'Nurse Jackie' recap: 'I Say a Little Prayer'
After seven years of addiction, Nurse Jackie comes to an end.
And so it ends. Seven seasons of Nurse Jackie literally came to that: an end. But before we ponder the meaning of it all, let’s take a look back at the fateful last day at All Saints.
Starting off the day with a prayer to “make me good” (followed by a pill-shaped amen), Jackie is in a great mood: Not only is she back in good graces and enjoying friendly banter with Kevin and the girls, but O’Hara (Eve Best) surprises her by arriving with her adorable son for Fiona’s confirmation. (Can we all just agree that despite how much we hated her move, England looks damn good on O’Hara?)
O’Hara is ready for a girls’ day, which Jackie decides should be spent at All Saints (it’s the hospital’s last day), and the two arrive to a flurry of excitement from the gang when they see their favorite doctor back in the ER. (“It’s like she took a handful of fairy dust and threw it everywhere!” Thor exclaims, as Zoey squeals and Carrie introduces herself in a British accent, because obviously.) Seeing O’Hara back makes me miss her all over again. Does that make sense to anyone else?
Jackie’s day just keeps getting better, as she learns she’s gotten a job at Bellevue Hospital (how she got a job so quickly after that whole Diversion mess is questionable, but let’s go with it, because this is the end and I don’t want to question anything), and she excitedly asks Zoey to join her. Zoey hesitates and stutters out some excuse about needing to figure things out with grad school, but it’s clear she just doesn’t want to go. Why? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Eddie has secured the services of Jackie’s lawyer, Barry Wolfe, to help him out of the whole drug dealer mess, but in the deposition it becomes clear that he’s screwed. It seems that the investigators recently searched the pain management center and discovered not only a large batch of the meds that were checked out to Eddie, but video surveillance of him on the premises. Not even the most lethal Wolfe can protect him now.
Wolfe knows that they’re just trying to use Eddie to get to Dr. Wu and advises him to cooperate, but Eddie, who has spent seven years in Jackie’s pocket (so to speak), refuses, knowing that the investigation will lead back to her. Talk about an addict.
Back at All Saints, O’Hara can sense that something is off with Zoey (because she’s O’Hara) and the two have a quiet moment that quickly turns revealing. Zoey discloses Jackie’s relapse, arrest, Diversion, and the daily pee tests she had to supervise to O’Hara, who is clearly hearing about all of this for the first time (which seems shocking to me). Zoey confides, “Sometimes I’d think, What would O’Hara do?” Here’s what O’Hara would do: ask Zoey how she’s doing and give her a big hug, which is what I’ve wanted to do since April.
Jackie is still bouncing around the hospital with a goofy grin on her face (Bellevue! Best friend! Baked!) when O’Hara catches her and calls her out. Jackie immediately insists she’s better “Relapse, Diversion, lies, jail! That’s not ‘better,’ that’s opera!” O’Hara points out. (Did I mention how much I’ve missed her?) Jackie continues her argument by reiterating she’s at “her best,” which isn’t the smartest thing to say to your best friend who knows that being at your “best” means you are definitely using.
When she suggests that maybe Jackie shouldn’t be a nurse anymore, Jackie is livid and gives her the standard party line. “Being a nurse is who I am!” she tries, which O’Hara brushes off with an excellent observation about Jackie hiding behind that mantra and reminds her that she’s so much more. WWOHD? Be the only one to not accept Jackie’s lies and deceptions, call her out on it, walk out the door, and yet somehow remain a friend.
NEXT: Dr. Prince saves the day, but can anyone save Jackie?
The drama of the last day is far from over as a bloodied man runs into the ER, angrily looking for the person who smashed his head and stole his drugs—and then pulls a gun on Jackie. Practically before Jackie gets her hands in the air, Dr. Prince (who is there hanging out for the day just to “be around people,” as he tells Gloria) calmly walks in and instructs the man to turn the gun on him—specifically, his head. In a composed, measured voice, Dr. P then tells him that he is the chief of the NYPD, and that unless he leaves, he’s f—ked. With the gun pressed firmly against his forehead, Dr. P starts counting, but by the time he gets to three, the man bolts. Shaken, Dr. Prince lights up a real cigarette. Long overdue, buddy.
Jackie then stumbles into the man the gunman was looking for—Vinny Raven (James McMenamin), the heroin (etc.) addict she’s helped at All Saints a couple of other times. He’s terrified, huddled up behind a toilet, with arms so bloodied and marked up from needles they look like a bombing victim’s, barely able to walk due to the heroin he’s been shooting in between his toes. Overlooking all of this (but noticing it just the same), Jackie compassionately takes him to an exam room and gently washes his feet, bathed in a beam of light. Symbolism? I think so.
After disclosing she’s an addict, he refuses to believe it and tells her she’s a saint. Their talk turns personal as Vinny admits that he didn’t even care that he hurt the man, but that now he feels naked. “Maybe that’s a good thing,” Jackie tells him, while continuing to wash his feet. Later, as he’s transferred out to Bellevue, he refuses the bag with his belongings (and drugs) in it. Could Saint Jackie have really made a difference in another addict’s life? Oh, the tragic irony.
After Vinny’s transport, the doors on All Saints trauma department are locked forever, and Eddie shows up to celebrate. It seems he’s going to jail for a year! Refusing to implicate Jackie will cost him a year in “Martha Stewart” lock-up, but it’s okay, because a year is nothing when Jackie will be in his life forever. Hooray!
While Eddie may end up as the series’ worst decision maker, Zoey ends up as the best (which actually isn’t surprising at all, is it?). She refuses Jackie’s pleas to go with her to Bellevue, telling Jackie that she needs to move on, and she needs Jackie to let her. “I need to go out there and make my own mistakes that have nothing to do with you,” she tells an emotional Jackie. Looks like someone is finally all grown up.
After a sweet, sad goodbye with an obviously declining Dr. Prince (he thinks Jackie is his ex-wife), Jackie, still emotional, observes the party going on in the ER (blown up latex gloves, Bourbon, and Carrie in a wheelchair—it’s madness!) for just a bit before escaping to the bathroom with Vinny’s bag, where she cuts—and inhales—three fat lines.
With k.d. lang’s haunting rendition of [Theme From] Valley of The Dolls setting the tone (appropriate), Jackie slowly walks out the doors of the hospital into the bustling streets of NYC. Joining a group yoga class in Times Square, Jackie lies down and peacefully closes her eyes.
Abruptly, we hear Zoey’s alarmed voice yelling “Jackie?” as we are whisked back into the ER, where Jackie has collapsed and lost consciousness. As everyone rushes to surround Jackie, Zoey answers the prayer that Jackie made at the beginning of the day. “You’re good, Jackie. You’re good,” her friend firmly tells her. Jackie’s eyes flutter open at those words as if in relief, and Zoey’s face is the last she sees.
I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit rewatching the final seconds wondering if I got it wrong: if, in fact, Jackie’s fate is left up to us to decide. But Back in April, executive producer Clyde Phillips said that the fans would “feel a sense of completeness” with the finale. If by that he means that we’ve been expecting this kind of an ending for Jackie for seven seasons, then yes, he’s right, and yes, it is a definite end. But there’s one adjective Phillips left out: heartbreaking. Because despite its complications, addiction is sad. And I think that’s the only certain thing left to feel.