ER Episodes

1994, TV Show

ER Episode: "Heal Thyself"

Season 15, Episode 7
Episode Synopsis: Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) returns in flashbacks as Banfield recalls his heroics in caring for her son years earlier. The memories are triggered by a 3-year-old girl whom Banfield tries to rescue from drowning. Meanwhile, Gates tries to use his influence to help a homeless veteran, and the interns struggle with their ER responsibilities.
Original Air Date: Nov 13, 2008
Guest Cast Courtney B. Vance: Russell Banfield
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Season 15, Episode 7
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Length: 44:02
Aired: 11/13/2008
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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ER Episode Recap: "Heal Thyself" Season 15, Episode 7

The question for this week is really simple. At what point did you start crying? For me, it pretty much started before the episode even began as Eriq LaSalle delivered an eloquent memorial to ER creator Michael Crichton. It seemed especially fitting to have one of the original cast members bid a final farewell to the man who started it all.  (Now Eriq, we need you back in scrubs with your best Benton scowl as soon as possible.)

From that point, the well was primed, so to speak. With all the hype that has come in advance of Anthony Edwards' bittersweet return, I waited anxiously on my couch, tissue box nearby. After all, I still can't even think about his final episode without tearing up. (Go ahead — watch the clip. But if you are at work while reading this, be prepared.) And when I hear that version of "Over the Rainbow" (the Hawaiian-influenced reimagining by the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole), I am immediately taken back to those final moments when Mark's life and loved ones flashed before his eyes and he pictured himself in the empty ER.

What really touched me about tonight's episode was the sheer power and grace of the performances given by Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance. It has been no secret that there was a story behind Bassett's Cate Banfield and as we watched it unfold tonight, I was equally drawn to both the present and the past. As a mother of an almost five-year-old myself, it is never easy for me to watch stories involving children in jeopardy and this episode offered up not one but two children clinging to life with tragically different outcomes. As present-day Dr. Banfield and Archie struggled to ultimately save the young girl who had fallen into the freezing river, we also got a glimpse into Banfield's first visit to County General several years earlier — a seizure and stroke suffered by her son as a result of advanced (and undiagnosed) leukemia. For a doctor, I can't imagine a more ironically painful thing to face than learning of your child's illness by accident. The scene when Mark finally stopped compressions and Banfield's husband crumpled against the wall was heart-breaking and effectively offset by Cate's eerily stoic stillness as she started to process her loss.

I honestly did not expect to be so gripped by Banfield's story. After all, she hasn't exactly been a warm and fuzzy or easily identifiable character. But putting some context around her detached, perpetually perturbed demeanor certainly helped to imbue her with some humanity. It does seem that she is slowly starting to melt and her interactions with other staffers are becoming less forced (case in point - her telling Tony that if he hugged her, he would end up with traumatic brain injury and offering a kind word to the intern who had lost a patient.) I especially liked her scene with Archie at the end when she explained her story to him and then handed him the child's stuffed animal to pass along. Only a mother could fully understand how important that would be to a child. In truth, I think she has been a great addition to the ER and I'm anxious to see where things go with her.

Of course, it practically goes without saying that as a fan of the show from day one, it was absolutely wonderful to get a final chance to see Dr. Mark Greene in action. I always found him to be the show's calm center and such a lived-in, believable presence. It was clever to focus on Mark's final days to explain away any aging that has occurred though in truth, I was amazed at how easily Anthony Edwards slipped back into his old character. How great was it to see Kerry, Romano and Jerry (Laura Innes, Paul McCrane and Abraham Benrubi) back, if only for brief glimpses? As always, the narrative and character consistency lends a much-appreciated layer for long- time fans. It is also important to call out the excellent editing work that allowed for seamless transitions between past and present. All in all, a fantastic episode and one that did not overload us with unnecessary nostalgia, but rather organically and logically intertwined past and present in an involving and emotionally satisfying way.

Chime in (as they say on NBC) and let me know what you thought? Were you happy with the cameo from Anthony Edwards or were you expecting more? Are you ready for a parade of former cast members? Who do you most want to see? The floor is yours.

 

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The question for this week is really simple. At what point did you start crying? For me, it pretty much started before the episode even began as Eriq LaSalle delivered an eloquent memorial to ER creator Michael Crichton. It seemed especially fitting to have one of the original cast members bid a final farewell to the man who started it all. (Now Eriq, we need you back in scrubs with your best Benton scowl as soon as possible.) read more

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Premiered: September 19, 1994, on NBC
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (455 ratings)
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Premise: The riveting medical drama that redefined the genre for the 1990s and into the 21st century. Created by author Michael Crichton and set in a Chicago ER, the series chronicles the lives of its harried staff in staccato, realistic scenes of lives saved and lost.

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