Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pardon the Interruption: House 7:9 - Larger than Life

Overall Rating: 8.3

There are some things I'm a bit torn on here...but the direction they chose to take with Taub was at least the second best possible path I can think of, and that's refreshing. Not to mention the stuff with House and Cuddy's mother being amusing.

Plot Synopsis:

Patient of the Week: After miraculously rescuing an epileptic when she seized her way onto the subway tracks in front of an oncoming car, a guitarist collapses, landing him in PPTH where an awestruck Masters lobbies for House's team to take the case. House believes his heroism is a symptom of a neurological problem, because true heroism doesn't exist (sic). Masters believes his condition is probably caused by an infection, but House overrules her and they test for various brain problems, ruling them out sequentially. When left with no neurological problem, House next assumes that our rocker knew the woman and that they shared space long enoguh to both suffer from toxic exposure. Again, Masters asserts that the problem is infectious, citing the pneumonitis and ear pain as evidence, but House shoots her down. They find roach bombs at the girl's apartment along with a copy of our hero's CD, but she randomly shows up to thank the stranger for his help, that cheating option goes right out the window.

Left with only infection as a possible source of the patient's problems, House decides the most likely cause is leptospirosis (rat crap on the train tracks), but a conversation with Cuddy's mother makes him realize that the most likely vector was in fact the man's daughter. He diagnoses him with chicken pox (!) and they treat with aggressive antivirals. Masters declines to gloat for being right about infection, but House claims victory when hero-man goes back with his band rather than dedicating himself to his family, saying if he were a true hero, he could deal with family and not just spur of the moment actions. Sure House...you're totally wrong about the heroic act, but call it a victory anyway. Never mind that there are plenty of people who DO heroically raise good kids and have stable families...for House to have been right about heroism not being real, then he can't go moving the debate by using the man's failure as a father to exclude heroism without confronting the reality that, by his own efinition, heroism DOES exist. But whatever helps you sleep, dear Doctor. :)

The Huddy: House tries to trick his way out of dealing with both a depressed Wilson AND Cuddy's mother by playing them against each other, but neither of them is that stupid. Wilson gets invited to the dinner and House is dragged in kicking and screaming. It gets even more amusing when he's rude to a clinic patient who happens to be the aforementioned Mommy Dearest. D'oh!! Ah hell...I hear the weather's warm down there. At any rate, at dinner, Wilson is mopey as usual and House does as he promised and keeps his mouth shut while Cuddy's mother is a complete and total bitch for ten minutes...(the scene has to be watched to be believed...thank goodness my mother is not so overbearing and judgmental). He's about to crack and start barking at her as she so richly deserves when she passes out. Yep...House drugged her! It gets even more amusing when WILSON passes out, incredulous that House would drug him too. Now the Huddy sit back and enjoy a quiet evening at home.

The next day, Mommy Dearest shows up in his office, and after avoiding her for a while (hiding behind a sick patient), House decides to man up and create a believable lie...of course Mrs. Cuddy believes she just had too much to drink (LOL) and incredibly...apologizes to House for being such an ass. She still thinks he's a prick with a God complex, but admires that he tried to keep his mouth shut and behave himself for Lisa's benefit - a sign of real love. Madam Cuddy exits stage South (to South Jersey) and House gives Cuddy some sleeping pills to slip to her mother if she comes back. He then plays Cuddy and Wilson against each other successfully (and I honestly believe at least Cuddy was complicit this time...if she could figure it out before...why not now?) so that he could have a night to himself to relax.

Be Better: Taub, meanwhile, has ironically been chosen as the model doctor to show up on all of the hospital's advertisements with the slogan "Be Better" mocking him at every opportunity. Although he enjoys some of the attention this gets him - from his super-horny wife and from patients - he begins to realize that the sex with the Mrs. means nothing to her...he's just a piece of meat and she's thinking of her online boyfriend (and yes, Mrs. Denial...that ain't no river in Egypt and that guy is your boyfriend) the whole time. The realization that she's cheating on him in spirit and that it's all his fault, drives Taub to depression...when our heroic patient of the week's wife laments being in love with a man who will never stop disappointing her, Taub goes at least partway toward restoring his soul. He asks his wife for a divorce. I'll discuss this in more detail shortly, but after this saddening scene, he finds his billboard on a nearby street and splatters it with paint balls, raging at his failure as a human being.

