“Orchids and Salami” opens with a frightened Gracie waking her parents at 2 a.m. Anxiety over her project for the school saints pageant is giving her nightmares. She has been collecting cards about the saints (the manner of how each died fascinates Gracie most) and displays them over a middle-of-the-night cup of cocoa with Jackie and Kevin. When Kevin drives her and Fiona to school the next morning, Gracie, in her haste to exit the car, drops her cards in the back seat. She gathers them up and, as she leaves, makes Kevin promise to check and see if she left any behind. Under the seat, he finds a hollowed out dental floss case that houses one of Jackie’s long forgotten pill stashes. Could this be a clever ruse by the saints to prove that Jackie’s sobriety is not what it seems?
Unaware of Kevin’s discovery, Jackie starts her day by meeting Bill at the coffee shop before she goes to work. She whispers a complaint to him as she makes her purchase. “Five pills for two hundred dollars?” He smiles and teases her with a chilling intimacy that she knows he actually gave her six.
Sam, who unbeknownst to Jackie had also been in the coffee shop, catches up with her as she leaves, saying Bill helped him though his recovery. Jackie tells him that Bill is an epileptic whose life she saved and that’s the extent of their relationship. The look of simmering panic on Jackie’s face is one we’ve seen too often this season; she dismisses Sam by taking a non-existent phone call she explains is “personal”.
At All Saints, 12-year old Walker’s mother is brought in, unconscious from a drug overdose. Walker made the 911 call and is sadly stoic about his mother’s condition, giving the indication he is no stranger to her addictions. Zoey and Jackie attempt to comfort him, and he and Jackie eventually end up in the hospital chapel. But he’s not interested in her attempts to explain his mother’s problem. “She’s a fuckin’ addict,” is his explanation to which Jackie responds by leaving him where he sits. The whole conversation cuts a little too close to her own situation.
Coop is fascinated by an American Indian patient, a “Windwalker” construction worker who on his breaks, flies kites 60 feet above the ground. This is good; it distracts Coop from being depressed over his mothers’ divorce. When the patient is discharged, he gives Coop his kite, which thrills Coop probably more than it should. But his reaction is not surprising. Coop is a proficient doctor who is still very much a child at heart.
Nurse Slater gets on Akalitus’s good side by telling her he not only worked at All Saints’ rival Bellevue for a while but kinda-sorta knows Michelle Obama too. For Akalitus, this is big, big news.
Throughout the day, Kevin calls Jackie’s cell, which is an annoyance she has no time for. She lets the calls go to voicemail, never wondering if there is a problem with the kids or the house or anything to do with her life outside of work. She is too intent on her patients and finding another source for drugs. When Slater picks up a pain prescription of Fentynal patches for an oncology patient, Jackie offers to deliver them for him if he will tend to her charge.
When she leaves the hospital, she is shocked and hurt to see Eddie and O’Hara getting into a car together. It seems to be a friendly outing, but Jackie worries it might be something more.
At home, Kevin confronts Jackie immediately, tossing the pill-filled floss case at her. Of course she has an excuse, but this time it’s actually partly true. The pills are old, from before she “cleaned up her act”. Again, she convinces her husband of her innocence and as the scene fades out, we are offered a glimpse of the Fentynal patch on her arm.
The fact that Jackie wasn’t even curious why her husband was calling her every hour is proof she is sinking deeper into the mire she’s created for herself. With each subsequent episode, we are given more reasons to fear for this character. Where it all might lead is not at all predictable. That unpredictability is just one of many reasons Nurse Jackie keeps us coming back for more.
Nurse Jackie airs on Mondays at 10PM ET on SHOWTIME