Overall Rating: 4.0
I think I am showing restraint with this rating as it is based mainly on the elements of the episode and not on my general impression of the show's illogical and maddening direction.
Extending from the developments in last week's episode, in which House realized that the only way he could handle his break-up with Cuddy was to act like a college frat boy (*sigh*)...House goes to absolutely incredible lengths throughout the entire episode to entertain himself - especially at Cuddy's expense. He agrees to marry a Russia prostitute to get her a green card (for his purposes, he claims that it will cost him way too much money to hire a full time masseuse, hooker, maid etc and this will save him a ton of cash). In context with the other things he does to goad Cuddy: flaunting his new Segway (against hospital regulations) and when she claims that hospital regulations will not be bent for a toy, acquiring a toy helicopter set and shooting her in the boob with a mounted pellet gun, driving a monster truck to work and taking up four parking spots, including hers, and finally attempting to host his fake wedding in the Hospital's chapel...it's clear that the marriage is fun only because it's part of an organized campaign to punish her for dumping him. He's also popping Vicodin like candy and when Masters asks him to stop taking drugs in front of her, he makes a point of doing it extra slowly and with gusto at their next encounter.
Meanwhile, the team takes on a homeless patient whose admitting symptom (apart form some burns on his arm) is that he thinks B.O. smells like sweet fruit. The medical mystery is rather uninspired...House thinks the problem is neurological, Masters thinks it's something more tangible than infection (a tumor perhaps) and they run a battery of tests while new symptoms begin emerging rapidly...everything from rectal bleeding to ascending nerve pain to ataxia to arrhythmia. At one point, (after showing signs of ataxia) House diagnoses him with Parkinson's Disease. His various stories and the refusal to give an identity attempt to provide a litmus test to the personalities of the Ducklings. Taub treats him like a potential thug and thinks all of his stories are ways of suckering the other docs. Masters thinks he's a redemption story in the making. Foreman just doesn't care and Chase deals with his religious comments like someone out of seminary and asks Taub to treat him with some respect. After all of the games, it turns out he's got a genetic inability to eat green plants...and that he's a serial killer in disguise. *yawn*
Wilson always attempts to make whoever he touches feel better at any given time, whether it's a healthy long term approach or not. He's the ultimate enabler. In this episode he switches from desperately trying to convince Cuddy that House's life is in seriously jeopardy if she sticks with her decision to dump him at the first sign of trouble to attempting to convince her that she needs to get "back to normal" and start hitting back when House tries to punish her. He's right of course, House will lose all respect for Cuddy (and her authority will be forever lost) if she doesn't push back and keep House in check, but I nonetheless find myself extremely concerned that the writers are trying to erase the last two years of history and return to middle-season status quo ante.
A year ago today, there was some grave concern that House might have slipped back onto the Vicodin...it was a life or death drama - at least that's how it was portrayed. Fast forward to today. Suddenly...no one seems to care that House is a pill popping loon again? Three weeks ago, House realized that he "needed Cuddy in his life," but now he cavorts with prostitutes and attacks Cuddy...figuring what...he'll keep her in his life by returning to his former working relationship with her? You can't go backwards (as Cuddy even said)...especially if you're a high intensity person like House. The show's emphasis on the need to reestablish some sort of equalibrium is, IMHO twenty giant steps in the wrong direction. Shore and co. need to be careful here. They're destroying all of their credibility as dramatic storytellers. At this point, I am not ready to believe any changes in House will be more than passing fads, because at this point, it seems to me like I was taken on a two-year journey to discover a new kind of House experience, only to have that entire two year period erased. Why do any of what they did with House and Cuddy? Why get House off the Vicodin if your next plan was to get House back on the Vicodin capriciously and with no concern from the rest of the cast?
All of that aside, I am trying to be objective about each episode...trying and struggling. This one employed a really cheesy gimmick finale for...apparently no reason. Unless there are going to be consequences to Masters or Chase for their decisioj to trust the serial killer...I see no reason to have even done that...someone thought they were being REEEEEALY clever but...I just don't feel all that moved. Sorry. As well, the personal stuf between House and Cuddy lacked the depth and characterization of previous House setback episodes. House's decision to reject the idea of opening himself up to another person in favor of naked selfishness and frat-boy thrill-seeking would make for an interesting story except that it simply isn't enough in the spotlight and Wilson seems not to question it very seriously...going so far as to appear CONVINCED by House's argument that the hooker bride thing makes logical sense. I get what they're trying to do...House opened himself up to Cuddy...let himself need her and love her and she turned him down, so now he's decided that the only way to survive is to reject the entire idea that such a position is desirable. So much so that when his hooker bride sauys that she likes him even though their marriage is a sham, he suddenly no longer desires her sexually (because he realizes he actually likes her a little bit too and is therefore at risk of some day falling for the same "trap" that he did for Cuddy). It's not that I'm missing the goal here...it's that I think their execution of said goal was weak and the entire reason for having this goal seems to be a giant misstep for the franchise.
The medical plot was hackneyed and gimmicky. The soap opera was very flat and uninspired.
Hugh Laurie is doing the best he can...the subtleties of his reactions are brilliant. Edelstein's quieter moments were above par as well. I even liked the guest star who played House's hooker bride. The PotW was UTTERLY unconvincing though.
What is the lesson for the medical plot, exactly? That you shouldn't trust a man who won't give you his name? That Masters is a sucker? Usually the medical cases come with a message that ties into the main show...this one didn't. That would make this a slightly-sub-par message score, but the message I'm getting from the Huddy plot is even more muddled. And every week my skepticism for the future intent of this franchise intensifies.