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Cats' Corners: the little HOUSE in the woods....
Where House is NEVER safe...
House: 4.09 Games--they shoulda called this one on account of rain. Or stupidity. 
28th-Nov-2007 09:19 am
longtripalone

The conclusion of last night's episode left me confused and disappointed and  angry  and irritable.  Oh, and did I mention confused?  Continuity gods, why dost thou continue to forsake us?  Our forgiveness for last season's Tritter arc wasn't a large enough sacrifice?

And speaking of arcs.  I enjoyed the Stacy arc.  *ducks*
I tolerated the Vogler arc [well, really I just pretty much ignored it.].
I despised the Tritter arc.
The Survivor arc?  Makes me want to crawl into bed with my seasons one and two DVDs, and pretend to be awaiting season three.  It's not that I despised it.  It's not that I enjoyed it.  It's that I didn't care one way or the other.  And that?  Saddens me.

Some questions.  Where is the medical mystery that drove season one?  Where is the characterization that drove season two?  And even--where are the highs and lows that drove season three?  But most importantly:  Where the hell is Dr. Gregory House, the brilliant, damaged genius whose glimpes of humanity and vulnerability were all the sweeter because the rest of the time we were slicing ourselves on his barbed-wire personality?

For me, the character of House has become a caricature of himself--and a poorly drawn one, at that.  I feel no sympathy for S4 House, nor even empathy.  I love him still--but that's only because I can still remember how utterly complicated, how poignant, how amusing, he used to be.   I'm able to recreate that man with my fiction because I know that--underneath this season's confused, self-indulgent, shallow idiot, that man still exists.  He's simply hidden underneath the rubble of bad writing and inconsistent characterization.  Not his fault.

And where is Wilson?  You know who I mean--that man who  was House's anchor and his foil, his conscience and his catalyst, his reason for not throwing in the towel and completely, finally, turning his back on the human race?  The man who, with one gaze would have let both House and the audience know, last week, that he was worried sick about his abused, mistreated, misunderstood, vulnerable best friend?

I can't complain about the House-Wilson dynamic this season, because there is no House-Wilson dynamic this season.  I've adored watching Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard revel in each other's company each time they're on screen together.  I've cheered on the rare occasion when they've been able, solely through their skills as actors, to overcome the horrid writing and convey true glimpses of the complex men each has worked so hard to create.  And I've sighed sadly when even they are unable to overcome the writers' lack of characterization and continuity, and a scene between them comes off forced, or phoned in.

The plotline involving Wilson last night is a prime example of the reasons for my despair.  Yeah--I get that Wilson is a good-hearted, sincere, upstanding fellow who was about to let a patient walk all over him.  I get that it was House's job to prevent that from happening.  I even get that the writers may have been attempting to convey to us a Deep Message about the way the two are always looking out for one another.  What I don't get is why they couldn't give us a lousy three-second shot of House staring after Wilson, concern evident in his eyes, a la season one [just as, last week, I wanted the same three-second shot of Wilson's eyes, brimming with compassion, as he looked at his ill, defeated friend].  Instead, they left us to figure out for ourselves what House had done, and why.  And I'll tell ya--after last night's show, I visited a few chat and message boards, and was unsurprised to discover that the majority of posting viewers had totally missed the well-hidden intent of the plotline.

I want House back.  I want Wilson back.  I want the House-Wilson dynamic back.  And--because I am a foolish optimist, with unshaken faith in Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard--I will continue to watch the show faithfully, awaiting the day when the medical mysteries again capture my avid attention, the day when the writing again makes me laugh and cry and sigh and snort, all in the space of five minutes--the day when House and Wilson, the current confusing and separate entities, become again House-and-Wilson, two intriguing "halves" who make the most complex "whole" on television.  Or until the writers succeed in running the show into the ground.  Whichever comes first.

Thoughts 
28th-Nov-2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
I see your points, I really do. But I guess I have more hope than you do.

But I'm also one of the few who liked the Tritter arc (though I think of it as "the shooting arc," since I don't think that event can be separated and started House's entire slide into desperation). In all its contrived glory, it gave the opportunity for what was IMO both HL and RSL's best acting of the series so far, and it gave the deepest insights into their psyches.

So many people disliked season three for being so dark, and now season four for being too light. While there are some definite problems (mainly things like Cuddy's portryal) I like that the writers are taking risks, even if those risks sometimes fail to hit their mark. And there have been some intriguining glimpses (whether intentional or not) of something important happening under the surface.

