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House, M.D.: Season Seven – Act II

I know it’s been a while since my last House, M.D article. In the few weeks since I last posted, Hugh Laurie has been nominated for both Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards—and Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and Peter Blake have been nominated for a Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for last season’s finale “Help Me.” You may remember that I had the good fortune to interview the three writers the day after “Help Me” aired, and I’m thrilled they’ve been recognized by the Writers Guild for their excellent script. Good luck to all of them.  

Where We Stand at the End of Season Seven—Act I: House and Cuddy

In the final scene of “Small Sacrifices,” the closing moments in the “first act” of House, M.D.’s season seven, House (Hugh Laurie) confesses to Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) that he’s lied to Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) while apologizing to her for another lie. But what is the lie? Is the apology itself insincere, or is the lie that he tells her he’ll “never lie to” her again? The answer to that question is a critical piece of the season seven puzzle—and could have a large impact on how the rest of the season (and House and Cuddy’s relationship) will play out once the series returns from its winter hiatus (January 17).

We are now more than a third of the way through season seven, and with the show on hiatus, I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to take a closer look to see where these first eight episodes have taken the series, and where the series might head in the coming months.

The biggest change, of course, is the new dynamic between House and Cuddy. Season six ends with Cuddy’s declaration of love, which seems not only to stun him, but brings him, Phoenix-like from the ashes of real despair. We’ve seen House in dire straits before (“No Reason,” “Merry Little Christmas,” “Wilson’s Heart,” “Both Sides Now”), but a patient death in “Help Me” leaves House in a pretty fragile state (something even Foreman notices) by the time Cuddy gets to him in the closing moments of last season. He’s always gotten up an dusted himself off to see a new day and mock another colleague. But we usually see him on the edge of an abyss and have to wait until the following season to see how it all resolves.

But season six didn’t  leave House barely hanging; it left us with House and Cuddy together, holding hands. And over the summer, instead of fearing for House’s well being, fans wondered could (or should) this new relationship last more than an episode or two. 

House and Cuddy are both pretty relationship-averse; they like what they have (or may have given a chance), but neither is especially adept at nurturing it. If it all goes to hell eventually there will be possibly irreparable hurt on both sides.

House understands this, and it is his greatest fear poised on the brink of something new and ultimately terrifying for him. He is able to articulate this fear to Cuddy honestly and painfully in the season premiere “Now What?” He seems caught where he had been in season two (“Need to Know”) with Stacy.

But Cuddy reassures House that however screwed up he is, he is one incredible man and he needn’t worry about expectations of change. Even though, as House warns, he will likely do “horrible things” to her. It’s who he is. But Cuddy is aware of who House; she has fallen in love with House as he is. Why should she want him to change? 

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • oo

    i don’t care much who 13 will end up with…getting tired of characters having to hook up with another character…i like it better when they are concentrating on the medical cases and not who they are screwing..i am sure they can show us other parts of their personal lives like how they are spending time after work doing other hobbies.
    anyways always enjoyed reading your reviews Barbara as we don’t get the show here in the South Pacific but am a big fan of House! and i like Huddy too!

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Thank you to all of your for your friendship, your readership and your insightful comments. Happy New Year!

  • Grace

    Well! I think I will just say that I hope Season 7 Act II will be much better than Act I and leave it at that. :)

  • Jane

    Instead of finding that House MD has ‘devolved’–as some claims, I was very disappointed that it was the quality of comments on this forum that has dropped tremendously. Rather than analysing the show’s plot (which was so engaging and fun in previous reviews), fans are busy attacking and defending their own factions. Worse still, unfounded gossips of actors’ personal lives are being spread here–an irrelevant subject for people interested in the artistic appreciation of the show rather than the paparazzi. Where has the old civility and “show-centricity” that characterized this forum gone to?

  • RJW

    Amen,Jane!

  • DebbieJ.

    As much as I am looking forward to Candace Bergan’s appearance as Cuddy’s mother, I, too, wish the writers will further explore House’s relationship with his own mother. We’ve only seen the woman twice, briefly. Now that he is sober and in a better frame of mind, I would love to see some dialogue between them. Would love to hear her confirm his suspicions of his parentage. They have A LOT to talk about! I really hope we get to witness this before the series’ end.

