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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Baggage”

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Since his release last autumn, House (Hugh Laurie, in an understated and poignant performance) has continued his treatment between the lines and behind the scenes. But in this season’s penultimate episode House, M.D. episode “Baggage,” we get to be flies on the wall as psychiatrist Dr. Daryl Nolan (the brilliant Andre Braugher) picks at the tough scabs that scar House’s soul.

Nolan puts House through a raw and sometimes brutal self-examination full of reveals and resonances—and the sort of episode that fans of the more introspective House have been craving for months. Writers Doris Egan and David Foster have created a gorgeous and intricately wrought script—off the formula, but still with a medical mystery at its heart.

Using a storytelling technique similar to season one’s “Three Stories,” and season two’s “The Mistake,” “Baggage” unfolds like a play, an exploration into House’s mind and heart. It is certainly one of the most important (and one of the best) House episodes in the series history.

Structured as a therapy session, “Baggage” allows us to see House as he describes his latest case to Nolan. Running the gamut from belligerent and sarcastic to vulnerable and fearful, House walks us through his week, and a case that has significant emotional resonances for him.

House is late to his regular appointment with Nolan, which the therapist points out is unusual.  Nolan notices that other things off as well. But House deflects, insisting that his week was “ordinary.” When Nolan challenges his assertion, House glares silently. Clearly all is not so well and House’s week is far from ordinary. “Tell me about it,” prompts Nolan. And as they (literally) walk through the case of Sydney, a woman with amnesia, Nolan places House under a microscope—challenging and examining House’s every action for meaning and subtext.

House’s week has started off badly as Wilson has decided that it’s time for House to leave. Nolan is surprised that House doesn’t feel betrayed by Wilson’s demand, so soon after buying the condo. House shrugs it off, defending Wilson’s decision as inevitable now that he’s found happiness — despite the fact that it leaves House out in the cold.

But when Wilson soon thereafter reverses himself, House suspects collusion between him and Cuddy. Describing a likely meeting between Cuddy and Wilson, we, Nolan and House watch their conversation take place through House’s point of view. In House’s mind, Wilson and Cuddy argue about whose turn it is to be House caretaker—make sure he’s not crushed beneath the weight of his own emotional fragility.

Nolan disputes House’s harsh assessment, arguing that a different scenario is equally likely. Nolan’s sunnier scenario—that Wilson’s eviction means that he believes House is ready to live on his own—rings false to House. He has a lot of evidence, going back to season one (and likely before that). From their collusion to get House to admit addiction in season one (“Detox”) to their fiasco of early season three (“Cane and Able”) just after House regains the use of his leg, Cuddy and Wilson do have a history of “for his own good” House-manipulation.

Nolan wonders why House is so keen to talk about this particular case? Sydney has amnesia. She has no idea who she is, but what she’s being told is the truth rings false and doesn’t feel right—much to the frustration of her husband. It seems that after a family tragedy, Sydney wanted to find more “meaning’ in her life. Changing course, she’s molded herself from a surfer girl into a high powered attorney. Somewhere along the way she seems to have lost herself. And with no memory of the tragedy that caused her to change, she is now a stranger to who she has become.

Is this why Sydney’s life resonates so deeply with House? Has House lost himself as he’s tried to change? Or is it something else? The team first diagnoses prion disease, which is potentially fatal unless they perform a dangerous brain surgery, which will eradicate her long term memory completely. Her husband refuses consent, arguing that his wife is incapable of making an informed decision, given the state of her memory, although she wants the operation.

The husband refuses to allow the operation because he will lose the last vestiges of the woman he married. This angers House, because the husband appears to value his marriage and relationship above his wife’s life. Saving her life might mean destroying whatever chance they have at a relationship.

People get stupid, House tells Nolan, when they’re about to lose someone they love. What sort of resonance does that have for House in his life? When Stacy made the decision to go against House’s wishes with regard to his leg (“Three Stories”), she knew she might forfeit House’s love—and certainly their relationship. But she did it anyway, arguably saving his life. Does House now value Stacy’s decision; has he reconciled that she did the right thing? I wonder how much Nolan knows about Stacy and her decision.

But it turns out that House’s initial diagnosis is wrong (she’s not going to die). It’s actually Sydney’s past (a partially removed tattoo) that has caused her symptoms. By illuminating (literally, with an ultraviolet light) her past, House found the cure for her present medical malady. Isn’t this what Nolan is trying to do with House? Isn’t that what therapy is all about?

Sydney’s husband is frustrated by her, and his attempts to reconnect with her fall flat; she doesn’t remember him and his familiarity is off-putting and uninvited. But suddenly he changes tactics and begins courting Sydney, as if he’s wooing her for the first time. Nolan sense’s House’s fingerprints on the husband’s strategic change, although House brushes it off as something Taub came up with. It’s interesting that Nolan would pick up on that in House—the misanthrope who thinks everyone is an idiot, yet makes it possible for young love to flourish in others.

One of the things that makes House such a great paradox of a character is that despite his cynicism, he “wants to believe.” He doesn’t believe that people can change; he doesn’t believe he can be happy. People are idiots and everyone’s miserable. Yet, House has a considerable romantic streak that allows him to help others find happiness—find themselves. It’s a deeply hidden idealism that keeps him wanting to find the thing that will make him slightly less miserable. And if not for himself, for others.

