TV Review: House – "Human Error"

The third season finale of House falls somewhere between the brilliant re-examination of its main character in season two’s “No Reason” and the anticlimax of “Honeymoon” as a finale after the spectacular “Three Stories” in season one. But I loved the confirmation of and justification for House’s bastardliness, elevating this episode above most others of the season for me.

“Human Error” is part cliffhanger, part character study, answering the question: is House hiding a heart of gold? The answer, of course, is no. No, he’s really, really not, and he’s had enough of the people around him thinking he is.

Written by Thomas L. Moran and Lawrence Kaplow — in his final script for the show he’s been with since the beginning — this episode is almost an answer to “No Reason,” where House realized that his reliance on rationality over empathy has negative consequences. Yet his actions throughout this season would indicate that he hasn’t changed his behaviour after that epiphany. Why? Because he is not empathetic, not caring, not interested in seeing his patients’ life stories as anything other than case histories, and not prepared to change his personality while he changes guitars and employees.

“Human Error” is a rematch of sorts in another sense. It’s “House vs. God” take two, as the “atheist”-who’s-mad-at-God House does battle with the deity over credit as the saviour of the well-named Marina, plucked from the ocean. It’s an amusing spin on the God complex that doctors — especially fictional ones — display.

We meet Marina shivering in a rescue helicopter as her husband Esteban is making rescue attempts difficult by grasping a large suitcase. The Coast Guard seems to read from the same playbook as House, doing what he must to save the dying — he dunks Esteban into the ocean until he loses consciousness and his grip on the suitcase, which contained Marina’s medical records.

Esteban is a mechanic, the guy who can fix anything, except his wife. For that, he turned to House, his love for her not letting a pesky thing like geography get in his way.

It’s a story that would melt even the coldest heart, right? Have you met Dr. House?

House is still struggling with Foreman’s decision to quit, alternately stalking him at his going away party (wearing his trucker hat disguise, declaring himself “Best in Show”) and verbally patting him on the head at every turn.

Wilson: He thinks you’re a cold-hearted bastard with no regard for anyone else. You have to show him you care. You are not good with change.

House: I didn’t used to be, but I changed.

Wilson: He’s not afraid to be you; he’s afraid to be who he thinks you are.

House seems to perversely take that as a dare from one of the few people he does seem to have genuine regard for (very occasionally), perhaps to prove that it is Wilson, Chase, and Cuddy who have the mistaken impression of the real House, not Foreman. House is flummoxed by the Foreman issue because Foreman wants the one thing House cannot give him — an apology for or denial of who he really is.

Chase lectures House on the same topic, and even yells at his boss, but House is at a loss how to keep Foreman around. “Foreman’s not as easy as Cameron. But then, who is?” Director (and executive producer) Katie Jacobs does a hilarious quick pan to a previously unseen Cameron sitting at the conference table. “I’m in the room,” glowers the woman whose departure was remedied with a date from House.

Esteban is frustrated that House himself has not seen Marina. “I came 1,000 miles to see him,” he complains to Chase.

“He doesn’t care. I’m sorry, but that’s who he is. That’s who you risked your life to see,” Chase says, adding: “And you made the right choice.”

That bit of insight might have helped cushion the blow when House abruptly fires Chase when he approaches him to explain more calmly his frustration over House’s dealings with Foreman.

“Because you’ve been here the longest, learned all you can,” House explains. “Or you haven’t learned anything at all. Either way, it’s time for a change.” It’s safe to say House doesn’t care whether it’s time for a change for Chase, but rather that he’s the one who wants the change. Take that, Wilson.

Chase has grown considerably in the last half of this season. He’s gone from barely existing in much of the first half of season — down to the character’s remarked-on but never explained disappearance midway through “Que Sera Sera” — to asserting himself as the persistent but not stalkery wooer of Cameron and conscience of House.

Without that growth, it would be inconceivable to imagine the Chase who betrayed House in order to keep his job, who was double dipping shifts to earn extra money, could possibly be the same Chase who’s so accepting of House’s snap decision to fire him because “change is good.” It’s still easy to think he’s in shock and hasn’t fully processed the change yet.

