“Nurse Jackie” season finale is a heart-stopper

Edie Falco stars in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie"Just when many Nurse Jackie viewers felt like the show was mired in a third season slump, the Showtime hit responded in a big way last night with a shocking finale that leaves its fans anxiously waiting for season 4.

Nurse Jackie has always straddled the line between comedy and drama, but it has never really been able to successfully do both on a consistent basis. Understandably, it’s tough to find the right balance of humor when the setting for most scenes is the emergency room of a New York City hospital (for those who don’t watch, it’s kind of a combination of ER and Scrubs).

Most of the turmoil, however, lies not with the locale but the troubled life of lead character Jackie. To say that Edie Falco’s character is flawed would be a major understatement. Jackie is very good at what she does professionally, but it’s her personal relationships with her husband, kids and co-workers that make her extremely unlikeable at times. And, to be blunt, that makes it very tough to pull for her, because she does hurt so many people around her (namely her husband, Kevin, whom she is cheating on).

All that said, Nurse Jackie found a way to strike all the right chords in this week’s season-ender by perfectly meshing the comedic moments with the heavy topics.

As an example of the lighter banter, Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli) inquires about a patient by asking, “Anybody seen my crackhead?” A nurse named Sam (Arjun Gupta) replies, “You’ve got to be more specific than that.” Another funny moment comes when another nurse, Zoey (the hilarious Merritt Wever), says with complete sincerity, “I feel bad for the patients who are stupid.”

This week’s finale revolved around the wedding of Dr. Cooper, who is liked by very few people on staff. Therefore, those who attended the ceremony in the hospital chapel did so more out of obligation than desire. The bride-to-be obviously didn’t feel that same obligation, because she got cold feet and fled the scene. It was one of the rare moments on the show when the entire staff seemed to bond as one, and it allowed Facinelli to show a more vulnerable side to his character.

But the real twist in the show came when Jackie was approached by Kevin for what she believed was about her affair with hospital pharmacist Eddie (Paul Schulze). Viewers braced themselves for the idea that Jackie’s drug addition and adultery were finally going to catch up with her. And then the bombshell hit: Kevin admitted that he was having an affair, which left his wife and us viewers in a shared state of shock — especially after she told him to move out of their house.

This was the curveball the show desperately needed after a fairly subpar third season, and it gives the writers something new to work with moving forward. Nurse Jackie is a wonderful show when it is clicking on all cylinders, and it’s extremely positive that its vital signs thankfully appear to be improving dramatically (and comedically).


Photo: Mark Seliger/Showtime