Nurse Jackie returned for the premiere of its fifth season Sunday night on Showtime. And thank the lord it did. Nurse Jackie remains one of the few shows that has been successfully able to ease into five seasons without becoming rote, predictable, annoying, or straight-up bad. The characters, most notably Edie Falco's Jackie, Eve Best's Dr. O'hara, and Zoey (only one word needed), have remained fresh throughout four straight seasons and judging from Sunday's premiere, will continue that streak for a fifth.
We saw Season four close out with a sober, job-less, what-do-I-do-next Jackie. Gloria Akalitus was also fired from All Saints along with former-pharmacist Eddie, leaving the once densely populated ER a veritable ghost-town. I must admit that while I love every single episode of Nurse Jackie, the last episode of Season 4 did leave me with a moderately uncomfortable feeling of what was to come next. No Gloria? No Eddie? Zoey's great and all but she's no Jackie. So needless to say, when the first five minutes of the premiere plotted these All Saints faves back in their beloved ER, I was relieved. The episode gingerly triggers our memories of the events that occurred last season. The divine-rich-Brit O'Hara's baby son makes an introduction (what a munchkin) as she breaks the news she is leaving All Saints to spend time with "the one person who depends on her." Not to be unfeeling/anti-feminist but really now...we all know that plotline simply cannot last. She will come back. Right? Coop is just, well...Coop. And Dr. Mike Cruz is noticeably absent from both the episode and the hospital, his position reclaimed by Anna Deavere Smith's Gloria. While a welcome swap indeed, we are left with no explanation as to why this took place. We assume Dr. Cruz was fired or more likely quit due to the tragic death of his alcoholic/addict son... however that is at our subjective discretion. Two new characters grace All Saints, a brash new male head-of-ER-doctor and a what-seems-to-be-ditzy Dr. Blonde Barbie.
And then, of course, there's Falco's Jackie Peyton. Jackie is still clean and sober and has clearly reclaimed her position as All Saints head nurse. No surprise there. After all, it would be pretty difficult to write off the title character's title. Although sober (for now), her cutting demeanor and hard edges are still in tact, but we do begin to see a softer side. Note the sandwich hug with O'hara and her Gerber-looking baby. Whether or not Jackie can stay sober is going to be the clear consistent theme throughout this season. We begin to see hints of this current when, after a Victor Cruz-esque football player swallows pill-stuffed condoms, Jackie secretly takes a few of the pills home with her. Just for safe keeping of course. Ultimately, she dumps the lot down the toilet at episode end... except for one. "Sobriety is a bitch indeed."
What will ultimately unfold at All Saints for Jackie and the crew this season remains to be seen. And where Jackie lands is anyone's best guess. In the meanwhile, let us all clear our DVR's, relish the coming eleven Sunday nights and look forward to the next chapter in Jackie's ever-tumultuous book of life.