Episode 7, Steak knife
Given that Beckett could make great drama out of a set up where nothing happens (twice) and thereby revolutionise 20th Century theatre, maybe Nurse Jackie can do the same for TV comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t not enjoy it. It was compelling – it just wasn’t comedic. Correction. It had one great moment of comedy – like the diamond on the otherwise apparently subfusc bracelet gift from boyfriend Eddie: the scene when Nurse Jackie’s trainee nurse is bored just staunching a wound and is sorely tempted to remove the knife from the comatose stab victim (Nurse Jackie explains ‘We don’t remove foreign objects that are protruding from the patient – that is the surgeon’s job’).
Otherwise, this was all about relationships – a complex web of relationships to be sure. But not relationships as a foil for comedy. Relationships as a foil for relationships. Perhaps the most intriguing was Nurse Jackie’s relationship with comic possibility. Maybe I’d misread (or imagined) all the pre-Nurse Jackie hype, and this was the first episode I had seen, but I was expecting her to be a smart-talking, wise-cracking, no nonsense, pill-popping … you get the picture.
But in the face of comic opportunity, she was most often compellingly silent or calmly compassionate. Lots of set-ups, no punchlines. Example. Mrs Akilitus, the administrator – who has seemingly made a brave career switch from being White House Security Adviser (and I would have bet big on Obama keeping her on) – spends most of the episode carrying round an abandoned baby seeking its parents. Lines ready for Nurse Jackie? Zip. She simply spots and casually removes a paperclip from its nose.
The Estragon to her Vladimir here turns out to be an English doctor who is happily awash with booze and pills, which Nurse Jackie again watches with benign passivity. A supportive friend listening to her troubles and putting her up in her apartment for the night.
And the arc of the other threads all seem designed…