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

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Charity Case Episode Review

Honey, I'm House! We're back to the old Housian feeling of past seasons, but with a fresh sense of the re-born rather than the re-cycled. The case centres around a man who seems to suffer (as House immediately refuses to believe it could be anything but a symptom) of extreme altruism. His generosity surpasses a rational sense of giving. His ambivalence towards his family, in the sense that he loves them and yet does not elevate them above other human beings, proposed a strange paradox in terms of caring. House of course jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the man's disproportionate sense of generosity, but interestingly, not for his own use, per se, but in order to get his team back.

When Thirteen begins to con the patient into giving her a kidney in order to analyse his mental state, he immediately agrees despite the fact that it will kill him. Adams, Foreman and Wilson believed that the man was not sick and had the mental capacity to agree to the first kidney donation, so this proves just how wrong they were (as well as revealing more of the "true" perspective to us). It also goes to show just how much perspectives differ in terms of looking at humanity. House, Thirteen and Chi, who are the skeptics and realists, see this need to be extremely charitable as part of a disease. We see both a rosy and dark version of the issue. I'm more of a realist and this IS House, so I'm glad dark wins. However it is a happy ending as the man is cured and although he will continue giving, he gets his family back. And House can once again say: I was right.

So we go from the POTW who cannot stop giving charity to Chi who refuses to accept any. I thought the banter between Adams and Chi was superbly written, especially in the locker room where the shoes were involved:

Chi: "You want me to return these, give them to someone, wear them while you masturbate?"
Chi: "You do know I punched the last person that pissed me off"
Adams: "Was it Santa?"

Chi's refusal comes from principle, which is great because it doesn't stop her from helping House con Adams into a one upmanship in order to get his car fixed. It's a win-win-win, as Adams thinks she's beat Chi, Chi has actually beaten Adams, and House gets what he wants. I think having Chi as House's ally is great, especially as she doesn't let him walk all over her. Adams does prove that she is not a wallflower either as her charity is not in the realms of generosity in this case, however both her and Thirteen are working for free, hence another aspect of charity.

I thought House's scenes with Thirteen were true to both their natures and beautifully written. His selfishness was overcome when he realised just how happy she was and that it was an innate sense of guilt that was keeping her in the hospital working as a doctor. So the last (veiled) act of charity is letting her go. I'm really sad to see Thirteen leave as she has such an interesting presence on the team and has evolved so much.

On a happier note, we also see a little bit of the clinic, which many of us have enjoyed a lot in the past, often seeing House humiliating his patients. So let's hope for more to come!


  1. House didn't seem to really believe he was getting the money, but as soon as he knew the guy was cured didn't mind bringing it up again. As Wilson's said previously, he has his own set of ethics, this was defintely sign of that.

    Parks and Adams were great together, the lockeroom conversation was one of my favourites. Parks' general disdain of anyone else who might take her role on the team, the budding jealousy, was well written and acted.

    House's last act of charity wasn't to me in letting her go, it was giving her the push to indulge herself without feeling guilty about it. Couldn't the charity case have also been House himself, trying to get funds for his department? He needs help from others, like Thirteen taking the food to him.

    And the clinic! Heh. Some very memorable lines in this episode "too late for your eyesight".

    Great review, thank you!

  2. I thought this a good solid episode, really enjoying the new doctors.
    Never understood the hate for 13 so very sad to see her go. OW really has grown so much as an actress!
    Hope the season continues like this it is so enjoyable.

    Good review

  3. Thanks for the comments! I definitely agree that House has his own set of ethics and morality. Wilson is his moral compass, although House often ignores him. By letting her go I meant he encouraged her to go, I phrased it that way simply because it meant him acting selflessly which is extremely rare. I did mention House trying to get funds for his team...I thought that linked well to last week's episode. I really did like the clinic case as it was so Housian and at the same time the diagnosis very unexpected.

    I also don't understand such hatred for Thirteen. Of course people will like some characters and not others but I some comments I've seen cross the line. I'm sad to see her go. Also really liked the episode.

  4. Nice review. I would like your opinion of House's line "Nothing is ever over." He should know that isn't true. He has definitively ended his relationship with Cuddy. I'm not speaking romantically. I mean working relationship. Friendship. His time with her is over. So, by nothing is ever over, does he mean memories? The memories remain? Oh, I'm tracyhepburnfan.

  5. Very interesting! I had a look and it's definitely open for interpretation, but heavily loaded in terms of its meaning. He chose to say that after a rather trivial comment by Park. I think he means that there are constant repercussions to your actions. Once you do something, there are ripples. I think he's talking about the fact that after the crash nothing could be the same. As you said the reminder, the memories, the consequences, means it will never really be over. I do sense a nostalgic twinge in his tone though, so I think it may somewhat refer to Cuddy. It could mean that he knows she will never forgive him.

  6. Loved your review poulette! Tho I was expecting more parallels between Thirteen's life and House's cause we know how similar these characters can be.
    I'm really wondering what is going through his head at the very end. He looks happy for her but does he envy her, does he think he would never be able to experience this, is there hope or is hope definitely for sissies, is he thinking about how he screwed things up with Cuddy? Anyway, Hugh face is so brillant.

  7. Thanks! Some very good points there. I loved The Dig because it showed just how similar House and Thirteen are. And there were also parallels in After Hours (between House and Darien, her patient), so the lack of parallels in this episode could in fact be representative of the rupture. At that point she moves on... I agree with you about his look at the end. Perhaps he is jealous, that he knows he will always be tied to medicine, to the memory of his past. He's between a rock and a hard place because without medicine his life has no real meaning.