The Blog Formerly Known as Rebel Prince

Cult TV, Gen Y rants, and endless opera.

Nurse Jackie: “Pupil”

Posted by therebelprince on July 31, 2009


This week, we unravel the chain of lies (or omissions) in Jackie’s world. “Pupil” is light on the patients and heavy on our characters which, given the talent of our cast, can only be a good thing.

Things fall apart thanks to a busy day at All Saints with several nursing staff off sick and others, like Thor who had plans to go see Wicked, forced to stay on. Jackie deals with an inept temp Sam (Arjun Gupta), family emergencies, and doing everyone else’s jobs for them.

After an incident with Coop, Jackie inadvertantly reveals that she has a child. It’s news to him, and because of that – it’s news to us. Now, we understand why Mo-Mo has been wanting to set her up. No one seems to know that Jackie has a family at home.

Coop passes on the word to his new best friend, Eddie, who does seem genuinely surprised by this news. So far, it’s just news that she has a kid, but clearly he’s soon going to want to know more. It’s a little bit surprising to me, since I always seem to know at least the family statuses of everyone in my workplace, but clearly it’s not all that unusual here: few people know about Mo-Mo’s partner Randy, and we’ve heard nothing about the homelives of Zoey or Mrs. Akalitus. It’s certainly not unreasonable for Jackie to keep her public and private lives separate, but it could bring quite a fall-out for Jackie and Eddie, and for Jackie and Mo-Mo too if he (assumedly) doesn’t know.

The only question I’d raise is surprise that no one has ever seen Jackie at Kevin’s bar. It’s certainly not improbable, but still I can see the bar being an easy place for her to get “caught” with her family. This also puts a new spin on Eddie’s relationship, and his actions last week. Now, it’s kind of amazing he’s stayed in this relationship for a year when it’s primarily a stolen hour in his office each day. His feelings for her are more than Jackie recognises.

Zoey, meanwhile, catches the temp’s secret after running over his foot with a gurney: Sam is on drugs. Jackie’s reaction to the news is well-staged. She needs to call him on it and she wants to, because someone who is that clearly affected shouldn’t be dealing with patients. But it also raises the question of where is that line? If Jackie can continue to deal with patients while on drugs, does that make it no different to a nurse who also smokes on their breaks? When does it become more akin to sneaking alcohol, where the immediate effects are dangerous to patients? There is no easy answer, it’s a slippery slope, a Sorites paradox. When Sam responds to Jackie, saying “take one to know one’, I think we’re meant to assume he has picked up the signs already, since clearly it doesn’t “take one” – since Zoey actually caught him. Will we see Sam again to continue this line of questioning? Possibly, but either way it’s the second time in two weeks – after Eddie mentioned it offhand last week – that someone has noticed, so I think we’re heading into troubled waters.

Is her house of cards being shaken? Yes, perhaps most clearly shown when she spills her drugs onto Fiona’s donut and then has to quickly throw it out, citing a dead bug. I’m intrigued by some responses to Jackie’s character – that she “thinks she deserves to lead dual lives” – and I look forward to seeing where this season goes. I will have more to say on Jackie’s character in the next few weeks, once I make up my mind. On the one hand, yes her problems run deep and they will have consequences.  But the other side is that I’m very happy she’s not Dr. House. I’m not a House fan anyway, but regardless I find it much more unbelievable in his circumstance since his drug addictions, his brusque treatment of patients, his recklessness and disregard for authority, take on a very Jack Bauer-esque dimension when they happen so very publicly and yet he is constantly rehired and accepted. It’s a natural aspect of network television, I understand. You have to fire your lead or have them quit every sweeps month for ratings, but you’ve got to hire them back for the formula. For this reason, I don’t think Jackie’s problems will be revealed publicly – at least not yet – but I do think that by season’s end, at least one of her lovers will know the full truth, and probably Zoey too. As to whether Jackie herself is a compassionate and likeable chracter, I’ll leave that discussion for next week’s review.

The patients this week come second place, the only one warranting interest is a woman (Andrea Martin) whose unknown condition polarises her two daughters – her carer Amy (Alexie Gilmore) and the favourite daughter Melissa (Jill Flint). It’s a functional plot, but serves to show us that this show is character first, and guest star second. Coop’s attempt to ask out Amy through Melissa continues to challenge the traditional “nice guy or complete dick” attitude that network TV takes toward doctors. Coop is a handsome, popular doctor and he carries with that both the good and bad traits.

And Mrs. Akalitus – who only gets one scene this week to our sweet relief – is still holding on to that cute baby she found in “Steak Knife”, who is now living with her in her office. She’s sleeping in her office, so that taking the child home doesn’t imply she’ll keep looking after it. I’m going to hold off on any more of my patented Mrs. Akalitus bashing until season’s end, since I’m willing to give the writers some leeway in hoping they’ve got a plan for her unabashed wackiness. But I’ll have many more thoughts by episode 11, I’m sure.

Diverse observations:

* Coop tries a new technique for his inappropriate sexual touching, flicking himself with a rubber band.

* Dr. O’Hara shows her clout this week, when a waiter allows Jackie to smoke inside because of who she’s sitting with.

* Haaz Sleiman has a really nice smile, so I hope we see more of Mo-Mo.

* And the ending – Jackie singing karaoke lovingly to her kids-  continues to make me worry about how much heartache we’re going to see should Jackie ever leave them. I’m really not looking forward to Eddie and Kevin meeting, since I don’t really want either of them to get hurt.

And until next time check out this review at TV Manifesto.

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