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TV Review: House – “Finding Judas”

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I was chatting with a friend after we'd watched this latest House episode, "Finding Judas" (which makes House Jesus? Talk about your ironic titles). She loved it, I hated it. (Well, "hate" here is defined as "loved slightly less than most other episodes of this show.") When we got further into the discussion, it was obvious that our overall impressions were virtually identical, until we got to those opposite conclusions. Sometimes there really is a fine line, not a great wall of China, between love and hate.

I love bastard House. I defend bastard House. I've never thought the bastardliness was hiding a man who really loves puppies and sunsets, and I think it's more interesting that he's not only a bastard on the outside. But this House, the House who is hitting rock bottom in "Finding Judas," was not fun, or funny, or sympathetic, and all that candy coating is what makes bastard House go down so smoothly.

I thought I'd really enjoy watching Chase getting punched, as he was at the end when he provided the medical epiphany moment after House botched the case. Foreman is right, Chase is hardwired to kiss ass, and that doesn't endear him to me. But it turned out I wanted Chase to get up and beat House senseless with his stethoscope so he'd quit his bloody whining. Your leg hurts? Do something about it. Try something else for pain management, like all those doctors around you are pleading, like the cop who is making your life and your colleagues lives miserable is demanding.

Yeah, I know that's not House's M.O. (And I know he's a fictional character and my hectoring will have no effect.) That's why I can appreciate what the episode is trying to do without necessarily enjoying it (remember the silent "as much as most other episodes" at the end of that sentence).

I can't believe I'm agreeing with scary Tritter, but we keep coming back to this: apparently everyone but House believes he is taking too much Vicodin, yet no one will actually do anything to stop him from practicing medicine in what they think is an impaired state. Maybe he's impaired when he's taking too much Vicodin, or maybe he's impaired when he's in too much pain to focus on the case. Either way, in "Finding Judas," little Alice, the six-year-old patient of the week, almost lost her limbs because he was too busy focusing on how mean Cuddy was for rationing his Vicodin. (He hides his secret stash in a lupus textbook, because "it's never lupus.")

Alice was brought to the hospital in excruciating abdominal pain, and her bickering parents can't agree on consent for surgery. Instead of threatening to cut the girl in half, House goes before the wisdom of a judge who rules in his favour – and, incidentally, the mother's. When mystery rashes start appearing and treatment doesn't work, it's the father who wants to refuse House's treatment, so back to the judge they go. In a surprise move – for those who hadn't read the episode description – she awards temporary guardianship to Cuddy in order to make medical decisions.

House's position is that Cuddy's middle-of-the-road approach, in Alice's treatment and in his own pain management, is cowardly, and that her medical decisions are only resulting in her getting sicker. He thinks his team is cowardly for not ratting him out, and barely listens to their medical opinions because they interfere with his complaining about his Vicodin being rationed. But he's the biggest coward here, taking the head-in-sand approach to his legal problems and the impact those problems are having on the people closest to him. Even I want to smack House, and my bank accounts haven't been frozen. Last I checked.

He's always been an advocate for people doing what they think is right, even if it means standing up to him, and he's no different here. But even though he's goading them to do the right thing here, they believe that loyalty supersedes the law, medical ethics, and, if they do believe he's out of control, House's own well-being. He's goading them to take action because he won't, or can't, or wants to make a game out of it, or isn't thinking of the consequences because all he can think about are drugs. None of those options are admirable in a guy who does the right thing — in his own wrongheaded way — in professional circumstances, but rarely does the right thing in personal ones.

The gang refuses to talk to Tritter, but the way he puts pressure on each of them, and the reasons why they don't talk, are revealing.

Tritter offers Foreman a deal – the truth about how many pills House takes each day in exchange for parole for his previously unheard-of brother, who's locked up on drugs violations. Foreman refuses, even after Tritter points out that juvenile car thief Foreman has had two chances, House has had a thousand, and his brother is stuck at one. Foreman has written off his addict brother, and suddenly his pragmatism about House being an addict, and his hardness about people who can't overcome their weaknesses or upbringing, has a context.

The cop presses the love angle with Cameron, pointing out that she's changed under House's tutelage: "You used to be someone who did the right thing." She denies she's in love with House, though she's fooling no one.

