When The Powers That Be decided to break up House and Cuddy, it became clear that they wanted to be showing off their favorite depressed, Vicodin-addicted doctor once again. To this I asked, are we really going to be getting something new? Or is this just the 2011 version of the pill-popping heartbroken doctor we saw after Stacy left? To be fair, he was in it a lot deeper with Cuddy at least as far as length and commitment go. And he was as happy as House is capable of. Well, tonight’s episode started House’s downward spiral and with some amazing musical selections, we’re introduced to some new extremes of House’s coping mechanisms. Make no mistake: The sunlight streaming in through House’s hotel window was just about the only light in the start of what will most likely be a series of dark episodes.
I found this week’s patient interesting. Mostly because we didn’t have to deal with him very much and his profession alone provided almost everything I needed to tie him and House together. A bull rider must be a risk taker. Whoever takes on what many consider a foolish profession has to be all in, 100 percent risky. House has always admired those who take huge risks and commit completely. It’s why he loves the extreme monster truck rallies, enjoys his overly dramatic soap operas and revels in The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Regardless of their class, House lives for those who can do what he cannot. Be completely who they are with no regrets. Love and live fully.
Authentic and extreme without being self-conscious fit this bull rider’s personality to a T, and this is why when the POTW agrees to let his heart be blown up after two seconds of consideration, House is impressed and curious. The patient’s words, “I can always find something else to love,” strike House deeply. Remember back in season 1’s “DNR” when that trumpet player talked to House about their shared “one thing”? This bull rider is willing to give up his love and search for another. He’s a thrill seeker who knows what’s important and is willing to prioritize his own life over only embracing fully and sacrificing fully for just one love.
Music and Lyrics Part 1
I typically don’t take much time to look at the teaser from each episode, but they are a part of each episode and tonight’s should be looked at. Or in this case, listened to. The music selection of the teaser set the pace for what looked to be a dreary episode. The song, entitled “This Night” by Black Lab completely embodied House’s current predicament. Lyrics like “I know I’m not forgiven/But I hope that I’ll be given/some peace,” speak to House’s feelings about Cuddy and about himself. Will he be able to forgive himself for not being everything Cuddy needed him to be? Will he ever find peace within himself again after such a difficult breakup and putting himself in such a vulnerable position? Additionally, how about “There’s a beast/And I let it run/Now it’s running/my way”? There’s a beast within all of us, at least according to Lord of the Flies, which I just finished reading with my seventh graders. One of House’s many “beasts” is his addiction problem. And while his addictions were being fed by Cuddy, love, sex and happiness, now there’s a void that only Vicodin and hookers can satisfy, but talk therapy should be filling.
House’s M.O. is to avoid pain at all costs. So what happens when he runs into a patient of his who invites all the risks that potential pain bring? The whole episode House is doing his best to try and feel something. Excitement with medicine, physical chemistry with a barrage of prostitutes, the whole spa treatment, and that high that only Vicodin can bring House. House is being extreme, but is it the authentic kind of extreme that he strives for? Is he really taking true risks in his unhealthy behavior? And moreover is he feeling anything close to the excitement he felt being in love with Cuddy? Interestingly enough, the prostitutes’ overt sexuality played nicely against what little we’ve seen of Cuddy and House in the bedroom. House may look like he’s enjoying the scantily clad women, but Cuddy’s understated sexiness with House and the simple things like sleeping (literally) together are probably what he misses.
In the whole episode, we got a minute-long conversation between Cuddy and House. Both of them are avoiding each other, each for different reasons. Cuddy’s guilt is real, but it’s for different reasons than we originally thought. When Wilson confronted her at the beginning of the episode, we find out that Cuddy realizes that she should have known that House couldn’t handle what was going on with her and it was her fault he was hurting. She should have known better and she needs someone to rely on completely. She talks about how this isn’t about what House needs, it’s about her being able to rely on someone and know she isn’t alone.
Interestingly enough, what she says later to Wilson raises a few questions: “We can’t go backwards. I can’t fix his problem. I am his problem.” Is Cuddy House’s problem? Considering how quickly he switched from her to Vicodin, prostitutes and drinking, one has to wonder if House’s addictive personality did inadvertently use Cuddy in place of his old drugs. He said himself that she made him a worse doctor. By placing her at the top of his priority list, above medicine, his first addiction, Cuddy becomes something he absolutely needs. And make no mistake, House is a needy person.
Music and Lyrics Part 2
One of my favorite Arcade Fire songs, “My Body is a Cage” was covered by Peter Gabriel in a particularly haunting and powerful montage to cover House’s anguish in a perfect few moments. The lyrics state, “My body is a cage that keep me/from dancing with the one I love/but my mind holds the key.” Several interpretations exist from just these few lines. One is simple and shows House’s physical limitations of pain. His leg pain has always help him back from being completely clear-headed. But are his leg pain and addiction problems also to blame for the end of his relationship to Cuddy? Was it his physical addiction or mental pain avoidance that ended his relationship and kept him from “dancing” with the one he loves? Additionally, when will House stop blaming his aging body and mind from doing what he wants to do, reckless or not? The bartender in the episode pointed out the young group of 20-somethings to House and digressed about how easy it must be for them to let loose without any troubles and their whole lives ahead of them. House downed his drink and thought about that. What’s holding him back?
Much more alcohol and more pain-numbing pills later and House is on the balcony up at least six floors. He jumps into the pool (a slow reveal) in an almost faux-suicide, attempting to “let his spirit free” as the song lyrics beg for. Wilson, searching for House at the bar, watches the whole terrifying thing unfold as House lands deeply in the pool, smiling for having jumped in, all in, in fact. Promptly handed a beer, House continues his recklessness chanting about the right reaction to winning and losing: partying. Literally, House is off the deep end.
Did I hear marriage, House and hooker all in the same promo for next week’s episode? If House gets married to a hooker, I may fall out of love with his character.
1. I enjoyed that Wilson seemed like the audience’s voice in this episode. He questioned Cuddy in the way I wish I could have and he was there for House as much as House would let him. A good one for the Hilsons, although the last few minutes could be seen as backwards motion.
2. When Cuddy said, “We can’t go backwards,” did anyone pause to appreciate the irony in the direction the show just took with House’s relapse?
3. Masters asking the POTW out was a nice twist and it actually makes perfect sense she would like him. She and House are similar in their logical ways of thinking so a bull rider that attempts to defy logic would be appealing. Poor Martha. She took a risk that didn’t pay off.
4. Can’t say enough about the last five minutes in this episode. That saved it for me. And truth be told, I didn’t love this episode until I realized how much I had to write about it.
5. Still don’t feel good about House and Cuddy being broken up, but if they keep going for powerful juxtaposition-y scenes like the music with that last scene with House jumping in the pool, I’ll be tuning in eagerly each week.
(Image courtesy of FOX)