Addressing the Emergency nurses with her usual sophisticated, martinet air, Gloria delivers a short speech about how hospitals are closing down all over town, but the sick and injured will continue to be sick and injured, meaning that they're going to be dealing with diverted ambulances, more walk-ins, and the generally uninsured: "Bad on top of bad."
The upside? All those hot little unemployed nurses just looking to oust our guys with their superior talent, skill and experience. It goes on in this vein for a while, but that's the gist; the only real result of the speech is that Sam tries to preemptively beg Jackie not to tell about his near-death bender, which makes her grin: "I've got an axe I can drop on your head at any moment. Why would I give that up?"
In a plotline that veers wildly between melodramatic and truly affecting, a guy is brought in whose son was just crushed under a ton or so of moving boxes. "I didn't know where he was, I thought he was taking a nap," he says. They watch the kid roll his eyes around, in shock, and then before you know it Jackie and Eleanor are locking eyes over the kid's body.
After a fairly decent but weirdly ambitious transition shot to an outside drainspout, Jackie heads outside to explain to the fairly adorable dad -- Gregory Jbara, one of those character actors you just love that this show always manages to find -- that it wasn't crushed bones or anything, just the amount of time under the boxes that -- now he's been recovered -- released all kinds of shit into his bloodstream, meaning that the kidneys are going to blow ultimately in addition to the internal hemorrhaging. He chews on this inside of his mouth for a while and starts the slow burn he'll be doing the rest of the episode until Jackie admits it's time to call the mom.
Immediately back inside, they watch the lungs and then the heart go, but it's Eleanor's prognosis, delivered right to Jackie's face, that's the real killer in this episode: "This is not survivable," she says, finally looking into Jackie's eyes for the first time: "It's not."
The chapel sign's been changed: PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE STATUES, now. Jackie sits in there with him -- there's no rush, now that he's on life support; we're just waiting for the mom -- so that the dad can deliver a long monologue about how he thought his kid was fucking around, and it's not quite the scenery snack of say, Fierstein last year, but it's not exactly subtle although the dad does a fairly heartrending job with it.
At one point he pulls out the sandwich his son made him that morning, and offers some to Jackie, and she demurs, and he tears it in half with his hands and asks her please to eat some, with him, in this chapel. And just the half-assed, hamfisted way he rips it in half -- like, this symbolic gesture of sharing this death with her and the last thing his son ever made or did and all that -- is the saddest part. Big strong hands. She accepts, without looking him in the eye, and they eat together in silence for a second before he asks if she's got any kids.
Kevin has no time for this nun's bullshit or her questions about why he's enrolling Fiona in Grace's Catholic school -- because what are you going to say, my drug addict wife went to her lesbian best friend for money and then belittled my masculinity about it -- and she's like, "Can we meet with Jackie? About this huge change in your daughter's life?"
Well no, Sister, because fuck her, and he still can't figure out exactly how to be angry at her, but he hates this idea that she's the backbone of the home and that it's killing her and that if she were an addict, which she is fucking not, it would be his fault anyway, so he just yells at the nun for a while about how she will not be dealing with Jackie from here on out, and that he's not interested in discussing Fiona's enrollment or anything of the sort, he is, please, the girls' sole emergency contact, forget Jackie exists altogether.
Aaaand he can only pay half of Fiona's tuition upfront and can you please split it between these three credit cards, and it's like: This is the awful thing. This right here, not what Jackie was even saying before, but the fact that this whole scene -- with the nun-yelling, and the total shame, and the credit card-splitting -- is just collateral damage for the fact that he had the gall to accuse his wife of being exactly what she is.
So now his manhood and his fatherhood and all this stuff, things he's already guilty about period, all of it has led to this ugly scene where he's being mean to a cute, young black nun in the middle of his kids' school. That's the awful thing. The fact that it doesn't even matter; that she leveraged essentially his entire being against this one accusation, and he was guilty enough and scared enough and offended enough that he fell for it. That it stuck.