Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Letdown -- Episode 304, "Lines in the Sand"

Clinic patients:
Woman with weird poop
Man with no back pain
Horny teenage girl, part 2

The connection:
There's no connection to the main case, but these patients do have their purpose. House is hanging out in the clinic as part of his power play with Cuddy over the carpet in his office, and the first two patients show what lengths he's going through to win. With shots of the patients from his viewpoint -- front and center and a little overwhelming -- interspersed with his looks of boredom and disgust, we get a pretty good idea.

They also set up the return of the teen daughter from the last episode, who's in the clinic with her own "rhino thing" -- and to flirt with House some more. She pops up throughout the episode, whether she's on screen or not, and it becomes clear to Cuddy that she's turning into quite the stalker. House, flattered by the attention and a little flirtatious himself, doesn't want to admit it's so.

Well, it turns out she is a stalker -- though it's not her fault. Sent into Cuddy's office to put an end to the situation, House tries to let the girl down with a little "Casablanca," which is funny because she doesn't get it. She starts to cry, and as House gets to "Here's looking at you, kid," he pauses with the look he gets when he hits on a medical revelation. He even throws in a "damn" for good measure. I was all ready for a cut to the autistic kid and some sort of magic diagnosis, but the writers decided to get sneaky, and they made House's "damn" about the girl and her milky tears. Along with the blocked sinuses -- and "a loss of inhibitions and judgment" -- they're a result of spores she inhaled after an earthquake in Fresno. Poor House.

In the last post, I said the writers would handle the underage-girl thing brilliantly. Well, they let me down. Attributing her attraction to a medical problem is a cop out, as if clearing her of natural feelings also clears House of his ethical obligations. (And by the way, I'm "over 10 years younger" than Hugh Laurie, but I'd be all over him.) The scene in Cuddy's office started out with House being frank, and it should have continued that way. By talking her into letting it go, he would've talked himself into letting it go, too. Yes, she was rather stalker-like, but House never told her it was wrong without still flirting with her. Talk about mixed signals.

Here's what I think would have been interesting -- exploring whether House can chew gum and solve cases at the same time. He had a lot of distractions in this episode: the clinic, the girl, the power play. It would have been natural to let the kid fall through the cracks and give House a wake-up call. Certainly more dramatic and believable.



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