  • Sera G.

    Amen, Amen Jane#54!
    I left this site Friday evening feeling depressed and saddened. Let’s do get back to the civil and show-centric discussions.
    This season, in my opinion has been very, very good. I am enjoying seeing another side of House. I have always loved Cuddy and think the writers are doing a great job of giving us a mature couple adjusting to finally being together, with all that entails. I am curious to see what will happen to Wilson, now that he doesn’t have House constantly needing attention and that House is the one who is (gasp!) happy. I, too, want to see House and his mother have a frank discussion about his childhood and her choices. I don’t necessarily want to ‘meet’ his biological father. That character is best left to what has already been discovered. (Again, imo).
    Just a comment about Chase’s behavior this season. Someone, sorry, I can’t find the name, mentioned what a playboy he is being and found that out of character. Actually, that was his charater the first few episodes. He spent a lot of time flirting with the nurses, he x-rayed or scanned the wrong foot of a patient because he was distracted. Chase was trying to make a ‘date’ during All In before House pulled him away.
    That is why I think it is funny when people comment that this program about medical mysteries is becoming too much about characters’ lives and about sex. It has always been about characters’ lives; PPTH personnel and patients and there has always been the concern with relationships; Wilson’s many marriages, Cameron’s feelings for House, House’s unresolved feelings for Stacy, Foreman’s inability to keep relationships. As a matter of fact, House even said, “It’s always about sex.”

  • Sera G.

    …Oops! I pressed Post Comment, instead of Preview.
    I try not to go to many other entertainment sites as they are too ‘snarky’ for my tastes, but the few that I have read; TV Guide, EW and a few others have been very positive about this season. They like the direction of House/Cuddy and the addtion of Masters. We all have our opinions, but I think that when the journals that keep up on all that is new and flashy still respond to and respect a show like House, TPTB are doing something right.

    Anyway, I think we all care about this show. As someone said earlier, it is pretty amazing that a program in its seventh year still generates this much interest and enthusiasm.
    Barbara, thank you for continuing to write so beautifully about House and for providing this opportunity for us to contribute our thoughts.

  • Sahara

    I’m totally with the author on this. She put into words perfectly the way I feel about House and Cuddy’s relationship–and how the writers are interweaving it delicately as to not overpower the show, but add a new dimension to it.

    I’m grateful to the writers for staying true to both House and Cuddy’s personalities and dealing head-on with some of the “obvious” reasons why their relationship could be doomed to fail. They don’t run away from their differences or natural instints (like House’s almost innate tendency to lie). They are instead embracing them and fighting to hold onto the relationship and each other within their existence.

    This is an extremely adult–not to mention fresh–approach to dealing with the choice to unite the two main characters of a series—a move that often causes a show like this to “jump the shark”–and this approach coupled with Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein’s amazing chemistry–is what is making the show BETTER than in years past

    The writers took a gamble–but a carfully calcuted–and delicately written one–and it paid off wonderfully in my oppinion.

  • Mosquitoinuk

    Hi Barbara, first time I post. I’ve read all the comments with interest and I must echo Jane’s feelings about the quality of the comments. Let’s get back to basics.

    I absolutely love House M.D. the show and I think the relationship with Cuddy had to be explored. Deep inside I am a big Huddy shipper and I thought the whole “House and Cuddy getting together” was completely in line with the show’s developments. After all, this is House’s journey and we know for a fact that he decided to get better (season 6) and he felt (i.e, House the character) he wanted to be happy. Good for him!

    My only gripe, is with the development of Cuddy’s character. House obviously adores Cuddy for many reasons, but two of them (in my opinion) are her assertiveness and her self-confidence. Somehow I feel that has been lost. I don’t really like passive-agressive Cuddy…perhaps I’m the only one that feels that way. Thoughts, anybody?

    Just to finish, Barbara, I think you do an excellent job with this column. Keep up the good work!

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Thanks, everyone—and once again, happy New Year!
    I have no way to control the comments, but I really do hope we go back the thoughtful way of discussing the show (no matter what you like or dislike about it) without getting nasty.

