Monday, August 20, 2007

Mind and Body -- Episode 312, "One Day, One Room"

When this episode first aired, I got all jazzed because it was so different and yet fundamentally the same as the rest of the series. I put it right up there with "Three Stories" from Season 1. But my fellow "House" maven burst my bubble the next day with a disappointing and well-reasoned lack of enthusiasm. Fast-forward however many months to the lovely if extras-deficient DVD, and I'm all excited again. Hooray for creativity!

"One Day, One Room" puts House in two places he hates to be: in the clinic and in a situation where he has to get personal. Worse, his main patient -- a young woman who's been raped -- is not someone he's supposed to cure physically, but psychologically.

But the writers have it covered, and they spell out their point in a little exchange between House and Cuddy, when Cuddy tries to persuade House to actually treat his clinic patients instead of give them $50 to go away:

Cuddy: "I'll pay you $10 for every patient you diagnose without touching. You pay me $10 for every one you have to touch."
House: "You're making this a game for me. From which I can conclude this isn't a game for you."
Cuddy: "No."
House: "Why? You think if I deal with enough people I'll find some humanity?"
Cuddy: "Yes."

So without further ado, here are the clinic patients, with select commentary:

Clinic patients:
(Deep breath)
1. Guy who thinks he has an STD.
2. Young woman who thinks she has an STD.
We don't know it right away, but this one's our main patient. I said above that this episode is fundamentally the same as all the others, and it's true. There's a big mystery that needs solving: not a freakishly rare disease, but why, what with all his obvious compassion and charm, is House the one she chooses to talk to? For problems that pop up along the way, he goes to the Ducklings: Do we need to talk about what happened to her? What does she really want to hear about my sucky life? The various treatments are not medications, but soul-searching conversations about abortion, God, reason and rationality. When House first figures out the woman has been raped, he tells Cuddy to assign someone else, asking, "You think I'm the right doctor for her?" As it turns out, yes.
3. Old woman who thinks she has an STD.
4. Guy who runs around the clinic's waiting room, screaming bloody murder and clasping a hand to his ear.
Ah, the red herring. House has gone through three clinic patients and is trying to shoo the others away when this guy starts going berserk. And it's at the end of the teaser, so we naturally assume this is our guy for the episode. But he's dispensed with even before the opening credits are done. House has already figured out it's just a cockroach in the guy's ear, but he has the Ducklings run a series of tests just to buy him some time away from the clinic.
5. Cameron's patient with lung cancer.
Same day, different room. While sad, it's just another in a series of poor souls Cameron has to watch die.
6. Guy with athlete's foot in his nose.
7. Guy holding his own tongue depressor.
8. Woman feeling her own rash.
9. Guy trying to take his own pulse.
10. Hot chick.
House to Cuddy: "I owe you $10." Best line of the episode.
11. Guy who says he has hiccups, when all he really wants is a good time.
12. Father and son who took a $50 bribe from House to leave the clinic, but came back because the kid swallowed a magnet.
House's ingenuity is again on display, as he presses a scalpel to the kid's belly to prove the magnet is safely in the intestines.

House + coat + scarf = totally hot


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sometimes it's cute -- Episode 323, "The Jerk"

Clinic patient:
A dad, his son and some sun. Dad fell asleep on a boat and woke up all toasty and covered in white spots.

The white spots are the result of the son having a little fun -- $1.41 worth of fun. He put coins all over his dad's chest while he was sleeping. It's cute and funny, probably because he's a youngin. If he were, say, the age of chess-prodigy-jerk-face-main-patient boy, harsher adjectives might come to mind. But somehow it's also cute and funny when House squirts dad in the face with water. Maybe you can only be a jerk within a certain 30-year period.

As a side note, in a much earlier scene, we come upon House scrounging around on the floor behind the admit desk looking for loose change. Foreshadowing? I hope not. Kind of a waste of foreshadowing. Maybe the writers just wanted us to know where House's sudden coin prowess is coming from. Or maybe the clinic patient was originally supposed to come before that scene, and the coins were really the kid's. Or maybe I should stop thinking so much.

