ER 6×12 “Abby Road”

or How You Still Feel Sorry For A Kid Who’s Doing Something Pretty Stupid

….. by TeeJay


The Plot

The storyline that surrounds Chris’s character Marty starts with Darnell Smith, who’s suffering from Duchene’s muscular dystrophy and is bound to the wheelchair. He is being admitted to the ER with a possible forearm fracture. Some kid pushed him down the stairs. Which would be Marty Dorset, who’s being treated by Dr. Cleo Finch, the ER pediatrician on duty, for having been stabbed in the hand with a pencil. And he claims Darnell was the one to hurt him first before he pushed him down the stairs. Turns out Darnell’s arm is not broken, but he’s really rude, insulting other kids, lying to Dr. Carter, who’s his treating physician in the ER.

Marty, now in a hospital bed, is being examined by Cleo and orderly Yosh Takata. When Cleo uses the stethoscope on his back, it’s obvious Marty is in discomfort. They find bruises all over his back. He first says he doesn’t know how he got them. When Cleo asks him who hit him, he concedes that some kids at school roughed him up. Yosh finds suspicious looking small round wounds on Marty’s thigh; he says they’re mosquito bites. In February? Cleo orders some blood tests and a tox screen. She’s definitely suspicious now.

Carter tries to get through to Darnell, who’s very bitter about his illness. “First you lose your legs, then your arms, and then you die.”

Blood tests reveal that Marty must have used dirty needles. Only after Cleo pushes him, he confesses that he used his diabetic grandmother’s needles to inject himself with human growth hormone to grow taller. He says he got the HGH off the internet.

Carter still tries to give Darnell some perspective and give him a laptop. He tells him that he’ll be able to keep up with the other children in school because the DMD might be affecting his motor skills. Darnell obviously doesn’t want any help, he throws the computer to the floor. This kid seems to have anger management problems, so Carter lets him smash some stuff in the exam room without Darnell doing any real damage. Together they find the real problem here. Darnell is sick of being treated like a baby, of having to have his food cut, having his mother bathe him. And he finally admits that to Carter.

Marty’s father turns up at the hospital and Cleo explains to him what Marty’s going through. But the father (who’s also a little on the short side) says that Marty just has to clench his teeth and learn how to fight back. Yosh meets them and tells Cleo that Marty’s fever is up. When Cleo examines him again, she finds he has a heart murmur. The needle he kept using might have introduced bacteria into his bloodstream, infecting his heart eventually.

When Cleo joins Mark Greene (ER Attending) outside to shoot a couple of hoops, she tells him what Marty did and explains that he was admitted to Cardiology to be treated with antibiotics. Hopefully they caught it early enough. Mark remarks, “All that for a couple of inches.” Yeah…

Of course there’s other stuff going on throughout the episode, involving the other ER characters. But going into that would make this a) very long and b) boring for those that are just interested in Chris’s role and are maybe not into the show at all.

The Character

Marty Dorset, 13 years old. He’s a bit of a small kid, and apparently not too confident about it, otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to use growth hormone to grow taller. At first he comes across as a bit of a confident troublemaker, but we soon learn that he’s not quite that. He is beaten up by kids in school because he’s shorter than normal, and he doesn’t want to admit it to the ER doctors. When confronted with it, he eventually confesses that he has problems with his height and the way others pick on him because of it.

Using the growth hormone was just a desperate attempt at overcoming his problems by trying to fix them instead of standing up and living with them. And in the end, when he learns that he might have damaged his heart through it, he is both shocked and full of remorse. He’s a good kid, he just made the misguided mistake of being careless and inconsiderate, much like you sometimes do when you’re not an adult yet and don’t have that kind of life experience to look back to. We can only hope that he didn’t do permanent damage through it, because we don’t learn what becomes of him in this or any other episode.

Visually, this is Chris at 15 or 16. Short spiky hair, looking probably younger than his age and still not quite sporting the deep voice we love so much. He’s still got his kid’s voice here, but he sounds a bit hoarse. He’s dressed in casual clothes at first (can you say checkered flannel shirt?), later we only see him in the not-so-cute hospital dressing gown.

