For better or worse, the intensity of Season 2's cliffhanger finale is not quite matched in Monday night's Season 3 debut.
In fact, 'Nurse Jackie' seems to once again hit the reset button on Jackie's escalating drug addiction and crumbling house of lies.
The show's fans will recall that Season 2 ended with Jackie's husband Kevin and her best friend Dr. O'Hara discovering her drug dependency and web of deception, and staging a pretty weak attempt at an intervention.
In Monday's premiere, Jackie's relationships with both Kevin and Dr. O'Hara are strained, to say the least, and she spends most of this episode covering her actions and manipulating the situation in her favor. Jackie's tough, we know that. But coming off the tension of that finale episode, which was extremely dramatic and superbly acted by the show's star Edie Falco, tonight's offering disappoints a bit. Though at the same time, it's essentially the exact pattern we saw with the Season 1 finale (in which Jackie seemed to be "caught) and Season 2 debut.
The question this season, as with every other season, is how long can Jackie keep all this up.
It's also interesting that this self-described comedy, a categorization bemoaned by viewers and critics alike, seems to go out of its way in Season 3 to play up the funnier characters and situations on the show. The zanier tone of the first half of Season 3 only underscores the suspicion that 'Nurse Jackie' can't quite decide what it wants to be.
But even if you're stressed out from Jackie's lies and drama, there are still plenty of reasons to keep watching. The biggest ones? Zoey, Thor, and Dr. Akalitus. They are, as always, exquisite.
'Nurse Jackie' airs on Monday nights at 10pm on Showtime.