Foreman wonders if House is lashing out at Chase in lieu of himself, and Cameron puzzles over how to make sense out of this seemingly senseless act. “He always makes sense,” she asserts.

Instead of giving him the results of Marina’s PET scan, they confront a cane-guitar playing House over his actions before Wilson and Cuddy storm in for the same reason. “I told you to show Foreman you had a heart,” Wilson protests. “How does that translate into ‘fire Chase’?”

House is unmoved, even cruelly toying with Chase to get the results of the PET scan out of the one obedient — if no longer employed — employee.

Foreman retaliates by giving the still-House-seeking Esteban House’s home number. Which is something, as Cameron points out, makes Foreman not so unlike House despite his protests. And yet, when Marina’s heart stops during an angiogram, House refuses to consider the only likely option: human error, Foreman’s error. However, it’s not another example of deference to his exiting employee, but his refusal to pick the most likely but least satisfying explanation.

Marina’s heart stops but her mouth doesn’t, and House is more intrigued by the fact that she continued to speak while having no pulse than the dire fact that she continues to have no pulse. Rather than put her on bypass until he can figure out this new mystery, fearing a potentially deadly blood clot, he gets his remaining team to perform CPR. This is not House’s most stellar moment in labour relations. If he’s not treating his team as disposable, he’s treating them as machines. Very high tech machines.

In an amusing scene reminiscent of his interesting teaching methods in “Three Stories,” House quizzes Cuddy’s medical students for possibilities other than human error. One, very Cameron-like — smart, quick to regroup, and a pretty, long-haired brunette — suggests a tainted Botox injection, which he rejects for obvious reasons. But then he calls “send me a resume” even before knowing he might need a Cameron replacement after all.

And he’s still avoided talking to Esteban about what’s going on with his wife, not out of early-Cameron-like hesitance to share bad news, but perpetual-House-like indifference to the emotional impact on the patient and family. He has no facts, therefore he has nothing to tell the husband.

Esteban came 1,000 miles to see House, though, so the few extra feet to his office aren’t an obstacle. “How do you fix something if you don’t look at it?” he demands of the doctor who still hasn’t examined his wife. Good question, and I like the metaphoric possibilities as well. Though it’s hard to say if House is fixing his life by examining it.

Even examining her heart during the bypass surgery doesn’t yield any clues, though, and House discovers that her heart can’t be restarted. She is, in effect, dead, kept on the machine only so the husband can say goodbye.

Still, House stalls, wanting to solve the case even if it’s too late to save the patient.

“How can we tell him there’s no hope when we don’t know why there’s no hope?” he asks a doubting Foreman. “If he pulls the plug it means he’s failed.”

“If he pulls the plug, it means you’ve failed,” Foreman counters.

“And you’re OK with that?”

In other words, the differing perspectives are meaningless. Whether the motivation to solve the mystery, even if it’s too late, is to give the husband some certainty before pulling the plug, or to give House some certainty before giving up, the outcome is the same.

“I don’t care. I really don’t care. My motives are pure,” House explains to Cuddy after she attempts to get him to admit that he wants a storybook ending for his ocean-crossed lovers. He isn’t ready to let go of the mystery because, unlike the patient they lost in “Family,” thanks to the bypass machine there is a chance he doesn’t have to conduct an autopsy to make the diagnosis.

His patient isn’t the only one with the cold, dead heart. House really is that heartless, that the story of a young couple risking their lives to see him doesn’t move him. They’re just another day on the job, just another case to be solved, and, to hear him tell it, that’s a good thing, letting his determination be based on rationality rather than emotion.

In some ways, the series has proven to us again and again that House possesses the perfect confluence of traits to allow him to do his specialized job so well. His lack of caring means he’s not distracted by pesky emotions. His addictive personality makes him “jones” for a medical mystery, as Foreman puts it, gives him the insatiable desire to solve the case.