(I remember something Jennifer Morrison said to me in an interview last spring. She suggested that House lives vicariously in a way through his patients. Unable to heal himself or be healed, he heals others. It’s the best he can do. It’s a very romantic view of House—one he would surely eschew. But, as House would say, it fits.)

For a year, House has been undergoing psychotherapy with his Mayfield psychiatrist, Dr. Daryl Nolan. Brought to a low point after his emotional collapse last spring, House has done everything that Nolan has asked of him, in the hope that he can be a little less miserable, stay off Vicodin and forestall the chronic pain that plagues his every day.

House has gone through periods over the series history when he seems to “want to believe” –believe in a cure that will take away his physical pain (or make it more tolerable). He’s considered brain implants and nerve grafting; ketamine and methadone—all to make life more tolerable and less miserable. As House has said, he doesn’t want to be miserable—he just has had no idea how to feel better. None of these have worked for him, yet he keeps trying—if only to survive.

Seeing Nolan, taking antidepressants, getting off narcotics were all supposed to have helped. “You’re a faith healer,” House accuses Nolan, deciding in the end, that he’s had enough of being weekly picked apart. There is nothing in Nolan’s bag of tricks to help House. He feels betrayed and preyed upon, his efforts unrewarded, and for all he’s tried changing, he is still miserable. “I want to be happy,” House tells Nolan simply in “Broken.”

A year later, everyone who matters to House is finding the happiness that still eludes him; everyone is moving on: Cuddy, Lucas, Wilson—even Alvie, his Mayfield roommate.  Alvie, House learns, has been camped out in his apartment during his stay at Wilson’s. Hiding out from immigration officials, Alvie, who is Puerto Rican (and an American citizen), but whose birth certificate had been long ago destroyed, is afraid of being deported.

House makes a grand gesture to help Alvie. Setting up a hearing (which Alvie misses) and then falsifying DNA records to prove his maternal connection to his mother, House has gone above and beyond to do something nice. In the end, however, like Wilson and Cuddy, Alvie leaves, heading to Phoenix to live with family. And where does that leave House? A year into therapy, and he’s back to the beginning: in pain and no happier in his life, despite his efforts.

While Alvie camping out at House's, we learn, he has pawned several of House’s books – and his coffee table to buy paint (to paint House’s apartment bright and cheery yellow). They’re old books and a scratched coffee table, but House is willing to pay dearly to retrieve the items. But why? Among the pawned items is one now missing: an antiquarian medical text by a Dr. Ernest Cuddy. Fortunately, Alvie’s slippery fingers are able to procure the book back from the man who bought it from the pawn shop. (But not until House offers to pay the man $2,000 for it!)

Nolan notices a bruise on House’s arm, suspiciously in the shape of a boot. “I fell,” explains House, not wanting to reveal more—or that, having been drunk, he doesn’t quite remember how it happened. Clearly House had been in a brawl and kicked after he had fallen. Nolan suggests that “on some level” House knew he would get into a fight and knew that if he got drunk, he would provoke someone “to take a swing,” essentially asking to be pummeled. He wonders if House believes he “deserves” to be punished. “What did you screw up?” he asks House wondering why he would intentionally put himself at such physical risk.

“I don’t know,” is House’s broken reply. This has deeply upset him, so much so, that he drops his defenses just long enough for Nolan (and us) to see it. Nolan assumes it’s about a relationship, which is why he believes House has been so intent about talking through his case, which has at its core a shaky relationship. Sydney’s husband fears that he is losing his wife; House is suffering his own losses: Cuddy and Wilson — and at the same time.

Is it about Wilson, Nolan wonders? House angrily (almost violently) denies it. But then Nolan makes the connection between the book and Cuddy. Recognizing the title and (after a Google search) the author, he realizes that the missing book isn’t just any book. A rare tome, worth thousands of dollars, it’s something he’s kept for a long time; something he has intended to give as a gift to the author’s great granddaughter Lisa “for a special occasion.” Like the desk he acquires for Cuddy in season five (“Let Them Eat Cake”), House’s intentions illuminate a more hidden side of House—and one he keeps well under wraps.

So perhaps it’s about Cuddy, Nolan speculates. Although House plays it cool, suggesting that Cuddy’s happy—and he’s not even involved with her at this point, it’s clear that House can’t be “cool” with the status quo. As he remarks to Wilson in “Wilson,” House is not at all doing fine playing the adult and allowing love to bloom between Lucas and Cuddy.

So House backs away from both his friends, allowing each room to breathe in their new relationships. Isolating himself, instead, he punishes himself for being miserable, for being alone—and for screwing up his few friendships. House has always had feelings of extreme worthlessness rattling around in the dark recesses of his soul. They come out every so often under stress: the end of “Honeymoon” in season one; his hallucination in “No Reason,” “Merry Little Christmas” in season three, etc. One thing not explored yet is the origin of House’s low self-worth and the relationship of that to his father.

Maybe next year.

On Wednesday, I’ll be talking with writer Egan to get insights about “Baggage” and all things House. Look for that to appear in this space later this week, along with a preview of the season finale. I’ve seen it; it is stunning in all ways. And—to close out the season, I’ve got an interview scheduled with the finale’s writers as well after the episode airs.

In the meantime, the bidding is still open on an autographed copy of the forthcoming Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. (plus an hour of chat about the show) at Brenda Novak’s auction to support diabetes research.

