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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.

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May 11, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

House Season 5 Episode 23: Under My Skin

You sure can tell that we are approaching the end of the season–they just don’t make episodes this good in November. Cue the spoiler-rific analysis…

The patient story was okay tonight, but as it is with the best episodes of House, the patient story isn’t really that important anyway. I will say that I looked up Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and a highly recommend that you avoid Google Images on this one. For your sake, my link is to a Wikipedia article that contains no pictures. It does however confirm exactly what the episode told us, that this is a 1 in 1 million reaction to medication. It was interesting to see the team finish the case without House present, and it’s also funny to see Chase reinserting himself into the team. My only other comment on the patient is that no, her boyfriend was not Jonathan Brandis from seaQuest DSV.

As entertaining as it always is to watch House attempt to diagnose a patient, it’s always better when he is trying to diagnose himself. That’s exactly what made the season four finale great, and tonight was much the same. While it was obvious that we were leading to up to House confronting his Vicodin addiction, we still got some great television along the way including House actually apologizing to a patient for his methods. And even though he’s experimented on himself before, I really enjoyed House putting himself into insulin shock.  In fact, it really made me think about what a great Dr. Jekyll/Hyde we would get if Hugh Laurie was ever so inclined.

Ultimately, House faced his addiction head on, although not in the way I expected. When he walked into Cuddy’s office and announced that he was quitting, I thought he was doing it so he could secretly go to rehab. I didn’t expect him to make himself vulnerable by giving up control and putting it in Cuddy’s hands. We’ve seen House go through withdrawal before, so what we got next wasn’t entirely new territory. What was new was the exposure to House’s subconscious we got thanks to Imaginary Amber. On a quick side note, I’m somewhat disappointed that, while we see a very shitty-looking House in withdrawal, my research says there is just no way someone taking that much Vicodin could be through the worst in one night. 

After a long night, House awakens to find that the only annoying sound in the room is Cuddy’s breathing, and Amber is gone. This leads us to Cuddy’s departure, and the moment we’ve been waiting for since episode six this season. After episode six, I said I was glad that House and Cuddy didn’t jump in the sack right away and now I know why. This was a much better story to drive these two together. Cuddy loves taking care of House, and she is the only person with whom he is willing to show his true self. I know they won’t be happy-ever-after, but I believe they really do belong together at the end, whenever that comes.

House’s lines of the night:

  • Foreman wants to know why House was talking to the patient–“I think skinless women are hot.”
  • Wilson thinks that the vision of Amber means something–“Yeah, the irrational part of my brain picked the rational part of yours.”
  • Telling Wilson not to use the “cancer voice” with him.
  • What’s worse than death? “Double death?”
  • And for the romantic in me–Cuddy: “You want to kiss me don’t you?” House: “I always want to kiss you.”

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 5 Episode 23: Under My Skin

House Season 5 Episode 22: House Divided

Last week, when the episode ended with a vision of Amber (aka Cutthroat Bitch) greeting House at his apartment, I was not excited.  It seemed like a weak attempt to fill out the cast after the sudden departure of Kal Penn’s Dr. Kutner.  In addition, I really felt like we had already done the whole ‘vision of Amber’ thing back at the end of Season 4 when House was remembering the circumstances of the accident that caused in her death.

The opening of the episode was excellent.  While I have no experience being deaf, I felt like they did an outstanding job of recreating the experience from the patient’s perspective, especially the way they created the symptoms of Exploding Head Syndrome.

House’s greatest hits of the night:

  • Showing up with the giant 80’s style boombox and the hilarious sunglasses.
  • Calling imaginary Amber “Gazoo” (Flintstones reference for those who didn’t get it)
  • On Wilson helping plan the bachelor party – “What, there were no retired ministers available to plan it?”
  • About Dr. Cameron – “Says the soon-to-be second prettiest Dr. Chase.”
  • Wearing the bluetooth headset so he didn’t look like a crazy man talking to himself.
  • Adding chemical burns to the death certificate after his practice in the morgue went wrong.
  • Secretly throwing the bachelor party at Wilson’s apartment so he had no choice but to attend and end up wandering through the streets with no pants.

This was one of those great episodes of House that gave us both a great patient mystery and an outstanding non-patient story. Watching House go from dismissive of Imaginary Amber to completely reliant upon her was intriguing, but not nearly as interesting as the revelation that his subconscious thoughts were not to be trusted. It’s one thing to take advantage of the excellent recall of distant memory, but another to allow your base instincts to nearly cause the death of Dr. Chase.

