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House: "Ignorance Is Bliss"

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The previews for this week's episode, "Ignorance Is Bliss," had me nervous. Of everything that frustrates me about what House has become, the one thing I'm least able to tolerate is the back-and-forth between House and Cuddy—for reasons that I've detailed at some length and will no doubt wind up mentioning again in this review. Judging by the preview, "Ignorance" was going to focus on a group Thanksgiving dinner with House, Wilson, Cuddy, and Lucas, who like the proverbial cat, keeps returning no matter how many times I imagine him choking to death on his own tweeness. But the preview (or, at least, my interpretation of it) was wrong; the references to Thanksgiving were deftly handled; and over-all, I think this is one of the least objectionable entries we've had in the never-ending will they/won't they story arc.

This time out, we've got a former super genius as PotW. He used to be, as he puts it, "smart and miserable," but then a bad fall and some legally injected narcotics put him on the smooth and stupid. He married a woman with, if I'm doing the math right here, an 81 IQ, and in order to keep, um, down with her, he started dosing himself with cough syrup to lower his own IQ to a more acceptable level. It's like Flowers For Algernon, only in reverse. It's also, like most philosophical quandaries on the show, interesting but shallow. It assumes, among other things, that stupid people really are happy, and it never gets into why the PotW felt so lousy while he was a brainiac (unless it was his inability to defeat that arrogant Kryptonian orphan). And while Taub was judging the PotW right out of the gate, nobody called the patient on his arrogance—I actually found myself missing Cameron and her lectures on "feeling" and "empathy."

But then, there's not that much to lecture about, since the episode itself never really treats the PotW's wife as anything more than an attractive prop—her low IQ means she's treated as the dumb animal that the super smart PotW views her as, without any serious concern as to how she might feel about a husband who only loves her when he's too dosed to think clearly. She's more a concept than a character, and the fact that everyone refers to her as a moron without batting an eye is a little insulting. Also on the "problems with with women" front, we've got Taub's spouse being upset because she thinks Taub is a "wimp" for kowtowing to House. In order to appease her, Taub brings her a picture of House freshly bruised from his encounter with Chase's right hook, and makes up a story about doing the damage himself. This so pleases Mrs. Taub that she immediately jumps him. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but then, I'm not married.

But as to Cuddy and House, well, if accepting that the relationship isn't going away any time soon, and that the supposed romantic tension between them still gives me the creeps—putting that to one side, this wasn't a bad way to handle the situation. House decides to break up Cuddy and Lucas, and angles for an invite to Thanksgiving dinner. Cuddy seems to cave, but gives him a false address. House gets drunk at Lucas's apartment, says he loves Cuddy, Cuddy shows up the next morning and tells him she and Lucas broke up. House pretends it was all part of his plan, then does something nice for Cuddy, which Cuddy rejects, and House realizes Cuddy lied about Lucas leaving her.

It's all terribly silly, and connects in some way to the PotW's assertion that being smart gets in the way of happiness—if Cuddy and House weren't so clever, they'd probably be moving on to their second kid by now. Presumably. (I think "Ignorance is bliss" is a lie that intelligent people tell themselves to try and justify depression; it's not really true, as stupid people feel bad all the time.) But I was mildly entertained by it, because, at least for now, we seem to have a reached some kind of acceptable plateau in their interminable mating dance. I still don't really believe that House loves Cuddy, and her constant, "Gosh, I really feel fond of him" looks have never stopped being forced, but I appreciate that, once you accept the (for me) generally unacceptable, the story at least makes basic sense. Sometimes House's attempts at games within games on top of games with an extra side dish of tomato and game crackers gets too convoluted to have any meaning at all, but this time, it worked okay. For once, I didn't even mind Lucas.

Stray Observations:

  • "She was happy and dumb. I was smart and miserable." Isn't it nice when life hands us such easy parallels?
  • For once, Chase and his angst got handled with a light touch—everybody (but House) keeps bugging him to see if he's okay, so he finally punches House just to get them to back off. It's a good character beat, and I'm glad to see Chase being intelligent again.
  • Have a happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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