April 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm #241672
Sepinwall’s positive review (with a few minor spoilers):
Review: Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” faces consequences in season 4
Edie Falco dramedy much improved after shaking things up.
by Alan Sepinwall Friday, Apr 6, 2012
For the two-plus seasons I watched “Nurse Jackie,” it was a show with a tremendous lead performance by Edie Falco, a bunch of well-etched supporting characters played by Merritt Wever, Anna Deavere Smith, and Peter Facinelli (among others) and a reliably black comic sensibility that could deftly turn on a dime for more serious moment. But it was also a show that, like Jackie—a painkiller addict concealing her addiction, an extramarital affair and any number of other secrets—stubbornly, proudly in denial of the need to change things up even a little. Consequences seemed to hurtle at Jackie with regularity, but they were always quickly dodged.
After a while, that refusal to shake things up and force Jackie to deal with the wreck her life had become forced me to quit the show cold turkey. After I left, things got even worse on the no-consequences front, as last season’s finale (which I later watched on a “Even you won’t believe they did this” recommendation from a friend) went out of its way to tease anyone who thought comeuppance was coming. On the personal front, right when Jackie was on the verge of confessing her adultery to husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), he admitted an affair to her, allowing her to hypocritically reclaim the moral high ground, while at work, Ms. Akalitus (Smith) threw Jackie’s drug test in the trash to protect her.
But sometime between that finale and the fourth season premiere (Sunday at 9 p.m.), “Jackie” co-creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem appear to have had a moment of clarity and realized that if their show kept running in place, it would suffer a slow, mediocre death. “Nurse Jackie” season 4 is all consequences, all the time—and is much, much more satisfying overall as a result.
How swift is the turnaround? The new season opens with Jackie checking into rehab, and within the first 30 seconds, we hear her drug counselor warn her, “Let’s make this really clear: you’re accountable now.”
We quickly flash back to see how Jackie wound up in this place, physically and emotionally, about which I’ll say little. But Brixius and Wallem are smart to recognize not only the need to shake things up, but the storytelling possibilities from all of Jackie’s many secrets and the different people who could learn them. Not everyone knows everything (or, in the case of Facinelli’s amusingly oblivious Dr. Coop, anything), but Jackie’s various colleagues and loved ones start getting a look at different puzzle pieces, which puts the intensely private Jackie on the defensive and changes the nature of many of her relationships. If you feel like you’ve seen every possible interaction between, for instance, Jackie and temperamental opposite Zoey (Wever, hilarious as always), you haven’t.
And it’s not like the show does a 180 with Jackie. She may be trying to change, but her circumstances have changed far more than she has. She still has all of her flaws; she’s just more conscious of them than before, and now has to operate in a world where others—including people who hold power over her future—are more aware of them, too. That feels real, and gives the writers and Falco a lot to work with.
And correcting the series’ major flaw makes the quality of the rest of it even easier to see. Whatever issues I had with Jackie skating out of trouble, Falco has always been superb. If anything, Jackie’s new status quo gives her more of an opportunity to play comedy, which she’s done so well in the past on both this show and “The Sopranos.” When Falco won a comedy actress Emmy for this role in 2010, she said, self-effacingly, “This is the most ridiculous thing that has ever, ever happened in the history of this lovely awards show. I’m not funny!” If she wins another one down the line, people who watch this show won’t buy that from her.
And the series has become a very sturdy workplace comedy around Falco, one that also gets a shakeup with the arrival of Bobby Cannavale as Michael Cruz, a doctor representing the conglomerate that’s purchased All Saints Hospital and intends to maximize its profits. Cruz allows the show to delve more deeply into our dysfunctional healthcare system, but he’s not a cartoon villain, and the presence of an authority figure who has no allegiance to Jackie at this very vulnerable time in her life only ups the stakes.
