Nurse Jackie: "...Deaf Blind Tumor Pee-Test..."  
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Nurse Jackie: "...Deaf Blind Tumor Pee-Test..."  

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Nurse Jackie

"...Deaf Blind Tumor Pee-Test..."  

Season 3, Episode 12

 It's a good thing that Nurse Jackie got picked up for another season, because tonight's season finale wouldn't make much of a de facto series finale. It's not that it's bad, but what's most scintillating about it are the possibilities it raises. I might be tempted to sneak in here a year from now and raise or lower the grade, depending on whether the show has the nerve to follow through and do justice to most of the threads it seems on the verge of exploring.

Not least among these was Kelly Slater's emergence from his smiley cocoon, and the prospect of he and Jackie developing a mutually self-destuctive relationship that goes beyond snickering under their breath at each other's transgressions. With Akalitus on the warpath, dispensing word that urine tests were due by the end of the shift, Slater sidled up next to her, held up the bag in his hand, and asked, "Want half a bagel?" She declined and took her leave, to spread light to other corners of the hospital. Once she was gone, Kelly opened the bag and started unloading his phramaceuitical supplies and prepping to beat the drug test. "What if she'd wanted half a bagel?" Jackie asked. "I'd be fucked," he replied, with the megawatt smile of someone who enjoys living dangerously. For a snappier comeback, you'd have to be at school, where Fiona and some young accomplice she's taken under her wing were in trouble for setting a fire. "God, Fee," she was asked, "what did you do?" "I got caught," Fee answered, thus firmly establishing herself as her mother's daughter.

Much of the episode seemed to be about shifting the balance of power in  relationships that had seemed to be either well-defined or practically nonexistent. (There was a pleasingly brisk exchange between the queenly O'Hara and the junk-food scarfing prole Lenny, in which he corrected her on a matter of medical priority and she smoothly bowed to his better judgment.) The comedy involving Cooper's wedding-that-was-not-to-be, which he'd scheduled to fall on his birthday for a double dose of humiliation, felt a little tired, but it was sweet to see everyone, Jackie included, make an effort to help him get through it, and the image of Coop and Eddie riding off into the sunset together was both funny and surprisingly stirring: the apotheosis of a bromance that seemed to get started to be born of equal parts accident, mistake, and misunderstanding, but is starting to look as if it'll pass the test of time anyway. 

At the center of it all, there was Kevin, who spent the day getting more and more intense as Jackie continued to dodge his calls. After considering all the possibilities we could think of, both Jackie and myself were stunned to learn his reason for wanting to talk, though the woman sitting on the other end of my couch assures me that a blind man could see if coming from a mile off. Jackie was both non-objective and drug-addled and I'm hopeless at these anticipate-the-twist games, so perhaps she is right. Of course, the really important thing was Jackie's reaction, and I imagine it will be a polarizing one, like the final line that she delivered to a mirror at the end of the second season. But giving Akalitus, urine sample in hand, the final word, and having it be that same word, made for a nice curtain moment. It was also a stirring reminder that Akalitus, at her most effective as both a character and an administrator, is a defiant, protective mother, even to the kind of fortysomething teenage malcontent that Jackie has become. Jackie has two families, and if there's any confusion as to which is really more important, the one at home or the one at work, I would refer you to the title.

Stray observations:

  • Nice cameo by Danny Hoch at the beginning, as an aspiring patient wailing about his tumors and urgent need for medication. You don't hardly ever see Danny Hoch on TV or in movies anymore. I trust this has more to do with his busy schedule in live theater than with any enemies he made back when he was bragging about how he had too much integrity to talk with a funny accent for the sake of being on Seinfeld.
  • O'Hara, to Jackie's kids, as she leads them away from the oncoming collision between their parents: "Follow me. We shall go and look at broken things."
  • Cooper: "Anyone seen my crackhead?" Sam: "You gotta be more specific."
  • My hat's off to Thor for his performance of "Ave Maria" at Coop's wedding. I don't know if you've ever attempted it, but that bitch is hard to sing. I had to sing it when I played a nun--the director had issues, okay?-- in a Tulane University summer stage production of The House of Blue Leaves, and after a week's rehearsal, the director was all like, that's okay, maybe you could just stand there for a minute, silently playing with your rosary.
  • Kevin's dialogue included a gratuitous shout-out to Aunt Tunie, explaining why she wasn't available to watch the kids. We did not just dream her! I'll bet her invitation to the cast party got lost in the mail, though.
  • Jackie, staring at the corpse of an elderly patient, and at the end of her rope: "She's dead and I'm jealous. How fucked up is that?"

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