Tuesday, April 10, 2012

[H]ouse, M.D. Episode 8x16 "Gut Check"

The episode title is "Gut Check" for a reason and it didn't hit me until I was writing this how that theme is interwoven in this episode. Mind you, I have not read any other reviews yet, I am going purely on my own "gut instinct" here in writing this. Also, I'm not giving the episode a rating, rather I'm just writing my perceptions of the plots we were given.

My perceptions

It seems as if House is still trying to teach Taub something about himself. House is trying to reinforce to Taub that he should trust no one and that he should go with his instincts, something I don't think Taub was able to do in the past because he was so unsure of himself.  House pushes him to be better than he is and that has helped Taub develop a tougher exterior, something Taub desperately needed.  

I think Taub has grown and changed (contrary to what Shore wants us to believe, people do change!). I remember the days when Taub wasn't so sure of himself. He left the team but returned because he believed what they did mattered. He did it because he wanted to do something more meaningful with his life and he wanted to make a difference. In the past Taub a very insecure man with no  backbone but now I see him having developed into someone who really can stand on his own and is not afraid to stand up for himself. Time and time again we see him standing up to House. House helped make him that way. 

When House is in the MRI machine he tells Taub he's seeing things that are not there. Again, he is pushing Taub to go with his gut. Taub seems very sure of himself. House tells him he sees what he wants to see. I see this as a test. Taub can either go with his gut or he can believe someone else.  

Later, the two have words about Taub's lack of objectivity. Taub wants to be pulled from the case. 

Taub: "You relentlessly mock but not for self-aggrandisement. Ideas are bigger than feelings." 

House: "Here's some ideas.You screwed up, kept on screwing up, everything you said is true except it doesn't mean you walk away, you just learn to trust nothing, everything you think you feel, everything you think you know. Question every call, play through every whistle."

This is as gold a teaching moment as it gets with House. 
It's true that House doesn't put much into feelings, the last time he did that he sabotaged the best relationship he'd ever hope to have with a woman, specifically Cuddy. He opened himself up, or at least he thinks he opened up, and look where feelings got him. Funny thing is if he really had opened himself up the way he should have, he and Cuddy would likely still have been together. House doesn't put much into words or feelings, actions and ideas matter. Aside from that, House knows being personally involved or having feelings when trying to solve a puzzle does not work. He knows you cannot be objective when trying to save someone's life.

Again House is trying to get the message through that you can't be objective and be a good doctor of you can relate to the patient's experiences or if you like them.
The gut check: Taub realizes that his objectivity and caring about the patient got in the way of the diagnosis. As House says, trust no one, trust nothing. Taub has an idea, a gut instinct, runs with it and solves the case.

House has played numerous pranks on Wilson in the past but this wasn't a typical prank, in fact I didn't see it as a prank at all. He didn't do it to hurt Wilson or play a stupid joke, it was more serious than that. It was House's way of trying to show Wilson (granted in a very unorthodox yet Houseian way) that Wilson really doesn't want to be a dad, nor is he ready for the commitment. Wilson was going against the grain here, against everything he knows is true about himself. He's trying to convince himself that he wants to be a parent because society has conditioned him to believe he should be a parent. Clearly he's not ready for it, just the look on his face when Duncan wants to hang out with him that first night, he hesitated. He's not used to having to put aside his own wants and needs for someone else.

Wilson realizes maybe this could be okay with this.
House: "Every little girl wants a pony until they have to clean up after it."

Wilson: "You think I'm going to quit on this, on an eleven year old."

House: "The only relationship you haven't quit on has been with me."

Wilson: "Hmm a needy, truculent, narcissist, I think it's been perfect training for parenthood."

House: "That's not even close, this is the rest of your life, you screw this up you don't get to run away, you get to ruin both your lives, this is a bigger responsibility than anything you've ever taken on and screwed up."

Wilson: "I know, that's why I'm so excited about it."

House knows Wilson, probably better than Wilson knows himself. 

