Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pardon the Interruption: House 8:21 - Holding On

Overall: 7.0

I really have mixed feelings on this one. In fact, I think I'm going to declare the above score a provisional grade until I see how it all ends.

Plot Synopsis:

The official recap can be found here.

The Skinny:

There's no doubt about it: The characterization for House in this episode is both impeccable and heartbreaking. It makes sense that House would be unable to cope with the prospect of losing Wilson. And it makes even more sense that he would fail to be straight with his friend and would instead string Wilson along with a series of emotionally manipulative stunts. That refusal to be open and honest - that refusal to face his feelings and deal with them in a healthy way - is the central feature of House's personality. It's what ultimately destroyed his burgeoning relationship with Cuddy. It's what recently destroyed the good thing he had going with Dominika. And it's the reason why he's never been able to kick his pill habit permanently.  It's all about avoidance with House -- which makes that outburst in the hallway sound kind of hypocritical. "Life is pain!" indeed -- but have you actually accepted that fact?

I also think, in the end, that it was logical for House to give in to Wilson's desire to "die gracefully" (whatever the hell that means). Even a Christian such as yours truly struggles spiritually with the problem of pain -- but as a militant atheist, House is a thousand times more handicapped on the subject. If you believe there's no "reason" for suffering, you simply can't offer someone a satisfactory explanation as to why they should have to experience it. You are pulled, inexorably, towards the conclusion that suicide is preferable.

So yes -- the characters are doing exactly what they're supposed to do. I can't fault the writers there. But I'm still deeply disappointed that Wilson is giving up. According to the American Cancer Society, the five year survival rate for a regional thymoma is 74%. So unless I'm missing something, there's no reason for Wilson to think there's no hope. Okay, fine -- your preferred treatment wasn't successful. But have you considered the possibility that you were wrong -- that another oncologist may be able to come up with a more effective treatment plan? The American Cancer Society also recommends getting at least two opinions -- but you have relied solely on your own. How arrogant can you possibly be? No -- here I agree with the House we saw in the early half of the episode. Wilson is young and is otherwise in good health. It is stupid for him to throw in the towel so quickly.

And by the way, linking Wilson's resignation to his belief in an afterlife? FAIL. I believe there is a heaven (and I certainly hope to make it there one day), but if I ever receive a cancer diagnosis (and I'm not extremely elderly at the time), I'm going to exhaust every damn option before choosing a peaceful death. As a practicing Catholic, I don't hold to the Gnostic heresy that my earthly life should be shed as soon as possible. My earthly life - even with the suffering - is "very good," to use the phrasing from Genesis, because God made it that way. And as G.K. Chesterton once suggested, electing to check out before my time would be like giving God's universe - and everything that is great and beautiful within it - the middle finger.

The other thing that bothers me about this episode is the end. They're going to send House back to prison for stopping up the toilets and not for strangling a patient? That doesn't make any sense at all! Either that last bit was a hallucination, or the writers have been smoking a little too much wacky weed. As I said above, the jury will be out until next week on that one.        

Writing: 7.0

I was all set to give this script a borderline feature score for the characterization, but then the writers lost two points for the contrived cliff-hanger.

Acting: 10.0

Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard are awesome in this episode. Way to crack my heart in half, you guys!

Message: 4.0

Maybe it's because of the drama going on in my brother's life at present, but my heart is fiercely rebelling against the whole idea that Wilson should embrace a premature death.

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