The Likes

Throughout the episode, Marty only plays a smaller part in one of the storylines on the side. Overall screen time is maybe four or five minutes, his scenes are all with Michael Michele and Gedde Watanabe. But he still did a great job. This role called for a kid who at first seemed a little cocky and then revealed that he isn’t quite that tough when you break through the façade. And Chris gave us that.

As a true Dorquette, I loved the tear duct action. He does tear up in one scene when Cleo pressures him into telling her the truth. Aww, he needs a hug right there. 🙂

Small in-joke on the side: I really like how he pronounces the word “diabetes”. I can’t even tell you why, I just do. That’s weird? Yeah, probably is… But we wouldn’t be the Dorquettes if we weren’t slightly weird.

What I also like is that on the official ER website, Chris’s name is plastered in big fat letters right smack in the middle of the episode synopsis. Here’s the paragraph that mentions him:
Cleo treats 13-year-old Marty Dorset (CHRISTOPHER MARQUETTE), a boy who is noticeably small for his age. An examination reveals bruises on his back, and Marty explains that the kids at school beat him up because of his size. Marty also suffers from infected needle marks on his thighs as a result of taking human growth hormones he obtains off the internet. But the needles he keeps reusing may be responsible for bacteria in his bloodstream causing a serious heart infection.

The Dislikes

Hard to say what I didn’t like in those few minutes that we got to see Marty. I can’t really think of anything, except maybe that I wouldn’t have minded being told what happens to Marty after he gets admitted to the cardiology ward.

I’m an avid ER viewer, have been ever since the show first aired in Germany. I’ve watched from episode one to what they’re showing right now, and I believe there is only one episode that I didn’t catch on the first airing. So I was familiar with all the characters and the settings. And I never liked the character of Cleo that much, but she’s very sensitive and sympathetic here with Marty, so I didn’t mind her being the one to treat our little Marty here.

On a side note, this was an episode from season six. ER is currently going into its 13th season, so from my current POV, this episode is six years old. Wow, time flies… But anyway, the first time I saw it, I hadn’t even heard the name Chris Marquette yet. Much less did I recognize him as outstanding actor in the episode, I meekly have to admit. When Chris got on my radar, of course I dug up the episode again after I realized he was in it, and when I did, I was like, “Oh, yeah, sure, he’s the kid with the growth hormones!” And suddenly I saw this part of the episode with completely new eyes. Funny what hindsight can do, isn’t it?

The Moments

Not a lot of outstanding moments in this one. What I did like is how Cleo uses the stethoscope to listen to his breathing on his back and he tries to hide that it hurts from all the bruises he has on his back from being beaten up. He’s not a very good liar, though. I also liked the moment where we get to see the tear ducts in action when Cleo tells him that using growth hormones is not the way to go. He’s so good with the emotions.

The Quotes

Marty: “Come on, I didn’t even push the psycho until he stabbed me with his pencil!”

Marty: “I won’t get lead poisoning, will I? You know, from the pencil?”
Cleo: “They use graphite in pencils.”

Cleo: “Who hit you, Marty?”
Marty: “Some kids at school.”
Cleo: “Are you sure?”
Marty: “Yeah, I’m sure. I mean, I’m there when they do it.”

Cleo: “Do you have any idea what sort of health risk you’ve exposed yourself to?”
Marty: “Well, it can’t be worse than being beat up every day. I mean, even that stupid kid in the wheelchair thinks that he can pick on me.”

Cleo: “Hormone therapy is for kids who have problems, not for healthy adolescents.”
Marty: “Yeah, well, I’m not healthy. You know, I go to school every day, knowing that I’m gonna be beat up or shoved into a locker or dragged into the girls’ shower room. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be stuffed inside a trash can while the whole cafeteria is laughing at you?!”
Cleo: “Hormones aren’t going to help that.”
Marty: “Yeah, but being bigger will.”

FYI: We have vidcaps of Chris’s ER appearance in the Media section and screencaps in the Image Gallery.