    Two weeks to go till we get new episodes! Can’t wait.

  • huddy757

    Ms. Barbara I love your blog and your book. Tremendous insights and great conversation about a one of a kind show. The chemistry between the entire cast has made for an awesome ride that you just want to stay on forever.
    I loved the first episode of the season and I thought it had some beautiful moments.

    The things I love about the season are the things Ms. Barnett pointed out.
    They are committed to this relationship. It was the little things like he was going to the wedding no matter if they were talking or not. Holding Cuddy’s purse and zipping her up. That is marriage stuff. It’s not been as much fun as I would have liked but I do think they are going somewhere with it.

    Cuddy has been uptight and while I can understand her feelings I think it goes past what we have seen so far.I think the second half will reveal some insights to Cuddy. We see it only through House’s eyes because this is about House.
    The family coming to town should open up some insights into Cuddy.
    Cuddy has been House’s enabler, employer, protector, and lawyer. It was a story that needed to be told, should have been told, and is being told.
    House has always been attracted to Cuddy and in some ways I think Cuddy has always been in love with House. Although he has said “I love you” he has yet to make that personal connection that surpasses the physical. He still deals with only the physical not the emotional. He knows he hurts her but he doesn’t let himself feel it inside. The rest os the season should be exciting and
    The writers will tell the story and it will be worth the wait.
    I love the addition of Masters. She is cool. She adds another dimension to House and they play off each other well.
    The show is not about medical mysteries it is about a doctor named House and his journey and all that entails.
    I wish Hugh Laurie and Lisa, and Robert, and Omar, and Jesse and Peter could do the show for years but I know they put in a lot of time.
    For that I am thankful for everyone’s hard work for giving us an amazing show and such a entertaining character such as House.

  • Oh, Snap

    @Huddy757: No, the show was originally a medical mystery ‘PROCEDURAL”; however, around Season 4 it became a retconned ‘Soap Opera.” If you’re into that sort of thing, then this is the show for you. If not, RIP “House.”

  • huddy 757

    @oh snap – From almost the beginning it has been about Dr. Gregory House. His cases, his detoxing, his getting arrested, people wanting to fire him, his antics and approach to saving patients, his relationships with colleagues, friends or friend.
    Never was it a documentary on medical procedures. He had a case and roughly three other things going on each show.
    If you don’t like Huddy well that is ok. Some people didn’t like Cameron.
    I have enjoyed each step and the progression of Dr. House. I think “Broken” was amazing. I liked that over a course of time we have saw more sides to Dr. House.
    House is entertaining and they work hard to keep the medical stuff real and put forth a great effort and a lot of time to give a quality show.
    I love it.
    I respect the fact that you have a right to your opinion. the show has equally been about a medical case and about the lives of a group of doctors that work on those cases.
    There has been more exploration of the personal this year but in which ever way they decide to take the huddy arc it will settle down.

  • Jane

    I believe the show was meant to be in the format of a medical procedural. However, more essentially, it is also a character study of the man Gregory House . These are two facts that David Shore has said so himself (watch interview with House cast at Paley Center). After all, the show is called House, not General Hospital. I like the medical aspect of the show, which allows us to explore House’s professional conduct and ethics, which, in turn, are underpinned by his worldviews that we are fundamentally interested in. I also like the procedural format, because it allows us to mull over a central theme each week rather than an unending and aimless narrative characteristic of a soap opera.

    Now, more on why House MD is not a soap opera…

    Romance, while often characteristic of soap operas, is not unique to it. Love is a universal theme, and an undeniably philosophical one. If House MD is a character study, how can we not expect Gregory House to yearn for love and try for it?

    Secondly, I feel (like someone else earlier mentioned) that House’s current attempt at a serious relationship with Cuddy is a natural following from his recovery from depression: Now that he’s gained some capacity for hope, why not pursue personal happiness? So you see, House’s romance is an ‘answer’ to the earlier seasons’ discourse on hope and not that the writers are suddenly changing their appetite to romance for romance’s sake.

