Wednesday, September 17, 2008

House: Does Dying Change Everything?

Last night’s season premier episode of ”House” – “Dying Changes Everything” – proves that dying changes nothing when it comes to Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie), or for the show for that matter.

The medical case is standard fare. A woman comes in with mystery illness, the staff scrambles to find out what is wrong, guesses on the diagnoses, treats the patient for a few different things, and House figures it out in the end. This is only a backdrop to the real story: Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is leaving Princeton Plainsboro teaching Hospital.

I wrote in February about House and Wilson being ”TV’s Power Couple”. They still are, but they just won't be working together, at least for now. This episode was akin to watching a married couple going through an ugly split up, with Wilson being the woman with bruised feelings who isn’t appreciated, and House being the man who just doesn’t get what he’s doing wrong.

The bone of contention between the two is the death of Wilson’s girlfriend, Amber, who was killed as a result of a bus accident. Since she happened to be on the bus with House, and was on the bus BECAUSE of House, Wilson seems to be harboring bad feelings toward House about it. And, in typical House fashion, he doesn’t quite understand why Wilson is so miffed with him. He thinks Wilson is committing “career malpractice.”

While House’s staff works to diagnose the patient of the week, House is distracted by Wilson’s quitting, and in one case, abandons his patient and dumps the patient on Wilson. House also openly refers to Thirteen’s (Olivia Wilde) Huntington’s disease, which she insists to House and her peers that she does not have. (Later, however, she admits to the patient of the week that she DOES have Huntington’s.)

Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) also tries to play marriage counselor, trying to get House and Wilson to talk things over and make nice. After all, she doesn’t want Wilson to leave, either. In typical Cuddy fashion, she seems to gloss over the problem by thinking that her mediation over a session with these two would cure their ills. Of course it does not. Cuddy even goes to House’s apartment and called him out for risking the life of a patient rather than apologize to Wilson. When he closes the door in her face, she shouts through it, "You're doing the same thing he is. Running away. Except he's not killing anyone in the process." Personally, Cuddy should have fired House long ago, so now she really has no power with him at all. Well, maybe she only has power over him to the extent that she can confiscate all the remote controls for the TVs in the doctor’s lounge area. I continually am perplexed – even annoyed – that Cuddy, who really is the person in power at the hospital – is frequently made into a weak, ineffective leader.

Thirteen, however, seems torn about the patient, first with the requirement of an abortion of the fetus that was gestating in the wrong place, and later, telling the patient of her own disease in order to encourage the patient to believe in her own abilities. She gets confounded when the patient readily agrees to the abortion procedure, and even more frustrated when the patient goes back to work for her boss, because the patient says that is where she thinks she belongs. The bottom line is that Thirteen is just another reincarnation of the emotionally driven Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), who is still working in the emergency area and doing fine without House. A side note about Olivia Wilde – I am not quite sure what she did to herself, but she seems thinner and her head just looked huge. In fact, I found that every time she was on the screen, all I saw was a giant forehead. Her hair also seem plastered to her head. She made Dr. Kutner (Kal Penn) and Dr. Taub (Peter Jacobson) look attractive in comparison, which believe me, is quite a stretch.

And since I mentioned Dr. Cameron, I thought I should reference her two former peers, who are also now on their own to an extent. Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer) is busy doing surgery and happy to be in a position where he can have some power over House’s team by nixing surgery for the patient. Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) is working for House, but in a slightly better position where he was before because he has more influence over House’s staff.

Of course, as the episode is winding down, House comes in with the magic diagnosis of a form of leprosy, and provides the cure.

But the real heart of the matter comes at the end, when Wilson is getting reading to leave with his final box of personal belongings, and House comes in for one final chance to get Wilson to stay. House says, "I know I didn't try to kill her. I know I didn't want her hurt. I know it was a freak accident. But I feel like crap and she's dead because of me," and asks Wilson if they are OK now. But Wilson comes back that this was not the reason he is leaving. He tells House, "We're not OK,” that he was leaving not because of Amber, but because of House. Wilson spears back with, "You spread misery because you can't feel anything else…We're not friends anymore, House. I'm not sure we ever were." He admits to being House’s enabler – something viewers have known for quite some time now. Still, it was good to hear Wilson tell it like it is, before he walked out the door.

But the bottom line is, what has dying changed for House? Nothing really. He’s still the same, prickly, condescending, self-centered jerk he has always been. He still takes advantage of people. He still doesn’t seem to really care about his patients. Is the fact that Amber is dead and Wilson left the hospital mean that everything changed? No, not one bit. Just because Wilson isn’t at the hospital won’t mean that he won’t be in House’s life, as evidenced by the preview for next week. So when it all comes down to it, while Dr. Greg House pontificates that “dying changes everything”, for him, that's just not true.

Episode Clips

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Curious - why have the writers made House look so pathetic. We always laughed with him, now we feel sorry for him as he desparately loses the respect of everyone around him.