Pharmacy Recap: Olive Kitteridge

Frances McDormand and Henry Jenkins are Olive and Henry Kitteridge in HBO’s 4-part miniseries “Olive Kitteridge”. The first episode “Pharmacy” begins on Valentine’s Day with Henry giving Olive a card and chocolates, which she barely acknowledges. You get quite a picture of the hard to please Olive Kitteridge in the first 10 minutes. She is a schoolteacher and Henry is the town pharmacist. They have a 13-year-old son named Christopher (Devin McKenzie Druid).

At work, a depressed woman named Rachel Coulson (Rosemarie DeWitt) drops by to try to get a double prescription of valium. Henry sends his longtime clerk, Lois Granger (Nancy E. Carroll), out for coffee so he can privately tell Rachel that he won’t fill the prescription he clearly feels she is going to abuse. A lady named Penny (Marianna Bassham) rushes in to tell him that Lois has taken a fall. Looks like Rachel will swipe somebody else’s prescription while Henry deals with the emergency. Lois dies. Olive and Christopher laugh when Henry tries to respectfully relate Lois Granger’s passing at dinner. “Oh, c’mon Henry,” Olive says, “you couldn’t stand the old bat.” She points out that now he can get someone young and cute who thinks he’s God. Henry acknowledges that’s true although he doesn’t join in the derision about “the old bat’s” demise.

The conversation turns to Christopher’s schoolwork. Olive says Christopher is getting a C in English and Christopher says his teacher O’Casey grades unfairly. Henry tries to defend Christopher but Olive goes ballistic and defends O’Casey, calling her son’s work “lazy, slapdash crap.” She starts taking the food away and washing dishes noisily and refuses to discuss it further. When Henry goes to empty his plate in the garbage, he sees his Valentine Day’s card in there. “I already read it,” Olive says. She tells him not to be hurt, he knows she doesn’t like clutter, grabs the card from the garbage and puts it in the window with “There. It’s up now for all to see,” as she chomps on a chocolate and looks him straight in the eye, as if daring him to complain.

Henry hires a young woman named Denise Thibodeau (Zoe Kazan) who is very much in love with her husband (Brady Corbet – his character’s name is Henry, too) and he with her. Henry is quite taken with his chatty new clerk and her positive outlook. Denise has great ideas, like a greeting card rack and goes out of her way to be nice to the customers and an awkward delivery guy named Jerry (Jesse Plemons), who also finds her charming. While Henry’s fondness for Denise grows, Christopher and Olive make fun of her and call her “the mouse”.

At school, it turns out that Olive has a tight friendship with Christopher’s teacher, Jim O’Casey (Peter Mullan). He calls her out of her detention class to recite “The Road Not Taken” in the hall and we already know that Olive would not tolerate such a dalliance, however poetic, in anyone else. Later, she and O’Casey drive Kevin Coulson (John Mullen) home. Olive confronts his mother Rachel about her pill addiction and suicidal ideation. She informs Rachel that Kevin got a 98 on his math test and it’s worth some praise. Christopher, however, is very angry at the delay and complains about O’Casey smoking with the window closed in the car. He later complains to Henry about the way O’Casey drives and Henry decides to drive Christopher and Olive to school himself.

Henry invites Denise and her husband to dinner and is invited to go on a weekend hunting trip with Thibodeau and his friend Tony Kuzio (James McMenamin). Denise’s husband is accidentally killed by Tony. Henry tries to comfort and take care of Denise. He gets her a kitten she names “Whiskers” and is absolutely thrilled with her new pet. But she replaces Henry as a driving teacher with Tony. Their relationship suffers a blow when Henry tries to tell her that he’s not sure Tony is the best choice of a teacher, but Denise passes her test. Hurt over the rift between them, Denise makes up with Henry. Then she accidentally runs over her kitten and calls upon Henry for support.

Jim O’Casey comes into a lounge where Olive and Henry are having dinner with another couple. He has a drink and writes a note at the bar and leaves. On their way home, Olive and Henry see a car crash and realize that it is O’Casey’s car. At home, Henry and Christopher peek in a room where Olive is crying uncontrollably. Henry decides that Denise needs friends her own age and gives Jerry some money to take her out to a movie and dinner. At home, he asks Olive if she is leaving him. “Oh, for God’s sake, Henry,” is her reply, “You can make a woman sick.” Henry understood what she meant even if you didn’t.

Also in Pharmacy:
Doyle Larkin: Adam Freeman
Louis Larkin: Donna Mitchell
Mrs. Howe – Moira Driscoll
Mrs. Merriman – Anabel Graetz
Irene O’Casey – Maureen Keiller
Bonnie Newton – Ann Dowd
Harmon Newton – Ken Cheeseman
Marlene Kuzio – Zillah Glory
Mr. Thibodeau – Frank Ridley
Sister-in-Law – Sam Pannier
Cooper Foster – Lucas Caleb Rooney
Angela O’Meara – Martha Wainwright

Pharmacy * Incoming Tide * A Different Road * Security

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