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Dr. Catherine "Cate" Banfield is a fictional character from the television series ER. She is portrayed by Angela Bassett.

History

Early life

In the Season 15 episode "Heal Thyself", the audience begins to learn about Cate Banfield's haunting past and how her experiences have damaged her emotionally. Set in 2002, 6 years earlier, the flashback episode revealed a happier Cate Banfield with her husband Russell (played by Bassett's real life husband, actor Courtney B. Vance) and their 5-year-old son, Daryl.

Banfield had a more youthful look with longer black hair. She is smiling, which was never seen by the show's audiences until this point. In the episode, she stated to Dr. Mark Greene that she worked as an ER attending physician at the University of Chicago. She went to medical school at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

During a day out in the city park, Daryl was struck with a mysterious seizure. With Daryl's history of febrile seizures, Cate initially didn't see it as anything serious and argued against calling 9-1-1, even though her husband Russell insisted. After Daryl began vomiting blood, Cate brought him to County General where he was treated and diagnosed by Dr. Greene in Trauma 1.

Daryl had acute leukemia and died from advanced complications that arose with his illness. Cate's initial denial and delay contributed to one of the factors that led to Dr. Greene not being able to save Daryl; this explains how Nurse Haleh Adams had recognized her before and the chilling moment Banfield had on her first day stepping into Trauma 1.

In the last scene of the episode, Banfield and Greene talk about what happened near the Chicago River and how the ordeal proved to be completely damaging in Cate's mind and to her relationship with her husband.

Life at County General

Banfield was hired in 2008 to become the permanent Chief of the Emergency Department, replacing Dr. Skye Wexler who was serving as acting chief. The board had decided to offer the permanent position to Dr. Greg Pratt, but after Pratt's death, Banfield was brought in as his replacement.

She made her first appearance in the episode, "Another Thursday at County", and immediately puts the whole ER on edge with her tough attitude. It was mentioned that she flew to Indonesia to help that country deal with the 2004 tsunami disaster.

On her first day, Haleh mentioned Banfield looked familiar, as if she'd been at County before, which Banfield immediately denies. Her first day as Chief tested her skills as an able and efficient leader when a bio-terrorist released a bag of weaponized Ricin in the ER, necessitating an evacuation and quarantine.

She briefly met and clashed over a gunshot case with Dr. Abby Lockhart, who was finishing her last shift on her last day at County General. Nonetheless, Banfield made amends with her new acquaintance before Abby departed for Boston.

In "Heal Thyself", Banfield's treatment of a little girl who almost drowned in the Chicago River triggered painful memories, yet in the end, it helped her figure out how to save the girl from a certain death, thereby in her mind redeeming herself from the mistakes she made with her son Daryl.

In the episode "Let It Snow", Cate and Dr. Archie Morris get snowed in at a conference in Omaha. Banfield ends up getting drunk and makes a wild scene of entertainment in the hotel lobby. She smiles and actually laughs for the first time (probably the first time since before the accident). The two of them end up having to share a room together before flying back to Chicago. Cate begins to open up more to Morris about she and her husband tried to have another baby a few years back, but miscarried.

Personal life

In the present day in the episode "Heal Thyself" after Daryl's death, Cate lay in Daryl's empty room where her husband Russell tells her how he never blamed her for what happened and Cate cries for the first time over her son's death. Morris is stunned to learn that she is working at the hospital where her son died.

Cate has an appointment with Janet Coburn since she and Russell decide that they want to try for a baby one last time, even though Coburn tells them the chances are slim. She begins to take special injections of hormones to help with her chances in the process and tries to remain hopeful over all the odds; however, she and Russell are devastated when the egg implantation process has zero success.

Later in the season, a young woman named Megan abandons a baby boy at County, whom Cate ends up bonding with. She convinces Russell that they should adopt the baby. In the penultimate episode, Megan arrives to take her son back; however, Cate convinces her to let her and Russell openly adopt him.


ER Characters
Characters Mark GreeneDoug RossSusan LewisJohn CarterCarol HathawayPeter BentonJeanie BouletKerry WeaverAnna Del AmicoElizabeth CordayLucy KnightLuka KovačAbby LockhartCleo FinchDave MalucciJing-Mei ChenMichael GallantGreg PrattNeela RasgotraSamantha TaggartRay BarnettArchie MorrisTony GatesSimon BrennerCate Banfield
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