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TV Open Thread: House, M.D. – “The Fix”

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Note: Deadline Hollywood is reporting that FOX and Universal are near a deal to renew House, M.D. for an eighth season. “Imminent,” is the word used. Now, back to our regularly scheduled Open Thread.

I love the promo monkeys (I use that term with only great affection). Their job is to mislead, obfuscate and otherwise cause waves of torment among the hardcore House, M.D. fandom. So when we see House (Hugh Laurie in a great performance) apparently shooting up heroin in the promos, we all know there must be some logical explanation, right? Even when the title of the episode is called “The Fix,” and the team is worried that their boss is even more off the wall than usual—even when what House is actually shooting into his veins is at least as dangerous as heroin.

House avoids this week’s patient entirely, completely disinterested in what happens to Wendy, a bomb maker, leaving her case completely to a frustrated team. Cajoled into a boxing bet by Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), House instead focuses on why a young previously unbeaten boxer has suddenly lost five matches in a row. When Foreman complains to Wilson about House’s disinterest in their bomb maker, Wilson suggests they solve the case without their boss.

Wilson is less concerned with the patient than happy that House is actually interested enough in something. Since his breakup with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), House has done insane things just to do insane things; he’s not been interested or passionate about anything. But now, the game is afoot, and House is pursuing the boxer’s ailment. Wilson couldn’t be happier, thinking perhaps that House’s heart is on the mend.

But there is something else afoot. House believes that most of his problems are tied up in that disfigured right thigh (“Detox,” Season 1).  And since the end of Season 2, we have watched House occasionally grab desperately at straws in an attempt to heal himself—to be finally rid of the pain, and perhaps regain some strength in his right leg. House has considered some insane things since we’ve first met him, from Ketamine to brain implants to transplanted nerve fibers. If he can turn back the clock, make the leg not matter so much, perhaps it’s not too late for some happiness.  

And in the aftermath of his breakup and the acknowledgment that he’ll never be “normal” enough to really climb out of his misery, House’s desperation has taken a dramatic uptick. That it’s under both Wilson’s and Cuddy’s radars, makes this a dangerous game. Driven by fear of the Vicodin use sending him back to Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, and desperate to find some peace, House uses himself as a lab rat, experimenting with a drug that’s apparently only in Phase 2 (animal) testing trials. 

House is out of his mind. Seriously, completely out of his mind. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that about this character. I don’t fear for his sanity, because it’s fled him. Right now I’m still processing the impact of this episode and where it will take House as the season ends. Writers David Shore and Tommy Moran have sent House into a very, very dark place. And unlike the darkness of Season 5’s delusions, this is a nightmare of House’s own making.

I will have much more to say about this episode later today or tomorrow, but I wanted to give you all a space to talk in the aftermath of “The Fix” and the aired promo for next week’s “After Hours.”

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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)."
  • Elisabeth

    I agree – the use of the experimental (un-named) drug is a really desperate move by House. He would have mocked a patient who took a similar route in previous seasons. Now he is acting irrationally and that is a really scary thing to witness. House has prided himself all along on his rational mind. Is that a victim of the break-up as well?

  • Dmckoy

    Agreed Barbara, scary is spot on! i’ll save my complete comment for your formal review, but this ep, though slow at times, did what it was meant to do, act as catalyst for whats to come as House completely loses his grip..yikes!

  • Zaze

    House is becoming Dr Frankenstein, he’s mad, how can this season ending well? it’s impossible, he’s a drug addict who tests experimental drugs and I’m sure he’ll have in long term collateral damages.
    I hope he’ll take at least one good decision in the end of this season : an amputation. Does it mean it will be good enough to find some happiness? I don’t think so, dark place…

  • I think House is caught between a lot of bad stuff. He is deeply depressed and really, really needs to see Nolan. Like really. But he won’t because when he got well before he had a goal: Cuddy. Now there’s nothing for him to look ahead to. The pursuit of pleasure is gone, the pursuit of the puzzle is no longer much of a distraction from himself. The pain is worse (and exacerbated by his emotional turmoil). He can’t take much more Vicodin or he’ll end up delusional again, he fears. He’s toyed with this stuff before, but never completely on his own–and he’s always thought better of it before taking the plunge.

