Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pardon the Interruption: House 7:16 - Out of the Chute

Overall: 7.5

The writers seem to be going the subtle route when it comes to dealing with the fallout from last week's episode. At the moment, I kind of like that, but my opinion could change at any time depending on where the story goes from here.

(By the way, SABR Matt and I had different reactions to this episode, so I suggest staying tuned for his reply.)

Before I talk about Out of the Chute, let me tackle some unfinished business from last week, which I'm going to tack on to this review so SABR Matt will be more likely to see it. In response to my response to his review of Bombshells (are you confused yet?), SABR Matt wrote:

Bombshells isn't hitting the reset button in a way that makes sense to me...I get that Cuddy and he were both problematic people who probably shouldn't have been in a relationship to begin with...but you don't build up the WONDERFUL revelation that House is finally abandoning his neuroses and then DESTROY IT the NEXT EPISODE!!! What the F***!!

In my original review of Recession Proof (found here), I expressed similar excitement over the final scene, in which House tells Cuddy that he would rather find happiness with her than remain a miserable genius. Upon reflection (and after watching the episode again), I would like to amend my remarks somewhat. I believe it's still significant - even revolutionary - that House at least made the effort to push past his fears, but I think it's overstating it to say that in that moment, House was finally "abandoning his neuroses." Remember, he was piss drunk at the time, which suggests that his neuroses still had quite a hold on him -- so much so that he had to drink himself into a near stupor to put them aside. The other thing that I found somewhat disturbing when I watched it again was Cuddy's reaction. The look on her face is extremely hard to interpret, but I'm reasonably sure that she wasn't happy. Given this, I'm going to have conclude that the scene in question may in fact foreshadow Bombshells. That doesn't really mitigate any of the disappointment I expressed in my post last week, but it at least absolves the writers of the charge that they sprang the break-up on us out of the blue.

But now to this week's episode:

Plot Synopsis: has a basic recap here.

The Skinny:

In my opinion, I think it's a mistake to read House's plunging - metaphorically and literally - into the pleasures of the flesh as the writers blowing a giant raspberry at all of us who liked where House was going before Bombshells. No -- when it comes to interpreting House's behavior, I usually adhere to the following rule of thumb: Watch Wilson. Some may argue that Wilson assumes House's humanity a little too readily, but while that may be true at times, I've so far found Wilson a generally reliable canary in the PPTH coal mine. And what should we conclude based on Wilson's behavior in this episode? That we should be afraid - very afraid - for House's well-being. After House makes his eight-story leap into that hotel swimming pool, Wilson doesn't laugh heartily over what a rapscallion House is; on the contrary, he looks frankly alarmed. That to me indicates that House's canonball is telling us something deadly serious.

And just in case Wilson's reactions are not enough evidence for you, I recommend watching House very closely as well. That devil-may-care attitude that House is projecting in public is really just a facade -- and it's a pretty flimsy one at that. Notice, for instance, how he suddenly lashes out when Wilson pushes him to talk about what happened with Cuddy. Notice too that when House comes up with two brilliant ideas to save the POTW, he doesn't preen or brag; indeed, his reaction to his own success is one of utter boredom. That's a terrifying place for House to be. If solving a challenging medical puzzle no longer gives House a thrill, what else does he have left?

House's ludicrously dangerous stunt in the final scene of this episode is an act of desperation. Rather than undoing the suggestions of suicidal ideation that seemed to permeate the episode before that moment, House's jump into the pool only serves to enhance them. As I remarked in an email to SABR Matt, if House has to risk his life to actually feel something, that only illustrates how close he is to the abyss.

Writing: 8.0

The medical case is pretty boring, so I can't give this script too high a score even though I rather liked the writers' portrayal of House's depression.

Acting: 8.5

The interpretation I share above does depend a great deal on the marvelous subtleties in Hugh Laurie's performance -- hence the relatively high acting score.

Message: 6.0

I don't know that there's much of a message in this one. I do know, however, that it is not portraying dissipation as the key to healing and happiness.

1 comment:

  1. I actually don't disagree with you entirely...I was more pissed off than you were about the cannonball thing...the suicidal angle the whole episode seemed to be building toward did seem to get flouted a bit by that stunt...but I am not blind to the real meaning of all of these pleasures of the flesh...nor do I think House is "A.O.K" fear is that the writers are building toward House simply working through his depression and eventually returning to status quo ante, rather than learning to embrace something more meaningful out of life.

    I would generally agree with you, though, about some of your comments.