Chase, the one who ratted on House during the Vogler era, is set up by Tritter to look like a rat this time, even though he refuses to divulge any information. He's the only one whose accounts aren't frozen — though he lies about it — and Tritter arranges a friendly, public meeting so they look cozy. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, right, Chase?

Their blind loyalty is not appreciated by House, and he gets meaner and meaner to prove it. He saves his most unforgivable viciousness for Cuddy, confronting her after she carries the sick girl into a shower in desperation to cool her fever.

I like mean House, when he's funny, or making a point – even if that point is that someone is stupid. But his attack on Cuddy was deeply personal: "It's a good thing you failed to become a mom, because you suck at it." If he weren't a fictional character, I'd gouge his eyes out for her. When Wilson tries to comfort her, especially after she admits to a miscarriage, she points out that House knows how to poke where it hurts, and expresses her own doubts over her maternal fitness.

Wilson is the designated shoulder this episode. He also encounters an upset Chase after he's been punched for trying to stop House from maiming Alice for no reason. House doesn't want to hear that his own medical decisions have led to the wrong conclusion, that she has flesh eating disease and needs her arm and leg amputated. As Chase pieces together, Alice is actually allergic to light, a condition that will limit but not end her life, and definitely not end her full-limbedness. After the punch, House finally seems appalled by himself, though not enough to do anything drastic like apologize.

Wilson tells Chase: "Beckett was going to call him play Waiting for House's Approval, but decided it was too grim." But Chase declares he's not waiting for approval, and Wilson translates that correctly. Before Chase can potentially ruin his career by becoming a rat for a second time, Wilson goes to Tritter to ask for his "30 pieces of silver." And we've found our Judas. Except Judas might not have been acting in everyone's best interests.

It seems House needs to hit bottom before he can be redeemed, or at least scraped off the floor. I like that we're seeing more of the dynamics between all the characters, and how they demonstrate their loyalty, and where their cracks are. But I didn't find it fun to watch a bastard House with no redeeming flashes of humour or decency. And without the House I love at its centre, the show is as interesting and complex as ever without being nearly as compelling.

I know he'll be back soon, but I don't want my funny, sympathetic bastard House to ever go away. Next episode better be "Finding House."

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About Diane Kristine Wild

Diane travels. She doesn't tan.
  • Cindy

    I loved this episode, probably for the same reasons that you hated it. House was in pain and starting to feel the effects of withdrawal. He was also so deep in denial that he could not admit how he was hurting the people around him. In his world, everything was Tritter’s fault. House was also so focused on himself that he couldn’t concentrate on the patient — of course he got the diagnosis wrong! Kudos to the writers for showing true addictive behavior when things start spiraling out of control. And for showcasing Cuddy. And for showing the true colors of the rest of the team. Cuddy nailed it when she told Wilson that House knows exactly where to stick the knife and that most of the time he holds back. We are not going to see funny nice bastard House until House gets some control back. Now he’s just plain bastard House in pain and losing it. I’m looking forward to seeing him get back to ‘normal.’ It has been an interesting storyline. I still hate Tritter — he thinks he’s doing the right thing but his methods are evil. I thought EVERYONE’S performances were stellar.

  • and now… i cannot believe FOX is making us wait two weeks for a new House! I might go crazy!

  • MD79

    I think it was one of the most honest episodes and most honest characterization of a flawed person I have seen so far.He has had too much piled up in last few months and something like this was bound to happen.First the shooting,then leg problem getting better then worse then nobody believing him,and all this while,nobody thought its a volcano waiting to erupt.Final straw was the cop,which did push him over the edge,and now he lost the only 2 things he had,working for him,Wilson and his genius!
    Because he seemed to be coping,nobody cared if he really needed help,everybody was in denial,and eventually,everyone has paid the price.Wilson paid the biggest,because he was the closest.
    House’s price is gonna be bigger,he will be made to look the problems in the eye,and not hide behind drugs,but fess up,and DO something….
    I loved this episode!

  • Erin

    “Before Chase can potentially ruin his career by becoming a rat for a second time, Wilson goes to Tritter to ask for his “30 pieces of silver.” And we’ve found our Judas. Except Judas might not have been acting in everyone’s best interests.”

    Er no. Actually that wasn’t the reason Wilson went to Tritter. If anything that would cheapen both Chase & Wilson’s characters and the event of Wilson giving House up.

