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

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.


  1. Really liked the case in this one, for the familial aspects as much as the thematic ones you mentioned. It was co-written by Seth Hoffman, whose eps are usually rather complicated but always grow on me very much (Office Politics and Risky Business), because they make me think. And in each of them someone points out why House is doing something without letting us get the ultimate confirmation from House - be it Masters about why he wants her around, be it Wilson about why he busted Park's meeting, or be it Chase about why House instigated the mirrored whistle blowing in his own department. It's always implied that they have a good point.

    One thing though: I think it is very clear that it was indeed Chase who told Foreman, that was the whole point of that last scene. He admits it with "my punishment" and with detailing the reasons why he thinks House wanted him to do it. The one to notice House losing his edge would be Chase, not Foreman, who isn't close enough anymore. It's a nice full circle for him too: while he did in out of pure self-interest and lack of honour in season 1, he did it for House and because it seemed the right (and so in this way honourable) thing to do here.

  2. Ah, yes good point you make about Hoffman's episodes. I do like episodes that make you think afterwards about things left unsaid or implied. On a second look, I do agree that it appears to have been Chase. Initially it seemed almost as though his explanation were in the 'conditional' ("you wanted me to tell Foreman": intention, rather than deed done). I do agree that it would be Chase to notice House losing his egde, that's what I meant in my post (hence the similarities and the cyclic reference of Typhus).

  3. As usual your review gets me thinking, I enjoyed this episode, I think it requires a second watch at some point to really 'get' it. Loved the little rat in it and the House and Wilson and Chase interactions.Seemed a typical solid mid season episode to me but with possible hidden layers which may become clearer or not!

    1. Thank you! Knowing that I get people thinking makes writing these reviews the more worthwhile. There are definitely layers, it was a complex episode in terms of House's story line and all the details, in particular. The rat scene was also one of my favourites, I seem to enjoy House/Chase scenes more and more. I was just commenting that I also really like the scene with House and the POTW. We always get an insight into House's thoughts and state of mind in one to ones with patients.

  4. Although this episode isn't one of my favorites, I must say that it has some aspects that I loved. First, the honour. You and House said that the honour is subjective. And I really liked it during this episode. It's intersting what we can't do (or we don't want) when we have honour. There are people who are harder about that, but the honour is something that we can't take lightly. The case of the POTW, who didn't want treatment was good example of how important is the honour. We can think that it's stupid, but the honour is deep and we can't change it because we like or don't like it. In the end, honour is just honour.

    Second. I also loved that House was looking for the rat. Well, I didn't understand his behaviour initially, but in the end it's interesting that Chase was the one who will be able to supplant House. Frankly, if he has been able to be with House longer than the others, he certainly deserves it. I remember when Cameron said that Chase had changed. He said that Chase was like House. I didn't believe at the time, but now, it's a different story.

    Third. The dialogue and the sarcasm is something I enjoy greatly. And this episode had enough.

    This made me laugh a lot:
    Brant: Who are you?
    House: Well, considering the only people allowed in this room are your doctors and your family... I'm your long-lost cousin Ralph. So glad to finally meet you.

    However, I know that House writers can give us more great episodes. This episode wasn't bad, I don't hate it, it was good at all, but I was expecting something more shocking.

    Love your review by the way (I would say it thousands of times, but it would be spam, would not it?).

    ¡Estoy impaciente por el próximo episodio y la final!

    Best Regards,

    1. Thank you Cesar!

      I also loved the dialogue, it's something that always impresses me on House. How it can be incredibly witty moments before or after a dramatic or tragic scene.

      In terms of Chase, in earlier seasons I didn't think he was anything like House, as you said yourself, but he has grown to become so in my opinion. This season I am particularly enjoying their relationship and the scenes they're in together.

      Until next time.