Nurse Jackie: Season 7
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Nurse Jackie: Season 7

The seven seasons beginning in 2009 I have been a regular viewer Showtime original series, ‘Nurse Jackie’. This consideration is focused on the seventh and final season of the series, reigniting many of the controversial plot elements that been debated during its entire run. In the simplistic terms the premise of the show is to follow the life of a drug addicted supervising nurse private New York City hospital. The titular nurse, Jackie Peyton, consistently provided incredible showcase for the considerable acting talents Edie Falco. Talents have been widely recognized making one of the few actresses to win ‘Leading Actress’ categories in the top awards of the television industry; ‘An Emmy’, ‘the Golden Globe’ and ‘The Screen Actors Guild’. Undeniably the series was recently well-crafted by some of the best actors and directors currently working in film and television. Ms. Falco was accompanied by an ensemble cast that included incredible selection of some of the top journeymen actors currently active. The problem I had on a personal level is that I have had a portion of my life training for biomedical research that put me in daily contact with clinical situations. I also have family members extremely close and trusted friends were made nursing the life’s vocation. Admittedly, I frequently found it quite difficult these deeply personal influences and allow myself to focus solely on the quality of the series. Now, with the story arc concluded in the character development permitted to run its course, I’m in a better position to step back and examine his final season and how related to the entirety of the story it concluded.

On his broadest level this series concerns what is referred to in literature as the antihero; a protagonist generally devoid of the admirable qualities attributed to a hero. There’s actually no doubt that any person who goes into such a self-sacrificing career as nursing is heroic. Doctors may receive the majority of the accolades but it is the nurses were responsible for the direct implementation of a patient’s care. Jackie Peyton is a supervisory nurse at All Saints Hospital in New York City. She is well respected by her colleagues and even idolized by a younger nurse, Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever). Jackie has always been a staunch supporter of patients’ rights a keen eye for medical details. In short the only profession that Jackie could ever be happy in his nursing. Unfortunately, Jackie is a drug addict. She has an exceptionally serious problem centering on the abuse of barbiturates and morphing derivatives. But most addicts Jackie always maintained that a drug habit does not preclude her ability to perform her job. Seven seasons the series has provided ample evidence that this is certainly not the case. Her dependency has poisoned her marriage, estranged from her daughters and placed her career in jeopardy on numerous occasions. As of the penultimate season’s conclusion Jackie was in jail. She knew that her life was collapsing around together all the money she could stop the bag full of a drug of choice and proceeded to flee the city. As fate would have it she witnesses and accidents and the nurse that has always been buried deep within the core personality forced her to abandon her escape plan to help the injured. This led to her arrest and incarceration.

Inevitably the most morally reprehensible thing about the antihero story is that the person can flagrantly disregard the legal and moral constraints that make for a decent, orderly society seemingly prosper. Over the years the series has placed Jackie and situations where she was forced to face the consequences of her actions. Up until this season, Jackie was able to elude the full brunt of those penalties. She is dependent upon the perennial defenses of the audit, deceiving, cajoling and exploiting any possible loophole to largely ameliorate the morally and legally just repercussions of our actions. Now, Jackie has placed the kindling at the base of all bridges they are about to ignite. While incarcerated Jackie undergoes a rough detoxification. She finally leaves jail free for the first time in a very long time. Like many addicts in this situation Jackie vows to turn over a new leaf by staying clean and getting her job back. Back at All Saints Hospital Zoey is all in favor of the return of her friend and mentor but the hospital administrator, Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith) adamantly opposes any such option. This does realistically encapsulate two of the archetypes of people whose lives have been affected by an addict. Zoey is the friend who is still able to view the addict who rose colored glasses. She has seen Jackie is such a positive influence on our own life. To do so would cast out on her own clinical abilities having not seen serious of friend’s addiction has been in that the support of her friend could make her complicit in the criminal neglect of allowing an impaired person to make life-and-death decisions. Gloria has befriended Jackie in the past and gone toward ordinary measures to help her keep her job. Gloria was court in the unenviable position of professionally discharging the responsibilities of our own job as manager and trying to help somebody she truly cares about is a friend.

Making matters worse is the hospital is about to be sold to a Swedish-based managed healthcare company. This is placed everybody working at All Saints understandably concerned about the viability of their own job. There’s also a soap opera like subplot between to the doctors; Dr. Fitch Cooper (Peter Facinelli) and the barely competent attending physician, Dr. Carrie Roman (Betty Gilpin). She has been venture the inept in her performance but is always found in the life the accumulation of capital C’s and her grades and performance ratings are offset by the same letter is applied to her cup size. She has used sexual relationship with Cooper, who immediate supervisor, to keep her job. Now she finds itself under greater scrutiny than ever as a professional in abilities have been made known. Complicating matters considerably as she discovers she is pregnant and Cooper is the father.

Jackie knows that she’s going to need legal representation in order to get her job back. I now officially documented drug abuse and detoxification has resulted in the suspension of nursing license and termination at the hospital. Completely estranged from her family she turns to the only person remaining who cares for, Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze), formerly the hospital’s pharmacist, and a major source of narcotic supply and demand she has been having an affair with for many years. Now with her marriage over Jackie and Eddie have plans to form a new life together. Eddie is now working as a pharmaceutical representative which despite his termination from the hospital on the allegations of misappropriating controlled substances, is now given a suitcase full of very potent pain management medication as a routine part of his employment. Eddie has been skimming pills accumulating a substantial stash. At first they were selling them to Jackie’s foreman dealers but then Eddie comes up at the ultimate solution; solve a large supply all at once to a pill deal. This is a pain management clinic that is actually a legalized front for the distribution of prescription narcotics. They managed to make the big score which gets them enough money for Jackie to have a lawyer in order to get her job back.

There comes a point in any antihero story the audience has to be shown that despite being long deferred the legal and moral penalties must be addressed and dutifully paid. Initially Jackie gets her job back under the provision that she undergoes daily urine testing. Gloria places Zoey in charge of monitoring that stipulation. This place is an incredible strain on what was once the only constantly positive relationship she had at work and a person who was a true friend and her family life. Jackie winds up covertly working on the behalf of the Swedish businessmen to help undermine any legal obstacles the staff may try to implement. To obtain her betrayal Jackie’s 30 pieces of silver comes in the form of a promise to reinstate a license. So much to the promise she made herself deliver strange and truthful life, Jackie must now continue to lie to her friends. For this final season they did introduce one exceptionally well-crafted new character, Dr. Bernard Prince (Tony Shalhoub). He is instrumental to undermining the new owners by turning the ER into a clinic extending its beneficial role to the community. He is quite willing to help out even if it means circumventing bureaucratic red tape and is not above stealing medication to help someone had been in a clinical trial for a fatal illness. It turns out that Bernie is dying from the same illness which explains his cavalier attitude towards any repercussions is actions may bring.

I will endeavor to avoid veering into the purview of spoilers but suffice it to say that the concluding moments of the last episode of this final season simultaneously shock some fully expected by others despite depicting an addict successfully flaunting her responsibilities to family, friends, coworkers and patients, at the end Jackie Peyton the inevitability of addiction. She reaches the point in her addiction where not only is he unable to continue lying to those around her but she has but she is unable to even lie to herself. Truth and reality is finally crashed down around Jackie Peyton. For the times that I held her apparent success against the series I do freely acknowledge that the writers of the series honestly depicted the life of an addict and how inevitably must spiral down into a psychological, emotional and spiritual black hole. This is by far the most powerful season of the series in a fitting conclusion that should satisfy even the most ardent fan with a ring of honesty.

Posted 10/20/2015

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