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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)."
  • nc

    Great episode; great review, as always. But I fear the consequences of House’s exit from Dr. Nolan’s office.

    What a treat to watch Hugh Laurie and Andre Braugher square off! I loved Mr. Braugher’s work on Homicide, and seeing him again on House was timely (in terms of House’s situation and audience response). I hope the fact that his character brackets the season doesn’t mean we won’t see him next season.

    But having Alvie back was just as delightful. In a way, I think he did for House what Lucas used to do as sidekick sleuth.

    Holding my breath for Monday, especially with last night’s episode to set it up.

  • Zay

    My gosh. Epic episode – and blogged to perfection, as usual, by you.

    You’re already seen the finale?! Lucky, lucky, lucky. My family started laughing at the look on my face after that promo aired. I’m so excited.

    This epi was nothing short of fantastic. Like you said, it’s what we’ve been missing all season – it was House, pure and simple, with distractions that only enhance his situation. House hasn’t been looking good at all lately and he seemed particularly fragile in this episode. Goodness knows what they’re going to do with him in the finale.

    Everything’s really starting to come together now and it’s awesome. The season has been a little uneven, in terms of narrative and quality, but this episode just goes to show that there are still things left to say and that when the House writers are on their game, they still do it better than everyone else. Especially Doris Egan. Her episodes always end up being my favorites.

    Until next week, then!

  • sdemar

    AWESOME episode. Hats off to writers, DE & DF. This ranks right up there with “Broken”. Unfortunately, the rest of the season has fallen short for me but I won’t dwell on the negative when we have been blessed with this superb episode.

    TPTB need to beg, steal, cry or anything else they can think of to bring Andre on board to this show. Watching him and Hugh together is as good as it gets. And what a wonderful way to reveal things to not only House but also to us viewers by giving us some very indepth thinking into this man’s tortured soul.

    The most heartbreaking thing for me in this episode is how House said he blocks out when he gets hit. Look at the damage his father did to him. No wonder he hated him.

    Lovely. I can’t wait for the finale because I think it is going to rank up there, too.

  • janine

    This episode, like “Three Stories” was a very interesting look into the character of House and will take a few viewings to get it all. I liked that this episode focused almost only on House himself, with the other characters just becoming part of the story, like in “Three Stories”. It seems as though all the pieces of the former pre-Mayfeild House are falling back into place. His apartment and motorcycle are back as is the isolating behavior and the feeling that he needs to self punish (hence the booze and the bar fight). The only piece that remains is the vicoden, so the question remains, will he or won’t he succumb to his addiction? He has been so sad and lonely with all of his friends finding happiness without him and moving on with their lives despite his efforts to keep them. Even Alive, who basically worshiped House, left to protect himself. On a related note, didn’t Lydia go to Arizona too after she left? I wonder if there is any significance in both of those characters going to the same place?
    This episode definately set us up for the finale, which, based on the preview, will be epic. I know that the first two minutes of the episode have already been released online, but I want to wait and see the whole thing at once. From what I have heard though, the begining is good. You’re so lucky to have already seen the whole finale!

  • I’m wondering about the Arizona connection and Lydia myself. Could Alvie have had an ulterior (and altruistic) motive and flying to coop to Arizona (of all places, considering the new immigration law there)! Especially after House’s immense gesture for him at the hearing. On the other hand, Alvie is pretty crazy, so…

    I felt really bad for House, going back to the apartment with take-out food for him and his new friend Alvie–only to find that he’d also left.

    That book. . .I can’t wait to see the “book” fanfiction to emerge from that bit of info!

  • sheryl

    @Zay–Yes, this episode puts the entire season into a new perspective. I know many eps have seemed to be “House-light,” but now I can imagine Dr. Nolan in the background of those cases, subtlely effecting House’s interactions . . .

    It felt like such a treat to watch this episode–to see House have to answer basic questions we’ve all asked too, like “Why is he friends with Wilson?” And to see House, after a year’s relationship with Nolan, simply answer those questions . . . Just so much fun.

    I’m anxiously awaiting the finale–all the pieces are in place now. Just like Alvie noted about the brain model, I’m waiting to see if there will be a tiny place for “hope” in all this . . .

  • marjohn626

    This brilliantly written and directed POV into just one therapy session makes me wonder what might have occurred throughout the course of the past year’s sessions that gave House a reason to keep coming back. Calling Nolan a ‘faith healer’ is not a new notion to House, but why is he making this harsh judgment only now after having trusted him for about a year?

    His frustration, resentment, and mistrust of the therapeutic process at this specific moment must have some meaning. It is often when things come close to the raw nerve at the center of an issue that a perceived lack of improvement in mood and quality of life increases the risk of quitting therapy just as it is most needed.

    I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that the season finale seems to pose a disaster-type season ender cliffhanger scenario. I would argue that a resolution to the disaster zone that is raging in House’s head would be as dramatic, if not more, than yet another unlikely action thriller. I very much hope that I’m wrong, but following such a perfectly crafted epi like “Baggage’, TPTB have their work cut out for them.

