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House of Cards: Nurse Jackie Wraps Its Sensational Second Season Tonight

I just wanted to offer a few quick words about one of my favorite series, Showtime's deliciously dark comedy Nurse Jackie, which wraps up its second season tonight.

I've been a ardent viewer of Nurse Jackie since before it premiered and the second season hasn't disappointed at all. While many series suffer through a sophomore slump, Jackie has actually become more acutely pointed and shocking in its second year, deepening its characters rather than making them cartoonish, and giving everyone in the talented cast--Edie Falco, Merritt Wever, Eve Best, Paul Schulze, Dominic Fumusa, Anna Deavere Smith, Stephen Wallem, Arjun Gupta, and Peter Facinelli--moments in the spotlight in which to shine. (Deavere Smith's Akalitus has become, over the course of the second season, a personal favorite thanks to some deft shading.)

What makes these characters instantly fascinating isn't that they are likeable but because their flaws and quirks are relatable. Jackie Peyton's quest to be good, to her patients, her family, and herself, is one that we all go through on a daily basis, although I can only hope that we don't quite toe the line into darkness that Jackie does, self-medicating with prescription medications, living a double life, and embarking on a series of behaviors that can only be described as self-destructive.

Jackie is forced to deal head-on with those behaviors and their inevitable consequences in Nurse Jackie's season finale ("Years of Service"), a remarkable installment that's at once humorous, tense, and heartbreaking, as the house of cards that Jackie has built in her head comes crashing down around her tonight.

I don't want to say too much about the episode because I don't want to ruin what is a fantastic and ambiguous ending, one that acts as a callback to the Season One finale and one that sets up a potential new direction for the series in Season Three. Jackie's core relationships--her marriage to Kevin (Fumusa) and her friendship with Dr. O'Hara (Best)--are all severely tested by a chain of discoveries, ones that will have increasingly dire implications for Jackie herself.

While Jackie might be at the center of the episode (and the series), it's the colorful cast of characters around her that keep the series buoyant and intoxicating. Look for some fantastic moments from Wever's Zoey Barkow, Best's Eleanor O'Hara, Facinelli's Coop, Fumusa's Kevin, and Wallem's towering giant of a nurse, Thor.

I'm going to miss each and every one of them as we begin the long, grueling wait for a third season of Nurse Jackie. After tonight's brilliant episode, that wait will be made even more torturous...

The second season finale of Nurse Jackie airs tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on Showtime.


Lisa said…
I second your enthusiastic words about "Nurse Jackie". What a show, what amazing performances from everybody -- including an interesting slew of guest stars -- and consistently interesting storylines. I also agree about Akalitus -- she's become one of my favorites, too. Can't wait for tonight's episode!
Iona said…
Another excellent season. And I agree with your comments about Akalitus. She was the only character who didn't quite work in season one but they've added layers and have made her more real and she's now a favorite of mine too.

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