But his night at the office yields no further clues, and he finally approaches the husband to advise turning off the bypass machine. He finds the purported atheist in the chapel. “I promised my wife I’d do everything I can,” Esteban explains. “If I don’t pray, then I don’t do everything.” Seems rational enough.

What doesn’t is the fact that Marina’s heart continues to beat after the machine is turned off. “Holy crap,” House says when she wakes up, giving a plaintive shrug up to the heavens. The God he doesn’t believe in is making House look bad. Esteban has apparently converted from House worship to another kind of belief: “God sent her back to me. It’s a miracle.”

“How come God gets credit whenever something good happens?” House grumbles to the remnants of his team. “What if it wasn’t human error? Maybe it was God’s error — a congenital defect.”

He needs his powers of persuasion and manipulation to convince the happy and highly photogenic couple that Marina’s apparent good health is a temporary state, and they should submit to the same test that stopped her heart in the first place. Esteban points out that House was wrong about there being no hope for his wife when they pulled the plug.

“My mistakes don’t prove there’s a God. You came a long way to see me. Are you going to put her life in God’s hands or mine?” It’s a similar argument to the season one “Damned if you Do,” which was the first episode to suggest that House is not quite a devout atheist himself.

Well, sure, since they came all that way, why not trust the man who’s admitted he’s wrong a lot? But they do, because doctors trump miracles for nuns and recent converts alike.

“I better not see you praying,” House jokes to Esteban during the procedure. “I don’t want to have to fight for credit on this.”

House’s prediction turns out to be accurate, and his acute powers of deduction solved the case again. One more operation, and Marina will be fine.

“Thank God,” she says.

“Don’t make me slap you,” he retorts, and suddenly I can see a little Jackie Gleason in the very un-Jackie-Gleason-ish Hugh Laurie.

So House fixes what God breaks. That’s pretty heady stuff. No wonder everyone — including House himself — is so enamoured with the dark-humoured doctor. Everyone except Foreman.

At the last possible moment, House finally admits he wants Foreman to stay, that he needs him. But he fails at showing he cares for either Foreman or his patients, and because of that, experiences a rare failure in his attempts to persuade or manipulate.

“I don’t want to solve cases, I want to save lives,” declares the unmoved Foreman.

“Do you think she cares? Do you think the husband cares? Do you think the children she can now have because of me are going to care why I saved her? You’re the selfish bastard, not me,” oh-so-tactful but not irrational House counters.

“Nice try,” Wilson the observer says after Foreman exits, supposedly never to return.

“Nice tries are worthless,” is House’s disgusted reply.

The scene reminded me of the first season speech he gave at Vogler’s insistence. House cannot be who he is not, and there’s something noble in the fact that he won’t try to be, either. That’s why it’s been such a brick wall for him to manipulate Foreman into staying — he hit on the one thing House can’t and won’t change: who he is. And who he is is someone who doesn’t generally give a damn and doesn’t want to pretend he does.

House doesn’t seem to care that Cameron went to commiserate with the fired Chase, either. “Say hi to Chase for me. You’re wearing lipstick,” he adds, presumably in explanation for how he knows who she’ll be seeing. Sure enough, Cameron tries to cheer the ex-duckling up, but flees after he tells her he’s OK with the firing (in a not-quite-OK kind of way) and apologizes for his “silly” plan to ask her out every Tuesday. She put lipstick on for that?

No, that’s just the prelude. Later, she confronts him on his doorstep to remind him it’s Tuesday. When he points out it’s actually Monday — but with a tiny smile that indicates he knows, or hopes he knows, where this is going — she says she couldn’t wait, and the former friends with benefits convert into actual coupledom, with a long, sweet kiss.

Cameron’s change goes beyond just choosing Chase, but also choosing, like Foreman, to distance herself from House. Though nothing in the episode suggests she made the decision for purely professional reasons, she offers House her letter of resignation, saying smugly: “I’ve gotten all I can from this job.”

He wonders what she expects him to do about it . If she wanted a date last time, I wonder what he thinks the higher stakes might be this time. But no, she and Chase both seem to have learned to accept House’s flaws in a way Foreman can’t. “I expect you to do what you always do,” she says. “I expect you to make a joke, go on. I expect you to be just fine.”

