Season 6 | Episode 8 | “The Lady With the Lamp” | Aired June 1, 2014
This episode of Nurse Jackie was as unpredictable and potentially catastrophic as the fictional hurricane that hits Miami, which is where Jackie tells everyone she and Frank are instead of detoxing at home. Confused? Just wait until the hallucinations start. I’m totally talking about Jackie’s, but after watching the freak show that was her mind going off drugs, I’m not certain I didn’t have a few myself.
Let’s start at the beginning … or what I think was the beginning. I’m not entirely sure what is real in this episode and what is withdrawal-induced, but I’m pretty sure it all starts with Montgomery Clift. I wish I could say it will all make sense as we go on, but it doesn’t. Grab some Dramamine and let’s try to make sense of what is real and what is all in Jackie’s mind.
REAL: Jackie — who as we learned last episode, “doesn’t need anyone’s help” to get clean — is detoxing in her own house with the help of Eddie, Frank and Antoinette. Since Eddie shows up with what appears to be a tool kit full of drugs to help with Jackie’s withdrawal and relaxation, and Frank, the admitted “newbie” to this rodeo, doesn’t know what the hell to do, my cards are on Antoinette to get her to the other side. Spoiler alert: She doesn’t (but not for lack of trying).
REAL: After the three rehab amigos fall asleep while watching a Montgomery Clift movie (“The Heiress” — don’t be impressed with my 1940s movie knowledge, be impressed with my mad investigative Googling skillz), Jackie makes her way upstairs to to purge the coffee Antoinette’s been feeding her and attempt to hook herself up to an IV. Eddie comes to her rescue and tells her that “you don’t have to feel this pain if you don’t want to,” and gives her some Xanax and Immodium. I’ve tried to make sense of that cocktail a million times tonight, but I’m coming up with nothing, folks. If you’ve got a guess, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.
REAL: When Grace shows up at the front door unexpectedly (with druggie friend Mandy in tow), Eddie catches her at the door and tells her that he’s watching the dog while Jackie and Frank are in Miami. Miami? That’s news to Grace, but she just wants to get in to get her friend Mandy’s purse (which, if you missed it last week, is full of Oxycontin and hidden under Grace’s mattress). Eddie won’t let the girls in because he’s got company (wink wink), and on cue Antoinette appears behind Eddie, rubbing his shoulder and playing along. When Eddie brings Mandy’s purse out and she discovers the drugs are missing, she predictably goes all Regina George and turns on Grace, promising to ostracize her at school.
STILL REAL: Meanwhile, Jackie is sweaty and feverish and lying in a twisted mess of wet sheets that I swear I can smell through my screen. Despite calling for Eddie, it’s Frank who’s there to help. They watch the news coverage of the hurricane in Miami and find the irony in the reason they’re not in the line of danger there (rehab is sure funny!). Proving himself to be the most wonderfully supportive boyfriend ever, Frank cools Jackie’s head with a wet washcloth and sings softly to her while she makes the premature and horrible decision to return to work.
NOT REAL BUT SEEMS REAL AT FIRST: Jackie returns to work at All Saints and is immediately confronted by a relieved Zoey, who was worried about the hurricane (seems real). Coop needs Jackie’s help with a new patient, who is a detached, curt, difficult, tattoo-covered girl who claims to have no family she wants them to contact (still seems real). When the patient begins crying tears of blood (beginning to question the realness), Jackie tells her that it’s due to sinus pressure from her flu. “You’re lying! You’re always lying!” the girl tells her (seems a lot like someone we know). Carrie arrives and tells Jackie she needs her to look at another patient. When Carrie pulls back the curtain, Jackie sees herself lying in bed with Frank taking care of her (totally not real). And then weird shit begins happening real fast:
• Akalitus appears dressed as a 1950s nurse and starts reciting the code of ethics, which turns into a hallway full of interviewing Florence Nightingales (ah! And “The Lady With the Lamp” episode title suddenly makes sense!) and ends with Carrie dressed as the slutty nurse that you know from every “Letter to Penthouse” that’s ever been written. Trust me, you must watch.
• Frank appears as Jackie’s doctor, and they dance in an elevator while orderlies serenade them. But when the doors open, he is gone, and Jackie makes her way down a eerily lit hospital hallway to the tattooed girl, who is talking and laughing with Zoey.
• Jackie takes the girl, who has suddenly turned into Grace (because we didn’t see that coming), into the hospital chapel, where all the statues are facing the wall. Jackie asks Grace for another chance and Grace tells her mother that she now lives in California and that she doesn’t need her anymore. When Jackie grabs her arm, all the bird tattoos fly away and Grace spits the words that Jackie has feared hearing from her for months: “You’re so fuckin’ full of yourself. Is there any chance you could look at me like I’m not some victim of your addiction? You should’ve fought harder.” And suddenly Grace is gone and all the statues are facing Jackie. Whoa. Someone call Eddie. I might need one of his Xanax cocktails, STAT.
• Akalitus has good news. She’s found just the person All Saints needs! It’s the old, short-haired Jackie (see main photo at the top of the post). Hey, you can change her hairstyle all you want, but if it walks like a duck …
REAL AGAIN: Jackie is out of her feverish, hallucinatory sleep and checks in with Zoey, who is beyond relieved to hear from her (remember, she thinks Jackie is caught in the Miami hurricane). Grace is at the hospital getting support and friendship advice from Zoey, who tells the new sophomore-class pariah that when she was lonely in high school, she’d usually just call her mom.
Cut to Jackie’s house. Grace shows up and immediately grabs Jackie in a hug and cries, “I’ve had a really bad day, Mommy.” (Stay with me, folks. Contrary to what it seems like, this is still a REAL part). Jackie offers to make Grace pancakes and reminds this daughter whom I do not recognize that this is her home. When Grace goes up to take a shower, Frank expresses understandable concern about having Grace back when Jackie is detoxing, especially since Grace is apparently doing drugs herself. Take a look at how that works out for him.
After locking Frank out, the hurricane within Jackie begins to gather strength, as we see her snort some Oxy and carry a plate of animal-shaped pancakes up to her girl. Looks like she figured out a way to weather the storm after all.
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Nurse Jackie, rated TV-MA, airs Sundays at 9 ET/PT on Showtime.