"...Darling, you are absolutely right. You know what Jackie needs right now is... Mountains of hugs. Especially from you." She offers a little tip: "She's going to want to run. But don't you let her. She needs you now more than ever." Zoey nods sagely, putting praying hands to her lips, in thanks. And turns, bumping right into Jackie, who shouts, scaring her, and both women collapse in laughter while she stares back and forth, optimistic "ya got me" grin plastered on, smacking them both and wobbling away.
Mo-Mo massages Paula's feet, talking about her ex-husband and going through her purse. She tries to give him subway tokens, which are useless now and have been for seven years or so -- "How old is that purse?" -- but she pushes them on him, desperate to clean up after herself, to give him something. He takes them, without thanks, and when she calls him on it he points out that a foot massage is more than good enough. She relaxes into it, marveling at how it can feel so good when other parts of the same body, her lungs, feel full of razor blades.
Paula wonders at how she can still crave a cigarette, she says, waving a pack of American Spirits between them, to guilty smiles from both. The secret life of nurses, who smoke knowing what it can do, and then there's Paula, who doesn't have to feel any guilt at all. She blows the smoke in Jackie's face, and Jackie only smiles. Paula produces her housekeys, wondering who to give them to. The last responsibility, and to whom it should fall. She admits to Mo-Mo that all her stuff is "shit," just as Akalitus walks up asking how she's feeling. "Like I'm dying. And every time I see you, I am reminded what a slow and agonizing process it is." Which is not an answer, but then that's not really what she was asking. She repeats the question, in new words: "What are you still doing here?" Paula produces a middle finger from her purse as a final gift to Gloria, buying them more time.
Fitch sits in a room chair, curled sideways like a boy, reminiscing with Mrs. Scheinhorn about his childhood. He tried to change his name in fifth grade, he says, because the A-K kids in homeroom were so mean about his Tourette's and OCD and lesbian moms. She grins at him, shaking her head. "Well really, Fitch. Do you honestly think the L-Z kids would have been any nicer?" He shakes his head. But that wasn't the only reason he wanted to change it. "Paging Dr. Scheinhorn, Dr. Scheinhorn to the OR..." he says, and they laugh. It's what Mrs. Cooper says, what she's always said, making fun of Leslie; he wanted to be the doctor she was paging, to make her joke real.
"Cooper is a much better name," Mrs. Scheinhorn says, and he looks down, suddenly a boy. "Yeah, but I liked you better." She tells him to stop. "I taught you to drive stick, I let you stay up late? So what?" So she was a better cook too, he says, and sewed his buttons back on. And took him to Duran Duran. "I love you more, embrace it!" He's only kidding; he's not kidding at all. It's tremendous pressure on them both, but Mrs. Cooper -- sleeping just over there in the bed, a few feet away -- knows it's for their own good.
Mrs. Scheinhorn explains that she was more fun because Mrs. Cooper wanted them to bond, and gave her all the fun stuff. "She gets the credit, not me." And besides, she says taking his hand, "It worked. Here we are." From the bed comes the quavering, quiet voice of Mrs. Cooper as she wakes. "Paging Dr. Scheinhorn, Dr. Scheinhorn to the ER..." They both respond.
All gone, they tell her. All news is good. "And where is the little fucker?" she asks, getting stronger and more wakeful. They point to the jar. "Oh. For all the pain it sure as hell doesn't look like much. Exact same thing I said when they cut the cord, and put you in my arms." It's for his own good, still. It's so they'll bond. He smiles, because this is how Mrs. Cooper speaks to him, and it means she's feeling better; Mrs. Scheinhorn's heard it before.
Jackie stands at the nurses' station, reading charts and looking up facts, entering data, receiving faxes. All through the night, she stands in the nurses' station, as one by one the nurses come. Mo-Mo drops a vial into her hand, and then more hands move silently past, Thor, other nurses we've seen, dropping the bottles one by one into her waiting palm. They are a sisterhood as old as healing. It's a ritual for one of their own. Zoey watches it all go down, suspicious and innocent, unable to see the meaning in the dance, or the age of their sorority. This is love. With every bottle dropped, leading to death, into Jackie's palm, they are saying "I love you." Eddie's been doing this for a year now: Eddie brings up the rear.
