Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pardon the Interruption: House 7:15 - Bombshells

Overall Rating: 6.2 + 1.5 for production values = 7.7

Greg Yaitanes is such a great's a shame he wasted his genius directing the show away from the logical end point morally. Emotionally effective (even friends of mine who are not ardent fans were noticably depressed by this one) and brilliantly directed...but morally bankrupt and inconsistent with the perceived direction of the franchise.

Plot Synopsis:

PotW: House's team picks up a patient with mysterious bleeding and no root cause. He rightly diagnoses a simple infection and prescribes antibiotics, but they don't seem to work. Taub does some digging into the kid's life and discovers that the depressed (and troubled) teen, is making bombs and threatening on video to blow up his school. While House is distracted by problems with Cuddy, the rest of the team runs through several wrong diagnoses until, in a brief moment of clarity before the hammer falls on House, he realizes that the infection was just hiding - attached to shrapnel from one of the kid's pipe bombs. They remove the fragments of plastic from his intestines and treat his infection. A run of the mill case that they've actually done a couple of times already, but that's hardly the point of this episode. While all of this is going on, Taub has to make a difficult decision about what to do with his knowledge of the boy's violent tendencies. He tells his parents, but they are in denial. He then delivers a copy of the tape to police in an annonymous envelope.

The Huddy: House and Cuddy are at play early one morning when she realizes that there's blood in her urine. Naturally, House rushes her to the ER to confirm that nothing is really wrong and, also naturally, as soon as the spectre of a real potential problem shows up on Cuddy's ultrasound, House is unable to face the prospect that some day (maybe sooner than he had hoped), Cuddy will die. He spends the middle half of the episode attempting to ignore the real possibility that Cuddy may have Kidney cancer, but when an MRI with contrast is done to prepare surgeons for her lumpectomy (to identify the source of her problems), and other growths are discovered on her lungs, House disappears out of contact with everyone.

Untilm he miraculously reappears by Cuddy's bedside in her hour of greatest need and reaffirms her faith in him as a loving, supportive mate. She goes under the knife thinking everything is going to be alright with her and House and when she wakes up, he tells her she does not in fact have cancer. It really was just a complex cyst in her kidney and an allergic reaction to the antibiotics she was taking before her surgery. Although somewhat worried by the difficulty House had facing her when she was potentially dying, Cuddy heads home believing everything is alright until her sister mentions that she had to hide her "sleeping pills" because Rachel refers to them as candy. Then it dawns on her - House was only able to come to her side before her surgery because he was high on Vicodin. With this realization in hand, she confronts House and tells him that she needs to be with someone who can open himself up to her completely - the good and the bad - and that she doesn't believe he can ever do better. She breaks it off with him and, totally destroyed by this blow, House returns home and takes Vicodin to ease the pain.

The Skinny:

The creativity involved with the production of this episode makes a reviewer want to give it feature status. You cannot ignore the reality that the various dream sequences are the stuff of legend when it comes to direction, cinematography, acting and writing. They each tell us something important and relevant to the psychology of House and Cuddy. While House is trying to ignore the possible negative outcomes of tests on Cuddy's ailing kidney, Cuddy dreams that House is a devil-may-care bad influence of a father after her death (and consequently, she gives Rachel to her sister in her will if she should die). Later, she imagines a 1950's style ahppily-ever-after, but House is idealized to the point that even she herself cannot believe it's real. He has no attitude, and no pain. She wakes up, sees the bottle on her nightstand, but doesn't realize what it represents.

Meanwhile, as the possibility that Cuddy might have terminal cancer looms larger and larger, House dreams that he is beseiged by zombies as he tries to reach Cuddy, only to find after some bad-ass action-hero schtick that she is already being consumed. His fear of death is even greater than most people's would be (beacuse as we've established, he literally NEEDS Cuddy in his life at this moment). And finally, we have the dream sequence during Cuddy's surgery. A show-stopping broadway number, "Come on, get happy." Which concludes with Cuddy on her hospital bed alone in the dark. Underneath it all, Cuddy still doesn't believe that House is capable of being the supportive husband she actually desires. The protestations by House that she shouldn't worry come off like cheesy broadway cliches and the real state of her faith in House is revealed in those last seconds before she wakes to find him waiting for her with the good news.

I cannot deny that everything in this plot is consistent with the established characters. I absolutely believe that Cuddy's possible death would be the one thing that would scare House so badly that he might have a relapse and take Vicodin. I can definitely see Cuddy viewing a slip like that as a sign that House is not capable of being there for her the way she has been there fore him. I believe Yaitanes is right to raise this issue...House still isn't a healed man...he still has neuroses and he's still an addict. But I can't help but think Cuddy is a bit of a hypocrite here. And so ends my praise of this comes the bitter taste of reality.

The final message here seems to be that House's character is fatally flawed to the point where no full recovery or redemption is possible. Cuddy tells him, "You'll always choose yourself over anyone else, because that's just who you are." And they turn House's previous desire to "do better" for her...which I took as a sign that House was learning sincerity...and made a mockery of it...with him impotently standing in front of Cuddy, practically whimpering "I can do better." Frankly, folks, I think Cuddy's read on House is wrong. Wronger than wrong it's not even worth discussing whether she's even close. Yes, he's an addict. Yes, he's got problems facing pain. Does that mean there is no hope for him? Does that mean he'll ALWAYS be this way as she claims? I think not.

I think it takes an INCREDIBLE amount of strength to come as far as House has in such a short periood of time. From "I am brtoken!" to actually BELIEVING he can do better! From drunken bar brawls just to cause himself pain to actually seeking to cling to his own happiness. From believing his medical genius was the most important thing - the only thing that made him special - to foresaking it if necessary in the quest to be happy! His whole worldview needed to change for his relationship with Cuddy to work - my sister very correctly realized that House had too far to go to expect love to rescue him instantly. But Cuddy KNEW all of this! She KNEW this was not going to be easy. And despite House's best efforts to warn her off, she INSISTED that she wanted to see if this could work. For her to not recognize how far House has focus only on his remaining weakness...and then to crush his only source of hope...well I can take the words right out of her mouth to show how much of a hypocrite she is. Oh CUDDY! "Real love means being able to open yourself up to a person completely - to the kind of pain that can only come from real commitment."

I recognize the problem with this point - sometimes the best way to get the message across to an addict is to leave them. I get that...I do...but this wasn't a repeating pattern of addiction...this was a very bad slip off the wagon for a man under enormous stress. I sure as hell hope the woman I'm with won't abandon me if I make one really bad mistake under the threat of death. Cuddy went in with her eyes supposedly open...and has now completely destroyed House. Any hope he had of recovering is gone unless something dramatic happens and soon to change the direction he's headed. There comes a point, I think, when you've gone through the depths of hell with a character and he starts turning the corner...when it's just not appropriate anymore to destroy that character. There's a limit to how much emotional abuse the audience wants to endure.

Writing: 9.5

The plot is extremely successful at evoking the response I'm sure Yaitanes was hoping for.

Acting: 10.0

Hugh Laurie is a God. Period. His performance at the end of this episode is so soul-crushingly real, evoking so much pain, that I almost couldn't bear to watch. Not to be totally outdone, Lisa Edelstein's work in this episode is phenomenal.

Message: 0.0


Yep...that about sums it up. See above comments for further clarification. Apparently, Cuddy expects House to follow the old motto "when the going gets tough, the tough get going," while herself following the revised motto, "when the going gets tough, the tough, run like hell." F*** you Cuddy. Seriously.

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