Tuesday, November 25, 2008

House, "Last Resort": Puppy day afternoon

Spoilers for tonight's "House" coming right up...

Gonna be brief tonight, both because I'd rather focus on getting all my "Shield" stuff perfect, and because "Last Resort" struck me as far sillier and more inconsequential than I think was intended.

First, we have the writers' continued fascination with Thirteen, and my continued lack of same. I may not have been crazy about the original three fellows, but I never felt like they were being shoved in my face the way that Thirteen has been this season. Yes, she's pretty. Yes, she's dying. Do. Not. Care. Can we please give Kutner something to do? Wilson? Chase, for that matter? (Though Chase walking out of the differential diagnosis was my favorite part of the episode, it also meant he was gone for the rest of it.)

Second, "Dog Day Afternoon" pastiches may be second only to "Twelve Angry Men" pastiches on series television, but they have to be done really smart to work. This one just triggered my eye-rolling reflex, and kept triggering it, over and over. I'm sorry: I don't care how stubborn House is, how myopic he gets about finding the answer to a mystery, even Gregory House does not give a hostage-taker his gun back. No. I will not follow the show or the character down that particular rabbit hole, and I have to basically pretend that it didn't happen or else lose all respect for all involved.

And they didn't even give Wood Harris (aka Avon Barksdale from "The Wire") anything interesting to do. Stringer Bell would have at least tried to introduce House and Zeljko Ivanek to the concept of Robert's Rules of Order, you know?

What did everybody else think?

48 comments:

Mac said...

I liked it better than you did, but I too am tired of the show's metamorphosis House and Thirteen. Which apparently isn't going anywhere, unfortunately. It's not good for the show when people start openly rooting for the death of the character who you're threatening. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't the subplot of every episode.

Wait, I forgot, sometimes it's the main plot.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were as ambivalent about this one as I was. I'm not generally a fan of sweeps stunts and for whatever reason the fact that this one was being promoted as such a big deal had me predisposed to dislike it. Worse, the whole premise was completely ridiculous and has already been done before. And not just by other shows, but by House too. The hostage situation reminded me too much of the episode where House got shot and Thirteen's near death reminded me too much of Foreman's nearly dying a few seasons back. And while I don't dislike Thirteen as much as some people do, I agree she's not nearly as fascinating as the writers seem to think. Considering Cameron and Chase have been so underused, wouldn't having one of them get taken hostage have made a lot more sense? It would have given the character trapped with House something to do and allowed them to explore the relationship a little more as the one of the outside panicked. Instead Cameron got like 2 lines and Chase got like 1.

Stef said...

I agree this was a weak episode. I spent most of it trying to figure out if Zeljko Ivanek really has been on every prime time show, or if it just feels like it.

Sara Ann said...

I could have lived with House giving back the gun if only we hadn't reached the end and discovered the show was entirely about Thirteen's character development and not one whit about House's.

I'm going to need Thirteen to go.

J said...

What happened to this show? It was so incredibly good last year. Now it's just blah (and I like Thirteen). Did I overdose on USA reruns? Did Fringe infect it somehow?

Anonymous said...

Truthfully, I thought they were going to kill off Thirteen. I think that might have brought more weight to the weak ending.

Anonymous said...

I could have lived with House giving back the gun if it turned out he'd taken out the bullets. That way he could have followed through on his obsession with finding the answer and still maintained the upper hand. Otherwise, handing over control to someone else like that was totally out of character.

renton said...

And what hospital would let a SWAT team blow a hole in the wall in a room full of ridiculously expensive radiology equipment?

olucy said...

I don't understand why this episode needed an extra 8 minutes. What they they give us that could be delivered in the normal amount of time?

Agree with your assessments of the characters. Couldn't care less about Thirteen.

Or, for that matter, the completely unsubtle implication that Cuddy was invested in the situation because House was involved. Like she wouldn't have cared otherwise that a gunman had hostages in her office. This, from a woman who worries about anything and everything compromising the reputation of the hospital.

Probably didn't help that next week's previews were accompanied by music that made them sound like a Looney Tunes feature. Look! A Madcap Episode of House!

M.A.Peel said...

I thought the turn that this was all about 13's issue was dreadful. The only way this could have made sense--since House insanely gave the gun back--would have been for 13 to have died, one way or another. Then there would have been an actual CONSEQUENCE to House's obsession to solve the diagnosis at any cost.

I mean, this isn't Entourage, ya know.

LA said...

House would have shot the patient himself before he gave the gun back. Seriously lame.

BTW, anyone else medical here? If so, did anyone else catch Cameron saying the pt was on a protein instead of proton pump inhibitor for his GI pain?

wjm said...

