Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Searching For Signal: #114 - “Nurse Jackie” - Season 2, Episode 2

So we start out in the basement of Jackie’s home, where she’s distractedly trying to iron somebody’s clothes. After a bit, she realizes that the iron isn’t even hot, then discovers that someone has unplugged the thing, probably with vicious and evil intent. Right in the midst of this domestic trauma, she gets a text from Eddie. “I’m SO Sorry.” I assume that he’s referring to the fact that he rudely tried to kill himself just so she would take his calls.

This irritating bit of social networking causes Jackie to temporarily abandon her attempt at conquering wrinkles, and she clamors around the basement until she finds a box of Easter decorations. She digs around in the box until she locates a stash of Vicodin cleverly hidden in a plastic egg. She pops one pill, pockets the rest, and suddenly her day is much brighter. (Imagine the Easter egg hunt around THIS place.)

A bit later, she trudges upstairs, whining about things being unplugged, and we learn that neurotic little Gracie is responsible for the disconnecting of things all over the house. Seems her latest unhealthy obsession centers around the house burning down. (Guess she’s moved on from the exploding sun of the last episode.) She’s even saved her allowance and picked out the particular smoke alarm that she would like to have installed. Isn’t she cute?

Then we’re on the sidewalk outside the hospital, where a clearly-looped Dr. O’Hara is babbling about something while she squirts mustard on a hot dog. She fesses up to taking a bit of Ecstasy, thinking it would wear off before she had to, you know, OPERATE on people and such. With O’Hara’s British accent and the drug still coursing through her veins, I really have no idea what she’s saying. Some mess about taking Jackie’s girls out of school and they all move to Switzerland. Maybe. I really don’t know.

Then a taxi pulls up, and out tumbles a mussed-up Zoey. As she staggers past them without noticing either of them, O’Hara and Jackie theorize on what might have led to this situation. O’Hara thinks that Zoey “got her pipes cleaned.” Jackie is frightened by this image. “It’s like seeing Santa naked.”

Quick scene with Jackie in one of the examining rooms. Anxious parents are concerned over the breathing problems of their little boy, afraid he might have Cystic Fibrosis. (Suddenly the frivolity of a stoned O’Hara shoving a hot dog in her mouth loses its charm.) Jackie promises to help them get an expensive “sweat test”. Hang tight.

O’Hara, still flying high and thinking she’s Isadora Duncan whilst dancing down the hall, slams into a startled Zoey, then apologizes and gives her a scarf. Zoey responds as if she’s just been knighted by The Queen. Jackie interrupts the love fest and drags O’Hara off to an examining room, hooking O’Hara up to an IV so she can re-hydrate. (No wonder my insurance premiums are so high.)

O’Hara insists on a trashy magazine to read while her buzz fades. Jackie goes searching and finds that the ER supply of said reading material has been snatched up by Thor and hidden in his drawer. When Jackie slightly berates him, he sulks. “Please don’t amplify my shame.”

Attention-starved Eddie shows up at Kevin’s bar. Eddie chirpily asks about Jackie’s jewelry: “She like that ring you got her?” Kevin’s a little thrown by the question, how would Eddie know about this? Then he shrugs it off. (Dude, when people know things about you that they shouldn’t theoretically know, it’s time to move and have your name legally changed. Don’t you watch the Horror Channel?) When Kevin asks where Eddie’s been lately, Eddie smiles and says “I tried to kill myself.” Just kidding. Hee hee. Then they make a toast to Jackie and bond over sporting events.

There are some messed-up people on this show. Just sayin.

Dr. Cooper finally wanders in to check on the little boy who might have Cystic Fibrosis. When he tries to explain what CF is and how you test for it, the parents babble that Jackie has already explained all of this. She’s nice, we love her. This, of course, sends Coop into a jealous tizzy. He and Jackie then bicker openly in front of the parents, while the little boy pretends to color in a book and wonders if he should get a new agent.

As Jackie and Coop storm out of the room, Coop actually whips out some device and makes a Twitter update about the patient exam he just performed. Seriously. Jackie, understandably, is incensed. That is so wrong. Coop, of course, doesn’t see the problem, and wanders off to go do something else immoral and obnoxious.

Then we have some Sam and Zoey bonding (this can only lead to trouble), with Sam complimenting her scarf and Zoey proudly beaming that it’s from “Herms”, which she just knows has to be a fancy store. They stroll along the sidewalk in front of the hospital as their twisted friendship glows and blossoms. To show that they are now besties, Zoey points out the crazy man in a nearby building who thinks he’s God.

On cue, God leans out his window and starts berating the passersby with insults and absurdity. Sam thinks this is really neat. “I love this guy!” Then God goes too far with his ranting at strangers, and one of them picks up a bottle, hurling it through the air so that it beans God and knocks him to the floor of his apartment. Zoey: “God’s down!”

