During sweeps weeks, the networks are notorious for over-hyping queer storylines that burn out quickly like bum roman candles (past examples include episodes of Friends and Ally McBeal). It's no coincidence, then, that Dr. Weaver’s long-buried sexuality gets excavated again in this week's ER episode, “Just As I Am.”
The producers of ER should be lauded for actually keeping Laura Innes’s workaholic character gay over these past four years, but ER’s focus on Dr. Kerry Weaver’s lesbianism has been hit and miss (and mostly miss) since Weaver first fell for firefighter Sandy Lopez (and was outed to her ER crew) in the serial drama’s eighth season.
In this week's episode, we’re offered yet another dramatic “coming out,” this time to Weaver's long-lost religiously-conservative mother, Helen Kingsley (played by Frances Fisher). Weaver interrogates her mother as to why, four years after Weaver sent a letter in search of her, Kingsley’s suddenly trying to meet the daughter she abandoned long ago. We’d like to know the same thing: why is this character suddenly showing up? ER is obviously playing out this strained mother-daughter reunion to make a timely reference to the rift between gays and conservative Christians since last year’s election-geared attack on gay marriage (a topic Wife Swap tackled last week too).
“Just As I Am” begins with a provocative flash forward. Dr. Kerry Weaver tromps bundled-up through the snow to a hotel. She doggedly enters without addressing the bell boy, who asks “Can I help you?” to her cold non-response. Weaver beats on a hotel room door, a red-haired woman answers, and in the doorway, Weaver delivers an overwrought plea: “I don’t want to leave it like this!” We are unsure given the high melodrama, if Weaver’s perhaps in love with a woman we haven’t been introduced to yet? The ambiguous nature of this hallway-set outpouring of emotions is intentional, and we’re tricked into waiting with bated breath through the episode to find out the juicy details on Weaver’s potential new affair.
The slew of patients rushed into our familiar Chicago emergency room in the midst of this week’s snowstorm include a sliced-open ice skater, a pushy Demerol addict, an older woman with dementia who’s been cutting up her hands, a potty-mouthed man stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver, and a woman—the redhead from the flash forward—whose only complaint is a un-diagnosable shortness of breath. This last patient asks specifically for Weaver, claiming she’s seen the doctor previously. When the hospital records on her come up empty, Weaver becomes suspicious and chases the woman, who bolts out to the street. Weaver warns that she should stick around for the test results on her breathing problems. “There’s nothing wrong with me” the woman says, admitting her ruse to see Weaver, and says, “I’m your mother.” Our hopes that Weaver is back on the horse, dating-wise, are dashed.