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‘Nurse Jackie’ recap: You are stuck with me

April 5, 2011 |  6:53 am

Nurse_jackie_302_0629 Recently, I’ve been trying to figure out where "Nurse Jackie" fits in the echelon of Showtime series. The natural instinct is to group Jackie Peyton with the likes of Nancy Botwin from "Weeds." Both are strong women caught up with drugs and doing whatever they have to to protect themselves and their families. Then I started to realize how similar Jackie is to Dexter Morgan. This week’s episode, "Enough Rope," cemented the deal. Nurse Jackie is a sociopath. She lacks any connection to a social conscience or morality. Jackie’s only ruled by what she thinks is right, and even that can change if it gets in the way of her getting high. But Jackie has a gift of understanding and manipulating the people around her that Dexter never seems to grasp.

Last week, the third season of "Nurse Jackie" picked up right where last season left us hanging. Her husband, Kevin, and Dr. O’Hara confronted her with a two-man intervention. Jackie attacked back with a full dose of lies and misdirection, putting just enough cracks in Kevin and O’Hara’s certainty to buy herself more time. Time she uses this week to manipulate everyone back to where she wants them. The episode’s title is a reference to the saying that if you give a man enough rope, he’ll hang himself, but if you give Jackie enough rope, she’ll tie you up and never let you escape. 

If anything good came from Jackie’s lies last week, it’s that Fiona and Grace now both go to the same private school. Grace’s doom-and-gloom depression may have taken a backseat to the show’s more pressing issues, but it’s nice to see her holding hands with her little sister and running into school. Jackie carries that moment of happiness with her to work and almost immediately shoves a strangely older skateboarder to the ground. He deserved it. He knocked over that poor woman with the cane. But is that really worth breaking his wrist? Or more importantly messing up his mustache? 

Work starts off with Eddie pulling Jackie aside to help with the “topical for Peds.” It isn’t an euphemism, it’s just Eddie’s bad lie to get Jackie alone and tell her he’s bad at lying. Eddie sneaked into Jackie’s life after she tried to ditch him by befriending Kevin under false pretenses. Now he’s become buddies with Kevin and wants to have some part of their friendship be the truth. He wants Kevin to know he works at All Saints. He recruits Jackie’s help because she is the world’s greatest liar. I didn't think she was going to go along with it. But then Eddie starts to compliment her ability to deceive. She likes that, and in the time it takes her to open the door, she already has thought up the great lie about Eddie getting fired to set her plan in motion. 

With Eddie taken care of, Jackie turns her attention to Dr. O’Hara. O’Hara has done nothing but cold shoulder Jackie since the confrontation, but things step up a notch when Akalitus tells her O’Hara has been putting out feelers to other hospitals, looking for a different job. Jackie goes all stalker on her and shows up at O’Hara’s regular Monday lunch spot. I don’t know if Jackie’s speech would have worked on me. It seems less like a plea for a friend and more like a threat. Wherever you go, I can be there in 24 hours? You’re stuck with me? That all felt creepy even before she recites it all to Kevin, using the same sentiment to draw them both back in. Jackie certainly knows how to pick the people she keeps close. Kevin and O’Hara both seem almost eager to go back to their happy ignorance after hearing how important they are to her.

Elsewhere in All Saints: While Jackie manipulates her loved ones back into loving her, the rest of the All Saints crew is up to their normal shenanigans. 

Zoey goes on a glove-stealing crime spree in retaliation for the constant theft of their gloves. Either Zoey’s a really good thief or the other departments don’t guard their supplies very well. She makes out like a bandit. 

Dr. Cooper continues his crusade to be forgiven by Sam for sleeping with his girlfriend. Since Hallmark doesn’t make a card covering that, Cooper improvises, but poorly written apologies and second-hand free doughnuts aren’t good enough to fix that broken bridge.

And Akalitus becomes obsessed with getting Michelle Obama to visit All Saints. The first lady is scheduled to stop by a New York hospital on her tour to defeat childhood obesity, but since that hospital has closed, the visit is up for grabs. The last thing Akalitus is going to do is lose out to her nemesis Lily Chung, so All Saints’ No. 1 enemy becomes obese children, as Akalitus explains in the meeting where she provides free doughnuts.  

The patients: Besides the skater Jackie shoved, the ER gets two main cases. 

One is a man brought in by the paramedics who has a DNR ("do not resuscitate" form) pinned to his shirt. The man wants to die outside, but the paramedics’ procedures make them resuscitate any victim in a 911 call. Seems there’s some legal line before the patient arrives at the hospital where DNRs are not legally binding. I would have been interested to see the show tackled that further, but instead the man’s death becomes a moment for Zoey to be a little more serious this episode.

The other patient is a mother of four sons who severely slices her finger while trying to hacksaw the bolts off her old toilet seat. The mother goes off on a tirade about urine, how boys of any age can’t seem to hit the punch bowl right below their zippers and that is why the bolts for her toilet seat won’t come off with a wrench. It lasts right up until the Valium drip kicks in. The mom (played fantastically by Jessica Hecht) says she doesn’t want to be one of those moms who leans on drugs as a crutch and asks Jackie if she understands. Jackie says, “I do,” but it feels less like a response to whether she understands and more like Jackie admitting that the drug-addicted mom is exactly what she wants to be. 


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Complete 'Nurse Jackie' coverage on Show Tracker

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, Merritt Wever as Zoey, and Peter Facinelli as Dr. Cooper in "Nurse Jackie." Credit: Showtime