Tuesday, May 12, 2009

House “Both Sides Now” This Is Your Brain On Drugs

Photos from Fox

I knew it. I said it last week in my review of House episode “Under My Skin” where I said “Still, I found myself wondering if House could have detoxed so easily considering the amount of Vicodin he had been taking? I would have suspected that he would have become quickly dehydrated and would have likely required IV fluids. Something about his detox just seemed a little too tame.” Something in my gut just told me the whole detox thing felt wrong. And it this week’s episode of House(Fox) titled ‘Both Sides Now” we find that it never really happened.

After this episode was over, I wondered how to cover it. At the end of the episode, it seems House was hallucinating everything from the time he initially went into Cuddy’s (Lisa Edelstein) office in last week’s episode “Under My Skin” to tell her he quit and that he was hallucinating. I would think that this would mean the patient of the week – the man with the hand that had a mind of his own, didn’t really happen. Are we also to assume that the whole dialog between Cameron and Chase about her destroying her first husband’s sperm and him telling her to keep it never happened? Is the old man, Eugene Schwartz (Carl Reiner) who turns out to have a pancreas problem also not real? This is what I don’t like about episodes that use dreams or hallucinations in the story. It makes it very hard for viewers to determine what has or hadn’t really occurred. I assume those things did not happen.

One of the early clues that something is off – besides the quick detox of the week before – was when House woke up he had no lipstick on his face that I could see, and then suddenly when he sees himself in the mirror, he sees lipstick is on his cheek. He finds a tube of lipstick in his bathroom, presumably from Cuddy and their wild fling the night before. He carries it around with him all day, and it is an annoying clue to House. When he can’t rationalize why Cuddy’s coffee cup had no lipstick on it, he later realizes it because the lipstick was never there to begin with. The lipstick tube he had been turning over in his head – and turning over in his hand – was his Vicodin bottle.

House has also become obsessed with trying to make Cuddy get angry. She seems far to calm and collected when he tries to push her usual buttons. She only becomes crazed when he stands up on an upper level and shouts down into the lobby to all that were there that he slept with her. She fires him, which of course, this later revealed to also not to be real.

When he finds himself “back” in Cuddy’s office, he is now seeing both Amber (Anne Dudek) and Kutner (Kal Penn) who tell him he’s created a nice story for himself and too bad it’s not real. When House tells Cuddy he is not OK, Cuddy takes him to Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) who proceeds to take him to Mayfield Psychiatric. I assume this is not just because they think he is having a psychotic break, but also to get him to detox. After all, I thought in the previous week that Wilson told him if he had to go on anti-psych meds he could not practice medicine again. It also doesn’t feel quite right to me that both Cuddy and Wilson would check him in to a place like that right away without running other tests to rule out any other physical problems. Sure, his Vicodin addiction is the likely culprit, but I would have liked to see more of an effort for their own medical facility to verify that there wasn’t some sort of other physical or organic cause for his brain meltdown.

The last few minutes of the episode – where House realizes he has a serious problem – was probably one of the best acted scenes on television this season. Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of a man who is almost in love with his medication maybe even more so than anything or anyone else in his life, was both gripping and unsettling.

The only other thing that I assume was real in this episode was Chase and Cameron’s wedding, which seemed to be taking place while Wilson was taking House to the psychiatric facility. Hopefully now that they are married that we will get a lot less of their boring personal drama as I remain uninterested in both of them.

While dream or hallucination scenarios are overused plot contrivances, it seemed to make sense for this series considering the main character has such a severe drug problem that it was only a matter of time that something would go wrong in his head. Hopefully, he will get the needed detox in the psychiatric facility so he can return to his job, as I don’t think the medical show can survive without its lead diagnostician being able to practice medicine. A crazy House could be too big of a change for a medical show.

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la_vie_en_rose said...

I'm assuming that the patients and the Cameron/Chase talk are real (and I agree that their personal stories boring as hell). Of course, I might be wrong (you'll see why in a minute).

And c'mon, no one is going to check House out for a physical malady because...well, this is House, and it ALWAYS has to be the Vicodin. Although you'd think that someone who has gone through the same shitty existence he has wouldn't have arrived into middle age completely unscathed; he has to have quite a few mental illnesses. Besides, geniuses of his caliber are generally schizophrenic, as a rule (would know this personally).

What bugs me still is what Hallucinamber said: "So this is the life you've made for yourself. Too bad it isn't real." Something to that effect.) That could be taken many ways...including that House has been hallucinating this shit since season 2(?). Or possibly his whole life. Now THAT would be the ultimate twist for this show.

I Like to Watch TV said...

Great point. Who knows how long he has been hallucinating? It really makes one think!

Kilawinguwak said...

couldn't he have been hallucinating things that he wanted to have seen? i mean, he started hallucinating amber since two episodes ago - ever since he started taking pains to regress that part of his brain that led to the hallucinations, couldn't that part of his mind have attempted to create realities of its own? drunks operate on autopilot and can still get around pretty well without knowing what they were doing. couldn't this have been the same thing, except that his brain wasn't shut off from alcohol and instead was tripping on prescription meds?

i think only the expositions of what were real and imaginary during the last part of the episode were hallucinatory. everything else, including the patients and the domestic trouble between chase and cameron, were real. even cuddy firing house was real.

I Like to Watch TV said...

Personally, I think that any scene or scenaio that contained House had to be not real or hallucianted. I came to this conclusion as everythig that happened from the time he walked into Cuddy's office in the episode the week before could not have happened since the events all occurred - in his mind - after she detoxed him - which she never did! (It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.)

This is why I don't always like the dream/hallucination plot device. It really muddies things up!