After finding out the kid and his mother will be moving to Costa Rica, he talks to House about it.

Wilson: "His mother is moving to Costa Rica and he asked if he could move in with me and I said yes. I said yes knowing I'm not remotely ready for that, knowing he's not ready to be separated from his mother. This isn't  the act of a mature rational adult. I can't do this House....You were right, this is life, it's real, it just doesn't go away."

Of course then the ruse is revealed.

The gut check: Wilson thinks he wants a child because at this point in his life he believes he should have been married and settled down with a family, it's what we're all conditioned to believe. There is also the fact that Wilson's only brother Danny in a mental institution and Wilson feels guilty and somewhat responsible to carry on the family name. All of the sudden he's presented with a son and he doesn't really  have a choice in the matter. It seems so easy to him at first, the kid is nice, they like the same things, it's working out. But being nice to the kid and opening his life up to him he's not doing what he wants, he's doing what he thinks he wants, what he thinks he's supposed to do because he doesn't have a choice. Eventually he realizes he's not ready for this, he's not ready to change his life, and not ready to change that kid's life. When he finds out he doesn't have a son, he's pissed off at House but it doesn't last long. He's actually relieved and in the end he moves on with his life very easily, it's just another night of pizza and beer with House.

I enjoyed the storyline with Park and Chase. Park has a family that cares about her, when she goes home she's not alone. She bitches about her family all the time. Meanwhile both of Chase's parents are dead, his sister is an alcoholic and they don't keep in touch. His only marriage didn't last more than a few months. His other relationships outside the hospital have consisted of numerous one-night stands that meant nothing and left him empty. I liked the conversation in the elevator between the two of them:

Park: "This is about Popo. You're jealous of me, my family."

Chase: "Maybe you've got too much and I've got too little."

Park: "I might sleep with you after all." which is Park's way of telling Chase she likes him.

Of course, when Chase told House he was trying to do something nice for Park, House was onto him because nothing is motivated out of wanting to be nice. Could House be right? Did Chase actually have another motive?

The gut check:  Park realizes she's fortunate to still have a family around to care about her. In helping Park realize the error of her ways, Chase does something nice for a woman without expecting sex in return.

Taub has the most interaction with the POTW, a hockey player who is really more of a brute enforcer than an actual player. Taub initially tells the hockey player that fighting cheapens the sport and the patient replies that he takes the hit for the smaller guys. That's when Taub changes his tune, he likes the patient because he stands up to bullies and when House shows the video of the incident, Taub sides with the patient.  House knows that Taub has lost his objectivity. It's obvious again when Taub sees the patient sitting on the floor in his room, obviously emotionally distressed. Taub thinks it is a sign of depression due to physical trauma to the head whereas House thinks it's because he realizes that if he can't be an enforcer, his playing days are over.

Later, Taub asks the patient if he enjoys being part of the game, then admits to the patient he had his own plastic surgery practice making lots of money but he wasn't happy because it wasn't why he went to med school. The patient tells him that when he was a kid he loved playing and dreamed of being Mario Lemieux but eventually when he stopped growing his juniors hockey coach told him if he wanted to stay in the game he had to use his size to the best of his ability, which meant using brute force rather than skill.  All he wanted to do was play hockey so he was willing to do whatever it took to just be part of the game. It reminded me of Taub, who for years, stuck with a profession he wasn't happy with just to be a part of the game. (Remember the episode way back when Rachel chastised Taub about having left his own lucrative plastic surgery practice to be--in so many words---a lackey for House?)

At one point the patient is ready to call it quits with the game:

POTW: "You know the best part of my day is when I'm sitting in that penalty box after I beat someone up. It's the only time I know I'm safe. Think Lemieux ever felt that way? I'm not going back."

Taub: "To hockey?"

POTW: "To enforcing. Whatever that costs."

Later Taub is talking to the patient after confirming the diagnosis and starting the treatment.  The patient has changed his mind.

POTW: "Just got the call, three year deal $1.2 million."