How cute is House with kids? He trades his syringe for the son's coins, then gets it back by claiming one of the quarters is "Canadian." Of course he's just joking around -- even House knows kids shouldn't play with syringes. Plus he's having fun, with the water and all, picking up where the kid left off. Anyway, it kind of reminded me of that little girl from "Need to Know" in season 2, the one with the mom who's taking her ADD meds. The way he took the girl's hand to walk her back to her mom's room. Aww. There's actually a lot of those sweet moments. There's a blog subject for ya.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Depression -- Episode 322, "Resignation"

Clinic patient:
Guy with floating poop and his 26-year-old nutritionist girlfriend, Honey, who has "the wisdom of a much younger woman."

As with the 17-year-old stalker from "Informed Consent" and "Lines in the Sand," who was in the clinic with her sick dad, Honey is the real focus here. House is barely through the door before he starts flirting with her. And though the boyfriend is right there, she flirts back. So you can't really blame House for going for it when she flips out about her "vegan" boyfriend cheating on her -- not with another woman, but with another food group (seems meat fat is to blame for his floaters). Anyway, House gets a resume out of the deal, and ultimately a date.

That date at the end of the episode is a big deal, especially after episode-long (and, really, season-long) talk about depression, talk that always winds its way back to House. The big theme this season has been House changing, House becoming slightly more human. To go on a date -- and not, say, hire a hooker -- is a big step for him. In fact, his entering the bar feels like a follow-through on whatever episode it was that ended with a will-he-or-won't-he moment, when he's debating, hand on doorhandle, whether to join the team in a restaurant for a drink.

Depression pops up in three storylines in this episode: Honey; House and Wilson drugging each other; and the main patient, a 19-year-old girl who's coughing up blood.

Let's start with House and Wilson. House is trying to figure out why Wilson yawned for no good reason. He polls his team, comes up with anti-depressants as a possibility, and decides to dose Wilson's coffee with amphetamines to test the theory. A jumpy Wilson eventually figures it out and heads over to House's house to confront him. House accuses Wilson -- who's always telling House how to fix his life -- of hiding his use of anti-depressants, but as usual, Wilson turns the tables:

"You wouldn't take them! You'd rather OD on Vicodin or stick electrodes in your head because you could say you did it to get high. The only reason to take anti-depressants is because you're depressed. You have to admit that you're depressed."

Fast-forward to House telling the main patient, Addie, that she's going to die. She doesn't want to hear why. House, who can't comprehend why she wouldn't want to know what's killing her, pesters her about it, a smile on his face. Addie accuses him of being happy about her dying. He denies it, then -- mental click -- runs off to Wilson's office to berate him for putting anti-depressants in his coffee. Wilson points out that they've been working -- House has been happy. House, not one to admit anything, insists that they've made him hazy, not happy. Then, wondering why a dying girl would see "happiness," House has another mental click: Addie's depressed and tried to kill herself.

And now Honey. House meets her in the bar -- remember, a big step -- tells her that Wilson's been putting anti-depressants in his coffee (which makes him hazy) because he thinks House is miserable, then rattles off a series of "deep character flaws." Honey latches on to the anti-depressants: "How miserable can you be, saving lives, sleeping around and doing drugs?"

True enough.

House, the last line of the episode: "And I hate tea." Love it! How's that for tongue-in-cheek humor from an Englishman?


Friday, April 20, 2007

Subtext -- Episode 319, "Act Your Age"

Clinic patient:
Guy who says he's peeing a lot

This one's not so much about the patient as the clinic. And Cuddy. And motives.

This is a big House-Cuddy episode, although most of it is through House-Wilson exchanges. The storyline gets its kick-start in the clinic, when House offers Wilson theater tickets from a patient whose life he saved. Wilson takes Cuddy, and House spends the episode joking around with it even though he's adorably jealous. ("Seriously?")

