Let me preface this by saying I might be in the minority with my feelings on this episode. With Hugh Laurie directing "Lockdown," I thought for certain it would be perfection. What I didn't count on was feeling like I didn't learn anything groundbreaking.
Typically format breaking episodes on House do a great job revealing character. I find out things I wouldn't have normally found out using the mystery illness formula, and I can appreciate the format change because there are reasons for it. To be fair, I hyped up tonight's episode nearly as much as it could possibly be hyped. What could there be to not look forward to? Cam's coming back, Foreman and Taub were getting into personal files, House is trapped with an interesting patient, and Wilson and Thirteen were playing Truth or Dare.
So House fans, I ask: did we learn anything all that new? Rather than pushing stories forward, I feel like this episode just stood to reaffirm what is known.
Taub is Sneaky and Not to be Trusted
I like that the two of them took Vicodin and tried to live in House's shoes. I liked even more that they were stoned on House's happy pills and their response to the numbness was to punch each other in the face. Thrilled that Taub knocked Foreman to the ground. It was nice to get some insight on his inner monologue that we never usually get to see. It was almost like when Amber was on in season 5 and we got the "all access pass to his subconscious."
So Foreman is such a perfectionist he wants to wipe out one false lab report in his file? Surprise! Foreman's vulnerability is the fact that he's not perfect. I'm not sure if this makes me like him more, the same, or less. I wouldn't exactly call him a teddy bear, but it's nice to know he's a little soft inside.
As for Taub, who would have guessed he was ashamed he was moving somewhat backwards in his career? Um, duh? Their scenes were enjoyable, but again, what was so groundbreaking that was revealed? I guess the two of them have some kind of newfound respect for one another. After all, Taub did rid Foreman's record of its blemish.
The Return of Chameron
I was looking forward to Cameron's reappearance.
Here's how it served me: I love Chase even more than I did before and I'm happy to see that Cameron is willing to admit she is damaged. Heartbreaking to hear her admit that she didn't know if she was in love with Chase, that she was unfixable, and finally admitting to not loving him in a way that would make the relationship work. I would have assumed that Chase would have slipped it in that House was one of the damaged people she loved. Thought their dancing was sweet, their scenes ripe with intensity, and now there's room for J-Mo to come back. Fine by me, just hope she remembers to loosen up a bit (Cameron, not Morrison).
Thirteen Remains a Secret
This brings us to Wilson and Thirteen, an unlikely pairing, but for me, one of the most fun to watch. The best part was watching Wilson try to steal a dollar. I was laughing as hard as Thirteen was. Cheers to RSL's comic timing and Wilson's assumptions about Thirteen and threesomes.
So what do we learn from these two? Well, Thirteen seemed to clarify Wilson's issues in a matter of minutes. He's letting House run his life. He needs to start running his own, blah, blah, blah. So Wilson asks his ex-wife out to dinner
, realizing he'd been using House as a roadblock to his personal life. And what about Thirteen? Apparently nothing. The ever-elusive Thirteen remains a secret. The only thing she did that was truthful was flash Taub at the end of the episode. Another good laugh out loud moment.
House Is Better Off Alone
And finally, what was House doing during lockdown? Befriending a patient? Not quite. House gets stuck with a patient he thought for certain would be asleep, or passed out. When it turns out he wasn't, House still has his guard up, especially when the retired professor attempted to make House feel guilty about not taking his case. House deflects: "Lots of people that I don't treat end up dying. Good argument for there being more than one me."
Our patient, the dying intellectual, doesn't buy it. He says, the best line of the episode, and the one that ties everybody's storylines in a neat bow: "Your secrets couldn't be safer. Unless you're keeping them from yourself." Ah. My own epiphany trumped House's this time. Everyone's been keeping secrets from themselves. House has always told himself he was alone and that he was better off. He tells this patient that Lydia changed that. This makes sense because when he got back from Mayfield, he tried to start things honestly with Cuddy, only to be brutally rebuffed. Of course now he would go back to thinking we're all better off alone.
Is this his secret from himself? That he actually does care? He's not willing to admit that it's better to be with someone outwardly, not after the hurt he's experienced with Cuddy and Lydia this season. Watching him care for someone so openly in front of the guard at the end of the lockdown was a change of pace. But why wouldn't he care? This man was going to die. He had just taken the biggest risk in his life and called his daughter to say I love you. With his final deeds done, House now respects him for reaching out to another person so he doesn't have regrets, and showing his vulnerability while in severe pain. House apologizes for not taking his case. I guess I was just hoping for another layer of House to be peeled away. We all know he is caring. We all know his pain keeps him isolated from others. That secret was out six seasons ago. Maybe it was a kindred spirit with the patient that was new? I'm stumped.
I did love how artful the episode was. Even down to a detail during the scenes between Thirteen and Wilson and how during their first scene, they were separated by a whole window frame, and then later, they were in the same frame. Chameron's scenes were also quite intimate, even while in the sterile doctor's exam room. Ah, an examination of their relationship. Got it.
Cuddy Solves the Mystery
The whole reason we get these "revealing" moments from the team is because the hospital goes under lock down when a baby goes missing. Cuddy found the newborn in a laundry bin after she realized one of her nurses was experiencing asymmetric neurological function which was causing pilomotor seizures that left her in a low-functioning state. I did like the symmetry of Cuddy finding this baby and Cuddy finding Rachel last season. Even the mother asking her if she had children was a nice touch because it brought me right back to "Joy to the World," where Cuddy's answer was no. This time, it was a proud yes.
In reading this article back to myself, I realize that there were a ton of great moments in this episode, with great acting and smart direction. But is the sum of "Lockdown's" parts greater than the whole? Something for House to ponder, I suppose.
"Show your breasts to Taub." Wilson to Thirteen
"Flex your goatee muscle?" Taub to Foreman
"A botched penisectomy on a patient named...Lisa Cuddy?" Taub to Foreman and House in spirit
(Image courtesy of Fox)
B. Palmer, BuddyTV Fan Columnist