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. 


  1. I love your new style. The photo really fits with your perfect work.

    I haven't watched the episode yet, so I will add a short review about something you said above.

    I also found strange the title. I'm poor in english, but I always tried to find the mean of each title. In the case of Runaways, I must confess I didn't know what it meant. When the press was released I understood everything. The fact that House's ankle monitor was finally removed seemed to me a good reason to enjoy, especially when we see that he can "celebrate (although he shouldn't) again.

    However, I found more enjoyable your thoughts on the title. Thanks for the explanation. With this it really makes sense.

    I will add a review later. See you soon. :D
    Creo que arruiné la intriga, pero es que no podía aguantar leer tu opinión. ^^

  2. I always like to read your opinion after an episode :) This one, I didn't like, quite frankly. Almost nothing interested me in a deep level. For the case to have some resonance House should have been more present than he was. Adams was the doctor whose issues with the patient were explored. The possibility of a connection between the patient and House was not explored by the writer. There are glimpses, nothing more.

    I also didn't like the return of the same old theme: "Foreman as House". Foreman is nothing like House. At least, not to me.

    The episode seemed disjointed, with the repetition of the same themes all over again: Foreman and Taub's boredom. I don't think this episode shows us nothing new about House, or nothing really deep. For me, it was a lost opportunity.

    I like very much your idea of choosing a picture of a scene to illustrate the text. You choose one of the best scene, for me.

    And your right, extremely odd clinic patients. And, specially, not funny. At all.

    Hope the next episode to be better.

    Ana (ana_m_q)

  3. Este episodio NO es lo que yo llamaría bueno. A la verdad, fue bastante aburrido y no mostró nada interesante. De hecho no tengo nada que agregar.

    Sólo fue un argumento sin emociones, un montón de tiempo con Taub realmente bochornoso y una increíblemente floja historia para Foreman.

    Creo que al episodio le falto de todo un poco. No tiene la esencia de House. A diferencia del episodio anterior, este de verdad no ha regalado nada para recordar y cuando lo digo soy franco.

    Hasta el caso de la clínica me pareció fuera de lugar. Sé que a veces pasan cosas locas, pero el de esos dos hombres, no fue para nada un buen combo.

    Quizás algo que podríamos decir a favor del episodio son algunas lineas que me gustaron como: no mentimos sobre la gente que odiamos. También me gusto la escena de Adams con el arma, la de Chase con los bebés y por supuesto las escenas de Foreman y House, al menos es algo.

    El caso de la madre y la chica, lamentablemente siento que no fue bien estudiado. Fue como hecho para salir del paso. De hecho, el breve estudio que nos dan deja mucho que desear o sencillamente no está la altura de un episodio de House.

    Hoy me sentí muy decepcionado de la serie. El nuevo escritor ha hecho un buen intento, pero no ha dado un fruto digno de una buena nota.

    Definitivamente estoy de acuerdo en lo expresado por Ana (ana_m_q) y contigo Steph.

    Espero que Nobody's Fault sea mucho mejor, por el bien de House.

    Estaré esperando por leer tu entrada.
    Si de por si con episodios buenos eres excelente, no quiero ni pensarlo con uno que ya muchos han tildado de excelente.


  4. Thank you for your comments. I completely understand your perspectives. I think disjointed is the right word Ana. The episode lacked, as Cesar said, that underlying Housian essence that runs through the best episodes. The relationship between House and the patient could definitely have been explored further. I know the writers like to keep things unsaid and let the viewer interpret, but a slightly more in depth take on the episode would have added more body. It must be incredibly hard for a new writer to come in at this stage and bring the characters to life in the same way the more experienced writers do so with such flair. I look forward to Nobody's Fault!

  5. Same as you guys, this episode missed something, i don't know what, still need to re watch it with subtitles tonight ;)

    Great review Steph as always, very interesting to read your thoughts :)

    I loved the first scene in the restaurant, House was so funny. Strangely the turtle and the gun scenes were not to me :/

    Also WHO CARES about Foreman life, i'm glad he's done with this girl, means it's over lol

    I love Taub, but i found it strange that he is losing interest in his daughters cause we saw like in ep 5/6 that he was SO happy and fond of them.

    I loved the scene between House and the mother, it's clear that House would have love be the girl and leave his dad when he was young !

    But yeah some cool scenes to remember anyway ;)


    1. Oookay, hi Mel, hi Steph, I'm going to try this reply button and see where it puts my comment.

      I'd like to hear what you both think after re-watch, because as I already said on Twitter, it definitely improved the ep for me, the flow was a bit better and I could concentrate more on the interesting things.

      About the scene between House and the mother: early in the episode Wilson says that the girl is House's "road not taken", and while that definitely plays a role, I think there's something more important going on with the mother - House sees himself in *her* I think, not so much, or at least not just, the kid. Which is a very sad view given the harsh way he deals with her, but it reminded me of "Baggage" where he is also angry at the guy who fails to connect with his wife, and of "20 Vicodin" where he clearly states that he doesn't belong to the nice normal people.