The Skinny:

OK...I am converting back to Catholicism, so everyone reading this should know that I am not a believer that divorce is ever the best policy, with the exception of situations where one partner's life (or the lives of innocent children) are in danger from an abusive spouse. But I think it's very important...if you can't come all the way to enlightenment...to come at least part way. It was nice to see Taub try to make his marriage work...but that never had the ring of true repentance and spiritual change in Taub. The fact is...right now, he's not a good enough person inside to be married and do right by his spouse. He should have realized that before he married her, but people make mistakes. He also should have tried harder to change himself and be the man she needed to be much earlier in their relationship...but again...we're not perfect people. At the very least, he finally did something truly selfless. Recognizing that he was a failure for her, he let her go. Maybe this is the painful way in which Taub finally realizes that he hates who he has become enough to want to change it. Time will tell. But for now, a merciful divorce is about the best we could have hoped for from Taub.

House's pontifications and protestations that heroism doesn't exist...that it's all either insanity, spur-of-the-moment fluke decisions, stupidity, training, or irrational chemical love...well you know where I stand on that...but I can tackle all of those elements one by one.
  1. LOVE: You could dismiss heroism between a person and their loved ones as chemical/psychological selfishness...or you could realize that love itself is miraculous and that it's heroic to love someone enough to give of yourself for them without regard for your well being.
  2. STUPIDITY: I don't expect that many people do heroic things out of ignorance, but if you are so stupid that you do something wonderful for someone else thinking there is no danger, then perhaps your better instincts are heroic anyway. People who overthink potential dangers are the least likely to be helpful in a crisis...that positive instinct to want to help is heroic and it must come from within.
  3. FLUKE: No fluke can happen without someone making a choice. This one is too easy. If it's a fluke that you were able to act when others stood by and did nothing...there must be something heroic within you that chose to act.
  4. TRAINING: This is even easier! Why would you be a fireman or a soldier if you didn't really want to help people and damn the risks while doing it? People who are firefighters...they're trained to ignore their instincts and do what needs to be done...but that doesn't dismiss their heroism...they did those things because they chose to be trained for those most dangerous of professions...because (for the most part) they wanted to help people in need, fight for what they believed in, protect their family, etc. All heroic impulses.
  5. INSANITY: Well...he's got me here...on occasion, a mentally or physically ill person will do something that happens to help another person and there is rarely a lot of logic to it...miraculous, perhaps...heroic, generally not...but I take it on faith that such things are rare.
The point is...I enjoy that the writers proved House wrong at every turn...nothing lessens the purity of Music Man's heroism...his personal failures are irrelevant.

Finally...regarding the Huddy...yeah, House was trying to get some alone time...being a bit selfish...but we all NEED alone time...and every evening House has been there for either Cuddy or Wilson...eventually, it's reasonable for him to want to relax on his own...he is who he is...social situations stress him out...Cuddy and Wilson had better realize that, although he needs people to be even remotely happy, he also needs down time. I think Cuddy realized this. I also think that House really did try to hold his tongue when Cruella DeVille showed up for dinner...normal House would have berated her after the first smart-ass comment. Yes...he drugged her...but you have to admit...that's a slightly more peaceful way to deal with an overbearing mother than shouting at her all night. LOL Look, I know he's still an ass...but at least he's choosing less abrasive ways to be an ass now that he cares about someone. *shrug*....I'm neutral as to the significance of this episode re: the Huddy...but it was at least entertaining.

Writing: 8.5

Masters is fitting in very well here...I hope she stays even after Olivia Wilde returns (could we PLEASE get to that at some point???). There were some good laughs tonight...and the Taub plot was genuinely effective and moving, especially at the end.

Acting: 9.0

Peter Jacobsen was especially outstanding tonight. Madam Evil (Mrs. Cuddy) was pretty solid in her role...the PotW was pretty bland, as was his wife. But you pick your battles with the guest cast.

Message: 7.5

This is the highest you'll ever see me rate an episode that paints divorce as merciful...in this case I think it actually was considering how far Taub has to go as a person before he is really ready for marriage. At least Taub is now acutely aware of how much he dislikes the man he is.

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