‘Nurse Jackie’ recap: Act Two
I have been tracking "Nurse Jackie" for the last three years, and as much as I enjoy the antics at All Saints Hospital, I’ve always had one complaint. No one ever held Jackie accountable for her actions. Can’t really blame them. Jackie is an expert liar. None of her coworkers or family members ever got the complete story, and when they did, Jackie had an uncanny luck. Akalitus would toss out Jackie’s urine test in defiance of her bosses or Jackie would turn an intervention back around on her husband and Dr. O’Hara. In three seasons, Jackie never met a situation she couldn’t manipulate. She never had to truly deal with the consequences of her actions. Until now.
Season Four starts with Jackie checking into rehab. As she’s checked in, Jackie gets the TSA treatment and the standard spell. From this point forward, she is accountable. For the next 28 days, she won’t be able to blame missing medication on temp nurses or sneak into the basement for the pills she hid in their Easter decorations. This new-found accountability marks a significant shift in the show, and hopefully it will bring with it a brilliant second act for the series.
After Jackie checks in we get the beautiful image of Jackie drowning in an ocean of pills, everything flashes back 24 hours to show us how Jackie arrived in rehab. Last we saw of Jackie Peyton, she was staring down both the barrel of a drug test and her husband, Kevin, who seemed to be preparing to confront her about her affair with Eddie. Of course, that was the drug test that Akalitus threw out, and Kevin was really trying to get the opportunity to confess his own infidelity. Jackie once again got off the hook for any sort of comeuppance as Season Three came to a close.
Since then, a lot of things have happened. All Saints Hospital got bought out by Quantum Bay, a company with its fingers in hotels, firearms, baby food, everything imaginable. The new owners come with a new boss, Dr. Mike Cruz, who looks like he’ll be giving Akalitus a run for her money in the budget cutting. At home, Kevin has moved out at Jackie’s request (or demand). The girls are splitting their time between home and dad’s new apartment, more specifically the pool. This leaves Jackie without any supervision at home, and gives Eddie the false impression that he might have a chance at an actual relationship with her. Poor naive Eddie.
This new freedom gives Jackie just enough rope to hang herself. You know the age-old story. Pick up a guy at church, take him home to get high and make out with, only so he can O.D. on your floor. Must have heard it a million times before. Like always, Jackie easily manages to clean up her messes. Well, she easily manages to manipulate her friends into cleaning up her messes. She gets O’Hara over to sign off on the death as a heart attack and calls Lenny and Zoey to haul away the body. You earn you black belt in deceit when you get a dead body out of your house without any hassle.
Watching the stranger you brought home to share drugs and possibly sleep with die in your home proves to be rock bottom for Jackie. She asks O’Hara to get her a bed in a rehab clinic. It has to happen today. She’ll change her mind before Wednesday. That gives her until 4 p.m. to get her things in order and check herself in for the required 28 days. She hints at the truth with Akalitus, and flat out lies to everyone else. What she says doesn’t matter. The fact that she’s going to rehab means a major shift for Jackie. I hope. A small part of me fears that she’ll be able to manipulate her way through rehab as well. Fingers crossed she finally runs into people as skilled in deception as herself.
Jackie isn’t the only one going through major changes. With Dr. Cruz coming in from Quantum Bay, Akalitus finds her position redundant. Seeing as she is two years away from collecting her pension, she is given two options: She can stay on and work the floor like any other nurse, or she can cash out early and only keep half her pension. She still gets to be everyone’s boss, but I’m excited to see Akalitus dealing with patients instead of fighting priests for statues of saints.
O’Hara is “getting a little puffy” according to Thor, but that turns out to be a side effect of the horrible infliction known as pregnancy. Zoey doesn’t seem any different at all. She still lives with Lenny and is the only hospital employee who seems to believe what Dr. Cruz says about Quantum Bay being a helpful force for the hospital (though she did put some consideration into trading her cartoon bunny scrubs for cartoon doggies instead). And Coop popped in just long enough to show off his new facial hair, which I hope doesn’t last very long.
Then there’s Eddie. Poor Eddie. Now that Kevin is out of the house, Jackie can no longer use him as an excuse why she and Eddie aren’t together, but they’re still not together. Eddie wises up to the fact that at least part of their relationship might have been based on the fact that he was supplying Jackie with the pills she loves so much. Eddie reacts in pure Eddie fashion. He gets drunk and shows up at Kevin’s new place to tell him he should torture himself over the affair he had. Jackie was doing the same thing for a longer stretch of time with him. Eddie counted on the fact that Kevin’s daughters were with him as insurance that he wouldn’t receive a beating for confessing this, but he didn’t count on headphones.
Season Four looks like it will be a redefining year for "Nurse Jackie." I’ve been waiting years for Jackie to face accountability, and it has renewed my interest in what happens next. For the first time, all the side characters in Jackie’s life seem to be facing obstacles as large as hers. All in all a strong start. Let’s see where it goes from here.
Caption: Paul Schulze as Eddie and Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in "Nurse Jackie." Credit: Showtime Television