“And in the end,” they took us back to the beginning.
ER’s series finale was an homage to County’s past, and a promise for its future as scene after scene recalled the glory days while the story begun in the pilot so long ago came full circle, ready to start once again, albeit off our screens.
Lydia waking Morris up like she woke Greene up that first episode, Carter and Gates shooting the breeze while shooting some hoops like Greene and Ross used to do, Brenner talking the new young’un into coming back tomorrow like Greene talked to Carter – the story was sweetly infused with nostalgia and respect for the rich history of the show and the hundreds of characters we’ve gotten to know over the years, and I loved it.
From the return of the original credits to Carter’s final shout of “Are you coming, Dr Greene?” this last episode was something special, beautifully working in old characters with new ones and, in another delightful touch, directed by the same man, Rod Holcomb, who directed the pilot episode back when I was a teenager and Carter was a med student.
The highlights were too many to list here, but as well as the poignant re-appearance of old friends – Benton and Carter’s scenes together were especially lovely – I have to single out the desperately moving story of Ernest Borgnine’s Mr Manning who broke my heart. His “I never looked at another girl for 72 years. You hear that, Mrs Manning?” to his dying wife practically did for me and I still can’t think about any of his scenes without tearing up.
One thing that wasn’t quite as successful for me though was the amount of time spent on the entirely new Dr Wise aka Rory Gilmore – when we had so many current characters to say goodbye to, it seemed a bit of a waste. I understand that she was supposed to mirror Carter’s character from season one, but still, we had another “new Carter” at the end, so why did we need her?
However, that’s a minor point in what was a generally fantastic farewell to a series I’ve loved for a long time. I haven’t always liked every episode, but I’ve always watched it, and I’ve always cared about it. Over the past few seasons, it hasn’t always seemed that the makers felt the same, but they showed they did this one last time and I’m so glad. That final full shot of County with the L running round it was the perfect tribute – it was the first time we’ve seen it like that, it was the last time we’ll see it like that, and it was beautiful.