Gloria takes the elevator up, to HR.
In the room where Sam nearly died and where Nurses were recently Appreciated, Kevin gets Jackie to acknowledge he's been trying to have this conversation for weeks. Finally, and to my mind rightfully, Jackie finally tells him to spit it out. And this is what he says.
Kevin: "You can't just step outside a marriage and fuck someone else because things got hard, and expect the marriage to survive."
Jackie's guilty. Until he admits he's not talking about her.
She stares, pissed. She stares, relieved.
What happens when the warden puts the keys in your hand?
Her heart is breaking. Her heart sings. She sits there, on her knees. The solid wall, the rock-bottom, the jailer, the only one who knows her well enough to stop her -- to even ask. The only one besides Eleanor, who's joined her in the dark. It is dizzying.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do," says Jackie. Jackie says, "What am I supposed to say?"
I love you, he says. I forgive you.
She can feel the keys in her hand; she hears a door slam shut. Those things are true, but they're not what she is doing. She can feel herself getting freer. The only things that kept her human, getting burned off while we speak. Kneeling on the floor at the bottom of the world.
"Pack your bags," she says. And nods to herself, briskly. She is terrified and in the dark; he's put the keys into her hands.
And upstairs, Gloria comes closer and closer to HR, almost there before she pitches the piss test into a garbage cart and keeps walking.
"Fuck 'em," she says, and heads back to the Chapel.
I guess in some ways this one's legit. I'd like to see Jackie without Kevin. Frankly, I don't know what purpose the girls really can serve anymore. I'd like to see the promise of Bill fulfilled and I'd like to see Jackie out of control, just once. Just once I'd like to see her let a little light in. But I doubt that this will happen either.
But when you think about addicts and how they get there, I don't know that it's all that unrealistic. Addiction, a lot of mental illness, can be resolved down to an embarrassing disconnect between the power we yield as adults over our own fates and the amount of responsibility we have toward that power. Like Thor, eating his sugar, or Eleanor's day-drinking, all of us do things we know are bad for us. The only difference between a child drinking to excess and an adult doing the same is that there's somebody there to tell him no.
So if we look at the misdeeds of Jackie Peyton as a sort of dark and anguished triumphant shout, this is like a birthday and a wedding altogether at once: The chance to be completely free and see where that takes her. A renunciation of the responsibilities that kept her tethered. On a story level, I don't really love it because we didn't see it happen: He was on the show or not, and it didn't necessarily connect at all to whether he was in her life or not, because of the way the story goes. So if you tell me they were falling apart this whole time, that's one way to get it across. Little shots of him disappearing and putting on cologne aside, I mean, you can say that these scenes were sprinkled in arbitrarily and that somehow adds up to a compelling narrative arc, but does it really?
Jackie ignoring her husband, from this side of a screen, is indistinguishable from the show ignoring her husband, so there's a discernable lack of shock at this development. But since we only stay with her anyway, I guess it's best to see this through her eyes, and puzzle out the rest. See the abyss it means she's standing at -- and how Gloria's misbegotten kindness is just digging the hole deeper.
"Make more rope," Gloria said. We thought she was talking about baby Xanax, but it occurs to me that the show might finally be giving Jackie enough rope to actually hurt herself, after three years of basically resenting the fact of her husband and the limits he places on her.
It's not like she's got the stuff to emotionally disengage from anybody, right? It would have to be his choice. Just like she let Eddie, and now Eleanor, fill in the blanks of their love. Just like she's never, ever lied to Gloria Akalitus, not once.
So I guess for a fairly good season -- as judged on the merits, and not how the unduly critical Jacob, Expert In Things Televisual, would prefer things to have gone -- you've got what amounts to a pretty stellar finale:
Jackie finally gets what she wants, complete and total autonomy. The ultimate punchline: "Oh, you think the universe keeps handing Jackie what she wants? How about everything at once? Everything the tiny monster, the little king inside her, could ever demand?"
And maybe that leads to, just maybe, Jackie getting what she needs: God's most gigantic knuckle sandwich. A chance at grace.
But I wouldn't bet on it. I still don't think the show loves her enough for that.