  • dago

    to huddy757 :That ia what I think ,too.House knows about these things but he doesn`t want or allow himself to feel it inside.Learning to do that could be part of his further journey.
    to Oh,snap : It was always about House himself.The very first scene of the pilot,
    having him and Wilson walking the hallway
    should be confirming that.After all , this is entertainment not medical school.So if you don`t like to watch it then leave it.
    A happy New Year to you ,Barbara and all the commenters with all the best wishes.I like this blog a lot and I`m always enjoying reading it.

  • Amy

    I wish there was more focus on the patients. Some of the best episodes were when I actually cared if the patient of the week would live or die. I have probably only cared about 3 in the past two seasons.

    I remember the first few seasons, laughing loudly at the clever things House did, the things he would do to ‘be mean’ without being cruel and pointing out what his patients were doing to be idiots. Those days have long passed.

  • Boeke

    Amy: I agree.

  • onecoolwoman

    The title of this show is “House” – David Shore himself (this is NOT my opinion) has said it’s a psychological study of House, and his growth as a human being. That’s why this is not season 3, this is not ER, this is not Grey’s Anatomy, General Hospital, whatever – this is HOUSE. I really get sick and tired of people saying “oh….it was so much better in season 3/4….” well, for all you people out there, I have but one question: are you the exact same person you were 3/4 years ago? I bet not….Why are people so averse to House being happy, and evolving psychologically as a human being – ?? this, I do not understand. Doesn’t everyone deserve happiness and psychological/personal evolution?? This show is NOT only about the medical cases – that’s why ALL of them end at the end of every show and are rarely mentioned again – it’s about House and his journey. And if you don’t like the show anymore, well then, don’t watch it – spend your time elsewhere.

    Here’s a shout out to all the nominations for Lisa E, Hugh, and House tonight for the People’s Choice Award’s!! Fingers crossed for many awards!!

    Barbara- happy new year to you – and I love your book!! Cheers

  • Amanda

    I love this show and how it has evolved without losing its chemistry. Hugh Laurie has pointed out (this will lose in the translation, my apologies) that the success of a movie depends on its main character changing, and the success of a TV show depends on its main character *not* changing. By and large, he’s right, and I have been pleasantly amazed at how the show has managed to keep certain House aspects rock-solid, yet introduce flavors to his character that let him evolve. So yes, it’s a different show now–but it’s still a very very GOOD show.

    And speaking of the 7th season. I just realized I’ve been watching this show since my youngest was FIVE YEARS OLD. OMG. Time only takes on meaning when measured against children.

    ~Amanda

  • Mike

    Olivia comes back. I read it was temporary due to two films. She is to come back and be at odds with masters since she is bisexual and everything Martha feels uncomfortable about. I heard that thirteen may have went away to stay with dr cameron but this may be a rumor

  • Sophie

    1. I do not think that House/Wilson will ever happen on this show, nor do I think that House is gay.

    2. I kind of liked Cuddy until season 6; after that point, I feel she lost a lot of what made me admire her as a character.

    3. I completely agree with Cardiac Monitor and Ms. M.D.’s comments.

    I just felt the need to point out that not everyone who dislikes where this show is going is a rabid, anti-Cuddy Hilson fan. Some of us simply find all of the Huddy rather nauseating and have stopped watching because it feels like that’s all it ever is anymore.

    I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy for a reason. I chose House because it was Holmes in a Hospital, not because it was a smarter General Hospital. (Exaggeration, yes, but you get the gist.)

    Also, I would like to point out that everyone in the world seems to forget how much it must hurt to be missing a muscle in one’s leg, even if one IS distracted. It’s a BIG muscle. People are irritated by large bruises and scabs and constantly wince when forced to move them; how is it possible that suddenly House can do almost anything when a season ago he was complaining about how much his leg hurt?

    This all said, thanks for the recap. I’m considering tuning in again and it’s good to know where everyone in the show stands.