Taub: "What about the flooded backyard, pretending to be Lemieux?"

POTW: "That's why I took it, after all I did to get here, half a dream is better than nothing. Maybe my new coach will see what my juniors coach didn't."

Taub: "That'd be nice." 

You get the idea here he doesn't believe it will actually happen. It's been Taub's experience that if you stay in the same place, hoping to move, it isn't going to happen. No, you've got to just take the chance and do it yourself. That's what Taub did and he's a better person for it.

The gut check: Taub was once the patient, he was the guy who was willing to accept half a dream versus not having it at all. It just reinforces to him that he did the right thing and continues to do so, by sacrificing a lot of money and prestige to do what he really wants to do with his life.


It would have been really interesting to see a real "Wilson has a son" storyline, imagine how Wilson's life would really have to change if he had a son he didn't know about. He would trade in his comfy bachelorhood and hanging out with House in order to be a mature adult and role model. That would have been a big change for Wilson and House as well. How would they have dealt with it?

I've been asking the question "Why aren't they delving deeper?" of the last several episodes and I've come to the conclusion that there must be something more that we're not seeing. We think that what we're being presented with is what House should be dealing with but it isn't. Whatever "epiphany" House is going to have has nothing to do with the green card wife, Chase nearly being killed, finding out Thomas Bell isn't his biological father, and playing pranks on Wilson. Though those episodes are important, it's not for the reasons we think.

This season on the surface has not been powerful as past seasons and so I am disappointed for that, for a variety of reasons. The added cast has not added value to the show, the missing cast has taken value from the show. I do think the show is still flawed and I blame that on its creator David Shore because he approves everything that is aired. However, I hold out hope that my friend Anne is right and there is a deeper thread involved here.

It all remains to be seen.

What's to come?

I've seen the previews for episode 8x17 "We Need The Eggs" and I do not think the episode is meant to be about House finding a new "favorite hooker" as much as it is more of an exploration of something deeper about House's character.  I've seen the press release for 8x18 "Body and Soul" and I also think the same message will be present. In that episode we are told "Dominika discovers a secret which could ruin her relationship with House." There are speculations on the "secret" and it is likely to be something about him or the sham marriage but not directly related to her. My hope is that this episode is the last for her character and we can move on. On the surface her presence has served no purpose so one has to wonder why Shore brought her back after ensuring fans he was not revisiting the storyline. I'd like to think that like the other episodes the underlying theme may be present. 

After we trudge through #18, we'll be moving into #19 directed by Hugh Laurie and the beginning of the four-episode arc leading to the finale. In this episode House and Wilson take a road trip, that's all we know now.

To the powers that be I say: Something needs to happen soon! Ratings are down and fans are at their wit's end. While it should have started much sooner but better late than never--it's TIME for the meaning of House's journey to finally be unveiled from cryptic messages to something tangible. We need to believe it. Make this count. It's been eight years. You owe it to the characters, the show, the people who have worked so hard behind the scenes and most of all the fans.

Here's the "I couldn't have done it without you guys" part of this post. Why? Because they have kept me grounded during the best and worst of plots and storylines!

I want to thank Anne for her brilliant ideas and analysis as well as Max and Kate for theirs and for the three of them being so willing to discuss some things which are woven into my last few paragraphs.

Thank you to Veronique, Gaia, Mila, Mindy, Beth, Ana & Ana, Alta, Tammy, Zosia, Rochelle, and Amy for always being willing (okay sometimes not-so-willing!) participants in the discussions.

Thank you to Maya, Meg, Elisa, and Katie for making me laugh with your rants!

Thank you to Michelle for being smart enough to stay away until you read the rants! LOL


  1. Anonymous4/10/2012

    I have always disagreed with the idea that Wilson doesn't need House for anything. Wilson needs House for something more grave than anyone else: His identity. Wilson's relationships always start with the sick/needy and then fall apart when the when they are healed or they grow independent, Wilson can't remain faithful, but must move on. Why? Because his identity is built as a caregiver. He didn't like whoe he was when he stopped being a caregiver to Danny, and he certainly didn't like the results. Since then, he has defined himself by that trait. House will never stop being needy so Wilson feels safe and unafraid.

