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

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

'Runaways' Episode Review

My initial reaction to this episode was that there was something left to be desired. But and it's quite a big but,....there are some very interesting aspects that caught my eye throughout the episode. First of all, the title. Why the plural? The POTW is the main plot runaway, in the more literal sense. In subsequent sub plots there is Foreman, who runs away from his affair, Taub, who initially runs away from bonding with his daughters, and House, who goes as far from the hospital as he can, because he can (ankle monitor free).

The POTW is a young homeless runaway who comes into the clinic in order to con an unsuspecting doctor for drugs. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, she gets House. She starts bleeding from her ear and House admits her into hospital. Adams wants to call social services but House understands the girl's reluctance to contact her abusive mother and go into the system, and so he stands up for her. Her mother, or biological mother as House calls her, is a drug addict who emotionally abused her daughter as a child by taking drugs in front of her and making her the caretaker of the family. House needs the mother's permission to operate on the patient and bluntly tells her that she is nothing but the egg donor, and that the daughter is much better off without her. House even tests her by leaving his bottle of Vicodin next to her, but she resists temptation to try and become a better mother. There appears to be resonances of a personal anger here, relating to House's tenuous relationship with his father, who he admits (in One Day, One Room) abused him. Reversely, in House's case, John is not his biological father but served the purposes of one, and House wishes he had not. House likely sees himself in the girl, she has the opportunity to live free from the abusive parental treatment that he lived through. However, poignantly, without the mother's presence, the eventual diagnosis of intestinal worms would not have been possible.

House follows Foreman around, making use of his new found freedom for the usual purposes of blackmail and extortion. He threatens Foreman with photos he took of him with a married woman he is having an affair with. This leads the wife to tell her husband the truth. She believes it will make Foreman feel less guilty but it leads Foreman to push her away. Without the exhiliration of doing something secretive and adventurous that he shouldn't, Foreman loses interest. House jokes that the only thing missing from a snapshot of Foreman's life is a cane. The more Foreman runs away from becoming House, the more he becomes him.

Taub is feeling a lack of connection with his daughters. This biological dad lightly parallels to the POTW's mother who neglected her daughter as a child. He tends to read magazines rather than try to have a relationship with them. Eventually Wilson advises him to find common ground and we see them beginning to bond, through baby style sport talk.

There were also some wonderfully Housian scenes in terms of humour. Chase talking to the babies about how men love commitment free sex in baby talk was fantastic. Also, House feeling the need to go clay pigeon shooting (mostly to con Adams) and bet on turtle races just because he can were true to his nature. The episode isn't one of my favourites, as I still feel there was something missing in terms of that underlying oomph we find in episodes that really make us connect. However the look into House's nature, his connection to the POTW and the possible glimpse into his past intrigued me.

PS. Odd clinic patients. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Better Half Episode Review

We finally see the end of the hiatus with the airing of Better Half, episode 9 of Season 8. This week's POTW suffers from severe early onset Alzheimer's disease and struggles from moment to moment to understand what's happening and where he is. He begins to cough up blood while awaiting to be OKd for an Alzheimer's drug trial. Enter Dr. House and his fortune telling index cards. I was glad to see his mischivous ways in action, always manipulating Foreman to get his way. In order to get his ankle monitor removed House plots to make Foreman feel superior and in control.

The wife of the POTW has stayed with him for ten years, giving up her job to look after him round the clock. Weariness sets in and she begins to break. As Chase says, it's not only the sick who needs looking after. However, she begins to plan her future with another man and it's implied she sleeps with him when she takes a night off from her husband's bedside. She is racked with guilt when her husband then disappears to be found at the soccer training ground where he used to coach a team of youngsters. The interesting notion here is whether he ran away because of habitual routine many years ago or whether he wanted to run away because he believed his illness was a burden to his wife and he no longer wanted her to suffer. This parallels Chase, whose mother drank herself to death, but not before Chase had to look after her and his baby sister for years as a teenager. Chase would rather her have killed herself with a gun and ended the misery they were all living through. A hard pill to swallow. Chase can't forget and the patient can't remember.

The POTW suffers from a moment of paranoid aggression and punches his wife in the face. We see just how hard the disease is on family life. The patient begins to regress and loses his ability to speak English and starts speaking his native Portuguese, leading to a very touching scene in which House translates for his wife. He speaks of how they met and how he knew she was the one. He would always say "There she is" when he saw her. The poignant blow comes at the end when the patient doesn't recognise his wife and we see just how heartbreaking the disease can be. The symptoms from the other mysterious disease merge with his Alzheimer's, making it hard to diagnose. In the end the patient suffers from Reye's syndrome which swells the brain and liver. Usually it's only found in kids but is aggravated by asprin which the patient takes continously (because he forgets he's already taken one) because of a sore throat. Foreman is the one to solve the case because of a vase of flowers which have not wilted in his office, linking to the patient's wife being a former botanist and keeping asprin in the house. It made me think whether House let Foreman present the correct diagnosis as he had done earlier in the episode or whether Foreman really did diagnose it himself. After all the "nurses hate" Foreman, so who put flowers in his office? My guess is House. Also, the flowers not wilting is perhaps a metaphor that all is not lost for the patient, who begins to recognise his wife again when he starts getting treatment. It could also represent the notion that people pretend they are ok. Instead of wilting when it seems they should, something keeps them going and they fight instead of giving up.

The clinic presented an asexual woman who would definitely not have featured in "Fugliness Weekly". Wilson is perplexed by an attractive, healthy woman who appears to have no sex drive. He tells House, which of course means a bet is on. House suggests that Wilson would only have told him about her if he didn't believe the patient himself. $100 dollars and House can't examine or talk to the patient. Rules were meant to be bent so House examines the husband instead who says he is also asexual. It turns out the husband has a tumour in his brain which decreases his libido and that the wife was lying in order to make the marriage work. This parallels the wife of the Alzheimer's patient keeping up appearences to keep her marriage from crumbling.

House uses his $100 bill to light cigars with Wilson. Throughout the episode we see friends who, despite the outward appearance of seeming so different (the contrasting view of the patients), fundamentally share a deep understanding. The light hearted scene at the end when they put their feet up and share a smoke appears to mean things are good between them.

The contrast between the humour throughout the episode (House/Wilson, House/Park/Adams) and the Alzheimer's patient and Chase works wonderfully. It's interesting that we don't know whether the wife stays with her husband or not as it makes us project our own ending and think about what we ourselves would do. Great episode to kick off the second half of season 8.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

FANVID: "Story of my life" (Character Study)

BY: @AleTheHOUSEwife

FANVID: "Can't wait to be King"

Going through hiatus induced withdrawal? WATCH THIS: Because House rules! 

BY: @ncismelanie_