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House, M.D.: Looking Back at Season Five

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The final shot of season five left me with a lump in my throat as Dr. Gregory House disappears into Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. It’s a bleak finish to a mostly downbeat season. And it's the final shot of a season that should (if there is any justice in the Emmy world) win Hugh Laurie his long-deserved Best Dramatic Actor award. (But more about that in my next article.)

Although there were a few wrong steps here and there, I believe season five is probably the most cohesive of the entire series. (Of course, your mileage may vary.)

With no artificially inserted House-nemesis (ala Vogler—season one, and Tritter—season three), no survivor games, and a storyline threading a direct line from season four’s finale right through the final episode of this season, House, M.D. gave us a strong season with a compelling story.

House has dwelled upon a precipice since we first meet him in the first season. An essentially unstable character, teeter-tottering on the edge, House has danced with self-destruction that has occasionally bordered on suicidal. In an interview with Elvis Mitchell in the early days of season two, Hugh Laurie acknowledged this, wondering how long it would be before the audience finally cried: “For heaven’s sake, just jump already!”

This season, House seemed to edge ever and ever closer to emotional collapse. Unlike Kutner's abrupt and shocking exit, which no one foresaw, House's demise had many clues; many cues. Loss piled upon loss until, finally, he simply snapped, crushed under the weight of too much, punctuated by the loss of the only thing he could rely upon: belief in himself.

Should his colleagues have seen it coming? Were there neon signs and marquees pointing to House's inevitable crash? Looking back on season five, I would say yes. And no. Yes, they might have seen it coming from miles off, but House's own personality, in denial nearly until the end, would have prevented anyone from really helping him.

And what were those clues? I began to re-examine the season, episode by episode, looking for the the signposts to House's demise. And here they are, presented as a starting point for what I hope will be a summer of debate about where the show (and House) will go from here:

1.       The "white bus scene" at the end of season four and House's guilt over Amber. Picking up only a few weeks from where season four's story left viewers, season five explores the three things that House expresses to Amber in the crucial "white bus" scene in "Wilson's Heart." "I don't want to be in pain; I don’t want to be miserable; I don't want him (Wilson) to hate me."  So much of season five addresses these three confessions: his relationship with Wilson, his misery and his physical pain.

The events of the season four finale leave House vulnerable and emotionally fragile. He is not in a great place even as the season begins. His feelings of guilt over Amber and his strong denial of them in "Dying Changes Everything," the season five premiere sets House up for another crash, perhaps less physically violent, but no less jarring than the bus crash that ended season four.

2.       Wilson's exit from House's life. House's worst fears about Wilson are realized at the end of "Dying Changes Everything," when Wilson decides that House is simply too toxic. And he wants to end their association. “We’re no longer friends, House. I don’t think we ever were,” he cruelly says to the bereft House. Wilson's departure leaves House isolated and bewildered—and it is the first of many blows to House's psyche during season five.

By episode two, "Not Cancer," House is pining for his friend, coping badly with his new reality. Even the eventually annoying private investigator Lucas feels bad for House, who is hurt by the knowledge that Wilson has remained friends with everyone else, while trying to completely trying to shut him out. The moment House throws money into Wilson’s apartment, and then practically pleads with him to just talk, I began to wonder how long House would hang to his sanity if Wilson really left for good.

3.       The death of House's father in "Birthmarks." John House's death causes House to revisit his past, even as it brings Wilson back into his life. Claiming that he simply doesn't care masks deeper feelings, which emerge in conversations with Wilson and in House's bitter eulogy.  But the bigger blow comes when House realizes that although John House is not his biological father, he is who made him (for better or worse) into the man he has become. House gains no comfort from confirming that John was not his father. It doesn't take away the pain of his childhood, or give him any solace.

4.       Cuddy's adoption plans and House's feelings for her. Just as Wilson returns, Cuddy hits House with the news that she's going to adopt a baby in "Lucky 13." House's shell-shocked expression as Cuddy excitedly tells him the news, reveals how upset House really is about this turn of events. Both Wilson and Cuddy are bewildered at House's strange reaction. No snark, no mockery only "If you're happy I'm …" He's clearly caught with a lump in his throat and his quick move to put the sunglasses back is clearly meant to conceal his feelings.

As Wilson tells House in the next episode "Joy," Cuddy has moved on to high school while he's stuck in eighth grade. Resentful of the potential intrusion into his life, and Cuddy's intention to move on to a new phase in her life, House really does begin to feel "stuck" and unable to get himself out of the hole he's made for himself over the years. And as everyone around him seems to move on with their lives (sometimes even with his counsel and help—Cuddy, Foreman, 13, Chase, and Cameron all benefit from House's wiser instincts during season five), he cannot seem to move. I think this bit of self-knowledge weighs heavily on House for much of the last half of the season.

5.       House's misery and the fear to change. I believe the impulsive, passionate kiss at the end of "Joy" awakens House to the depth of his feelings for Cuddy. But more important than that, it arouses an impulse to change his story: to make his life less about the misery and pain; to get on with life. To act on what has bugged his subconscious since the "white bus" conversation.

This realization hits home at the end of in the next episode, "The Itch." House lectures his agoraphobic patient about his fear to change. Telling him that he's only rationalizing House says, "Yeah, you're agoraphobic, yeah, you got PTSD, but you're also a coward. If you want to change your life, do something. Don't believe your own rationalizations that you want to lock yourself up and pretend you're happy."  For once paying attention to his own words, the truths he utters seem to resonate rather than deflect. But while the agoraphobe takes his first steps outside to lay flowers at his girlfriend's grave, House is unable to muster the self-confidence knock on Cuddy's door. He tries, yet fails, as he will do several times more during the months to follow.

In “Emancipation,” House's conversation with his patient, an emancipated minor, also resonates deeply. (I had so missed those one-on-one conversations in season four, and so happy to see them return in five.)

As House tries to understand what the patient did to alienate herself from her parents, he empathizes with her situation, describing himself, while projecting his own story onto hers. "You're scared and stubborn and you don't want people feeling sorry for you," House begins.

"I don't want people to pity me; I just want to be normal," she answers, echoing a familiar House refrain. "You need people to see how independent you are. How well you're coping.  So they won't see the lost, hurt little girl inside." House exposes her, a reflection of his own darkest secrets. Something he steadfastly refuses to let other people see in him. No one is allowed to see House vulnerable, hurting, unable to cope with all his physical and emotional burdens.

In "Last Resort" House, 13 and several patients are taken hostage by Jason, a man whose pathological need for answers mirrors and amplifies House's own relentless "need to know." But by the end of the episode, however, House's own need for the answer to the patient's "puzzle" causes him to needlessly risk not only his own life, but 13's as well. When he is forced to leave 13 alone in the room with Jason, the impact of what he has done finally registers as he stands shell-shocked outside the MRI room. Has House gone a step too far for "the answer?" What if 13 had died? Is this more guilt to be buried deep within House's already-burdened soul?

6.       A perfect storm.  I believe that House's slow descent into madness really begins in "Painless," the exact midpoint of the season.  House's chronic physical pain and his ever-increasing internalized anguish really begin to take their toll.

