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TV Review: Nurse Jackie – “When the Saints Go”

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Showtime’s Nurse Jackie continues its third season with “When the Saints Go.” Sadly, the day has finally arrived when the moving truck comes and empties out All-Saints’s sacred room. No one is more depressed than Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith), though several others pay homage to the quiet space. As a favor to Akalitus in her day of mourning, Jackie (Edie Falco) lets new obnoxious nurse Kelly (Gbenga Akinnagbe) walk all over her. Most of the nurses are enthralled with Kelly, especially Thor (Stephen Wallem), who seems to fall head over heels right off the bat, but it’s only a matter of time now until Jackie’s claws come out, and she resumes her rightful place as Top Dog.

If there is any doubt that Jackie cares about her co-workers, and there usually isn’t, despite her efforts to keep them out of her personal life, that notion is dispelled in this episode. The only reason Jackie possibly sucks it up when Kelly marks his territory all over hers is because she cares about Akalitus and doesn’t wish to cause her any more headaches on an already difficult day. Kelly takes Jackie’s chair, says demeaning things about her, takes over a patient, and changes a medication order. Normally, any one of those would be enough to make Jackie assert her authority, but instead, she lets his continuous challenges roll right off her back.

What’s most surprising in “When the Saints Go” is that her co-workers don’t take more notice of Jackie’s calm demeanor. Only Zoey (Merritt Wever) even rises to her defense. Considering how important Jackie is, everyone turns to her with her problems, and she handles all difficult the patient issues with grace, one would think her ‘friends’ would have a little more loyalty. Kelly may be underestimating her now, but Sam (Arjun Gupta) knows better, and should clue his new friend in. When Jackie barks at Sam to jump, he jumps. When Kelly asks why he takes it, Sam replies that that’s just how it is.

Jackie is far from a saint, as anyone who watches Nurse Jackie can tell you. Her brilliant handling of the Emergency Room is tempered by her secret pill addiction and previous, though now ended, affair. While most of the characters are clueless about the vast majority of Jackie’s secrets, they don’t often pry. Believe it or not, this makes the show seem more realistic. While not selfish, exactly, people have more exciting things to do than investigate an odd behavior now and then. As long as Jackie keeps her waves small, she isn’t likely to raise much suspicion. Thank goodness for ineptitude.

Except from her husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), that is. Jackie plants false evidence leading him to believe she is taking her sobriety seriously, but of course, she’s not. He buys it, for now. Considering that the preview for next week’s episode shows him finding some pills, he probably won’t forever. A major element of this show seems to be finding just how far a marriage can stretch without breaking. It is likely Jackie will lose Kevin soon enough. She must hit rock bottom before she can start to get better, and she’s not even close yet. Kevin is the most probable trigger to send her careening over the edge.

Jackie isn’t just lying to Kevin. She tells her bestie, O’Hara (Eve Best), that Kevin is being a jerk towards her. He isn’t, but it’s all part of Jackie’s game to solidify her friendship, which is still tentative after O’Hara learns about Jackie’s pill addiction and lies. So Jackie is choosing to lie even more? Not a good way to fix things in the long-term. While it was painful to watch the two separated earlier this season, the next go round will be much, much worse. Not looking forward to it, but it’s inevitable.

The subject of Jackie’s affair, Eddie (Paul Schulze), is trying to move on. Kevin sets Eddie up with his sister, Tunie (Jaimie Alexander, Kyle XY, Watch Over Me), and Eddie starts to fall for her. But then Jackie pulls him back, asking him not to date her. While perhaps it’s conceivable Jackie would let Eddie move on if it isn’t with one of her relatives, it’s more possible that Jackie just doesn’t want Eddie with anyone but her. She hasn’t slept with him since season one, but best guess is that she wants a backup plan for if, or when, Kevin leaves her once and for all. It’s not fair to Eddie for her to keep him in limbo, but he allows it. He should take Tunie out and forget about Jackie.

Cooper (Peter Facinelli) is heading towards a bad, bad place. While his lies are much more transparent than Jackie’s (he’s telling people his bunion is an intense Achilles injury), he isn’t handling his mothers’ divorce very well. He is using a literal crutch in the figurative sense. What Cooper needs is a real friend. He had that with Sam, but lost it. Either Sam needs to forgive Cooper, or Cooper needs someone else, but without some sort of help, Cooper is not likely to recover anytime soon.

Thankfully, there is some honest happiness in “When the Saints Go.” Zoey is asked by a patient to give Lenny (Lenny Jacobson) an attractive woman’s phone number. Wever kills in the comedy department, both physically and with words, hedging over whether to deliver the message or not, since she is dating Lenny. She needn’t worry, as Lenny uses the number to wipe sauce from his face, and cornily tells her she’s the only woman he is interested in. The two of them have wonderful chemistry, and he’s a good balance for the neurotic Zoey. Their relationship is humming along, and growing stronger. And unlike in other shows, Nurse Jackie probably won’t introduce false drama just for the heck of it. Wedding bells, perhaps?

Many more episodes left to go, as Nurse Jackie is only about halfway through its season. Be sure to watch Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com