Nurse Jackie Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie executive producer Liz Brixius remembers the exact moment she helped Jackie emerge from the bathroom in which she had locked herself last season. Inspiration struck just as Glee's Lea Michele was ripping through "Don't Rain on My Parade" during the 2010 Tony Awards.

"I'm shaking and sweating... and then it comes to me," Brixius recalls. "Jackie's ripping apart the bathroom. Destroying it. She is going to go down — and then she's going to be like, 'No. Don't you f---ing tell me what to do.'" (Funny Girl's kiss-off of a showstopper sets the scene, natch.)

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It's a blazing fallout, and one that will change Jackie's entire dynamic in Season 3 (premiering at 10/9c on Showtime). After two seasons of secret stashes and secret sex, Jackie's high-wire act had fallen apart. Her husband and best friend had finally connected the dots about her suspicious behavior and confronted her, and in the closing moments of last season's finale, Jackie is holed up in the bathroom, envisioning a future sobering up in AA... right before tossing her head back with a defiant laugh and saying, "Blow me!"

"It was really important to me that when we put her in a seemingly impossible position — absolutely painted her into a corner — we watch her get out step by step," Brixius says. "You see the decision happening. You know that she's defiant. At the very beginning of the season the network said, 'What's Season 3 about?' and I said it's about defiance. Blow me. Rage out of the cage. Game on."

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"She knows that people know now, and it's about damage control. It's not about secrecy anymore. It's about managing information."

Hanging on to her marriage to Kevin will become increasingly difficult, and her friendship with O'Hara — the one, perhaps, most vital to her — appears irreparable. "Kevin's no longer this sweet hunk of a husband sitting at home. He's like, 'I don't trust you,'" Brixius says. "Jackie has got more accountability to the really important people in her life. Winning back O'Hara will not come easy, or quickly."

Jackie's bad habits will continue for a time, but expect things to shift when, through a multitude of circumstances, her access to drugs begins to dwindle and an issue with one of her daughters causes her to reassess.

Suddenly, the question will become: Will fatigue finally set in for Jackie?

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"We had to wear her down because the one thing that [executive producer Linda Wallem] and I are not interested in doing is telling the story of a conventional addiction, followed by a 12-step recovery program. They're as ubiquitous as Target," Brixius says. "We're interested in somebody who is truly haunted and still high-functioning. The problem is that Jackie herself is like Robocop. She can keep going while the things around her fall apart."

Will Jackie finally hit a wall this season? What do you hope happens to her? Are you excited to watch the new season?