Some of that internal turmoil comes out in a rare public admission. House speaks with his suicidal pain patient in while in Chase's presence, admitting to someone who actually understands, that the pain is worsening. When the patient warns him that he'd better hope never to see a day when the pills stop working, House's eyes reflect visions of his own bleak future laid starkly before him. And while he ultimately is able to heal the patient and watch him get on with his life, House's  reality remains unchanged, feeling ever more trapped within a cycle of pain and misery.

House is even unable to bring himself to participate in the "simchat bat" Cuddy hosts for her new baby Rachel. Telling her that she's a hypocrite for even having the ceremony to enter Rachel formally into the Jewish faith, House is really setting himself up not to go. He believes Cuddy doesn't want him there, and she actually tells him so. Validating his belief he thanks her for being a grownup and being honest: that she doesn't want to bring his misery into a joyous event.

Ultimately, it's actually not what Cuddy wants, but she never gets around to being honest with him. (OK, they're both screwed up.) And in the end House sits at his piano, alone, playing an ode to Cuddy and her baby, a gorgeous, joyful and melancholy medley that only he can hear, pouring out his emotions through the only language he can. He wants to be there; he's thinking about her—and Rachel, but he's simply unable to do anything about it.

And for the first of three separate times this season, House's unshakable atheism is challenged, this time by a cynical priest, whose own faith has been shattered. When, after House diagnoses the priest only by dismissing the one symptom with which he originally presents, the priest suggests a divine hand in sending him into House's care. House is left to ponder the words of science's most rational thinker, Albert Einstein.  "Miracles are God's way of remaining anonymous," quotes the priest, who views House as an agent of God—a God in which House cannot believe.

I don't think it's coincidence that in the very next episode, “The Softer Side,” House attempts to deal with his pain and his mood. He is “trying” to change—to do something, finally.  And he is hurt when the two people most important to him smack him down for it. Of course, he freaks them both out, because (in true House-like fashion) he hasn't told them he's trying methadone, at best, a dangerous alternative for pain relief.

House is upset when he realizes Wilson thinks he's on heroin, once again thinking the worst of him.  And when Cuddy offers him an ultimatum to either give up the methadone (which has eliminated his pain) or his job, he chooses the methadone. "You're choosing the drugs over your job?" she asks in disbelief, not understanding him at all. "No," he explains, clarifying. "I'm choosing 'no pain' over the job." House is clearly disappointed that his friends continue not to understand him.

But eventually they come round, seeing the positive changes in House: he's shaved and put on a suit and tie. He's ready to rejoin society. But a misstep in treating his patient while under the effects of the methadone has given House second thoughts about using the drug. Believing the methadone has affected his ability to reason, something he values even more than being pain-free, he realizes being pain free isn't worth the loss of his intellectual gift. Telling Cuddy that "this is the only 'me' you get," House limps from his office, back to square one with both his pain and his struggle against misery.

The extent to which this is all weighing on House is expressed verbally in "The Social Contract." The patient, someone who has lost all of his social filters and has become an exaggerated version of House, mourns what it has cost him. Asking House to perform a dangerous operation that could bring his life back to normal, he explains:  “I could get better or die, I’m OK with that.” House understands better than most doctors could, the gamble his patient is willing to take. He has been there himself.

House pleads the case to Chase, who is unwilling to get involved in the very risky procedure—unless House can explain why he cares so much when there's no medical reason to do it. House reluctantly explains the man's quality of life issues: "When he goes home, he’ll drive his friends away, he workmates away, he’ll alienate his family. And if he's lucky enough, he can find a friend who’ll put up with his crap..until he leaves too.” Chase understands how much of an admission this is, and House's haunted expression as he essentially bares his own soul, seem to stun Chase for its rawness.

House is clearly tired of himself, and the effect he has on people. He hates himself for it and if he can help someone avoid having the sort of life to which he’s condemned, he will.  

Also noteworthy in "The Social Contract" is House's genuine attempt to be a supportive friend to Wilson.  To be there for him as he confronts his long lost brother, Danny. House's gentle (for him anyway) honesty with Wilson is meant to be the support to Wilson in a way he could not with Amber. It's a subtle change we're meant to perceive in House, as he continues his attempts to change his life. Baby steps, almost unnoticed by his colleagues.

But it is noticed. And in "Here's Kitty," House becomes obsessed with a cat that seems to predict impending death. Wanting to prove that the entire notion is folly, Wilson thinks House's obsession with the cat is indicative of either his own doubts – or that he's beginning to care what other people think, which is another way of caring. And Wilson views that as a good thing, of course.

And once again, the patient wonders about the series of seeming coincidences that has led House to his diagnosis. Is this an "everyday" miracle? Like the priest in "Unfaithful," the cat lady challenges House's worldview that there is no God. Who's to say why the cat jumped onto his laptop right at that moment? Was there some sort of spark of the divine involved? Of course, House would deny it, but it has given him pause.

7.       Desperation. So what has led House to see a psychiatrist in "Locked In?" His default position is to see no value in therapy, something we've known since season one. But yet, here he is.  We are not told how long he has been seeing a therapist, and I wonder how long he's been trying it. Had he not gotten into the crash, Wilson and Cuddy would never have known.

So what drove him to the shrink? Is House beginning to doubt himself? His worldview? His attitude?  Does he think he's losing his mind? His skill? His gift? Is it that House is desperate to try anything at this point to help him change? Is he already having visual hallucinations? Is there something scaring him with regard to his Vicodin use that's causing him to try other things—anything? Is he wondering why he has to negate everything, deflect everything and refuse to deal with himself? Maybe, all of the above.

8.       The final straw. By the time of Kutner's suicide, House is already questioning something in his life—enough to seek out professional help (something that must make him both vulnerable and suggests he's already desperate). House never saw it coming, Kutner's death—and it's eating away at him.

But why is it eating away at him? Is it just the puzzle of it, as Wilson ultimately suggests (after thinking there is something more to it)? He is angry at House for not really caring about Kutner, yet he reads House incorrectly. House does care, and is clearly hanging on by a thread. (One only need look into House's haunted eyes to see how deeply he's been affected by the suicide.) He moves around almost as if in a dream state from the time he learns of the suicide, withdrawn and shell-shocked.

House acknowledges, yet doesn't deny, Cuddy's feeling that the work (on the present case) is all that's holding him together. And her belief that without the work to distract him, he will fall apart. She knows he has taken the death much harder than he's willing to let on. The man who saves everyone can't save his own employee. Never saw it coming.

I think Taub nails it when he says (about the patient, but really he could easily be saying it about House), "You can't feel that much guilt without love (read 'caring')." House feels guilty that he saw nothing and could not save Kutner. It is the second death in the course of a year he could not prevent.

House's almost spooky behavior is jarring: from his meeting Kutner's parents through his desperate and pathetic attempt to view the suicide as a homicide to his spending time at Kutner's apartment, going through his photographs. And the episode's final scene shows us a wraith-like House, seeking an explanation of the unexplainable as he silently says good-bye to Kutner, who  in many ways resembled his mentor and boss.

