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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

'Body and Soul' Episode Review

A young boy suffers from respiratory trouble after dreaming about a spirit who walks into his room and strangles him. House believes it is Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome which kills males who are of Hmong heritage. It is soon noted that medicine is failing him as none of the treatments work. The grandfather believes that, similarly to his son who murdered his boss with a sledgehammer, his grandson is possessed. When science appears to provide no answer and thus no cure, the boy's mother gives up her reluctance to believe in alternative spiritual treatments. House is extremely distressed that religion could provide a cure science (he) was unable to give. The boy dreams that his grandfather is the one strangling him and when he awakes we see he has red imprints around his neck. We see the effects but not the cause.

The theme of dreams runs throughout the episode and provides scenarios in which Park fantasises about Chase and he fantasises about her, both claiming that dreams don't mean anything. Taub convinces Park that it means trust, security and friendship and so she tries to prove her theory by farting in the elevator. I love Chase's reactions to the things she says. Again we see the effects (sex dreams) but not necessarily the true cause (reason behind) the dream. It leads us perhaps to understand that not everything can be explained and that the 'obvious' explanation doesn't necessarily prove to be the correct one.

We see a further development in House's relationship with Dominika as he feels the bond between them is perhaps stronger than he had previously believed. She likes guns, she reads physics books about one of his favourite subjects, dark matter, and shows true interest and understanding. Notably, Dominika compares the understanding of dark matter, of which we can see only the effect and not the cause to spiritualism and occultism. In a true Housian way, as soon as happiness begins to materialise the ceiling drops. They are about to have sex when Dominika takes a call telling her that her citizenship was approved and that they had sent notifications by post several times. Whether Dominika leaves through feeling betrayed and angry or whether she leaves because that is what she would have done anyway, we never know. House is obviously affected by this and the expression on his face shows that he truly doesn't want her to leave. Once again House sabotages (unconsciously most likely) his relationship with the woman he cares about. He knew that she would find out eventually and that what he had done would upset her. He pushed her away because he's so terrified of happiness. That's not to say he doesn't want to be happy, and he doesn't want to be with her, he just doesn't expect it to last. Cue: Cuddy. The green card thus seems to represent the Vicodin he took when Cuddy was thought to have cancer. It's self preservation, a coping mechanism which is extraordinarily ironic. He precipitates pain only to feel the brute force of its impact.

Following the 'multiple possibilities' theme of the episode, we can't say whether it was the Ibuprofen or the grandfather's exorcism which heals Luke's heart. Adams says it's hard to believe that aspirin could heal him, the mother then says that it's hard for Adams to believe that the spiritual intervention worked. As Taub says 'there were two things we thought were impossible, one of them wasn't, that's all we know.' One of things that I have always loved about House is that when it comes to debates of this genre they never tell us what to think, they present the facts and let us decide. We fill in the blanks in our own ways, according to what makes sense for us.

So we see the beginning of the end. "I have cancer House". Wilson's expression and then House's disbelief. All this time I've been focusing on House being the one who could be ill, who fears that he will become incapable of practising medicine, losing his mind. When in fact he could lose a large part of his heart. Wilson. House has lost a lot of people throughout the years, but I honestly think Wilson's death could kill him. I'm a fan of dark and dramatic as I think its an essential part of Housian nature but it really does hit you hard when you imagine a possible scenario where Wilson is gone and House is alone. It was an incredible scene. I know this arc will be spectacular, one step closer to the end.

Monday, 23 April 2012

House Finale Posters

Official House MD Poster:

The talented @ncismelanie_'s tribute:

Friday, 20 April 2012

'We Need The Eggs' Episode Review

At the beginning of We Need The Eggs we see what appears to be a couple at a fairground. The girl, Molly, tells the soon to be POTW (who soon after begins to cry blood) to shoot around the star. To me, in hindsight, this was a metaphor for romantic relationships in the episode. Shooting around the star meaning settling for relationships that remind them of the winning prize, the person they really want to be with. Also, instead of dating a woman clearly interested in him, he has a customised doll called Amy as his girlfriend. He explains that dating is far too difficult and that he has had enough of suffering after the team finds out that his doll was modelled on a woman he used to date, who was extremely different from him (who practised yoga) and broke his heart. In fact, it is a gift from that girlfriend that makes him sick, an Indian device which looks like a teapot to flush out the nostrils during allergy season.The House/POTW plotlines are extremely intertwined in this episode. In my opinion this relates to House's relationship with Cuddy. He lost the woman who changed his life, and ended up in jail.

So in the meantime we see House is interviewing hookers because his favourite tells him she can't see him anymore. He asks one of the hookers what her favourite Woody Allen movie is. She says Annie Hall, but not because she 'needed the eggs'. I wrote about the title a few weeks ago because it really interested me, so if you want to check that out: Episode 17

So the episode is based on relationships, and as House says, what everyone does to avoid them; calling the excuses they make their own personal 'sex dolls'...from Adams volunteering during any free time she has to Chase dating patients for convenience. So in terms of subplot we have Taub's fleeting relationship with a woman he meets in a supermarket who he initially tells that his child's mother died at childbirth. When he opens himself up to her she rejects him, though with the funniest expression: 'Was that a different baby?' Adams also opens herself up to Chase and gets rejected. This shows why people are often so reluctant to open up to relationships. At least we see Park jamming in the end with guitar guy. I liked that scene. 

