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

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

'Nobody's Fault' Episode Review

The hand writing on the wall

There has been serious buzz around this episode for at least the past two weeks. Now I know why. The episode exudes Housian understanding and adopts a non-formulaic style appropriate for such a huge character centric plot. The episode opens with dramatic still shots of blood, syringes, fallen flowers and balloons, giving us an eerie indication that something has gone terribly wrong. The episode takes the format of a trial, and in Kafkaesque form, we are in the dark about what happened and the reason for the questioning. House is at risk of having his parole revoked and being sent back to jail. Dr. Cofield is in charge of House's fate and questions House's methods of differential diagnosis, asking the team members whether his games are the cause of the dramatic event with severe consequences. Notably Chase is missing during this process. The story moves fluidly from past to present from person to person. 

Dr. Cofield says that "I know you'd like to make it about me, because then it wouldn't be about you." House is usually very extrovert and likes to be the centre of attention, but not when it comes to his emotions. He will do anything to escape having to deal with how he feels, especially when it concerns others.

The initial POTW is a chemistry teacher who collapses during a run. Very relevantly, he is admitted because of paralysis. As usual House diagnoses with treatment and is aware that the patient could have a psychotic break. However, Chase agrees with Adams and believes that a biopsy of the patient's rash is necessary as it is the cause of his condition. His decision is a key point of the episode. Did he defy House to win a game, because that is the frame of mind they have become so accustomed to? The POTW's paranoia is triggered by Adams's syringe and
he attacks Chase with a scalpal, slicing an artery in his heart and almost killing him in an extremely tense and dramatic scene. Chase survives but discovers that he is paralysed and may never walk again.

Lightheartedly House paints himself in an angelic position of innocence, in a scene of heavenly light because "good things usually happen, bad things sometimes happen" and it is nobody's fault. However, House doesn't really believe that no one is to blame. He doesn't blame his team and they don't blame him (although more than once they say "He's not wrong" instead of he's right, implying great results rather than method). House blames himself. He tries to pretend he doesn't care but Chase explains to Dr. Cofield that asking about the other patient while Chase is on the brink of death and then paralysis is his way of checking on him without admitting to it. It's an extremely poignant moment at the end of the episode when House says "I'm sorry". I believe he's sorry about what happened to him but I think he genuinely feels guilty that what happened was his fault. Importantly, the games they play lead to the epiphany House has about the diagnosis of the patient, "two explosions". The chemistry explosion that caused the paralysis led to a second explosion of tumorous cells. Chase was the one who rigged the Vicodin bottle. This reflects the fact that unusual and unorthodox methods lead House to the correct diagnosis.

It is interesting to note that the episode really begins with House looking in the mirror, reflecting about his role in this "fiasco". The episode is shot in very dark lighting to emphasize the dark and dramatic plot in an atomosphere which is further created by heavy rain (sadness, tears). At the end the rain stops and the trial room is flooded with light and is empty, premptive of the notion that House is not sentenced and so in essence it was nobody's fault. However, the team (minus Chase) is there to support House. The patient's wife heavily influences the verdict when she says that House was right about her husband. House calls Dr. Cofield a coward, because he let his heart be softened by a happy ending. There is no happy ending. Chase is left in an agony that House can understand. In a role reversal House apologises while Chase tells him he's busy, angry but not letting House believe it was all his fault. They have a deep friendship and House knows how much Chase looks up to him. House looks incredibly disappointed that he has hurt Chase, and that Chase now suffers (leg pain, as House does) in such a debilitating way.

It is extremely hard to choose specific aspects of the episode to focus on because the entire episode was a masterpiece. These are just some of the scenes that really stood out for me. The emotion, the drama, the language, the slight threading of humour into darkness which is incredibly difficult. Extremely well written, directed and executed by the actors, especially Jesse Spencer as Chase who really showed both physical and emotional pain. "None of this is fun House". Best of the season so far in my opinion.


  1. I agree with everything you've said :)

    And this episode also perfectly illustrates why I hate spoilers. I thought when I watched it, that they had a hearing because the patient had died, but when I noticed that Chase wasn't asked in for questioning I began to suspect something else. And if I would have seen the promo I would probably have deduced it from that.

    Btw I also loved the little scene where House accepted the case and you see the light + the ooooOOOhhs XD

  2. Thank you, wow. I laughed out loud at that scene so I had to mention it. Completely agree with you about spoilers (as you know). The suspense and the development of the episode depend on the fact that we don't know why the trial is happening, including Chase's involvement.

    1. Unfortunately I have been spoiled about the next episode and WHY do they release promo pics for 8x13 already? :(

  3. Excellent synopsis. It was a true masterpiece. I thought House was being House with his self destructive button during the interview. But when he apologized to Chase, boy I never saw that coming. What a giant step that was for this character. You rarely see House apologize to those he has hurt like Wilson and Cuddy. I absolutely loved this epiosde

  4. Hey there Steph! Great analysis, per usual - as I've said in the past, you're an excellent writer. It was an excellent ep in many ways: the plot, acting, directing, etc - this one was a definite "game -changer" for the entire life of the series and highly ironic in so, so many ways, but I must say I'm sorry Wilson had the "day off" LOL. There's just so much to analyze, i don't know where to even start, but you did such a good job, I don't need to!! Just to add - I nice send off for GY, who left off with his legendary "KABOOM" while leaving a definite mark on the series. Also, it's about time JS got a decent storyline beyond being a "womanizer" (zzzzzzz) - he deserves so much more. That last scene with him and Chase where H said those "3 words": "I am sorry" (FINALLY!!), seeing the pain and anguish on Chase's face, the whole irony that he might become a cripple just like his "reckless boss" - was all - legendary - the stuff that "House" was meant to be. So thank you for your wonderful review, it was a pleasure to read, and I look forward for more to come.

  5. Thank you for your comments and kind words. With the news that House is ending with Season 8, this episode really made me think that even after 8 years the show is still incredibly high calibre. Greg Yaitanes leaving was for me another indication that the show was most likely coming to an end. He definitely left House MD with something to be proud of, you're right LaurieLuver. I think House saying "I'm sorry" has touched most fans. An outward indication that he cares is rare with House and seeing him think of another to such an extent was very touching.

  6. First, Kafkaesque xD I took that as a nod to me even if it wasn't. :P

    I agree with everything you said. I also think it was really interesting how this ep provided a look at House's methods from an outsiders perspective. I think both the viewer and those around House have grown accustomed to his antics so when it has to be explained to someone else you realize just how "over the line" he is. Think the occasional ep with to an unrelated party who hold House to the same standard as everyone else are important for that reason. I also loved how House isn't trying to influence the verdict in his favor. He blames himself and so more importantly than his career or even his freedom he wants to know if he is to blame. It's so Housian to look for the answer/truth at the cost of everything else.