    But he’s tired (obviously) of Wilson’s mothering, and Cuddy is gone. There are no filters left, and House is in so much pain, he just wants it all to stop. This is major desperation. He can absolutely be irrational when it comes to his leg–he always has been.

  • Zaze

    @barbara : how can we expect a season 8 with House like that? I think it will be worst in the finale, and if he’s again a drug addict and has no interests for his job, where will we see House in season 8?

  • xinyuactor

    just finish watching this episode and the end dead-rat scene was freaking me out. i froze in oh-my-gods for 2 minutes. i mean, House will be the next rat die on this drug..
    hugh was actualy boxing, big WOW!
    while waiting for Barbara’s formal review, fingers crossed for season 8 renew.

  • 08joanna

    Zaze: The final episodes of each season have usually brought House close to a crisis, but that doesn’t mean he’ll stay in that awful place forever. It’s done for dramatic effect, and I can see several ways for House to climb back out of the hole he’s now dug for himself. Maybe Season 8 will find him gradually making sense of things and finding a way to cope long term. If they know it’ll be the last season when it begins, TPTB could plan the entire season to end on a hopeful note for his future, unless they go the other route and totally destroy him or kill him off at the end. I’d hate for that to be the ultimate end of this series, but it would be believable for the character. It would also be believable, to me at least, for him to find some joy and peace in life, despite his problems. That’s what I hope for.

  • Zaze

    @08joanna : “It’s done for dramatic effect, and I can see several ways for House to climb back out of the hole he’s now dug for himself”

    I can’t see one, he’s gone so far in his craziness, he should go to Mayfield again but for a long time.

  • Eloise

    I really enjoyed this episode although I was not particularly interested in th POW.
    I supposed it had a link to House in that both their bodies are being poisoned but he has choosen his and she had not.
    HL as usual pulled out all the acting stops and DS showed again why this is his show and nobody elses! Very scarey how House was acting and as someone noted somewhere else first time he has ever to my knowledge shown violence to Wilson in reality that is.
    Wilson and Cuddy and co should really be taking notice of his behaviour, especially as Wilson now knows he was using an experimental drug.
    I am desparate to see the next two episodes as they look amazing but I think I may have no nails by the end of the finale!!!

  • I thought it was a great episode. The teaser was funny as hell, the POTW not interesting.

    House seems to believe that the root of all his problems lies in his leg. Before the infarction we know he was a jerk and possibly even a loner but not so much as he was after the infarction. Stacy took away his control over his fate when she authorized the removal of part of his thigh muscle, and since then he’s never had any control over the pain, except when they used the Ketamine on him. That has to be part of his hurt, that he had NO say in this, someone else did this to him.

    Is his physical pain real? Absolutely. But how much is exacerbated by his emotional pain? It’s like a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself. He’d have to break the cycle somehow. But how? If he had his leg amputated would he still feel less of a man? Would he feel more functional having a prosthetic and being able to do things he enjoys doing? It would be interesting because initially he fought Stacy and Cuddy on the amputation route. He refused and he’s lived the past decade or more in agonizing pain and now, he may face eventually having to amputate it anyway. Wouldn’t THAT be something? He could have avoided all these years of hate, anger and misery if he’d just done it to begin with.

    House is a desperate man. All he wants is to be out of pain but he thinks it all stems from the physical. He’s reaching out in a last ditch effort not just to get rid of the pain but to feel “whole” again. He thinks that if he can heal his leg his life will be better. Wilson was right when he told House that he needs to blame his pain on something he tangible. House is a man of science but a man of logic too and he believes only in what he can see and feel for himself. Instead of accepting that some of his pain is emotional, he’d rather blame it all on his leg. He’s going full circle with this. It began with the leg, ends with the leg.