Cameron has made her choice — for now — and Chase is the lucky recipient of her affections. The “I’ll miss you” and the arm touch suggest her feelings for House have been deliberately submerged rather than eliminated. But she’s learned from House over the years. She’s harder and less gullible, as Wilson pointed out recently. She’s also learned about House, and puts her newfound non-gullibility to work. Whatever her feelings for him, House and his twisted heart will be just fine without her.

What follows is a weirdly companionable scene between House and Esteban, sharing House’s “genuine American cigars.”Esteban is at least a step up from original recipe coma guy — he can talk back and partake in the smoking/drinking male bonding ritual. He also has the benefit of not being judgmental Wilson, and doesn’t have any reason to care that House doesn’t care.

Esteban: You must be very upset.

House: Yeah, I must be.

Esteban: But you’re not.

House: I don’t think I am. I think I’m OK.

Esteban: What are you going to do?

House: God only knows.

He comes home to the new guitar he apparently ordered to replace the one he’s had since grade nine. Change is addictive, it seems, and the cane-guitar playing must have given him a taste of something snappier, too. As Josh Ritter’s “I’m a Good Man” plays ironically, I have to consider that he is a good man, as long as he’s judged on a Housian curve and not by the standards of St. Wilson, for example, who doesn’t have a problem with faking caring. House looks just fine playing that new guitar, when he would seem to have just made a complete mess of his professional and possibly personal life.

Now that’s the kind of cliffhanger I like. I have no predictions for how this is all going to play out next season, except that I’m highly skeptical Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison, and Jesse Spencer are off the show. Is the mass exodus another engineered lesson for House courtesy of Wilson and Cuddy? Is it a ploy by the team, or at least Cameron, to win Chase his job back? Or is all as it appears, and the ducklings have decided they’re ready to swim on their own and House has decided that he’s ready for change?

OK, I have one prediction, but I’m not making any bets on this one: I think they’ll all be back, but in different capacities. At the very least, this regrouping could put to rest the never-ending fellowships without getting into tedious administrative detail. By the end of the episode, all three have decided they’re ready to move on from House’s tutelage, but I’m skeptical that means we’ve seen the last of them.

Whatever the answer, I’m ready for some change, and am hopeful we’re in for a readjustment of a show that’s hit the reset button a few times too many. But I’d hate to see an overhaul of the undeniably successful dynamics between the characters, so I’m hoping for a tweaking that will prevent the show from growing stale without tampering too much with its winning formula.

FOX bumped the finale by a week, putting it in the path of my holiday but also, perhaps more importantly to anyone but me, out of the May sweeps and into the doldrums of summer reruns. I take some spiteful comfort in the fact that On the Lot, the show FOX wanted to launch with an American Idol-fueled boost, is tanking already. Take that, scheduling gods who dare to mess with House. He wins again.

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22 Responses to TV Review: House – "Human Error"

  1. Darius says:

    It doesn’t appear that you interpreted Cameron’s resignation as something that House wanted to happen when he put things into motion by firing Chase. My two observations: House knew that firing Chase would likely lead to the domino effect of losing Cameron as well, since he knew that deep down, she cared for Chase and would follow him out the door. Secondly, his “nice try” to keep Foreman was anything but nice, he calls him an egotistical bastard. And his “nice tries are worthless” reply to Wilson makes Wilson give that puzzled look he’s so good at, which makes me think that House was subtlely saying that he wasn’t trying, because if he had, Foreman probably would have stayed. Instead, he pretended to care until he started ranting about what a bastard Foreman is. He’s driven his entire team away while allowing Wilson to still believe that he is incapable of change and that, down deep, he has a heart of gold. These two observations seemed to be backed up by House’s “No, I don’t think I am [upset}” moment at the end and the slightly wry smile he shows. His evil genius has triumphed and only the Cuban is astute enough to realize that he’s not actually upset about it.

