ER – The Fourteenth Season
by Laura Tucker
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ER has always been marked by two things, relationships and compelling camerawork. By this, its fourteenth and penultimate season, the camerawork was no longer revolutionary, but the relationships of the doctors and nurses were still everything they were in that very first season.
The relationship that had us all spellbound throughout the season was that of Abby Lockhart and Luka Kovac (Maura Tierney and Goran Visnjic). They were like County General’s golden couple. Both had been involved with numerous others throughout the seasons of ER, but there was something about their relationship with each other that seemed meant to be.
Abby and Luka had started out as buddies. They were friends. They pushed their relationship, and she ended up pregnant, and later they decided to get married. They were comfortable and and a good fit, just like a glove. Yet this fourteenth season saw cracks in that armor.
With Luka away in Croatia tending to family needs, Abby struggles to be a single parent. She falls to the pressures and begins drinking again. In one of her drunken stupors, she winds up in another doctor’s bed, a doctor who is just as emotionally needy as she is. Once Luka comes back from Croatia, that gives them many things to work on, the infidelity and alcoholism, as well as the troubles that were there to begin with.
Tony Gates (John Stamos) continues to be the focus of many relationship dramas. With his relationship with Neela Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra) reduced to buddy status, he starts a relationship with Julia Dupree (Reiko Aylesworth), the hospital chaplain. They never get too far with their relationship, and he eventually starts dating Sam Taggart (Linda Cardellini). It seems to be a good match with both of them having teenage kids.
Neela is for the first time without the affections of a man. In the season before this, she faced three separate guys who were all fighting for her affections. At the beginning of this season, we were waiting to see her fate after getting injured in the peace rally. She makes it through and convalesces at Abby’s place. Back at work, she gets an intern who ends up being quite a test for her.
By the end of this season, we already knew it was the second to the last, with the last episode setting up the beginning of the end. The series needed to start wedding out its cast, and in the final episode, with Steve Buscemi in a guest starring role, two of the County General staff are missing, and one of them is in an ambulance just before it blows up.
There isn’t any way someone could have made it through that blast okay, as the season leaves us with our last season cliffhanger. The effects of this blast do seem like we’ve been there before, such as after the second helicopter blast that ended the life of Dr. Robert Romano (Paul McCrane). No matter who it is that doesn’t survive the blast, we know it will leave a lasting effect on the hospital staff.
ER – The Complete Fourteenth Season is out now on DVD.
Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.
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