    As always, a lovely and insightful review, Barbara. Now let’s hear some chatter out there, Peanut Gallery… 😉

  • I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that the season finale seems to pose a disaster-type season ender cliffhanger scenario. I would argue that a resolution to the disaster zone that is raging in House’s head would be as dramatic,

    Marjohn–have faith 🙂

  • Sarah H

    Sheryl — I’m hoping for a tiny bit of hope as well. It seems like there are such huge red letters and flashing signs over all the promos (especially the global one) for the finale: “House is going to have a breakdown/relapse”. The writers have usually managed to surprise me, even after 6 years, like bringing Kutner back to last season’s finale — just to let you know that H had REALLY gone around the bend. I so hope that there is some bit of goodness in the midst of all the desolation for H, whether its from Cuddy, Wilson, Foreman & the team, or just his finally realizing his own strength and worth for a minute.

    I could gladly watch Hugh and Andre sit in a room and just look at each other. The treat of a nuanced, intelligent script for them to work with was excellent.

    Finally, two other happinesses — how lovely to see House back at the center of House and Hugh so on his game. I wonder if the distance from the cases that many here have commented upon through this year have been Hugh’s interpretation of relating what’s been happening in his life to Nolan.
    Last finally: I’m thrilled that House and Cuddy’s overly long dance towards and away from each other is going to be dealt with one way or the other. With where he is about her in this episode and what the finale implies, it’s either the ending or the beginning for them — and its a chord that’s needed to be resolved for some time.

    One other finally — did House’s t-shirt say “The Silent Lady”? I couldn’t quite make it out, but if it did, kudos to wardrobe for finding a shirt that fit the script and Cuddy’s role in House’s misery so well.

  • just4paws17

    Classic House! What a great ep! Great review as always too BB!

    This indeed is one of the best of the series! Very iPod worthy!

  • sheryl

    Sarah, what keeps my hope alive is that in spite of those promos screaming “relapse,” I know we’ve been there already . . . so again, if House is going to be on that precipice, what will be different, after a year of therapy and all he’s been through–and survived without already falling down the drug well, so to speak?

  • SueElio

    Having not commented in a while, I feel I need to chime in, BEFORE finishing Barbara’s review, to say that I am thrilled it’s up already. I don’t think I could have waited much for a review on this amazing episode….

  • janine

    totally agree. I thought I was going to explode if I didn’t get to discuss the episode immediately. That is why I was so happy to see it up at 7:30 this morning when I got to school.
    I wonder if the mention of the small section for hope was significant, left as a clue to the finale, or perhaps a red herring?
    I had forgotten about Arizonas new laws, that makes the fact of Alvie going there even more interesting. Perhaps there is more to the story, to be resolved later? Of course, you already know what will happen and again I state that I am jealous. Based on your loaded “Have Faith” I can only imagine what sort of unpredictable or unforseable events will onfold in the finale. As for the book fan fics, I don’t think those will matter much. Based on what I’ve heard (mild spoiler), the book will make a reappearance, in what context though I do not know. All I know is that is was in the two minute intro, which as I said, I haven’t watched.

  • Sandra

    You mentioned that you’ll interview Doris Egan, so just one quick question for Doris Egan: her take on the way Cameron had to leave. Why did they change the entire canon to fit Huddy in? And why on earth did they need to get rid of Cameron? I still don’t get it, and I’d highly appreciate to finally get an answer.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thanks not only for a wonderful review, as always, but the speed with which you posted it. I can’t imagine how you did it! I’m always so impressed with the lens of clarity you shine on even the most opaque occurences. Your ability to connect the most far-scattered dots is much appreciated.

    Last night, right after watching, it was hard to find words with which to sufficiently praise the episode. As I mentioned then, I thought that an “awed silence” was the only possible reaction. Just drink it in and be grateful that writers like Doris Egan and David Foster exist. But when I lie down, that feeling goes away 🙂

    Early in the episode House told Sydney “someone will show up to tell you who you are, and what you should be feeling.” To which Sydney replied “I miss him.” Poor House. Either that was a poignant cry for help from Wilson – or a sarcastic dig at Wilson. Either way – probably both – that’s the role Wilson plays for him. “I miss him” – we may not have known who that was for Sydney at the time, but for House we do.

    “Poeple get stupid when they’re about to lose someone they love” – I also thought about Stacy at that moment, and had a similar reaction – that slowly, Stacy’s actions at the time of the infarction may be becoming justified to him (and about time, IMO). But as the idea applies to him now – if he’s losing Cuddy and Wilson at the same time, then going off therapy, leaving his one lifeline could be a stupid move. As we may learn, sooner or later.

    You point out that Sydney’s tatoo was a metaphor for a problems in her past, and in House’s. I think there’s an additional dimension to consider. Sydney had only removed the surface of her tatoo. What was buried deep inside was still causing problems, and the doctors had to dig deep to get it out. It’s a good metaphor for House and his issues. All the surface stuff – move in with Wilson, find something you enjoy, try to be mature about your rival, – not working. Whatever he may think, he still needs to dig up the fundamental, deep-down obstacles in his way to clarity and possible happiness.

    “Why are you friends with Wilson?” is a very good question. I didn’t like the answer so much: “because I can say anything and he’ll never leave”. Is this a good reason? I think it’s tied into House’s view of “unconditional love”, and I’ve never been sure that that’s such a good thing. Back in Son of Coma Guy, even House didn’t want to “push it till it breaks”. Even the closest and most immediate relationships can break, and need care and nurturing to really thrive. I think this is also connected to “what you do” vs. “how you do it”. House’s “whats” usually lead to desired results. But IMO, his “hows” are not always the best choices.

