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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iHouse/i: Games
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Illustration for article titled iHouse/i: Games

And so we reach endgame on the team-search, but not before an episode that considers the nature of games themselves, and whether it's better to play admirably or to win at all costs.

Frustrated by House's seemingly endless prolonging of the application process–"They all did fine in the wind tunnel," House quips–Cuddy demands that he cut the last two candidates immediately. But first? A final exam, as the remaining candidates are asked to diagnose a drugged-up noise-rocker presenting with nearly every symptom an addict might be expected to exhibit–a statistical quirk which House naturally finds suspicious.

The rocker is played by Jeremy Renner, an actor familiar to me from countless recent indie-film roles. He's got a quietly charismatic presence; and I wouldn't be surprised to see him catch a breakthrough part sometime in the next couple of years. As for his character tonight, well, to cut to the chase, he was laid low by a common virus, exacerbated by a weakened immune system brought on by excessive drug use. But the coolest part of his case is that when House needs to induce a seizure, he plays some of the patient's disjointed music. What better character for House than an artist whose own work makes him sick?

As always, the patient matters less than what the doctors find out about his condition, and the methods they use. In this case, each doctor comes up with different early diagnosis, and House reminds them that there's no need for them to rush to conduct their tests, since only one of them can, theoretically, have the right answer. Besides, he wants them to take their time so that he can gauge how important winning or losing is to them. And he zeroes in particularly on "Cutthroat Bitch," who can't understand why being a just-win-baby can possibly be a bad thing. After all, doesn't House always say that what matters is getting the right answer, not how you get it?

But in fact it does matter, as this episode's B-story proves. Continuing this season's somewhat distracting habit of making every element tie into the week's theme, Wilson is consigned to a philosophically loaded subplot about what would seem to be a happy misdiagnosis. He gets to tell a terminal patient that he is, in fact, cancer-free, and he's shocked when the patient doesn't jump for joy. What Wilson misses is that he's just put a halt to a process–saying goodbye to friends, living each day to the fullest–that the patient was actually enjoying.

Similarly, I find myself a little disappointed tonight by the abrupt end to House's "Who Wants To Be A Diagnostician?" game. I know some of you readers though this premise was played out, but I was enjoying the influx of new personality types and the often-unpredictable results of their competition. I was more interested in the playing than in the final score.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

-Last week, House's pill-addiction resurfaced for the first time in a while; tonight, it was his infatuation with daytime television.

-When Foreman grumbles that he's trying to stay out of House's game, Chase puts him back in his place quick: "That's your role in the game."

-It looks like we're done with House until next year. Funny, feels like we just started….

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