Not being able to find meaning in Kutner's death continues to plague House as his confidence flags in "Saviors." Wilson tries to make it better and help House find the path back to his "normal" through a playful mind game. And it seems to help House find his way back after days of self-doubt. However, by the end of the episode we, and House, know that something is terribly, terribly wrong as House's mind conjures a vision of the dead Amber, whose sole intention is to taunt and terrorize him.  

9.       The inevitable crash. The three episodes that follow, and conclude season five, are an exquisitely wrought filigree of a tragedy in the making. A perfect storm of loss and self-doubt in a man who cannot express the deepest emotions he feels. Confessing that he hadn't slept a full night since Kutner's death stuns House's colleagues more for the fact he's actually revealed it than anything else. Still wracked by guilt over Amber, House becomes burdened by events for which he should feel no guilt: Chase's strawberry allergy in "House Divided," his patient's rare reaction to an antibiotic in "Under My Skin," even Kutner's suicide. And over the final two episodes, "Under My Skin" and "Both Sides Now," House's troubled subconscious paints for him an alternate reality. One that eventually shatters when confronted with the harsh glare of reality in "Both Sides Now."

I believe that towards the end of "Under My Skin," House determines that neither rehab nor electroshock therapy are going to help him. And when he goes to Cuddy's office, he intends to quit—not to ask for her help. He's ready to pack it in. It's like his hallucination tells him: if it's schizophrenia, he's done; if it's drugs, he's done. Over. That he observes Amber telling him this as she slits her arm wrist to elbow, blood pouring everywhere, suggests that House sees either answer as a sort of death.

Lashing out at Cuddy for failing to see his anguish causes her to abandon him mid-crisis. So when he returns home, he has just resigned with nowhere left to turn. He is at as low a point as he has ever been since we first meet him five years earlier. We see only quick flashes of what really happens in his apartment. He takes off his jacket. He's sitting on the bathroom floor near the toilet; he takes a Vicodin and hurls the bottle across the room (maybe intentionally making it difficult to reach).

We also see what his mind has conjured, and perhaps some of that is also real. Maybe he does try to detox on his own and the shivering and nausea we observe really happens. But then maybe he finds one of his Vicodin bottles and takes a pill as he sits on the bathroom floor. It halts the nausea and ends House's withdrawal symptoms.

But his mind has created an alternative reality, a nicer story; one in which he has successfully detoxed (in record time) and is recovering; that he had the help of a supportive friend as he tried to go cold-turkey at home. Someone who knows and loves him—who won't force him into rehab. And that despite seeing him at his worst and most humiliated, she still desires him.  

He is deep into this delusion which continues into the next day (and into "Both Sides Now"), when he goes back to work feeling fine, and is anything but. House's vision of Amber has vanished, replaced by his deluded memory of his night with Cuddy.

But then reality hits. Hard. Fact counters House's distorted reality and his entire world implodes. If House has had nothing else, he has always had his rational mind; his keen focus on reality. And as the foundation of his whole being is ripped away, Cuddy watches, stunned. "Are you alright?" she asks, concerned as House, withdrawn into himself, replays the events of the past 24 hours. "No," he finally confesses. "I'm not alright." House's terrified expression and tormented eyes suggest a depth of despair that must only hint at the turmoil boiling within. It's an extraordinary moment for the series and actor Hugh Laurie, who conveys in body language and in that simply-conveyed sentence, an entire year of anguish. We didn't see it coming (well, unless you were spoiled). But, in House's case, it was almost inevitable.

Did you see it coming? What clues did you see along the way (now that you've all had a chance to take another look at the season with 20/20 hindsight)?  Let me know in the comments space below.

Much more to come during this summer hiatus: an Emmy discussion, a few "revisited" reviews, flashing back to seasons past, and a few (hopefully very exciting) surprises. So, please stay tuned.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Orange450

    Absolutely great summation, Barbara. And I’ll go back and read it in greater depth, because I’ve just had time to skim, but I still couldn’t resist the temptation to at least have a quick look!

    I agree that this was probably the most cohesive season in terms of overall structure and progression. The word that comes to mind is “polished”. Yet in terms of the clues – it seems to me that until pretty close to the end, things could have gone either way with House – except for the fact that he’s not ready for a happy ending yet. For much of the season he definitely seemed to be taking the “baby steps” that you mention. He often seemed to be poised for some sort of emtionally positive breakthrough – indeed, us viewers regularly commented on his growth and progress during many episode discussions. So it’s true that in retrospect, the steady process and clues of his descent become easier to see. But for quite a while there as the season went along, it seems to me that he could just as easily have gone in a happier direction.

    That may be one of the greatest accomplishments of the writing team. To get that “poised on the head of a needle” effect, where either of two opposite outcomes could have happened, and would have made sense if they did. That takes quite a special talent.

    Thank you for a great article. It’s been too long 🙂

  • Barbara S Barnett

    Thanks, Orange. Real life (and some other pretty exciting things) has conspired to give have given me little time over the past month to write extensively. But I’m back and on vacation this week. I’m planning a week of lots and lots of writing (not all for this column) after my son goes off to camp on Tuesday for the summer.

  • simplethings

    I’m so glad to see you back and with such amazing analysis to boot! I’m with you. Someone should have seen this breakdown coming, but hindsight is 20/20. It’s much easier for us to look back now and see these signs than those in the thick of it to be putting it together.

    I do think after Kutner’s suicide, those closest to him should have been paying more attention, but at the same time, House also threw a bachelor party in the midst of his breakdown. It wasn’t exactly the picture of going off the deep end.

    Barbara, I’m lucky enough to live in Los Angeles and I’m attending this event where an episode of House is screened, and David Shore, Katie Jacobs, and Hugh Laurie will be there to discuss the show and probably take audience questions.

    I’d love to ask an intelligent question and am busy formulating some, but would love to know if you have a question that you’d love answered because I’m guessing it might be more articulate than mine.

    Of course, I’m forever curious about the relationship that got me into the show to begin with between House and Cuddy, but I don’t want it to seem like they’re the only reason I watch the show.

    It’s funny. I started watching House in November because I saw a brief moment on USA between House and Cuddy and had to know their history. Between then and January I had devoured most episodes and was caught up.

    Now it’s hard to escape wanting to understand their dynamic and if the show will continue exploring the roles each of them plays in the other one’s life.

    I think it would be unrealistic to drop their storyline with it being so clear to me that House considers her his savior in one way or another.

    At any rate, thanks for again allowing this venue to be such a great place for viewers to discuss such an amazingly well-written, multi-layered show.

  • tigerfeet

    Thank you Barbara, for this comprehensive and (as always) well written analysis of the last season.

    I can safely say that I didn’t see House’s final break-down coming. Not even through the last few episodes where it was more and more evident that he was in more trouble than usual. I assumed that he would deal with whatever it was by himself (or with a little help from Wilson), like he always does.

    I see his acceptance to be treated in a mental hospital not only as a confirmation of his severe condition, but also as another example of methods he’s willing to try to better his miserable existence.