    Everything about the episode had the brilliance of a well-polished diamond. Even the tiniest facets were astounding. House mouthing “self destructive” along with Wilson and Cuddy? A bit of sheer genius.
    Andre Braugher is outstanding, and I’d love to see him join the cast on an ongoing basis. I think House still has lots to work on and needs his therapist. As you say – maybe next year.

    Did you know that Lin-Manuel Miranda (I adore Alvie) received an honorary Doctorate from Yeshiva University last year? YU is in Washington Heights (where I originally hail from), the setting of L-M M’s “In the Heights”.

    I can’t wait for the finale. But at the same time, I’m sad that the season is over. I loved most of it, and it flew by way too fast. At least there’ll be an S7. Oh the horrors of a series finale. I don’t even want to think about it.

  • janine

    I like you thouughts on the tatoo, only changine the surface. Its very similar to the re analysis of the changing a table with a can of paint comment from “Wilson” that we had last week.(was it you who made that connection the first time?). Everything seems to be pointeing to the fact that House is still the same inside and may revert to his old ways, but House finales always have a way of suprosing us. I can’t wait until next monday!!!

  • Orange450

    Thank you! No, I didn’t mention the can of paint. But I agree with your comments on both counts. I can’t wait either!

  • janine

    I was just reading some q and a’s on the tv addict and they said that at th press screening of the finale, the show was intentionally cut off just before the final scene. Is this true for you too? Do you also not know entirely how things will end?

  • Amy

    Great review! This episode was simply brilliant.

    If you see my comment, I do have a question for Doris Egan. Perhaps you could ask her about House feeling the need to be punished so he goes to get beaten up, and the comment about saying something wrong and getting hit. Could you ask her if that goes back to his childhood with his father?

  • Tami

    Great ep — definitely one to watch a second and maybe a third time soon. I know that some folks have been griping about inconsistencies from the writers this season, but I think ‘Baggage’ proves that ‘House’ has become such a well-rounded show over the years. It can indeed “break formula” with excellent results.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Excellent episode and review.

    I found most interesting the way House positions himself in relation to Wilson at this point: even if he does feel betrayed and rejected, House has made his choice, and that is to not push his friendship with Wilson till it breaks. The same can be argued about his determination not to attack Cuddy’s relationship with Lucas more aggresively, but there is an essential difference in the way he positions himself to these two core relationships in his life: while with Cuddy, his restraint and stoicism seem to be fueled by fear of rejection, remorse, shame and low self-esteem, with Wilson, there seems to be a bit of all of the above, but they are based on an underlying satisfaction of House’s need of unconditional love, that allows him to be more tolerant, more trusting and more adaptative.

    During their long, troubled years of friendship, Wilson seems to have lived up to House’s deepest need – to the fullest extent possible (a child as traumatised as Greg House will search for unconditional love his entire life, unconditional love that would validate his very right to exist, but however generous and loyal the adults in his life may be, that need will never be fulfilled and the existential drama, the constant lack-of-worth issues will always be present, more or less accutely). When House says that he is friends with Wilson because Wilson will never abandon him, no matter what he says to him, that is as close as we are ever going to get to the admission of the fact that Wilson provided House with unconditional love more than anyone in his life (more than his parents, more than Stacy and more than Cuddy). Enough unconditional love, House seems to believe (=the highest possible amount, in an adult relationship that is essentially contractual), that he can now take a break from the constant testing of loyalty and resilience – he can let Wilson have his thing with Sam, swallow his pain at the rejection, and still consider Wilson his best friend.
    It’s a big step forward for House, and it must have a lot to do with the lesson House seems to have learnt so well from Amber’s death and the potential loss of Wilson. No matter how many ups and downs their friendship has to bear and despite the unfair pain Wilson is now inflicting on House, that relationship seems to represent a solid rock, even in House’s most vulnerable and troubled state.

    Which is much more than we can say about the second essential relationship in his life… The relationship of House and Cuddy, beautifully built for many seasons, has taken a back seat for most of the current season. Not to House, though – despite his restraint at interracting with Cuddy after he found out about Lucas, she has obviously been a constant presence in his thoughts and emotions. However, during this therapy session, House seemed determined to avoid the Cuddy issue – not only to avoid talking about her with Nolan, but to avoid linking his emotional distress to her taking another step in her relationship with Lucas.
    The reason for this inner blind eye, that he turns on the influence of the Cuddy issue on his emotional state, is difficult to explain. We know that he has moved past the phase when he refused to acknowledge his love for her. We know that he moved past the phase when he tried to deny the impact the loss of her has on him. We know that he moved past the phase when he had to avoid her, because the pain he felt from any interraction with her, the anger and the disappointment were too grand. We know that he was stoic enough, strong enough and brave enough to try hard to reconnect with her, to open up to her like never before. We know that he practises what he preaches and that he himself tried to woo Cuddy all over again, reestablish a connection with her on much more chivalrous grounds.

    Then why has House set his mind to be oblivious to the connection between the steps forward in Cuddy’s relationship with Lucas and House’s own major emotional distress? Yes, them moving in together is old news. But since “Wilson”, when this first came up, he has hoped that he himself had taken some steps forward at winning Cuddy back from Lucas. And so he should think: in his renewed relationship with her, he made great efforts to be protective, insightful, generous, chivalrous, open, romantic and honest. And yet, nothing changed for the better, but for the worse.

