ER Recap: "Separation Anxiety"

It's a new year in the ER, but it comes laced with a touch of melancholy. Each week brings us closer to that final episode and for someone who has spent many, many Thursdays following the escapades of the staff at County General, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do when it ends.

The pace seemed a little slower tonight as this episode set the stage for some upcoming storylines and (dare I say it?) returns. Neela befriended a precocious sickle cell patient who said to her the words we've all been thinking: "You're a total player, huh?" No kidding. On the one hand we have Ray, the best friend with whom she shares a deep bond and on the other hand we have Brenner, the mischievous bad boy who is clearly smitten. Did I mention they are both gorgeous? Poor Neela. It's hard out there for a beautiful surgeon.

Angela Bassett has certainly dialed back the intensity in her portrayal of ER chief Dr. Banfield. And thank goodness for that because for a while there, I was worried that she was going to literally clench herself to death. Her attempts to start a family were a nice way to prompt a visit from the ever-reliable Dr. Coburn. I also loved her interaction with the two brothers struggling to maintain their bond in the face of overwhelming challenges. Thankfully, the connection between the siblings was strong enough to convince the older brother to cooperate with the police, but I have to ask รข€” who else is thinking that these two boys are going to end up back in Cate's life in some way?

As Cate and her husband continued to work through their issues, Tony and Sam's relationship splintered even further. I, for one, am really struggling to understand how Sam can continue to blame Tony for the events that lead to Alex's accident. For a woman who shot her ex-husband to death while her son

watched, her ongoing anger at Tony's lapse in judgment seems a little overwrought. And while helping the fellow Iraq vet get his life back together clearly meant a lot to Tony, it also opened many old wounds for him. To make matters worse, little Miss Daria, who has been mooning over Tony for weeks, saw her opportunity tonight as a very drunk and emotionally vulnerable Dr. Gates offered himself up with no strings attached. However, I am not getting the impression that Daria is going to be satisfied with a one-night stand.

Finally, Archie enjoyed a few nice moments with an undercover female narcotics officer who entrusted her secret to him. Can't Archie catch a break and meet a girl who is actually accessible? And is it too much to ask that she doesn't spit in his face? You better hurry, Archie. There's not much time left.

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