  • ruthinor

    Sophie, to flip the coin: didn’t it ever occur to you that House’s “pain” was always greatest when the rest of his life was falling apart? It was what he focused on, for example, when Stacy left. Also, once he was off vicodin, his pain in general, while still there, appeared to be much reduced. He still rubs his leg often, but he’s not so focused on the pain. The same thing happened after he got out of rehab and was living with Wilson. He started focusing on the pain until he became interested in a case which he solved on the internet. When he found out about Lucas and Cuddy, his life started going to hell again and he got drunk to dull the pain. He’s happier now and one’s mood effects just about everything. Endorphins anyone??

  • Nola

    Oh Amy, you are so right. As I sit here today watching a House marathon, I just dont understand how anyone can really believe this show is even 1/2 of what it once was in the early seasons.

    And I was looking forward to the episode with Candice Bergen, until I saw the preview. For those who have not seen the previews, I dont want to spoil anything. So just let me say if Cuddy got mad at House for lying and doesnt get mad at him for what he does to her mom/Candice, well I think that pretty much tells us where this show is heading and what the writers priorities are. If my significant other did that to my mom, YIKES, they would be out the door, never to return.

    And while I am very happy for those who are enjoying the direction the show has taken, I find it rather unfair to be told that those of us who dont like the direction should stop watching it, that we are not real fans or that we should not post. If we were not real fans we would not care about this new direction and we have a right to post our opinions.

    I enjoyed the sexual tension and banter between House and Cuddy, I just feel they have obliterated the characters in the process of bringing them together in a relationship. I feel the relationship is being handled poorly. It had potential and rather than fulfill that potential the writers instead choose to turn them into idiots.
    I personally dont want to see them out on dates. I dont want to see an episode of 2 men and a baby. They could have handled this more in the way they handled Chase and Camerons relationship and kept the medical cases in the forefront.

    That is just my opinion, but I am entitled to an opinion.

  • onecoolwoman

    Nola, must I say it yet again, people (as in “House” or “lisa cuddy”) are entitled to evolve in this lifetime – yet again – are YOU the same person you were seven years ago? I would beg to differ, but I would think that you would say, I think NOT. Give the man a break. If you don’t like the show anymore, yet again, watch “Grey’s Anatomy”.

  • Devil’s Advocate

    #75

    The evolution itself is hardly the sole point. The point is the KIND of evolution they chose and the WAY they are doing it. And even if, as a viewer, I accept that people change (which House has spoken against time and time again in the past!) and that the characters on House have a right to do that (while House has challenged the idea that anybody deserves anything time and time again as well!), I still don’t have to like the way they change, especially if they are losing certain characteristics that made them attractive to me in the first place and that made me a fan of the show for a long time. And if people point that out, it is hardly fair to tell them “shut up and go away”, condescendingly suggesting Grey’s of all things. The show and House’s change aren’t the words of God, there has to be space for a differentiated debate and a diversity of opinions.

  • Nola

    Onecoolwomen, as I have said, just because I dont care for the direction the show has taken doesnt mean I am not a fan or that I plan on not watching. For me, its just not “must see TV”. I have no problem with those who like the direction, I respect their opinions and am happy for them. It would be nice if you could show the same respect to those of us who are not thrilled with the new direction and not tell us to not watch or go watch Greys. Which by the way I dont watch.

    And no, I have not changed much in the past 7 years. Once you reach a certain age, change becomes less and less. Did I go thru many changes when I was younger, you bet.

    I have no problem with House changing, I just dont care for the direction of those changes. There are many ways a person can change, there are many ways for the writers to explore those changes.

    Again, let me stress, it would nice if we all could respect each others opinions.
    Some like the changes, some dont. That doesnt mean you have to tell those of us who dont, not to watch. Why are you so angry that some people are not thrilled with the new direction ?
    It just an opinion, everyone has one, everyone is entitled to express their opinion.
    There is no reason not to be able to have a civil discussion about a TV show without slamming each other.
    And that goes for both sides, those who like and those who dont.
    Have a great day !!!

