So last season ended, you may remember, with a big intervention on Jackie by her husband Kevin and her BFF, Dr. O'Hara. Instead of leapfrogging over the consequences like happened last year, we pick up where we left off: With Jackie having a minor meltdown in the Peyton bathroom and eventually deciding she's not interested in rehab.
She sweeps all the contents of the bathroom cabinets into a big bag and throws this at Kevin and has some kind of fucking addict fit about god knows what and finally she makes enough noise, and makes it enough of his problem, that he gives in. It really should be harder to distract him than just yelling and lying, because she does those things anyway, but then, their marriage has never really made sense. So anyway, in order to prove that he's a man or something, Kevin enrolls the scary daughter in that same Catholic school that the weird one goes to; he is a total dick to a nun. Good thing he's crazy hot, because what an unappealing person he was this week.
At the hospital, mostly all they can talk about is the finale last year, specifically how Sam almost died of drinking and they tap-danced for him, and how Zoey slept with that hairy fellow. I mean, that's literally all they can talk about; there are like five scenes of them revisiting this information, over and over. Zoey is still awesome, Peter Facinelli's character is still a douchebag tool, Sam is still pretty, Thor is still comforting, and Pharmacist Eddie still looks like a pervert.
The major patient story in this episode has to do with this hot dude whose moving company accidentally moved two tons of books on top of his kid and now the kid is dead or dying, and it's very sad and all kinds of dramatic and with long pauses. O'Hara tosses around all kinds of metaphors about how their relationship will not survive, and I think she's going to feint at quitting work at this particular hospital just to get away from Jackie. Since their relationship is the best thing about the show, that's kind of tough.
Also it is too bad for Jackie, because she needs a friend once Kevin shows up at the hospital and she gets cornered into admitting her pill problem to Gloria Akalitus. Now everybody knows that she is married and sort of a drug addict, which are two things she didn't historically want people to know. Here's hoping next week holds some kind of surprises or something, because -- even for this show -- this just seemed like treading water.
There's something funny about the way this show ignores consequences, something that seems to be a thing with every Showtime show that has any popular traction: The high of watching Jackie Peyton or Dexter Morgan or Nancy Botwin get themselves into these impossible situations and then get themselves out of them again in the next season. And every season, the stakes are higher and the scrape is closer and it's all very exciting, right up until the next season starts.
Mileage varies as to how well the particular shows nail this thing, and it's the usual complaints come premiere time for every show regardless of how they're earned, but the funny part here is how hard this show fights itself about it. I mean, from a production standpoint you have a funny feedback loop having to do with wanting Jackie to succeed -- the creators talk about how you don't really want to see Jackie get caught -- but at the same time upping the stakes, all the time.
There's a metaphor to be drawn here to addiction, specifically the addiction of the consumer to the qualities of the product that keep you coming back, and how your high is never quite as good as the first time. I will say, though, that this season does a better job -- of answering the lingering questions and playing out the consequences -- than last year, when basically the entire thing got swept under the rug.
But still: Wouldn't it be nice if these particular shows trusted us to follow us when they go somewhere new? If they didn't have to keep telling the same stories over and over, desperately afraid they'll lose our interest? Think about the most beloved Dexter finales, for example: Not the same cliffhangers over and over, like Weeds, and not the icky redemption-just-kidding plays this show makes (often successfully, mind you), but the actual game-changers, if you know what I mean. Things that actually stick.
And I mean Dexter, I love it, but it's not really as good as this show when it's at its best (and neither of them hold a candle to Tara), but the audience is vocal about how they feel about actual stakes, actual changes, actual creative leaps. Something to think about.
So where we're at right now is that Jackie's best friend Eleanor O'Hara discovered she'd been passed a fake MRI, in order to beef up her casual Percocet-between-friends supply to actual, illegally giving her friend drugs. Same time, Jackie's husband Kevin discovered her secret post office box containing insane amounts of secret credit card debt at pharmacies all over town. He called O'Hara, and the two of them tried to throw Jackie a little intervention. Well of course she went apeshit on both of them, right for the jugular, and locked herself in the bathroom.
Jackie looks herself in the mirror for a while, thinks about how probably she's an addict, and then that "Rain On My Parade" song that sounds like you're having a stroke starts playing, and she searches the whole bathroom for drugs, all the doorframe and top of the cabinet places, then every cabinet and drawer, and then -- having struck up a great idea for how best to scream this little problem away, tosses all the usual things in the bathroom that might come from a drugstore into a laundry bag, and heads out to find her husband.
"O'Hara? Really? You couldn't handle this yourself?"
Oh, the amazing drama, as she tosses the contents of her hobo bag onto the floor in front of Kevin -- Eleanor having gotten the fuck out of there -- and showing him how the credit card receipts he used as proof are mostly just school supplies and sundries, razors and eardrops.
Every couple of items, she tosses in low-dose meds -- muscle relaxers, sleeping pills -- to sweeten the deal. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks, yelling so loud all he hears is screaming.
And now that he's confused, and on the defensive, she jumps at him: "My body is falling apart, what do you want from me for fuck's sake?"
And then the kids: "Why aren't the girls here?"
And then more lies: The credit card? "Separate! Not secret, separate! Since when do I have to run every little fuckin' thing by you? When have we ever done things like that? When was the last time you bought your own razors?"
And the PO box? "You know what? Here. Here, take the fuckin' key!"
Still not an answer: "Doesn't matter, you know why? Because I keep the house stocked."
And the masculinity: "That's my job, because you can't manage money!"
And then the kids: "And by the way, what message are we sending Fi? I'm sorry, you're just not quite as important as Grace, we have money for her tuition but not yours."
And the masculinity: "It's tuition, Kevin! You find it!"
And the unrelated accusations: "I should never have had to beg! For God's sake I sure as hell shouldn't have to sneak around."
And the kids: "She is your daughter!" You can see that one, actually feel that blow land. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. It works; it sticks.
And the masculinity: "You know what? From now on buy your own fucking razors!"
And the kids again: "I'm getting my kids."
Whatever sticks. She's out of there; Kevin left feeling like he's done something wrong, even though everything she's doing and saying, the faces she's making, the way she came at him and Eleanor like a Fury, tells him exactly what's going on. Textbook, if something would stick.
Jackie picks up the girls from Kevin's sister Tunie's house, sparkling so brightly it's hard to look at. Just feral, and desperate and sweaty. Throwing them against the wall, to see what sticks.