    The next question is of course if the treatment will have a (lasting) effect on him, and those around him. I can’t wait to see what the creators of this fantastic show have in store for us next season!

    And I’m also looking forward to further House-treasures from you, Barbara!

  • Alex

    Great Article!

    Sadly, it only shows how the writing was a bit off this season. It feels to me that another scene in every episode you mentioned could have delivered the point much clearer, like it was in previous seasons.
    Furthermore, there were quite a lot of episodes where the diagnosis didn’t come from House, but from Kutner, Taub, 13 and even Cuddy, hitting a record in “Both Sides Now” where the girlfriend (and the left arm) deliver the answer.
    In other cases House contributed next to nothing to the search for clues and just delivered the answer at the end (most notably, “The Softer Side” and “Dying Changes Everything”). Given his emotional state, and his state of mind, his lack of participants makes sense but it could have been slightly more realistic to allow some patients to die because it feels that the team doesn’t really need House and that they can solve cases on their own (not all of them obviously, but a fair amount). Which means, that if House needs a team of newbies for teaching purposes (remember that he fired Chase under the pretense that Chase has nothing left to learn) he is bound to fire the current one (and remember that at the end of season 3 he said that he was surprised that he had the same team for more than one year) because they are able to stand on their own.

    Regarding season 6, I hope that what the writers put their emphasis on at least during the first couple of episodes in what Amber said to House while he was in the bathroom in “Under My Skin” – “if you take this pill you don’t deserve her, if you secretly take it you don’t deserve anyone” – well, guess what, he took a whole bottle of them – so I’d like to see how this affects his cat-and-mouse game with Cuddy.
    Just hit me, maybe this could also apply to Wilson? Given that he killed his girlfriend, ruined a marriage or two, got him to lose his license, get fired and borrowed ridiculous sums of money?

  • Maud

    i loved your article, you really analyze without doing it according to you view, and so stay very objective towards your comments! great!
    all i know about the finale is that there was a scene in Under My Skin that made me think that everything afterwards could be a hallucination: right after house says ” go home to your baby that makes feel good about yourself” and she says “screw you”, you first see her walking out to the door from house’s back, and then you see house’s front, and cuddy is supposedly behing him, opening the door, but really you can’t see any sign of her. Any i watched it in the week before Both Side Now, i knew there was something not normal: you don’t see any sign of her, and then she kind of re-appears.
    but i can’t pretend that i perfectly knew what was coming!
    what i’m really exicted about season 6 is that, since the beginning, we’ve had house’s point of view on LIFE, because he wants to be so grounded and realistic; but now, everything is biaised, and we’ll ahve house’s point of on REALITY, and i honestly can’t wait to see that, especially coming from such an excellent crew!

  • JL

    Hi, Barbara! I enjoyed your summary of the season. You’re so helpful in looking back and gaining an overall perspective. Thankyou! Looking forward to the ensuing discussion… 🙂

    tigerfeet wrote:
    “I assumed that (House) would deal with whatever it was by himself… like he always does.”
    Except… well, he doesn’t, really, does he? When does House ever deal with anything? Does dealing with something mean ‘coping – i.e. putting it away somewhere and going on as though nothing had happened? Or does it involve actually resolving things in some way?
    The first sounds like a continued criticism that many have levelled at this show. If, however, House’s past refusal to ‘deal with’ things has now culminated in a total breakdown, then that counts as good writing, I think. It only heightens the importance of the ‘dealing with’ that has now become inescapable.

    Alex wrote:
    “Sadly, it only shows how the writing was a bit off this season…Furthermore, there were quite a lot of episodes where the diagnosis didn’t come from House, but from (his team)… In other cases House contributed next to nothing to the search for clues and just delivered the answer at the end. Given his emotional state, and his state of mind, his lack of participants makes sense but it could have been slightly more realistic to allow some patients to die because it feels that the team doesn’t really need House and that they can solve cases on their own (not all of them obviously, but a fair amount).”
    Actually, Alex, I don’t think having House starting to become irrelevant is bad writing. I think it’s brilliant writing.
    One constant in this show is the notion that House is unique and essential to solving cases. Cuddy can’t fire him. The team can’t solve cases without him. House can get away with his outrageous behaviour and drug addiction because he’s brilliant and necessary to the hospital. It’s the main assumption that drives everything and it’s accepted by the viewers as a defining characteristic of House, the man and the show.
    In Barbara’s analysis of ‘Both Sides Now’, she noted that House subconsciously fears Cuddy cares for him only inasmuch as she wants to ‘protect hospital property’. On the one hand, he defines himself by his brilliance and sees it as non-negotiable, even if that means a life of pain; on the other, he wishes that Cuddy could care for him as a person.
    A few weeks back, I noted this show was due for its next big shake-up. After the first three seasons, once we, House and his team were all comfortable, TPTB pulled the rug out from under everyone by removing the old team and changing everything. Lately, the new team have shown signs of settling in and the show has started to feel comfy again. The question is, which rug can get pulled out away this time?
    I am most excited by the idea that the shake-up, this time, may involve removing the ‘House as essential’ element. His declining relevance to diagnoses as his team have come into their own has brought this into question. His absence from the hospital will bring it into sharp focus. Cuddy’s definite statement, “You’re fired,” shows her willingness to remove him if necessary.
    If House’s team become able to solve cases without him, and Cuddy is both willing to fire him over his antics and has told him she does not believe they could have a relationship, and even Wilson has experimented with the notion of excluding House from his life – what ultimate relevance does House have to anyone?
    It’s terrifying. And it’s brilliant. And it’s anything but comfortable.

  • JL

    (My word. What a gigantic comment I just posted. We need the Preview function back!)

  • tigerfeet

    “tigerfeet wrote:
    “I assumed that (House) would deal with whatever it was by himself… like he always does.”
    Except… well, he doesn’t, really, does he? When does House ever deal with anything? Does dealing with something mean ‘coping ” i.e. putting it away somewhere and going on as though nothing had happened? Or does it involve actually resolving things in some way?
    The first sounds like a continued criticism that many have levelled at this show. If, however, House’s past refusal to ‘deal with’ things has now culminated in a total breakdown, then that counts as good writing, I think. It only heightens the importance of the ‘dealing with’ that has now become inescapable.”

    JL – thanks for asking these questions. My comment was not meant as a criticism at all! The right word is really coping, or trying to cope by himself, if you like. Until his breakdown and subsequent realization that he needs outside help – to deal with his problem. So I second your second interpretation…

    Thanks again for making me aware of this potential misunderstanding – I’m as far as you can possibly get from critcizing the writers of this show!

  • Alex


    My comment on House not taking part wasn’t related (not directly, at least) to the strength of the writing.
    I think that the writers are doing a brilliant job at reflecting House’s interest in a given case, whenever he appears not to care I don’t care either and when he does take on an active role I feel much more engage. That was my intention when I talked about House’s participation. In previous seasons I was much more interested in patients stories and the writers did a better work at balancing and connecting the patient arc with the personal arc.