      Funny enough, the good things about the turtle race and the gun scene were the *girls* for me: Park once again daring to bet against House, and Adams being good with a gun, which I found in character.

      I thought that the Taub thing was quite believable - it's been months since we last saw them, and I think that at some point the novelty wears off and he just finds himself with two babies who are old enough to not just eat/sleep/poop, but not old enough to do anything that might interest him. And I honestly loved the scene with Chase and the final scene with the sports magazine.

    2. Hee, that worked! Threads! Nice!

    3. Thanks Esther. I actually didn't know this could be done! Good if the reply is to a specific person. Although I would have missed it I just checked at the bottom so will be sure to check throughout. Interesting perspective on House relating to the mother as well as to the patient. It's a very poignant moment in Twenty Vicodin when he says the he doesn't belong in the category of the nice normal people, so that seems very likely to me. House knows he pushes people away: Stacy, Cuddy, Wilson, his parents, so it seems natural that he would think they are better off without him. I will let you know my perspective on the ep after a rewatch. Should have some time tomorrow.

  6. I just want to add something to my comment... You said, Steph: "The episode lacked, as Cesar said, that underlying Housian essence that runs through the best episodes." And I completely agree. I completely agree with César disappointment too. I just don't understand why some people think this is a return to the old times. They say the episode has the feeling of an old House episode. I quite disagree. It has nothing of the kind. It takes only one re-watch of episodes from Season 1 to see that.

    Also, I re-read my comment, and when I say "This one, I didn't like..." I was, obviously referring to the episode, not your opinion. ;)

    Ana (ana_m_q)

  7. Thanks Mel. I also found it strange that Taub was bored of his daughters. Orginally he was overwhelmed and it was all too much for him and then suddenly he's bored and doesn't know what to do. Also glad that Foreman is no longer seeing the married woman. I think the episode focused too much on supporting characters, when it's best that those stories flow more naturally in my opinion. I also loved the scene between House and the mother. That was actually my favourite part of the episode. It showed House's vulnerability and his ability to empathise with others.

  8. Yes, I agree with everything said above here, didn't like the episode very much, the Taub storyline wasn't great (and I'm a Taub fan). And like Mel said WHO CARES about Foreman's life XD

    I think the reason I didn't like this episode very much is not just the storylines of Foreman etc. but also because the case wasn't that interesting. I like to see House struggle to come up with the right diagnosis and really wonder if he will find out in time, but here the focus was more on the fact that she had run away from her abusing mother. So the diagnosis part wasn't at all interesting (to me at least). It was more about social services and House tricking Adams was just a bit too predictable for me.


    PS: love the picture, good idea!

  9. "Chase talking to the babies about how men love commitment free sex in baby talk was fantastic."

    fantastic? lol it's a little bit exaggerated.
    This ep was boring, and why they write more about Taub and Foreman? their life = zero interest and bring nothing to the show.
    It's like writers don't seem to know what to write about House anymore, really sad.

  10. Ana :
    "And your right, extremely odd clinic patients. And, specially, not funny. At all."

    I thought I watched an ep of the avengers, completely unrealistic, but not even funny unlike the avengers!

  11. Thanks for the comment Anna. I agree with you about the diagnostics, I actually lost interest in what was wrong with the patient. This week's puzzle was more about what was going through House's mind I think, the connection with the patient and as Esther suggested, the identification with the mother. I really need to rewatch though. I love how even a Taubian (as I shall call you folk) lost interest in poor old Taub and his kids. I will keep posting a pic before each review, glad you liked it.

    Anonymous, I think maybe "fantastic" was a little over enthusiastic but it did make me laugh out loud, and it was one of the better scenes in the episode in my opinion. Chase really connects with people and situations, if you consider the deeper undercurrents. This has interestingly led to his downfall (Cameron/Dibala) in the past. I agree about the clinic patients though. I later found the writer explained that the reenactment was a form of escapism related to the runaway theme of the episode but the case still felt disconnected from the rest of the episode to me.

    1. the writer explained that the reenactment was a form of escapism related to the runaway theme of the episode but the case still felt disconnected from the rest

      Yeah, that was an interesting response, I don't think I would have gotten that, but it made me realize something about this episode: It felt like the last step, the last consequence was missing a lot of times. Like when you write an essay, and you know you have a lot of ideas that could work and are quite good, but they don't quite seem to come together and make sense, they need that one last thought and step further, so that they fit together and become *more* than just a couple of ideas. And sometimes you even have to give up on some of them, as nice as they might be on their own, because they are like surplus puzzle pieces. So there. And now I'll go to sleep. :-)

  12. I like Chase this season, he's the only character I care about, and I think he'll play an important role in the next ep. Don't want to spoil anyone! ;-)