HL made a comment about House being "on and off the ledge" this season, and it seems like so far this season he's been almost in a almost manic phase. He's been outwardly more moronic and buffoonish (and apparently popping less Vicodin), and heady with the power of manipulation over the new team. One reviewer called him "more sadistic" this year. Yet at the same time he's taking incredible risks and ratcheting up the self-destruction in ways we haven't seen before (and this is a character we've seen break his own hand and down a bottle of Oxy, amongst other things!). I also have interpreted him as being a bit more needy to Wilson - a remnant of the Tritter arc. During that time, House was cruel and shunning of Wilson. Now Wilson is more sardonic and distant, while House seems to continually seek him out, act buddy-buddy, even tells Wilson he loves him.

I assume the hidden depth you mean was House's line, "You think you're responsible for every failure: every patient's boring life, every friend's screwed up..." To me, that's one of the key lines of the season, along with Wilson's in 97 Seconds: "Maybe you didn't want to die, but you didn't care if you lived!" Two, IMO, very significant lines almost buried or glossed over. The lesson House was trying to teach Wilson is to not let people walk all over him, not to take responsibility for people who don't deserve it. And I think House feels like he doesn't deserve it. The old, "Go away, come back" dichotomy. He loves Wilson. Wilson is the most important person in his life and House knows that Wilson has - or has been prepared to - sacrifice everything for House. And not out of any selfish motivation, but rather simply because he loves House (and I'm not talking love in a slashy way necessarily). Because House loves Wilson in return he hates seeing Wilson "waste his life" - House has caused Wilson irrepairable damage to his career, been at least partially to blame for the failure of his marriages, etc. No one can convince me House doesn't feel guilty about those things. Before Wilson cut him off, the gist of what he was saying was basically, "It's not your fault!"

I hope I'm right in getting the sense that there are being clues dropped here and there this season. If not an outright death wish, House has at least shown an alarming unconcern about his own life. He's been reaching out to Wilson more. He tested Wilson's blood for...something. And now he pulled the thing with the ex-terminal patient, trying to teach Wilson to stand up for himself. He's tried to absolve Wilson of guilt and stepped in when he thinks Wilson is being self-sacrificing.

I don't think the writers are going this way, but if you want to be REALLY REALLY dark it's almost as if House is trying to lay the groundwork to prepare Wilson for a life without House.
28th-Nov-2007 05:36 pm (UTC)
i absolutely agree with each point you've made--and have [and am currently] exploring many of these points more deeply in my fiction. i suppose that what's bothering me is another point you mentioned--that the writers are giving us intriguing, exciting glimpses into the minds of both house and wilson--and then are glossing over them, or even [apparently] dropping them totally [thus far, anyway].

i suppose what i'm longing for is consistency--in plot, in characterization, in overall quality. and i'm optimistic that we'll get that. in the meantime, it's analyses like yours that make me remember that even when it's bad, House is still far better, in my opinion, than anything else on television--now, or ever.

I don't think the writers are going this way, but if you want to be REALLY REALLY dark it's almost as if House is trying to lay the groundwork to prepare Wilson for a life without House.

oddly, that thought has occurred to me several times this season--and i've quickly discarded it each and every time. i enjoy angst, i write angst, i think angsty thoughts. but i'm also very, very good at denial. and that particular theory hits far too close to "logical progression of events" for me to want to even contemplate it for long. just as i'm not ready to give up on House, the show, i'm also not at all willing to give up on House, the character! ;)

28th-Nov-2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
Er, please annoy my typos above. I'm tired (intriguining?).

i suppose that what's bothering me is another point you mentioned--that the writers are giving us intriguing, exciting glimpses into the minds of both house and wilson--and then are glossing over them, or even [apparently] dropping them totally [thus far, anyway].

I think back to the revelation of Wilson's depression. There were subtle hints that there was something wrong, that Wilson was suffering from depression, before it was revealed that Wilson was actually on ADs. After that revelation, one can go back and actually see Wilson's progression. So that gives me hope.

Also with the whole third season, basically. There was a lot of complex groundwork laid there, IMO. It was basically an entire season arc - first the shooting, then the brief euphoria and respite from pain, then a massive crash that took a long while to fully expose itself.

I remember how, post Cane & Able, there were complaints that the writers had dropped the storyline. It seemed like House got his leg back, then bam suddenly he was back to being disabled and using the cane again and it was like the writers forgot it ever happened. At some forums, people were angrily posting things like, "That's it??" and accusing the writers of copping out.

