I appreciate it when a show tries to view everyone with an open mind. Empathy is one of the keys to great storytelling, and fiction allows for that empathy to apply itself to sub-cultures even the most tolerant person would struggle with in real life. So, on a conceptual level, I appreciated House’s efforts to give Henry and his Real Doll Amy the benefit of the doubt. It makes dramatic sense, because it plays against our assumptions of the nature of such a relationship. Henry is quiet and shy, but he’s not obviously mentally disturbed, and he even has a chance at a real-live-girl relationship with a nice woman named Molly. He just happens to be in love with a hunk of rubber that looks like a human being. This isn’t a normal, or particularly healthy, relationship, mainly because it isn’t a “relationship” at all, but for a fair part of its running time, “We Need The Eggs” treats this with a surprisingly straight face. Henry gets to stand up for himself to the understandably suspicious Adams, and House does his usual shtick of reflecting the patient’s issues back on his team. There are a few jokes at the absurdity of treating a doll like a patient in need of serious care, but for a while, Henry gets off relatively light.
This makes it all the more effective when we finally realize the cowardice and shallowness which lies at the heat of Henry’s delusions. He didn’t come to Amy because of some pathological inability to form functional bonds with others. He ordered her because he went out with a hot yoga instructor for a while, and the yoga instructor dumped him. Hell, he even made sure to have the doll designed to look like his ex. That’s pathetic, and while it’s possible to still empathize with him as a human being who has had his heart broken, it’s harder to accept the Amy-solution as something that could possibly give him happiness long term. As if this wasn’t enough clarity, once he’s been cured (cursed neti pot!), Henry asks Dr. Adams out on a date. He doesn’t do this because Molly is gone forever; he does this because Adams is hot, and because Adams showed a brief moment of sympathy with him earlier in the episode. Henry’s problem isn’t that he can’t stand the idea of being hurt. His problem is that he only wants a very specific kind of woman, the kind who doesn’t share his interests but looks great in her underwear, and if he can’t get that, by god, he’ll stick with the sex doll. It’s a smartly subtle piece of storytelling, especially for House in its later years, because it doesn’t fill in all the blanks. It just asks us to watch Henry’s mildly dissatisfied expression when Adams mentions Molly, or the way he takes the doll’s hand in the final montage, and it allows us to draw our own conclusions.
Too bad the episode’s other main storyline wasn’t quite so effective. Taub’s brief run-in with dating I could take or leave, and it was nice to see Park win one for a change, but House’s attempts to first find a replacement for his escort, Emily, and then break up Emily’s supposed marriage, were broad, goofy, and not much fun to watch. Dominika, despite being introduced to the show via a completely ridiculous, TGIF-sitcom style plot, is likable enough, and Kalinda Wydra and Hugh Laurie have fun chemistry together while plotting schemes and choosing hookers. But the suggestion that she and House are legitimately interested in each other just doesn’t fit on the show. It’s a romantic comedy plot shoe-horned into a series that works hard to maintain a certain base level of cynicism, and while it’s not impossible for basic truths about humanity to overwhelm that cynicism, wanting to nail the hot foreign chick in your guest bedroom isn’t one of those truths. I don’t mind the idea of us leaving House at the end of the show with a little more peace of mind, but the thought of enduring a lot of contrived complications to get to that peace―oh, he doesn’t realize they’re in love, until a prostitute explains “It’s just the way you look at each other”! Wait, now he does but he’s lying to her! She’s angry, and he has to win her back!―is unpleasant. Not to mention the suggestion that “peace of mind” can be acquired by facing your fears and nailing the hot chick who asked you to marry her so she could get her green card. That’s not very psychologically sound, and it’s way too easy.
“Way too easy” on this show usually means House is about to screw everything up by being House. His decision to chuck the letter from INS at the end of this episode indicates that we’ve moved on to this stage of the relationship. But while I don’t think a House-and-Dominika-happily-ever-after scenario would really work, I’m also not looking forward to dealing with House-in-frustrated-love again. We spent all of last season bouncing that crap around, and there was no catharsis or resolution beyond the reminder that boy, House can be a spoiled brat, can’t he. Obviously we’re supposed to draw some distant parallels between Henry’s refusal to choose a reality that might be disappointing over a fantasy that will never reach for his hand instead of the other way around. By trying to maintain a status quo, House is (sort of) doing that; he’s got the babe, but he’s not allowing her to get into a position where she could reject him. But the thing is, Henry is a cautionary tale. Building a drama around a guy who stayed with a sex doll and never left the house would get old fast. We’ve spent almost eight years with House, and we've seen him close a great many doors. It would be a cheat to have Dominika be his way out, because she's less a person than a slightly more advanced version of the hookers House interviewed early in the episode. But it would be almost as bad to have House needlessly alienate her because that's just what he does. Some shows have gotten a lot of drama out of a protagonist's inability to change, but at this point, I'm not sure we'd get much of anything out of one more chorus of the same tired song.
- The episode title “We Need The Eggs” is a quote from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. (I think it’s the very last line, in fact.) I was proud about catching that, until House quoted it directly 10 minutes into the show.
- I haven't seen Lars And The Real Girl, but I suspect it might have been an inspiration for this. Maybe.
- I’m glad the episode recognized the idiocy of Taub’s grocery store lie, but I’m not sure what that mini-story was meant to accomplish, beyond making me squirm. I guess it’s nice that he’s putting himself back out there.
- The slow courtship of Adams and Chase begins! Zzzzzzzz.