The irony of House telling other people that they are socially inept is of course that his 'sex doll' is a hooker, who he uses more for companionship than for sex. (Why would he care what else they can do otherwise?..Juggle, cards etc.) That appears to be the reason why he has one hooker who he is in a pseudo relationship with, because he wants to feel that something is real, even if it's not. This links to Chase talking to Adams about taking the doll into a procedure room rather than cutting her open in front of the patient: 'You can know something is not real and still love it'. House isn't in love with the hooker, he's in love with the idea that he is in control of the situation, that he doesn't have to worry about all the relationship-y parts, like arguing, exactly like the patient with his doll. So when the hooker tells him she is getting married, House loses control, and wants to gain it back by sabotaging the marriage. It's a nightmare scenario for him because it reminds him of his past, of Cuddy leaving him. Ironically, this time it's the hooker who has the 'fake marriage', which serves as a mirror for him and his actions, and the pain Cuddy must also have suffered. This nightmare scenario manifests itself for the patient in the form of a hallucination of his once-time girlfriend undressing for him (Cuddy: House's Head). She begins to bleed severely from her stomach and the scenes are dark and dramatic to emphasise the mental pain he suffers. Wilson even says, in a passive agressive, reverse psychology kind of way to House that the favourite hooker represents a long term relationship which can't hurt him. Although House tells the hooker she shouldn't leave him because the only real thing about his marriage is the green card, he throws the green card away. He appreciates the companionship. So in the end he continues to play pretend, as we see the patient doing (watching TV with Amy), because real relationships are more than complicated. There is perhaps a glimmer of hope for the patient when he looks down at the bear he got with Molly. Although more likely, the fear of that relationship is greater than the fear of missing out on something great.

So many fantastic quotes from this episode, the writing is so detailed. I loved House talking to Wilson in front of the elevator and the scenes before and just after Dominika seduced the hooker's brother. For me, it's always a great episode when the serious, emotional moments blend well with the humorous ones. One of my favourites this season.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Gut Check Episode Review

To relate the title to the episode, a gut check is when someone stops and assesses a situation, which happens in the main plot (House/Wilson/Kid), and the subplot (Taub/Patient), (Park/Chase).

The episode opens with a minor league hockey player who coughs up blood after a fight on the ice. The patient suffers from numerous symptoms including what appears to be an emotional breakdown, paralysis, and hormonal changes. This makes him question his role as 'enforcer' on the team, using his size to fight rather than to play hockey. He goes back on his change of heart when he is offered a new lucrative contract, saying that half the dream is better than nothing. This will parallel House's story with Wilson, where half the dream of having a child is lived (the other half representing its fakeness, how it ends, and House himself).

House interrupts Wilson's sleep (dreams), and tells him that the baby crying which keeps him awake has also triggered something, perhaps on an unconscious level, and that 'the fact that you're the only fruit on your family tree is getting to you'. Wilson is obviously at a point in his life where he is reflecting on missed opportunities. House exploits this to give him a warped version of what he wanted. So warped that the child is a mini Wilson ('a gutless placater just like his dad') rather than the 'best case scenario' (the realistic one) of the child being a nightmare. The nightmare is not what the child is like, it's what the child represents in Wilson's life...and for House. Wilson often comments on House's childish behaviour, his pranks and his needy attitude. House is the child. The nightmare behaviour for House is that a child would replace him, so in part it appears he introduces this fake child for selfish reasons. On the other hand, he wants to show Wilson that he is not missing anything; that the idyllic illusion of having a child is often best kept as it is, a fantasy ('every little girl wants a pony until they have to clean up after it'). The reality, or the fake reality in this case, soon turns sour when Wilson realises he has taken on far too much responsibility. I must admit that I saw through the charade, if it's what it really was, and I was simultaneously smirking to myself and angry at House for putting Wilson through this. My first suspicion was House's mention of a 'hypothetical' situation in the past, which I thought would lead to a parallel in the present. The child's uncanny behaviour and deep affection only made me more sure, as he acted as Wilson does, always attaching himself to 'impossible' relationships. However, what he did was for the best as Wilson keeps his desire as just that, and doesn't have to deal with a nightmare situation he can't control. The scene in the elevator was incredibly poignant; the seriousness of House's pain showed that he could (almost) feel the suffering that Wilson would go through. He goes as far as saying it could ruin his life and that his relationship with him could not even begin to compare to what having a child would be like. As I said last week, the parental theme is running strong in season 8, and this seems to me, a reflection on House's suffering as a child; what his father put him through, the misery he felt. It serves as a cautionary tale for Wilson.