    My take is that he blocked this connection out because it is too painful to deal with. House has consumed his ability to be patient, brave, stoic and strong. He has done everything in the power of a human being to change his life. In his relationship with Wilson, he has gained some confidence and some security, which he is holding on to in these times of perceived betrayal. But in his relationship with Cuddy, his efforts were neither acknowledged, nor rewarded. And now, living alone, in increasing pain, both emotional and physical (always connected), he just can’t take it anymore.

    I think that it makes sense that the season finale has a lot of House-Cuddy in it and less House-Wilson. The relationship with Wilson has managed to reach a sort of functional/disfunctional balance. House is certain (as much as he, the non-believer, can be) of Wilson’s friendship. But with Cuddy, the whole situation is an open wound.

    His dispair moved me to tears. His loneliness, his pain, his disappointment, his bitter realization of how apparently useless his gigantic efforts have been. The complete despair that such a thought casts on somebody as frail as he is… I hope things will not be as bad as they could. I hope somebody stops his fall. He deserves it more than ever.

  • Wilson’sFakeGirlfriend

    Barbara, loved the format of the episode. Hated the ending with the transition to Huddy. I knew it was coming but was disappointed it happened in a St. Doris episode. Oh well. As always St. Doris does an awesome job of writing. Here’s my question to Doris. Korbi in his review of the season six finale, described it as “pretty much the House and Cuddy show”. I hear you’re writing the Season 7 opening episode. Will your S7 episode be a continuation of the House and Cuddy show? I want to know because I plan to sit out the entire House and Cuddy show however long it may last.

  • andree

    Barbara, as ususal, your insight is amazing and enlightening. I very much enjoy reviewing your assessment of each House episode for all that it brings to the overall comprehension of the House character and the show.

    I hope our fave show’s writers understand that everyone, including the writers as well as the characters they develop, should evolve and the storyline of an unhappy House is the only true House must evolve as things change. Does that make sense?

    If this whole show is about a miserable man borne of a miserable childhood never finding happiness, then I’m going to find something else to view despite its ongoing excellence. I’m intrigued, piqued and hooked that a miserable man can continue to seek a happier life and a less miserable world despite his upbringing and leg issue. Please throw us a bone and let us know House is NOT destined to be miserable. We know he has friends who care about him but even those friends can be cruel. Such as Wilson telling House to be his “selfish self.” Ouch.

    Very much looking forward to your finale assessment, Barbara. you rock!

  • barbara barnett

    “I was just reading some q and a’s on the tv addict and they said that at th press screening of the finale, the show was intentionally cut off just before the final scene. Is this true for you too? Do you also not know entirely how things will end?”

    Yes. I don’t believe ANYONE has seen the last two minutes or so of the episode. So no one actually knows how it end. Which is a good thing.

    I’ve read a lot of speculation about the finale, some of it completely wrong (but then again, it’s speculation), and some of it close to the truth.

    Thank you all for your kind comments. I’m following the discussion, but don’t have a lot of time to pop in and write responses. Got a lotta writing to do the next couple of weeks to wrap up the season, so stay tuned.

  • sophie

    For Doris: Is House Wilson’s consolation prize?

  • sophie

    Regrettable news for House fans from Doris: “This year I’ll be a part-time consulting producer on House; which means I’ll be writing one script and my general involvement will be lower. ” This is her Live Journal where she explains.

  • Michele1L

    Sophie -Sad to hear that about Doris’s minimized involvement with “House”.
    Barbara – Great review of a very strong episode. It saddens me that over the last four weeks, since the show came back from its mini hiatus, that the ratings have been declining. It’s unfortunate that those two million viewers the show has lost in the past month didn’t stay on board to see “The Choice”, which I feel had shades of the old sparkle that made “House” a great show. Haven’t seen the ratings for “Baggage” yet, but hope they were better.

    I wish the producers would pay attention to what the fans of this show have to say, because I feel some of the choices made by the “House” camp this year have been rather self-indulgent and have, along with the network’s scheduling, led to the show’s decline in viewership. I’m aware that writing and creating a show is a creative process and that creativity is a personal thing, but we, the viewers, are the ones watching. For example – I’m sure Peter Jacobson is a fine person and he is certainly a good actor, but I don’t tune in to “House” to watch “Taub-centric” episodes. And after watching this show since its inception, I don’t want to see House in constant misery either. It sucks the life from him and, in the past, despite his being miserable, he still managed to be lively. Can’t he be happy for a couple of weeks even?

    I know I’m venting while most all of you are praising, but I’m a bit depressed. I am, however, still vested and will watch this show until the very end — and beyond. Wish others were that dedicated, but I can’t say that I don’t get why some have decided to tune out. Hope Season 7 is much brighter for our wounded hero.

  • PH

    I think E.P.I.C. is an appropriate summation of this episode. Right up there with ‘Three Stories’ and ‘House’s Head’ IMO.

    I found the meatiest part to be House’s reply “Okay, there may be a problem”, in response to Nolan questioning him on what he screwed up. Absolutely moving. HL’s tonal inflection and facial nuances were MASTERFUL. (Pop me some popcorn, this is riveting!)

    Key parts I liked in this episode include;
    1) House’s retort “Are you kidding? That’s the kind of remark that leads people to hate you.”

    -House basically denied that he would ever tell Wilson that he expected him to get another divorce. Okay Nolan, House has a bridge to sell you too. That is exactly the type of comment that he would, AND DOES, say to Wilson repeatedly. So, House is not being totally frank and open with his therapist. Which is exactly what I would expect from an isolated and wounded genius. Sidestepping issues is quite an art, and needs regular drilling.

