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

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

'Perils of Paranoia' Episode Review

Perils of Paranoia begins at trial. A lawyer aka our POTW is interestingly prosecuting someone with a false alibi, which could be interpreted as a very subtle link to House and the story of the prop gun (of which more later on). So things are not as they appear. Our POTW thinks he's having a heart attack but it's something much more diagnostically difficult to solve, of course. He shows signs of psychosis via hallucinations but a level of paranoia is discovered when Park finds an arsenal built into his house behind a bookshelf. Books, intellect, mind, so went my trail of thought. Another side to his paranoia is that he won't eat or drink anything not prepared at home which leads the team to think of poison. Instead he is poisoning his own mind. The arsenal is not on the architectural plans, inferring perhaps that the dianosis is not obvious.

Park's paranoia sets in when both Adams and Chase go for Taub as their partner. Adams says that House liked poking ant hills as a kid and that he is an ass who thrives on conflict. But Park retaliates saying he's an intuitive ass. So House does succeed in poking the ant hill, as Park is paranoid about the team not liking her and Adams is paranoid about Park being paranoid and the dynamics of the team. Adams and Park disagree diagnostically and House of course offers the brilliant idea of fighting about it in jello.

Taub recognises that Foreman's life is boring and that he's looking for excitement in the wrong place, ie, anything related to House. Foreman even lied to the patient and ruled out anxiety so House would look at him. He ends up dating a married woman and is paranoid about Taub setting him up when he meets her at the gym. Instead of accepting the invitation from the nurse, he chooses the married woman, choosing to engage in something dangerous and potentially self destructive (aka Housian).

Hilson. The funny antics of the bromance continue, with nets and decoys, both trying to be the cleverest and most devious. The shot of Wilson hanging from the net is priceless. Okay, so the more serious stuff. If you think of the nets they represent not only a literal trap but a feeling of being trapped. Wilson doesn't get House in the net, he traps him in the bathroom, the place of limbo between happiness and destruction we've found House in at key points.

Wilson was justifiably paranoid that House owned a gun. From my point of view House deceived him with the prop gun (which he says he got from a magician, where things are not as they seem, again) not only because he wanted to win but because of why he had the gun in the first place. "Why would I need a gun?". If you note the box says "House" as in it belongs to House from one perspective, but from a more sinister perspective, it is intended for House. It's a metaphor, I don't believe he would actually shoot himself but it's part of his destructive nature to have dark thoughts. House also says "Dangerous people don't break into your home they live in it". It's notable that we actually SEE House take Vicodin for what I believe is the first time since 'Twenty Vicodin' (we can assume he's been taking it when we haven't been looking).

The gun 'theme' runs throughout the episode (connecting the POTWs storyline to House's), and each team member talks about whether they owned one or why they didn't. Guns aren't destructive, people are. So we see a little more about who these characters are in their relations to it. Ironically House's gun serves as the epiphany trigger and the diagnosis is Diphtheria (for which a vaccine exists). The POTW is cured of his symptoms, but not necessarily his paranoia. But perhaps the experience contributes something torwards that. His wife makes them move out and says it's not worth living in fear.

From what I saw there were two notable very touching references to Cuddy. House says "Boggle winning words" when he talks to Park from the bathroom about the dianosis, and of course the sword which refers both to her and to House's father. I hope that means we'll be learning more about him in episodes to come.

The elevator moment between Chase, Park and Adams is just so wonderfully awkward. Chase more or less justifies Park's paranoia when he tells Adams he thinks Park is weird but she doesn't take his no as an answer for a date.

An episode rich in references and symbolism. The POTW story was more of a subplot from my perspective as the Hilson storyline is what captured my attention.

Ps. Reference to piano being the only thing in his apartment worth stealing. Sigh. Piano playing in future eps? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'Dead and Buried' Episode Review

House tries to manipulate Foreman into letting him take on the case of a four year old, who just happens to have died five years ago unexpectedly. He values the mystery and the uncontrollable need to solve the case more than the life of a fourteen year old who is still alive.

