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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Nurse Jackie - Season Seven (Blu-ray)
Nurse Jackie - Season Seven (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // Unrated // October 20, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted November 7, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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My God, what a series! Nurse Jackie returns for its seventh and final season, capping an extraordinary run solidifying this remarkable program as one of the Top Ten television dramas of the last ten years. It has been quite a ride with its titular character, Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), an acerbic but talented ER nurse whose drug addiction scorches the earth much like Sherman did to Atlanta.

There's never been a character quite like Jackie on American television. The toll long-term habitual drug use takes until Nurse Jackie has largely been told in physiological terms, and to society's disenfranchised, not to professional working mothers. On Nurse Jackie, however, the physical impact of Jackie's drug use was always tangential. Rather, what so fascinates (and appalls) about Jackie Peyton is how her secret drug use and the manner in which she hides it at work and home not only inexorably spirals beyond her control but how it changes her. By Season Seven she has become a habitual liar and, at times, genuinely dangerous to be around. One literally should not believe anything she has to say; she has become utterly untrustworthy.

Worse, she's become borderline psychotic in the sense that, during this season, she fights to get her job and her kids back no matter the cost to everyone around her. The few remaining bridges left unburned go down in a blaze of glory. Those she doesn't horribly disappoint she outright betrays, inflicting terrible personal and professional damage on family members, longtime friends, and co-workers. And she does not care. Her little victories are Pyrrhic and she can't or is unwilling to recognize the pain she's inflicting. She's a television heroine who, by this point, has lost nearly all her humanity.

And all of it stems from a simple truth: She's a drug addict in denial about all the destruction she inflicts. She's convinced herself that, despite arrests, termination from her job, friends that have deserted her, etc. somehow she's still a good, loving mother whose occupation as a healer defines her. No matter that she was the chief contributor to the breakup of her family or that her addiction has put patients at risk.

This is exemplified in an early Season Seven episode where Jackie, having stolen (probably detrimental) medication from an elderly woman (Leslie Uggams) to sell to a drug dealer acquaintance to pay for her lawyer. Jackie chides him with, "Hey, don't sell these to any kids, okay?" They both chuckle at this, knowing full well he intends on doing exactly that, actions that would have mortified the Jackie Peyton of just a few seasons back.

As I discuss in my reviews of Nurse Jackie's first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth seasons, I actually didn't care for it all that much initially; the first few episodes of season one struck me as overly-familiar variations on Paddy Chayefsky's The Hospital (and later the NBC series St. Elsewhere), a black comedy take on a hopelessly broken health care system, albeit done on a much smaller, more intimate, 30-minute show scale.

But Nurse Jackie quickly found its footing, sporting a similar mélange of deliriously eccentric characters and situations. Falco and others have lamented that during award season the show always competes as a "Comedy," which Nurse Jackie emphatically is not. It's a witty drama, full of black humor and amusing ironies, yes, but unmistakably Nurse Jackie challenges its viewers with innovative, deeply troubling behavior by its protagonist; its last two seasons are, at times, genuinely disturbing.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray of Nurse Jackie - Season Seven is, as usual, way above average, with two discs containing all 12 half-hour episodes, buttressed by strong transfers and a lot of extra features.

Nurse Jackie's season six climaxed with Jackie, all but fleeing certain arrest and immediate dismissal from work, in her car armed with a satchel full of drugs provided for her by hospital pharmacist and sometime lover Eddie (Paul Schultze). Stuck in a traffic jam/accident scene on her way to the airport, her car smashes into an ambulance, and Jackie is arrested for drug possession.

Jackie's career seems over, but she cruelly/ingeniously shows up at work, prompting a hostile, very public response from her boss and onetime confidant, hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith). This opens the door for her powerful attorney (Mark Feuerstein) to legally get Jackie reinstated on a limited basis, though few want her there and no one trusts her.

Jackie's betrayal of Gloria is powerful stuff, with the latter's outpouring of anger noteworthy (not to mention Emmy-worthy) for its raw verisimilitude. From this point Gloria cuts Jackie from her life like a malignant tumor, even after the court orders Jackie reinstated. Even more troubling is watching Nurse Zoe (Merritt Wever), who long regarded Jackie as a mentor, blossom into an expert nurse (and leader) yet simultaneously heartsick over Jackie's humiliatingly diminished status there. Jackie, for her part, only continues lying and manipulating this poor, naïve girl who once so admired her.

Season Seven also makes good use of Schulze's Eddie character, a man so infatuated (and lustful) toward Jackie that he's ready to lose his job and go to prison on her behalf, even as Jackie wraps him around her little finger, too.

And, yet, the viewing audience can't hate Jackie entirely because it recognizes hers is a serious psychological and physical illness. Helping people is what she does, so she believes, and she strives to be an ideal mother, yet is so thoroughly messed-up and misguided that the audience can do little but watch dumbstruck by her self-destructive behavior -- behavior that negatively impacts everyone in her orbit.

The cast, as usual, is peerless, with Falco, Wever, Schulze, and Smith being especially memorable.

Video & Audio

Nurse Jackie - Season Seven is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen in 1080p high-definition. Twelve half-hour episodes are presented on two single-sided, region A discs, supported by optional English and Spanish subtitles. The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is impressive and, as noted above, only those endless disclaimers and ads get in the way of enjoying the program.

Extra Features

Supplements include a handful of featurettes in high-def: "The Last Patient," "Last Dance: Flash Mob with Edie Falco," and "Final Shift." Also included are audio commentary tracks by members of the cast and crew on four episodes, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.

Parting Thoughts

If you haven't seen it, catch up with it now. Nurse Jackie: Season Seven is a DVD Talk Collector Series title.

Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. His credits include film history books, DVD and Blu-ray audio commentaries and special features.

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