    2) When Nolan asked House, “Have you got any other people angry at you… over anything?” House replied, “Well yeah, that’s why I call it an ordinary week.”

    -You could see an insolent and superior smugness in House. The ‘confident’ House reappearing, like a welcome breath of fresh spring air. (I’ll take that popcorn with butter please.)

    3) House staggering into Nolan’s office, apparently due to the effects of alcohol.

    -It was a slight yet effective foreboding of things to come.

    May I also say that I found it hysterical that HL wasn’t ‘under center’ during House & Alvie’s football scene. I can only imagine Hugh’s trepidation during the filming of that scene…
    * I have to put my hands where??!? *

    ‘Baggage’ was a Grand Slam for the entire House crew. This is the ‘onion peeling’ that gives us fans the sustenance we crave. (I set my bucket of popcorn down, and bow at your feet.)

  • PH

    Oops… forgot to mention Alvie’s immigration hearing.

    It was interesting to see the difference in this court scene, and that of House’s attitude in the ‘Words and Deeds’ court scene. (S3)
    I’m not sure if he was enlightened from his past contempt punishment or whether it was due to his post-Mayfield maturation.

  • Dominique

    I’m becoming slightly annoyed at others I’m not entirely sure are still within the fandom who see the first two minutes and only say: “What is this garbage, why are these doctors being firefighters?” And then go off about how House MD sucks nowadays and blah blah blah… dear God, I hope people can stop doing that someday…

    I don’t see House being a firefighter, I see House being House who gets way too invested in patients and tries to help them even if it’s in his detriment. (or, he’s trying to impress Cuddy.)

    I hope the last two minutes show something that differs from a disaster cliffhanger because I see House in his own apartment and Wilson well beyond harms way so I doubt I’ll really be left hanging if those two characters aren’t involved, because they are my main attraction to the show.

  • janine

    glad no one has seen the end of the finale. I’ve heard a lot of spoilers about the finale, even heard of a screen cap that told of the whole episode, but I’m glad there’s no way the ending could be leaked. If you are raving about the finale before even seeing it culminate, its pretty sure that it will be awsome. And if the producers are taking such efforts to keep the finale under wraps, it must be good!!! (I suppose it could be really bad too, but based on what you said about what you saw and the past history of House finales, I doubt that this is true). If you are allowed to answer this, about what precentage of online spoilers about the finale are true of very close to true? I’ve seen a lo of mild ones and some seem plausable while others are totally rediculous and out of nowhere.

  • janine

    Totally agree~ you can’t judge an episode from a two minute clip!! Docotrs frequelnty assist at accidents and we don’t know the story yet behind how House got there (I hear he personally was NOT invited but went of his own accord, but that could be false). ALso, I have a feeling the accident won’t be the cliffhanger, I have read a few spoilers and speculation that all place House away from the disaster by the end (but as Barbara said, no one has seen the last two minutes)

  • Dominique

    @ janine

    yeah, and we know how much can happen in one minute, (last season’s finale switched everything up in that single added minute!) so who knows what would happen in two?

    In life, two minutes are insignificant unless you’re anxiously waiting for something, but on film, two minutes can change the game!

    I have a feeling the ending will be more House-centred as well, because the first 15 seconds or so exclusively focus on him and then we’re sent back a few hours.

  • janine

    I agree the ending will be House centerd, as all finale endings usually are. Based on the efforts to keep this ending quiet, I’m guessing this ending will be a real shock or game changer. If anyone had seen last season without the last two minutes, the would have just thought it to be a regular House episode, it was the last few minutes that made “Both Sides Now” the shocking ending that it was.

  • Flo

    Great episode indeed! After six years we can really jump to the conclusion that every time the writers broke the formula they came with very good episodes (“Three Stories” comes naturally to mind, “Frozen”…) or at least interesting ones. This year with episodes like “Broken”, “Wilson”, “5 to 9” and “Lockdown” is no exception and this one is also another fine example.

    It is really great to see House in a therapy session again after the season premiere. I think that we should have seen this before this season. After all, with what happened in the season 5 finale, House’s psyche and the origins of all his emotional and intellectual issues should logically have been the center of this season.
    House wants to be happy and he made a lot of effort in order to make his life better but the good consequences to the changes he’s made in his life didn’t come as expected or not at all. He is still a lonely, miserable, in pain guy. I can understand his frustration and his feeling of failure. However, the show and the character are more complicated than that and what this session with Nolan told us is that as afraid of the loneliness and pain as he is, when something goes wrong, he can’t help himself to unconsciously, seek for them. He goes to a bar alone, drinks alone and once drunk, provoke a fight in which he knows he is gonna get hurt.
    He knows misery and loneliness. This is familiar territory for him. So when he is uncomfortable, when he feels down, when he doesn’t feel in control, he naturally goes to something he knows. He is afraid to be alone but can’t help to push people out. He doesn’t want to get hurt but goes to a fight. House in all his beautiful contradiction. I think it is very human and something that a lot of people can relate to. Especially that he is not the only one to do so in the show. Cuddy and Wilson do that too, especially her.
    This year he made a lot of effort to break this cycle. He tried to open up to the people around him and even lived with someone. He remained vicodin-free despite the pain and tried to be reasonable. Unfortunately, it appears to have been for nothing for him. Cuddy and Wilson tried also to do something for themselves, tried to move on with their lives and make it less complicated and seem to succeed to some extent. Wilson reconnected with his first ex-wife which seem to be for the best right now as it appears to make him happy and Cuddy has Lucas who apparently makes her life less complicated and more stable even though we don’t have enough information to see if it really works and if she is truly happy.

