Thinking alone can't solve all of life's problems. This is a message which has been hammered home in popular entertainment since time immemorial, because it's the easiest kind of sell: All that tricky concentrating and logic and common sense, that's not what's important, what's important is what your heart tells you, and you should totally chase after that girl/guy because it's destiny, and love is the purest good of all, and so on and so forth. All Care Bear Stare moralizing has the unfortunate result of hiding two very important facts: Feeling alone can't solve all of life's problems, and, perhaps even more importantly, the original message is actually true. The smarter you are, the harder it is not to see the bottom of every one of life's supposed joys, and the more frustrating it becomes when you can't simply work your way out of your misery by understanding what created it. Sometimes, you're just gonna feel bad.
Which brings us to tonight's House, "Out of the Chute," which I again enjoyed almost in spite of myself. No, it's not that I want the show to be terrible or that I get pleasure out of pointing out what I consider to be its flaws (I get some pleasure from that, but I got so much more pleasure from the show when it was actually on its game that this shouldn't even be question). It's more that I've got sort of a sinking suspicion of where all this is headed and that I don't honestly believe that this version of the series really has the courage of its convictions. Or that I'm even grasping those convictions properly. Or… gah, I'm over-thinking myself here. My point is, I can see a very clear way for this to all end with House and Cuddy back together again, which would largely invalidate the pleasure I've gotten out of this and last week's episodes. I could live with a return to the status quo, with Cuddy back as the boss and House back as her grumpy, somewhat dickish employee, but, as Cuddy herself said, there's no going back.
So who knows, really. As many have said, I'd probably be better off just talking about what I see, and not trying to predict the future. In "Chute," House is dealing with the aftermath of the break-up. "Dealing" here means cleaning out his bank account, renting a hotel room, getting a big bowl of money, and spending time with lots and lots of hookers. Wilson is concerned that House is avoiding the issue, because, well, that's what Wilson does, and also because House basically is, but really, what else did anyone expect? House has never been one to have emotional breakdowns that involved crying and intense conversation. He deals with the problem how he deals with the problem, and the problem here seems to be that with Cuddy gone, he's lost the excitement in his life. He's back on the Vicodin, and he's pushing himself further and taking more risks, and, well, this is pretty much where House was a few seasons back. He tried the conventional route, he tried making a connection, and that didn't work, so what the hell else is there? Jumping off balconies into pools, apparently.
As always when House is experiencing some sort of breakdown, the PotW this time around was more interesting for how House treated him than he was as a character. The bull-riding cold open was pretty cool, and Masters' crush was one of the few non-annoying plotlines we've had from her since she first arrived on the show. Of all the different ways that could've resolved, having her clumsily ask him out and get rejected was probably the best. Maybe there was some sort of point in here about how the people we want don't always make sense for us, but we want them anyway, and just wanting someone doesn't mean they're going to want you back. Mostly, I'm just happy that they didn't make out at the end.
Really, though, the most exciting part of all of this comes from the final, dangerous treatment sequence. The whole episode, Masters has been squawking about how House's judgment might be impaired because he's back on the Vicodin, and I was glad that the show didn't go down that particular route again. While nobody mentions it, House was an effective doctor and a functioning addict for quite some time. Masters' concerns make sense for her character, but that shouldn't be the focus of House's addiction narrative, and it's refreshing how unconcerned everyone really is that he's pill happy once more. There is a wonderfully nasty exchange between House and Cuddy before he and his team put the PotW through an incredibly dangerous surgery. She acts like she's going to stop him from doing what he thinks is right, and he rightfully points out that there's no way in hell she'll actually follow through. And then we get the surgery, which was surprisingly tense, and the patient survives. House is vindicated, and he doesn't feel a damn thing.
Wilson gets a lot to do in "Chute," doing typically Wilson things. He even calls Cuddy out on her behavior, which is actually something of a relief. Because it's not like House didn't do anything that wasn't obviously in his nature before their relationship started. In fact, by taking the Vicodin so that he could be with her when she was ill, he at least showed he wanted to make an effort to support her. Just because she rejects the conditions of that support doesn't mean it wasn't the best he could do at that moment. As Wilson points out, she told him she didn't want him to change, and if anyone lied getting into this relationship, it was her, whether she meant to or not. This would have more of an impact if Cuddy really made any sense at all (maybe the writers just need to acknowledge that House loves Cuddy for the illusion of stability, and Cuddy loves House for those three minutes of epiphany-face he gets every episode), but at least Wilson stands up for his friend.
Last week, doing my write-up, I had a very clear sense of what I wanted to say, but this week, I'm all muddled. I liked it, but we've seen most of the routines before. I guess I'm just grateful that the romance was kept to a minimum, and that House's angst was engaging again, instead of off-putting or dull. There was some moderate team in-fighting, but it didn't drag. Taub and Masters' conversations about her crush were amusing, and House's cannonball into the hotel pool was neat. He doesn't really seem to be at a different place at the end of the episode than he was at the start. If I had to guess, he's just going to keep doing outrageous crap until he goes to see his psychiatrist again. It would be kind of nice if he could work through his problems on his own for once, though.
- House goes through a lot of hookers. (Including one that plays a hurdy gurdy!)
- "Aaaaand she caves."
- Excellent use of Peter Gabriel's cover of Arcade Fire's "My Body Is A Cage."