Near the end of the episode, we also saw a rare vulnerable side of House, as he admitted to Cuddy that he had not been able to sleep since Kutner’s suicide. It’s rare to see this kind of honesty from House without it being immediately followed by a smart-ass remark. Then, as the episode closed and House awoke after a full night’s sleep, he is greeted by Imaginary Amber, who asks, “Sleep well?”

Far from a desperate attempt to fill the Kutner void, I think this may actually have been the best episode of the season.

May 3, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 5 Episode 22: House Divided

House Season 5 Episode 20: Simple Explanation

I was all set to write a pretty standard post about this week’s House until about 8 minutes into the episode.

SPOILERS!

Holy shit Kutner is dead!  This took me completely by surprise.  Perhaps I need to start paying attention to the teasers for next week’s episode.

As an aside, the White House announced today that Kal Penn has accepted a position with the Obama Administration, so the departure was definitely his idea.

I wanted to believe it when House started talking murder instead of suicide, but when the very next scene included Meatloaf’s wife trying to kill herself, I saw a classic House patient/doctor parallel, and realized that Kutner definitely pulled the trigger on his own.  Later in the episode, Cuddy pulls it together nicely by pointing out that House doesn’t want to believe it was a suicide since Kutner shared so many of House’s character traits.

I think it’s a shame for Meatloaf that he ended up in this episode since the Kutner story completely overshadowed the actual case at hand.  When I look back at this episode, I’m probably more likely to remember the little drunk pageant girl than Meatloaf.

Near the end of the episode, when Taub actually grew a pair and confronted the patients, I was excited.  I thought we might see a new Taub from now on.  Then it all melted away as soon as he was alone, and we got to watch him cry like a baby as the episode ended.  However, before he wilted like a little girl, Taub did deliver the best line of the night, and he bitchslapped House in the process.  As House was obsessing about Kutner’s “murder”, he asks Taub what doesn’t seem right about it, and Taub’s response is, “A man who only pursues the rational, suddenly pursuing the irrational.”  That called out the theme of this episode–watching House, who always strives to cut emotion out of the case, allow emotion to rule his own analysis of Kutner’s death.  I guess Greg House is human after all.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

House Season 5 Episode 17: The Social Contract

Quick, what disease gives a guy a bloody nose and makes him an asshole?  Don’t know the answer?  Don’t worry, like always, the patient on House doesn’t really matter.

What to do with a patient who says everything that comes to his mind?  You send Cuddy a page so she can come to his room and get objectified for your entertainment!  It was delightful to watch Cuddy pretend to be angry with House when she was really loving every moment the patient spent drooling over her ‘pistons’.

Taub was the other victim of House’s games this week.  First the patient makes fun of his giant nose, then Taub gets caught in the middle of Wilson and House’s tug-of-war.  Admittedly, it was fun watching Taub try to show House his mad racquetball skills in the morgue using a squash racket.

I went through a major swing in opinion during this episode.  I started off a bit fed up with House and Wilson’s little soap opera in which they perpetuate their blissfully co-dependent relationship while making everyone around them suffer.  When Taub asked if Wilson was depressed, I was wondering how anyone could spend that much time with House and not be institutionalized.  Though I will admit that I loved it when Wilson called House a dick.

Later, just when I was disappointed that Wilson was crawling back to House, I was reminded why I love this show.

Wilson points out that he and House don’t share in the collaborative lies that are a part of the normal social contract of friendship.  House agrees by telling Wilson that going to see his brother could be a disaster.  Then House becomes human for a moment and offers to do more than help Wilson lie to himself, he offers to go with him to deal with the reality of his situation.  This is what makes their relationship special.  Wilson and House share a true friendship, where honesty trumps making people feel good about themselves. I don’t think many of us can say we have relationships based on this kind of truth.

The patients on House are really just props.  They serve as a mirror so House and company can examine their own reflections.  Tonight it helped House see that being a complete dick is not the best way to go through life.  However it also let him see the consequences of a relationship based on half-truths and white lies.  Given the choice, I don’t think most of us are brave enough to pick honesty over feeling warm and fuzzy.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 5 Episode 17: The Social Contract