Here's what I learned about my new best friend Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) from watching Monday's premiere of Nurse Jackie:
Jackie has a bad back — and a prescription-drug problem. "What do you call a nurse with a bad back?" Jackie asks. "Unemployed." As such, she's a highly functioning pill-popper who'll take whatever she can get her hands on. Literally take.
Jackie is dedicated. From the get-go, it's clear that Jackie owns the ER. She hits all the right notes with doctors, other nurses, cops and patients. She's knowledgeable, courteous, but not exactly what you'd call nice.
Jackie sometimes breaks the rules. When a misdiagnosed bike messenger dies of a brain hemorrhage, Jackie forges his signature and — poof! — he's an organ donor. "Your death may be a shame, but it will not be a waste," she says to the departed.
Jackie hates Dr. Cooper. When "Coop" (Peter Facinelli) fails to listen to Jackie and the aforementioned bike messenger dies, Jackie confronts the errant doc. "If I tell you to order a scan, you order a goddamn scan," she tells him. But! When Dr. Cooper gets nervous, he has a sexual-Tourette's-like response, and grabs her breast. "Is this happening, not happening?" Jackie asks. "I can't even tell."
Jackie has a new student nurse. Merritt Wever's sunny, rounded characterization of first-year nursing student Zoey Brakow is the perfect foil for Jackie's sharp angles. "Quick question," Jackie asks her eager-beaver new intern. [Pause.] "Shut up." She doesn't do chatty. "Quiet and mean, those are my people," Jackie says. "Just so you know, I think you're a saint," Zoey says, after her first day with Jackie.
Jackie is a workaholic. Jackie argues with her boss, the officious Mrs. Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith), about stealing a doctor's pen and working too many hours — offenses to which Jackie readily cops.
Jackie has sex with the hospital pharmacist. Jackie and Eddie have sex in the hospital pharmacy. Their post-coital pillow talk includes him offering her "something for the pain," which makes her eyes light up. They exchange sweet nothings on a rainy sidewalk outside the hospital at the end of the day, where he presents her with a Dr. Pepper, a Moon Pie and some Vicodin. Aw!
Jackie has white-tablecloth lunches with Dr. O'Hara. The slinky Dr. Elenor O'Hara (Eve Best) is Jackie's best friend in the hospital. They share a snarky sense of humor and a love of fancy lunches.
Jackie is a recovering alcoholic. When a drunk and stoned kid shoots a Roman candle from his nether regions, Jackie exposits that she used to get just as snockered, but that now, she likes a clear head. Is that so, Nurse Peyton?
Jackie steals from the rich to help the poor. Jackie treats a hooker who has cut off the ear of her violent john in self-defense. "Good girl," Jackie says. When she finds out the attacker is a diplomat and won't be charged with any crime, she flushes his severed ear down the toilet. Later, she steals the man's money clip and gives it — and a pair of pilfered Ugg boots — to the pregnant girlfriend of the dead bike messenger.
Jackie has sassy repartee with Mohammed, a fellow nurse. "What does one offer when serving the head of John the Baptist on a platter?" Mohammed asks Jackie as they gaze at a mural in the hospital's chapel. "Cole slaw. No, mac and cheese. No, potato salad."
Jackie has two kids and is married. Um, yeah! Did you see that coming? Jackie slips her wedding ring on just as she enters the kitchen. Her husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), says, "We had pancakes for dinner — how great is that!" Her guilty smile asks 1,000 questions that we have yet to answer. But it'll be fun to investigate, no? "Make me good, God — just not yet," says the instructive voiceover.
What did you think of Nurse Jackie? Were you surprised by the revelation of Jackie's double life?
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