Hide Your Pills, ‘Nurse Jackie’ Is Back!

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The seventh and final season of “Nurse Jackie” premieres Sunday, April 12, and Dorri Olds has the inside scoop on what we can expect from our pill popper.
The seventh and final season of ‘Nurse Jackie’ premieres Sunday, April 12, and Dorri Olds has the inside scoop on what we can expect from our pill popper. (Showtime photo)

Woo hoo! Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” is back, and it premieres Sunday, April 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Sadly, this seventh season will be the last. Sniff, sniff. Soon we will have to bid adieu to Jackie (Edie Falco), Zoey (Merrit Wever), Eddie (Paul Schulze), Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith), Thor (Stephen Wallem), Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and all the rest. I am not looking forward to their exit. And, as I told you last summer, Dr. Fitch Cooper (Peter Facinelli) appears in only five episodes this season. Say it ain’t so, Coop.

This season of “Nurse Jackie” offers a few new treats by way of new peeps: Coop’s replacement is Dr. Bernard Prince, played by Emmy Award-winner Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”), who gets the staff to dance the Horah. Jackie’s kick-ass lawyer Barry Wolfe is wonderfully played by Mark Feuerstein (“Royal Pains,” “The West Wing”).

OK, so picking up right where we left off at the end of Season 6 …

(Showtime photo)
(Showtime photo)

A car crash interrupts Jackie from running away to Miami, and she has, like, a gazillion pills from her enabling schnook Eddie. Jackie tells the cops that she’s a nurse and was on her way to Miami to help with the relief efforts. Ha! Reminds me of the cockamamie lies I came up with as a teen druggie.

It’s not surprising she’s arrested, charged with drug trafficking and thrown into a holding cell beside a tattooed biker chick. Jackie starts to shiver and sweat from withdrawal. When she passes out cold, her cellmate yells for help. Jackie wakes up in Bellevue after two days, now foggy from a sedated detox and handcuffed to the bed, like the criminal she is.

The show’s scriptwriters are following the tried-and-true trick to successful storytelling: Get your hero up a tree, throw stones at her, then get her down.

With her nursing license suspended, and her job in jeopardy, Jackie tries to manipulate boss Akalitus to let her stay. But Akalitus isn’t having it. Sick of Jackie’s lies, Akalitus decides to make Jackie miserable enough to walk out. She gives Jackie the lowest of the low orderly tasks, including toilet scrubbing and transporting corpses to the basement.

The toughest thing to watch is Zoey’s broken heart. The talented Wever, who won an Emmy for this role in 2013, says everything without saying a word. She cannot bear to see Jackie falling further and further into addiction. Akalitus asks Zoey to be the head nurse, but Zoey turns her down, saying she doesn’t feel right about it.

Then Jackie cheers Zoey up. Yay! But it’s with a big fat lie. Jackie earnestly tells Zoey she’s been away attending a rehab program. Zoey beams with hope, but when Jackie’s daughter Grace tells Zoey her mom was really in jail, Zoey is crushed again — and mad as hell.

Zoey marches into Akalitus’ office and says she’ll take the head nurse job. Zoey does not know yet that she’ll be in charge of monitoring Jackie’s every move, including watching head-on while Jackie provides her mandated urine samples. Ew.

So, while Jackie is busy ruining lives, especially her own, Coop hovers moony-eyed over pregnant Dr. Carrie Roman (Betty Gilpin). He’s bursting to tell everyone they’re having a baby, but she begs him to keep quiet. There’s a funny scene where Coop sees Carrie’s apartment for the first time — and so do we.

Jackie pushes all the limits as per usual, and Akalitus yells, “You’re fired.” She tells Jackie she is done with her and screams, “You’re a junkie.” She throws her out of the ER, which is just what Jackie wanted — to use for ammunition. She tells the story to her lawyer as proof that Akalitus publicly mistreated and humiliated her. The lawyer smiles and says, “Now, that I can work with.”

When a hero is magically juggling six plates in the air, breaking every rule and winning, that’s when a story is glorious, but when reality sets in and the protagonist has to pay consequences, it can get very depressing — think “American Gangster,” “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Watching Jackie spiraling down just ain’t nearly as fun as the first season of “Nurse Jackie” when we saw her getting away with everything. Still, although things look mighty bleak for our Jackie this season, after pre-screening Season 7’s first five episodes, I got the feeling Jackie will finagle her way back to the ER before All Saint’s Hospital becomes nothing but a memory.

Watch scenes from Season 7:

Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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