But it wasn't over, in fact it had even started back in season two, when we saw House's addiction ramp up. That was stopped by the shooting and the ketamine - or so we thought. But then the pain returned, and House continued on the spiral that saw him shooting morphine the previous season. It wasn't just "old House" again, like the shooting and ketamine didn't happen. It turns out the writers didn't let House be unaffected. He seemed unaffected, but his addiction was grabbing control. A combination of (I think) the shooting, having his glimpse of freedom taken away, his uncertainty about his abilities and his desperation drove him deeper into addiction. Before the shooting it was morphine, then it became stealing Wilson's pad and forging his name. He gradually started acting more and more like an out of control junkie, until he finally downed the bottle of Oxy and Maker's Mark.

Anyway, I'm rambling, but the point is that as soon as I'm ready to give up on these writers and their sense of continuity they surprise me. Who would've thought we'd essentially return, in Games, to an issue raised by House's hallucination in No Reason?

in the meantime, it's analyses like yours that make me remember that even when it's bad, House is still far better, in my opinion, than anything else on television--now, or ever.

Aw, thanks. ;) Hi, BTW, I've loved your fic for a while.

oddly, that thought has occurred to me several times this season--and i've quickly discarded it each and every time. i enjoy angst, i write angst, i think angsty thoughts. but i'm also very, very good at denial. and that particular theory hits far too close to "logical progression of events" for me to want to even contemplate it for long.

It's a horrible thought, but hell, even Wilson seems worried.

House doesn't meet all the criteria, but I'm sure you're familiar with those "warning signs of suicidal behavior" lists. And much of House's behavior has started coinciding with those alarm bells they print in those brochures: Development of extreme dependency. Sudden happiness after a prolonged period of depression. Risk-taking and careless behavior. Attempts to tie up loose ends with loved ones, express emotions or say goodbye. Discussion of death and/or the afterlife. Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death.

It's that common perception that suicide is proceeded by depression ("he or she didn't seem sad!"). When it's more common that suicidal people seem happy before the act, because they've finally made a decision.

28th-Nov-2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
*smiles*

and if you're familiar with my fic, you already know we'll have to agree to disagree on house's dependence on opioids in order to function normally. i see the examples that you call 'addictive behavior' as pseudoaddiction, and as a direct result of his having been forcibly deprived of those opioids he needs to function. my own theory? house doesn't have a problem with vicodin--he's got a problem (a big one) without it.

House doesn't meet all the criteria, but I'm sure you're familiar with those "warning signs of suicidal behavior" lists.

did you know they're getting ready to make Denial the 51st state, based solely on how very quickly i scanned that part of your comment and went, "uh-uh--not House!" ;)
28th-Nov-2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
i see the examples that you call 'addictive behavior' as pseudoaddiction, and as a direct result of his having been forcibly deprived of those opioids he needs to function. my own theory? house doesn't have a problem with vicodin--he's got a problem (a big one) without it.

I have complicated feelings about it, being both the daughter of an addict and yet also someone dependant on painkillers for a chronic condition. I agree and disagree with you at the same time (God I'm a kiss ass!) in that yes, I believe House needs the drugs to function normally. I also think he's addicted to them in the traditional (or psychological) sense.
28th-Nov-2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
I also think he's addicted to them in the traditional (or psychological) sense.

ohhh, i was gonna leave this so alone.... how, then, do you account for the fact that he went three months without them [and without picking up an addiction to anything else] following the ketamine coma?

[full disclosure: i am a chronic pain patient, 49 years old, with a seriously screwed up right leg--and a favorite cane. i take oxycodone, oxy-contin, tramadol, and ibuprofen daily. i function in a reasonable assimilation of 'normal.' whatever that is.]
28th-Nov-2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
>I don't think the writers are going this way, but if you want to be REALLY REALLY dark it's almost as if House is trying to lay the groundwork to prepare Wilson for a life without House.<

Or, could it be the opposite -- preparing the audience for a House w/o Wilson. The show can't go on w/o House and I believe HL is signed up for 6 yrs total. But we all know that RSL isn't enamored of Hollywood and the show is begging for a reduction in characters. Such a move, BTW, would cause me to stop watching, but probably not the other 20+ million who tune in each week.

I agree with the frustration about this season. In the past, I always felt gripped by the story lines -- either the medicine or the characterization or both. This season, I continually find myself bored. And, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. That's where I am.

