To squeeze every last second out of the special effects, TPTB decided to scotch the "previously" segment and instead assume that if you're just joining ER now, you've been living under some kind of immovable object. So, on we go.
We fade up on a wall-mounted television set in the lobby, flashing the nightly news while drenched people watch, rapt. The newscaster -- broadcasting live from a dramatically wet location -- yells that The Storm has indeed gotten worse. I always feel sorry for news reporters, because inevitably, they're deployed to somewhere close to the center of The Storm in some twisted Emmy bid by the station. We had a small hurricane in Sarasota two months ago, and the reporters were outside in high winds and driving rain, blown horizontal and reduced to asinine on-the-spot coverage like, "Well, Ed, no one is at the beach right now..." while trying not to lose an eyeball. Anyway, on the Warner Bros. lot, The Storm abated briefly, only to be overtaken by an even worse one. "Have they cleared the Eisenhower yet?" Abby "Rainy Day Woman" Lockhart wonders. "Forget about it," grumbles Frank, who has raised "curmudgeonly" to an art form. Abby asks, "Are we doing this thing?" Meanwhile, Nurse Lily empties frantically her wallet and panics that she took forty bucks out of her bank account just yesterday, and now it's gone, and she can't explain it. Lily hasn't been reading the forums. Haleh tells Abby, "She's finishing her last patient." Still no exposition as to who "she" is.
Dr. John "Gamma Gamma Gamma" Carter strolls over and tries to give Haleh some instructions, but she refuses to do anything until after the party. "How long is that?" he sighs. "Five minutes," Haleh promises. "Don't go anywhere." Frank carries out the cake and sets it down on the counter, noticing that it's beginning to melt. "Does she know we're waiting for her?" Abby grumps, eager to junk the festivities because she misses her old pal Misery and the way he used to poke her with thumbtacks all the time. Chuny reminds everyone that the party is supposed to be a surprise. "What surprise?" asks an approaching and extremely hot-looking Dr. Luka "1.21 Jigawatts" Kovac. Abby finally coughs up the last piece of the exposition puzzle: it's Cleo's last day, ergo, it's time for the annual feigning of interest in her. Chuny chirps that Luka owes her ten bucks for the massage and facial they got Cleo, which prompts a frustrated Lily to abandon her search for the missing forty dollars; she promises to pay later.