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‘Nurse Jackie’ recap: Make more rope

Nurse_jackie_311_0070 What does Kevin know? What unspoken expletive is hanging there, making him drag Eddie out of bed at 6:30 in the morning to take batting practice? He's asking Eddie questions about seeing Jackie every day at work, or talking about how he can't look at her anymore. Meanwhile, he's hitting the balls like they offended him personally. It all builds to Kevin telling Eddie, "You gotta know what I’m talking about," and Eddie faking ignorance. Then, the silence. Kevin simply stares Eddie down as the machine keeps spitting out balls, until Kevin steps back up to the plate and hits one hard enough to break his bat.

"Nurse Jackie" is like two different shows. Or one show with multiple personalities. Half the time we get moments like batting practice. Scary, dark, deep moments. This also happens to be the half of the show where the actual Nurse Jackie spends most of her time. The other half of the show is like Akalitus with the fat kids. Goofy, quirky moments. Two entirely different tones existing in the same show. A Jekyll-and-Hyde composite that balances a woman stealing her daughter's education money to buy OxyContin with a guy who pouts in a boat when he finds out his moms are getting divorced. 

On the darker side, we have Jackie trying to get her daughters ready for school without the relaxing aid of opiates. Frustrated and short-tempered, she stares longingly at the girls as they take their vitamins. After two weeks of sobriety, Jackie finally snaps and downs her daughter's Xanax. A new low or just par for the course?

On the lighter side, we have Akalitus finding out at the last minute that the first lady chose not to stop at All Saints on her tour of New York hospitals. Instead, the head of nursing is stuck baby-sitting a handful of overweight children wearing T-shirts with portion-control slogans. She shows them X-rays of candy, plays a raisin box and loses a couple of kids. All good fun.

Back on the dark side, Eddie is beginning to freak out about his morning with Kevin. Jackie plays it all off as just the ups and downs of married life. Maybe because Eddie fails to mention the stare-down or the broken bat. I don't know if Jackie underestimates Kevin or overestimates her control over him. Either way, I think he's a powder keg that she doesn't notice is about to explode.

Back on the light side, Zoey is organizing a party for Nurses Appreciation Week, and no one wants to go. I understand everyone's argument against the concept of Nurses Appreciation Week versus appreciating nurses with less work and more pay, but who could pass up a basement full of cookies and balloons? Lenny comes down, completely missing the point of the party, and Thor comes down mostly to brag about being asked to sing at Coops wedding (Coop asked Thor to sing to get him out of wanting to be best man. Didn't Liz Lemon do the same thing once?). 

Dark side, Jackie asks O'Hara to refill Grace's Xanax prescription. I praised Eve Best for her incredible performance last week. This week she keeps it going. Just in the simple change in expression as she slowly realizes that it wasn't Grace who finished off the bottle and that Jackie is no longer clean and sober. 

Light side, Coop continues plans for his birthday wedding. He plays his last divorce card to get Jackie to agree to help with seating and cake. 

Then slowly, the light and dark start too swirl together. Jackie gets a patient with a "cough" that starts off as just a hypochondriac who wants to ride in the "cabulance," but when the patient is prescribed codeine, Jackie tells her she needs to lay off the dairy and then pockets the pills for herself. Coop comes to ask Eddie to be his best man, only to get an earful about how awful and infidelity-ridden marriage will be. And Zoey flirts with an NYPD officer who happens to be the only person who remembers Nurses Appreciation Week. With all the male attention Zoey has been getting lately, is she going to ditch Lenny?

The dark side wraps up with Jackie coming back to get Grace's Xanax from O'Hara only to see the ominous omens of the big Barney’s bags in her office. O'Hara wants to help Jackie. She knows that rehab, meetings and detox are all useless. The only way O'Hara thinks she can help Jackie is to become her personal methadone clinic. A brave and daring choice. One that I can see Jackie exploiting very soon.

The light side wraps up with Akalitus' overweight children finding Zoey's sugar-filled appreciation party. Luckily, the one husky kid with the speaking role has learned when to say when. I'm sure the first lady couldn't argue those results. Plus, by the end, it looked like Zoey's party was doing quite well. I never doubted it. You can't put a bunch of food out at a big workplace like a hospital and not expect a crowd to gather eventually. 

Even the swirl of light and dark gets a wrap-up of its own. Early on, Jackie and Kelly, the new guy, had bonding time over a needle decompression. Kelly is pumped and excited to grab a drink with her after work. Jackie is understandably cautious. Kelly has been a pain in Jackie's side ever since he showed up, and he even admits to her that he's probably the reason HR won't let her touch meds. Jackie agrees to go out with the hopes of getting a little dirt to hold over his head for a change, and she ends up with a whole shovel. While she took four of the missing pain patches that got HR all excited, Kelly took six. He's never been to Haiti. His whole persona is a lie. That's enough to get a cackle out of Jackie that the horrible stand-up performing in front of them gladly accepts. 

Only one more episode of "Nurse Jackie" remains for Season 3.  All the pieces seem to be in place for a dark-side kind of conclusion I can't wait to see.

RELATED:

"Nurse Jackie" recap: It's just for now

"Nurse Jackie" recap: Always inspiring

Complete "Nurse Jackie" coverage on Show Tracker

-- Andrew Hanson

Photo: Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton and Megan Byrne as Ruth. Credit: Showtime Television

 
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