"Oh, my darling, what a wildly entertaining mess you've made." -O'HaraWhile "Nurse Jackie" has been predictably uneven in its first season, "Pill-O-Matix" was probably the strongest episode since Judith Ivey turned up for "Tiny Bubbles," yet it was its polar opposite. Where "Tiny Bubbles" worked so well by ditching most of the show's comedy trappings and going for pathos, "Pill-O-Matix" was maybe the most overtly comedic - or, at least, the most successfully comedic - episode to date.
Yes, Jackie's life is a mess, but as O'Hara notes between laughter(*), it's an entertaining mess. So many laugh-out-loud moments in this one, whether it was a lovestruck Coop thinking he was complimenting Melissa by telling her "I've dated, like, a hundred of you, I swear," or Eddie heckling the Pill-O-Matix rep, or Mo-Mo and Thor dealing with Spider-Ear-Man, or Zoey (wonderful, reliably hilarious Zoey) harassing the movie critic and then randomly noticing that Thor is gay in the middle of a pep talk. Heck, even Mrs. Akalitus was well-used in this one, as she made a brief love connection with the movie critic over the thankless job of holding the world to a higher standard.
(*) As O'Hara, Eve Best has one of the more infectious laughs I've ever heard. It's really lovely, isn't it?
Yet there were still dark moments in this one. Eddie is despondent over losing his job, and gutted when he follows Jackie home to the parallel universe where she's a contented wife and mom. Zoey puts Victor Garber into a coma, and it doesn't appear to be Jackie's fault.(**) Grace is still miserable, and Jackie herself is barely holding on with all the crises she has to deal with.
(**) I'm open to counter-arguments on that one, though. I initially assumed that Jackie was blaming Zoey for a mistake Jackie herself made in a Vicodin haze, but I rewound their previous interaction a few times, and it doesn't appear that Jackie gave her the wrong info. And if she had, wouldn't Zoey have immediately whipped out her handy-dandy notebook?
But where some earlier episodes felt uneven in the way they shifted from drama to comedy and vice versa, everything felt of a piece in "Pill-O-Matix," and everything felt like it was building well off what we had seen before.
Despite the use of an alt-rock cover of the theme from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" over the final scene, "Nurse Jackie" isn't quite a 21st century version of "MTM." Mary Richards had problems in her personal life, but not remotely to this degree. But episodes like this one, and "Tiny Bubbles," make me feel confident that, creatively, this show is going to make it, after all.
Now, I'm going to be on vacation early next week. It's my hope that I can get my finale review done in time, along with a transcript of my press tour interview with showrunners Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius, but I can't promise, with as many things as I have on my plate. If it doesn't work out, I'll schedule an open post to go up a week from tonight, and then try to come back with my own thoughts on Wednesday or Thursday.
And for the final time this season, let me remind you that we're following the air schedule, not the On Demand schedule, so I don't want any talk about the finale in here. Any comments that are even borderline will be deleted.
What did everybody else think?