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

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.


  1. Yay! It was a wonderful episode indeed.

    I loved that House finds the case via the angry father in his anger management class. Besides his addiction to the puzzle, there is also an aspect of helping people he can relate to in some way, helping them when he can't help himself - the autistic boy in "Lines in the Sand", the boxer in "The Fix", Freedom Master...
    I think "People need answers" is not *just* a projection but also a fundamental insight into how human beings work. Not everybody is as addicted to them as House is, but the need to make sense of things, to *know* to find peace of mind is definitely there.
    Loved the father, Emery, and I thought it was a really great directing choice to stay with him for quite a long time, seeing his grief when he wanders through his old house and into his son's old room. That was heartbreaking.

    Really like what you write about Iris and her personalities here, that part of the episode was just as touching and well acted, but I didn't get around to thinking about it much yet, so thanks for the input.

    I completely loved that last scene with Foreman, Wilson and then House. (And Cuddy in a way. By the way, the whole "moving on" theme in this episode, and how appearances and ways to deal can differ - very nice.) The progression of the F/W/H triangle this season has been really interesting, and while Foreman did a good job in the first episodes, I thought that he was getting a little bit too smug last week, and that so far it had been more game than real conflict between him and House - and here we are. The show delivers the real conflict, we get to see House's internal struggle as well as Foreman's actual anxiety that almost leads him to do something very stupid. Thank God for Wilson, who is really insightful in this ep.

    Oh, and while reading your words "zebra" and "answer staring at you" I thought: how nice that it is indeed a *zebra* and not a horse. ;)

    And finally, yes, between all the emotional and intellectual richness there was still room for some really funny stuff, be it "Igor" or indeed the "cryptically" line which I loved as well, or Park standing up and leaning over the table to inspect Chase while everyone keeps on talking. (Chase's words to her: "Did House give you homework?" were very funny as well.)

  2. Thanks very much for your kind words and your insight. I most definitely agree that "People need answers" is not only a projection, I merely meant that it is also one in this case.

    I loved that you pointed out the use of the zebra rather than a horse, I hadn't thought of that (despite it staring right at us). I also appreciated your mention of House dealing with others whose suffering somehow relates to him. 'Lines in the Sand' was a fantastic episode and we saw a more fragmented, vulnerable House as we did in this episode.

    So far I've liked Foreman as the enforcer and Wilson as the protector, but it's interesting that their roles have reversed occasionally.

    The episode was a successful concoction of the things I love.

  3. 'Lines in the Sand' was a fantastic episode and we saw a more fragmented, vulnerable House as we did in this episode.

    It's interesting that in "LitS", House rails against the "social niceties", and this time, he helps someone whose anger is socially unacceptable (he is in an anger management class after all) but in House's eyes absolutely justified, and instead of dealing with the symptoms via "platitudes", he tries to get to the source of that anger and do something about it.

  4. It's very interesting indeed, well expressed. Another aspect is the car crash. The crash kills the significant other literally (Iris' dad) and figuratively (Cuddy: the relationship is dead with a distinct finality). Both House and Iris repress the event to prevent suffering. House helps Iris access her unconscious but refuses to access his. And yes, moving on takes more than will power, it takes looking at the root of the problem.

  5. Déjame hablar primero del episodio.

    Fue genial sin duda. No tanto como Help Me, Three Stories, pero increiblemente emocionante. Y más que emocionante, bien escrito, brillante e interesante, el episodio a la verdad nos muestra que House sigue amando los acertijos. Practicamente es su vida, todo depende de eso. Parece que fuera parte de su sustento, que de hecho le ha hecho daño, pero lo ha hecho quién es, es parte de él.

    Este episodio demuestra que House puede seguir siendo el personaje yo admiro, por su manera de salvar vidas (aunque sean arriesgadas y ortodoxas). La parte de "Las personas necesitan respuestas", cuanta razón tiene. Yo mismo necesito respuestas, necesito respuestas a lo que la gente piensa de House, y esa respuesta me las das tú, Steph. Todos necesitaban la respuesta de lo que le pasó a Drew. E inclusive House necesita muchas veces su respuesta.

    Y precisamente eso, la forma en que quiere la respuest y la respuesta en sí es lo que siempre me cautiva. Es un continuo buscar de soluciones a problemas que otros han dejado libres.

    Dead & Buried me lo muestra así. Añadiendole el gracioso caso de Chase y mucho más si se toma en cuenta que "fue doctor en la televisión", me parece que tuvimos más que garantizado un argumento interesante y lleno de humor... pero no un humor en exceso.

    La forma en que Wilson y Foreman hablan con respecto a House, bueno, me hace pensar, que en efecto, él hace falta en el hospital, sea como sea...

    Cuando se obtiene la respuesta, se muestra el fruto. Yo me preguntaba si Dead & Buried sería un buen episodio y la respuesta es "Por supuesto". Un 8.9/10 no estaría mal.

    Y mi segunda respuesta, también la obtuve. Lo que piensas vos de esto, Steph... Impecable, mágnifico, original y muy cierto... Espero que no pierdas ese toque. Simplemente perfecto.

    Estoy amando la forma que ha tomado House, si continua así puede seguir creciendo y salvar lo que muchos consideran perdido. Quizás con un poco de accionar House tenga su mejor perfomance en los siete años que lleva en el aire.

    Si queremos más respuestas a ello debemos seguir viendo la serie... Y estoy más que dispuesto...

    Como siempre...

    Me despido, y perdona por este pseudo-comentario. Pero quería añadir algo más al precioso trabajo.

    Un saludo.

  6. Thank you for your comment. I always like to hear more about what people thought of the episode. Thanks also, as always, for your very generous words about the review. "People need answers" is something that as you said touches all of us. The key is finding the right question. I can't wait for the next episode!

  7. The thing I enjoy most about your reviews is not one prop, innuendo, or patient symptom goes unnoticed by you. You are a writer, a prop specialist, and director's dream. Your reviews would make them proud of the work they have done.

    The medical cases in this episode were two of the best for me. The ability of the mind to compensate and repress what we cannot deal with and how circumstances and events in our life paralyze us. We get up and we breathe but we fail to really move on. We have to have answers in order to move on. we have to understand the traumas in our life in order to really live again.

    Before this episode I didn't really think I wanted Cuddy to come back and if she doesn't I am ok with it and now I can see a conversation between her and House that would put them back in the place they started. House needs to understand how she moved on and that may actually help him to move on.

    I appreciate your attention to detail and applaud your attention to all the details and will tell you that you wrote a very thought provoking review.

    Amazing job.

  8. Thank you very very much. I honestly appreciate your comments. I am addicted to taking a closer look, finding things that would perhaps generally go unnoticed.

    I agree with what you said about Cuddy. I would like to see her back but wouldn't be shocked or disappointed if she doesn't return. However, we see that she has literally moved on but we know nothing about how she dealt with the break emotionally or psychologically, so I would also be interested in her talking to House for that reason.

    Thank you again.