Nurse Jackie

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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I Didn't Come Here Alone

"Oh, I bought us two napoleons from Le Cirque," Eleanor says. "They're in the insulin fridge." (I can't believe I had to watch the episode three times before I got that joke: of course they're in the insulin fridge, that's where they'd be, to stay chilled, but that's also where they belong.) Jackie fairly stomps her feet: "I want mine right now. Seriously, right now." Justin's mom brings him toward Eleanor's desk, with trepidation. Eleanor's fake smile is more intimidating, and just plain scarier, than if she came at you with a knife. Designed, like some evolutionary adaptation, to make you feel inhuman, grotesque, filthy in a way you can't wash off. Nighmarish, especially since it's not like that entirely on purpose. She honestly thinks what she's doing is smiling, to the degree that smiling at these particular people, at this particular moment, is relevant.

Eleanor stands: Justin's got something for her. Eighty bucks? she whispers to Jackie as she comes to them, staring down at him like an insect, still with that troubling smile plastered across her face like she's about to throw up and doesn't want to embarrass you with having seen it happen. Justin produces a picture he drew for her -- which pulls Jackie right out of wherever she just was -- and she thanks him.

Nobody moves, so obviously there's something more required here. "Now, you be a good boy? And always remember to... Help ladies on with their coats...?"

Nobody moves -- beyond a WTF twitch in the mom's eyes -- so obviously there's something more required here. Eleanor's eyes light up: She snaps off a bit of tape with one manicured hand, and affixes the picture to her desk, where she can look at it all day if she likes. He giggles winsomely, and she capers with toothy exaggeration: "PERFECT!" Mom thanks her, clearly understanding all the different levels of what just happened, and they take off.

Eleanor stands between the twins, who are dancing, with a sun and nine rays above her head. Their smiles -- mom, Justin, Eleanor, the sick kid -- are so strong, so joyful, they arc beyond the faces themselves. Relief bigger than your face can even show. Eleanor's arms are thrown wide, so that her doctor's coat is open, revealing a plum dress underneath. She is as tall as the hospital; she looks like a priest at Advent, or Lent. She looks like a saint. "Doesn't look anything like me," she says, and breezes away.

But Jackie doesn't move; she's been staring at the picture since Justin produced it. Just look at it: the vibrant colors, the sunshine. The family: dancing, smiling. (Spend enough time in one place, and you know the answers to questions you never even asked: "It's not like I want to know this stuff. I just do.")

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Nurse Jackie

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