Tuesday, January 27, 2009

House, "Big Baby": Is it that Mr. Sinnalinden again?

Spoilers for last night's "House" coming up just as soon as I watch "Fletch" for the 8,000th time...

That? That was a pretty good one.

Heck, I didn't even mind the Foreman/Thirteen stuff that much. A smiling, upbeat Thirteen (even if it's only for an episode until they pull the rug out from under her next week) isn't nearly the charisma vacuum she is when she's her usual nihilist self, House needling them about their obvious affair was funny, and all of Foreman's attempts to get the senior docs' permission to violate the study were nice showcases for the various relationships.

The House/Foreman scene in particular was a nice moment of humanity from ol' crankypants, in an episode where he was pretty on the mark about people's behavior instead of just being contrary for the sake of it. You could argue, I guess, that he nudged Foreman towards taking Thirteen off the placebo just because he's curious to see what happens, but he was so on the ball (albeit blunt) about almost everyone(*) that I think we're supposed to read that conversation as at least partly genuine.

(*) I kept dreading the inevitable epilogue where the teacher turns out to be terrible with the autistic boy once her medical problem was solved, and I liked the more optimistic take. Yes, she no longer has the automatic Don't Worry, Be Happy reaction to things like getting spilled on, but the surgery didn't completely rewrite her personality the way House assumed it would, and she cared too much for the kid to let a little spill bother her for more than a moment.

I also thought House and Cameron trying to game each other was very well done -- and a vast improvement over those times where they bring in an outside authority figure like Vogler to try to rein in House -- and the only disappointment was that it ended, and for a relatively lame reason. Cuddy has never controlled House this well. Never. It's a hallmark of both the show and her character that she either caves in to House, or he ignores her and she doesn't reprimand him for it. I quite liked this dynamic, and don't think Cameron was nearly the pile of mush she seemed to think she was.

Overall, though, a vast improvement over what we've gotten lately. Or maybe I'm just cutting the whole episode so much slack because of the brief glimpses of Taub and Thirteen laughing as Irwin Maurice Fletcher tried to get some info about his airline reservation. Have I mentioned recently that I went through a year of college where my friend Fitz and I never had an actual conversation, but simply quoted "Fletch" lines at each other? Is that something I probably should have kept to myself?

What did everybody else think?

41 comments:

Namaste said...

I enjoyed it, but then I've enjoyed the season overall this year. I do think, though, that many of the disparate parts and arcs that seemed so disconnected in the past are now starting to braid together, in terms of how emotions screw up what should be simple answers in a hypothetical situation, but aren't once feelings are involved.

For instance, Wilson is an idiot for hanging out with House and his abuse, but yet he has fun with House, and that counters all the logic. In terms of cold, hard logic, Cuddy should give up the baby if she's not certain -- before the baby gets attached to her, but of course emotions (even guilt) are at play. Foreman knows that his career path is better off if he doesn't mess with the drug trial, because weighing a year of better health against a death sentence doesn't make sense ... "unless you love her," as House puts it.

Bryan said...

By far, for me, the most enjoyable ep so far this year. House was both rude and funny - not just one or the other as he has been all season- and it's always good when Wilson has more screen time.

Also overall I did like Cuddy's plotline (I'm sure many foster/adoptive parents have this issue) but the resolution was a little to pat.

Matt said...

This may skirt the edge of the spoiler rule, but I spent the promo for next week chanting "Kill Thirteen! Kill Thirteen!"

dez said...

I don't think the resolution was too pat. Cuddy had quite a look of anxiety on her face as she left her crying child with the nanny, and I wasn't sure if it was the normal anxiety a parent feels, or more guilt because she feels relieved she's getting a break.

I enjoyed Cameron being in charge of House and wish it would have lasted a few more eps. They had a good dynamic going. Ah, well, I guess we have to go back to "The Thirteen Show," so no room for Cameron there :(

amysusanne said...

