I've loved "House" for a very long time, and I've always been sort of impressed by the writers, and their ability to achieve balance between formula and a more serialized format, but last night was lost on me, and I'll tell you why.
"House" lost a little bit of credibility for me last year when Kutner was written off the show via suicide. This concerned me. Not only was it completely unearned (based on Kutner's character and the dynamics of the season), but also completely unnecessary. I know they wanted to make it clear that he was never coming back, but was suicide really the only way? It was jarring and sort of obscene, and now, Kutner's been wiped completely from the consciousness of the show, which makes it even more jarring and obscene. Last season then fell flat, relying on many of the show's old tricks (head games and hallucinations) while simultaneously claiming that these things were somehow new or innovative. We've already seen TONS of alternate-reality-hallucinatory "House," and I think these head-trip episodes are largely the weakest in terms of both performance and credibility. The exceptions, of course, are the season four finales Houses Head and Wilson's Heart, which, I think, are quite well done.
Anyway, my favorite "House" episodes of all time are Euphoria Parts I and II, when Foreman becomes deathly ill (a la amoeba in the brain) and has to go into quarantine. Epps's performance breaks my damn heart, and this is maybe the first time we see House experience any real fear over losing somebody close to him. The best episodes in "House" are the ones that hurt our protagonist in places he can't numb with Vicodin, and they put him in situations that he can't solve by discussing differential diagnoses with the team. Remember, House is Sherlock Holmes. He's a detective, but he's broken and addicted, and so much loss has outfitted him in a seemingly impenetrable suit of emotional armor. The Euphoria episodes expose House's vulnerability far more adroitly than any of these post-House-flies-over-the-cuckoo's-nest episodes, in which the show seemingly forgets about all the baggage House's relationships with his team, Wilson, and, especially with Cuddy, have been lugging around for five seasons, and we're supposed to believe that he's somehow changed, or that the relationships around him have in any way changed when they all look the same to me. I'm increasingly annoyed by the writers' inability to build on the relationships between House and Wilson, and especially House and Cuddy, relationships that are frequently tapped but almost always on the same note. Cuddy STILL thinks House is unreliable, and she's always so surprisingly practical and cool, and she never gives in for a second to her unavoidable attraction to him, an attraction that, I think, is incredibly complicated, and I want more. I don't want her to be this typed professional single mom who's looking for stability and security, because only the 's' word I'm concerned with is SEX, and why she and House aren't having it, or why they haven't had it already. When we thought House and Cuddy slept together last season, I think the tension really changed, and things became a lot more interesting. Then, when we found out that it had all been a dream, this tension became annoyance, and House and Cuddy lost their nuance--it became all about that on-again-off-again crap that "Bones" will simply NOT LET GO, and it's just not interesting. There's no momentum anymore, and after last night's episode, we're back to square one in almost every possible way. Cuddy is untouchable, the old team is back, Chase is tortured, and House is in charge. What should we expect now that the writers have effectively diffused almost all of the tension they've spent five seasons trying to build?
I feel almost like House has been missing from this season's consciousness, as the writers have sort of chosen to focus on Chase and Cameron's failing marriage instead (yawn-fest, don't care) and Chase's ruddy inner-turmoil over killing that bad guy. I've always loved the Chase character and found him to be the most dynamic of all the team members (especially now that Thirteen and Taub are back), but I've never understood his relationship with Cameron, or why they got married, because, well, I've never understood her. She's never really been excavated, and for a long time up until this season, was hardly ever around anymore. I sort of forgot about her and all of her underdeveloped moral qualms from the earlier seasons, and then all of a sudden, last night, there she is BERATING House for being this evil, broken person who made Chase into an evil broken person, and I don't know if I'm supposed to be upset with her for saying these things or nodding in agreement, because none of it makes any sense.
Why is she suddenly leaving NOW? Why not just write her off at the end of last season, have her leave Chase at the alter, and then--BAM--Chase has a reason for the moral fuck-ups he's committing. The Cameron character has always been sort of weak and inconsistent. We never got to know her at all. When she told House that she'd used to be in love with him, I thought, "Why didn't we know this sooner? Why is this all happening now, so late, when there's no resonance anymore and the impact of the moment is lost?" I would have believed her exit MORE had she just disappeared and never come back, because that monologue was just overwrought and out of touch, and it operates on the assumption that we care about Cameron at all, when the writers have spent five seasons neglecting to develop her or her backstory beyond the whole "I fix needy guys" thing. Chase and Foreman have both experienced bouts of intense characterization and exposition, but not really Cameron. All we know about her is that she had a husband once, and the only reason she married him was because he was dying, and then he died, and now she's got a "fixer-upper" complex. Is that why she married Chase? What did she see in him that needed fixing? I would have liked to learn that, to see that in action. Maybe that would have lent some credibility to her exit, because if we know that her initial intentions with Chase were to fix him, just like they sort of were when she was supposedly in love with House, then she's actually leaving because she knows she can't fix him--not after this terrible thing he has done, and she can't handle that, so she leaves. Make sense? I don't know. I think I'm rambling at this point.
Anyway, I have to call it quits on this, or my entire afternoon will be lost analyzing "House, MD." I'm just so disappointed with last night's episode, and with the weird directionality taking place this season. I just hope they get rid of You're-a-cop-Kenny from "Garden State" and excavate the characters they've already got. Because I don't care for new faces at this point. I want to know more about what and who is already there.