Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Nurse Jackie’s Season Five Finale – Jackie Performs Last Rites (Extreme Unction) on an Aged Dying Gay Man

Edie Falco and Stephen Wallem  -  Nurse Jackie and Nurse Thor

Amid the work politics of a Catholic hospital Emergency Room in mid-town Manhattan and Nurse Jackie’s ongoing battle to stay sober from her addictions for one year, in comes the elderly patient of Wally – “Wally, an 80 year old gay man with advanced liver cancer is admitted into the hospital. Thor instantly gravitates toward him.-“

(Aside - Thor in case you don’t watch regularly is the tall gnarly looking nurse of Norse decent who is a show biz wanna-be type, working the day job and hoping for the Broadway success dream thing outside the regular job.)

It is determined that Wally, with terminal cancer, should be in a Hospice. That they, the doctor and administrator do not want to admit him to the hospital for various reasons. For the time being Hospital Administrator Gloria Akalitus will let the patient stay in ER.

The various stuff of this half hour hospital soap opera goes on around them. Affairs of nurses with doctors, doctors with doctors, sexual harassment cases of incompetent doctors who need lawyers to reverse dismissal, Jackie’s teenage daughter on drugs, amid the wreckage of her recent divorce etc.
Thor takes a moment or two in empathetic metaphoric embrace with Wally in his quiet corner of ER and verbalizes realization how hard it is to age and be alone as a gay man with Wally. 

Wally refuses a morphine drip, being “sober” for twenty two years and that milestone and distinction seems more important than pain relief on his death bed.

Nurse Jackie discovers a little bit later that Thor has overridden all orders to the contrary and started the morphine drip for Wally (Gayman).

It is in the morphine stupor of a dying gay man alone that a conversation starts after Wally sees an Infant of Prague metal around Jackie’s neck and starts a conversation between two lapsed Catholics, Wally and Jackie. 

Wally makes the remark not that the Church left him or so many after Vatican II, he rather remarks that “you can leave the church but the church never leaves you”.

It is at a later moment and scene that Wally wants last rites of the Roman Catholic Church and when Nurse Jackie says she will contact a priest, Wally refuses the priest and insists that Nurse Jackie administer the sacred oil and words of the ritual.

So after a scene or two of hospital and family politics and decadence, Hospital Admin Gloria produces a prayer book and sacred oil. It is a catholic hospital after all.

I am not certain if the prayers or the ceremony is current. Jackie uses the word “Unction” in the process of blessing the senses with oil.

Wally* passes away.


No comments: