Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: The unofficial start of summer has us thinking of TV road trips.
Nurse Jackie, “What The Day Brings” (season two, episode 11; originally aired 5/31/2010)
The family road trip is a cherished summer tradition for good reason. School lets out, disparate schedules suddenly align, and petty sibling squabbles are set aside as the family galvanizes around the common goal of beating the heat. But Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) cares little for tradition when she goads her husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and two young daughters (Daisy Tahan and Ruby Jerins) into an impulsive road trip in the dead of winter. She has her reasons. Despite the frigid temperatures, the Peytons are still trying to escape the heat, except in this case, the heat is coming from an enraged drug dealer whose stash Jackie stole as he was being wheeled into her hospital on a stretcher.
In “What The Day Brings,” the penultimate episode of Nurse Jackie’s second season, Jackie does everything within her power to put on a brave face for her family and create the illusion of carefree fun as they trek out of town. It’s an impressive performance considering the noose is quickly tightening around Jackie, a highly respected nurse in a Manhattan emergency room, whose indiscriminate drug addiction is becoming more difficult to hide from her family and colleagues. But the charade is hard to maintain because, as is common with addicts, the reflexive dishonesty Jackie developed to conceal her drug habit became its own addiction. Jackie’s also having an affair with a co-worker who has no idea she’s married, and she accepted a cash gift from another workmate to help pay private school tuition for one of her daughters over her husband’s staunch objections.
The Peytons wind up in a seaside bed and breakfast run by an uneasy innkeeper (Becky Ann Baker), abundantly furnished with creepy antiques and plagued with silence. Despite pressuring the family into playing hooky, Jackie is the first to crack. “Kevin, please don’t kill me,” Jackie says. “I’m just having this ‘no place like home’ kind of a moment. I like our bed. I like our breakfast. How fucked up is that? I drag us all the way out here and that’s all I can think about.” The unfailingly patient Kevin says they can go home, and before they’ve even arrived back in city, Jackie’s lies begin to catch up with her when her daughter accidentally reveals she’ll be changing schools. He’s so livid he stops the car and gets out to walk as Jackie sits stupefied, struggling to explain what’s happening to the kids. Only then does Jackie realize she’s longing for a bed she’s made far too uncomfortable to lie in.
Availability: “What The Day Brings” is available on the Nurse Jackie: Season Two DVD set. It can also be streamed free via Showtime Anytime and purchased through iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.