Tuesday, May 11, 2010

House “Baggage” Recap & Review: A Suitcase Full of Problems

Photo from Fox

One thing that Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie) has a lot of is baggage, and I think they tried to dump most of it on viewers in this one episode. The episode plays out in the form of a therapy session and House’s memories of recent events, and something about his memories struck me as odd. In his scenes with Dr. Nolan, everything seemed to have a cool color cast, while his memories were mostly filled with a warm, CSI-Miami-like glow. It is almost as if House’s real life looks much bleaker than his memories, which may or may not be embellished a bit.

House has a session with Dr. Nolan (Andre Braugher) and House is being his typical annoying self, almost playing a cat and mouse game with Nolan, telling him a lot of things while really telling him nothing at all. He says it’s been a year since he’s been in rehab, and sadly House seems not to have progressed very much, at least as far as his relationship with colleagues and friends.

The patient of the week had amnesia, and House takes the case almost too anxiously. At this same time. Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) also tells House that Sam is moving in and it’s time for House to move out and go back to his old place. I think Wilson has been carrying and enabling House for far too long, and House must be truly clueless if he didn’t see this coming. Nolan seems to think that House’s problems go back to his relationship with Wilson and being kicked out. But things take a weird turn when House returns to his old place and finds former fellow mental patient Alvie (Lin-Manuel Miranda ) living there, painting the place. He’s hiding out from immigration, and House gets very upset when he finds out Alvie sold some of the items from his apartment to pay for the expensive paint. He wants Alvie out but instead he allows Alvie to tag along with him as he tries to solve the mystery of the amnesiac patient. I find Alvie as annoying as when Lucas attached himself to House (and vice versa) and I wonder why they insist on having House pal up with these oddball people. WHY he pals up with them is also a mystery to me – he’s a smart guy and people like Alvie and Lucas all seem off to me. Maybe House thinks that people like that can be easily used – but then again, they both turned away from House in their own way, Lucas with Cuddy and later Alvie when he eventually leaves after House helps him get his problem with immigration fixed. An example of how House used Alvie: House is able to buy back from the pawn shop all the things Alvie sold except for one item, a first edition medical book that I think was written by (I think) Cuddy’s great grandfather. The problem: the book was purchased by another doctor who realized the book’s value - and who is just as big of a jerk as House – and refuses to sell the book back to House, even for $2,000. While House is haggling with the guy, Alvie is stealing the book. House shows again what a jerk he can be, and how he can use people.

But the amnesiac patient – remember the patient? – has issues when she finds out she’s married and it seems she doesn’t like the idea of being married OR the guy she’s married to. When her husband balks at an operation that House says will save her life but will permanently erase her memories, the delay causes the disease to progress and operating is no longer an option. After Dr. Nolan goes through his psychobabble on that issue and how it related to House, I find that I am losing interest. By the way, it’s a good thing that the husband delayed the surgery because House later found the REAL cause of her illness – an allergic reaction to the removal of an old tattoo – and it seems like husband and wife are finding a way to mend their relationship.

When House gets home and finds Alvie gone, leaving a goodbye note, he gets drunk and leaves his apartment, eventually getting in a fight with someone a person whose identity we are never told and I am not even sure we were told the reason for the fight. In fact, when Nolan again tries to analyze all of House’s behavior, thinking he identified with the amnesiac patient’s husband and the prospect he was losing his wife, relating this to house losing Cuddy to Lucas, House gets upset. House thinks that everybody around him over the past year seems happy BUT himself, and says to Nolan that "whatever the answer is, you don't have it," and abruptly leaves the office. The episode ends with that hanging scene. House’s mental state is still a mess. He’s in denial, he’s in pain, he’s unhappy, and despite his attempts to be toxic to everyone else being happy, he’s only been toxic to himself. A year later, House is still nowhere. I find myself wondering again this week if he is back on drugs and not saying anything about it, or is just drinking more as a substitute for the Vicodin.

“Baggage” was a little too messy of an episode to be enjoyable. It also descended into the ridiculous when it expected us to think that Alvie had been crashing in House’s old apartment (for how long I don’t think they really said) and that House just let him hang out with him like puppy dog even after Alvie sold some of his stuff. It was just too contrived and felt like the storyline had been dropped from the sky. The only thing that saved the episode for me was Andre Braugher as Dr. Nolan, who seemed completely believable in trying to get to the bottom of House’s real problem. And what IS House’s real problem? I think they want us to think it is unrequited love for Cuddy. If that’s all that it is, I think I will be disappointed. I think House’s problems are far deeper than that. Sadly, although House is supposed to be a well renowned diagnostician, he still can’t seem to diagnose his own problem. Maybe because it’s not a physical problem, it’s a mental problem, or maybe it’s because he is too close to the situation. One thing is for sure, the outwardly tough and in-control House seems anything but, and we can only wonder if his breaking point is coming soon. Who knows, maybe we will find out in next week’s season finale.

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