  2. John says:

    Rumor has it they’re in for big cast changes that include Leonard and Edelstein. Take it with a grain of salt; it will be a while before we know more.

    Personally I can’t really say I want anyone to go, I just want them back changed; have different interaction with House.

  3. Suldog says:

    Diane:

    Thank you very much for your work on these reviews. Always an enjoyable read and I usually take any some new insight into the characters.

  4. Diane Kristine says:

    Thanks Suldog – and all.

    I don’t agree, Darius, but of course it’s a matter of opinion. But no, I don’t think he engineered Cameron leaving – I think that was genuine surprise we saw and heard. And I think Wilson was being sarcastic with his “nice try” and House’s answer was in kind.

    John, yeah, I think the rumour mill has a mind of its own. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  5. Darius says:

    Yeah, perhaps I’m too cynical. The 2nd time I watched it only served to confirm my assumptions, but then again, if you’re looking for it, you can see House’s cunning plan. Plus, I can’t recall any episodes where House allowed things to get out of his control. And why did he fire only Chase if he wanted a complete change? He knew Foreman was gone, and so that left only Cameron. He would have fired her, but that would have shown his true “heartless” colors, so he let Cameron believe that she wasn’t a pawn in his game. He knew he couldn’t stop Foreman from quitting, which meant that he couldn’t control the situation. So to be able to control things, he decided he would get the other two to leave on his terms rather than have them quit. Basically, to bring it back to the medical plot as the show always does, he wanted to play God (or at least his view of an all-controlling God).

  6. Boffle says:

    Excellent review, as always, Diane! Agree that this is a great “cliffhanger,” suspenseful but also peaceful in the sense of letting go to make room for what might come next.

    At the last minute, House forced himself to make a genuine effort to invite Foreman to stay, but Foreman was so dismissive and hurtful in his response to House’s efforts that he got both barrels of unvarnished truth, deservedly. In fact, Foreman’s just as much of a jerk as House, but without the redeeming life-saving skills. If that’s what he was going for, Epps did a terrific job.

    Didn’t see Wilson’s “nice try” as exactly sarcastic, more ironic, that House did try but ultimately (as you point out, Diane) has to be who he is and say what he thinks. No Wilson TM mollycoddling techniques are available to House. Refreshing.

    Agree that Cameron leaving was a surprise to him and even seemed to hurt him a bit, that when House realized they were all gone, it’s the end of an era and such, it had an effect on him, but then he processed all that however he does that and surprised himself in the end by being ok with it.

    Cool. Next stop: Emmyville. (Oh and Happy Birthday to Hugh next Monday!)

    Looking forward to next season and all the speculation we can indulge in since apparently anything can happen next. πŸ™‚

  7. Eva says:

    First of all, I want to say, it was always a plesaure to read you through all the season.

    And, after the compliments…. well more compliments. I think your analysis is quite accurate. Yes, House is surprised, he didn’t expect Cameron leaving and,although I wouldn’t admit it, yes, he didn’t care for most of his patiences. But, I also think he, deep, very very deep inside, sometimes, did care for people.

    Let’s see what Season 4 has in store for us.

  8. Diane Kristine says:

    Thanks Eva, and I agree – I think it’s interesting to see when and ponder why he connects with those very few patients, like the boy in Lines in the Sand.

    Boffle, if there’s no Emmy this year, I’ll … I’ll … be peeved. And write a sternly worded post. That’ll show ’em.

  9. Bill Hamilton says:

    Great review! When it comes to House, I want to watch the show and then read your review. I say that as a compliment but to also enforce that I have no rumors as to what is going to happen. If Foreman, Cameron and Chase do stay, my guess it will go down something like this:

    Foreman does take a lead diagnostician job at either this hospital or another and they (writers/House) can play the “whose better at their job” game. It would give them an opportunity to do some dueling and/or complimenting cases and build another set too.

    Chase is hired back by Cuddy (she would do something like that) to work somewhere else in the hospital. This lets him be near House but not in Houses control and would really frustrate house now especially he has been the best duckling the latter half (quarter) of this season.

