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‘Nurse Jackie’ recap: Home Early

April 22, 2012 | 10:36 pm

Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie is out. Free from rehab. Sure it’s supposed to take 28 days, but this is Jackie we’re talking about. She manages to speed through steps four through eight all in one night with the help of a handful of old pens, a bowl of Good and Plenties, and a surprisingly accommodating orderly. It has only been two weeks, both in the show and for us the audience, but Jackie is checking herself out, against the better judgment of everyone in her group therapy and medical advice. Jackie’s counselor Laura warns her about the outside world. She’s been in an incubator for the last 16 days. Outside the air is going to burn her skin. Jackie isn’t worried. She can handle whatever sobriety can throw at her. She is Nurse Jackie for goodness sake.

Jackie’s motivation for leaving is a little suspect. She claims it is all about being back with Grace. Last week, Green Hair Charlie got Jackie to admit that she first started using drugs after Grace was born and Jackie couldn’t handle her constant crying. Jackie told the group she realized she needed to get out when Grace stopped by, raccooned with eye-liner. Though she described it as seeing her daughter with two black eyes.  A bit overdramatic. Makes me wonder if Jackie really is running to her daughter or running away from the uncomfortable truths rehab is bringing out of her.

Regardless, Jackie is free and sober for the first time in who knows how long. Her first stop is to see Grace. She has one of the nuns pull her daughter out of class so she can tell Grace how much she loves her and tell her to wipe off her eyeliner. It’s crazy that a woman like Jackie, who has the answer to everyone’s problems while working a shift at the hospital, has so little awareness of how she’s affecting her own daughter. Crazy in a way that makes Jackie seem so much more like a real person.

Of course leaving “Disneyland” means Jackie is right back to work at All Saints. Because there’s nothing better for a woman who just dropped out of rehab than picking up an eight-hour shift surrounded by medications. O’Hara is skeptical, but when has O’Hara ever managed to stand up to Jackie effectively anyway. Jackie is positive that she is ready to jump back into patient care, even though it quickly becomes quite obvious that she’s not. 

In her first day back, Jackie finds herself flustered during a trauma, caught up in the arguing of a lesbian couple, and most disturbingly of all, crying after Coop hurts her feelings. You can see it in Jackie’s face that she is completely unprepared for the reality of facing her job without any narcotics in her system. She’s overly sensitive, both to Coop’s comments about her hair and the pain of her patients. She is slow with the witty comebacks or reactions to Dr. Cruz’s suggestion of maximum time limits with non-critical patients. Essentially, Jackie has lost all the qualities that made her Nurse Jackie. Just when everything seems so overwhelming, her fellow nurse and occasional supplier Kelly Slater drops off an envelope full of Fentanyl prescriptions. The patches that are a 100 times more potent than morphine. 

If that wasn’t enough, Jackie stands in the hallway, debating what she should do with the free passes to high-ville and Eddie walks by to let her know that he told Kevin everything. If there ever was a final straw that could break a camel’s back, it’s that. Jackie runs to the ladies room, her favorite place to pop or snort at work. She calls Kevin to confirm what Eddie said and gets the monotone response that he is keeping the girls another night. After years of being frightened and always one step behind, Kevin finally has the upper hand on Jackie. 

In the end, Jackie makes the decision to turn the Fentanyl prescriptions over to Dr. Cruz. Even with all the stress and confusion, Jackie avoids temptation, though I’m not 100% sure if I trust her motivation. She doesn’t admit they were for her. Oh, no. She says that Kelly passed them off to “one of her nurses.” She didn’t want to name names (namely her own). Then she made sure to give Kelly the heads up, so he could get out of there before the police arrived to arrest him. Sure she gave the drugs up, but she still managed to do it in a way covered with Nurse Jackie-brand lies. You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not ready to give Jackie the benefit of the doubt.

After her first night back, Jackie comes home to an empty house. Well, not completely empty. Grace left her a message written on the wall. She wants to live with her dad, go to public school and wear eyeliner. Jackie reacts by spray painting “Not Gonna Happen” over the message, breathing deep the fumes in the unventilated room. Just to let you know that the self-destructive Jackie isn’t completely gone. 

This week “Nurse Jackie” co-creators/show runners Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius announced they were leaving the show after this season. A bit of bad news for “Nurse Jackie” fans. The last two episodes have been among the best of the series, and I credit a lot of that to Wallem’s directing and Brixius’ writing. You can tell when the creative minds who helped develop a show write or direct episodes. They have a greater depth, a fuller understanding of the characters. Luckily, we still have nine more episodes under their leadership. It’ll be interesting to see how the show differs after they’re gone. 


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--Andrew Hanson

Photo: Peter Facinelli as Dr. Cooper, Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, and Bobby Cannavale as Dr. Mike Cruz. Credit: Showtime Television