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TV Review: Nurse Jackie – “Mitten”

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As the episode opens, Jackie is checking her stashes in the basement of house. An important way to start the day. For Jackie Peyton, at least.

Later, O’Hara and Jackie go out to lunch, presumably for the first time since their reconciliation. Jackie confides that Tunie is staying at the house and thinks Kevin’s installed his sister to keep an eye on her. “Wish she were a little more cop, a little less teenage stepdaughter. It would make things easier,” Jackie says.

O’Hara’s news is that Akalitus has offered to make her chief of the ER, in title only, and assures Jackie she is no longer looking for another job. Half-joking, she asks if Jackie wants this in writing. Jackie half-jokes back saying that yeah, she does. Jackie is suddenly in a good place; she has O’Hara, Kevin, Eddie and most importantly her pills. As usual, she is not considering the consequences of her bad habits, living only for the moment. But O’Hara knows how fleeting a sense of security can be. She also knows her friend better than anyone. “Next time you go on the attack,” she warns, “take better aim.”

At the next table, a belligerent customer loudly lambasts a waitress who got his Chicken Caesar wrong. His potty mouth rankles Jackie and she can’t help getting involved. She informs the loudmouth she is the manager (moonlighting as a nurse). When the customer tells her the waitress messed up the order, Jackie lashes out at him. In her inimitable fashion she proceeds to ruin the guy’s lunch by making a fool of him in front of his client, then forcing him to apologize to the waitress. O’Hara looks on with sisterly pride, saying wistfully, “Oh, I have missed you and the havoc that you wreak.”

Back at the hospital, Akalitus is peeved that Bellevue has kicked off their campaign to win the First Lady visit. She brandishes a poster she ripped off the 6 Train that reads “Childhood obesity hurts. At Bellevue, we’re doing something about it.” The problem is, the ad is effective and good, and Jackie tells her so. Akalitus is stirred up now and plans to ask for monetary donations for the First Lady visit fund, starting with Jackie. Sport that she is, Jackie tosses five dollars to the cause.

In the ER, Sam lets Coop know he thinks it’s great that Coop is comfortable with O’Hara becoming his superior. O’Hara’s promotion is news to Coop. He leaves his patient with Sam and stalks off, limping. Something is wrong with his foot.

Meanwhile, to Jackie’s surprise, Eddie tells her he’ll be taking her home on his bike after work. Kevin’s planned a barbecue in celebration of Eddie’s ‘new’ job at All Saints (and presumably wants to introduce him to Tunie). Jackie puts this into perspective by saying, “You were right. Now that Kevin knows you work here, things have gotten so much more normal.”

Akalitus has a heated phone conversation with the head of All Saints, explaining her plight, her need for support and a list potential donors. “Listen, sister,” she fumes, “you married God. I married this job.” Coop takes this moment to barge in and throw his hat in the ring for O’Hara’s position. “Chief of the ER is not a title you hand out like a stick of gum,” he says as he pleads his case. She tells him nothing has been set in stone and that if he wants the position so badly, he needs to show her what he’s got. “Like a dance-off,” he says. “Like overtime,” she replies.

A prospective dad whose wife is in labor in the maternity ward is dry heaving in the ER. Jackie puts him on a valium drip as Zoey joins her in making him comfortable. Lately, Zoey has been rushing around, tracking her daily mileage on a device strapped to her wrist. Jackie doesn’t like what she sees and takes Zoey to the chapel to sit awhile. “You have to learn to pace herself or you will burn out,” is Jackie’s advice to her.

Akalitus informs O’Hara of Dr. Cooper’s intention to compete for the title of ER chief. But adds that he can’t compete if O’Hara officially accepts the position. With a typical O’Hara groan and eyeroll, she gives in saying, “only so the crown doesn’t fall to Prince John.” Since Cooper’s working overtime to prove himself, Akalitus says they won’t make O’Hara’s promotion official until the following week.

In O’Hara’s office, Coop confronts her with the news that he plans to take the ER chief position from her. He’s upset at the size of her office and that when he takes over, he will take her office as well. He races off to respond to an ER page before O’Hara can but his bad foot slows him down. He dispatches Eddie to tell Jackie he will be along in a moment, getting himself to the scene (at least in spirit) before his adversary.

When Coop arrives, he ignores the patient, sets himself up in an ER bed and asks Jackie to give him a cortisone shot for the large and unsightly bunion on the side of his foot. He is a baby about the treatment, yammering and grousing as the needle goes in.

Prospective father is feeling better but doesn’t want to return to maternity to see his wife. Her 10 hour screaming fest has put him off and he refuses to let anything ruin his valium high. He’s also feeling incompetent as a provider. But Jackie’s solemn encouragement gets him up and moving.

Coop is using his overtime hours wisely, helping Thor rename their fantasy football team the Cooper Dupers.

The end of the day sees Jackie riding on the back of Eddie’s bike as they head to the barbecue. They have a moment at the house before anyone knows they’ve arrived but quickly let it go. This is not the time or place to bring out those feelings they try so hard to hide from the world.

Tunie and Eddie begin to get acquainted in the backyard as Jackie discovers empty drawers and closets in the bedroom. She panics. Bits and pieces of her stash were among those things. In the backyard, Tunie tells her that Kevin’s brought the old clothes to a school clothing drive and not to fret. It was mostly stuff from the basement, baby clothes and mismatched mittens. Tunie also tells Jackie, that while he was out, Kevin made a side trip to an Al-Anon meeting as well.

While Eddie and Tunie continue to get acquainted, Jackie and Kevin take a walk to the school. Her excuse for needing to go is that she thinks the girl’s baptism dresses were in the donation boxes.

Kevin waits in the hall while Jackie searches the boxes and finds her stash in a baby mitten. After pocketing the pills, she pauses to run her hands over the mitten. From the look in her eyes, it’s apparent she is thinking about the all time that’s passed. Time she’ll never get back.

It’s hard not to wonder about Kevin’s motives bringing Tunie into the fold. If Tunie and Eddie find a spark or if Eddie initiates a relationship to make Jackie jealous, how will Jackie deal with it? Perhaps she will go another route, take a cue from her husband going to Al-Anon and get some help for herself. But knowing Jackie, probably not.

Nurse Jackie airs at 10PM ET Mondays on SHOWTIME

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