thoughts on pop culture

House Season 5 Episode 24: Both Sides Now

I am a colossal fool.

I actually bought into last week’s episode and the House-Cuddy hookup that wrapped it up. I can’t believe I didn’t even see this coming.

I’ve said it about a million times–we know that the patients on House always parallel what’s going on outside the exam room. Tonight the patient had ‘alien hand syndrome’ as a result of a procedure to split his brain in two. Oddly, I wasn’t even tipped off to the outcome of the episode when Thirteen made a totally obvious comment about the question of identity raised by their patient. My suspended disbelief even stayed intact as the episode got more and more ridiculous–with House announcing his Cuddy hookup to the entire staff after being encouraged by Wilson to be a bigger asshole than normal! Ultimately, the big reveal showed us that House quitting vicodin cold turkey was just a bunch of shit and that everything since his conversation with Cuddy last week was just a vision.

Despite my disappointment with the reveal, I enjoyed a couple parts of the episode immensely. House treating Cuddy’s potential feelings like an illness to be diagnosed was both funny and true to his character, although ultimately this led to the climax and my disappointment. Better still was the appearance of Carl Reiner as clinic patient Eugene Schwartz. At first I thought this was just an excuse for Reiner to cut up and give House/Cuddy something to fight about. I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreaking revelation that Eugene really had pancreatic cancer all along.

The good lines were spread around tonight:

  • House – “It’s like locking the barn door after the horse got out and it’s had its face between your breasts for an hour and a half.”
  • Wilson, responding to House’s update about getting busy with Cuddy – “Wow. You were sober AND SHE was sober?”
  • Thirteen to Taub about Chase/Cameron – “It’s always a sad thing when sperm comes between people.”
  • House – “Great advice, you pretend I’m gonna do that.”
  • Cuddy to House about his announcement to the staff – “What you did is beyond asshood!”

Another thing sticks with me about this episode. When House retrieved Wilson to assist with the patient in the MRI lab, he told Wilson he needed his special skills. Wilson came and talked the patient in a way that kept him preoccupied while the team could look for the underlying problem. I was left with the impression that even House realizes that Wilson has a talent for interacting with people who have mental problems.

The following are the three notes I wrote, in the order I wrote them, during the big climax scene in Cuddy’s office.

  1. What is going on with House?
  2. Is this whole thing a hallucination?
  3. Are you fucking kidding me?

As I watched the closing montage, I found myself unfulfilled by the Chase/Cameron wedding, even though I wanted them to be together. More importantly, I was shocked to see House actually allowing himself to be taken to rehab. At least I thought it was rehab until I saw the sign over the door that said Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Was House actually committing himself? I guess we’ll find out for sure in a few months, but he made it pretty clear last week that vicodin-induced hallucinations would be easier to overcome than being a wacko–at least from a career perspective. This makes me think it really is rehab, and that it just happens to be a very serious program that actually takes place at a mental institution.


May 11, 2009 - Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I think he’s meant to be committed for psychiatric issues. That’s what makes it a powerful, terrifying game-changer for House. He knows what it means to be deemed mentally incapable of being a doctor. No doubt he will also detox there, because it’s kind of key to be off any mind-altering drugs before you can be properly diagnosed psychiatrically, but I think the point is that his issues are psychiatric in nature, and not substance-abuse related. Well, maybe related. Who knows what kind of damage he’s done to his brain by now with vicodin. Or the surgery he had before Amber died…maybe that had a somewhat latent effect. I think the main thing that points to psychiatric is that his hallucinations started soon after Kutner died.
    I’m not sure why he didn’t try detox instead of going straight for the psych hospital; unless he knows that the kind of hallucinations he had(pretty tactile, realistic, and long lasting) are not a symptom of vicodin abuse.
    I’m excited to see where they take it all next year!

    Comment by Unrulyweds | May 12, 2009

  2. You make an excellent point. Obviously the prospect of House committing himself is far more shocking than another try at rehab. I also like the idea that the big climax scene showed him he has a much deeper problem than the vicodin could have caused. As for it being triggered by Kutner’s death, I just wonder how far down that road they will go since Kal Penn is too busy at the White House to come shoot cameo appearances next season.

    Comment by kingoftelevision | May 12, 2009

    • I really doubt they’ll delve much into the Kutner issue, since A) Yup, ol’ Kal will be too busy with the ‘other’ House and B) Maybe they’ll just refer to Kutner as a trigger and not a root cause of the issue.

      I’m impressed with how they decided to end this season. A show like House can tend to get formulaic, and the season ender can really only shock us by putting a main character in danger of leaving the show(either by death or quitting/being fired). But here they’ve put House in a completely different kind of danger-in danger of losing his mind, the thing that makes his life worth living, the only value he feels he has in the world. Kudos on that one.

      Comment by Unrulyweds | May 12, 2009

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