There is an ironic touch to the way House discovers the death of the child (Drew). He is taking anger management classes and so while being treated for one problem he satiates the desire to get his fix on another (the mystery). House exploits the fact that the father is not only angry about the son's death but also about the unknown cause by saying "People need answers". It is a projection of how House himself feels. Wilson knew he was an addict of “pills, anti social behaviour and sarcasm” but of course House is addicted to finding an answer. It was a particularly Holmsian episode, especially with the investigation of a death.

House exhumes the body and it becomes both a literal and metaphorical uncovering of the truth. Amusingly, when Chase asks where he is, he answers, "Nowhere, he said cryptically". I am a big fan of wordplay and book/film references, so I also appreciated the "Igor" one. The funniest line has to be "You owe me a new pair of pants". The episode is full of humour despite two very profound cases.

Iris, who House was initially willing to ignore is eventually diagnosed with multiple personality disorder as a coping mechanism for trauma. Her repressed memory is manifested through different people and her psychological symptoms indicate suffering. Through hypnosis she accesses her unconscious. The characters her mind created to cope were chosen for specific reasons, as were their symptoms. The little girl (young Iris) is incapable of moving her arms because "I'm nobody, nobody sees me". She was unable to do anything to save her father and her guilt and grief paralyse her. That personality is also allergic to strawberries which is what she was eating when the car crashed and her father died. The magic eight ball Iris got for her birthday triggered young Iris' vision of the eight ball keychain hanging from the rear view mirror. Iris also creates a boy, which shows the level of agression she has inside. This character represents masochism and punishment. "He" bruises her arms and makes her keep things like violent porn films. The tunnel vision symptom or blurred vision represents the blurring of personalities and truth. The blur of her multiple personality disorder buries her cancer which masquerades as a pregnancy.

The episode is very touching (the music certainly adds to the atmosphere). House invites the father into his home, and he also tells him that his son looked "peaceful" when he exhumed him. House connects in a way unlike him, which shows that he understands the importance of having people there. The mystery is vital but it's not enough. There are allusions throughout the episode of traces of someone that is gone (ie/ notches on the door frame which indicate leaving or passing), referring to the son, but in my opinion also referring to Cuddy. She "managed rather than controlled him" as Foreman is trying to do. House manages to cheat the system over and over but Foreman believes "He's the most rational man I've ever met". So between Foreman and Wilson we can conclude that House is a rational addict. Rare, but that's House.

The zebra was there telling us it was important but we didn’t know why. It's a show of great writing when the answer is staring at you and you can't decipher it. Of course, the slightly deaf grandfather was the trigger clue, indicating the genetic disease. It was ironic that Wilson, who was trying to disuade House from pursuing the case was the one to give him the answer ("fall on deaf ears"), as often happens.

It was an emotionally charged episode, the father visibly grieving for his son and the mother burying her sadness. She can only really let herself feel when the matter has truly been put to rest. Her detachment from Drew was a manifestation of guilt and impotence. House felt her lack of emotion was a symptom, but instead it's a coping mechanism, which is a parallel to Iris and her story. The mother tells House there are two types of people, those who can move on and those who can’t. On the Housian side of the spectrum this applies to his inability to let a mystery go unsolved and his unwillingness to really let Cuddy go, which we see at the very end of the episode.

Only by digging deep and breaking down the resistance barriers of emotion can both cases be solved. House accepts the consequences of his actions and gets into the police car after he reveals the genetic condition to the family, without resistance. He even puts the mystery before himself.

The episode has a very fluid continuity with 'Parents', using the nightmare theme of a haunting past (I wonder how many people noticed the figurines of the clowns) and with the mother deciding to mask her child's 'moodiness' by prescribing her Diazepam rather than letting her face the truth.

