Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Nurse Jackie" season finale recap: "Healthcare and Cinema"

Because I watched most of its episodes far in advance, I never really got a chance to do a week-to-week recap of Showtime's excellent new dramedy "Nurse Jackie." But I wanted to say a few words on the finale, because I do think it's the best new show of the year so far, and I particularly admire Edie Falco's work as conflicted nurse Jackie Peyton. Like most TV characters today, Jackie is a study in contrasts. She's a loving wife and mother...but she's also cheating on her husband with the pharmacist at the hospital where she works. She's a dedicated professional...but she's also a pain pill addict who sometimes lets her addiction cloud her judgment. She lets down friends, co-workers and her kids. She also cares for and supports her friends, co-workers and kids. She's dark and smart and fascinating and, even if I don't always understand her motivations, she's never boring.
The rest of the cast is often excellent, as well, particularly Peter Facinelli as a cocky but not totally useless doctor and Merritt Wever as an adorably earnest nursing student.
So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on the season finale, "Healthcare and Cinema."
Spoilers below
The season finale of "Nurse Jackie" contained perhaps the most uncomfortable sequence I've seen in a long time: the prolonged conversation between Eddie and Kevin at Kevin's bar. I can't think of the last time I'd felt such suspense over what was, on the surface, just a barroom chat between two guys. But every time Eddie opened his mouth, I kept waiting for him to say "By the way, that married girlfriend I mentioned? It's your wife." But he didn't. Every time Jackie called Eddie, and Eddie pulled out his ringing phone, I expected him to show the caller ID to Kevin. But he didn't. For some reason, his decision not to reveal who he is (and I'm convinced that, even in the parts we didn't see, Eddie never told Kevin that he's Jackie's lover), made the whole thing even more uncomfortable. It had to have been uncomfortable for Eddie, too, especially when he realized that Jackie indeed loves Kevin (the lost look on Eddie's face when Kevin mentioned Jackie making him breakfast after her long shifts was devastating. Excellent work by Paul Schulze).
The whole thing came to a head not at the bar, but at the hospital, where a drunken Eddie burst in and, just before being dragged away by security, whispers to Jackie that he met Kevin and saw the bar. Ugh.
Jackie, of course, deals with this by taking enough painkillers to drop a horse. It looks like she's pretty incapacitated by episode's end, but we won't know until next season, I guess.
Overall, it was a strong finale, but a very serious one, with few of the show's usual doses of humor. Yes, we had Gloria and her ridiculous shenanigans in the elevator, and we also saw Dr. Cooper trying to befriend MoMo now that Eddie's gone. But it was darker that usual, with even the typically cheerful Zoe down in the dumps, wearing gray scrubs to show her remorse over putting the film critic in a coma. Her moping was good for a few laughs, however, especially when she told the model she'd been "stripped over my powers." Ha! What do you want to bet that Zoe imagines herself as Nurse Girl, fighting illness and injustice wherever she goes?
Also worth noting is O'Hara's kidnapping off her mother, which results in the gush of emotions she swore she'd never show. Her collapse was sad and crushing, made worse by the fact that her best friend Jackie is too busy raiding the pill machine to rush to her side.
Anyway, what did you think? Will you watch next season? What do you want to see happen?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bravo! This series proves that innovative writing, as well as great directing and acting are all alive and kicking. It's the fastest half hour on the waves. And it seems a bit of a tragedy that we must wait 'til next year for more.