  • nc

    When I think about the people I know who are survivors of abuse (both in childhood and in adulthood), I’m struck by how poised they can appear while at the same time having almost no self esteem. They’ve armored themselves to survive something no one should have to go through, and they can’t discard the armor because their self esteem lacks the strength to take over the job.

    When we learned that House is a survivor of abuse, so much of his character and so many of his actions made sense in light of that fact. The inability to let others in, let alone allow them to help. The need to fix things (and people). Perhaps seeing Cuddy adopt reminded him how dangerous the parent-child dynamic can be, and how much joy Cuddy would help her child experience, joy that he was denied.

    I don’t know those stresses from firsthand experience, but I’ve seen their effects play out in people about whom I cared deeply.

    No wonder House wants things to change. No wonder he finds change so difficult.

    “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to be motivated.”

    On top of that, the light bulb has to believe that the help actually helps.

  • Alex

    (what an idiot I am, forgot the bottom line – please don’t half quote this)

    and given that this is a procedural show, not a melodrama, not being interested in the medical stuff means that the writing is a bit off.

  • Rhoda

    “given that this is a procedural show, not a melodrama, not being interested in the medical stuff means that the writing is a bit off.”

    But it’s not a procedural show, Alex. David Shore has clearly stated that there are elements of a procedural to it, but it’s about the character, and what drives him. During various interviews the writers have stated that merely having a case isn’t enough. They have to be able to tie the case to individuals.

    And in terms of “making the point much clearer,” as you say the writers should have done … well then you kill the shock of the final episode. I don’t want anvils tossed at me again and again. I love subtlety, and the fact that the trail was there — but hard to follow until we’d reached the end point — to me is a testament to how well the thread was laid, without giving away the final — or ultimate — twist of the season.

  • Barbara S Barnett

    Rhoda (and all)–Yes, you’re right. The thing about House is that it’s character drama structured around a procedural. That makes the show unique. It’s actually a character study of Gregory House.

    The point should not have been made clearer during the season. Pointing the way to House’s crash would have made it over the top and much less tragic. I didn’t see it coming (until I was spoiled). How sad for the great, rational man, who has defined himself by his rational mind. “Rational man” he has called himself, to no longer be able to trust his own mind. That’s something that would shake his foundations to the core.

    The fact that his meltdown happened in Cuddy’s office rather than when he was home alone or riding his bike, or sitting in his office probably prevented him for attempting suicide in a mirror image of Kutner’s death.

    House’s words: “If he thought like me, he’d have known that living in misery is marginally better than dying in it.” I wonder if House still believes those words.

  • Barbara – thanks again for a very good “looking back” article. I think season five was a very special season, and had a more complex story telling technique. It may not have been so easy to be a first time viewer this season. We oldtimers are use to watch an episode several times, plus read your reviews and the comments aftr.

    nc – it has not been profoundly established that House is a victim of abuse. There was some hints in ODOR. He had a tough “father”. But in Birthmarks the abuse theme was toned down, I think. House said that there was a reason for John House to treat him this immature way, he told him at the age of twelve that he had found out that was not his real father.

    I guess that lead to estrangement on both parts. John House was not a very good person, but not that different from the men of that time and age. The lack of love and the lack of clearing the air could not have been a good thing, though. But abuse?

    People who have really been abused (physically or sexually) have been through much worse traumas and incidents. It is not everyone who has a “Housian personality” who has been abused. That is dangerous to assume, and could lead to wrongly accusations of abuse.

    And to se everything that happens/happened in Houses head in that light (of abuse)is not the key to understand the show.

  • blacktop

    Thanks, Barbara, for this cohesive untangling of the threads that led to House’s breakdown at the end of season five.

    What is most intriguing for me about this remarkable season is that it is equally valid and instructive to pick out the clues that point in the opposite direction. These counter-themes begin in the season four finale when we see House working in tandem with Cuddy (in his fantasy as well as in real life) to solve the mystery of the bus crash. We also find in the finale the wrenching scenes of Cuddy twice sleeping beside the stricken House, in mute testament to their bond. So as season five unfolds there are many instances, almost one in each episode, in which we see House taking a small, but significant step toward unmasking, toward dismantling the high barriers he has erected around his tender romantic’s heart, and making an emotional connection that he knows can save him from an otherwise bleak future.

    Among these many steps are the frank acknowledgement to Wilson in “Not Cancer” that he really does value and need his friendship, a confession that is repeated at the end of “Birthmarks.” Through the comic story of the non-forged cheerleading picture, House reveals to the detective Lucas that he is ready to tell a new story about himself and let someone dear see him in a new light.

    These moments of opening and connection continue in “Joy” when House admits to Cuddy that he doesn’t know why he negates everything and plunges headlong into the affirmative action of their moody, raw, and passionate kiss. House is remarkably open and vulnerable to Wilson during their discussions in “The Itch” when Wilson asserts that House is afraid to pursue a relationship with Cuddy for fear of losing her. I don’t know that we have ever seen House so willing to expose his inner feelings to someone else (Wilson) and so ready to share his life with a third person (Cuddy). At the end of “Emancipation” House is fired with a new determination with regard to Cuddy and a new resolution concerning the direction he wants his life to take.

    Cuddy, who is just as screwed up, guarded, and emotionally inarticulate as House is, throws several major wrenches in the works with her misguided assumptions and clumsy gestures. But for me the remarkable thing is to watch House come to a peaceful inner resolution and acceptance of the arrival of Rachel in Cuddy’s life (“Joy to the World” and “Big Baby”).

    We also see House in a remarkable testament of friendship and subtle understanding, refuse to rise to the bait of Cuddy’s disasterous emotional breakdown. He gets that her harmful pranks are not malicious ploys but rather an outpouring of her distress and helplessness in the face of the immense changes in her life wrought by the sudden arrival of the baby. House has grown in emotional strength and comprehension this season and the breakthrough for him is quite touching and resonant, I find.

    “Painless,” “Unfaithful,” and especially “Softer Side,” and “Locked In” do show House teetering on the brink for sure, but the precipice is not a collapse into insanity, but a leap into the unexplored territory of emotional connection and fulfillment.

    These fragile but real threads of connection and emotional possibility are frayed by the abrupt suicide that launches the final downward trajectory of the season.

    Now the show runners have dismantled House completely; will they keep him undone or re-construct him? It remains to be seen if season six re-works the hopeful transformative patterns of season five into a new story for House or if he reverts back to the emotionally constricted, bleak, and barricaded persona we met in the pilot episode.

  • nc

    “it has not been profoundly established that House is a victim of abuse”

    I’m going to have to beg to differ with you on this, as well as on the contention that the descriptions of House’s father’s behavior toward House are “tough” rather than abusive.

    This strand in his history may not be the most important, but it certainly informs the character’s outlook.

    Plenty of room for differing perspectives. Let’s agree to disagree.

  • Barbara S Barnett

    I also think House was victim to abuse, if not technically, then emotional abuse. No wonder House wanted a different father. It sounds much like House lived in a sort of fear of pissing off dad. I’m sure he was plenty of push-back when he was older, but what impact would that have on the very young Greg. Especially if daddy suspected Greg wasn’t even his kid.

