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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nurse Jackie: "Ring Finger"

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Jackie: Laugh or cry?

Eddie: [already chuckling] Laugh!

That one exchange could basically sum up the whole of this fast-paced, almost uniformly upbeat episode. Sure, there were a couple of notes of sadness, mostly with the young cardiac arrest patient who died only two-thirds of the way through his To Do list of "razors, Marley & Me, stamps." Is that list just one of the saddest, most ordinary things you've ever seen? Yes. Is it sad that he suddenly died, alone, while completing a list of mundane everyday chores? Yes. Is it sad that his Marley & Me date didn't know he was dead, and scolded him for being late? Of course. But Jackie doesn't seem to dwell on the sadness of it all. Instead she puts stamps on the deceased's letters, drops them in the mailbox, and even does a little tap dance jig as she's walking home—maybe to celebrate doing her one good thing for the day.

Or maybe it's because, by that point, Jackie has resolved to push through all her problems, no matter what they might be, and, strangely for Jackie, to see the lighter side of everything: Jackie's in a fight with Dr. Fancypants for blabbing Jackie's secrets to her Parisian sister? Well, Fancypants apologized with many newsstand gifts, so whatever! Jackie can't get her wedding ring off? No problem, just have Dr. Fancypants saw it off! Coop is threatening to expose Jackie's shenanigans with the organ donor? No big deal, in a brilliant movie, Jackie just ropes Coop into grabbing her boob, then kisses him—now he's an ally! Zooey catches Jackie and Eddie going at it in the pharmacy's back room? Well, you can either laugh or cry. Jackie chooses laugh, then swears Zooey to secrecy.

Certainly there were a lot of things worth laughing about in this episode—"Which is bigger: Morbidly Obese or Super Obese?", Coop's nervous stuttering when Jackie holds his hand on her breast and looks him in the eye; Coop smiling post-kiss, then watching the petal fall from his girlfriend's flowers; Jackie's re-cap of the day's events to Dr. Fancypants; Jackie harsh "Excuse me," when Zooey hugs her. And the pacing of everything was quick and light, just clip-clip-clipping, or, more accurately considering the ending, tap-tap-tapping along.


But, it's important to note that Jackie herself didn't laugh in this episode, save for when she was with her daughter after dance class, laughing about HusbandBot3000's alleged high school ex-girlfriend. At the hospital, Jackie was laugh-free, despite the laughter going on around her. Coop laughed post-kiss, but not Jackie. Dr. Fancypants burst out laughing when she hears about Jackie's day, but Jackie doesn't join her. Eddie laughed heartily after Zooey walked in, but not Jackie. Zooey laughed after walking in on Jackie & Eddie, but not Jackie. In fact, the closest that Jackie came to both laughing and crying in the hospital this episode is when she sat on the ladies' room floor and smashed her ring finger with a hammer—a fast, almost gasping, teary-eyed chuckle. Maybe that's Jackie's way of dealing with all of the stress and the lies of her double life: to not give in too much to either the joy or the pain of it all but to stand on the line between both, neither laughing nor crying.

Or maybe, you know, all the drugs are making her numb.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

—No Akalitus! No HusbandBot3000! No magical chicken soup! Lots of Coop, Zooey, and Eddie! This episode was as close to perfect as it gets.

—"I went to second with my manager at Burger King, so I totally get it." I've said it before, but Merritt Weaver really is hilarious in this show.

—Wasn't it fun to watch Coop just stutter and melt in the face of Jackie's forwardness?


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