Ronnie Chase is the fifteenth episode of Season 5. It premiered on January 6, 2009, ending the show's hiatus due to the 2007-2008 Writer's Guild of America strike.
The beginning recounts the moments before the Part 1 finale, where Sean is stabbed by Colleen. By covering herself in bandages, Colleen disguises herself as a patient at McNamara/Troy and gains entry into the practice. Meanwhile, Sean is performing surgery on Annie and asks Liz to get more gauze. As Colleen moves around the office, she is nearly caught by both Liz and Christian. She gets a knife from the kitchen and sneaks up on Sean, who assumes Liz has returned. After stabbing him, Colleen is wrought with guilt and drags Sean's body to one of the offices. Liz returns to the operating room, only to find Sean missing and Annie near-death. She screams for Christian, who is visiting with a recovering Darlene. The two are able to stabilize Annie, and Christian searches for Sean.
To prevent himself from bleeding to death, Sean coaches Colleen to apply pressure. Christian finds the locked office, and attempts to break it down. While Colleen is distracted, Sean stabs her. In her final moments, she curls up next to him on the floor. Christian knocks the door down and immediately begins to assist Sean, calling for Liz.
The episode jumps to four months after the incident. Sean is now confined to a wheelchair, as a result of trauma to his spinal cord. Christian meets him in the hallway of the practice and helps push him to their first consult of the day: Liz, who wants a breast reduction. She wants both Christian and Sean to operate, but Sean refuses. His cervical nerve is inflamed, and he is concerned about his hands' dexterity. His schedule is also full, after taking up lecturing for a surgical residency program. During one of these lectures, he corrects the 17-year-old Dr. Raj Paresh on his technique.
Meanwhile, Christian begins Liz's consultation and discovers a lump. Liz gets a mammogram and her results are clean. However, Christian complains of a lump in his own chest, and Dr. Moss encourages him to get screened as well. After extracting a sample, Dr. Moss returns with bad news.
Later, Christian begins a consult for Ronnie Chase, who seeks to remove his stretched earlobes. After getting kicked out of his rock band, he wants to appear more presentable to find a "real job". Raj has come to observe Christian work, but begins to criticize his technique. After a display of arrogance, Christian dismisses him from the OR.
The episode shifts focus on Sean, who is undergoing physical therapy with Matt's assistance. While taking a break, Matt reveals to his father he has enrolled at Santa Monica College on the pre-med track in hopes of transferring to UCLA. He shares he was inspired by Sean's resolve and hoped to make him proud. Christian returns home, only to give Matt grief about his educational choices and his brief fling with Emme. After Matt leaves, Christian expresses his frustrations with Raj before beginning to argue with Sean. He eventually reveals his diagnosis to Sean: Stage II breast cancer. Later that night, the two head out for a drink.
While at the bar, Christian expresses his fear of dying due to the cancer. Sean shares a dream ("Conor McNamara, 2026") he had in the nights leading up to Conor's surgery to reassure his friend. At the end of the night, Sean brings home the bartender, and Christian, a woman whom Christian dumped his diagnosis on. The bartender says the sex with Sean is some of the best she's had. Meanwhile, Christian begins to give his partner a breast exam during sex. He continues to probe her, until she leaves, and writes it off as pity sex. Embarrassed, Christian punches the bathroom mirror.
The next morning, Liz is over with Christian and Wilber. Christian asks Liz if she likes Wilber, to which she says she loves him. Satisfied, Christian requests for Liz to become Wilber's guardian in case he does not survive. After being passed around during his own childhood, Christian wants to make sure Wilber has a reliable figure in his life. Liz agrees to it, and tells him as a friend she believes he'll live, but as a doctor it is good to plan for these things. Later on, Liz, Christian, Sean, and Matt head to the hospital for Christian's operation to remove the tumor. Dr. Moss will be performing the removal, while Sean will handle reconstruction later. Out of concern for his best friend, Sean enters the OR. Although Dr. Moss initially dismisses him, he listens after Sean explains what this means to him. The two doctors continue their work.
That night, Sean dreams of attending a memorial service for Colleen. He is greeted by Colleen's sister, Jo, who says he didn't have to come after all Colleen did. Sean assures her he only came to make sure Colleen was actually dead. When he approaches the casket, it is not Colleen laying down, but himself. Colleen appears behind Sean, dressed in white. She remarks how peaceful he looks, and closes the casket. Sean wakes up, and walks to the bathroom. At the same time, Christian wakes up in pain and heads to the bathroom to remove his bandages. The two men look at themselves in the mirror, fixated on their scars. While Sean is relaxed and confident, Christian looks at his chest with contempt.
Special Guest Star
- Sharon Gless as Colleen Rose
- Adhir Kalyan as Dr. Raj Paresh
- Kelsey Lynn Batelaan as Annie McNamara
- Lisa Darr as Darlene Lowell
- Damien Leake as Dr. Moss
- Jaime Ray Newman as Daphne Pendell
- Cyia Batten as Girl in Bar
- Allison McAtee as Bartender
- Délé as Raquel
- Brad Etheridge as Brad
- Eileen Grubba as Jo Rose
- Linda Klein as Nurse Linda
- Andrew Walker as Security Guard
- "Back Stabbers" (1972) by The O'Jays
- "Stop Me" (2007) by Mark Ronson feat. Daniel Merriweather
- samples "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1966) by The Supremes
- "Di-Gue Ding Ding" (1964) by Michel Legrand
- "Barabajagal" (1969) by Donovan
- "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime" (2004) by Beck