Nurse Jackie's Season 4 Finale: It Ain’t Easy Being Sober

Nurse Jackie S04E10: "Handle Your Scandal"

I honestly didn’t think that Jackie Peyton could do it. Stay sober, that is. And I don’t mean that as an indictment against her as a person so much as a stab at the idea that storylines must be sensational in order to hold our attention. Though the fact that Jackie Peyton’s drug-free life in the fourth season of Nurse Jackie performed well enough to snag a fifth season certainly indicates that we aren’t such bad viewers ourselves. We don’t need Jackie to bang Eddie for drugs or enlist O’Hara’s help in hiding a dead drug dealer’s body to enjoy ourselves.

Jackie came into her own in the fourth-season finale "Handle Your Scandal," efficiently and successfully running the ER when douchebag boss Dr. Cruz was incapacitated by a severe asthma attack. Unsurprisingly, he fired her ass for insubordination when he came around, but Jackie was in good company joining the ranks of those whom have been dealt pink slips by the good doctor this past season—namely, Akalitus and Eddie.

Fired for their roles in enabling Jackie’s drug addiction, Akalitus and Eddie appeared to have made peace with their unemployment while still maintaining strong bonds with the remaining staff at All Saints. I especially loved Akalitus’ response to the picture of the nursing staff’s candlelight vigil to protest Jackie’s treatment, “Tell them to knock it off. That place is full of oxygen.” Akalitus can always be counted on to be the practical voice in the room, even when her own life has been thrust into some unexpected chaos.

In the aftermath of her dismissal, Jackie finally caved to daughter Grace’s repeated request that she be taken out of Catholic school and sent to public school with her friends. I’m glad those two appear to be mending their relationship. Their truce came in direct opposition to the tragic end that hit Dr. Cruz and his viridian haired son, Charlie. After previously recruiting Jackie to bail him out of jail, Jackie insisted that Charlie come clean to his father…not realizing that his father was her boss. The whole reveal went pretty terribly with a completely drugged up, barely conscious Charlie spilling the beans about where Jackie scored her drugs and Dr. Cruz being (understandably) less than thrilled about who his son’s “friend from rehab” turned out to be.

Still, as much as I have hated the guy all season long, it wasn’t particularly satisfying to watch his world implode. He and Jackie had, prior to her takeover of the ER, reached a sort of understanding. He was even willing to vouch for her integrity during her custody battle with Kevin. He seemed to be trying to do things Jackie’s way, letting the nursing staff run the department the way that they knew worked and taking an (admittedly very very small) interest in his underlings, looking at patients as people, rather than problems. He was taking baby steps, but the fact that he was taking any steps at all was impressive. The incident with Charlie and the sudden knowledge of just how extensive Jackie’s influence was felt like a betrayal and you can’t really fault the guy for feeling threatened.

But did he overreact? Oh yeah, totally.

As he and Jackie battled it out in the ER, Jackie pointed out that Cruz has promised his son that he wouldn’t fire Jackie if he went back to rehab for round five. I feel like that was kind of a low blow for Jackie to play. She DID pretty much go over the man’s head after they were already having trust issues, but hey, she was fighting for her job, and Cruz’s answer was telling about what kind of person he really was, and how much tragedy he, frankly, brought on himself. “I don’t give a shit what my kid wants.”

Jackie and Dr. Cruz are more similar than either of them would probably care to admit. In a lot of ways, Dr. Cruz presents the same personality traits that Jackie does and has in the past. Where he sees his apparent selfishness as something he was required to enforce in order to succeed in his career, Jackie’s previously manifested during her addiction. She hurt her family for years for the sake of getting her fix and Nurse Jackie’s fourth season has repeatedly forced her to examine her past actions honestly, as well as giving her an opportunity to put things right. It seems that Dr. Cruz was also often given chances to change, but he was either unable or unwilling to do so.

Despite Zoey handing over a “roadmap” to the All Saints workforce, a notebook she compiled of personality quirks and important facts about her co-workers, instructing Cruz to study it and put it to good use, the gesture may have come too little too late to save what one would assume to be the most important thing in Cruz’s life.

Banned from the hospital grounds after her dismissal, Jackie snuck back into All Saints to be there for O’Hara during the birth of her baby. She was caught by Dr. Cruz at the elevators where they picked right back up with the arguing until Jackie, positioned so that she could see into the busy ER while Cruz faced away from the doors of the ambulance bay, saw that the overdose case whose arrival had been announced moments before was none other than Charlie Cruz. Despite her efforts to get Dr. Cruz away from the ER, he realized right away who the arrival was and dragged Jackie into the ER with him. Sadly (and I do mean sadly because I freaking loved Charlie), he was a goner.

Just a few floors up, in the Panda Birthing Suite, O’Hara gave birth to a healthy boy, a perfectly inverted mirror to the turmoil taking place downstairs. Despite using his detective skills to figure out who O’Hara’s donor was, Cooper managed to keep his mouth shut. Anybody think O’Hara will let him play daddy-figure to her bambino? I think it could go either way, but I’m leaning toward probably. So, Jackie made it! I’m very proud. What are you hoping to see when we return to All Saints in Season 5? Here’s my list:

- Jackie Peyton: still sober!
- A reformed Dr. Cruz
- More sassy badass Zoey running the temp nurses through the wringer
- Eddie and Akalitus don’t necessarily need to get their jobs back as long as they’re still around in some capacity

What are your thoughts?

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