Taub is averse to fighting in hockey as he believes it detracts from the sport, while House accuses him of small man syndrome and feeling bullied. Taub is made to doubt himself, to question his objectivity and treat the patient accordingly. House's talk about not trusting anything of superficial appearance (mirrors the situation with Wilson/kid) with Taub leads to the Housian light bulb moment, which leads to the correct diagnosis (Miller Fisher Syndrome). House even lies to him and says the patient defended him, to get him to see the situation from a different perspective. House also subjects himself to an MRI to prove that Taub sees brain damage where he wants to see it (as the patient has suffered severe head trauma in the past). This in turn made me wonder about House's brain. Recently there has been a focus on his brain capacity (Blowing The Whistle)...This struck me as a way for House to convince someone to check him out without alerting any suspicion!

Chase convinces Park to move in with him when her family is suffocating her. I laughed out loud when House was making eye contact with Chase after Park blurts out that they are not having sex....yet. While Park is chasing independence (pun intended), Chase misses a family connection and starts hanging out with Park's grandma Popo. This made me wonder whether we'll be seeing anymore of this storyline develop in the next few episodes (spoiler free speculation), especially as we see Park return to her family, appreciating what she has.

On reflection, the richness of the episode seemed to really sink in. For Hilson lovers, this was a fantastic episode, we see just how much they care for one another and how they appear to be so co-dependent; to an extent in a constantly inverting parent/child relationship.

Oh and the picture of boobs on the whiteboard which kept flashing in the background during the differential diagnosis was so House.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Blowing The Whistle Episode Review

Blowing The Whistle centres around the theme of honour. As House suggests, honour is subjective. We do what we believe is honourable for reasons which matter to us. The question that permeates the episode is: Why do we do what we do? This not only applies to the young soldier who leaks a video showing the shooting of thirty four civilians by American forces but also to House. The POTW justifies his act of treason because he believed it is what his father would have done, as during the war, his father disobeyed orders and saved fellow soldiers. This appears to be somewhat of a parallel to the episode Parents, in which the POTW wants to follow in his biological father's footsteps to become a clown, and then we later discover that his father sexually abused him and caused his illness. The theme of parental care is something that has always featured in House episodes because House believes parents screw their children up; including himself. House shows a certain disdain for men in uniform, joking that they get served first in the cafeteria, but this is perhaps more a reference to his dislike of his own father. In Blowing The Whistle the POTW's brother later reveals that the army did not covertly assassinate their father, but that he was a drunk and was killed in a car accident in which he killed a civilian, ironic. Just as in Parents, where the mother is keeping the abuse from her son to protect him, the brother is doing the same thing. House asks the young soldier how many civilians must die to make his act honourable. Is it a utilitarian matter? The question of what is more honourable - serving your country and fulfilling your duties or making public the deaths of civilians in order to attempt to stop further similar attacks from happening (blowing the whistle) - is subjective.

House on the other hand appears to be suffering from hepatic encephalopathy. Adams notices that his reaction time is slow and that he hasn't publicly humiliated her for sleeping with someone and then turning up to work in the same clothes. The team even follows him to the bathroom, after which Taub collects his, I should say feces, but I'll say poo. The Taubinator beats House aka Occam's Chainsaw at his video games, something House never loses. Meanwhile House is trying to uncover the rat among the team; who told Foreman he's sick. Except he's not sick. This does remind me of when House pretended he had cancer in Half Wit in order to get an implant in his brain that releases medication which would soothe his pain. That had an obvious, deceitful purpose whereas this appears to be darker because it's so ellusive. House caused all his own symptoms. Except we never really know why, at least not from his perspective. In the end House accuses Chase of being the rat to which Chase retorts that House wanted him to tell Foreman, someone to notice straight away that he's losing his edge (his brain function, which matters most to him), because eventually it will happen. Chase was against telling Foreman, so it's unlikely it was him. We never know who told. House neither confirms nor denies Chase's theory, but Chase is somewhat of a House protege, so his assumption does make sense at least on some level, even if on an unconscious one. In fact, Chase suggests Typhus as the diagnosis right at the beginning of the differential diagnosis, which House suggests at the end of episode, and is correct. Also, he makes Taub suggest diagnoses under the pressure of playing the video game, thus being distracted and having to be extremely on point. As we know, House does project.

Wilson, confronts House about being ill and House says he wouldn't believe him if he told Wilson he were, jokingly. So is House really ill? Is he afraid of losing his capacity to practice medicine? Old age seems to be weighing heavily on his mind, grey hair, is what leads him to the eventual diagnosis. Very subtle.

We also have the clinic patient who is, to our amusement, singing while hopping on one leg. Diagnosis: he drank too much green beer (and has an allergy to the dye). Now this may be a stretch, so humour me, but he is allergic to green beer, green being the millitary colour and alcohol being what the POTW's father died from. Sometimes the connections aren't evident but they are usually threaded in.

Obviously I can't talk about everything that happened, but overall, it was an interesting episode, a good build up to the end, to what will happen to House. Now I look forward to some drama and to the unexpected.