Tuesday, February 24, 2009

House “Softer Side” Brings a Hard Choice

All photos from Fox
This episode of House(Fox) “The Softer Side” seems to be an attempt to return viewers to the old “Greg House” that we used to know. It’s the Greg House that will do just about anything to get rid of the pain in his leg.

The scenario plays out over a case about a child who was born with both male and female DNA, and the parents chose to allow the child to grow up as a male. But, problems ensue when the boy becomes ill after a school basketball game, and the parents convince House (Hugh Laurie) – a little too easily – that the boy is suffering from a “blind uterus.” Despite House’s better judgment, House caves into the parents’ wishes for an MRI, which is what causes the boy to eventually experience more horrible symptoms than what caused his original illness. We learn at the end of the show that the energy drinks that the overbearing and overprotective parents have been giving him have caused problems for his kidneys, and the MRI only made the problems worse as the contrast fluid that they injected him was absorbed to a much greater extent than normal.

OK, that’s out of the way. Let’s get back to House. It seems that he’s become far too agreeable, and this becomes a cause for concern for his colleagues. He asks permission rather than simply stealing Wilson’s (Robert Sean Leonard) food. He seems far too agreeable with the patient’s parents. He actually treats an apparently stupid patient with a broken finger without incident. He seems – happy! But his colleagues become concerned when they find House, who looks to be sleeping in his chair in his office, is not really asleep - he's not breathing. Foreman (Omar Epps) does the manly thing and grabs and twists House’s nipples in order to shock him awake as Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) panics and calls a code blue. House revives, and seems mum about what caused this problem. This further raises the suspicions of Cuddy and Wilson, who deduce that House’s happiness and absence of pain is because he is on heroin.

Later, Wilson tests the theory by taking House to dinner and tries to get him to drink alcohol, which he says House can't drink if he is on heroin. House is on to Wilson’s ruse, and drinks it anyway, much to Wilson’s surprise. But, Wilson decides to follow through and later finds House outside throwing up what he just drank, and House later admits to Wilson he’s not on heroin, it’s methadone. And it makes him pain free. He throws away his cane.

Much to House’s dismay, once Cuddy gets wind of this she hunts him down in the men’s room. He tells her he has a legal prescription for the methadone, but she thinks he just found a willing doctor who wasn’t aware of House’s previous addiction problems. She suddenly decides she has had enough, and tells him unless he gets off the methadone, he’s out. House chooses the methadone, and leaves. Later, we see House at home, lathering up for a much-needed shave. The next we see him, he’s in a suit and tie, and is clean-shaven, and asking Cuddy for a letter of recommendation so he can get another job. Cuddy won’t provide it, instead offering House his job back, with several strings attached, including that he has to get his doses of methadone from their own clinic. He accepts the job back, but later when Cuddy brings him his dose, decides the medication isn’t working as he expected. He feels that it made him misdiagnose the boy. Cuddy tells him that he is just afraid to be happy. When she offers him his methadone, he throws if away, and says this is the only House she gets.

Also, behind the scenes, we have Foreman and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) still trying to keep their relationship a secret, and when they both are tested by Kutner (Kal Penn) and Taub (Peter Jacobson), they become concerned that those two know they are back together. But they also seem somewhat relieved that House is not yet on to them. Thirteen also gets into a tight situation when she misinterprets a letter they found in the boy’s room as a suicide note, and tips off the patient to ask his parents about the “vitamins” they have been giving him. This opens up a whole can of worms with the parents and makes them angry, but they work through the situation as the case goes along. Maybe this will teach her to get her facts straight before she decides to meddle in something that is probably not her business. Later, when House sees Thirteen wearing the shoes that he knows Foreman likes, I think House is now on to the fact that they are back together. Frankly, I could care less.

I am starting to wonder if Lisa Edelstein is planning some sort of cosmetic surgery. It’s because of the horrific hairdo she is sporting, with the awkward looking bangs. Many times actors will change their hair – make it longer, or in the case of men, grow facial hair – and then when they change their hair style back or shave, they suddenly look “refreshed”, and viewers assume it’s the change in hair. I wondered if that is why Laurie shaved too, but it’s been so long viewers have seen a bare face that maybe he just looked younger because all the stubble was gone. But Edelstein's bangs are a red alert for a forehead lift or botox or some other cosmetic procedure. I’m just waiting to see. Otherwise, I find myself still tiring of Cuddy, even though we didn’t get assaulted by her baby issues in this week’s episode. She seems to be constantly gazing at House with her helpless, love-stricken eyes. I wish she would just get over her crush so the show can just move on.

All in all, the episode was a bit of an improvement over the previous weeks. It seemed to bring the focus on to the House that intrigued viewers at the start. I wonder, though, what else they can have House do in order to relieve the pain in his leg? Is the fact that he decided against the methadone that he is realizing that part of the person – and the doctor – who he has become, is very reliant on the pain? Somehow, I think he will continue to work to find a way to be a great diagnostician and still find a way to make the pain go away.

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