I was really skeptical about the Cameron as Cuddy storyline, but I found myself really liking it and am pretty disappointed that it went as quickly as it came. I thought the newer House/Cameron dynamic was pretty great and at a time when Cuddy is grating on my nerves, it was a nice change. I especially liked the post "cut off her skull" scene with the two of them just sitting there, slightly defeated. I haven't hated the lack of Cameron, but after last night I saw what we might have been missing all this time with her being off screen down in the emergency room. I'd prefer to have another week with her up in Cuddy's office and Cuddy attempting to get her shit together off in some other part of the city where I can't see her until I'm sure she's completely over hating that poor baby. I understand the gravity of the situation and I understand that she's going through what a lot of people go through, but it was a bit hard to watch an unpleasant trainwreck when I was actually enjoying the rest of the episode so much. Points to Lisa E. for making me really feel for her when she was desperately screaming for the baby to stop crying, though.

lucas said...

Hey, Alan, do you watch The Closer?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I quite liked this dynamic, and don't think Cameron was nearly the pile of mush she seemed to think she was."

Cameron is pretty much always a pile of mush. I'm pretty sure that in one of the office scenes with House, they kept reusing the same reaction shot of her over and over. That, or she only has one facial expression.

Taleena said...

Hugh Laurie betrayed his expert baby handling skillz when Cuddy hands the little girl over. Laurie has four kids right? He held her jus the right way so that her head didn't go lolling.

Crispy said...

Bleg. I was not a huge fan of this episode. While, for a change, I liked the patient of the week story, I just wanted the 4/13 pairing to end already.

I did like Cameron is a place of power over House, and I think she was good at it.

The whole Cuddy thing was a bit lame, though if it gets her off her butt and back to being at the hospital, I guess it's okay. The baby storyline just leaves me cold. Watching her scream in that baby's face was a little disturbing as well. Instead of making her bond with her baby, you'd think that her (seemingly) coming to the brink of shaking the poor thing would just reinforce in her mind that she's not cut out for motherhood.

J said...

Yeah, this one was pretty good. I'd missed at least a couple episodes, by accident or apathy, and was groaning when I realized the Foreman/13 thing was on. But the Cuddy story was strong, the parallel with the DotW patient (you can still care for your kids without having a biological necessity to do so) wasn't sledgehammered, and House was rude to the point of being both mean and right.

Cuddy has never controlled House this well. Never.

I think the reason Cameron (and the show) sees Cuddy as striking the perfect balance is that she can accept a certain amount of lack-of-control without feeling thrown under the wheels of House's bus.

The getting-Cuddy's-OK beat is a studder-step in any House plot, generating either a scene to amplify viewers' concern over a procedure or necessitate behind-her-back hijinks. Having to go to Cameron for every single OK would get real tiresome real fast, though I enjoyed watching them play the game here.

filmcricket said...

Ugh. Cameron was doing a great job controlling House, far better than Cuddy's managed in a long time, and then she just up and quits? After the surgery was a success? And if Cuddy's the only one who can control House, what happens if she gets hit by a bus or something? Does the PPTH Diagnostic team shut down? Whatever.

But far worse was the whole baby storyline. I know women that have given birth have mood swings that violent, because of hormones, and I guess you could argue that Cuddy only realized she wasn't bonding with her baby once all the other distractions were out of the way, but I still found it jarring that this woman, who has wanted nothing else for the whole season, suddenly felt nothing for this child. And then, to decide she loves it after all because she got it to shut up once? What happens when that doesn't work the next time?

Alan Sepinwall said...

And then, to decide she loves it after all because she got it to shut up once? What happens when that doesn't work the next time?

Doesn't matter if it doesn't happen the next time. What matters is that it happened this time -- that Cuddy had a moment with the baby where it seemed like (though it obviously wasn't, given the kid's age) Rachel was responding to something Cuddy said to her.

It doesn't sound rational, but sometimes one little moment is all it takes to create the bond you've been struggling to make with your kid, biological off-spring or no.

christy said...

