Episode Title: "Batting Practice"
Writer: Liz Flahive
Director: Linda Wallem
Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) leaves early in the morning to get some batting practice in. Eddie (Paul Schluze) meets him at the cages, after getting a call from Kevin. He begins to tell Eddie about his marriage woes, while taking some nasty swings. Kevin tells Eddie he's gotta know what he's talking about Eddie nervously says he doesn't. Kevin breaks the bat with his next swing,
At All Saints, Jackie (Edie Falco) stops in Akalitus' (Anna Deavere Smith) office to ask about her probation. Akalitus says she'll be on it until further notice. Jackie then heads into the women's room and takes a bunch of Grace's Xanax.
Akalitus tells a group of overweight children that the First Lady won't be visiting All Saints but plans to make it a great day for them, nonetheless. Thor (Stephen Wallem) gives Cooper (Peter Facinelli) his winnings from the Fantasy Football league and asks about being his Best Man at the wedding. Cooper wiggles out of the request by saying Thor can't be both the Best Man and the singer.
At the nurses' station, Zoey (Merrit Wever) invites everyone to a Nurses' Appreciation Week party in the basement. Eddie stops by Jackie's station to tell her he thinks Kevin knows about their previous affair. However, Jackie insists that he doesn't.
While treating a cab driver suffering from breathing problems, Jackie tells Kelly (Gbenga Akinnagbe) she can't handle medication. The two work together to insert a tube into the man's chest and save his life.
After dealing with a hypochondriac who came the ER over a cough, Cooper takes Jackie into the chapel where he asks her to be his wedding coordinator. She declines at first but agrees when he guilts over his mothers' divorce.
Lenny (Lenny Jacobson) stops by the party in the basement, with only Zoey in attendance. Despite the decorations, he has no idea what the occasion is. Soon after, Thor comes down and tells Zoey that he's singing in Coop's wedding.
Jackie asks O'Hara (Eve Best) to refill Grace's Xanax. O'Hara tells her there's no way the child went through it all and Jackie says she didn't. She leaves quickly to return to the coughing hypochondriac. She talks the woman out of taking the Codeine that was given to her.
Kelly bursts into the women's room, feeling a rush after he and Jackie saved the cabbie's life. He admits to being responsible for her probation, due to the missing patches, but says that he didn't give her name. He then invites her out after work, with the incentive that he'll give her some secrets to hold over his head. Jackie says she'll think about it and takes the Codeine, after he leaves.
Coop asks Eddie to be his Best Man but he turns him down, on the grounds that the wedding is crazy. A cop stops by Zoey's party with flowers and both she and Thor are immediately skeptical. He says no one sent him, rather his family is full of nurses so he's very aware of the occasion. Zoey flirts with him a bit and takes the flowers. Thor reminds her about Lenny.
Outside All Saints, Coop tries again to convince Eddie, saying he's lonely and just wants someone to share his life with. Eddie reluctantly agrees to be his Best Man.
Jackie goes to O'Hara to see about the Xanax. She gives her the pills but also says she wants to help her get clean, by acting as a "very fancy Methadone clinic." Jackie says "ok."
Later at the bar with Kelly, Jackie makes up a story about taking the patches for back pain after an accident. Kelly reveals that he took six of the ten missing and has never been to Haiti. Jackie bursts out laughing.
Spending some quality alone time with your friend whose wife you banged, wielding a baseball doesn't sound like a good idea. But we know something about Kevin that Eddie doesn't.
"Batting Practice" ramped up the drama going into next week's season finale but the episode was full of laugh-out-loud moments, as well. In particular, Akalitus making a whistle out of an empty box of raisins and Cooper roping Jackie and Eddie in on his Vegas wedding ala All Saints.
"Nurse Jackie" has struggled at times, this season, to find its footing as a "dramedy," but "Batting Practice" was a model example of just the right kind of rhythm and pacing the dark comedy needs to hit both notes. One minute, we're laughing at plump middle schoolers staring down the head of a hospital, the next we're watching, aghast, as the titular main character downs a bottle of her daughter's Xanax.
That's not to say there weren't a few eye-rollers in this episode. The "Coop's getting married" storyline hasn't been a favorite of mine, as I thought this character was much funnier when he wasn't such a sad-sack. But wrangling his co-workers into his sham of a wedding party was worth a chuckle. And the always funny Zoey putting on a sparsely attended nurses' appreciation party and then reaming out a well-meaning cop bearing flowers was pure comedy.
As for Jackie, we know the only thing she does better than take care of patients is lie to her friends and family. But in "Batting Practice," Jackie learned she's not the only who can spin a good tale. Not only did Kelly lie about taking the patches, he's also never been to Haiti. Jackie found all of this hysterical but once this kind of deception begins to affect her own life, we'll see how funny she finds it.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out 10.