Despite ending Season 1 with its protagonist flat on her back, hopped up on morphine, Nurse Jackie reopens with equilibrium pretty much restored. Chaos looms after one of her biggest lies was partially exposed, but Jackie is fiercely in control.
Though the customary hospital dramas and the threat of her carefully constructed world falling apart keep the action going, this show seems to primarily be a character study of a complex woman. (By the way, for those of you without Showtime, the episode can be viewed free on the channel's site.)
Although cutting Momo is truly a shame, at least there is the return of the cute, once-stoned nurse from Season 1 as a recurring character, here to challenge Jackie's facade, played by Arjun Gupta. Yes, please.
If the show wanted to establish any more pointedly that Jackie isn't to be messed with, it did so with this ass-kicking scene. Maybe it was a little over-the-top, but I couldn't resist her husband's subsequent glee. And more broadly, the opening episode indicated that Jackie has yet to suffer any real consequences for feeding her addiction at the hospital's expense. Instead, she's retained her untouchable status (despite everything actually falling apart). Later in this episode, she'll actually be asked to reiterate the drug regulations to the other nurses.
Jackie's confidence, while well-earned, can unmistakably veer into arrogance and bossiness. And the writers clearly get a kick out of inverting the usual power dynamics, as Peter Facinelli's Dr. Cooper breaks down crying to Anna Deveare Smith's hospital administrator. (She isn't having it.)
But there's always a moment at which she redeems any sharp edged moments by being compassionate to the weakest people in the hospital — the patients. She's back to superwoman in this scene where she tries to persuade an insurer to cover the surgery of a deaf woman with a severed hand. Just in time for the passing of health care reform!