I enjoyed the episode, especially House holding the baby. He did seem like a natural, but without losing his skepticism. And the patient was cool.

I found the baby crying during the open-skull test scene really kind of disturbing, actually. It made me want to punch Cuddy in the face. (I guess a similar reaction as the patient). How could she think having the patient hear all that during the test be better than letting several competant doctors finish a test that had already begun? Of course, it saved the patient, whatever. Anyway I guess this all means it was an effective moment. And still more believable than her venture into homelessville to find the baby in the first place.

I know very little about medicine or even science but it seems to me that the other doctors should be advising Foreman not to pretend he doesn't know about the placebo, but to straight-up hand the trial over to another doctor. Wouldn't the fact that he knew which dose even one patient was getting compromise the entire thing? Even if he didn't change Thirteen's? It seems like he knows that, since he said so, but it doesn't seem like he's considered having someone else give the patients the treatments.

Finally, the girl not being annoyed by the spill seemed to be given a little more meaning than it would really have. Almost anyone can be kind to a kid who makes an honest mistake one time, hide any annoyance or even not feel annoyed. But it's the condition that made her not just able to show so much patience with the special ed kids day in and day out but to enjoy it so unabashedly without any sense of stress. The real outcome would somewhere between going on as she always has and no longer being able to tolerate challenging kids. It would be that she would continue her work because she finds it rewarding and important, but with now having to deal with the stress and frustration that all teachers and social workers and parents deal with on a regular basis. Just because she'll probably be successful at it doesn't mean it's the same as before.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't Wilson in more scenes? Was he even in last week's episode?

amysusanne said...

Actually, I don't blame Cuddy at all for the crying baby disrupting things since she clearly had her hands more than full in that situation. They called *her*, not the other way around. The person that should have done something was Kutner, the dude holding the phone to the intercom and presumably standing there in lala land while it caused all sorts of issues in the room downstairs. If he was noticing the fact that House was using the patient's annoyance as a clue then okay, but they should have cut in a shot of him and what he was doing because without that the most annoying person at that moment was him.

Deanna said...

"Charisma vacuum." Nice. (Reminded of my "Get Thirteen off the screen" chant.) I was pleasantly surprised at the wonderful way the House/Cameron scenes were done. And I agree with you about Cuddy, to infinity.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

One more thought on Cuddy: Shouldn't one of her many medical colleagues have suggested that she may be suffering from post-adoption depression?

Kensington said...

I thought it was absurd that they would putty Cuddy on speakerphone so she could berate House for doing risky surgery during the surgery whilst the patient could hear.

Do these people know nothing about malpractice lawsuits? Is undermining a patient's confidence in medical procedures whilst her brain is literally exposed ever a good idea?

Mrglass said...

It was just nice to see House being House, rude and seemingly prejudiced, but most of all honest. And Cameron's behavior made sense to me: she quit her previous job because she wanted to stay as far away from House as possible. But can this Foreteen stuff end already (and yes, Thirteen dying actually sounds good now).

dez said...

^If Thirteen dying is the payoff to the story, then maybe David Shore is right that the end of the arc will be worth it :-D

Andrew said...

damn you cox. my dvr didnt pick up the move to mondays... nor did i

G. Gordon Liddy said...

I would have watched last night but a trailer of manure jackknifed on the Santa Ana. God awful mess. You should see my shoes...

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm surprised the gratuitous "Fletch" quoting took this long to start.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a meal to charge to the Underhills.

christy said...

annsusanne, I guess you're right. I wanted to punch Kutner in the face, too. What a dumb thing to do. But Cuddy could have hung up the phone and/or taken the baby into another room. It's just hard for me to imagine being in her place and NOT doing one of those things.

As for Thirteen, I've often wondered if they were going to kill her off. Then I think, wouldn't that be kind of repetitive, after killing off Amber? Then I think, well, this show is pretty repetitive.

But still I love it.

floretbroccoli said...

