Tuesday, March 10, 2009

House: “The Social Contract” Is Honestly Good

All photos from Fox

This episode of House(Fox) “The Social Contract” attempts to bring the series back to its old self and away from the silly baby drama of late. The patient of the week was Nick (Jay Karnes), an author who suddenly can’t keep his mouth shut, with barbed, brutally honest comments coming out like he was channeling Dr. Greg House. But when his nose starts to bleed and he collapses, those with him realize something is really wrong. Of course, he ends up in Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, under the care of Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) and his staff. The team looks at the causes of Nick’s sudden personality shift, all the while Nick is dishing out comments to the group, such as doubting Kutner’s (Kal Penn) sincerity and mocking Taub’s (Peter Jacobson) nose. He also makes quite a few blatantly sexual comments to Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) in front of Foreman (Omar Epps). (By the way, for you shippers out there, I refuse to refer to these two as “Fore-teen). House, wanting to get his jollies, also makes sure that Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) arrives just at the time when Nick’s sexual fantasies are getting out of control, just so Nick can further spew out more of his sexual fantasies to Cuddy. It seems that this show is completely unable to go one episode without someone – usually House – objectifying Cuddy. I still don’t understand how someone who is supposed to be a professional woman in such a high position in the hospital – she has to remind House she is the Dean of Medicine – allows herself to be treated with such disrespect. They either need to make Cuddy into a respectable Dean of Medicine or just demote her so she can continue to allow herself to be demeaned and I can get along with my life.

The central issue with this episode, though, involved House and Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). Since House seems to be insanely concerned about anything that takes away his control over something, he gets worried when Wilson won’t go with him to see the monster truck show. After Wilson tells him that he has plans to play racquetball with Taub, the obsessed House goes into high gear and works to expose Taub’s collaboration in the lie. He gets Taub to get some information from Wilson on what is bothering him, and Taub suspects Wilson may be ill. But House gets it right, it’s not Wilson who is ill, it’s a problem with someone close to Wilson. We find out that it’s Wilson’s brother, who has been admitted to a psych hospital and given medication for a mental problem. Wilson also apparently has carried guilt for his brother being homeless, as years ago in frustration with his brother, he hung up the phone on him and his brother took off, without his meds. Eventually his brother became homeless. Wilson tried to find him once, and caught up with him by accident, seeing his brother homeless only adding to his guilt. Wilson wants to make amends, and he also wants his best buddy and sidekick House to be there at his side when he has to face his brother.

What was also great about this episode is whenever we get House and Wilson together, we usually get some great dialog, with Wilson usually getting the plum lines, like this exchange:

Kutner: No nasal cancer. And no marriage either if our patient keeps saying everything that comes into his head without regard for the consequences.

Wilson, to House: You led me to believe you were one of a kind.

This is the kind of thing that has been missing from the show for a while. This seemed like such a natural comment, not the forced funny that we’ve been getting as of late. It was like we had our old show back.

By the way, after a few misdiagnoses – after all, it wouldn’t be House without them -
House correctly identifies Nick’s problem as potter syndrome, which is causing his body to overreact to a fibroma. House tells the team to remove the fibroma and Nick will return to normal. And magically, he does, and Nick returns to his wife, who seems to have forgiven him for all the nasty things he said to her while he was ill.

But most importantly, House and Wilson have seemed to reinforce their bond of friendship. In fact, the next day after Wilson has met with his brother, House asks if he is okay, and Wilson tells him he will be seeing his brother again next week and he would like House to meet him too, and House agrees. So it seems Wilson needs House just as bad as House needs him. Wilson tells House the meeting with his brother was a little anti-climatic as they seemed like strangers. As they step into the elevator, House asks Wilson if it bothers him that he and Wilson have no social contract. Wilson says his whole life is one big compromise, and he tiptoes around everyone like they are made of China. He spends all his time analyzing the affects of what would happen as the result of his words. But he says House is a reality junkie; if he offered House a lie he’d smack him over the head with it – and let’s not change that. House says OK, but Wilson says no, that if he were implementing a social contract he’d say that, but only because it makes him feel better. House says it’s fun watching him torture himself, and Wilson asks him if he thinks things will work out with his brother. House answers no, but if it does go wrong, it won’t be Wilson’s fault. Wilson thanks him, and House says, “You really do like monster trucks.” Wilson’s reply, “Absolutely” as they leave the building together. Awww. Ok, it was a little sappy, but still it was good to see House and Wilson acting like best buddies again. Maybe there is still hope for this show after all.

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