Frantic scene in an ER room as the staff struggles to stabilize God. Coop actually twitters through the whole thing, making Jackie so mad she could almost spit, but she’s a trooper and focuses on making God comfortable instead of seeking personal validation in 140 characters or less.

A bit later, Zoey slips into the room for some quality time with God. She rambles on about a nunnery and liking boys and other useless nonsense. God, because we‘re all bored with that, stops her and warbles his own tale about almost dying, a light at the end of a tunnel, and the person he saw bathed in that light. (Zoey: “So you saw yourself?”) God gives Zoey and her scarf a dismissive look. No, he DIDN’T see himself, and therefore he can’t be God. (Somebody had to hit him with a bottle before he could figure that out?)

This revelation makes non-God start screaming. Zoey, not wanting to miss out on the fun, starts screaming as well. Then she gets a little uncomfortable with all the noise, and races out of the room. Jackie, because she’s very busy with all her addictions and doesn‘t have time for this, is not going to clean up after Zoey and sends her right back in. “Handle it!”

Then Jackie starts to trot off to some other scene of confusion, and the Vicodin blister pack falls out of her cute little nurse’s smock. Sam, because he lives for drama and accusations, snatches the pills up and confronts Jackie. Are these yours? She denies ownership, they squabble, Jackie demands that Sam give them to her, more squabbling about the proper treatment of unclaimed pills, and we end with Jackie marching Sam to the room with the automatic pill dispenser where she shoves the pills into a lockbox.

Two seconds after they leave the room, Jackie returns with the lockbox key and retrieves her precious goodies.

A bit later, Jackie stomps into Mrs. Akalitus’ office with some demands. First off, Coop needs to cool it with the Twitter thing. Akalitus: He filed a complaint against you for insubordination. Jackie: Don’t care. Second, I’m over Sam and the born-again thing. He’s accusing everybody of being a drug addict. (Um, everybody IS, at least in this place.) Finally, an anonymous nurse would like a referral for a good child psychiatrist. Akalitus smiles warmly as she scribbles the name of someone covered by the hospital insurance. “She was tremendously helpful with my boy.” (Wait, Akalitus has reproduced? I’m scared to leave my own house at this point.)

Jackie, because she meddles, then wanders off to some obscure testing lab, trying to get the scoop on the little boy who might have CF. The prim little testing person initially does not want to share. The tests aren’t done yet. Too early to be sure. And you’re not a doctor. Jackie works her magic (she’s the star of the show, of course she has magic, it’s in her contract) and the testing person finally fesses that things look good. So far.

Jackie races to tell the anxious parents the supposed good news, and they instantly worship her in relief and admiration. Lot of glowing close-ups as the happy family packs up and heads out into the night.

Quick scene in Kevin’s bar, where he and Eddie are still bonding over sports (guess Eddie hasn’t found a new job after being replaced by a machine, so he apparently has some time on his hands). This can only lead to heartbreak, dismay, and twisted future events that require therapy. I do believe that’s Alfred Hitchcock we see walking by on the street outside the window.

Now we have Jackie kicking back in the hospital church, reflecting on…. who knows. She hears some crinkling noises coming from a nearby pew, and discovers Thor with some diabetically contraband donuts, and she challenges him. Why are you doing this? “You’ve already lost sight in one eye.” Thor is amazed, how did she know? (She’s the star of the show, of course she has instant vision-diagnostic skills.) Actually, she figured it out when they were trying to save non-God in the ER. Thor: “You are the only one that knows.”

Then the bonding continues as Thor actually pops out his fake porcelain eye for review and discussion. This scene is one of those that teeters on the fine line between really touching and too bizarre for words. I’ll let it land in the touching camp. After all, you’ve gotta be tight with somebody if you’re going to let her hold your eye, right?

Cut to Zoey with non-God. She’s dragged him to a window and is trying to get him all excited about hurling insults once again. He’s bummed, life is a sham when you aren’t divine. Zoey counsels him: “Maybe you’re like Jesus, or the brother-in-law of God, or something.” Non-God considers this, then finally decides that a second-billing would be fine. He leans out the window and goes to work.

Dr. Cooper confronts Jackie. Where’s the family with the possible CF kid? Jackie gets all better-than-thou. You were screwing around and taking forever so I gave them the good news and sent them home happy. Coop is not pleased. It took forever because I wanted the whole story, and the child DOES have Cystic Fibrosis. Now I’m the bad guy that has to call and ruin their lives.

Jackie: “No. I’ll call them. Give me the phone.”

Final scene has Jackie arriving home, with everyone already tucked into bed. A brief moment of reflection. Then Jackie pulls something out of a bag, studies it for a bit, then leaves it on the kitchen table. It’s a fancy, talking smoke-alarm for Gracie to discover when she wanders down for breakfast in the morning.

Very sweet. But really, Gracie is just going to find something else to worry about until you get to the root of her problem. And isn’t that the theme of this entire show?

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