    Blacktop–I agree, this was a season of baby steps for House. He reached out, and even mentored his fellows on a personal level (not so’s they’d notice, of course :))

    He showed that he cared about Foreman, 13, Cameron, Wilson, Cuddy, Chase, Kutner (and even Taub in a sort of twisted way). He was willing to show his vulnerability and be open in a way he has not be able to since who knows when.

    It could have gone either way, certainly. It was a brilliant season. The writing, the directing, the performance and the tight cohesiveness of the series (which is a testament to DS’ and KJ’s vision).

  • Orange450

    blacktop, you expressed in beautiful detail exactly what I meant (and said in one garbled sentence ;-))

    Since Kutner’s suicide seemed to precipitate House’s spiral out of control, I wonder if the season might have ended differently had Kal Penn not decided to leave the show. I honestly don’t know what to have wished for!

    On one hand, it would have been lovely to see House’s baby steps lead him in a more positive direction, even if the requirements of a good season finale dictate that he be left in some sort of tenuous situation. (And of course it would be wonderful if Kutner were still with us!)

    On the other hand, the Amber arc brought out such chillingly good performances from all concerned, the writing was so far beyond compare, and House’s experiences will of necessity have to be so rich come S6, that it’s hard to wish that the season had ended any other way.

    Every TV show should leave us with such dilemmas!

  • hwl40

    Hi Barbara,

    Amazing synthesis as usual. Thank you.

    It seems to me that House has finally jumped. This time, surely, something has to change, at least on the drug front. It’s too dangerous to go back to the old pattern completely and I think House has seen this.

    I hope the writers continue to have the courage they showed this season and allow House to develop rather than churn. Oddly enough, I think we are all growing with him, baby steps (pun intended) and all.

    Again, many thanks. Also love the fanfiction and hope you can keep going.

  • savta

    Hi Barbara, Thanks for your interesting analysis of season 5 and to the rest of you who shared your well written insights. The show’s writing throughout season 5 has been exceptional.
    Blacktop, I agree with many of your points and find them really compelling.

    Maybe one of you can clear something up for me. I haven’t been able to discern what Cuddy is saying when she is yelling at House in fury after the railing incident in Both Sides Now. She says ” This is beyond _________.” I can’t understand what word comes after beyond and before she says “You have the luxury etc.” Can you clear it up for me? Thanks.
    On another note – I saw with excitement that tickets were available for the special event at the Paley Center and would have loved to be in LA for the panel discussion with DS, KJ, HL and the others ( and to visit my grandsons) but the tickets were gone almost before it was publicized. Simplethings – you are pretty lucky to be able to be at the event.

  • Anne

    Is Laurie using his cane correctly? It does not seem like it to me, or at least that is not the way I was taught for a left leg injury.

  • Barbara S Barnett

    savta–She says “beyond asshood” (which I don’t think is actually a word).

    If I lived in LA, I would have jumped at the chance to go. But alas, Chicago is too far for a short trip. good going simplethings. Full reports are expected!

    Anne–this is an issue that’s been discussed a lot over the years. And one episode even made a comment on it (through a physical therapist). House can’t help being “different”–and maybe the cane gives him balance he can’t get using it on the right side. He actually has a right leg injury.

  • Amy

    I am a first time poster, but I must say that I love your analysis. I thought this was a brilliant season, and it is great to go back and see the signs of House’s breakdown. Also see the baby steps he had taken over the season. I am really looking forward to next season, and reading more of your well thought out analysis.

  • JL

    Loving this discussion.

    Alex – FWIW, I shared your concerns during the mid-part of this season when I fonud myself not caring about the patients. The best episodes of this show always make me care about the case and the patient, as well as the characters I love. However, I felt that, by the end of this season, the writers had found their groove and I was completely engaged again. It was so much fun!
    Hence my conclusion that the shake-up was due…

  • Barbara S Barnett

    Amy, welcome! Keep coming back and pass the word!

    JL–I’ve like many of the patients this season: the emancipated teen, the priest, the agorpophbic guy (despite the fact that he was whiny), several others.

    Anyway, point taken, and I’m glad you’re back to enjoying the show. I can’t wait for next season (although before it starts, some real life things will come and go, that cause me to want the summer to go slowly. So…

  • savta

    Anne – I think the way the cane is being used has much more to do with the physical impact ongoing use has had on Hugh Laurie’s shoulder than House’s quirkiness. In an interview I saw, HL made mention of his sore shoulder at one point. Since then I have noticed fewer camera shots of him when the cane actually hits the floor and reverberates back to the shoulder. It appears that he is leaning on the cane as he walks but I don’t think he really is. I think it is being used as a prop.

  • Barbara S Barnett

    House has always used the cane on the right side. The shoulder issues (If I recall correctly) occurred at the end of the first season. Hugh happily had episodes from “no Reason” through “Cane and Able” to put the thing away. He absolutely also uses it as a prop. And always has. But you may be right savta (love your nickname, btw)

  • Sue

    Barbara, you made this season sound sensational. I found it to be a mixed bag-some high points and a lot of low ones. You did not say much about 13’s screen time and story line-a big miss from my vantage point. Anything that takes the focus off of House is a detriment to the show and the character. I did not like House and the way he was written and portrayed during the 13-14 run. House was very flat in affect, and I found him boring compared to the House of earlier seasons and to the House of the end of the season. House’s story did not advance very much during the first part of the season. Because there was not as much affect in House during this time, he seemed to be in limbo for too long. House is best when he shows a range of emotions, expressions and characterizations. That is how we get perspective on what he is thinking. With no clinic scenes, we got no humor and we did not get the attitude that accompanies the funny moments. It truly was a waste of an incredible actor. I found it hard to believe House was going through all those different emotions during the first half of the seasons because House experiences the highs and lows by his expressions, facial, bodily and vocal. We got so little variation in any of that I found it hard to get any perspective on what was going on with him.

    I thought the drug trial story line was absolutely boring. It did not belong on this show. I can’t imagine who thought Olivia Wilde was such a great actress she warranted so much screen time. They made Foreman so boring, the two of them together just hurt the show a lot.

    I have a hard time remembering a lot of the episodes in the mid part of the season, especially during the drug trial. House was not remarkable until painless, when he started to be more demonstrative.

    The season really picked up with Here Kitty. We got back a lot of humor. House became fully dimensional again. I was beginning to think we would never see that again. Foreman came to life, Taub and 13 fell into the background (except for boring Taub’s mid-life crisis), and Huddy got interesting. I believe Fox stepped in and brought the show back to life.

    I did not like how Cuddy was portrayed in some episodes this sesason. The trip wire thing was just stupid. She became a blithering idiot at times. The romance was dragged on too long. It burned out before it got good, then they were able to revive it.

    I liked the way they handled the last two episodes, but I never liked Amber’s return. To me, this was a lazy way of showing what was going on in House’s head. Many other shows used dead characters this season. It ruined the memory of Amber and Anne Dudek’s incredible death scene. It was a cheap trick to bring back a once-popular character for ratings. Because the focus kept switching back and forth between Amber and House, it was difficult to attribute all that was happening to House, not Amber and House.