    I also disagree with the common feeling that House revealed to Wilson that he wasn't ready to be a father, that perhaps he didn't really want to be a dad. What was revealed is that Wilson is afraid of being a dad - because he doesn't want to screw up. He doesn't want to permanently damage a child and he's afraid he will: A common and reasonable fear with any parent.

    What we have is the continuation of the idea that fear is the greatest bully of all. It keeps you in the game, you can even justify it as having a greater purpose, but in the end it leaves you with half your dream.

    Too much family or too little family? In the end, you still want a family. What family will you fight for and what will you settle for?

    The ideas that what you think you know, you don't, what you believe is true is not, and what you know is not real have been recurring and in abundance this season. I believe this episode does mark the start of a House epiphany that will continue this theme in the character of House. In the end, it won't be an exploration of the obvious mantras, either.

    Anne (MystryGAB)

  2. Dahling, this is very thoughtful analysis of the episode. You clearly went to a lot of trouble (more than the show did) to make the connections. And to clarify same. Thank you so much for this.

    I still wish Wilson had cracked House over the head with a saucepan in that last scene. My two francs.

  3. Aww thanks guys. I owe some of my hindsight in the last few paragraphs of my post to Anne & Co. We've been discussing a few ideas.

    The idea that people don't change is pretty much tossed out at this point. Taub has clearly evolved (I actually liked him in this ep too), Chase has clearly changed. Wilson tries to change but his identity is tied up in House (as Anne mentioned) finally, has House changed? I think so. I think we don't get to see more than fleeting glimpses usually given to us in the form of House's facial expressions, especially the eyes. When he was talking to Taub in his office, you could see he actually cared. Also in the elevator with Wilson, he got serious a moment talking to Wilson, you could tell he cared.

    I believe House does care, he just doesn't know how to show it so does it the best way he can, which others don't get, but some do. Taub sees right through him. :)

  4. Anonymous4/10/2012

    Jess! Thank you very much. It's very interesting.
    One more thing:I don't think that from this situation Wilsin really might learn that he isn't ready to be a parent.
    I guess: every persone would afraid if some 11 years old child want to live in their house. Even if he declare that he is your son it not means you will immediately feel good and wold wish to chang your life because of this little stranger.
    But it's not a model of real parenting.It doesn't work same way. It's impossible to compare to feelings that father has when he see his child born, when he loves mother of this child. So why this so strange and not normal situation with "son" have to show to us and to Wilason that he is not ready to be a parent. I think if House wanted to make some example he didn't sucsess at all.

    Mila aka @yahnis14

  5. Mila, loved your comment, and don't worry about your English! You did just fine.

  6. Anonymous4/11/2012

    I just couldn't get over the feeling during the entire episode, that Wilson should have seen the "lesson" coming. I was so distracted by that thought, that I really don't remember the rest of the episode!

    Wilson's known House for that long...and yet...he was never even suspicious that this might be one of House's little tricks?

    What I have to say Jess, with complete and total gratitude...is that I loved what you said here: "Something needs to happen soon! Ratings are down and fans are at their wit's end. While it should have started much sooner but better late than never--it's TIME for the meaning of House's journey to finally be unveiled from cryptic messages to something tangible. We need to believe it. Make this count. It's been eight years. You owe it to the characters, the show, the people who have worked so hard behind the scenes and most of all the fans."

    There is no way that I could ever say it better...and i want to thank you for saying it for all of us who feel the same!