I think I've lost interest in this show. I suddenly realized the possibility last week, and tonight it's is looking less like possibility and more like probability.

Usually, with a MOTW/DOTW-based show, I care more about the mythos than the ep's quirky new whatever. Not with this show. The diseases and reactions are the most interesting part. The only arc I'm interested in is House and Wilson. (And I love Lisa Edelstein. Always have.)

House is as caustic and brilliant (and funny) as ever, but since the first episode debuted, I have not seen him grow or change one whit. And that does not good storytelling make.

This episode was just plain ludicrous. The only glimmer of enjoyment I got out of it was when the teenager was still there at the near-end, because he was "curious."

And I don't need all my stories tied up with a neat bow, but I would have liked more of an explanation for why Mr. Ivanek felt the need to take such drastic measures.

dez said...

I'm going to need Thirteen to go.

I fully agree. I liked the ep until it turned into Yet Another Thirteen Show. Bah.

So the patient's endgame was winding up in prison? What the hell kind of endgame is that?

Carson said...

Maybe the phrase "Give the Gun Back" will come to replace "Jump the Shark"

I hope not, but man was that dumb.

Anonymous said...

Forget House's motivation. Why would Thirteen, newly high on life, possibly go back to work for the one man clearly more dangerous to her health than her terminal disease?

On the other hand, the episode was filled with tons of TV "Hey It's That Guys". The girl from Angel! The guy from October Road! The kid from Invasion! And special guest star Natalie Wood's daughter!

Who will Zeljko Ivanek kill next?

Pamela Jaye said...

so...

I came for Lisa, and I stay for Wilson, and cause it's a doctor show. and when people start getting tachy, my brain goes "SVT. get the amiodarone"

I didn't *used* to do this, even with all my doctor shows. Grey's did it to me.

That aside - I hate claustrophobia episodes. Hostage situations, people trapped in elevators or mines. Can't stand them.

Enough with 13 (though honestly, she was more interesting for a change - i think it was cause she had a revelation and wanted to change) but really, enough. no more.

No previews please.

Are they going to drag the House/Cuddy thing out now?

I hang in for Wilson and to try to solve the mysteries.

hostage eps can't have any witty Wilson humor, so that was out.

I suppose that at least they didn't try to give him an MRI...

I forget - did they try carotid massage for the SVT? or, like Carter, they could have stuck his face in a tub of ice water... (bear skins and stone knives medicine)

what did he turn out to have?

I'd rather watch Grey's - even with its current ridiculous plotline.

Pamela Jaye said...

Natalie Wood's daughter held people hostage last in ER...

yes, a lot of the hostages looked familiar. Eve was the one I couldn't figure out.

Pamela Jaye said...

excuse me, that was adenosine.

(or as Mer put it, "I'll know it when I see it")

belinda said...

Amen. Why is 13 so compelling to the writers? It's almost unbearable that the writers are shoving her down our throats when I'm more interested to find out more about pretty much everyone else. Hell, I might even take Taub over her.

And I agree with the person who asked why this episode needed 8 more minutes than usual. Why exactly? It wasn't even a particularly interesting case.

Sorry to rant, but here goes:-
I'm quite frustrated with the show now. I was able to forgive them for last season, what with the strike that came right after House's new minions. I can understand the difficulty of tying up that whole new plot and characters after the strike hiatus. But it's the middle of Season 5 almost now, and it's now more apparent that the writers are having more than a little trouble integrating House's old minions with the new, and it had nothing to do with the strike.

And while I have enjoyed the interactions between Cuddy, Wilson and House this season, the lack of interesting storylines/interactions between Foreman, Chase, Cameron, Kutner, Taub and 13 amongst themselves and/or with Cuddy, Wilson or House is really starting to drain on the show. I'm starting to fast forward while watching the show, which is never a good sign. And I love House. Which is why it is frustrating.

Anyway.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the general consensus that this was a frustrating episode. What was worse, to me, was that I simply didn't care. I'd like to think that a show that has had the highs that House has had could be able to keep my attention with a hostage situation. It really didn't. In fact, until the final five or so minutes, I'd found the show entirely forgettable. In all honesty, those final five minutes weren't even that memorable.

I do like Thirteen a lot more than others on here. I like the character, I like the actor. But, I don't think she is the most interesting character on the show, nor the most deserving of screen time. Kutner is more interesting, Cameron's moral decisions were more interesting, Chase's indifference was even more interesting at times. I'd really like to see them back off of her story a good deal more.

lambertman said...