    Cameron takes time off and doesn’t do any medical stuff which would again annoy House to no end. Maybe she spends her time really dating Cameron to further irratation. Isn’t it her turn to come down with something too?

    Finally, the best part is that House is forced to endure a new threesome of ducklings that are completely different with all new dynamics. He suffers through them while his ducklings that he lost are all about but not under beck and call. Cuddy and Wilson get to do a bunch of I-told-you-so for a dozen episodes or so before the new ducklings that didn’t work out are slowly replaced by the ones they want back and the ones that do are kept to give the three prodical ducklings are hard time (can we have more than three? Cuddy sounds like she has the money to throw around.)

    I can’t wait to see what happens.

  10. wcdixon says:

    Boat refugees found off coast of Florida I presume somehow convince Navy/Coast Guard to take them to Dr. House up in Boston?

    Um…yeah.

    Boat refugee husband (suddenly with much better English) and House smoke cigars in recovering patients room??

    Right.

    Meanwhile all the underlings resign, quit, or are fired.

    Uh huh.

    Like the limp, and Tritter, and the addiction, any which way you slice it it feels like we’re heading for another big reset. As in, if a new group of fellows join the fray, it’ll feel like a reset to the pilot…just with new faces. And if the same team somehow return to their jobs (or even just the hospital), well, can you say ‘reset’?

    But more than all that, House himself has gone from cranky yet brilliant in a strangely likeable way to just plain mean.

    I’ll still watch, but with one eye…it’s starting to lose me.

    (sorry Diane…this rebuttal had more steam last Tuesday – and still, thx much for the reviews)

  11. Cat says:

    I thought the episode had the feel of a series finale, rather than just a season finale. I left feeling rather … depressed. It was a clever episode, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. I’m surprised you thought that Cameron was still submerging feelings for House. I didn’t get that, but I hope you’re right, because I like the undercurrent of romantic tension betwen them.

  12. Katie says:

    Personally I think House fired Chase because he was getting so annoying, constantly telling House what to do about Foreman. He was worse than Wilson.

    After reading your interview with Kaplow, who said that we would be happy with this episode, I was curious to see how it worked out because I’ve been disappointed with the show the second half of this season and curious how Kaplow and Moran would make it make sense.

    Reading your review has helped make some sense of it but while the episode could work as a stand-alone, it reinforces my fears that what I once loved about the show, the intelligent writing, complex characterizations and love/hate relationship with House is gone.

    Unlike the first two seasons where there was a vulnerability underneath the snark, House really doesn’t have a heart now and his medical brilliance just isn’t enough any more to keep me wanting to watch, especially as he gets crueller to patients and colleagues alike and the snarks was less witty and more schoolyard cruel. It’s okay to want to solves cases but that doesn’t mean he has to disparage those who want to save lives. Foreman may be a jerk but at least he’s doing some self-examination.

    I’m glad Chase has grown but that’s not good enough, I want to know why. I want this to be a three dimensional character, not a plot contrivance to contrast to House or give Cameron a reason to quit. Cameron has been written without rhyme or reason and I no longer like the person who was once one of my favourite characters, a problem on a show where so few are likeable. Ever since Cuddy has become House’s love interest, she’s been weaker and ineffectual at dealing with him and the flirting that seems to be thrown in just tell they audience there is something going on between them (House’s line about the light on her legs)is annoying as well as distracting. I’m dreading when these two hook up next season.

    I don’t know why Kaplow thought we would like this as a finale. It reinforces everything I’ve been disliking about the show lately, the coldness of House, the inexplicable behaviour of secondary characters, the wonkiness of the medicine (after being on a bypass machine, her heart couldn’t have started on its own).

    Right now, your reviews are one of the best things about the show. I enjoy reading them but its not enough.

  13. Diane Kristine says:

    Will, I have a tiny fear that it’ll be another reset, and if it is I’ll be highly disappointed, but part of the reason I loved the episode was that I have high hopes it’s actually going to inject some new dynamics (even if all three return). And if you ever watched the show for realism, you might want to give your head a shake πŸ™‚

    Cat, the reason I say that is the touch on the arm and some of the things she’s said to Wilson and Chase in the last half of the season (“everybody does” when Wilson accused her of lying about not liking House anymore).

