the heavy hand of Symbolism doing its aggressive work. Carter pauses on the street to contemplate the special mysteries of a pair of keys dangling from his hand. The gentle piano strains of Nervous Nausea in D Minor play hauntingly in the background.
Thunder rolls. Lightning strikes. Garth Brooks sits up in bed with a jolt. Carter steps quietly into a darkened apartment and tiptoes to the bed, where Abby lies sleeping, lit only by moonlight filtering in through the window. It bounces off the orange curtains, casting her in a gold glow that's a shade or fifty too literal for me. Suddenly, I miss Symbolism's bruising caress. And if I'm not mistaken, we should be hearing...oh, yes, there it goes, "Stringy Hair, Shriveled Soul: A Violin Concerto For Broken Lockharts." Gazing at her for a second, Carter touches her gently, then bends over and kisses her. We hear him sit on the bed. This is it, guys. This is the moment of truth. We waited all summer to find out what drama might come from this audacious pairing of ass and bedspread, and now we can release that bated breath.
Abby stirs, and opens her eyes tiredly. Searching the room, they alight on Carter and she wrinkles her brow. God, Abby, don't do that. She looks so old. Maybe she thinks rapid aging is the way to replace Gamma in Carter's heart. "Hi," he whispers. "Hi," she says groggily, trying to regain some mental clarity. It'll be awhile. Abby blinks hard. "When did you get back?" she yawns. "Just now," he answers. Abby frowns, and then immediately rolls over and fishes her pack of cigarettes out of the bedside drawer. Misery is her orgasm, and this is her afterglow smoke. "It's 5:30 AM in the morning," Abby says redundantly. Carter explains that his flight was delayed so that Abby can take a moment to tuck her hair petulantly behind her ears, still trying to stare more at the comforter than at her supposed love interest. "I missed you," he says. Abby gulps, and in that second, you can see her emotional walls fortifying themselves. As annoying as the coldness is, Maura Tierney's true to the character: Abby's trying to make herself invulnerable, freezing him out so he can't hurt her again. "Did you just let yourself in?" she mutters uncomfortably. Carter sucks wind a little on this one and then murmurs tenderly, "I'm sorry about how I left." Abby swallows a lump in her throat, waits until she can muster the fortitude, and looks up at Carter with fogged eyes. "Can I have my key back, please?" she husks, eyes flickering off his face again. Hurt and disbelief flit across Carter's face; he resignedly gets up, tosses the key into a bowl with a clang, and exits with a righteous door-slam. Abby leans against her pillow and begins convulsively twisting her face into a mask of confusion and sadness. She might be having a seizure, though.