Tuesday, March 31, 2009

House “Locked In” Very Liberating For Everyone

Photo from Fox

This episode of House(Fox) “Locked In” was probably the best episode of the season. I have to admit, though, the scenario of the patient was very reminiscent of an episode of a TV show that I watched sometime in the 1960s (I think) – sadly, the name of the series escapes me. It may have been a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits or a show in that genre; a person was in some sort of car accident and they appeared to be dead, and we went through the episode through that person’s eyes. It wasn’t discovered until they were ready to do an autopsy – and that person began to cry and the ME saw the tear – that they realized the person was alive.

Lucky for this patient, when he was in the ER, he was lucky to also have Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) in the bed next to him. As the ER doc talks about harvesting the patient’s organs, House tries to show him that there are signs that that patient – who’s name is Lee (Mos Def) – isn’t brain dead at all. Despite the ER doctor wanting House to worry about House’s own injuries from his fall from his motorcycle, he eventually sees that House is correct in his diagnoses. Of course, House has Lee transferred to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital so he can have his diagnostic way with him,

Most of the episode is viewed from the patient’s eyes, making for quite a few close up shots of everyone’s face. This is not a flattering look for anyone, including House, especially since Laurie is starting to look more and more like he was rode hard and put away wet. The view from the patient’s eyes brings some fairly accurate assessments of the people he sees. For example, when Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) first sees House with the patient, she fawns over House, and Lee thinks, ”I can’t move, and she’s worried about his boo-boo.” He also sees that she has a thing for House and it may go back the other way too. Thankfully, for all our sakes, I think that is the last we see Cuddy in the episode or are forced to even think about her “thing” with House. When Lee observes House and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) going at it as they always do, he thinks, “You guys are friends?” And when Foreman (Omar Epps) bores him with a story, Lee thinks, “Did you tell this story to someone who could walk away?” I have to remember that last line for future use.

Meanwhile, as House and his crew are working on the patient, Wilson is trying to figure out why House was in NY. The story keeps changing. First House tells Wilson he was in NY to pick up a vintage guitar, then he says he went to NY to see Foreman’s brother in prison. But Wilson checks that out, and that is a lie too. House then tells Wilson he went to NY to check out a woman that Wilson is seeing that has some involvement with his brother’s rehabilitation. Wilson seems half mortified and half scared. But later, Wilson steals House’s phone and finds many calls to a psychiatrist – House has been seeing a shrink. At the end of the episode, House indicates he won’t be going back. I suppose he doesn’t want to be locked in to psychoanalysis, which to House may be just as bad as the patient being locked in his brain. But there is a blurry shot at the end, which gives an air of mystery.

But back to the patient, who actually seemed to be interesting this week. While they find a way for him to communicate – first by blinking and then by moving a cursor up and down on a screen to indicate yes or no just by thinking of moving the cursor up and down – they find that Lee has been lying to his wife, and he’s been working other jobs and looking for more work, using his friend’s home as a cover. They first think he was exposed to heavy metals while working a janitorial job, so they treat him for heavy metal poisoning. Sadly, that’s not his problem, and after trial and error – like always – Kutner (Kal Penn) makes a connection between a rash he sees on Thirteen’s (Olivia Wilde) wrist and the patient’s symptoms. Kutner correctly diagnoses Lee with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection he got from coming in contact with rat pee from his friend’s basement. The problem is, when House asks Kutner and Taub (Peter Jacobson) who got the diagnosis, Taub takes credit, and Kutner is silent. But after Taub walks off, House tells Kutner that he knows it wasn’t Taub, and that Taub must really care about his job if he is willing to lie for it.

If you think House didn’t try to get one up on his staff in this episode like he always does, he did actually find out a lot about them, as he’d left a small tape recorder in the patient’s bed so he can hear what secrets or little tidbits he could get to use at a later time.

This episode had a lot of unusual camera shots, considering many scenes were shot as if they were looking through the patient’s eyes. I don’t care for stunt casting, and it seems many TV shows are signing up any rapper they can get to star in their show. In this case, Mos Def was really not that bad, but a lot of it is due to the fact that he really didn’t have to synchronize his lines with his expressions for most of the show. The few scenes where he imagined himself on a beach playing with his kids and talking to House were short and really didn’t require a huge talent. So in this case, there wasn’t much to lose with casting someone who may not have a huge acting range. Still, I think he did a decent job.

All in all, a very good episode, and a rare one where we actually may have cared about the patient. It seemed to have the perfect balance of patient + House + Wilson + House’s staff, with less Cuddy. Kind of like lite beer – taste great, lower calories.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was a pretty solid episode. I remember that MASH used a "through the patients eyes" episode to great effect as well. We never saw who the soldier was even at the very end we only hear him whisper "thank you" to Hawkeye. I wish they had done the same thing here. Nice to see less of the "drama" we've had to watch the last few weeks. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.