    Not all his pain is physical, but there’s enough of it. There’s also a lot of emotional pain is there. I still believe there’s a lot to his relationship with his dad that could make a great story. I do not believe his father ever really respected him or his choices, that’s bad enough but when House lost the full use of his leg and became essentially “half a man”, his father seemed to look down him even more. Remember the first time we saw his parents visit? You could tell his father was like that. For whatever reason he thought his disabled son was less of a man. Look at the impact that’s had on him. I also think his use of hookers, which is usually a distraction for him, is also a way of not having to face perceived judgment or ridicule by normal women. Hookers are paid to do a job, they don’t care how bad his leg looks or if it can’t function. Now with Cuddy, she never complained but even around her maybe he thought he was less of a man, hiding his insecurity behind a plethora of sexual innuendos and jokes. I think he doesn’t believe he deserves her for a lot of reasons, one of them being he can’t be “the man” physically that he thinks she needs.

    House may have some screwed up methods but by using this experimental drug, he’s not trying to ruin his life, he’s trying to fix himself. It’s just that desperation has caused him to totally and completely disregard his own rational medical judgment. Of course he knew there would be risks but a desperate man is a dangerous man…mostly to himself. He’s been crying out for help but nobody has been hearing him, they are too busy blaming it on the breakup. Nobody has been hearing his cries, so what else is he supposed to do? This is his form of taking responsibility and trying to heal, but when you are broken and desperate you tend to make irrational choices. Can’t his two best friends see that?

    Some of what’s wrong with House is Wilson and Cuddy’s doing. They continue to enable him. Instead of Cuddy telling House “Do your job or you’re fired” she just nonchalantly dismisses his behavior with a wave of her hand and “House is always fine” yet later on she and Wilson apparently send Thirteen to check up on him. And when Foreman approaches Wilson, once again Wilson just dismisses House’s pain:

    “I think this is good for him.”

    “House only doing what House wants is the only way he can function”

    “Since the breakup he’s been seeking crazier and crazier things to do because they’re crazy”

    “I think House getting back to doing stupid House stuff for stupid House reasons is the best thing that can happen”

    These lines by Wilson remind me of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. They are so used to House doing crazy things, that this time they are dismissing it all as stunts and completely missing the train wreck that is about to happen. Everyone is blaming his disintegrating behavior on the breakup, but it’s a cry for help. He doesn’t need enablers, he needs his friends to be there for him, not to coddle him but to be tough with him. You could tell it pained Cuddy to tell Foreman “House is always fine” because she knows in her heart something is wrong, but she knows she can’t go down that road again. She’s been there and it hurts, because she loves him so much.

    By the way, did anyone notice that awesome conversation with the boxer in the hospital corridor? It wasn’t only House talking to the boxer, it was House referring to himself:

    “You don’t have to be a loser”

    “Whatever’s wrong with you it’s real”

    “Sick is good, sick means it can get better, you could get better”

    “I don’t mean healthier, I mean, maybe you don’t have to suck”

    Also, I have a thought here. What if, and this is a big IF, the tumors in House’s leg are NOT caused by the experimental drug? He told Thirteen that his leg has been hurting more lately, we’ve noticed him limping more. He’s cut back on his Vicodin so he won’t overdose and hallucinate again, but I just wonder if there’s actually something wrong with him? Wouldn’t it be something if…again…big if…the pain House has been feeling has been REAL and not just partly imagined because of the breakup and his misery? Just something I thought I’d throw in there.

    If the leg was not suffering any severe problems before this, then he has done this to himself. His search for the perfect cure may nearly kill him. I don’t think he’s ready for that. In the past he’s done stupid things to risk his life but as I recall none of them to save his life. It’s always been about being out of pain. This time he was actually trying to heal the source of the pain not just mask the pain. As screwed up as using this drug was, there’s a difference.

    Ultimately I really think the only way House can save himself (if he makes it out of this tumor thing ok) is to take responsibility, own up to his bullshit, apologize to the woman he loves and his best friend, and then take steps to act on those words. (That in a sense could change his relationship with Wilson and Cuddy). This means no hiding behind drugs or hookers or crazy stunts or blaming everything and everyone else for his own mess. House is a man of action, he says actions are more important than words. He can say he’s sorry and say he wants to no longer be miserable but it’s what he actually does about it that will make the difference in his life and the lives of the people he cares about. Most of all though he needs to do this for himself. He’s got two choices. Continue living this lifestyle and most certainly die young or do everything he can to get help so he can live and have some kind of decent life.

