NURSE JACKIE “Game On” Review

NURSE JACKIE "Game On"

NURSE JACKIE “Game On” Season 3 Episode 1 – Since this episode was basically just a run-down / catch-up of the various Nurse Jackie characters, that’s what I’m gonna do. Consider this your primer on one of Showtime’s more interesting shows.

Nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco): Since Edie won the Emmy last year for “Best Actress in a Comedy,” suffice to say this is a well-rounded (and rather screwed up) character. Jackie is basically determined to be all things to all people. As an ER nurse, she navigates the rough waters of a crumbling healthcare system, doing everything she can to provide her patients with the best care possible. As a wife, mother and friend, she’s a rock (save for some infidelity here or there—but what’s a little cheating between friends?). And right or wrong, Jackie’s brand of moral and medical justice is made all the more manageable by a daily diet of prescription pain medication—a fact she is finding increasingly difficult to keep secret. As last season ended, in intervention was staged for Jackie by her husband Kevin and her best friend Eleanor. It did not go well, with the last scene of last season showing Jackie lock herself in the bathroom, laugh crazily into the mirror, and shout, “Blow me!” (It’s not really what you want from an intervention.) In this episode, Jackie has managed to talk herself out of direct trouble … but only sort of. See below.

Kevin Peyton (Dominic Fumusa): Kevin is Jackie’s husband and father to their two children, the troubled Grace (Ruby Jerins) and angelic Fiona (Mackenzie Aladjem). He’s also way too good-looking for someone as, well, weathered as Jackie, so you have to imagine she’s got a lot of other things that attract him to her. That or she’s really great in the sack. Like in a mind-blowing way. Owner of a neighborhood bar, Kevin has yet to uncover the true nature of the past relationship between his wife and new friend Eddie. Unfortunately for her, Kevin has discovered her drug use, and their relationship is suffering because of it. An initial confrontation didn’t end up with him on the winning side (you have to imagine Jackie wins a lot), so he’s now starting to go behind the scenes and affect change. This could get explosive.

Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best): Jackie’s best and most unlikely friendship is with the hilariously droll English physician Dr. Eleanor O’Hara. O’Hara’s disdain for stupidity is matched only by her respect and affection for Jackie. But that friendship is severely tested as O’Hara learns about Jackie’s dirty little secrets—though mostly, I think, because Jackie has been keeping them from her. You have to think Eleanor, not one without her own skeletons in the closet, would have played some sort of Devil’s Advocate if Jackie had simply confided in her.

Dr. Fitch Cooper (Peter Facinelli): Dr. “Coop” Cooper typifies the smug, Ivy League doctors who have trolled the hospital halls for decades on their way to the golf course, leaving the nurses to deal with the repercussions of their drive-by diagnoses. Being selected as “the Face of All Saints” for the hospital’s ad campaign only increased his sense of self worth. But I’m down with Coop, because he tweets. Seriously, you can follow him on Twitter (the actual character, not the actor) @DoctorCoop. Today during the show he tweeted: “Bossy nurse has a HUSBAND?! Explains A LOT. Dude.” (He even sounds like me. How can I hate him?)

Nursing Student Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever): Watching and learning from Jackie’s every move is Zoey Barkow, an impressionable, exuberant nursing student whose enthusiasm for nursing has yet to be dampened by the grind of cranky patients and a flawed healthcare system. But she sees that nursing is difficult and sometimes worries she doesn’t have the backbone or isn’t good enough. Zoey’s love life is also flourishing with EMT Lenny (Lenny Jacobsen, very funny in an “I can appreciate stoners” sort of way), and she’s now begun to describe to anyone who will listen (and even those who won’t) the intimate details of her fantastic new sex life. Which is über-weird. But über-funny. And you know what? Wever could recite the dictionary and it would be funny. I can’t describe how much I freaking love this actress. Enough that I’m seeking out other projects that she’s done besides this one, just to see if she’s got more Merritt than Zoey.

Pharmacist Eddie Walzer (Paul Shulze): Eddie Walzer is the on again-off again hospital pharmacist who once showered Jackie with love and the painkiller Percocet. Eddie has gotten uncomfortably close to the family of his former paramour, and his return to All Saints adds one more complication to the hectic life of Jackie. Schulze has played romantic opposite Edie Falco before; he played Father Phil Intintola on The Sopranos, and he and Edie got their Thornbirds on, pretty much. Love Eddie.

ER Administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith): The old-guard, by-the-book, ER Administrator Gloria Akalitus keeps the hospital together and running smoothly. Sharp and attuned (or so she thinks), there’s not a move in the repertoire that she hasn’t seen. Gloria is no-nonsense, sure, but she’s surprisingly perceptive when she’s paying attention. And Smith is an adept comic with great comic timing. Some of the best exchanges happen between Zoey and Gloria—and many of them don’t even involve words. Excellent actress.

Nurse Thor (Stephen Wallem): As one of the dedicated nurses at All Saints Hospital, Thor is always quick with a comment and even quicker to run to Jackie’s side. He also struggles with diabetes and his eating habits. Poor Thor. He’s a loyal dude, but had to suffer seeing a “Don’t Kiss the Statue” sign degrade over time through graffiti into “Don’t Feed the Thor.” (He ended it by scrawling, “F#@& You, Love Thor”). One of the better sight gags that this series is adroit at doing. Thor makes a good straight man. Uh, and a good gay man.

Nurse Sam (Arjun Gupta): Sam is a new addition to the hospital’s nursing team. Much like Jackie, he has a fondness for prescription pills. He has a personal run-in with Dr. Coop that causes a lot of unwanted tension in the ER—if you define “personal run-in” as “Dr. Coop slept with my girlfriend.” Not cool, Coop. Not cool at all.

(I still love Coop.)

If there was any criticism I had of the first two seasons of Nurse Jackie, it was the fact that Jackie basically was getting away with murder and no one ever made her come to Christ (figuratively) for it. (She actually has come to Christ a few times, ergo the “Don’t Kiss the Statue” sign.) This season it looks as though it’s going to unravel. Is it bastardly of me to say I can’t wait?

I can’t wait! Love this show.

Follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, and don’t feed the Thor!