Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My take on [H]ouse, M.D. episode 8x02 "Transplant" as well as some other odds and ends...

I knew the reality would hit me eventually, I just wasn't prepared for it. The "it" is House's eventual return to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. We all knew it would happen, but were we prepared for it?

I wasn't.

This episode  was House's return to PPTH. He returns to no Cuddy, no office, no team, and no friends. His patient? A pair of lungs inside a box. Oddly ironic for a guy who despises dealing with people. It seems an organ was his perfect patient.

As with most of the episode titles in the past, the title "Transplant" applied to both the patient of the week and the title character. Just as the set of lungs awaits its transplant into a new and seemingly unfriendly environment (the recipient is Wilson's cancer patient), so is House awaiting his transplant back to PPTH which is also a new and seemingly unfriendly environment now that all that was familiar to him is gone.

In this episode it is revealed that Foreman is the new Dean of Medicine. Of course that makes no sense to me and many other fans. This is the same guy Cuddy refused to give a reference for in Season 6 because he participated in unethical behavior during his girlfriend's Huntington's clinical drug trials.This is the same guy who was fired from New York Mercy for unethical behavior for going behind his boss's back and conducting unauthorized treatment based on a hunch. This is the same guy who couldn't land a job as a Neurologist anywhere after working with House and being fired from NY Mercy. For the show, the choice makes sense since they couldn't afford to hire someone else to take Lisa E's place, but the choice for the show just doesn't make sense. I cannot and will not wrap my head around Foreman as Dean of Medicine, especially after seeing that God-awful office of his. I miss Cuddy and her sense of style for sure. I loved her office. What exists in it now is horrid. I suppose Shore wanted to be sure there was absolutely no trace of Cuddy left in the hospital.

Why do I even question the idiocy of Foreman being Dean? It's not surprising. Continuity is lacking in some areas and the past is conveniently forgotten. David Shore completely intentionally glossed over the fact that House got his medical license and his job back after serving nearly a year in prison. We're supposed to overlook that detail. We're supposed to not ask the question "How on earth did he get his license back after what he did?" or "Why would the Board keep him now that Cuddy's gone?" I mean after all, the only reason House even had a job at PPTH is because of Cuddy and Cuddy alone. Remember--House had once been fired from four different hospitals until Cuddy hired him, created an entire department just for him, and gave him tenure to solidify his position there. Remember that Cuddy tackled Vogler and gave up $100 million rather than fire House. Remember too that Cuddy committed perjury on the stand in Season 3 to save his ass. Remember that Cuddy got him his job back after he came out of the mental institution in Season 6. Again and again throughout the series, Cuddy put it all on the line for House, part of this reason was professional and part of it personal. She knew his brilliance and she cared about him. Cuddy no doubt, was the reason House kept his job all those years.Cuddy fought the Board of Directors time and time again for House.

So it begs the question, now that Cuddy is gone why does House even have a job?

We're not supposed to ask that question. It's in the script, that's all we need to know.

Director and producer Greg Yaitanes insists to fans on Twitter that they need to stop paying attention to details in the series. But because the title character is in fact a doctor who pays attention to details, it's hard for fans not to do the same. We're just expected to gloss over errors in continuity like House having three different birthdates in three different episodes, or that the daily prescription of Zolpidem on Cuddy's nightstand in Season 7's "Bombshells" was enough to kill a horse, as well as numerous other seemingly minor details that fans have noticed over the years, which upon further review, just don't add up.  We like continuity, we like plots that make sense and answers that make sense

What were we thinking?

Anyway, back to the episode. 

There were a few funny moments between House and Park and House and Wilson. But only a few. I remember the days when entire episodes were memorable, not just a few fleeting moments. 

It didn't surprise me that they glossed over Cuddy's departure so quickly and with less than a handful of words. I do not believe is is any bitterness on the part of Shore, Yaitanes or the writers, after all Lisa Edelstein and creator David Shore remain on great terms, as do Lisa and Hugh. It's possible that it may be either too early for House to delve into his feelings about Cuddy's departure. Given that House is a man of actions over words and not one to reveal his feelings, it is not surprising he had nothing to say about Cuddy's departure. Again with House, the look on his face speaks volumes more than words could ever relate. Also, perhaps nothing Shore and Co. could do would ever give Cuddy's departure justice (or good closure for fans) without Lisa E actually being an active part of it. Would we really have been happy at anything they did related to it? Probably not. (Hey look, I watched for House, Cuddy, and Wilson so my hope is Lisa eventually returns in some way to aid in House's redemption and give good closure to the series.)

As to the supporting cast, I thought Foreman's character was dry in the episode. Of course I haven't really liked Foreman for a few years now, he's just dull. Charlene Yi as Chi Park was dry, humorless and boring. Then there was Wilson. I love Wilson. How could you not? He's just so damn likeable even in the past eps where he gave House some bad advice! In this episode, Wilson looked older, a little more gray in the sideburns, and a little more pale. Not surprising, he also looked tired and sad. I liked to see the effects of losing his two best friends (House and Cuddy) had on him. Despite his friendly outgoing personality Wilson really has no friends and he must have been very lonely after Cuddy left and House went to prison.  Wilson is an enabler to House but he's also needy. The reason Wilson continues to go back to that friendship time and time again is because he needs to be needed by House and partly because of what happened when he turned his back on his schizophrenic brother. Remember the story? I think Wilson always felt guilty that he hung up on his brother, went to the library to study and never saw his brother again. I think Wilson may feel that if he truly turns his back on House like he did his brother, he'll never see him again. Some people found it odd that Wilson would punch House and then meet him for dinner at his apartment, thus resuming their dysfunctional friendship but knowing how needy Wilson is and how much House needs a friend right now, it's not surprising at all. The more I think about it the more it makes sense. But what won't make sense is if the friendship goes back to being what it used to be and conveniently forgets everything that has happened in the last couple of years. Their friendship can't ignore what's happened and I am hoping the characters are finally able to talk about it. House and Cuddy's relationship and everything that took place afterwards is going to be the huge elephant in the room until they do.