I would've enjoyed it more had I not read Ausiello telling us about future developments surrounding Thirteen... instantly closing the door on any possibility that she would've died, which would have been awesome.

I miss Cameron.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm ususally great at spotting familiar faces, but I was so disinterested in this episode that I completely didn't notice Natasha Gregson Wagner or Sarah Thompson were even in it. That really tells me something.

Andrew said...

And I agree with the person who asked why this episode needed 8 more minutes than usual. Why exactly?

Fox sells more ads for House than it does for Fringe (which is presented in a dramatic voice with limited commercial interruptions)?

Did they write any dialogue for Wood Harris's (lack of) character, or did they give him a book of tv police cliches to read from?

But without thinking too much about it, this episode was a solid 'meh.'

Anonymous said...

the episode was very meh, but the person who complained about voluntarily reading spoilers then having said spoilers spoil the show for you is a spoiled brat.

Melanie said...

On second read, I think lambertman's complaint had more to do with wishing Thirteen would die than having been spoiled.

I agree with pretty much all the complaints here, which I hate because this is my favorite show currently on.

Agreed that the (relatively) big-name guest actors were underused here.

The thing I didn't get about last night's episode: what was the point of Ivanek having Thirteen take that last injection? Either it was a trick, and would kill her because of interaction with the other meds they'd both taken, or it wasn't a trick, and would kill her because of her condition. Either way, she would die, and he wouldn't know why. Right? Or have I missed something?

Anonymous said...

I really liked it, but then I'm on neither the "I-Hate-Thirteen" bandwagon nor the group of people intent on speculating spoilers to death. I just let the episode play out, and felt like it was a strong thriller and a great sense of tension throughout.

And hate to disagree with you Alan, but giving the gun back? Totally House. This is a guy who continually takes stupid and risky choices merely because he's convinced he's right. In this case, he was convinced he was right in thinking Jason wouldn't kill anyone, and it was worth the risk to continue the diagnosis. Stupid? Yes. Risky. God yes. But taking those risky, stupid decisions is what he does day in and out. And the shock on his face when it turns out he was wrong and Jason actually would willingly kill someone (Thirteen in this case) was evident.

lambertman said...

Anonymous @ 11: sorry, Mom.

Thanks, Melanie, for reading for context.

Melanie said...

Gotta agree with Anon@12:07 that the gun move seems in character for House. Given that, I thought the grudging nod of acknowledgement toward Ivanek as he was being taken out was a miscue. He should have been furious at Ivanek's betrayal. House went the extra, misguided mile to give Ivanek his diagnosis only to have Ivanek use the re-gained gun against him and Thirteen.

Drew said...

I think the episode started strong with the emphasis on the moral dilemmas the hostages were facing, and House's attempts to stay House while in such a horrible predicament.

But eventually, the episode just kind of steered into predictable territory, and the emphasis on Thirteen seemed like overkill. I don't despise her, but I do feel like we've seen too much of her.

And House giving back the gun might have felt believable had he not shown compassion and understanding for the situation of others throughout the episode. But because he'd been a generally okay person throughout, I felt like the gun was too much.

Hal Incandenza said...

Shamefully, I fell asleep during House this week, but woke up in time for Fringe which was quite good again. Seems to be gaining strength.

the radish said...

Am I the only one who knew from the beginning that House would get the drop on Ivanek (did we even know the character's name?) and give the gun back? It was a stupid move, but I could practically hear the writers thinking out loud. This is a horrible sign -- I watch enough tv that I can often guess what's coming next, but figuring out the big "gasp" of the story from the previews can't be good.


I'm hoping we can move on from the 13 obsession now that she's going to try to live. I find the other old and new colleagues more interesting, and though I never much liked Chase he's really grown on me this year.

wjm said...

BTW Alan, I love your "spoilers for House" opener for this entry.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Not a fan of the "just as soon as I" jokes?

wjm said...

Oh. Maybe I read too much into it. I *love* the "as soon as I" jokes.

I thought this time the joke was tied in to the fact your picture was of them all getting off the elevator. I got a good laugh out of it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sadly, it was not an elevator joke. Every now and then -- either when I'm bored by an episode (as in this case) or when it's so somber that I feel uncomfortable cracking a joke -- I skip over the "as soon as" schtick. Here, I was just in a hurry to get the review done.

isaac_spaceman said...

At least it was funny. The "other people's money" joke at the beginning ("either she's not here or she's under the desk; either way you're going to have to wait for me to finish"), House answering the phone with "crime scene," and "I'm going to strangle you before you can pull the trigger" were all great lines.

Melanie said...

Ooh! Ooh! I love the "as soon as I" jokes too! Sometimes I try to anticipate what you'll write.

