ER
The Fastest Year

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The Fastest Year

Fade back up from commercial on Carol and Luka on the El, dressed like twins in black pants and coats. Carol looks out the window, and Luka stands sort of behind her and a little too close, and it seems like she's deliberately facing away from him -- weird blocking there, but I guess the director wanted them both in the same frame. Anyway, Luka apologizes, saying they could have gotten to the dealership faster if he'd had his car, but "it's in the shop." Carol is alarmed by this revelation: "What?" Luka reassures her that it's just a routine check-up, really, and the dealership is a good place. More banter about his contact at the dealership, Herb, who is his second cousin's wife's brother-in-law or some damn thing, and Carol laughs at him, and Luka asks if she's excited, and Carol's like, "About buying a used car? No." She grouses that her mom wants her to buy a minivan, and Luka gives her shit about that, but consoles her by saying that they can have the dealer put a Porsche engine in it, and Carol says, "Really?" and Luka says in a giddy "uh duh" tone of voice, "No," and cracks himself up. Barely twenty minutes into the episode, Luka has smiled more times than he has in the entire season combined. It's Bizarro Luka. Seriously. Anyhow, Carol curls her lip and says sulkily that maybe bringing Luka along "wasn't such a good idea," like it's Luka's fault that she's so gullible, and she stares out the window again, and Luka keeps laughing at his own joke but tells her not to worry, they'll get her "something good."

Carter is treating an elderly woman with asthma and querying her husband as to her medications. It turns out that she took a heart medication that's contraindicated for asthmatics, but it's really her husband's high blood-pressure medication, not hers; her husband gave it to her because he has an HMO, but she just has Medicare, and Medicare won't cover the cost of the pills. Carter doesn't understand why the husband has an HMO but the wife doesn't, and the husband explains that he has heart trouble so he takes a lot of pills, but he gets them for free; his wife just has the asthma, and she wanted to keep her own doctor, but the HMO wouldn't let her. I would make a snarky comment here about the writers recycling an insurance-related subplot, but seriously, the American medical-insurance system is so tortuous and fucked up that the show really could have a different "how the HMO industry screws patients over while putting doctors in untenable positions" story in every single episode and never have to use the same one twice.

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