Welcome to Dissecting House: a blog dedicated to the television show House MD, where analytical reviews of season 8 episodes are posted weekly.

Friday, 17 June 2011

'After Hours'

After watching the Season 7 finale 'Moving On', a few of us talked about how 'After Hours' would have made an incredible finale. Incidentally, it was my favourite episode of the season. So here are my thoughts:

The episode begins suddenly, with no context or explanation. You can feel the tension build as Darien struggles to break in and start the car. Intensity is what makes so many [H]ouse episodes so successful; and this one is most certainly swimming in it. Not knowing what will happen is a powerful magnet for the viewer.

The relationship between Darien and Thirteen is extremely interesting. They have a bond, unknown to us at the beginning, which propels Thirteen to ignore her own rational intuition in favour of honouring Darien's wishes. The POTW storyline is in fact a parallel to House's storyline. Both are determined to stay at home and remain in control of their situations.
House's discovery of the rat tumours is hard hitting. It illustrates his failure in judgement, his rash decision making and his sheer desperation. Interestingly, House's MRI happens while Thirteen is ultra-sounding Darien. They begin to take a deeper look at their (physical) problems.

House setting up his OR in his bathroom again creates an uniquely Housian form of  tension. House’s efforts are healing in theory and self destructive in practice. All he wants is to fix things. The needles he carelessly drops on the floor link to the crack den where Darien was stabbed, insinuating that he has hit rock bottom. Again a parallel is drawn as Thirteen asks Darien about the underlying issues of her recurrent drug use, as it connects to House trying to fix his pain by injecting what we discover later to be nothing but rat poison. The literal pain is nothing compared to the emotional damage he is trying to repair.

The scenes in which House is in excruciating pain as he cuts into his leg and extracts the tumours are phenomenally acted and directed. They create a mirrored form of agony for the viewer; my teeth were clenched as his were, and my hands were clasped together.

House calls for help, but no one can help him but Cuddy. It takes everything he has to call her. He doesn't want to go to the hospital just as Darien refused to do so. Thirteen called Chase for help which means subconsciously at least, she was willing to accept it (Chase manages to break through her resignation about taking Darien to the hospital). The fact that Darien hallucinates is very intriguing. As the stories run parallel, are Darien's hallucinations significant in terms of House or are they simply a view into her mind?

Cuddy in essence rescues House, but as she has said before, she is part of the problem, not the solution, so she can only help with the physical problem. She says, "unhappy people do reckless things", insinuating that House's pain cannot be fixed by fixing his leg. In the meantime we discover Darien's underlying problems (shooting the kid leads to the drug use).The two stories finally collide when Thirteen rings House for help. When House asks for Cuddy to be in the OR it's a last attempt to reconnect, again, to fix things. Again he chooses her over medicine (the experienced surgeons). He needs her. In both stories, the surface issues are solved; they fix their bodies, but not their hearts.

In terms of subplot, we have House’s adorable relationship with Rachel which only adds salt to the wound of the break up. The letter Rachel dictates for House also seems a reflection of Cuddy’s wishes.

There is Taub, who wants to punish himself for his reckless behaviour (getting Ruby pregnant) by getting beaten up by bouncers. His initial thoughts about not wanting her to keep the baby are reversed after a near-death experience. (This makes me think: dying changes everything, almost dying changes nothing).

We also see that Chase and Thirteen begin to bond on a deeper level; both suffering because of their moral values and the consequences of their actions.

The episode is just brilliantly written. What I really love about it, is that after the near chaos that takes place throughout 'After Hours', everyone goes back to normal at the end; the team looking at cases and House agreeing that he is miserable. Life goes on.


  1. After Hours is also my favourite episode of season 7. Actually not just from season 7, it's one of my all time favourite episodes. I also loved the patient of the week, but Hugh... Hugh was just so incredible during that self surgery scene. I was half looking away and felt his pain.

    I really love your way with words and the British accent ;)

  2. Thank you so much (about my way with words)! The British accent thing made me laugh. It's also definitely high up on my all time favourites list. Thanks for sharing your view.

  3. If there was a like button, I'd hit it, if there was a RT option, I'd use it, if there was a way of favoriting this post, I'd do that. Since Blogspot is clearly inadequate when it comes to promoting your genius and I have neither of these available, I'll just bow before your genius and post the link to this on my twitter. :-)

  4. Ok, firstly, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Secondly, I'm hoping to read some of your views on the episodes in the future!

  5. I looove your way of writing Steph ! It's refreshing to read some positive comments on season 7 lol i did not realised all the 13 's friend/house parallels ! Interesting :) it's also one of my fav episode of season 7 ;)
    Are you gonna write on bombshells ? Curious to read the dreams sequences analysis from you !

  6. I totally agree with your point of view, you described it exactly as I think about it. Also you reminded me two things; first one, one of my favourites House quotes "I can't fix his problem, I am his problem" that's part of my point of view in my other comment, she tried but there's nothing left she can do now; second one, with your line relating House and Thirteen you made me think about "The Dig" episode when Thirteen comes back. I liked that episode because it was different, it was creative and with a double vision of things too, the team without House, and House with Thirteen caring more about personal life than work life. I think House let himself show his emotions (that moment when she said that he was not really ok), his face was a different face that the one he showed at the hospital, and I think the proposal/promise he made to her means something that holds him to real life, no matter what happens, he's link to that. I liked it, first time for me that House planned something so emotional that "doesn't involve him".

  7. Mel, thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it. 'After Hours' really stood out as an episode for me. I enjoyed writing about the parallels as it shows just how clever the writers are, as well as a new perspective. I may share my thoughts on Bombshells at some point in the near future. It's a difficult episode to write about though...mostly because of the break up.

  8. Dana, thank you very much for sharing your views. What is also really interesting is that House calls Cuddy for help to fix his inner pain, and we see a miserable House who instead of being self destructive on purpose, is actually doing everything he can to make himself happy; when he usually basques in his darkness. Another noteworthy point is that Cuddy always seems to come to his rescue in his bathroom (UMS, Help Me, After Hours). It makes me wonder why they choose the bathroom...maybe I'll ask the writers. Perhaps it's because it's a cold, solitary, 'reflective' place, I'm not sure. In terms of House and Thirteen I thought your comment about him making a pact that was for once selfless was very valid as it is very un-Housian. I also really liked The Dig and agree that is showed both their personal sides in an interesting light. Both were vulnerable and connected because of their pain. House's hard shell was broken by the relationship, I wonder how he will have mended it by S8, or whether he will still be in the process of doing so.