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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

House is "Moving On"

House, M.D.: Season Seven     FOX's House season seven finale cannot be said to end on a boring note. With a framework story of Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) talking to the cops, the story builds to a big finish. House (Hugh Laurie), a patient himself after attempting to do surgery on his own leg, directs his team to treat a performance artist (the great Shohreh Aghdashloo). As the doctors research the artist, they discover she knows she has a terminal illness, and is faking symptoms to make her case more attractive to Dr. House, all the while filming the procedure to make another artistic piece. House is fine with that, but when he diagnoses the artist with something non-fatal, and she decides to do risky brain treatment because of love, House grows angry. He takes her choice personally, feeling all that he has is his work, and he thinks he has a kindred spirit in her. Soon after, House sees Cuddy with another man, and drives his car full speed into her dining room, hence the frame story.


     There is much speculation as to if House really did drive his car into Cuddy's home, or if it is another Vicodin-induced hallucination. After all, Wilson comments that House takes almost a month worth of the medicine in just three days, and House has visions because of the drugs before. But there do not seem to be any hints or clues in the episode that point to the stunt as not being real. Hence, for now at least, it appears to happen.

      What is most surprising is House's utter lack of concern for people he has previously shown to care about. He does order Wilson out of the car beforehand, but doesn't pay much attention as Wilson hurts his arm getting out of the way. When House last looks through the window, Cuddy and her guests are sitting right where he plows his car. What if they didn't move? He would have killed four people. House is self-destructive, but rarely shows so little regard for life, and especially for Cuddy.

     But is it really out of character? This might just be the result of the good doctor finally snapping. Pressure is building, and with feeling betrayal first by Cuddy, then the patient, House may not be able to take anymore. He has done some crazy things in the past, and while this may be a new level for him, he does have pent up feelings and a drug problem. Those two elements might explain why he would act in this manner.

     Is there a hint when Wilson tells House to let out his anger so he will feel better? House is shown at the end sitting on a beach, having a drink and smiling. Could this be a result of letting his emotions out, finally finding relief, rather than keeping them bottled up? Is he "Moving On," as the episode title suggests? Is he smiling at the fantasy of driving a car into a house? The House that has delighted TV audiences for the past seven years is not so cruel as to delight in others' pain. The whole situation is very confusing.

     Which is why judgement should be reserved. The House writers have proven themselves time and again over seven seasons, and the series always manages to come up with something exciting and true to the characters. With such an unfinished ending, there is obviously more to what happens than seen at first glance. I, for one, trust the scribes to come up with something plausible and satisfying as the story moves forward from this point.

     As this season is already announced as Lida Edelstein's last, the car stunt may be a convenient way to write her off  the series. After being assaulted so directly by House, it is no wonder the character would not want to stick around. By the time next season begins, she may easily have moved away to put some distance between her and this crazy man. Their relationship, a long time coming, is sadly over, probably for good. She will be "Moving On," too.

     The patient of the week is a gripping, though not unusual, story for House. Aghdashloo takes the acting to a higher caliber than most guest stars because of her immense talent. But the mystery, while contrived, a neat twist ,is no greater than many other patients'. As such, the actress at the center of the story can be credited for much of the wonderfulness of the plot.

     As usual, the patient speaks to what House is going through. Dr. House has an uncanny ability to pick the patients he needs, not just the patients that need him. When choosing the performance artist, he needs justification for his life, the way he is, and his inability to change, as he sometimes wants to do. The fact that the patient completely surprises him sets him off. Perhaps there is more going on here than surface. Maybe House really does, at least subconsciously, surround himself with those who match his mindset or the situation his personal life is in, or help or fascinate him in some way. He thinks he has the perfect candidate here, and after she tricks him, he doesn't trust himself anymore. His judgment is skewed.

     The only subplot of significance is that of Taub (Peter Jacobson), who the writers have been especially generous to lately. Taub avoids Rachel's (Jennifer Crystal) calls, as she is his soon to be ex-wife, whom he is still very fond of, and isn't sure how to break the news to Rachel that the object of his fling is now pregnant. And that is all this new girl is to Taub - a fling. She may be carrying his child, and that may make Taub determined to force a relationship that isn't there for the sake of the kid, but he is not shown to especially care about her in the series at this point. By contrast, Taub cares a great deal about Rachel, and while his avoidance may seem cowardly, he genuinely does want to spare her feelings.

     And then Rachel shows up to drop the bombshell. She, too, is pregnant. By the look on her face, a baby makes a difference in her relationship with Taub, and she is there to take him back. Despite all of the things the pair have gone through, they are going to be parents, and that matters more than the rest of it. That tune may quickly change when the other woman enters the picture. Taub can't keep one of his children a secret. If he has to choose, he will pick Rachel. But he can't just abandon his other kid, either. This is a messy, complicated situation that guarantees Taub continued focus next season.


     House will return for its eighth, and likely final, season next fall on FOX, sans series regular Lisa Edelstein. Be sure to tune in!

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     To purchase House DVDs and streaming episodes, please click here.

Article first published as TV Review: House - "Moving On" on Blogcritics.

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