I just finished watching "Old Times" and I must say, it's one of the best episodes of the show. Ever. The fact that Carter ends up receiving a kidney transplant at Northwestern was a nod to Noah Wyle's collegiate alma mater; the entire episode was full of such nods to the history of this amazing show. And the addition of Susan Sarandon in such a beautifully understated one-off supporting character... wow. Just, wow. There is a scene where one sees Juliana Margulies, George Clooney, and Susan Sarandon together on screen. Wow. It is clear that these gifted actors knew they were making "one for the ages" -- the reverence which each of them brought to their individual performance is beyond words. Again, I say, wow.
The entire episode hinges on the death of a boy in Seattle, the decision made by his grandmother (Sarandon's character) to proceed with organ donation, and the concept that you never know who will benefit... the boy's heart and kidney are couriered from Seattle to Chicago by none other than Neela and Sam. And the kidney goes to Carter. Neither Neela nor Sam know that the kidney went to Carter; the episode concludes with a footnote scene where Hathaway and Ross are asleep, the phone rings, and Hathaway's final line is "the heart went to a woman in Chicago with a daughter, and the kidney went to some doctor."
Truly a tour de force episode. Eriq LaSalle even managed to not annoy the hell out of me. The production values, the segues and editing, the understated acting, all of it, was in a word: perfect.
One final point: this episode shows why organ donation is so important, and how many lives can be saved by one person who gives the gift of life. The life you save may be a doctor who could go on to save hundreds of lives. Give it some thought. DONATE. Please.