    Now we’re at the mercy of TPTB as to which route House will choose. While I liked last night’s episode, I loathe the possibility of spending Season Eight in a continued downward spiral. Enough is enough.

  • spoilerchicka

    as usual, Barbara, you hit the nail on the head. I actually found myself disrespecting the normally brilliant Dr. House after watching The Fix episode. To some degree I see House’s desperation to prove to himself that its his leg pain thats the cause of all his misery (girlfriends leaving him, angry attitude, miserable view of life) but I have hope that this latest idiocy will result in House realizing its all in HIS mind to fix his future, not his leg.

    I can only hope that House will realize that the anger he carries within can’t be solely blamed on his leg since a good degree of his personality’s development hinges on an abused childhood that preexisted before the thigh muscle infarction. Even long-time girlfriend Stacy admitted to Cuddy seasons ago that House was the same man prior to the leg surgery that resulted in his “crippled” body and mind.

    I felt pained by House’s self-reference of an “old crippled guy” in the conversation with the boxer. The only thing truly crippled about House is his view of life and how he’s been hurt. At some point selfish narcissistic House has to realize he isn’t the only person Life has treated badly. Its up to him to “move on” if he’s to move forward and grab for the life he wants so desperately. Enough excuses, maturity is warranted despite his childlike and dare I say chlidish emotional fragility.

  • Season 8


    Im in the UK and apologises if this is a week behind, I have just finished watching changes the episode above will air here on Thursday.
    Anyway I really noticed that there must have been 5 or more references to gas, explosion,boom within this ep for example house told cuddy he wouldn’t pay for gas, Taub told cyrus he had “Poured a lot of gas on the fire’ when he was talking about the ultrasound. In the episode with thirteen house told she owed he gas money. Seems alot of refernces to gas that coupled with an explosion in the finale makes me think gas leak.

    Im still thinking that what were seeing isn’t really what happened Im going for gas explosion at Cuddys house in the episode before bombshells with Cuddy the one being ill and house protecting himself from her illness by playing out in his head that he was dumped.

    anyway just thought id share

    cheers em

  • Laura Saxon

    This was a great episode. I’m a little nervous about next week’s episode and hope Cuddy finds House in time.

  • Julia

    I enjoyed the episode. It’s sad to see House in such a dark place. He makes me sad. I get this feeling that Cuddy & Wilson can’t see it. Not to the extent it’s gotten to anyway. Cuddy may worry, I’m not sure what the look was about when Foreman asked her about House. I can’t wait to see the last 2 episodes.

  • Jacksam4eva

    I loved House this week. And I love the fact that the writers actually got everyone hooked on the show again, after all the criticism it suffered a few weeks ago. I have mixed feelings about him getting closer to Thirteen though. I mean I really love her and I can’t believe the writers would be stupid enough to get her romantically involved with House but I can’t help but thinking that it should be Cuddy checking on him now. I’m not saying this because I simply want them back together, even if I’m a huddy, I really liked the Bombshells break-up but again, the show ends up showing us how little people tend to change over time and learn from their mistakes. At the end of season 5, with the baby and the Joy and Let Them Eat Pie mess up, Cuddy was so busy avoiding House that she didn’t see anything until it was to late for him to be saved and now, she’s ignoring the problem again. The promo pictures have her waiting outside the OR looking worried, maybe thinking she could have prevented it?

  • My in-depth will be dalayed. I’m talking with Katie Jacobs later today, and have seen the next episode, so I’ll probably combine all that into one article for the weekend as a preview.

  • Jane E

    I also liked this episode and actually are scared by it. House is off his rocker at this point and we are obviously winding up for the season finale. I am so happy it was not heroine, because I saw season 3 all over again. I hope they promote the show properly because I saw the ratings really went down. I think a lot of people thought Season 3 again and they need to let the audience know it is an experimental drug,which at this point is not FDA approved and very dangerous.

  • Susan

    I was surprised when House swept everything off Wilson’s desk but actually gasped when he broke the glass on the picture frame. It’s good drama but getting ridiculous and seemingly, dangerous. How and why does Wilson take this kind of behavior from House?

