Since this is where the commercials fall, I feel comfortable interjecting that I'm watching Letterman as I type, and Noah Wyle seriously just said something close to this: "I'm continually amazed that, despite our best efforts, [ER is] still on the air." He was being self-effacing, but I laughed out loud. For a long time.
During the commercial break, Luka and Neecole wandered to a scenic bench, because life-altering conversations tend to be easier when they take place in a pretty setting. The blue screen is obvious and awful, but I'm not going to harp on it, as I think it's plausible that ER scotched its plans to shoot on location because of September 11. Although that doesn't excuse the staff's complete lack of finesse with a fairly standard TV and film trick. Luka leans against a railing while Neecole perches uncomfortably on the bench, staring at the skyline and hoping for snow so that she can see Chicago blanketed in white. "Yeah, it's pretty, until your car won't start," Luka giggles, looking happy for the first time all season -- well, except for two seconds in the premiere, when he thought Abby was moving in with him. Neecole ponders shoveling sidewalks for money, but Luka suggests that she stop working and take care of herself and the baby, because he's got her expenses covered. Staring at her hands, Neecole claims she's spoken to a friend who might have a job for her. "That was quick," Luka rejoices, genuinely excited for her. "He's opening a café in Montreal, and he wants me to help run it," Neecole continues, unable to look at Luka's falling face. Why did she make that idiotic comment about Chicago in the snow, if she was planning all along to move to Montreal? I wonder if she's testing him somehow. Luka, stunned, blurts that he can't move to Montreal.
Slowly, Neecole begins the break-up speech, praising his generosity -- but there's a really strange gleam of defiance, almost anger, in Julie Delpy's eyes. She often gives me the impression that she isn't sure what she's doing, or where she is. "Are you saying that's it?" Luka gapes. "You could leave like that?" He begs her to wait and chat at length with him when his shift ends, but Neecole rises determinedly and lies that she'll call him in a couple days. Softly, Luka breathes that he thought they had the same feelings. "You're a good person," Neecole says. "But you talked yourself into loving me." He did? Where has this story been playing out? Is there a late-night spin-off airing on UPN, in which Luka is a divorced guy raising three Croatian nephews with Neecole The Sultry French Au Pair and a whole passel of wacky consequences? Seriously, this scene makes no sense. The writers spent the entire season actively not showing any of the Luka/Neecole bonding, romance, and subsequent sex; now, suddenly, we're supposed to care about their break-up? My interest in Luka, though strongly fueled by his hotness and the fact that Carol broke his heart, still isn't strong enough for this pittance of a scene to sustain me. It's possible that much of the storyline got cut when episodes were edited for time, but really, I think there's almost too much of it missing for that to be true. Like, say, all of it. End rant.