Before the hiatus, Karen sank into depression, suffered panic attacks, and kicked out her wayward son, Eli, who's had trouble holding down a job and mustering up some ambition. Karen then got hit by a car.
Karen is lying down in her hospital bed, banged up and bloodied, eyes closed. Soliloquy Karen appears in her usual black-and-white, clad in a hospital gown but completely unharmed. She stares at the ceiling, confused, and we pan up to bleeping equipment. Karen then jolts awake, gasping for breath.
Eli rolls awake and becomes faintly aware of Jessie sitting a few feet away from him, having breached the sacrosanct Pot Barn threshold. Jessie's wearing headphones and writing "Music 4 Mom" on a CD case, with a little heart dotting the "I." Oh dear. And I'd always liked Jessie. Eli grouses that he never gave his sister permission to use his CD burner, but she's sitting next to a stereo and not a computer, so I've no clue where the burner is or why she needs headphones, since the little elves that live inside CD burners tend to work silently. Maybe Eli has a high-falutin' stereo that records CD mixes. Oh, Eli -- always with the "high." Jessie points out that Eli could've done it himself if he'd heeded her first thirty requests for help, then asks whether Eli will finally go visit Karen today. "I don't like hospitals," he grouses. "So what?" Jessie counters. "Nobody likes them. What kind of excuse is that?" And there it is: proof that, while the size and rigidity of the ass-pole may vary, the Ass-Pole chromosome is alive and kicking. Eli is crabby that she's in his room and trying to lecture him, but since he's more or less incapable of stringing words together into intelligent sentences, he resorts to flouncing and door-slamming and other tools of the verbally impaired.
Rick is downstairs fussing with insurance paperwork, but I can't figure out what he's doing -- I think he's just trying to make sure Karen's policy covers everything she needed done. Zoe and Grace show up long enough to bolt out the door; Eli and Jessie, coming down from the Pot Barn, enter through it seconds later. Jessie resists Rick's low-key insistence that she attend school, arguing that her time is better spent at Karen's bedside. Lily nibbles her lip a bit, and then brightly offers to take Jessie to see her mother at 4:30. "That's too late," mutters Jessie crabbily. She pleads with Eli to drive her, but he lobs a bogus excuse about wanting to take Karen's car into the shop because it's making strange noises. No, Eli, that's the sound of the beating of that horrible heart, you guilty-looking bratface. "Are you ever planning to visit Mom?" Jessie snaps. Eli glares at her. Lily senses that she's needed here. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail, nor squabbling stepchildren can keep Lily from meddling. She decides she can pick them both up at 4 and cart them to the hospital. Jessie, annoyed but sensing she won't get her own way, reluctantly consents. Eli just broods.