Generally, when a show gets to the age “Nurse Jackie” is at, it’s decided what it wants to be and sticks to that for as long as it can, for good or for ill. Every now and then, though, an older show can learn new tricks, and I was glad to see this one do it.April 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm #241673
Good news. I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve always enjoyed this show very much. In spite of its flaws, I love Falco, and the entire cast. The show can be brilliantly funny at times.April 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm #241674
Episode Title: “Kettle-Kettle-Black-Black”
Synopsis: In the season four premiere, All Saints Hospital has been taken over by a multi-national conglomerate and is placed in the care of an innovative, no-nonsense doctor who is revved up about making changes to the hospital and staff; Kevin has moved to a new apartment and tries to reconcile with Jackie until finding out about Jackie and Eddie; as for Jackie, she faces life in rehab and later runs into problems when a guy she picks up has a heart attack in her home; O’Hara shares a secret; Mrs. Akalitus is given an ultimatum by the new management.
Guest Stars: Billie Joe Armstrong, Bobby Cannavale
Discuss.April 9, 2012 at 10:46 am #241675
The title of this episode should have been “Consequences” or “Accountable!”, b/c that’s where they seem to be heading for Jackie this season. All of the criticism of Jackie skating by season after season with her lies would have to do a double-take with this one. Nice start to the season, though the flashback scenes were a bit awkward, and I would have liked seeing more of the ensemble (like Coop and Zoey). I like that Kevin knows about Jackie and Eddie now, and Jackie in rehab should be good in the coming episodes. Not sure what I think of Bobby Cannavale yet, and Billie Joe Armstrong’s scenes with Edie Falco were short (but he was fine in what little they gave him to do). Akalitus being demoted to the floor should be interesting, and O’Hara being pregnant (possible baby daddy drama?). Edie Falco is still must-see and hasn’t missed a beat, as expected.
Grade for “Kettle-Kettle-Black-Black”: BApril 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm #241676
I liked the season premeire. It was about time that Jackie started dealing with her issues. The premeire opened with Jackie in rehab with the person telling her that she has to be acountable now. The rest of the episode did a good job at showing what led to Jackie`s decision about entering rehab. The storyline with Armstrong`s character was the final straw for Jackie. I am hoping Cannavale works well with this show, and I believe he will. It seems like Cannavale is going to be the villian this season, and I look forward to see how he continues to play the character of Cruz. The scene between Cruz and Akalitus was good.
My favorite scene of the premeire was between Jackie and Akalitus. (“Well yes, that is how Disneyland works.”) Kevin doesn`t have to feel near as guilty now about the affair he had. Some of the supporting players didn`t get the screentime in this episode, but it was all about setting up the storyline with Jackie going into rehab. I expect Jackie being in rehab now will lead to some really good stuff down the road. I`m not sure how Jackie is going to react to the treatment, but I look forward to seeing how it plays out. O`Hara gave Jackie a surprise right before she entered the treatment facility at the end.
“Kettle-Kettle-Black-Black”: B+April 10, 2012 at 6:47 pm #241677
The things Merritt Wever does to me….I can’t stop laughing with that girl, she’s insane, it doesn’t get any better than her and four seasons in and I bet she still won’t get an Emmy nomination for the third year in a row. She deserves it so much. The scene with the animal scrubs and then when she came into the house and she said “Hiiiiiii” to Jackie and O’Hara, such a short moment and yet so hilarious.
Anna Deavare Smith was also great as usual.
As always the show ends up lasting about 8 minutes for me, I don’t what is it about Nurse Jackie that makes it go so, so fast…April 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm #241678
I know that two more eps are availabel on demand, but I’ve just seen the premiere. I liked it a lot, and my expecatations were pretty low following last season’s finale, which I thought was kind of awful. Standouts here were Anna Deavare Smith and Eve Best.April 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm #241679
Episode Title: “Disneyland Sucks”
Synopsis: Jackie’s stint in rehab begins with her sharing a room with an irksome kleptomaniac and forging an alliance with a 17-year-old addict who’s on his fourth stay at the facility; back at All Saints Hospital, Cooper is the only member of the staff who cottons to the new director’s innovations.