Paula thanks Jackie and Elenor for taking time to sit with her, and Elenor continues her story. "So right before we stabilize Vagina Mom, he grabs my tit." Jackie wonders if she should ask, but Elenor goes ahead and explains. "Apparently Coop has two mothers. Vagina Mom's the one that actually gave birth to him -- as opposed to putting him in a sack and tossing him in the sea -- and the Other One is... The other one." They laugh, amazed as Elenor was that Cooper's capable of being so interesting.
Eddie arrives at Paula's bedside with a warm, tight smile, paying his respects while she's "passing through, so to speak." They banter for a bit, with a complete lack of that acidic sarcasm she's brought with the nurses, and he kisses her lips goodbye, as Zoey watches, with her hand tightly in his. It's hard to let go.
"Eddie's a nice guy," Paula says when she's gone, and Jackie's panicked eyes top a casual nod and a firm smile. "You know, he was my pipeline to Percocet after my surgery? Always thought he was so cute..." Jackie, not to put too fine a point on it, spazzes out. "Seriouslyhegaveyouextrapillsreally?" Elenor cocks her head at this whole new Jackie, and Paula nods. "Anything I wanted. One time I ran out of Vicodin..." Jackie's whole body starts flailing to a Catskills beat: "WellhuhhehuhImeanum hehwhoyagonnagoto hehImeanhe'sthe pharmacist, right? I'm gonnagetyoumoreiceokay?" Elenor has definitely noticed, now; all she's missing are the cartoon drops of sweat flying out of her head in all directions. When she stands, Paula smiles. "Jackie? Screw the ice. I think it's time for a toast." Jackie looks down at her, asking with her eyes, and after a moment she nods: "It's time."
The show is about, in broad terms, the razor line of public and private, and how we must straddle it every day if we're going to stay human. Eddie and Kevin, addiction and real life, Vagina Mom and The Other One, healers and patients: there's what's inside the door and what's outside it. Public school and private school, family-plan cell phones and the disposable kind. It's set in a hospital, and it's about nurses, who crisscross that line all the time if they're doing their job. And what this episode does is focus on the line itself, which is why Zoey's so important: Coop's Vagina Mom comes in and he's not allowed to touch her; Jackie's Other Mom comes in and doesn't want any treatment at all. And they deal with them in exactly the ways delineated by the show all along: the doctors diagnose and remove the offending organ, while the nurses draw together in a family, and serve the patient's soul.
Jackie fills up the needle from her donations, and caps it, and snorts a line of Percocet. "You okay?" asks Elenor outside, hearing her sniffling. "What do you think?" Jackie asks.
Zoey approaches Eddie awkwardly through the glass, and he calls her Angela. She asks to come in, with hand gestures, and once she's inside the Harmacy she sighs. He smiles, waiting for the point. "Okay. You and Jackie?" His smile falls. "Your friend. The nurse, who's dying." He clears his throat, taking her in again, protective: "Paula." She nods, not hearing him. "I think the nurses... uh ... Are planning something. For her. Ya know?" He doesn't move; he stares her down. "But I'm not sure I can participate in this thing that they're planning." He tells her to forget about it then, and that for the record he doesn't know what she's talking about. She nods. "Gotcha."
"...But if I don't, the other nurses won't respect me. I'm sure this is some sort of rite of passage or something." He is astounded. "So you think this kind of thing happens all the time? Because I've never seen it happen once." He's amazed by her. "Rite of passage? Jesus Christ, do you even think before you talk?" She nods, eyes wide: "Constantly!"
"Listen, I've been here since before you can read." She doesn't think so, because she could read since she was four. "Right, shut up. This is a shitty day for a lot of really good people. So get on board, stand on the sidelines, look the other way. Nobody's gonna judge you one way or the other." He shakes his head as she's leaving, and at the window she nods weirdly at him: "I thank you." I like Eddie more right now than ever. I didn't know he could be a man.
Jackie squirts the needle into a glass of champagne; Thor fills up their glasses one by one. Zoey stands in the back, near Jackie: done begging, done trying t