Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pardon the Interruption: House 7:19 - The Last Temptation

Overall Rating: 6.0

This episode is an uncomfortable mix of reactions for me. House's worst moral failing is on display here, but at the same time, he has at least somewhat of a point. And he does have a worthy opponent in Masters who makes the case for a better life the only way the writers seem willing to leaving.

Plot Synopsis:

Wikiepedia has the gory details.

The Skinny:

You know...the lurking problem with House's moral code (and make no mistake...he is a DEEPLY moral being) never went away during the entire courtship with Cuddy. And it's on full display this week as well. At core, House believes that process does not matter - that the only thing that matters is results. The only meaning in his universe is in actions that he believes will directly result in a better world in one small way or another. The utilitarian "ends justify the means" mentality often gets powerful support by the events on this show - House isn't afraid to break any rule in the quest to save a patient's life. No doubt about it...he deeply cares (whether he'll admit it or not). The problem is...the same core philosophy leads to insincerity (such as House's "apology" to Cuddy for going over her head to fake a lab test and save another patient's life), spiritual desolation (if you only care about results, you'll never strive to better yourself remains the case with House), and the evils of Communism, totalitarianism, and even slavery at the extremes (yes...white farmers actually belkieved they were making things better for their black slaves, as sickening as that sounds).

All that said...the moral contrast provided i this episode is a great example of why Masters isn't exactly right either. House might not be right that it's better to lie, cheat and steal to save lives than to accept anything less than exceptionalism...but Masters is also wrong that everything in life is best settled with a rigid, simple set of rules. Masters' belief that she can solve every problem with absolute honesty and logic is indeed juvenile as House brutally declares when he calls her an eight year old. I think, however, that the resolution is pretty satisfactory, all things considered. Masters admits that House is right in prat...that life is more complex than she's making it...but still walks away, confident that she doesn't want to be like him just to claim that she's exceptional. It is perhaps the greatest reason why genius-level intellects make some of the worst politicians and public policy makers. There is a pervasive belief in the intelligencia that because they know more and have gifts others lack, they should be able to do what ever they want in the defense of others. That kind of arrogance and moral bankruptcy is poison for the common man.

Also note: part of the reason Masters is wrong is that other people don't respond to everything with a cool, rational intelligent logic the way that she does. it is unquestionably INCREDIBLY STUPID!!! to let your THIRTEEN YEAR OLD daughter sail around the world with deadly cancer in her arm JUST TO BREAK A MEANINGLESS RECORD!!!...*sigh*...calm now. But some parents are just incompetent idiotic wastes of space like THESE parents. The kid threatened to petition to become an emancipated minor...and they bought it? You takes more than a snit to get that status legally. I say let her live emancipated for a month...see if she enjoys it. Maybe she'll learn something and when she inevitably comes back, maybe she'll understand why you had to be the boss. You're supposed to know more than your daughter and you're supposed to look after her...not run scared because she might say she hates you. Holy Christ on a freakin' cracker!!


Writing: 6.5

The plot is not all that original for this show, and the patient and her family were not very well written, nor the essential conflict particularly well planned. I did, however, enjoy House and Wilson betting on chicken hoarding and look forward to seeing a ferret in House's office. :)

Acting: 8.0

The acting was well above par for everyone except the patient and her family...all of whom were not believable as human beings. The strongest performance came from Masters, though...her exit was satisfying in part because of the way she handled her confrontations with House.

Message: 3.5

Although I do think that the exit of Masters was at least a pratial defense of the moral life (over the utilitarian one)...I think the other ducklings make bad counterparts to House and the writers have left many in fandom actually believing that House is the exceptional one...the role model...and that Masters is weak. I can't get past that...and I can't support it either.

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