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

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.

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