The show is, at its core, about House. It's not an ensemble show, despite what the actors or TPTB may say. Thus, the overwhelming majority of time must focus on one character. Keeping enough action & interaction for another 5 characters the past 3 seasons was hard enough. Now there are 8. And a lot of time was spent trying to develop the new ducklings as characters. Thus, no relationship is being fully developed and this particularly affects the H/W relationship.

I desperately miss the H/W interaction and, quite frankly, the H/Cuddy and even H/W/C interaction. What's there reeks of going thru the motions.

I might care about the new kids if they'd gotten rid of the old ones. Doing so would have: (1) been risky but (2) would have forced the audience to adopt/care about the new fellows b/c that's all there would be.

What bothers me is that keeping the old fellows smacks of: well, let's try these new folks and see how everyone likes them; if it doesn't work out, we can always bring back the old folks.

I tend to think that the goal this year is to expand H's universe and expand the number of people about whom he cares -- and show us that he really can care about more than Wilson. But what comes across is a bunch of shallow relationships rather than any deep ones. And that, to me, is OOC for House.

At the end of week 9, I continue to think the problem is trying to do way too much. It is impossible in one hour to (1) focus on House, (2) develop an interesting and intriguing medical mystery, (3) develop an interesting POTW, and (4) work on even one or two House/others relationships. And even if all that could be done, it leaves the other 6 characters as extras for the week.

They just have to get rid of at least 2 characters asap, and preferably 3. And definitely not Wilson!

But, unfortunately, doesn't look like it will happen. :(
28th-Nov-2007 07:35 pm (UTC)
i agree so completely with each and every word you said that anything i could add would simply be a repetition. but this:

I tend to think that the goal this year is to expand H's universe and expand the number of people about whom he cares -- and show us that he really can care about more than Wilson. But what comes across is a bunch of shallow relationships rather than any deep ones. And that, to me, is OOC for House.

absolutely deserves to be repeated--several times.
28th-Nov-2007 08:08 pm (UTC)
Or, could it be the opposite -- preparing the audience for a House w/o Wilson. The show can't go on w/o House and I believe HL is signed up for 6 yrs total. But we all know that RSL isn't enamored of Hollywood and the show is begging for a reduction in characters. Such a move, BTW, would cause me to stop watching, but probably not the other 20+ million who tune in each week.

I think that's fairly unlikely (Wilson leaving) for various reasons, including RSL's comments. Wilson's actually had (comparitively) quite a lot of screentime this season so far, and don't see any hint either he or Cuddy are being shoved out the door. The writers have kept writing for Wilson and Cuddy and so obviously they see uses for them. The characters who've suffered at the sake of the newbies are the original three: Cameron, Chase and Foreman. All of Chase's scenes so far this season probably wouldn't even add up to Wilson's screentime in "Alone."

I also don't think that either Wilson or Cuddy are getting less screentime than they would've if these same episodes had just the original ducklings. OTOH, it's clear that, if not Foreman, than at least Cameron and especially Chase are being phased out (which I don't mind). The writers don't know what to do with Cameron and Chase, and Jesse Spencer's comments on his future on the show don't seem to hold out much hope either. There are three replacements now signed and ready for CCF, there are no such replacements for Wilson or Cuddy. And we've seen an entire season of the writers either ignoring or not knowing what to do with CCF. So if there's a culling of the herd (which I think there will be) it will be Jennifer and Jesse going. Then we've left with the same makeup as before, the only real addition being Foreman and seeing where he fits in.
28th-Nov-2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
the only real addition being Foreman and seeing where he fits in

was i the only one absolutely creeped out and annoyed silly by smug!sanctimonious!foreman last night? i actually spent the boring parts of the show [essentially the entire potw plotline] trying to think of new places for house to hide from him.
28th-Nov-2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
I had a brief hope for Foreman (and actually enjoyed him) in "Whatever it Takes," but I agree that he's pretty useless generally this season. However, he's for whatever reason the darling of David Shore so unless Omar wants out I don't see Foreman gone. Foreman's been arguably the least popular character for the entire series in terms of fan response and that hasn't seemed to the TPTB.

BTW, can I friend you?
28th-Nov-2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
can I friend you?

of course! and i, too, had a fleeting hope for foreman, and even for chase. [let's not wander into cam territory, however--i'm just today getting over a stomach virus....]
28th-Nov-2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
I'm actually really enjoying Foreman this season, and so far its what Ive been impressed with the most. Hes a lot more likable to me than he has been in previous seasons, and I am actually hoping that don't completely remove him from working with House like they have with Chase and Cameron.