Michael Lewis had a column on Slate called "Dad Again" about dealing with his children after he and his wife had their third. Or maybe it was the second, then the third.

ANYway, one of the points he made was that a parent will have a moment, when holding a screaming baby, when s/he wants to throw the baby out the window. Lewis claimed that it's the fact that you COULD throw the baby out the window but don't that makes you love the baby.

That's kind of my interpretation of Cuddy's bonding moment.

amysusanne said...

@christy:

But, the thing with Cuddy is that she was so stressed and so sad and so in her own world with that baby that she wasn't even *on* the phone anymore. I'm not surprised that she didn't hang up the phone because she was too busy having a minor nervous breakdown. I found almost all of the Cuddy storyline to be frustrating, but I did understand where she was coming from. At that moment, it was all on Kutner, imo. And I *like* Kutner. Still, Cuddy, House and Cameron were doing all they could do at the moment so it was up to him to, at the very least, move the phone from the intercom and deal with things.

BigTed said...

Sigh... I'll always think of "Fletch" as one of the two highly enjoyable novels that were made into far less enjoyable films starring one Mr. Chevy Chase, Not Funny Since "Caddyshack." (The other one is "Memoirs of an Invisible Man.")

Pamela Jaye said...

I haven't read this post either (but I almost always get to your posts about episodes - when I don't have time, I miss out on the *comments* - like with the Christmas ep of Chuck)

not having read I just wanted to say that all of a sudden, the Thirteen (and Foreman) focus has suddenly stopped bothering me. I'm guessing it's not because everyone is in the show again (cept maybe Wilson :-( ) and it's not necessarily cause i loved the scene where Foreman and Chase complain about their girlfriends (though I really liked it) - I guess it's cause I actually do like the concept of a romantic relationship messing with your ethics (and this is more believable than Denny and the LVAD wire, maybe simply because it's Foreman and he has that gravitas) and also the concept that your girlfriend is all shiny and happy now but you know better.

Funny thing - had the press tour been a week or two later, perhaps the showrunners wouldn't have taken as much crap. Then again, Shore's "I write what I want to see" POV didn't make me like him - it just kind of reminded me of Shonda, or possibly Aaron Sorkin. (i haven't met any of them)

The Foreman/Chase scene really was good though. And I felt as if something was actually *changing* on the show for once. Which is also a good thing.

Ariadne said...

I was dreading the episode because I'd read that Cameron failed miserably so I was preparing myself for the worst. It was a delightful surprise to find that not only did Cameron not fail, she was ahead of House every step of the way and try as he might, he couldn't get a grasp on what she was doing or anticipate what she's going to do next. On a show where House is always right and always wins, it's a pleasant change to see someone get the better of him and do it without being the villains that Tritter and Vogler were. And the snarks from the peanut gallery (his team) were very funny.

I missed Cameron these past two seasons. I wish she had stayed longer but resigning because she has been taught by House and cannot be objective about his medical practise and realizing that someone who can be needs to be the boss is one of the more mature and self-aware moves by a character on this show.

Seeing Cuddy having her worst insecurities reinforced by House and then Wilson trying his best to support her makes me wonder why she would ever think about having a relationship with House. As she said, House is always cold. This is not someone you want to depend on for emotional support much less be a father to a helpless child.

Cuddy beating herself up over failing to bond with the baby was realistic to the Cuddy of season 1 who was a superachiever and became head of a hospital at the impossibly young age of 32. That Cuddy has been missing for a while and it's nice to see her back.

If only I'd known that the way to make a crying child stop crying is to yell at her, I could have saved myself many hours walking the floors.

The Foreman/Thirteen/placebo plotline is absurd. Foreman should inform the drug company that this subject has been compromised and ask to have her taking out of the study and put on the drug independently. But at least Thirteen didn't have on her sulky/angry/nasty face for a change.

