Jackie juggles funds—and ethics—to secure a lawyer and return to All Saints.
Credit: David M. Russell/SHOWTIME

There’s no question that Jackie Peyton has always been a conundrum. The choices she makes are, for the most part, deplorable, yet even at her most dark and disappointing her compassionate human side often comes shining through. It can be maddening, not to mention exhausting. Just when you’ve finally decided once and for all that she’s not worth spending any more of your energy on, she does something that makes you see her heart and realize that despite all her despicable mistakes, she’s not entirely toxic. (And no, my name is not Zoey Barkow, in case you were wondering.)

Is it ever okay to do something questionable (and by “questionable” in this case I, of course, mean illegal) if the end result is for good? Just kidding. Pretty sure the answer to that is “no,” no matter how gray the matter may be. This week Jackie is once again pushing an ethical boundary and making us feel all sorts of mixed up feelings. But before we both congratulate and chastise her for her decision, let’s find out what led her there, shall we?

When she finds out the new hotshot lawyer she’s hired to help her get her job back is bailing because the $10K retainer check she gave him wasn’t good, Jackie goes into panic mode and begins pawning off her belongings. Nana’s silver photo frame? Gone. Wedding ring to that worthless Kevin? See ya. Sadly, neither of those things brings in nearly enough cash to get Barry Wolfe back in the game, so she heads to the bank to try to get a second mortgage on the house.

Discovering that the joint account she shares with Kevin is empty (which makes my earlier designation of him make a lot more sense) she demands an explanation. Kevin tries to rationalize that the two mortgages he had to take out (by illegally forging Jackie’s signature, obviously) were to cover the cost of a bar renovation, the new baby preparations, and let’s not forget that wedding. “You mean I got thrown out of a wedding that I paid for?” Jackie shouts. Looks like while the ball might not be firmly back in her court, it’s certainly hovering near the net, and she’s got Kevin where she wants him. Demanding visitation rights with the girls, the title to the Jeep, and his $4K Rolex, Jackie scores anyway. Typical.

Meanwhile, Jackie has taken a job as a home health care nurse (anyone care to enlighten me on how she got that job with her record?) and her patient is an elderly woman who is bedridden and lethargic, and whose daughter is days away from putting her in a home. Jackie discovers that the woman is on a feast of meds that she discovers are downers, which she determines to be the cause of this woman’s passive, listless behavior.

Taking matters into her own hands (because that’s what she does), Jackie replaces the meds with candy. Okay, here’s where we all need to suspend belief for a moment. The candy obviously wouldn’t pass for pills—especially the candy necklace rings that would have a little hole in the center—but let’s remember folks, this is a television show, and it’s actually a pretty sweet idea. Ba dum bum.

After the woman swallows the candy, thinking they’re all her meds, of course, she pops out of bed the next day dressed to the nines for church … or a royal wedding. (But really, that matching dress/coat/hat ensemble—not to mention the woman’s new attitude—was lovely.) Hip hip hooray for Jackie! Illegally changing this woman’s medication dosage gave her back her life! Oh, wait.

As if we needed another reason to come down from Jackie’s backhanded good deed, she later takes all of the woman’s real meds to her old dealer. You know, the dude she had all sorts of funky sex with last season? The one she took to Kevin’s wedding and then caused a scene with after she realized he’d been dealing to teenagers? Yeah, that prince. Selling him the baggie of pills, she finally has enough money to secure her lawyer, and hopefully, her job. What’d I tell ya? Exhausting.

With her fierce new attorney crushing it in front of human resources and outlining all the ways in which Jackie was wronged, not to mention threatening a jury trial, Jackie is given diversion—you know, the deal she packed a suitcase full of narcotics and ran from last season. This time, Gloria is laying down some strict rules that Jackie agrees to (Gloria: I’m literally going to [drug] test the piss out of you); rules that you and I both know will be broken by month’s end.

In other news, Zoey is slowly coming to grips with Jackie’s betrayal, and even joins in with Coop, Carrie, and Thor in some snarky laughs at Jackie’s expense. (Who else is still giving Thor a standing-O at his too-brief impersonation of Jean Valjean?) Zoey also figures out that Carrie is pregnant, and as you can imagine, is thrilled.

Episode Recaps

Nurse Jackie
Nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) runs her ER a bit differently.
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