    As always, Robert Sean Leonard was fabulous this season. I don’t think the man has delivered a less than stellar line the whole series.

    To sum up, this season could have been a lot better. I think TPTB dropped a lot of balls this season. They were able to rescue it in the end. I hope they have learned some valuable lessons this season, and they won’t repeat them again.

  • Barbara S Barnett

    Hi Sue–the article wasn’t a season five review per se. It was a backwards look at House’s struggles. I agree the series had some weak moments, but by far (at least in my humblest of opinions) the good very much outweighed the bad.

    I’m actually finding that looking back as a whole, even the focus on “14” fades back a bit in context. I do think it was unbalanced in that regard.

    We did get some very funny clinic moments, and some poignant ones.

    I think Chase hit his stride this season as a real counterpoint to House’s rationality with his own rationality and cynicism (in a different presentation) and Foreman got his comeupance.

    The House we experienced this year was a mentor to several of his staff, saving their careers and letting Foreman fly on his own (and giving him the shove he needed to do it and get the chip off his shoulder).

    I think the series kicked into high gear way before “Here’s Kitty” with strong several very strong episodes in the early days of the season.

    I’m actually going back through season two, which had some extraordinarily good entries in it, but looking at it as a whole (which is what I’m doing) I think that season had much weakness–especially in the first third.

  • Val

    Barbara, a great look back. Thanks!

    I agree that it was quite a cohesive season from beginning to end. The reminder of the three things he said on the bus to Amber was great; they seem to really have touched on all those points and have House hit on all of them. What a journey he’s been on! But, I think leaving us with a lot more questions.

    I always “re-read” House in August right before I receive the new season on DVD(already pre-ordered)so I don’t have my full view yet, but re-watching episodes I thought that even the lower points (13/14, Cuddy’s games, etc) can be defended and find their place in this season. Though it was a big long and too much of a focus at one point, 13 faces a situation and condition just as difficult and debilitating as House’s (if not more in some respects). Looking at the arc from this point made it a bit more bearable. IMO, House’s intense interest on 14 was due to his growing realisation of his feelings for Cuddy; another parallel. He could have easily been considering himself when he gave the advice to Foreman about doing crazy or stupid things for love, for example.

    “Locked In” was also an episode that included the discussion and theme of God and coincidences. Like the priest, Mos Def’s character felt that it was more than mere coincedence that House was in the ER that same time he was. The beach scenes were exquisite! The question/mystery of his blurred vision at the end of that episode still remains. Was it the beginning of his mind’s games or a metaphorical directing technique for our benefit? I’m still not quite sure. With all that House had going on emotionally this season, I think it was a pretty real portrayal that he seemed flat or even uninterested in the patients/work this season.

    Finally, I think the last thing House said on the bus was a main theme this season. “I don’t want him (Wilson) to hate me”…remember Amber said “you can’t always get what you want…”; he sure didn’t. Wilson’s blow hit him right in the beginning of the season. As DE seems to write some the most memorable House/Wilson scenes and episodes, I thought “Both Sides Now” couldn’t have ended w/o Wilson dropping him off. I love RSL and hope to have some wonderful scenes next season from Wilson (and everyone).

  • ripzu

    Excellent review by Barbara and comments- am always impressed by the fine analysis and writing inspired by House MD.
    I could see the breakdown coming, especially in the last three episodes of the season- found a few of the earlier episodes too soapy- but the finale was tight and fitting. Re the comments about House being a procedural, David Shore made it clear it is not. Therefore, the show can go from character study to medical study quite effectively. IMO, this adds to its diversity and creativity with some viewers prefering different some story lines to others.

    I am anxiously awaiting season 6- hoping to see a deep analysis of House at Mayfield.

  • bibliotekar

    Love your review of season 5. House is so devastated by the fact that he couldn’t save Amber or Kutner, that he has decided he needs to do something to get his mind back! Also, have been reading Of Cabbages and Kings, and am enjoying it very much.
    Keep up the great insight into House the program and the character.

  • marie

    wow!!! brilliant as ever Barbara, looking back I saw all these subtle differences in House , but didnt tie them all together as they were unfolding into what became his ultimate demise in “both sides now “, what fantastic writing from the House team , a lot of the episodes last season showed slight differences in House that was noticable but not too profound as they stood alone , but linked together with the forsight of all 24 was a real special and definatve breakdown of Greg House the genius diagnostician , and without sounding boring …. absolutely stunning performances from Hugh Laurie as always , the guy is well overdue an Emmy , please god he gets one this year , thank you Barbara for a fabulous interwoven web of House , look foreward to your next view of past present or future House , the weather is fantastic over here at the moment Barbara , the offer still stands for a Housethon , LOL ,have agreat summer xx Marie

  • Michael

    Great summation..Thanks, Barbara.
    I think most of the view is great and so exciting,I just wanna tell you,not only in US,there are so many House’s fans in China,we all like watching this show,of course can’t wait for the coming season..
    and at last,truly hope Hugh Laurie can win the Emmy this time,and Thanks again, Barbara,Great work..I will keep on with your blog.
    Best wishes from China 🙂

  • wackjob

    Barbara, I’m coming very late to the party, but as always, a spectacularly insightful and intelligent re-viewing. (I use that non-word because it isn’t a review, more of a reflection.) You tied the disparate strands together perfectly, making the season more cohesive for me than it was at the time I was watching it.

    I missed some of the mid-season episodes (such as “The Itch”) and saw them later, including the one where Kutner sets up the online clinic and House gets Cuddy her old medical school desk. The dynamic between House and Chase has grown tremendously. The two actors always had rapport, but the way Chase’s character has been developed as House’s peer rather than employee is marvelous and enriches the series as a whole. And what can I say about House/Wilson except to smile?

    The death of his father would be an ENORMOUS blow. As a person who had an abusive father, I know that death does not resolve anything. In fact, it leaves you even more puzzled. And don’t forget, in House’s childhood, he lived with a military man,and they moved constantly (Egypt, etc.). A miserable, highly intelligent child with no real opportunity to put down roots and make friends, probably living in fear of his father, would only survive by being a) incredibly resilient b) shutting down emotionally c)finding something to cling to, i.e. his brilliant gift. To paraphrase what you wrote above, to lose that is to lose himself.

    Personally, I am hoping that the character of John House is somehow explored in Season 6, in the amazing ways the writers can make the unreal real in so many ways.

  • Visitkarte

    Eve_K wrote:

    “nc – it has not been profoundly established that House is a victim of abuse. There was some hints in ODOR. He had a tough “father”. But in Birthmarks the abuse theme was toned down, I think. House said that there was a reason for John House to treat him this immature way, he told him at the age of twelve that he had found out that was not his real father.

    I guess that lead to estrangement on both parts. John House was not a very good person, but not that different from the men of that time and age. The lack of love and the lack of clearing the air could not have been a good thing, though. But abuse?

    People who have really been abused (physically or sexually) have been through much worse traumas and incidents. It is not everyone who has a “Housian personality” who has been abused. That is dangerous to assume, and could lead to wrongly accusations of abuse.”

