Welcome to Dissecting House: a blog dedicated to the television show House MD, where analytical reviews of season 8 episodes are posted weekly.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Charity Case Episode Review

Honey, I'm House! We're back to the old Housian feeling of past seasons, but with a fresh sense of the re-born rather than the re-cycled. The case centres around a man who seems to suffer (as House immediately refuses to believe it could be anything but a symptom) of extreme altruism. His generosity surpasses a rational sense of giving. His ambivalence towards his family, in the sense that he loves them and yet does not elevate them above other human beings, proposed a strange paradox in terms of caring. House of course jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the man's disproportionate sense of generosity, but interestingly, not for his own use, per se, but in order to get his team back.

When Thirteen begins to con the patient into giving her a kidney in order to analyse his mental state, he immediately agrees despite the fact that it will kill him. Adams, Foreman and Wilson believed that the man was not sick and had the mental capacity to agree to the first kidney donation, so this proves just how wrong they were (as well as revealing more of the "true" perspective to us). It also goes to show just how much perspectives differ in terms of looking at humanity. House, Thirteen and Chi, who are the skeptics and realists, see this need to be extremely charitable as part of a disease. We see both a rosy and dark version of the issue. I'm more of a realist and this IS House, so I'm glad dark wins. However it is a happy ending as the man is cured and although he will continue giving, he gets his family back. And House can once again say: I was right.

So we go from the POTW who cannot stop giving charity to Chi who refuses to accept any. I thought the banter between Adams and Chi was superbly written, especially in the locker room where the shoes were involved:

Chi: "You want me to return these, give them to someone, wear them while you masturbate?"
...
Chi: "You do know I punched the last person that pissed me off"
Adams: "Was it Santa?"

Chi's refusal comes from principle, which is great because it doesn't stop her from helping House con Adams into a one upmanship in order to get his car fixed. It's a win-win-win, as Adams thinks she's beat Chi, Chi has actually beaten Adams, and House gets what he wants. I think having Chi as House's ally is great, especially as she doesn't let him walk all over her. Adams does prove that she is not a wallflower either as her charity is not in the realms of generosity in this case, however both her and Thirteen are working for free, hence another aspect of charity.

I thought House's scenes with Thirteen were true to both their natures and beautifully written. His selfishness was overcome when he realised just how happy she was and that it was an innate sense of guilt that was keeping her in the hospital working as a doctor. So the last (veiled) act of charity is letting her go. I'm really sad to see Thirteen leave as she has such an interesting presence on the team and has evolved so much.

On a happier note, we also see a little bit of the clinic, which many of us have enjoyed a lot in the past, often seeing House humiliating his patients. So let's hope for more to come!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Transplant Episode Review

Transplant was an interesting title to theorise about. I like the fact that it did refer to both an organ transplant and House being transplanted from jail to PPTH under Foreman's watch (the new DoM). House has not lost his wit nor his disrespectful ways, mocking Foreman's position and refusing to acknowledge him as a real boss. Foreman seems less authoritative than I thought he would be but perhaps some aspect of revenge is reserved for later on. I also like that the writers kept House true to his form. "People don't change" and expecting him to come back an apologetic, remorseful man...well it was never going to happen.

The fact that the POTW is not a patient but a diseased organ is an interesting twist. House has a natural tendency to de-humanise diseases so he was able to procede as normal without the 'annoying' interaction with the patient (the receiver of the lungs was Wilson's patient). House is often criticised for being an ass, but if he hadn't suggested to Wilson that he stops "respecting" his patient and convinces her to live she would be dead. ("What comes after respect?") The parallel to this is that Wilson then gets the bad influence alcholic boyfriend to convince the patient to live. Wonderful writing.

I like Chi Park already. She does remind me of Masters but I think she will hold her own. The fact that this apparent mouse punched her supervisor not only makes House respect her more, but connects her to House. The part where he suggested they were twins was fantastic. I like to see that she isn't subservient and only follows House's instructions if they are medically relevant (ie refusal to steal the chair). She decides to stay at PPTH, and has the courage to tell her parents what happened because of House. She sees past what he projects and what people say about him to what really matters; his impeccably observant and deductive mind.