I have to say that I loved this episode, it was touching, intricate and yet not crowded, funny, intriguing and very Housian. Two thumbs up.

Ps. The parody of Chase as a TV doctor. LOL.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Parents Episode Review

Clowns are often the stuff of nightmares. A symbol widely associated with the happiness of children can also be terrifying. The fact that at the beginning of the episode the children are not happy indicates that the clown has a negative connotation, which is more actively expressed in hindsight. The nightmare (the first symptoms of the disease) begins with the clown and ends with the clown (the truth about the sexual abuse). House episodes are often cyclical.

The patient has a repressed memory, perhaps even one that has been completely erased from his unconscious. Because of the way the storyline develops we believe the mother is the guilty party for keeping the son from seeing his father. The inversion happens only near the end when the disease links to the father having sexually abused the child. This strongly reinforces the point which runs throughout the episode that biological parents are not necessarily the best parents. This actually applies to both parents: Maybe the mother "ripped off the band aid too late". While trying to protect him she screwed him up as he is perhaps now even more determined to make a connection with his father. His father also discouraged him from school, but does his mother not want him to become a clown because of what it represents or is it also about the need for her son to be a success? I found it terribly sad when I thought back to when Taub is talking to the patient and he says that he wants to pass on the joy that his dad gave to him. Which poignantly leads to his mother believing it's better for him to think his dad is dead but decent.

The question of nature predominating nurture takes centre stage. Does matching DNA mean you should have the right to raise your biological child? Legally it does, but morally? House says that all parents screw up their children, to which Taub (in other words) replies, then what does it matter if I keep my daughter?

House, in his usual habit of analysing his team, talks about their parents and how they screwed them up using varying techniques. Chase had a workaholic father and an alcoholic mother who neglected him, but which led him to read medicine and become a successful doctor. Park’s parents were overbearing and so House says she has to measure their affection in hours (as she believes a child needs stability and dedication of time from both parents), Taub is a parent (his daughters have the potential of being "screwed up squared")…and finally after House manipulates her by not manipulating her we find that Adams’ parents were very good parents but that she ended up being screwed up because of it. Instead of working hard as an escape to suffering, she romanticised it and made it happen, which makes her "the most screwed up of all" (and which led her to work in a prison).

When we see Taub at Rachel’s door, what we assume he’ll say is that they can take Sophia (now hilariously also referred to as Sophie; his other daughter) with them. He still believes that it matters to his daughters that he is there for them, that they will somehow recognise that and not be indifferent to who raises them at this early age.

The subplot of the boxing match was superb. I sensed some funny business was happening when Foreman was telling Wilson that he had to be his friend to keep House out of jail, and then when Wilson walked into House’s apartment I just knew. House manipulated him because of his kindness. Wilson takes it on the chin like a champ though. “I’m going to that fight, you let me worry about logistics.”

The clinic patient: Ironically the treatment for the imaginary disease (diabetes type two) is the cause of his actual disease. Incidentally House drinking "urine" before we knew it was apple juice made me simultaneously laugh and shudder. Also, the clinic patient's imaginary disease linked to his dad is an inverted parallel of the patient's dad actually giving his son syphilis.

House's parents: He faux reluctantly says that his decent daddy of the cloth was indecent with his married mother. His step father (John, a marine) was very strict and demanding. House is screwed up and he needs someone other than himself to blame. House hates being a disappointment so it made me wonder whether he had had any contact with his mother since jail.

I really enjoyed this episode, it was very rich in layers and the patient's story really captivated my attention which isn't always the case with the POTW.