But for some subtle lovin', consider what happens before House makes the ticket offer, when he and Wilson first enter the exam room:

Wilson: "I didn't know you were seeing a patient."
House: "It's an exam room. What did you think I was doing?"
Wilson: "What you're usually doing. Hiding from Cuddy."

Yes ... curious, isn't it? How many times have we seen House use those exam rooms for kicking back with a magazine or a video game or "General Hospital"? And where's the protest that usually accompanies clinic duty?

Later, after Cameron did the vaginal exam on the little girl-main patient and got confounding results, the Ducklings are discussing more theories on their way to House's office -- his empty office, as it turns out. Chase's curiosity -- "Where is he?" -- is but a blip in the conversation as Foreman rolls right over it with another theory for the main case.

But in the next scene, we see where House is -- the clinic, again. With the fake urinator, again. This time, Cuddy interrupts to pull House out and talk about the little girl. Think about that. She's pulling him from the clinic to tell him to do something with the main case. A little backward, no? This is also when House realizes that Wilson took Cuddy to the play. Later, House makes a third foray into the clinic (after a giddy Wilson boasts about his flowers), and he walks right past Cuddy to do so.

Where am I going with this? Well, I have a theory: House, in his own subtle way, is making an effort to impress Cuddy. What do they most bump heads about? Clinic duty. What's House doing a curious amount of this episode? Clinic duty.

Big episode.

Personal note
Sorry for the three-month blog-posting hiatus, friends and neighbors. If you've been checking back, thanks for sticking around. If you're newbies, welcome. Thankfully, I don't think I skipped out on much, what with those annoying three-week American Idol breaks. And it's possible I have notes on "One Day, One Room" (yes, notes -- I am that dorky), so if next week's episode is clinic patient-free, I might yet have something to write about.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Tritter Saga: Vogler Redux? (Episodes 305-310)

Sorry this is belated. Life got in the way. You know how it is.

Anyway, Tritter is dead. Well, Tritter the idea. Mr. Revenge, Mr. Sourpuss, cuff 'im and spread 'em. A lot went down on his watch: House took one hell of a downward spiral, jobs were lost, relationships broken, loyalties tested. You know, happy stuff. Thing is, the show's (mostly) been there before -- with Vogler, House's guest nemesis from season 1. The big difference? Tritter brought his A game. A comparison of storylines:

This time, it's personal
Actually, it was pretty personal the first time around. Vogler came in with grand plans of taking over the hospital, but House -- with his yo-yo and his no lab coat -- quickly became his pet project (Vogler's threat in a nutshell: House goes, or I go). But in the end, Vogler was just looking out for Vogler. He had an image of control and power that he needed to maintain, and House's naturally insubordinate ways threatened that. Tritter's motives were more personal because what House did to him was more personal. Wouldn't you want House to suffer after he abandons you in the clinic with a rectal thermometer firmly in place?

A tangent about the clinic: Why start the Tritter storyline there? The practical answer is convenience and believability. House may be an ass outside of work, but he's not likely to invoke the kind of spiteful response he got out of Tritter. The creative answer is that the writers have set up the clinic as a place House truly loathes, so he tends to be more biting and demeaning than he would be with a main patient, thus making him more likely to ruffle some feathers.

Means to an end:
Tritter really struck at the core to get what he wanted out of House by slowly taking away his vicodin. It was like watching extended versions of "Detox." Vogler just dangled House's team in front of him, saying fire one of them or else. While it was sweet of House not to cave, it lacks the punch of near-annihilation. But Tritter still included the Ducklings in his plans, freezing their bank accounts, interrogating them, getting them to try to persuade House to give in. (I won't hold this part to the Vogler-Tritter similarity test, just because the structure of the show kind of requires the team to be a part of things.)

But Chase. Poor Chase. He makes a deal with Vogler, keeping tabs on House in exchange for job security, and it comes back around with Tritter. As part of Tritter's manipulation, he leaves Chase's bank account untouched and constructs what looks to be an informant-friendly meeting in a public place. Once a rat, always a rat. Without Vogler, this wouldn't have worked.

