The new season of Showtime's noir dramedy "Nurse Jackie" doesn't get sappy and maudlin on us, thankfully.We left off at a stage intervention with O'Hara (Eve Best) and her husband (Dominic Fumusa) where Jackie refuses to admit her problem. Like many functioning addicts, as she hasn't truly bottomed out yet, and is "A-okay" in her mind.
The season is head and shoulders better than the last one for me, and without spoilers, the staged intervention - if it had somehow worked - would have killed the realistic day in the life twists and turns of All Saints' Hospital in New York City that drew me to the series in the first place.
Season 3 (premiering Monday, March 28 at 10pm on Showtime) brings us more flavor of All Saints' and puts a big spotlight on the series' secret weapon: Anna Deavere Smith as Gloria Akalitus, administrator and mother-confessor to the staff.
Another bonus for you this season is the more fleshed out character of Eddie, the pharmacy tech (Paul Schulze) who Jackie is trying so hard to leave behind, but is still drawn to physically.
Zoey and Thor's relationship and their unique quirk is a delight too, as Merritt Wever and Stephen Wallem are touchingly sweet, funny and hit all the right notes in their respective roles. There is a scene with God (Michael Buscemi) and Zoey that is one to look for.
Peter Facinelli revels in his hyper-obsessive perfectionist character of Dr. Fitch Cooper, a bereft man-boy who regresses emotionally throughout season 3.
But the stolen "Jackie" scenes are courtesy of thespian lioness, Anna Deavere Smith.
Smith is cast as hospital administrator Gloria Akalitus. For whatever reason, this season writers explore the competitive nature of Smith's highly educated, button-downed character.
We learn of her obsession with First Lady Michelle Obama and her wish to have the First Lady come and tour All Saints, and marvel at her commitment to rid NYC of fat kids. One hitch, the local Catholic Diocese has recalled her Saint statues, and the ensuing bargaining and outright un-church like behavior to get them back in the chapel is one of the brightest spots in the season.
We also see how Akalitus compartmentalizes information on a "need to know" basis and protects Jackie, her Sergeant-at-Arms of the ER. She plays favorites based on tenure, performance and personality. Gloria is simply wonderful this season.
"Nurse Jackie" has a lot of story to tell in a short 30 minutes. This series should be given an hour so that writers can flesh out and develop more of the B & C storylines of this great ensemble cast they were lucky to get. The ending to season three is a shocker, and sets up a season four perfectly. We just wish there was more time in each episode to tell us all the secrets and stories of All Saints Hospital.