    A deranged man is walking (limping) the corridors of the Princeton Plainsboro and no one (wake up Dr. Cuddy, head of the hospital) does anything.

  • KMC

    As a friend of mine commented re: the “House marries a hooker ep.”, “I’m hearing the theme from “Jaws”. So they are having an 8th season? That’s good, but though I hate to say it, I think they should use it to wrap things up. Think about it, how much more can the writers put House through physically and mentally until he suffers spontaneous combustion? He’s been shot, detoxed (2), overdosed on various drugs(3?), gave himself blood and had a bad reaction (then was biopsied under not particularly safe conditions), institutionalized, motor vehicle accidents (2), buried the abusive man who raised him and found out he actually wasn’t his father, had countless hookers (married one…and since when can failed seminary students marry people/what happened to her?), been jailed(multiple), had his license revoked, was morally responsible for the death of his best friend’s girlfriend, lost his best friend for a time, lost/had/gave up the “love of his life”, gained/lost his other love,etc.,and I know I’m forgetting things. And this is just the angst that’s happened in the show’s current timeline. This would be considered extreme for fanfiction “wack’em” stories…never mind actual show canon.

    Don’t get me wrong…I’ve loved the show and the characters (House and Wilson especially-both the character’s and Laurie and Leonard’s performances)but I just can’t see how much more physical/mental torture they can throw at House and make it believable that he can still recover.

    I’d like to see him make some sort of peace with Cuddy. I’d like to see Wilson grow a backbone and become the friend he really needs..somone who will actually listen to what he’s saying..and what he can’t say…and give him/direct him to the help he needs. I’d like to see Forman have a happy moment, and Chase truly atone for what he did (I won’t argue the morality of it) TPTB have always said that there are no happy endings available for the House character, and I’ve seen a few stunning series’ final episodes (including one where ALL the main characters were killed…kudos to whom ever can tell us which show was that..hint..it was British) But I would like to see an ending that the fans that have hung in there all these years can live with.

  • Betty

    #19 KMC This!! Agree!! Couldn’t have said it better. But if the writers dare to really develop this character, I can see a 9th season. But that would be a BIG IF. Otherwise best to wrap it up next season with a proper sendoff that the character deserves.

  • RobF

    I am struggling to stay positive about the show.

    The experimental drug storyline has potential (although I didn’t much like the way we were led to believe it was heroin), but it had better not just be a re-tread of previous “I think my leg is getting better… oh, no it’s not” storylines.

    Both patients were kind of dull. The “slut” didn’t much matter to anyone, except as a way to argue about the old double-standard, and for the show to poke fun at its old habit of showing people getting horrible diseases because they had ess-ee-eks in some kind of immoral fashion. The boxer was nothing but yet another obvious metaphor for an aspect of House’s personal problems.

    The best scene was when House was wrecking things in Wilson’s office, bullying Wilson to provoke a reaction, and only received calm disappointment in return. The writers are once again yielding to the temptation to make Wilson into Obi-Wan or Mr. Miyagi, House’s wise spiritual guide, but this one scene seemed more like someone being reeeallly patient with his annoying friend who is (yet again) going through a rough time.

    House’s wife has been out of the show, even unmentioned by the other characters, for far too long. All the hints of character development we’ve had for Foreman and Chase this season are also seemingly forgotten. If the writers include something in a couple of episodes, they should accept that they’ve made a commitment to deal with the consequences of that sub-plot in later episodes.

  • housemaniac

    Rob F #21
    You are so right! I am so disappointed with the lack of continuity in the show lately. I have been watching another drama, and even though it is not as sophisticated as House, it never leaves the myriad loose ends that House does. It’s so frustrating, and shoddy IMHO. And yet and still I am glad there is an 8th season because I’m still hoping for redemption, and I mean of the show, not the characters, though the latter would be nice too. Just a little.

  • Jt 197

    Great discussion – as I am in the UK I am a little behind – but I have to agree House self distruction + house self medicate story really seems to have reached its end –
    How about an end that involves House becoming an amputee? I also agree Season 8 should be the last.
    KMC – that show wouldn’t be Blakes 7 would it?