Spoilers for tonight's "Nurse Jackie" coming up just as soon as I marry my cat...
Eli Wallach is nearly 94 years old. Even though his acting career didn't really take off until he was in his 40s, he's worked with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Peter O'Toole, Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen. He's played Mexican banditos (check out this montage of some of his best moments as Tuco in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"), "Batman" villains (he was one of the Mr. Freezes) and a Corleone family advisor (albeit in "Godfather Part III"). He's in his 90s, still working, and either makes good things better or briefly elevates bad things (like his "Studio 60" cameo, or his appearance in "The Holiday.")
The point being, Eli Wallach represents many things that are awesome, and his presence in "Chicken Soup" -- working alongside both Edie Falco and the always-welcome Lynn Cohen -- helped elevate the episode above the usual medical show cliches about the wisdom of dying elderly patients.
There's been some discussion in the posts on the first two episodes about the tone of "Nurse Jackie" -- whether we're supposed to take this all at face value, as some kind of satire or as Jackie's perspective through the Vicodin haze. Having seen six episodes of the show, I'm not sure I have an answer yet, because I'm not sure the "Nurse Jackie" production team has quite decided what it to be. As Falco told me a while back, the original pilot script was quite a bit darker than what the show is now, and I imagine there are some growing pains, and a little creative tug-of-war with Showtime.
But it doesn't feel like the pieces are that mismatching (save maybe the stuff with Anna Deavere Smith, and even she got a few moments of humanity in this one before Cohen cursed at her in Yiddish), and I'm glad that we're getting more and more of a sense of the supporting cast with each episode.
Peter Facinelli, for instance, has turned out to be almost shockingly likable as the goofball Coop ("Captain, we are powerless against the overwhelming force of the Pyxis!"), and Merritt Wever and Eve Best are turning out to be a wonderful little comedy duo as Zoe and Dr. O'Hara.
But what I really want to discuss with "Chicken Soup" is a question I asked last week, and which this episode made me ask myself repeatedly: how much of Jackie's thing with Eddie ties in to his ability to provide her with Vicodin? We see that they click on some level, but we can also see how impatient she gets when he tries giving her a back rub instead of pill samples. Jackie's attempt to get Coop to speak out against the pill-dispensing robot -- complete with hilarious cut to her and Eddie having their routine noon quickie -- could be read as her trying to help out a friend, or her trying to maintain her drug supply, as she can't trade sex for pills with a machine. (Unless, of course, that machine is the PimpBot 5000.)
Keeping in mind, once again, that we're discussing the episodes via the air schedule (and, therefore, not going to talk about the fourth episode, which was available On Demand starting today), what did everybody else think?