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.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jail bait -- Episode 303, "Informed Consent"

Clinic patient:
Dad with a cold. But the real story is his seductive teenage daughter.

The connection:
Bad deeds are brewing between House and the daughter. After their initial encounter in the clinic, she meets him again later in the hall, casually drops that she'll be 18 in six months, and then walks away. As she's doing so, House gets a glimpse at her red thong, which naturally leads him to the diagnosis of Congo Red for the dying scientist. I mean, whose mind wouldn't go there?
Foreman: "How the hell did you pull that out of your --"
House: "Not out of mine. I had a muse."

The girl's crush also adds another ethical dilemma to House's plate, but it appears we'll be delving more into that next episode. Speaking of which ...

... "House" the show is getting into some dangerous territory. Six months or no, underage is underage, and we've already forgiven House the doctor for a lot of his faults.

That said, I'm about 85 percent sure the show can get away with the storyline it's taking. For one, the writers are brilliant, and as such, they'll handle whatever situation brilliantly. Second, there's already precedent for the younger woman thing, in House's relationship with Cameron (although the daughter of course is much more extreme). It's interesting that this episode saw the three of them thrown together in the clinic.

The missing 15 percent is because this show takes chances. I guess we'll see.


He's baaack -- Episode 302, "Cane and Able"

Clinic patient:
Main patient from season premier.
When we last left off, Cuddy had cured him with House's diagnosis of Addison's disease, and she and Wilson were conspiring to keep it from House to teach him a little humility.

The connection:
The theory floating around this episode is that House has slipped into depression over having "failed" the last case. The depression, in a roundabout way, is causing his leg pain. Compound that with Wilson and Cuddy's lesson in humility, and House is also, as Cameron says, "dismissing symptoms, looking for easy solutions" in the main case. In other words, not being House.

The dismissiveness doesn't come right away, of course. But after House goes through his traditional montage of thinking, in which he usually works past whatever diagnostic hurdle his patients give him, he announces that they should just "send the kid home."

So Cameron -- who treated Addison's guy in the clinic, discovered the humility plan and then made a general nuisance of herself -- runs to a guilt-ridden Cuddy, who runs to House and has the following conversation:

Cuddy: "You're just giving up on this kid?"
House: "You gotta know when to stop."
Cuddy: "You don't stop. You never stop. You just keep on going until you come up with something so insane that it's usually right."
House: "Except on my last case."

Cuddy: "Don't be pathetic. Forget the last case. ..."

House rattles off some crazy ideas about chopping off limbs and such, and Cuddy basically says OK -- "I just want you to do something." House calls her out on The Plan and Cuddy confesses.

House: (speaking to Cuddy's stomach) "Oh, your mommy is in such trouble. Such a liar! That's why you don't have a daddy. That's why she had to ..."

... use in-vitro fertilization, which the kid's mom also did, which led House to the diagnosis of chimerism.

So the coverup of Addison's guy hindered the kid's chances, and the revelation helped him. The question, I suppose, is whether Cuddy's admission cleared House's head enough that he was able to stumble on the solution, or whether he would have come upon it anyway. Whatever the case, he at least returned to extremes to induce the kid's hallucinations so they could cure him. House is back.

Addison's guy: "I want to have sex with my wife, and I was hoping maybe you could ..."
Cameron: "Viagra. You're here for Viagra?"
Addison's guy: "A bucketful would be nice."
Bless him.

-- House mentioned the "X Files," but if he watched "CSI" -- specifically the finale of Season 4, "Bloodlines" -- he would have had his diagnosis about halfway through the episode. I'm just saying.