  7. I didn't want you to think I hadn't read this, Jess. I did and it's great. Very thoughtful.
    My only response would be: So what?
    So what if House was trying to teach Taub a lesson? He's done it many times before and frankly, I'm not invested in that relationship because it has no emotional content.
    As for Taub, are we really rehashing his career again? What about the fact that his wife left him? That he has two babies? That he can't keep his pecker in his pants? :) But the writers don't want to explore these issues because they require thought, not the easy button.
    Likewise with Wilson: House and Wilson complete each other? No shit. House only plays cruel tricks to prove how much he loves him? No shit again.
    Again, it's all just rehashed platitudes to me. (This prank on House's part was particularly cruel and bordering on abusive. But then again, we already know he's an abuser.)
    I do find it funny that they mocked the broad emotional strokes of Two and a Half Men (which I've never watched) last season, because to me, the show has all the depth of a sitcom this season.
    We keep trying to ascribe depth that simply isn't there.
    So there's my two cents. (Ahem.)
    (This harshness is in no way directed at you, BTW. As always, I love and admire your optimism.)

  8. We've seen it all before haven't we? The same stories rehashed. It's why I couldn't rate the episode as I normally do, I just chose to go with the the title and see how it applied to the plots/subplots. I didn't take it personally Max, no worries there. You know that I feel exactly as you do in this. I'm very frustrated. I'm craving something deeper and worried we're not going to get it. TPTB have incredible talent there, we know that David Shore and the writers, producers and directors have given us excellence in the past (we've SEEN it!) and Hugh, Robert, Omar and Jesse are fantastic and when given the right stuff, they are phenomenal.

    TPTB spoiled us. We once saw greatness and craved more. To see this just makes me shake my head and wonder what in hell is going on in David Shore's head.

    XO's to all of ya for commenting!


  9. hey Jess, thanks for your thoughts on the episode, it really helped understanding a couple of things I didn't get (and YES, I still have problems understanding what they say, couldn't they all just speak Italian, for God's sake?!? LOL!)
    I am glad TPTB somehow menaged to deliver an episode which has been food for thoughts for some of us (sad to think that it was normal House standard, once)
    Anyway, you remind me of a friend of mine, House fan and fanfiction writer, who just never loses her optimism. Mind you, I guess she's honestly a bit delusional right now, whereas I think you're not :)
    So well, I kept on hoping something would change and some sort of meaning would be unfold to us, as a sort of reward for being such loyal, faithful fans. I think what really spoiled me here, first 5 seasons aside, was the surprise finale in Help Me. Those three final, amazing minutes had such bad influence on my mood in the last couple of years. Because ever since 7x04, but let's say Bombshells, I kept believing (how stupid, how naive!) that at some point they would have rescued the show somehow, just like they did in Help Me, and that House and Cuddy would be back together (because, seriously?!), that Cuddy would have come back, that all the most important storylines would have made sense, would have had their closure. Instead I got Dominika. Instead I got House's mother passing by, saying 'hello, I'm not as boring as you thought!' to disappear again. And his father not being his father and since we don't have enough time now, thinking of it, who cares about House's father? His mother is just so cool! She took acids when she was a hippie in the 60's!! I got offense and disrespect towards one of the PILLARS of this frigging show, and mind you - don't you DARE say her name, and aknowledge her importance to the show. She never existed. Got it? She's just a weird product of our fantasy. Duh. There's just House, and Wilson (who's OBNOXIOUS as far as I am concerned, at the moment), and a whole army of hookers. Oh, and the team.
    Don't get me started on Park and Adams (or whatever she's called).
    I know we agree and have the same opinion about it all... the only difference is that now I am sure that nothing is going to change... I have lost my hope, I am just so disappointed. I am waiting for no more than crap and utter rubbish for the series finale. And we know it is going to be 100% a sad ending, because otherwise how could the lovely David Shore be proud of his product and his FRIGGING USELESS mantras? I am frustrated because I have seen quality, in this show, I have felt actual emotions, fell in love with an amazingly layered character, and I am left with hookers, fake attempts at giving some of the BASIC answers all fans are waiting for, and pranks. But maybe I am getting used to it: so please, TPTB, I don't want quality for these last few episodes: it would be such a shock and it would open some really bad wounds. Let's stick with the shit, OK?
    (Drama queen much?)

    Gaia xx