‘Nurse Jackie' Episode 2 Recap
Minutes into the second episode, Jackie is emptying three Sweet-N-All packets and refilling them with crushed Percocet powder. ("Percocet should never be crushed, broken, or chewed," Jackie muses, "unless you want it to hit your system like a bolt of lightening. Which is only a problem if you're afraid of lightening. Which I am not.")
Drug-addicted as she still is in last night's episode, it's no secret nurse Jackie continues to be flawed. But episode 2 also brought, what I thought to be, some really positive scenes for nursing. I've detailed two here; so read my take on them, and then let us know what you think in the comment box below.
Plus 1: Nurse Jackie commands a room. When Jackie walks into a room, you can feel she's in control; regardless of whether she's facing a group of nurses, doctors or police officers.
In one scene, four people, Dr. Fitch "Coop" Cooper (Peter Facinelli), nursing student Zoey Barkow (Merritt Weaver), and two police officers are trying to hold down an irate man who is screaming and thrashing around, his hand bloody from punching out the hospital fire alarm (the same man who earlier slapped Jackie across the face).
Jackie rushes into the room and in an instant commands the environment:
"Easy guys, easy. You gotta calm down sir!" Jackie says.
The man continues to yell obscenities; upset the hospital amputated the legs of his diabetic and obese mother, and screaming that no one will listen to him and that he can't take care of her on his own.
"Uncuff him please," Jackie then says, to everyone's surprise.
"But he hit you!" Zoey says.
Dr. Coop looks up, confused. "I'd feel better if he was restrained."
"You were right about the aneurism," Jackie says to Dr. Coop, referring to his earlier instinct that turned out to be right; encouraging him to trust hers.
"Ma'am," the cop insists.
"So help me God, do not call me ma'am," Jackie hits back.
"It's not your call; hospital's pressing charges," the cop says, "unless he's psychotic."
"OK, he's psychotic. See ya!" Jackie says.
In this moment, you wonder whether Dr. Coop will trust Jackie's instinct or go against her; Dr. Coop looks up. "See ya," he says to the cop.
The scene quickly settles; the man seems instantly subdued now that he feels he's being listened to. Jackie assures him they're going to take care of him, then instructs Dr. Coop to get him a bed for the night, and tells Zoey to call in social services.
For me, seeing a confident nurse trust her instinct, then be trusted by the doctor - completely command a room to the point she pacifies a situation in minutes, and then go on to coordinate the patient's care, was, in my eyes, a huge plus for nursing.
Plus 2: She encourages Zoey to stick with nursing
Zoey is the young, chipper, overeager nursing student who sing-songs through the day, brings in baked goods, and vomits after the severed ear Jackie threw in the toilet last episode burbles back up while Zoey's in the bathroom.
Some people who watched the first episode said Jackie was doing the old "nurses eat their young" routine with Zoey. "I don't do chatty," Jackie snapped in the première. "I like quiet. Quiet and mean. Those are my people."
But this episode, I saw Jackie a bit differently: as a no-bull mentor who's trying to toughen Zoey up, not tear her down, (which to me, makes a huge difference).
In one scene, Jackie is filling out paperwork while Zoey is anxiously swaying behind her.
"Hovering!" Jackie says.
Zoey scuttles over and sits down next to Jackie.
"I'm not sure I can do this," Zoey confesses. "I mean ... you're all so good at what you do. And the doctors. Oh my God, they're healers. And this place is amazing. I got into nursing because I want to help people, and I'm afraid I'm just slowing you down."
Now, if Jackie really was mean - or just didn't care - I'm guessing she would have said something along the lines of: "You're right; you can't hack it. You can go home."
But instead, she gives Zoey the kick in the butt (and the confidence) she needs.
"What is this about - nobody ate your muffins? You found an ear in the toilet? So what," Jackie says. "You know what this job is, honey? This job is wading through a sh*tstorm of people who come into this place on the very worst day of their lives. And just so you know, doctors are here to diagnose, not heal. We heal. All Saints [Hospital] is in the business of flipping beds. That's it, end of story. The fact that you have even the slightest inclination to help people puts you miles ahead of 100 percent of the population.
"So stop crying, OK. Buck up. If you need to cry go do it in the ladies room. Is that clear?"
Zoey nods, and it's my prediction she's going to go on, mature, and grow into her own skin as a nurse throughout the season. Showing how tough nursing can be that first year; watching a new student struggle and then be encouraged rather than torn down by her preceptor is a definite plus in my eyes for the nursing profession.
On a parallel note: there's an earlier part where ED administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deveare Smith) presents the severed ear to Jackie, questioning how it got in the toilet, and Jackie blames it on Zoey ("I handed it to you, sweetie").
Not the best example of a mentor.
But in this scene, what mattered more to me was whether I got the sense Zoey would get in trouble for it. Which I didn't. Akalitus, you can tell, is familiar with Jackie's antics, and aside from looking annoyed, didn't sound hell bent on getting to the bottom of it. Heck, Akalitus herself spends the rest of the episode floating around the ED stoned off Jackie's Percocet "sweetener," and hugging everyone in sight.
It is a dark comedy, and because the scene felt light - as in, Zoey wasn't visibly upset about receiving the blame - I didn't take it too seriously. And even if Zoey does get in trouble, I truly don't believe Jackie would allow her to take the fall.
Jackie does bend the rules often, sure, but so far it's been solely to obtain what she feels is fair or right (regardless of who else agrees). Throwing Zoey under the bus wouldn't qualify, even in Jackie's rulebook.