Previously on ER: Neela told her parents that medicine might not be for her, but she has no backup plan, and Weaver wouldn't throw her a bone. Carter confessed to Luka that he can't sleep because when he does, the lambs cry, or something.
It's dark outside. Luka exits the ER to wait for something -- an ambulance, character development, Godot...who can say. Carter glides up on his bike, fresh off his paper route and all set to ask the nice guv'nor if he'd like a shoeshine in exchange for a shiny tuppence. Luka is surprised to see Carter. "I couldn't sleep and I wanted a jump on the day," Carter says. Luka tells him that the night shift started out crazy but has quieted down in the last hour. "That won't last. Sunburn, blown-off fingers...food poisoning...there's nothing like the ER on the Fourth of July," Carter says with forced lightness. The weird thing is, I can't figure out -- because I know what's coming -- why it was necessary to set this episode on the Fourth of July. Just because the writers wrote it on the Fourth, drunk while they flipped their beer brats on the grill and spilled Old Milwaukee all over the pages, doesn't mean they needed to set the whole show on that same day. The cognitive disconnect is weird. They've ignored Susan for entire episodes before; they certainly didn't need to do this to justify her being on maternity leave. And Sam and Luka could only benefit from the passage of time and the presumed subsequent strengthening of their relationship. And Carter could still be haunted. All of this could happen in September or October. Luka calls out to Carter, "Have you talked to Kem?" Carter chokes when he tries to glibly pretend they talked, and then clarifies, "The time change makes it hard...we email." Luka asks if everything is okay, even though he really should be able to read between the frown lines. "These things take time," Carter replies vaguely. Not finished pressing Carter like a wrinkled shirt, Luka further wants to know if Carter is okay. "I'm here, aren't I?" Carter says, throwing open his arms. Well, if that's the only criterion, then he was totally healthy and fine the day he stumbled in drunk to overstep his bounds with a patient's personal life before passing out in the lounge. An arriving rig saves Carter from any more of that irritating friendly concern.
Abby finishes getting dressed and heads into her kitchen. Neela is awake and curled up on the couch, eating cereal and watching television with all the vim and vigor of a robot. She has apparently returned unscathed and unenlightened from her run for the border. "Oh, we're out of milk," Neela calls out as Abby pours two meager drops into her coffee. She bites back the urge to throw the carton at Neela's head -- which is understandable. If, in that situation, I was told we were out of Diet Coke, I can't be held responsible for the carnage I would leave in my grumpy, undercaffeinated wake. Abby, however, instead chooses to offer Neela a ride anywhere she needs to go. Neela shrugs that she's fine, and then tips Abby off to a really important story coming up about a woman who fought a mountain lion to save her baby. From the look on Abby's face, Neela is about to experience a similar battle first-hand. On her way out, Abby suggests that Neela work on Weaver one more time, but Neela emptily doesn't want her to bother. She claims she has job interviews set up. Abby brightens and asks where. "I don't want to jinx it," Neela mumbles. Abby knows she's lying and tries to beat a retreat. "I can pick up groceries today, if you'd like," Neela pipes up at the last second. Abby is happy. "I'll just need to borrow some money," Neela adds with a tinge of bitterness. "Just until I get my first paycheck." Abby purses her lips and nods before she quacks -- er, cracks -- Neela's skull.