As to Gregory House, well, I miss the old House. The old Greg House was a cranky, misanthropic, self-centered jerk but he had this quality about him that made us all love him and root for him. The old House, despite all his crankiness was funny, witty, charming, and he made us want to see him win in the end. Rewatching episodes from Season 1 and 2 there is no doubt the bits of humanity that emanate from his character. The more I watch old episodes, the more clearly I see it. The new House though I fear will be quite different. He's still cranky, misanthropic and self-centered but now he's just mean. I know, I know we're only into episode 2, but my favorite character lacks the lovable quality he once had. House just doesn't seem fun anymore, he just seems a much darker, lonelier and bitter man who hates everyone, including himself.  If House didn't think he deserved happiness before, he definitely will not think so now. In fact, I see this House as doing everything he can to make himself miserable as a means of punishing himself and trying to live up to that crazy notion he's always had that he was never a good person and never deserving of anything good, ever.

I had hopes this episode would be intriguing but I wasn't excited that House was returning to PPTH without Cuddy and with Foreman as Dean and I wasn't intrigued by a pair of lungs in a box. In this episode, Hugh just didn't seem on his game which is odd because Hugh always puts everything he's got into his role. A lot has changed on set now that Lisa is gone and even though Hugh himself said "the show must go on" it must be pretty hard to resume the fun dynamic they had when she was a part of it. Remember the days when the two characters would banter with one another on screen, behind the scenes they were having a blast making those episodes. That is obviously changed now. I wonder to what extent?

In all fairness, perhaps Hugh intended his character to seem darker in this episode? After all, given everything House been through in the past year or so, he's just not the same guy, is he? He can't just go back to being the same House as he was in the old days. Maybe he was supposed to be subdued and just plain bitter. House is at a really low point in his life. He's sad, lonely, miserable and heartbroken. I can't help but feel for him despite all he's done. We all remember how hard it was for him to open up his heart one last time despite his fears of being hurt. But he had to do it, he wanted to take that chance. He did and unfortunately both his and Cuddy's fears eventually caused them to break up. Cuddy was the one woman he really loved who was his friend for more than 20 years. When he lost her as his girlfriend he lost more than that, he lost one of his oldest and dearest friends, his protector, his savior and the only person who could ever keep him in line. How could he not change after that? House may insist he's fine, he may avoid the subject of Cuddy and he may act as if everything is back to normal but for him it will never be like it once was. He has changed. He's just going to try his damndest not to show it because change scares the hell out of him.

David Shore insists people don't change and that's the basis of House's character, no matter how hard he tries he can't change. The thing is, he has changed. There's no way the House we see now is the same House of earlier seasons. How can House not change after everything he's been through in his life?  At his core he may be the same lonely misanthropic cranky jerk but House has in fact adapted to all of the events that have taken place in his life. Some of the ways he has adapted to change have been good, some not so good, but the fact remains he has adapted and no matter how you look at it, that is change.  The reason I loved this character is because I felt for him, I had hope for him. Over the last seven years House's humanity has been revealed to us and once we got a taste of it, we wanted more. We didn't mind him being a cranky pain in the ass because we just loved the guy. We loved him then and we want to love him now.

I miss the excitement I used to feel in anticipating new episodes of House. Past seasons had me on the edge of my seat during previews, anxiously engaged in spoiler discussions on my favorite House-related website in the days prior to the airing of new episodes and even on the night they aired. Trust me when I say I do feel a slight twinge of guilt that I now go to bed at 9 pm on Monday nights, no longer engage in the Monday night LiveJournal live "House" discussions choosing instead to download and watch the new episodes on iTunes the following morning.  You know how I feel about everything that happened last season and there's no point rehashing it.I still love Hugh, notwithstanding the House mess. The guy could make reading the ingredients on a cereal box an Emmy-worthy performance. But still, I miss my old show. Thank goodness for iTunes, DVD's and syndication!

Next week" House gets a haircut (thank God!) and Prison Break's Wentworth Miller stars as the patient of the week. Odette Annable returns as Dr. Jessica Adams, fresh from being fired at her job in prison and hoping to find work on House's team and Olivia Wilde returns in her last episode as"Thirteen". 

Oh yes one more thing. Recently I told you all recently my mom watched her first episode of [H]ouse ever---which happened to be the Season 8 opener. She happened to be tuned into Fox that night and so she watched. She loved it! I told her that she had to begin watching from the beginning of the series in order to really see it in its "heyday". Fortunately that same week, Cloo Channel (formerly Sleuth Channel) which airs House marathons on Wednesdays, went back to Season 1 and started at the beginning. Mom just finished her second week of watching and she's hooked. I'm glad. It's really a fantastic show. I'll never stop wishing last season had ended with "After Hours". So many great places they could have gone from that ending.


More next week.

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