  • http://quarryhillcreativecenter.blogspot.com Isabella Fiske McFarlin

    Hi Barbara, thanks for the recap of this part of Season 7. I was sorry there was no Xmas-related show. Why don’t they do that any more? I wonder why there’s always a big break in the middle of the winter– is it because they have to make more eps or ?? I would have liked to see Xmas/Chanukah be a part of it.
    But I like your careful surgical examination of the season very much. I think that it’s odd that Cuddy, having told House she doesn’t want him to change, immediately begins trying to change him. Suppose that is the way people are,but he doesn’t even call her on it. I wonder why? And another thing– they aren’t going to Mont St Michel according to an interview Lisa E. gave before the PC Awards. That’s too bad, after all that nice build-up… can’t they ever have a vacation? (What about those pictures of the 2 of them cuddling on a beach???)
    And what about Lucas? I had thought, and heard, that he would be coming back into the picture and causing complications, but so far, no sign of him. I do look forward to meeting Cuddy’s family– what about Cuddy meeting HOuse’s mother, whom he actually seems to care about? And the real, biological dad? Isn’t there a story there perhaps?
    I don’t think House and Cuddy will, or should, break up… if they do, what will be left in the series for those who are interested in the personal lives of the doctors to look forward to? Only if Stacy were to return would I be able to accept a breakup at this point. They barely know each other as lovers… I hope they continue!
    I also think Wilson and Sam will get back together and probably get married. Just think it will happen. Wilson won’t be infantile enough to feel left out of House’s affair, it seems to me– and that would be boring. But if House should realize at Wilson’s wedding that he really wants to marry Cuddy… and she wants him to ask her (she clearly does!)– and then perhaps she fell ill with a truly mysterious disease– wouldn’t that be interesting? (Hey, House people, let ME write for you– at least, the plot stuff. I don’t know about the medical terminology and puzzles!)
    I hope Olivia Wilde returns; I like Martha M. and hope she is also around. But most of all I’d like to see Cameron come back, even just for a few episodes each season that HOUSE continues. I believe Chase still loves Cameron and she loves him. It makes no sense to just drop her the way the writers and producers have done. She’s a great favorite of the fans. Silly thing to do…
    As for Taub, I hate to say it but I don’t care at all what happens to him. I’d like to see something nice or fun or pleasant happen to Foreman, but I just don’t care enough about Taub. He bores me.
    Sorry Peter J… I’m sure it’s not your fault!
    I love HOUSE and Hugh Laurie and think it is getting better all the time. The depths in the face and eyes of this great actor, showing love and liberation (for now) from his opiate addiction– is amazing. I hope it goes on for as long as it possibly can.

  • http://quarryhillcreativecenter.blogspot.com Isabella Fiske McFarlin

    For me, it is must see TV.It’s practically real life. And I know that’s probably not the best thing– I ought to be using my own creativity, not wallowing in someone else’s to that extent. But I love House. And a lot of other people seem to feel the same way.

  • Nola

    Isabella, quite a few of your questions have been answered by David Shore over the past few days. I dont want to post anything here as some may not want the episodes to be spoiled for them. But if you google David Shore you will find out if Oliva is coming back, if Amber is staying and why the multi episode vacation arc has been scrapped. All I will say is the multi episode vacation arc was the baby of Katie Jacobs who was left in charge of House while David worked on developing The Rockford Files. Well Rockford has been shelved and David is back in charge at House and has reworked many episodes.

    And I do agree with you that I too would love to see Stacy come back. Sela Ward is a fine actress.

  • Kim

    Barbara do you know why they took out the House on the road episode?

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    One of the things that happens when a series and its fandom mature into year seven, is there evolves and entire spectrum of opinion. Some people like the way a series matures; others don’t. Saying something is “bad” is different than saying “I don’t like where it’s going.”

    Differences of opinion are expected, but let’s all keep perspective and civility–and respect each others’ opinions. As some who’s been watching since season one, and who still enjoys it–how is my opinion less authentic than someone who says the “show is bad”? The answer is: it’s not.

  • Shannon Wilson

    My idea of the final show: A wheelchair-bound biker has a sick son. As House treats the boy, he has confrontations with the father, who conveys to him some deeper ways to find satisfaction with life. This character is played by HL. We would all love to see such an acting tour de force. The story of a wise stranger, to whom House can relate, who has things of importance to tell him, would make an honorable finale. I would appreciate assistance in communicating this idea to the writers.