Monday, August 17, 2009

Nurse Jackie, "Pill-O-Matix": The itsy-bitsy-spider

Spoilers for tonight's penultimate episode of "Nurse Jackie" season one coming up just as s soon as I figure out why cats are so underused in the film industry...
"Oh, my darling, what a wildly entertaining mess you've made." -O'Hara
While "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?


ninaruth said...

I love this show; I'm looking forward to next season so much.

The music people for the show are Wendy and Lisa, late (very late) of Prince's band.

David said...

I'm pretty sure Jackie told Zoey to give him 50mg of the drug and Zoey gave him 250mg.

nfieldr said...

Just watched the episode and that's what I remember as well... Jackie said 50mg.

bettyd said...

whipped out her handy-dandy notebook

watching a bit too much Blue's Clues lately, Alan?

Alan Sepinwall said...

watching a bit too much Blue's Clues lately, Alan?

Been a few years, actually, but that's one of those phrases that just sticks in your head, you know?

Ben said...

I was certain they were going to reveal that the "Pill-O-Matix" was responsible for the incorrect dosage. I guess they could still go that route...

dez said...

As others noted, it wasn't Jackie's fault. Zoey either misheard or wasn't paying enough attention to the bottle she grabbed.

Coop's crush on Jackie is a hoot. As gutted as Eddie was, though, at the marriage/kids reveal, how upset is poor, stupid Coop going to be when he finds out about Jackie's secret life? Eddie's the more dangerous of the two to Jackie's secret, but Coop's distress would definitely be a lot funnier.

No wonder Grace is such a mess, given how Jackie acted at the tap dance lesson. Poor kid was mortified at her mother's behavior. I say Grace will be the first to find out about her mom's addiction, if she doesn't already know, that is.

JanieJones said...

It my understanding, also, that Zoey gave the incorrect dosage.

The show was funny on many different levels last night. Garber came in and Jackie grilled him about certain movies i.e. Hotel for Dogs (I had a laugh). Zoey asking why cats are so underused in film...priceless.
Wever was brilliant during the pep talk when she realized Thor is gay. Talk about great comedic timing on her part.

Eve Best does have a fabulous laugh!

I was not surprised to see Eddie finally follow Jackie to find out more about her life. It was a bit sad for him to know now that he has been duped.

Also, I feel for Grace. I agree with Dez' comments.

Children are an intuitive group, to a certain degree. They sometimes feel when things are wrong when it's being painted as right.

LA said...

I've watched this show all season, half enjoying it, half considering bailing on it. It all finally came together for me on this episode. Eddie peering in on the domestic scene at the end gutted me, what a twist.

I'm praying that the Pill-O-Matix dispenser somehow turns out to be responsible for Zoey's error. Zoey administered 5x the fentanyl dose Jackie told her to give the patient. Hopefully the machine dispensed the wrong bottle and hopefully it's resolved in the finale, not next season.

Agree with all about O'Hara's laugh.

Has this been established... do Jackie and her family live above the bar or somewhere else?

olucy said...

I"m pretty sure we've seen her walk up the front steps to her house.

Anonymous said...

As I interpreted Akalitus telling Jackie it was her fault too, it had to do with Zoey being a nurse trainee, and under Jackie's supervision. The way I've understood these student-teacher relationships in the medical field, the teacher always has the final responsibility to protect the patient by double-checking the work of the students. Not that there was much Jackie could have done other than standing right next to Zoey and watching her every move.

Also, I doubt that the Pill-O-Matic is responsible for dispensing a drug like Fentanyl for each use. In an ER, they need to keep it handy for quick relief of severe pain.

Anonymous said...

So interesting, because I think Eve Best is one of the weakest performers on the show, and I find the laugh to be completely fake. Merrit Wever is giving one of the best performances I've seen on television in a long time.

Anonymous said...

All this hiding of rings. I must be the only person whose skin under my wedding ring is paler than the rest of my skin. Ridiculous

olucy said...

Do most nurses wear rings at work?

I'd think Jackie could try to get by with telling her husband that rings are a nuisance/hazard at work and just wear it at home/days off. End of problem.

CarmelaSoprano said...

The Pill-o-Matix simply makes Jackie's grossly unnecessary, loveless, borderline-sociopathic relationship with Eddie even more unnecessary and tiresome. Jackie's love triangle is not comedic, is not dramatic, and I am shocked that so many people continue to rave about this show as it becomes even more aimlessly adrift. Eddie is a faultless character and so is Jackie's husband, and for that reason, our otherwise uninteresting protagonist is despicable, and is in no way salvaged by unnecessarily embarrassing her daughter over something so trivial. Jackie is a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad lover, and an unlikeable human being. This is the worst show to come out of either of the Showtime or HBO camps, and actually manages to sadly rival the many network hospital soap snoozers in awfulness.

belinda said...

I wouldn't say Eddie is blameless, given he's also a drug user like Jackie, even though he's not an adulterer. Though I do sympathesize with him at the end scene.

Anyway. I like this episode a lot, if only because it seemed to pull together the right amount of funny and drama altogether in an overall very interesting albeit uneven season so far. If this episode was an indication of things finally setting in and clicking, then I surely am looking forward to the finale and the next season.

Loving the dysfunctional crush Coop currently has for Jackie. It is hilarious yet hugely upsetting. I'd feel sorry for Coop for being so completely manipulated if he wasn't such a douche, which is great. I laughed along with O'Hara, and you're right, her laugh is magical and infectious.

Love Zoey!

Victor Garber was a hoot in this episode. I hope it isn't the last we will see of him in the show.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking that the pill machine would turn out to have given Zoey the wrong dosage, but more likely is that she just entered the wrong number, or her hand brushed across the 2 on the way to the 5 and there was no human to catch the error. Not that hospitals don't give the wrong dosage occasionally (hospital error is HUGE, often due to the long shifts worked, JACKIE), but dramatically speaking, my idea would shake things up a little bit.

Joyce Collier said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

What did I say about not talking about the 12th episode? NO SPOILERS

MadMeme said...

I find it strange that no one mentioned the ridiculous script invention of pill-dispensing software that can be fooled by unplugging and plugging in the computer. This is a completely unbelievable plot point devised to make it possible for Jackie to continue getting drugs without Eddie.

I've built many computer systems for much less security-intensive uses than dispensing highly regulated drugs, and everyone of them had infallible non-volatile backup systems to remember important data. There is no way a system like the Pill-O-Matix could be marketed, much less sold.

A major faux pas in an otherwise enjoyable episode.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a can't miss show for me, but I watch it with hope that it'll become more engaging. However, the one thing I do love is Zoey - any moment she's on, I can't wait to see what she says and how. The Eddie/Jackie drama is not very interesting to me, and (like Jackie in that one episode) I can't stand Gracie sometimes - it's so uncomfortable, like seeing a kid with face scrunched up about to let loose with a wail.