by Za’chary Westbrook
4 out of 5
FALL FROM GRACE
We all bemoan the well-worn House formula to some extent. Two perfectly happy kids launching a rocket. One of them is going to sudden start seizing, right? Oh, they started a fire! One kids will get burned, the other starts running and sudden starts seizing, right? Oh, they lit a hobo on fire. Bazino Bazino, The Kid Whose Hair Is On Fire is going to turn out to be a genius fleeing his own fame or something, right?
This week is further proof that House is on its last leg. Not because its formula has reached pathetic, but because the writers are going nuts with it.
After last week’s dynamite decline and fall of the heart-broken House, I was really dreading this week. The decline and the mourning are dramatic and powerful, but we have to have Dr. Greg starting to bounce back which, of course, means outrageousness and, I at least, am more than a little tired of that. Seems the writers are, too. House deciding to punish Cuddy by unleashing all the juvenilia he’s been suppressing/masking for the last few months fizzles without much spark. The obvious dig of marrying the Russian immigrant was genuinely predictable (he spent last week plowing through the hottest tail-for-sale the east coast has to offer, it’s actually a fairly logical next step). Then the segue, flat screen, wedding in the hospital chapel, monster truck… who cares?
The most legitimately irritating thing he did was messing about with the helicopters in the lobby. The dullness of the pranks really hollowed out Wilson’s speeches to Cuddy. His argument that House needs boundaries makes sense when House is endangering patients and threatening to burn the hospital down. Seriously, he didn’t do one even remotely dangerous thing to the patient. All of his misbehavior was, at worst, a mild nuisance. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t love to see Gospaja House popping into the hospital for help understanding her new hubby.
I was prepared to give this episode three marks for being uninteresting without actually becoming dull. The sub-plot of House’s on-going post-break-up, over-hyphenated rebound was boring, but necessary and I really couldn’t think of a way to do it better. Mercy points for necessary evils. Then, there was the patient. Boxcar Jones, the Boxcar Benjamin Disraeli, refuses to give his name because his abusive pappy might be looking for him. He syncs his responses to the doctors to manipulate them into trusting him, which was either deeply sociopathic or a savvy hobo who knows how to get food. Then there were the bone chunks and the needing more meat, less veggies.
The writers tend to juxtapose the patient against whichever doctor is getting focus, emotionally speaking. See: last week. So, with House spiraling however superficially into conscious meaninglessness, it makes to have a patient embracing a second chance at meaning from God, post-O.D. This is the formula. Now, when Masters was having her last interview with Orphaned Reynaldo, the Child with Haunting Eyes, I was still pretty sure he was about to go all Ol’ Barb Stab-You-Quick on her. No joke, I really thought No-Banjo Burnes was going to suddenly introduce a sharp object into the girl genius’ throat right then and there.
Didn’t happen and I was thinking “Yep, three marks.” Then, the last thirty seconds took the episode to a whole different level. All the pieces were there and, in retrospect, it was a no-brainer. Yet, somehow those last three lines of dialogue, punctuated by Amber Tamblyn’s brilliant expression work, put the whole thing a stone’s throw from Keizer Soze.