ER Episodes

1994, TV Show

ER Episode: "Shifting Equilibrium"

Season 15, Episode 20
Episode Synopsis: Everyone seems to have forgotten that it is Neela's last day at County, but she proves herself ready to be an attending by standing her ground when she and Dubenko disagree on the approach to two surgical cases. Meanwhile, Brenner has a breakthrough about his painful past.
Original Air Date: Mar 19, 2009
Guest Cast Leland Orser: Lucien Dubenko
Full Episode
click to playclick to play
Season 15, Episode 20
Paid | iTunes
Length: 43:25
Aired: 3/19/2009
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
play more info

ER Episode Recap: "Shifting Equilibrium" Season 15, Episode 20

The name of the hospital ended up being the biggest clue of all. Throughout the entire episode, I was frustrated, wondering why I didn't know which hospital Neela had decided on. Did I miss it? Was it mentioned last week? About three quarters of the way through, I realized my not knowing was purposeful and then I just waited patiently for the ending I hoped would come.

Love her or hate her, Neela (Parminder Nagra) has been an essential element of the story throughout these later years. But in a sense, her journey closely mirrored that of Carter. She started off as a fresh-scrubbed, eager student, learned many painful, difficult lessons along the way and exits County General as a confident, gifted surgeon. The road has not always been smooth for Neela, personally or professionally. But eventually, she was able to find her footing and also find fulfillment and love. Actually, she found quite a bit of love and I think she may hold the record for most workplace dalliances and flirtations. I will be the first to admit that I didn't always agree with Neela's choices, or, frankly, understand her appeal, but the complicated, well-written and acted characters aren't always easy to like. I was ceaselessly frustrated by the romantic turntable of Tony, Lucien and Ray but from those missteps came a friend, a mentor and a soul mate so who can argue with that?  

When Haleh took Neela to "the wall," I once again got emotional as she reflected back to her first day, her romance with Gallant (whose name started the waterworks for me) and her rich, complicated friendships with Abby and Pratt. It was so good to see Mekhi Phifer again in flashback. As for Maura Tierney, it was nice to see her, but her appearance was, in my opinion, somewhat uninspired. While it was good to see Abby settled into her new life with her sardonic wit in tact ("Thursdays are shared childcare days. I hate Thursdays,") it wasn't very impactful.

Back to the name of that hospital. I wonder how many hits "Lechatlier" received on Google once Neela got off that elevator. For those who did not do the requisite research, LeChatlier's Principle of chemistry states "If a system at equilibrium is disturbed, the system will, if possible, shift to partially counteract the change." As Neela wrapped things up with Brenner and started her new life with Ray, it is fair to say that equilibrium had certainly shifted. For Brenner, Neela provided a catalyst for coming to terms with his past, causing him to change his mindset and seek help. I was glad that they were able to achieve closure because despite knowing they probably wouldn't end up together, she did bring out the good in Brenner while he helped her to embrace the moment. In the case of Neela, the chemistry that Ray brought to her life was undeniable and as much as she tried to fight the attraction, his accident and absence from her life was a tragedy that allowed her to see how much he meant to her. In the end, I think it was very appropriate that she came to him.
Shane West's appearance tonight definitely reminded me of George Clooney's appearance back in 1999 to help Julianna Margulies wrap up her story. At the end of the day, we have a lot invested in these characters and seeing them achieve happiness in their lives is extremely cathartic for us as viewers. (Okay, so maybe I get a little more emotional than a rational person should. So shoot me.)

As for the rest of the episode, I resort to bullet points:

-          The story involving the son-in-law harboring a terrible secret nicely mirrored the overarching themes and was especially well-acted.

-          Watching Archie find peace and love (complete with donkey ears) is extremely gratifying.

-          I loved Frank's party planning, including Indian dancers and a Gandhi piñata that was just too politically incorrect for words.

-          I was also touched by Lucien and Neela's emotional farewell. These two had great chemistry together over the years and their complicated relationship grew into a mature friendship based on an underlying attraction and mutual respect. I thought it was a nice touch to have him immediately start mentoring Andrew. It reflected a theme of ER that has been reiterated time and time again over the years - life does, in fact, go on.

With only two weeks left, I'm reeling with nostalgia, can't wait to see what's in store, and am dreading the end.

show less
The name of the hospital ended up being the biggest clue of all. Throughout the entire episode, I was frustrated, wondering why I didn't know which hospital Neela had decided on. Did I miss it? Was it mentioned last week? About three quarters of the way through, I realized my not knowing was purposeful and then I just waited patiently for the ending I hoped would come. read more

Are You Watching?

Loading ...
Premiered: September 19, 1994, on NBC
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (455 ratings)
Add Your Rating: 1 stars2 stars3 stars4 stars5 stars
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.

Cast

Shop

ER: Season 5
Buy ER: Season 5 from Amazon.com
From Warner Home Video (DVD)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $15.49 (as of 2:01 AM EST - more info)
Miracles and Mayhem in the ER: Unbelievable True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor
Buy Miracles and Mayhem in the ER: Unbelievable True Stories from an Emergency Room Doctor from Amazon.com
From Russell Media (Paperback)
Usually ships in 24 hours
Buy New: $12.75 (as of 2:01 AM EST - more info)

More Products

TV GUIDE Users' Most Popular