ER
The Letter

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Heathen: C+ | Grade It Now!
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The Letter

Gallant is perched outside the hospital on a low step, trying to regain composure. The "Emergency" sign is reflected in a puddle on the ground, and we see Carter's reflection as he marches outside to impart words of wisdom to Gallant. "Bet that was a new one," he smiles. Gallant sickly apologizes for his mounting nausea. "You know, sometimes I don't think I can do this," he laments. Carter stares at him, seeing himself in Gallant, possibly because he was Gallant back in season one when he did this scene with Mark. I love that the writers are all "Recycling scenes is a poignant tribute for long-time fans," except actually, they're like, "Dude, we don't have to write new scenes! Pass the roach clip!" Carter reminds Gallant that there are two kinds of doctors -- those who eschew their feelings, and those who cling to them. "If you're going to hold onto your feelings, you're going to get sick every once in a while," he advises. "That's part of it." Sitting next to Gallant, Carter continues regurgitating old wisdom. "People come in here, and they're sick and they're bleeding, and sometimes they're dying," he says. "And they need our help. And helping them is more important than how we feel." Gallant looks up at Carter gratefully, as if this is any comfort to him at all, when in fact Carter has basically just said, "Suck it up, shitdip, because this job is disgusting." Carter slaps his med student on the back and tells him to take a few more minutes to collect his thoughts. Gallant is left alone to ponder The World According to Mark's Ghost Speaking Through Carter.

Susan is loitering at the front desk when Carter re-enters the ER. She exposits that the victim must've turned his head just as the blast hit him, but will probably be fine. She glosses over the part where he'll also be hideously disfigured. "How are you?" Carter asks gently. "Ask me tomorrow," Susan says tightly, but with a small grin. As she exits, she pauses to gaze at The Letter, smoothes it, and adds two thumbtacks to the bottom so that A Hero's Last Chicken Scratches will be pinned onto our hearts forever.

Up in the suture room -- where Al lies for no reason since he's getting no sutures -- Carter perches by the bedside of his new patient. "I heard you were gone," Al says laboriously. "No, I'm here," Carter says cheerfully. "Good. You know I don't like nobody else helping me," Al murmurs. Carter slowly realizes that Al thinks he's Mark, and miraculously stops short of throwing himself out the window. Instead, he groans a bit and gulps. "I know," he whispers. "You've always treated me like a man," continues Al with effort. Man, it takes Al thirty seconds to cough up seven words. Put a rush on it, pal. Carter comforts him. "I could've been a better person," Al whimpers. "I could've done more." Carter tearfully chokes, "You did enough," and agrees to stay with Al as he slowly dies. He clasps the old man's hand and closes his eyes, fatigued. He already hates life as Mark.

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