    Katie, I’m a bit the opposite but can understand where you’re coming from. But I had some issues with the first half of the season and am happy to see some character progression in the secondary characters and some fallout from that first half in House himself.

  14. John says:

    I’d argue that with new faces comes a reset, too. If anything, it feels as the exact opposite is going to happen. I firmly believe that an integral part of ‘House’ (the show) for fleshing out House (the character) is his interaction with the supporting cast. One of the reasons why the show needed a change was exactly because he’s been interacting with the same set of characters for three years in a row; how far can you go with that? That’s why even if the ducklings return, they’ll probably have to be different than they used to be. They sort of tried to do this in the second half of the season, with Cameron’s makeover, but they threw her in a relationship with Chase and her interaction with House was mostly restricted to the common stuff.

    On another note -and I realize that this is a bit of a stretch- it seems to me like House was getting more and more heartless again because of the same reason described above. His employees know him better than he would have wanted. He needs to treat people like crap and be an ass; look how he occasionally abuses his friendship with Wilson, just because he knows that Wilson tolerates him. It seems very much possible to me that he likes pushing it with people and see when they’ll break.

    Again, a bit of a stretch, I know, but it could explain why he’s been struggling to be more and more of an ass lately.

  15. Cat says:

    You pick up on things that I (in spite of being a pretty devoted viewer) miss. That’s why I enjoy reading your reviews so much. They help me make sense of things in the show that confuse me and enhance the whole House-watching experience. So – thank you!
    Cat

  16. Mary says:

    One question heard a few times in “Human Error,” and see reflected in some of these posts, is if House can change. All growth requires change, but not all change is growth. I’ve seen change in the character of House since I viewed the first season on DVD a couple of months ago while concurrently viewing this year’s broadcast episodes, but it has not been change for the better.

    In the pilot, Foreman pulls House aside to tell him that he was working fast, and becoming careless; House acknowledges the truth of that and thanks Foreman for telling him. In other first season episodes, there are scenes where a patient tells House, at length, “Here’s something that’s wrong with you,” and House just sits there, eyes downcast, looking contrite, and not a snarky comeback to be heard. At the end of the Vogler arc, as House, expecting that he is about to lose his job, is telling Cuddy of the results of the test on the child whose parents are suspected of child abuse, his body language and verbal affect are those of a seriously depressed person. We haven’t seen much of that contrite/reflective/depressed House for the past two seasons, although maybe a glimpse in “One Day, One Room.”

    As others have noted in comments on this episod, this year House has gone from snarky and witty to frequently just plain mean. For me the turning point was the beginning of “No Reason.” While never a model of patience with his clinic patients, House is usually civil enough unless a patient gives him attitude, in which case the attitude is returned at warp speed. But at the beginning of “No Reason” House is actually bragging to his staff about his insistence that a man with a grossly swollen tongue answer a raft of foolish, irrelevant questions just so House can enjoy watching the man struggle to speak. House is rude, irrevent, and manipulative, but this is the first instance in which I’d call him sadistic, and nobody, not even Cameron, calls him on it. “No Reason” takes place in House’s subconscious, but, as seen from what happens later to the swollen tongue clinic patient, that’s a dangerous place for patients to be.

    This final episode of the season left me utterly baffled, unlike the concluding episodes of the previous two seasons. I haven’t a clue where this story is going, but I do know that I will be there in September, watching, if only to see how the hell the writers get themselves out of this one.

  17. Mary says:

    Hugh Laurie’s birthday was mentioned in the lead-up to the NPR morning news un the U.S. today, although they got his age wrong – he’s 47, not 48.

  18. Anonymous says:

    DOB is 1959 so he is 48 this year.

  19. Eric says:

    Great review as usual. I too think these actors are sticking around, though I agree (and hope!) their capacities may well be different. After 3 seasons of what was mainly the same formula, House is probably right about it being time for a change.