Season 1: Wilson defends House till the end; is forced out of his job when he's voted off the board, leaving, in his mind, no choice but to resign; questions his relationship with House ("I’ve only got two things that work for me: this job and this stupid, screwed-up friendship, and neither mattered enough to you to give one lousy speech."); gets over it.

Season 3: Wilson defends House at the beginning and the end, with a slight gap there in the middle where he confessed to the forged prescription pads; is forced out of his job when he can't write prescriptions any more; questions his relationship with House ("Despite all your smart-ass remarks, I knew you gave a damn. This time, you were either gonna help me through this or you weren't. I got my answer."); gets over it.

Saves the day.
Season 1: In the end, she stands up to Vogler and his millions and millions of dollars to protect House; uses it as leverage.
Season 3: In the end, she perjures herself in a court of law to protect House; using it as leverage.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Checking in -- Episode 310, "Merry Little Christmas"

Clinic patient:
Young dwarf on a follow-up.

Young Abigail is in the clinic with a host of problems, recovering from a collapsed lung. House knows there's more to it, so he takes the case. Thus, clinic patient becomes main patient. Nothing new, really. What is new is that Cuddy was the doctor in the clinic. We've seen her there before, but never with a patient who ends up on the big stage. She joins Cameron ("Acceptance") and Chase ("The Mistake") on that one.

Significantly, House steals Cuddy's patient on the heels of his attack on her in the previous episode, "Finding Judas," in which he tells her she sucks at being a doctor (and a mom, but doctor better suits my purposes). In that episode, Cuddy thought House was being mean just to be mean. But now House is telling her again that she's missed something big. She's insecure enough in her doctor-hood as it is, so now he's just adding insult to injury.

This post is pretty late, but I wasn't going to do it at all, just because of the simplicity of things. (And as it turns out, I had more to say than I thought I would.) Mostly I'm just checking in, letting y'all know that I'm still here. I've been waiting around for the Tritter saga to wrap, but it looks like they're going to drag it out at least one more episode. Sigh. I'm a little over it.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stiff arm -- Episode 306, "Que Sera Sera"

Clinic patient:
Guy whose arm hurts only after sleeping on it

Ok, so House is an ass. We get that. It's part of his charm. But sometimes we have to be reminded that there are people who deserve to be on the receiving end. To use House's beloved phrase, the patient is an idiot. So much so that House has to state the obvious: Don't sleep on your arm. But when the patient scoffs, what else is there to offer but a cure that matches the ridiculousness of the complaint? Lop the arm off. Problem solved.

Maybe somewhere along the line the patient will get the point. But as it is, he storms out of the clinic and right past Tritter (David Morse) -- and here, my friends, is the connection. Not with the main patient, the A story, but with the former clinic patient out for revenge, the recurring B story. Tritter sees the irate clinic patient, sees House emerge, whistling, moments later, and then immediately sees a connection to the way he was treated. "I see spending a night in jail hasn't humbled you a bit," he says.

Tritter, of course, doesn't see as much as we do. We understand the assiness, we embrace the assiness. This episode's clinic patient is so simple that even we laymans know there's no other explanation for sleeping-induced arm pain. There's no danger in House's flippancy. But what about Tritter's complaint, when he was in the clinic? What do we know about "crotch rot"? It can be any number of things. So just as there are some patients who clearly deserve to be on the receiving end of House's barbs, Tritter is showing us that there are some patients who don't.

I have to throw in a little Cameron moment, partly because it relates and partly because I have no idea what she's up to. In the scene before the clinic, Cameron is scoping out the main patient's apartment with the neighbor and is reminded of House, "someone who is unkind." After the neighbor gets done talking about the prostitutes, she says: "There can't be too many women who'd want to be with a guy like that." Focus on Cameron thinking in a double-meaning kind of way about House. And cut to the clinic, where House is being unkind. Someone's beating us over the head with relationship innuendos, but Cameron's demeanor and actions in the rest of the episode make me a little suspicious that something else is brewing. What's going on?!


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.