Ps. I found it absolutely hilarious that House was stroking Taub's daughter like the Bond villain (and Dr. Evil) strokes his white Persian cat.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Story of a Fan: An Interview with @ncismelanie_

For those of you who don't know, Mélanie D'Anna aka @ncismelanie_ is a French graphic designer who is a huge House MD fan. She is well know among fans for her extremely high calibre fanvideos. They capture that deep dramatic or humorous Housian essence we crave to see in each episode. Recently she undertook a project for House MD after her incredible talent caught the attention of Executive Producer Greg Yaitanes and the leading man himself, Hugh Laurie. She was asked to create four short videos according to very different themes. Below is a link to her page which explains more about what took place, including a letter from Greg Yaitanes referring to the project, a picture of Hugh Laurie watching Mélanie's videos and the videos themselves:


Mélanie agreed to an interview when I asked if she could share a bit about her vidding experience both in general and for the [H] project, and she agreed. So here it is:

Q: What made you become such a huge House MD fan to the point of
creating fan videos of the show?

A: I always loved editing. House became a passion years after years. It's such an interesting show to edit thanks to its different themes : humor and drama. The character of House is very complex and has a lot of layers to "work" on. And why I'm a fan of House ? Simply the best of quality, interesting, entertaining, funny and powerful show on television in my opinion.

Q: Where did you learn to edit?

A: By myself :) I wish I could study it in school !

Q: You have an incredible talent for matching clips to music. Can you
share your vidding process?

A: Thank you Steph ! First of all I choose the theme : what do I want to tell in the video ? The second step is choosing the music. Without a good one I can't start anything. Then I scan the episodes to find the clips I need. And at the end of all of this, I finally start editing everything together.

Q: This project for House MD was a wonderful opportunity. What did you
learn from making these videos?

A: It was a really amazing opportunity ! For a fan of show, literally a
dream come true. I learnt to work with specific themes that I did not chose. It was a challenge. The biggest challenge was, I think, to edit on a song that I didn't
choose. That was the case for the Dick Van Dyke video.

Q: What went through your mind when you were making these videos?

A: I had so much fun making them, each of them was so special. I tried not to think for who I was making them and tried to do the same as I do for any video I make. But of course I was stressed to create them because I knew they were for the House crew but I was relieved when I've been told they liked all of them.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who admires your work and would
like to follow in your footsteps?

A: I think luck had a lot to do with what happened to me. There are a lot of talented "vidders" in this fandom and on the web. I would say you have to love editing cause it asks for a lot of patience. You have to be passionate about what you do :)Oh and "Be yourself and never let go" could be a great motto, don't you think ? ;)

Me: *Laughing* I really do! Thanks so much for agreeing to do this. Congratulations once again and good luck for future projects.

Mélanie will be visiting the House MD set next year.

Check out her other videos!
You can follow Mélanie on Twitter and subscribe to her Youtube page:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Confession Episode Review

"Nothing has changed"/"Everything has changed" summarises this episode well. We see House's old "team" office from an angle that makes it look huge and empty (without Taub and Chase), but when they join the new team things begin to morph back into the ways of the past.

It was an extremely humourous episode, very old school. One of my favourite lines was "You probably want to boil the kids for a couple of hours when you get home". In terms of favourite (comedic) lines, The Confession wins for me so far this season.

This leads me to Taub, his Taubettes and the question of legitimacy. This storyline is a parallel to that of the patient. The imposing question is: Is it better to know/tell the truth despite the consequences? Taub confesses to "his" daughters that he needs to know the truth but that he will love them regardless. However in the end he decides that in this case the heart weighs more than the head. The patient, a man beloved by his community, has the urge to confess his affair to his wife, to free his yoked conscience. Later, confessions become symptomatic, and there is no barrier between reality and fiction. The patient pushes people away with unconscious false testemonies to past actions.

The POTW then develops an extraordinary skin peeling condition (Stevens-Johnson syndrome) and confesses even to several muders (to Chase which is brilliantly ironic). This does however, lead Chase to have a Housian epiphany and diagnose the patient's confessions as fabrications. Chase shadows House as he did when he "left medicine", taking time off while House was in prison.