    Sorry to say that, but bathing a child in ice, letting it sleep outside, withholding food if a child came only a minute too late IS abuse. Only because there is higher degree of abuse out there doesn’t mean the abuse House suffered is less damaging. Besides, House insinuates more when he tells that his father never tolerated any lies or anything above perfect and never allowed any meaning but his own. How do you think he found that out?

    Insinuating that House maybe ‘deserved’ this abuse because he confronted his father with the fact that he wasn’t his son is just a no-go. First of all, his father surely didn’t start acting completely different than before when House turned 12. No way. Besides, why did House feel the need to look around if there was a better father somewhere out there? Loved children hardly go and seek for a better father.

    Second, nothing gives the right to the parent, blood related or not, to lash out like that, even if they felt hurt.

    Eve_K wrote:

    “And to se everything that happens/happened in Houses head in that light (of abuse) is not the key to understand the show.”

    I agree that the past abuse is not the key to Houses personality, but it’s a very important part of the jigsaw called House’s character. Every man is different, so everybody reacts the different way to bad experiences. BUT it only means that there are exceptions to the rule, one way or another. It doesn’t prove you were right or wrong with your assumption.

    Of course, the fatal error that cost him so much, the betrayal of Stacy disregarding his clearly stated wish to forgo surgery didn’t help make him a nicer man. But, I adore Barbara for showing the countdown leading to Houses final crash.

    Dear Barbara. I adore the way how you analyze the show and point the right markers of the acute crash. Some of it I also tried to communicate, some connections you made were very elating to read, because I didn’t see all of them. So, even if there were some weak points in this season, it remains my very favorite season until now. For all the reasons you already stated and I don’t feel the need to repeat. Thank you for writing them down.

  • Visitkarte

    Sorry, my computer went crazy… Could you remove the two ‘extra”-comments?

  • Eve K

    Visitkarte – My point in not focusing solely on “abuse”, is that I think that takes away the focus on a lot of other intriguing reasons for Houses breakdown. And a LOT of his personality is not something that needs to be “fixed”, and since House now is the biggest TV-show in the world, I hope that people who reminds us of House, dont automatically gets “diagnosed” with abuse. I dont think the hallucinations and the delusions necessarily has to have a reason from the childhood. Modern therapy has left that assumption. Substance abuse plus stress is more likely, were his fathers death may play a role.

    I think that a human personality is something you are born with, for the most. Just look at how different siblings are, and how different they can remember their childhood. Greg House was an only child, and a special gifted one. And I guess he was also wonerable, and quickly learned to deal with that. He seems to have got really bad parents in combination with his natural personality (Not his fault that his father was an ass!! ). Maybe his real father would instinctively have understood him better, being more genetically like him. Im not apologizing for John Houses behaviour. But I’m getting tired of all the people out there going into therapy blaming all their troubles on their parents. Confronting them, blaming them, with their therapists help. They can end up estranging all their family and friends, and – shockingly – not getting any better anyway. I’ve known people who has gone through psychoanalyses for years, and still has not changed ore gotten better. More selfish maybe…

    And there is no getting past that a special gifted child can be more of a task to raise. And that parents often do a lot of extra work with such children. Also a reason that they should not be “blamed” for their children later on. But a lot of parents dont deal well with it, and that has to be taken seriously to.

    One very well reflected thing House said in his fathers funeral,was something like this:

    If a mark of a man is how he treated the people he had power over, my father failed.

    But I dont think all of Houses troubles is because of his father.

    Maybe mr. Laurie has something to say about the writing to come, being familiar to therapy himself. But I hope they dont go to far in the abuse area.

    PS. Sorry for my English. (-:

  • Visitkarte

    Eve K

    Houses breakdown has little to nothing to do with his childhood and his abuse at the hands of his father: I couldn’t agree more with that. I actually wrote essentially the same thing: “I agree that the past abuse is not the key to Houses personality, but it’s a very important part of the jigsaw called House’s character.” I also abhor the tendency to blame every problem in life on one’s parents, because it’s not nearly close to truth. BUT I think it’s very wrong to try and deny he’s been abused, because he has.

    BUT: Houses little friends circle has a lot to do with his constantly moving around when he was adolescent boy and a growing man. His non-willingness to show his feelings for other people to see have a lot to do with having an abusive and military type of a father.

    On the other side, I agree with you that his recent breakdown is a mixture of the devastating losses he suffered in a very short time span: First Amber, who he wasn’t able to save (actually, nobody could have been able to save, even if treated much sooner), the DBS after his heavy scull injury and as a result two near-death-experiences, the loss of Wilson, the death of his father (I can’t put that better in words than Barbara already did), the kidnapping fiasco and his almost fatal decision to give the lunatic his gun back, almost getting 13 killed in the process, Kutner’s suicide and his own unwillingness to even admit his loss, let alone grieve as he needed to… All that, on the top of the steadily increasing pain (and the terribly wrong way how Cuddy and Wilson handled his Methadone-Experiment), his increasing load on Vicodin as a direct result of these disasters…

    All of it together is enough to push anyone over the brink into the rabbit hole, let alone House, who, as the most geniuses, tatters on the brink of madness anyway.

    The previews of the Episode 6×1 look very promising. I can hardly wait to see the master peace in making (or even maybe already finished piece). I know they finished the filming of it, but the cutting will do a lot to make a brilliant ‘mini-movie’ out of the hopefully great book and acting.

  • Nickel

    Definitely Chase, Wilson and Cuddy should have seen the signs. Chase was witness to 2 separate truths from House, not to mention that Chase acknowledges that House must be a wreck about his father dying. House admitted to Cuddy that he has not slept through the night in 2 weeks, yet she has no response to that. Wilson above all I just don’t get. Wilson has ratted House out for everything that he has ever done, except the one thing that he should have. It is incomprehensible to me that Wilson did not strap House down in either the sleep lab or during his insulin overdose to admit him with hallucinations. That was too big an error. Not to mention Cuddy knew in season 4 (97 Seconds) that House was in a hospital bed, why didn’t she know that House had overdosed on insulin and was laying in ICU??? I of course knew that something was awry in Painless by the book on House’s nightstand…David Balducci’s Split Second which is about a distraction which caused the death of a president. House was reaching as far back as Living the Dream…he was visibly shaken at the realization that he was wrong about the patients allergy. Although he did figure out the truth and was somewhat right, it still was a huge reveal. I would say that House’s rollercoaster started with him getting shot. PTSD does manifest itself in all sorts of ways. All of season 5 was one life raft after another. I always think of the conversation House had with the husband in Forever: people don’t get crazy enough to kill someone without someone first noticing. I think if anyone in PPTH really cared for House half as much as he cares and protects them they would have noticed. Cameron was the only person who seemed to notice that House was in trouble when she told him that it was not his fault about Kutner. Too bad no follow ups were done. It terrifies me that a person can be rational and sane and within 1 year loose it all. As for Cuddy, I guess going to Chase and Cameron’s wedding was more important than being a supportive friend for House as he made that horrifying drive to Mayfield.