Pamela Jaye said...

I, too, am fond of the "as soon as"

speaking of the elevator - I think it may be the most missed character on grey's anatomy this season...

as for 13... I think *someone* should have shot her.
I'm sure she's fine in moderation, but...

glad I didn't read any Ausiello (I generally don't. nor that woman from E! either)

and I've fallen asleep during an ep this year myself.

and I watched the West Wing pilot tonight - which was fun. Lisa E's chequered past (roles).
I'm still stuck on the question: if she was a high-priced DC call girl, why didn't she know what POTUS stood for? (or was she just too stoned?)

I need more Cameron and Chase (and after this ep, more Wilson)

Anonymous said...

My wife and I also try to anticipate you're "as soon as I" lines.

She's pretty damn good at it, too.

Lori said...

I actually like Thirteen, but I agree that she's been focused on WAY too much this season. I'm really hoping that someone else besides her will get some attention before the end of the year.

And while I like the premise of this episode, I feel like not as much happened as could have happened. The Hostage Taker's actions/motivations/past were never satisfactorily explained to the extent that every other patient's are, and I'm still on the fence about House giving the gun back. While I suppose that it could be in his character to let things go on with the intent to find an answer, I also felt that it was just a ploy by the writers to make the episode last longer. I agree with whoever posted before that said he should have taken the bullets out, thus ensuring that HE was actually in control, while giving the illusion that the Hostage Taker Guy was in control. That would have completely been within House's character.

olucy said...

Agree. I wasn't as surprised by House giving back the gun as I was by the fact that he hadn't removed the bullets.

Buster's Army Medals said...

>>as for 13... I think *someone* should have shot her.
I'm sure she's fine in moderation, but...>>

But you know, if 13 would've died, she would've been a martyr, and which is worse? A'la Denny on Grey's, she'd keep haunting people's dreams. Or, I should say, nightmares.

Pamela Jaye said...

oh, please no!!!!

then again, on House the other characters are less likely to be that sentimental. House, never, Foreman, probably not, Cuddy a little, Wilson, probably. Cameron perhaps...

then again, maybe House needs a good haunting. ghost of christmas future anyone?

KTA said...

I spent most of the episode telling the gunman to go ahead and shoot Thirteen. When House said "either give me the gun or shoot me", I thought, hey, that works for me. At this point I think I'd be more interested in a show without House or Thirteen and that's a sad statement since I once loved this show so much.

I found it unbelievable that Wilson and Cameron were so blase about House being in danger. Apparently only the current love interest (Cuddy) is allowed to react lest the audience fails to get it.

The changes made in season 4 and 5 haven't done the show any favors, especially the over-focus on Thirteen and House/Cuddy leading to a lack of both the other 6 characters and new story lines. The one revitalizing thing in the past two seasons was Amber and she's gone.

Unless Shore can figure out how to get back to the show this was before, it seems like it's downhill all the way.

Pamela Jaye said...

Maybe they could invite Shonda over and she could write Amber back from the grave

J.J. said...

Funnily, if the guy hadn't pulled the gun out, he'd have ended up assigned to Dr. House anyway since his condition was a big mystery that had baffled all previous doctors.

It's weird that he didn't do enough research to learn he could get House's interest legitimately.

We've seen plenty other characters over the years who sought him out to solve their mysteries. And I'm talking about people whose illnesses just kicked in (like the astronaut) and people who probably should have had no business knowing anything about House's reputation (the Cubans who came on the boat to find House). Yet this guy, who has tried a million different things, who has probably done plenty of his own research -- this guy seemed to stumble blindly into House's hospital unintentionally.

J.J. said...

Oh, also... I agree the gun thing didn't make sense. House wouldn't give him his weapon back like that. It's just too dumb.

I understand he wants to keep the game going so he can solve the puzzle, but House doesn't need to do it like that. It would have worked better if he took the ammo away before letting him have the gun. That way, since the guy has a gun, they can still try to diagnose him (claiming they didn't know it wasn't loaded anymore), but he's not really going to hurt anyone. They'd be covered from both angles that way. That would have made more sense. But I understand it would have undercut the drama.

Mark Jones said...

The hostage situation failed the laugh test for me almost from the beginning. A gun is not, despite what they show you on television, a magic wand. There were plenty of opportunities to take it away from the guy. Or hell, even just grab the barrel and jerk it toward the floor. Even if he gets a shot off, the slide won't move if you're holding it tight. Which means it doesn't eject the spent round or load a new one. Now he has a CLUB. You don't even have to keep holding the gun while you pummel this (weak and sick) man to the floor.