Near the beginning of the episode, Taub utters the classic line "Everybody lies". This plays throughout the episode. People deceive one another, sometimes for personal gain, in the case of House trying to find out about Taub (which leads to the fantastic cafeteria scene where Taub philosophises about House's actions being a projection of his own inner feelings, and is then abruptly cut short by Wilson). Or, deceiving someone to pacify a situation or prevent pain, in the case of the patient lying to his wife at the end about the affair. It's a heavy moral dilemma. Confessing is the alleviation of the conscience, so do people do it out of respect for the other person or to take away their own pain?

House confesses to Adams what he says she already knows, that every man who sees her wants to sleep with her. "Most people find it easier to ignore the truth".

I loved the end scenes with the offices. Now he can pester Wilson whenever he wants. It's endearing to see him connect himself in such a way. House needs the comfort of familiarity. It was also very funny.

A nod to Cuddy was also very nice to see, acknowleding her rather than pretending the past does not exist, which would not be very realistic. This is the last big blow of the confessions. Wilson tells Foreman that Cuddy constantly asked him for advice about how to deal with House, and look what happened. Foreman again relies on Chase to tell him that House is screwing with him by not screwing with him. He's still finding his footing.

Great episode! I really enjoyed seeing the new team all together and more comfortable, balanced dynamics.

Ps. The bracelet is now officially a character on the show.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Risky Business Episode Review

That there is some serious business of varying levels of risk goes without saying, but wow, I was not expecting as many references as this. Okay, so those that I picked up on:
POTW moving his business to China and causing Americans to lose their jobs, House blackmailing the patient for money to pay for the team, Park's bet with House that she won't get fired, House's deal with Adams for money to put on the stock market, House's one upmanship with the ortho doctor, drunk Neurosurgeon supervising Park which leads to Park trying to blackmail Foreman, Park using her diagnosis and sending the patient into a coma (which is what House wanted anyway).

As the two new doctors get to know House better they will learn NEVER to bet against him. He will go to the ends of the Earth to win.

Now the use of the gentle, happy song (Morning Has Broken) both at the beginning and end not only creates a cyclical feeling of repetition and continuity but contrasts absolutely wonderfully with what's actually happening. It gives the scenes a sense of absurdism. Music is often used to emphasize content by taking it to the next level by using harmony, but this contrast of gentle and tense (at the beginning) and smashing fury (at the end) works perfectly. Bookstaver did an incredible job capturing the final scenes. The slow motion/ normal speed also gives the end a "trip" feeling. The references to Alice in Wonderland (and time)add even more depth to this.

The sense of the hangman we see at the beginning plays throughout the episode, with Park potentially getting fired, House going back to jail if he continues to provoke the ortho doctor, and of course, the business man going bankrupt if he stays in America. Everything however is reversed, and all the situations resolve themselves. The POTW does sacrifice his relationship with his daughter in order to keep his honour, another parallel theme that runs with House (Wilson talking to Park).

The disciplinary hearing is also a mirror to House in jail, we see that Park is becoming like House, revolting against "the (Fore)man" and House himself (despite being what he wanted). She manipulates the board into letting her stay. The other parallel to House's situation is Adams who has been separated from her ex husband for a year (similar to House/Cuddy). She symbolically smashes him when she lets loose with the baseball bat, as House did with Cuddy's house (to break from a smothering situation and to move on). What's even more interesting is that she shatters "medicine" as in a medical room, which is what began to happen to House himself during his relationship with Cuddy.

House does the very rare and helps both Park (making it so the board hires her if only to go against him) and Adams (by helping her move on). Grief is another theme: and we see how Adams (and thus House), and the patient deal with the loss of their spouses.

The thing that always gets me about House is the level of intricacy in each episode, the wheel within the wheel...It's worth watching each episode more than once as new details seem to emerge with each viewing. All in all an interesting episode, more so because of the relationships than the disease itself. I can't wait to have Taub and Chase back and get the old foundations and new dynamics.

Ps. I loved the "no spoilers, they ruin everything" and "OMFG". So Twitter.