What we learned this episode:
1. Coop has two very glamourous, elegant mommies. (Blythe Danner, his "Vagina mum," and Swoosie Kurtz, aka "the other one")
2. Coop's tit-grabbing Tourette's is apparently real.
3. Jackie gets antsy whenever anyone mentions Eddie and free pills in the same sentence. ("Really? Ha. Eddie got you pills? Well, he is the pharmacist." Nice cover, Jacks.)
4. It's possible for a New Yorker who is not suffering from dementia to think you can still use tokens in the subway.
5. "Fuck you, here's to me!" is a toast to go out on.
The center of the drama of this week's episode, however, had to do with three generations of nurses at All Saints, each much more jaded than the last: young, sweet Zoey; sly, sarcastic Jackie; and salty, caustic Paula, a former colleague who is dying of lung cancer. When Paula turns up at All Saints and asks Jackie to help her die rather than go to hospice, Jackie naturally obliges. After all, this was a nurse that Jackie worked with for 15 years—and she was in many ways the original Jackie. She knew about "cat ball" guy before there was a cat ball guy. She taught Jackie how to be a "bitch on wheels." She even scored Vicodin and Percocet off of Eddie before Jackie did. And so Jackie spends the day palming morphine from her colleagues and sucking it into a syringe in the ladies room, saving it all up to mix into one final glass of champagne for Paula.
Seeing everyone band together and Jackie's obvious distress, Zoey just wants to be included. She mutters about, trying to insert herself in the situation, hilariously trying to get the scoop on things from Dr. Fancypants ("Walk with me...Or we could stay here."), and then from Eddie who basically tells her that euthanizing a dying friend isn't a rite of passage, it's a shitty day, so either join in and help out, or get out of the way. Zoey chooses to join in—she wants to help, after all—darting inside the curtain when Paula makes her final toast, and she's there when Akalitus makes her pronouncement that everyone inside that curtain will be in trouble if there was something in the IV bag. She's in the trenches now! [Victory jump!]
Of course, Akalitus knows there wasn't anything in the IV bag. She said in the last episode that she wasn't as by-the-book as everyone assumes, and in tonight's episode she dropped hints that she knew a little friendly euthanasia was afoot—and apparently just let it happen. When Jackie told her Paula was waiting for a bed in hospice, Akalitus responded with, "Well let me know if you need any help upstairs. I'll pull someone's plug if I have to." Once a cartoonishly stern hospital administrator, Akalitus is emerging as a more nuanced character. She's stern, yes, but she doesn't seem to mind bending of the rules as long as they're bent in a smart way—in this case that meant fatal champagne toast instead of fatal IV.
Post-Paula's-champagne-finale, Jackie trudges to Paula's dark, lonely pre-war apartment. Looking around and seeing what's left of the life of this woman who Jackie no doubt once idolized in the same way that Zoey idolizes her, Jackie finally lets herself tear up. Is she sad for Paula or for the thought that she too could end up like this: living and dying in an apartment all alone with no Eddie, no husband-bot, no sunflower daughter? Probably a little of both.
--How great is Merritt Weaver/Zoey?
--"Vagina mum," if nothing else, thank you for that, Dr. Fancypants.
--I love how The Great Facinelli completely regressed when talking to his non-vagina-mum, legs over the armrest of the chair and everything.