    I think, though, that people are being too harsh on House. Harsh is the wrong word. Yes, House is a jerk. Yes, he has just about zero empathy. Yes, he’s absolutely terrified of changing himself in any way. But that doesn’t mean he *likes* it. Hugh Laurie gives far too great a nuanced performance in this season for me to come away thinking that House is *comfortable* being who he is – he’s just resigned to the idea that he *is* who he is.

    When he asks Wilson, about Foreman’s departure, “How much money would it take to make you want to be me?”, he’s not being snarky. He’s not happy about the statement. He knows Foreman has a point. When his team catches him cheating his way into the brain cancer treatment in Half-Wit, he’s genuinely pained they found out. You can see the embarrassment on Hugh Laurie’s face (tellingly turned away, unwilling to face them) that he’s trained them well enough to outsmart him, and it only led them to discover how miserable he really is. And when he opens the door to the restaurant to join them at the end of the same episode (which I was very disappointed they never mentioned again), there’s hope there. Hope which was apparently dashed, but still.

    From ketamine to the fake brain cancer to struggling with Foreman’s decision to leave, I think this whole season was about an earnest if futile desire on House’s part to be better. Or at least happier. For himself, for Wilson – who you can consistently see over the three seasons he DOES regret hurting so often – and for a team he respects. But he isn’t willing/able to make those changes to himself, and at the end of the season, we see him come at last to the firm conclusion that if he can’t change himself, he’s going to change everything else instead.

    I don’t think it’ll work out that way for him, but that’s the arc of the season as I read it.

  20. Diane Kristine says:

    Spot on, I’d say, Eric. If it weren’t for that inner conflict we rarely see, the character wouldn’t be nearly as compelling. But if it were simply that House has a heart of gold buried under the surface jerk, he wouldn’t be nearly as compelling either.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Always an interesting review. I just want to mention that the patient died in Housetraining and not Family.

    I am always puzzled by reviewers that seem to think that Wilson, House’s best friend is judgmental. I think Wilson is like most best friends, supportive, intrusive, overbearing, competitive, loyal, etc.

    What I find more interesting about the House/Wilson connection is that Wilson is probably the one that has very little emotional connection to his patients or the people around him. Of the two, I have always felt that House was the one that truly cared about Wilson and other people. Wilson is more about “showing” than really “feeling.” I find the contrast between the two to be ver interesting.

    I have to say I don’t get the Foreman piece at all because Foreman in no way reminds me of House. I see Foreman as all about the power play. I couldn’t muster up any empathy or interest in the Foreman is leaving arc.

    I am hoping that they bring on new ducklings and that the older ducklings have a chance to mentor them. I’ve like Cameron to have someone that is judgmental, self-absorbed, with poor boundaries. I’d like to see Chase work with someone that has mediocre skills with a strong desire for power and status. I’d like to see Foreman in very, very small doses. I think the actor has a tendency to overact which just leaves me cold.
    The new Cuddy is just paiful to watch. I liked Cuddy best when she was the hospital administrator.

    I hope S4 House begins to act like an adult. I don’t mind eccentric bastard House but I really, don’t like childish, crazy, mean House. That’s probably why Wilson is and has always been my favorite character.

  22. Anonymous says:

    LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) — Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, Peter Jacobson and Anne Dudek have landed recurring roles on Fox’s hit medical drama “House.”

    Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) will apparently have a new group of students to annoy.

    The four are expected to play characters who will be brought in after the resignations of House’s (Hugh Laurie) underlings Foreman (Omar Epps) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and the firing of Chase (Jesse Spencer).

    Wilde will play a young doctor called Thirteen who will work closely with House. She most recently was on NBC’s “Black Donnellys” and has had roles on Fox’s “The O.C.” and “Skin” and in the films “Alpha Dog” and “Turistas.”

    Penn co-starred in the film “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” and its upcoming sequel and had a role last season on Fox’s “24.”

    Jacobson is on the big screen in “Transformers” and most recently appeared on television in USA Network’s miniseries “The Starter Wife.”

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