Nurse Jackie
Deaf, Blind, Tumor, Pee-Test

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 1 USERS: A+
Don't Even Think About Changing Her

They spot the bride, who is smoking and has a thin face. She's wearing a white dress and carrying a bouquet. Jackie prays.

Jackie: "Come on. Go inside, go inside. Come on, honey, go inside. Go inside... Yes!"

The girl immediately comes running back out to catch a bus, and Jackie has the feeling that by watching this happen -- by letting down the guard just enough to pray for poor Fitch Cooper -- she's somehow involved.

Gloria is grossed out less by the fact that the cakes are now on a Urology cart, and more that they contain so much sugar. Thank God this ludicrous wedding is taking place in the middle of the night or she'd probably take up a flaming sword just to swat little fat kids away from them.

Thor sings "Ave Maria" and the whole place, statuary back in position, is done up with Christmas lights. I don't know if there's a point beyond the humor of seeing semi-tacky white x-mas lights crowning the Blessed Virgin, but it's good enough as-is. The place looks lovely, and Thor's singing is pretty/funny, too. The whole thing is so sad and lame and ramshackle; the ambulance guys are all in costume and the bride isn't showing.

Jackie finally admits to Eleanor that the bride will never show, and then slowly moseys up to the altar to take Coop aside. She assures him sweetly that he doesn't look like an idiot; she even gives him the credit for restoring the chapel and putting the first smile of all time on Gloria's face.

Coop: "No one's ever going to wanna marry me."
Jacob: Time and place. Could do better, will probably do worse.
Jackie, still being oddly awesome: "Not true."
Gloria: Thanks him for the statues.

Zoey gives him a tiny present for his birthday. The smallest stuffed koala in the world, no bigger than a thumb.

Zoey: "It's from all of us."

They wheel in the wedding cakes, which are now birthday cakes, and sing to him. It's always nice to see an asshole get a little compassion. It's probably essential. Everybody's got a birthday. It's a world of birthdays out there.

It is absolutely one of my favorite things in a story, when people realize that Michael Scott or Roger Sterling are as close to the edge as they really always are, and they're able to momentarily forgive the distance and draw him close, and sing. I think you get more out of a scene like that -- everybody rushing into this void to sing to Fitch Cooper, who they hate -- than most anything else. I don't think anybody is proud, not even to say conscious sometimes, of their deepest flaws. I think everybody is usually doing the best they can. I think that probably this is a fact that we could stand to remember, much more than we do: Mostly we do the best we can.

Other people are no more a part of your larger problem than a broken taillight, and the reason for this is firstly because nobody cares enough to really come after you, but mostly it's because there is no larger problem. That kind of simplification is usually laziness, or exhaustion: The fact remains that all we ever really have are small problems that add up to the unmovable mountain.

But you only deserve that kind of compassion half the time, like, not only would it make Jackie very uncomfortable to have this thing done for her, on the other hand basically her every day is just having this experience over and over. Any time she uses somebody, any time they overlook her bullshit, any time she gets applauded for clotheslining some asshole: Happy birthday, you win again.

Birthdays aren't for addicts, they're for people on the other side of the circle, who can't get away from their own loneliness. I mean, there's self-loathing in the addict, obviously, but that's not the central problem of the addict: The central problem of the addict is the opposite issue, the survival-induced state of putting him- or herself before everybody else. That's why it was so moving and decidedly brilliant to have Jackie privately jump so quickly to praying that Coop would be okay, and talking him through it: That's who she is, we just don't get to see it because nobody else is allowed to have problems around her. She doesn't begrudge anybody their happiness. It doesn't add to her one giant imaginary problem.

Because take Jackie, take any addict: The problem is that she's an addict, sure. And all that implies. But the real problem, staring down the long barrel of sobriety, is the tiny little sips and snorts and pops and pills that got you there -- and the knowing that it's so many tiny occasions of abstention -- too many seconds-after-seconds-after-seconds of the agony of sobriety -- that will get you clean again.

The fear isn't of a major life change, and certainly the fear is not about success or happiness or whatever: The fear is a very real, very honest, very justifiable fear of watching the seconds of strength turn into minutes of pain and hours of misery and being fairly certain that on the other side of this process is a world devoid of excitement or color or pleasure.

Toward the end of a marathon, possibly you have the runs or maybe your nips are bleeding, okay, and it can be hard to remember that you are doing this to fight breast cancer. So you focus on the end of the road. But a sober life doesn't end. It keeps going.

And that's why the God Step that trips so many smart people up in recovery has always made the most sense to me, out of all of them. The other things you should be doing anyway. But if you've got yourself so cornered that you are gaming your universe the way Jackie does -- when the addict in you is running the table -- the only thing possible is for you to make this jump into faith.

Which is like the most loaded word. But I think it's the marathon thing. We get so caught up, every day, in what we feel like right now. You don't eat lunch, and suddenly everybody just turns into an asshole for no reason? Nonsense, your blood sugar is low. But it's hard to keep your eye on the Real You in the middle of that storm. The you that is separate from your mood or your blood sugar or your fatigue or your bleeding nipples.

And to me, that's what faith implies more than anything: The "real" you, the one that's never actually around because you're always having a bad mood or a good mood or metabolizing sugar or whatever you're doing right this second. This eternal person that is always loving and never gets impatient and never stops to whine because they're too busy hustling. Keeping your eye on him or her, letting him or her dictate your behaviors when you're not up to the challenge, being brave enough to let him or her drive even out here in the real world: That's the definition of faith to me.

Knowing, actually believing and knowing and trusting entirely, that the Real You would not motherfucking stand for any of this nonsense.

That's the reason prayer looks like that: God's just a way of reminding yourself to leave a little space between Right Now and Real You, for the light to get in, and the only way that can happen is on your knees. Real You is not an asshole, but sometimes Right Now You needs to be reminded that he or she very often is. (Especially and obviously if Right Now You is a huge drug addict that would rather die than feel like everybody else.) Making faith just the action of that part of your brain that's even willing to admit the possibility.

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Nurse Jackie




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