Anyone who has ever seen House
before understands that it's a show in which medical, ethical and moral boundaries are crossed, intertwined, and broken. This week's episode, "Family Practice" did a nice job of providing several ethical benders, enough to keep even House on red alert.
Because the patient of the week was someone we knew, Cuddy's nightmarish mother, Arlene (Candice Bergen), the usual format of the episode seemed shifted somehow, the same as in "House's Head/Wilson's Heart," when House and Amber became the patients and the mystery and diagnosis were even more interesting because we were invested in all parties involved.Like Mother, Like Boyfriend?
Cuddy's mother Arlene is a piece of work. A pistol, even. When Arlene tells her daughter that she's forgotten how to be a real doctor, I was immediately reminded of House telling Cuddy the same thing in season 2. Is Cuddy secretly, or as it turns out, not so secretly, a masochist? Seems like she was raised with her mother being extremely hard on her. Then she goes to medical school, becomes one of the first women deans, dates Lucas (ew), then dates House, which is great, but who's fooling whom? A relationship with House is rewarding, but there's a lot of emotional drama to get through (six seasons worth). Consider how long it took Cuddy to admit her feelings for him. At any rate, it's interesting that Arlene and House both love Cuddy, but are by no means easy to love.Taub's "Ethics"
Throw in the word "ethics" with Taub and you may get some blank stares. Taub is the man who cheats on his wife and plays the dutiful role of House's lapdog with a bite. But does Taub do what it takes to make sure patients get what they need? One nice parallel throughout this episode was Taub and House's patient philosophies. Both men wanted what was right for the patient, regardless of the ethical boundaries they were supposedly bound by. House went over the hospital's head, over his patient's head and over his employee's head all to make sure Arlx
ene got the treatment she needed to survive.
Meanwhile, Taub risked an already vulnerable relationship with Rachel's brother, played by Mad Men
's Michael Gladis, to ensure that a young boy with a potential brain bleed didn't get lost in a court battle. Rachel said it best. He may not be a good husband, but he's still a good person. Cuddy gave a similar speech to her mother when she told her she'd go to the next hospital and be treated well and die or she can stay alive and be treated horribly. "Team" Family
I enjoyed watching the team dynamic in tonight's episode because it reminded me that the team is a family and that House is the patriarch and will not be ignored. Masters is the annoying cousin that no one wants tattle-taling and everyone else, even though they may make some noise, is generally on the same side. Chase stepping up first to cross ethical lines was no surprise. His run-in with Diabola in last year's sole Chase storyline means that Chase's boundaries may no longer really exist. But what about the rest of the family?
Foreman certainly did a fair amount of squawking, but did he really change anyone's mind? Taub, meanwhile, is focused on putting another patient first, but stepping on toes and ethical guidelines to do it. Then we have Masters. God bless her for being the smartest little naivete there is. But man, by the end of it, Martha's got real chutzpah."The Patient Is the Highest Priority"
It's with the above phrase that we understand what the conflict between Masters and House is. They both put patient care first. The difference is that Masters goes by the rule book that House threw out the window when he first started practicing. This is the episode where perhaps House finally understands that Masters will not back off of her ethics. So much so, that she's willing to risk her entire career, but not without some serious thought and throwing up in the staff bathroom. Will House accept that she won't budge? What does her un-firing say?Practice Makes Family
The most significant parts of this episode came when House and Cuddy teamed up to practice ethics in a Housian way. House and Cuddy are hoping that x
amount of wrong things added together do end up equaling a right. House takes note of this, and in the episode's climactic moment, House tells Cuddy to stand up to her mother, and we realize his anger is coming from a place of wanting Cuddy to get what she wants from her mother and finally demand respect. A few times in this episode do we realize just how deep House's feelings for Cuddy run. He's invested. A simple, "She's my mother," was enough to get House to go against his better judgment and treat Arlene in the first place.
By the end of the episode, not only did Cuddy and her mother seem to find some sort of acceptance, peace and trust with one another, but we as the audience start to understand that House and Cuddy are family at this point and his usual stubborn attitude of wanting to stay out of anything emotionally taxing is replaced with a need to fix how Cuddy's feeling by way of treating Arlene. "Family Practice" or practice at being a family? Looks like in the last couple of episodes, we've seen House step into the father role, albeit reluctantly and without real admittance, and this week we see him as the dutiful boyfriend, telling Cuddy some of what she wants to hear and some of what she's avoided hearing all her life. Without House playing the role of the boyfriend, would her mother even be alive?Notes
1. Was Arlene's new doctor's name Dr. Kalpen? Like Kal Penn, the actor who played Kutner? Or did I just imagine that?
2. I like that the episode ended with Cuddy and her mother holding hands. This show knows its way around hand holding.
3. Michael Gladis! Can you return to Mad Men
so I can stop missing you?
4. I can't believe I remembered "Pop quiz, hotshot," was from the movie Speed
5. When House mentioned "Addicts lie," to Cuddy, I had a momentary freak-out. Foreshadowing perhaps? Has House limited his mantra from "Everybody lies," to just addicts?
6. "I've got a family," says Lisa Cuddy. Interesting that her mother defines family as marriage, and we all know at this point that people in this show make their own family.
7. "You lied to me and betrayed me. Do you think I really care what you consider a good idea anymore?" Did Arlene say this? It could have come out of anyone's mouth throughout this episode.
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