by Za’chary Westbrook
4 out of 5
After many weeks of feet dragging, it seems House is finally pulling itself together and has delivered what is probably the best episode of the season. What is simultaneously both sad and awesome is that best-ness is all in the last ten minutes. I think we can all stop pretending that the medical mystery matters anymore. What drives the show is that the characters, particularly the patient of the week & friends, live in these patterns. Something in their normal lives is unhealthy, literally and figuratively. What we are tuning in for is seeing how disease disrupts their normal and brings the figurative unhealth into the light. That’s what fueled the first three seasons. Of course, this is most exciting when it’s the doctors we know and love, but they’ve been fairly well exhausted at this point (why do you think we’re looking to House for that, these days?).
So, House is running on the vapors of House and Cuddy’s relationship for drama, because Masters (Amber Tamblyn) certainly isn’t helping. Nevertheless, those fumes delivered this week. The patient of the week was uninspired. Former real estate agent turned crime scene scrubber due to the recession… has a genetic disorder. The trouble with medical mysteries is that you pretty much have to a medical degree to be able to make any kind of guess at the answer before the detective (which is the fun of a mystery). So, because the solution to a House mystery always feels like it came out of left-field to we laymen, this one felt especially obscure.
Running alongside this is House planning something special for Cuddy’s award reception. Everyone assumes he’s planning a prank (i.e. hiring a mariachi band because who in hell like mariachi music), but it turns out he really is trying to do something nice for her (i.e. hiring a mariachi band, because Cuddy apparently has the worst possible taste in music). So, when the two stories finally collide with House blaming himself for not saving the patient, it doesn’t have the power that it could.
To my mind, rather than robbing the final scene, with House telling Cuddy oh-so dramatically that loving her makes him a bad doctor, of it’s power, it’s the front end that falls flat. We’ve had seven years of House being a great doctor, we don’t need the episode to build us up to that moment. When House turns it all and says losing a patient or two is worth it to love Cuddy, that’s a moment informed by the entire freaking series. The fact that the episode itself didn’t really add much is a weakness in Acts 1-3, not the epilogue. So, it’s a mediocre episode with a dynamite epilogue. I can only assume that will end up being symbolic of this entire season.