by Za’chary Westbrook
4 out of 5
Despite some moments of pure magic tonight, it’s all evened out to a fairly average episode. Now, by average, I mean an average level of entertainment. The delivery and construction was decidedly out of the mold, which was nice. The story itself is typically House-having-feelings, but changing up how a typical story is told is just as good as telling a new story in a typical way. Of course, it’s cool to see an unusual story told in an unusual way, but that tends to be over-egging the narrative pudding. So, uninspired story with well-executed structure gets 4 marks.
Of course, as the title suggests, there are actually two stories. Not that that’s unusual for House. In this case, we have the story of House’s usual socially retarded methods for solving an otherwise simple problem, in one corner. In the other, we have a wonderfully juvenile love story between two 5th graders.
Both House and the young lovers wind up in line to see the principal and get to swapping stories (*meh*) in a highly confrontational way (*YES!*). The thing that sets the soap opera elements of House apart from, say, Grey’s Anatomy is that they actually make sense in a world where people don’t spend half their day staring off into space dramatically. Also, when the fireworks go off at Princeton Planesborough, the argument itself is just as, if not more, interesting as the conflict underlying it. Basically, House has good fights. House fighting with sassy 5th graders is bloody fantastic.
What is House’s “drama”? He used Cutty’s toothbrush and generally slacks in domestic upkeep. He’s a fifty-year-old bachelor. It’s no surprise, but Cutty can’t deal with that and wants some space. So, House wants to find some grand gesture to make up for it. The logical thing to do, of course, is steal her laptop and discover that she didn’t get Baby Cutty into the primo preschool. So, House gently deposits the laptop in the garbage, tracks down a fellow doctor who has connections to said school and asks for the favor Cutty won’t. The favor means House has to stand in for connected Doctor at career day.
Which leads us to House imposing himself and Foreman into the “Did I break your concentration?” scene of Pulp Fiction. Again, absolutely brilliant. Not because it was particularly emotional or insightful or a big development; it was just awesome seeing Hugh Laurie doing Samuel L. Jackson levels of badass. The only thing that could’ve made it better was if he’d dropped into his British accent.
Again, the story is mediocre, but the structure, which bounces around through time, as the 5th graders pry various pieces of information from him is awesome. Then, there’s the story within the story where House is treating an undergrad who coughed up a chunk of dead lung tissue. This is the story House tells the kids for career day.
On the one hand, this was a very fun episode that proves House has a bit more life in it (a fact that teasing us with Olivia Wilde’s credit would dispute). However, they aren’t going to find 24 more unusual story-telling structures and, the truth is, that that is what it would take to justify an eighth season. I’m glad to see House picking itself up from the grind of its mid-season episodes, but I just hope it’s picking itself up for a bow and not a run at Season 8.