I'm back to being in love with this show again. I guess I'm just easy. I know that this is where in our relationship he buys flowers and apologises and says he'll never do that again and I want to believe him while I know that it's a lie and the abuse is going to start up again in the next episode, but for the moment I'll bask in this episode as a return to the early seasons of House when I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Blargnotronix 200 said...

Daaaaaaaaaaaang, I loved both episodes tonight! I can't believe we have to wait until March for the rest of the season! ARGGGGG!!!!!! Ridiculous.

I have to say, I'm almost astounded at how much better this season is than the last two seasons, particularly the last season. Does the network jump really make that huge of a difference? I mean...what happened? The majority of these episodes this season rock...and even approach the quality of the early seasons. How is this possible? Who cares, I guess....just keep it up! This should actually be a great last season for Scrubs.

I just hope they don't try to continue the show after JD and the other characters leave. The new interns are nice as side characters, but they can't carry a series. No sir.

Lisa said...

Has the show ever explained why Chase stopped washing his hair when he left House's department? It's gross!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sigh... I'll always think of "Fletch" as one of the two highly enjoyable novels that were made into far less enjoyable films starring one Mr. Chevy Chase, Not Funny Since "Caddyshack." (The other one is "Memoirs of an Invisible Man.")

Fortunately, I didn't discover the Fletch books until after I'd seen the movie, so I was able to enjoy the film for what it was (an excuse for Chevy Chase to improvise and make up funny names). Had I read any of the books first, I imagine I woulda hated the movie.

Sigh... I always meant to do a post about my love of those books, probably right around the time Gregory MacDonald died, but I never got around to it.

Jenn said...

Cuddy has never controlled House this well. Never. It's a hallmark of both the show and her character that she either caves in to House, or he ignores her and she doesn't reprimand him for it.

I know. *sigh* It's one of the many things the show tries to sell me but I'm not seeing, like that House loves Cuddy, and that Amber was too much like House and that's why the character was dropped (I think Thirteen is far more like House than Amber ever was).

Seeing Cameron actually pre-empt House and control him made a nice change. Too bad they didn't let it go on longer lest the audience figure out that Cuddy is as replaceable as the old team was.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice 13's study ID number was 213? (When Foreman placed it over the other label)

jackie said...

I haven't especially missed Cameron. She was fine in this episode, but only because it was a one-off and she did some soul searching in the end in a way she so seldom does. If we really had House having to go to Cameron every five minutes to get permission to do something like an ice bath, it would be annoying and not work at all. And in terms of Cameron handling House better than Cuddy ever did, House was very well behaved in this ep, focusing only on the case and knowing Cameron would give in in the end. He told her she would in the beginning and she did. He wasn't pulling any of his crap because he knew it was a temporary situation and he'd win. If Cameron was actually going to be in a position of power for some time and she was prepared to say no and mean it, House would have pulled out the big guns in his arsenal. So, no, the episode did not make me want more Cameron in Charge.

But I enjoyed it very much. No problem with the Cuddy/bonding stuff. It had to be compressed for TV but it was emotionally true. The case was engaging, the supporting characters' storylines all wove together well, and as Namaste says, I think the season has been pointing toward this coming together all along. I think Thirteen and Foreman's storyline will bring out a lot of good ethical issues and relationship issues, and House will be bound up in them. That I want to see much more than House having to get permission for every step he does.

Anonymous said...

Cameron did well because House didn't give her a hard time. She did EXACTLY what he expected her to do. Ultimately, she IS mushy and not strong enough to handle him. She confessed it herself.

Cuddy is as replaceable as the old team was.
I'm sorry, but that's just laughable. This episode proved she is anything but.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent episode in a stellar season for "House." The season's overarching themes of family and loss were brought together in fine fashion, with the Cuddy bonding with her baby especially well played out. Cameron, who usually is unbearably didactic, was just right here. And Foreman's pursuit of the answer he wanted for how to help Thirteen played out as poignant rather than repugnant. The superb scene between House and Foreman was a compelling encapsulation of the entire life story of both men.

