Nurse Jackie
Play Me

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 1 USERS: A+
Edging God Out

Eleanor is at a loss with the Orthodoxy/parents debacle, so of course Jackie heads in. The parents' point is valid, which is that their daughter is dying and that this whole Beth Israel thing is just straight-up superstition and not worth fighting about at this time. Like, you already got our daughter and grandkids in this cult, which is annoying, and then on top of it you're going to kill her? You can kind of see what they're saying.

But then, according to David, his wife is exactly the zealot they're accusing him of turning her into, and thus would want to be transported to the right hospital, to fix the mistake the EMTs made by, you know, trying to save her life. Dad freaks out on David about having "faith" that everything will turn out fine, because to him it sounds like standing on ceremony, and it's actually about this internal fight that David is having with himself about "how strong is my faith" and questions like that, which is fine if you're on an Eat Pray Love safari but not really relevant when my daughter is bleeding out.

But I mean, the classic answer here -- which either makes total sense or no sense at all, depending on how you personally feel -- is that matters of faith are only decided in moments of crisis, and it's the rest of the time that you're on the Eat Pray Love safari. It's a tough one for me, not really in terms of faith but in terms of convictions, because I know this to be true:

Your actual character is only ever determined, or transformed, by the decisions you make under duress or against your immediate conclusions. The actual times that you reach into your own self and wrench something straight, even though you'd prefer -- rationality would prefer, conscience would dictate, more people would approve -- to do the obvious thing.

It's one thing to live in accordance with your convictions: That's the natural, positive way of being an adult. But if you're going to actually change who you are, that means acting against the natural/positive ways you've always done things. The Saint lives in accordance with her convictions; it's the Sinner that blows everything up. It's the Sinner you need to pull the world apart and put it together, because the Saint knows everything's going to be fine.

Which, with a girl on the table bleeding out, this may seem nuts or bleak or negative, so look at it this way:

For an addict, their body and mind and universe are about acting in accordance with their addiction. That's the conviction they are following, and it's the easiest way to do things no matter how complicated and full of hassles it looks to the rest of us. (Same way gravity works in space, how the surface of the actual three-dimensional universe could be curved and bent all kinds of crazy, as seen from the outside, but from inside the system makes perfect sense.) The only way of keeping that life alive, in this metaphor, is by leaving that girl on the table at All Saints. By taking the path of least resistance, following the curvature of the universe along the shortest route from A to B, where she lives.

It is a leap of fucking faith, in a real sense, to step outside the system you've set up, as an addict, which is why they bring the God Thing into it at all: If you are going to change, something inside you is going to have to die. And it won't feel good, it will actually feel like dying. It actually will be dying.

And no person in her right mind is going to choose that, a complete change of life and character, when she's gotten so good at keeping her body and her mind and her universe in check. Changing the actual gravity bends in the universe so they go somewhere else; wrenching time and gravity straight. Sticking your hands inside your guts up to the elbows and screaming and bleeding everywhere until things work right. It's a crime only the Sinner can accomplish, because only the Sinner hates herself enough to go through with it.

Recovery isn't about strength, it's about rerouting the way the entire world works, inside and outside your head. It's about dying and being reborn as somebody completely different, which is the bitch of things.

So when the husband begs, "She's my wife. Why won't any of you help me do this?" maybe it will make more sense to you when I say that Jackie doesn't even hesitate: "I will." It's not the Saint that tears up the world inside and all around you, it's the Sinner. And figuring that out, learning to love and rely on them both, is how you approach God.

(Or, in Jungian terms, the Self-identified Ego, the Saint or the addict, says "I am God." Not helpful. The Shadow-identified Ego, the Sinner or the repentant, says "I am the Devil." Also not helpful. They're both forms of spiritual possession, and lead straight to Crazytown if you get stuck living there. But they're also doors you're going to walk through, a thousand times in your life, and that's their only real value: Identification with the Self, with God, is the thing that keeps you moving when you're in the dark places, the Eat Pray Love reminder of your own divinity. Walking through the Shadow door is the way you periodically burn off what doesn't work, which gets you closer and closer to the actual goal, which is the Ego-Self Axis: The ladder the angels are always climbing up and down, where you're in communication with both of them, but don't have to be either of them.)

Lenny can't help, he's got a call in Madison Park, and so finally Jackie -- rolling her eyes with embarrassment -- ends up calling 911 from the ambulance bay of her own ER, which seems connected to that metaphor above if you think about it. At least enough so that she immediately snags that pen from the desk caddy, earlier, and sneaks into the bathroom for a couple pills.

Gloria follows the priest through the chapel -- him putting little stickers on them one by one, like a yard sale -- talking about how she's super Catholic and everything ("I could have this entire conversation in Latin if you'd like") and asking for the greatest amount of possible time to say her goodbyes. "Pillaging a hospital chapel, nice work if you can get it" she hisses, and they leave.

Jackie enters, and sits down with David in the deconsecrated chapel; he nearly starts crying when she tells him the ambulance is coming, because he knows he may have just killed his wife and because nobody stopped him. Because the Sinner helped him out, in the service of God.

The vendors are still screaming at each other -- apparently if you even leave your cart for a bathroom break you can get majorly fined -- so Jackie snags their phones and tells Sam to call "Home," get their families down there. Great idea, but of course the second Sam actually praises her she snits about how he should've thought of that himself. She seems like she's going easier on him these days, doesn't she? It's kind of nice.

God gets help from facilities guys on the elevator, who don't question His errand in moving the piano into a random storage room. The Devil waits in Admitting.

"I come in peace," the Devil says. "Walk with me."

Jackie takes his wallet, and tosses it to Eddie: "I'm going out for a cup of coffee. If I end up dead, this guy did it." They go on a little date together, Jackie the Saint and her mugging victim. Everybody in the coffee shop waves hello to him, and he explains he's known around the AA and NA meetings circuit. Then he says the most horrible, awful, scary, watery-boweled flesh-crawling Toadies-song thing.

"I'm a former drug and alcohol counselor: Former. I got tired of pouring my life force into people who weren't ready to get sober... Usually people who succumbed to bullshit interventions, who then tried to get sober for all the wrong reasons. I burned out watching people relapse after getting sober too soon, so I decided to specialize. I'm the guy who helps people bottom out, find their all-time low by supplying them with drugs and then supervising their downward spiral for a hefty price."

Outsourcing your Sinner. I

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Nurse Jackie




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