Guest Star: Bobby Cannavale
Discuss.April 16, 2012 at 8:47 am #241680
Jackie’s scenes at rehab were routintely compelling to watch throughout. Nothing particularly funny about any of those exchanges I’ll admit, but damn if Edie Falco didn’t act her ass off in all of these sequences. She’s still one of the best actresses working on television right now, comedy or drama. Some of what she was doing tonight was almost Carmela-ish in impact. Loved the scenes between Jackie and the teen addict, Grace, and the rehab counselor. The hospital scenes with the group reacting to the new money-saving takeover weren’t as interesting. Bobby Cannavale’s trying his hardest, but his character is kind of a wet blanket right now, and I’m guessing that things won’t remotely become interesting for him until he faces off with Jackie.
Grade for “Disneyland Sucks”: B+April 16, 2012 at 9:54 am #241681
The rehab scenes were stronger than the hospital scenes, but I felt both worked well. I knew that rehab was not going to be easy for Jackie, and it was definitely evident in this episode. I really got a kick out of Doris (Jackie`s roommate in rehab) in this episode. Doris was a hoot, especially during the group therapy session. (“Dear Alexis, F*ck You”) The scenes between Jackie and Charlie (teen drug addict) were strong. Charlie didn`t buy the crap that Jackie was trying to sell to the group. Jackie`s ordeal with seeing Grace nearly got her thrown out of rehab, but thankfully it didn`t. Carmelo Anthony guest starring as a baseball player was fun.
Akalitus having to be a nurse again was nice to see. Akalitus told everybody not to give her any special treatment, but she still wanted and expected it anyway. I did enjoy her reaction when O`Hara told her that she was pregnant. The faces during the pictures were pretty funny. I like how Cruz is working out so far, he just hasn`t been given a lot to work with just yet.
“Disneyland Sucks”: A-April 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm #241682April 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm #241683
Hmmm. All the best to the both of them. I guess the commute was too much to deal with, and they had to consider other priorities. I had no idea that they used to be a couple, and Wallem’s partner is Melissa Etheridge. Interesting. I hope they find a strong new showrunner to replace them both.April 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm #241684
Episode Title: “The Wall”
Synopsis: Despite her counselor’s warnings, Jackie leaves rehab and returns to a much-changed All Saints Hospital, where working sober for the first time leaves her feeling easily rattled; Zoey second-guesses her relationship with Lenny; Eddie reveals to Jackie that Kevin knows about their affair; Grace presents Jackie with a list of demands.
Discuss.April 23, 2012 at 9:02 am #241685
Very good episode tonight, and seeing Jackie vulnerable and out of rehab clean like this gives Edie Falco some fresh new notes to play off of (she can actually be funny!). The scenes where Jackie’s flustered over making a good impression with Mike Cruz, or when she’s on the verge of tears with O’Hara over Coop criticizing her hair were great. I’m already invested in whether or not Jackie maintains her sobriety this season (I’m kind of anticipating/dreading the inevitable season finale relapse . . . hope they find a way to avoid that and end the season on a positive note instead of a cliffhanger). Some clever scenework with Jackie getting out of taking those drug patches, and her rationalizations for leaving rehab early (Grace needs her so much, which is true even though Grace won’t admit it). Now that Kevin knows the truth about Jackie and Eddie, I’m expecting some rocky roads ahead for them (re: custody battle). And they’ve set up a potentially interesting in for Mike and Jackie becoming possible allies (that green-haired kid will end up being Mike’s son, and watch him OD after leaving rehab and arrive at All Saints to be treated by the both of them—and there’s the fact that they’re real-life father and son). Solid starting episodes for the season so far. And Merritt Wever is a marvel here. It’s time to give her some Emmy props.
Grade for “The Wall”: B+