Wilson was the softy friend to Cuddy as a needed foil to House's tough but ultimately tender truth-telling: Cuddy needed to hear what House had to tell her and his honest prodding actually helped her finally bond with Rachel in the end. The fact that House got to hear firsthand through the speakerphone Cuddy's anguished struggle with her baby was important in his own evolving understanding of Cuddy's desire for a baby. House has more insight into Cuddy now and that showed beautifully in the quirky, quiet three-way bonding scene in his office.

And baby Rachel was twice the key to House's solving the medical mystery -- first by howling to annoy the patient and second by spitting up to prompt House' final breakthrough ruminations.

Sea said...

I enjoyed very much this episode, it shows how well Cameron and House scenes work and what it's been missing since she was sidelined at the end of season 3.

I agree with you Alan, Cameron "controlled" House better than Cuddy ever did, it must be because part of Cameron's grown since she left House has to do with separating her personal life from the job, unlike Cuddy who would be better at controlling House if she didn't want to have a relationship with him.

I think the reason why House followed Cameron's game of power and was so well behaved is because he respects her. If she had continued on her role as House's boss, there would have been a mutual agreement to their roles in their boss/employee relationship. But Cameron quit because she's a doctor first and an administrator later, she's worked for House for three years and she knows there's a high chance he's right. She won't compromise the health of a patient with bureaucracy.

In my opinion, there were too many scenes with Cuddy bonding with the baby, after the second scene I couldn't care less if she dumped he baby or keep it. I just wanted her to stop crying and stop lamenting. We get it, she's new at it but House is not a soap opera, let's move on to another topic.

I wonder why every episode has to be about Thirteen, we know she's not dying or written off the show, no matter what happens to her or what she does so why should we care if she has huntington's, it doesn't justify having a season written around a character, unless you're House. And because there's never enough Thirteen, let's pair her up with Foreman so she can also get his amount of screentime. I know it's not because there's chemistry between these two characters. I don't care about Thirteen why would I care if Foreman compromises his career for a woman he started dating a month ago and prior to this season he never showed any emotion towards her?

It was a good episode, too bad next week we're back to Thirteen MD show.

I think House lost its lust when they pushed Cameron and Chase to the background, House was more bearable then. I wished they found a way to bring them back. I think it's time to start seeing less of Thirteen and Cuddy and start focusing on the rest of the characters.

Sadie said...

>>Cuddy has never controlled House this well. Never. It's a hallmark of both the show and her character that she either caves in to House, or he ignores her and she doesn't reprimand him for it.<<

Did you ever know that you're my hero,...

The episode was wonderful till that scene with Cameron and Cuddy. I just thought "WHAT?"
Cameron was fantastic, she knew exactly how to handle House, she worked with House for over 3 years and Cuddy didn't. Cuddy knows him for a very long time but she never worked with him, she's only there when she needs to (not) approve of procedures. The writers should have let Cameron be the boss for another episode or two, especially since Cameron scenes were reduced to 20 seconds cameos over the last 2 years, but I guess the writers needed that to initiate another unnecessary plotline for next week.

I do get Cuddy's anxiety about the baby. It's one of those scenarios when you want something so badly that when you finally get it, you don't know what to do with it. I hope the writers don't over dramatize the whole thing and take away Rachel just when Cuddy gets comfortable with the baby.

The scenes with Cuddy and Wilson were great, Foreman/13 bore me to tears...otherwise it was a great episode.

Big Sally said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Cameron in this episode, and agree with others that her character has been missed over the last two seasons. I find House more bearable when she's around; she does seem to be a steadying influence on him, just as she was in "The Itch," one of the few episodes I have liked this season. I loved - and agree with - House's meta statement to Cameron, "The team's not what it used to be." Neither is the show, but getting rid of the black hole that is Thirteen and bringing back Chase and Cameron would help considerbly.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Cameron was a refreshing change and she was much more rational and scientific in her decisions. I loved interactions between them, they were intense and yet very calm and less neurotic.