    Chase is sick of wanting validation. His ‘give up’ stance wasn’t to give Tritter up but to give up seeking House’s validation.

    Wilson became Judas as he saw how low House had indeed sunk. There was Cuddy, and then seeing he had become physical with Chase. That was the straw that broke it. Wilson simply grew some balls and put his foot down. Trying to save House from himself and all those that are likely to be direct hits.

    I found it strange that you and others saw it as Wilson trying to get in before Chase??? IMO that’s kind of ridiculous. I thought both men’s objectives were obvious by the very end. And yes it has been validated by the House writing team.

    Personally I quite liked the episode. It was emotionally packed and had a strong showing of the often neglected characters.

  • Diane Kristine

    Er, I find your comments kind of strange and ridiculous – I think we’re both missing something in the other’s argument. Of course Chase’s comment referred to giving up seeking House’s validation .. and part of that is that he now has no reason to protect House or his own job. I thought Wilson’s intention to act first was made pretty clear in the transition from the Wilson-Chase conversation to the Wilson-Tritter conversation. You disagree, fine, but that doesn’t actually make the opinion ridiculous. It kind of makes the objection to the opinion ridiculous, though.

    What did you think I meant by implying that unlike the actual Judas, Wilson was acting in everyone’s best interests, if not exactly what you said (with the addition of protecting Chase)? He acted in the best interests of Chase by doing the right thing first, he protected Cuddy and the hospital, and above all, he’s protecting House from his own downward spiral. It wasn’t the one conversation with Chase that spurred him to action, it was an episode full of things that spurred him to action.

    Dissent all you want, but you might want to keep the snottiness out of your tone unless you’ve got a direct pipeline into the writers’ brains.

  • Melissa

    I agree with Erin’s statement about Chase giving up on House & not necessarily going to Tritter. There are 2 main reasons why I think so:

    1. I think that Chase in a way wanted House’s approval, most importantly his respect. And for the first time, he single-handedly solved the mystery & saved the patient. THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS! CHASE SAVED THE DAY! (so to speak). AND IT STILL DIDN’T MATTER!!! House STILL treated him like crap so, I believe Chase has given up on House respecting him and his statement on him no longer waiting is really, “I’m not going to wait anymore on House’s respect.” (Something, I assume he never got from his father.)

    2. No matter how much of a bastard House is, with the choice of either going to House or Tritter, it’s no contest. Especially, how Tritter manipulated him from the start to make Chase look like he betrayed House! >:-< Anyway, sorry if I bored anyone with my drawn-out reasons. 🙂 I just honestly don't think as good as these writers are with the show that they would recycle the whole "Chase is traitor" thing again. Especially, since I think he'll begin to outgrow that role this season. (The writers certainly have enough room to develop this character) 🙂

  • Diane Kristine

    I agree that it’s reasonable to look at it that way, Melissa. I also think it’s completely unreasonable to express scorn for the opinion that he intended to go to Tritter, especially considering the structure of the episode. And going to Tritter in my eyes would not make Chase a traitor, nor does it make Wilson a traitor. Of course House will look at it that way, but it’s actually for the greater good, unlike ratting House out to Vogler. Instead, Wilson gets the honour of being the one to do the right thing here, not Chase.

  • John Zadravec

    Does anyone know the medical term for the actual light allergy?

  • The official site has links to medical stuff related to each episode. The disease that had light sensitivity as a symptom was Erythropoietic protoporphyria.

  • We just got this episode in the UK, and for friends/relatives of addicts, it packed a REAL kidney punch – looking at House in this episode was just like looking at that person in your life, along with all the reasons why you may not face them down or speak up. The writers got it spot on.

    From those redeeming qualities that disappear as the addiction spirals downwards – the flash of humour, warmth, tenderness, talent – all those things that make one think, “That’s the REAL X,” to the inability to apologise to the misplaced loyalty, someone on that writing team has been there.

    Brilliant, dark, intense stuff. Can’t wait for more. And I *love* the fact that it was Wilson – his best friend, the nice guy, the empathetic, caring one – who had finally had enough and stepped into Tritter’s office.

    And as for Erin’s comment, I think she read “Judas” in this sentence “Except Judas might not have been acting in everyone’s best interests,” to mean Wilson, b/c it follows on from “And we’ve found our Judas.” It read like a reference misunderstanding to me.