Edie Falco dramedy much improved after shaking things up
For the two-plus seasons I watched "Nurse Jackie," it was a show with a tremendous lead performance by Edie Falco, a bunch of well-etched supporting characters played by Merritt Wever, Anna Deavere Smith and Peter Facinelli (among others) and a reliably black comic sensibility that could deftly turn on a dime for more serious moment. But it was also a show that, like Jackie — a painkiller addict concealing her addiction, an extramarital affair and any number of other secrets — stubbornly, proudly in denial of the need to change things up even a little. Consequences seemed to hurtle at Jackie with regularity, but they were always quickly dodged.
After a while, that refusal to shake things up and force Jackie to deal with the wreck her life had become forced me to quit the show cold turkey. After I left, things got even worse on the no-consequences front, as last season's finale (which I later watched on a "Even you won't believe they did this" recommendation from a friend) went out of its way to tease anyone who thought comeuppance was coming. On the personal front, right when Jackie was on the verge of confessing her adultery to husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), he admitted an affair to her, allowing her to hypocritically reclaim the moral high ground, while at work, Ms. Akalitus (Smith) threw Jackie's drug test in the trash to protect her.
But sometime between that finale and the fourth season premiere (Sunday at 9 p.m.), "Jackie" co-creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem appear to have had a moment of clarity and realized that if their show kept running in place, it would suffer a slow, mediocre death. "Nurse Jackie" season 4 is all consequences, all the time — and is much, much more satisfying overall as a result.