The medicine draws him back again, as we saw in Twenty Vicodin. You'll note that he was completely unaware (and doesn't care) about how much he is being paid. Besides believing that people don't change, he also likes his surroundings and situations to stay the same. The team is nowhere to be found and House mentions more than once that he wants them back. Also, the team not being present is a very well-thought way of de-emphasising the fact that Cuddy is no longer there. It makes that particular (major) change easier to digest if it's less obvious. House also wants his old office and even goes as far as breaking in to get it back (which he does in the end). It's perhaps a reminder to the audience that House has always done dramatic, apparently nonsensical or shocking things. He just happens to (at least partly) compensate for these actions by so often being right.

Humourous dialogue I particularly appreciated:

After shouting unexpectedly about the elephant in the room (prison) he talks about not being raped and then says, "Well now that we've got that completely behind us". 

"Fresh fruit in prison is usually chicken"

Wilson punches House in the face and then says "Dinner tonight? I'll pick something up."
 (This is a reverse parallel between House and Chi, with the punch symbolising punishment for a moral wrongdoing).

The relationship between House and Wilson is a vital character in itself. I have always admired their friendship and to see Wilson forgive him once again both makes me happy and proves that "the heart does go on". It is perhaps a misguided idea to trust his friend but a friendship like theirs is unconditional. I like the vegetarian metaphor, with Wilson going back to meat signifying him going back to House.

I thought it was a very good transitory episode from jail to PPTH, and I particularly liked seeing House interact with Chi and Wilson. Next up is Charity Case. If you're into speculation, check out my theory on Thirteen.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Twenty Vicodin Episode Review

The episode begins at a slow pace and increases with the tension of how the five days, split to create a heightened sense of prolonged time, will treat House. We find that he will be released on parole if he behaves for five days. Of course, things aren't that simple. Medicine is at the heart of the episode because it is what drives House to be who he is. As much as he wants to be released, the intrigue of a medical mystery is actually his imprisonment.

This follows with the fact that House turned himself in. It makes sense for House to be found in jail after the controversial finale crash into Cuddy's house. However, House chose to go to jail. I think this is a very important factor to consider. As Dr. Adams points out, he could have got a much better deal legally but he chose to punish himself. Either fully aware or subconsciously aware, he desperately wants to regain control of his own life.

House is not however the alpha dog in jail. The "Nazi bitches" run the jail and tax House more when they realise he is going on parole. He has five days to collect 20 Vicodin to give them.

On the other hand, he becomes a puppet master as he immediately captivates Dr. Adams' attention. She's impressed by how he manages to read her so readily and sees his unique diagnostic capabilities first hand. House talks about undertaking a PhD in dark matter, the original title for the episode. He says that there is 6 times more "stuff" than can be detected and that it is the "greatest mystery of them all". Dr. Adams tells him it's "divorced from humanity" which is ironic because I still believe it could be seen as a metaphor for House. He is dark, complex and often hard to understand/misunderstood. He tries (and very often succeeds) in diagnosing what no one else can see.

Dr. Adams, being a new character is probably more scrutinised than others. She is obviously impressed by House's talents and bows down to his needs. At first she is merely a puppet, controlled by House's manipulative and yet proven intellect. But she shows promise when she reacts as House would ("cool") to the lack of clotting in the patient's earlobe. She takes initiative regardless of the consequences at the end, believing in House but acting because she wants to (which shows strength of character). She is fired but (spoiler)it's very likely her actions are repayed by being hired as part of the team, because House makes it happen.

I very much like House's 'gentle giant' cellmate. Of course, he's not so gentle when he comes to House's rescue. I really enjoyed their relationship and the humour in the fact that he could crush House at any moment, "Or I say thank you for not killing me". I think besides fear House has a genuine connection with him, protecting him from the consequences of being found with contraband. I think that's partly why he threw the collected Vicodin away, but I think he was also trying his hardest to stay away from trouble and start a new life. But medicine draws him back in (he mentions wanting to look at a return's policy for his talent). When I saw the promo I thought he would cause chaos (by throwing the Vicodin pills in the air) to get into solitary, but it was in fact to get to the clinic to try and save his patient, who as it happens, does not have Lupus.

I can't believe we're finally onto Season 8! Feels like we'd waited forever. But I can say that it was most definitely worth the wait. I thought it was an incredible season opener with a nice window into the consequences of his actions and his addiction to medicine (not just Vicodin). One thing I did miss was music (edit: besides the instrumental). I always love the soundtracks on House.

Now onto "Transplant"! Check out my blog post on it (from a while back), looks like I was along the right lines (spoiler) with House being taken to PPTH under a parole leash to treat a particularly diagnostically challenging patient.