    House seem to be back right where he was before Mayfield and his therapy with Nolan as he says in the end of this episode. The thing is, therapy takes time, a year is nothing. It’s just what enough to scratch the surface, especially with someone as difficult to talk to as House. I feel like House is making a mistake in abandoning therapy with Nolan. He should be more patient. That being said, it was a difficult year for him, seeing everyone around him move on (and without the help of any therapist!) only to stay just miserable.

    I liked the fact that we saw the two Houses in this episode: the mature, friendly, social, romantic one and the miserable, lonely who find solace in drinks one.
    It was great to see Alvie again and we, again, see how big House’s heart is. What he did for Alvie, accepting him in his life and helping him like this was a great gesture no doubt. PH (#29) here mentioned the season 3 episode “Words and Deeds” and I also thought about it. The falsification of a document and the lie. Cuddy did it for him three years ago and now he does it for someone else. I think it really shows that he tries to make peace with his past. Just like he seems to accept Stacy’s decision about his leg, he acknowledges the fact that he could be in prison right now so he gives Alvie the second chance he had in the same way he had it.

    In the end, it is his romantic and emotional side that is the big problem for him. We can see that he is capable of great gestures like telling the patient’s husband to woo his wife again and doing everything he can to take grand grandfather Cuddy book back but in the end, it doesn’t make him feel better. Barbara, I like this quote from Jennifer Morrison and I think it is true, except, now, after six years it is not enough for him anymore. He can’t just live through his patients, he wants more, he wants to heal himself.

    I like how the episode was structured. It was a good way to bring some humor in the episode. The scenes with Alvie in House’s apartment were fun but also the scenes between Cuddy and Wilson as imagined by House and Nolan. In the House version it is terrible and at the same time very fun in the quick way it was told. In the Nolan version, Wilson and Cuddy’s body language were excellent and really fun. Did you see how Cuddy seemed somewhat preoccupied by her fingernails? It was the girly version of Cuddy. Robert Sean Leonard and Lisa Edelstein were absolutely magnificent in this scene, especially that it shouldn’t have been easy to play.

    Anyway, it was great to see Braugher again, he was great and his scenes with Laurie are always a joy to watch. Great script, with good balance between humor and drama and really interesting journey into House’s mind. It was great to see House in his home again. I can’t wait for the season finale.

    Ps: It’s really interesting to see that a lot of people seem to be tired of a miserable House and by a hypothetical once more dramatic scenario for him. I was talking about this with Delia two days ago. “House” is a fiction and of course it is written as such. There are some stories that are slightly implausible in the show but we can get past it because it is a fiction, just as House himself is a fictional character. However House is a human being and as extraordinary as he is, he is written as such. No matter the implausibility, the writers have to work with credibility in order to keep the story real to the viewers.
    How many tragedies can a man have in his life before giving up? I always believed that the limit of the credibility for House would be reached when the fans would say something like “Oh but jump already” and stop believing that their favorite hero can get up once more. Delia and I agreed that one day or another something good or at least less bad will have to happen to House and preferably before some fans undergo a nervous breakdown themselves.
    We don’t really think that House reached this limit of credibility yet but reading all this comments about hoping a happier season finale that the years previous makes me think that maybe the writers are somewhat closer to this limit than I (and perhaps them) think.

  • HouseFan

    Thanks Barbara for your insight and write up on the show. I haven’t watched the last couple of episodes, but I have tivo’d them. I like to read the comments first before I watch the show….

    Anywho, I have some questions for Doris Egan:

    1. HL contract ends in 2011, will House end in 2011 as well?
    2. Why is it that everyone on the show gets to have a long term relationship (more than one or two episodes) except for House?

    Exit Note:
    I’m a Huddy shipper, but after this season, I don’t think Cuddy deserves House. House has done said some mean things to her, but he never betrayed her trust.
    Wilson, well House treated him bad when he lived with him – so I didn’t feel bad about what Wilson did to House. One thing House can count on is Wilson being there for him in the end.

  • simona

    barbara thanks as usual for the fine review.
    I read this episode as the House’s Via Crucis. The Via Crucis has 14 stations.
    It was a great episode, touching, unconventional and full of meaning. I could not do without watching the episode from the perspective of Nolan. It is not a coincidence that the episode opens and closes with Dr. Nolan to the fore.
    Let me explain. The goal of therapy is generally agreed upon and explained by the patient (the therapeutic contract). For House what triggered his engagement as a patient? It was the statement “I would be happy,” a large and significant motivation to start the therapeutic route, enough to convince dr. Nolan that House is worth being taken into care also if the “patient” House is one of those most difficult to manage, one of the more complicated cases in therapy. It is a challenge for the therapist and this is the case, in my opinion, for the engagement of Nolan: the challenge. House and Nolan are equal, two extremely intelligent people, two “healers” that measure their interest in a clinical case at the highest level of complexity. Transfert between patient and therapist as an instrument of change.
    So we have a therapist who accepts the challenge of treating a patient at extreme risk, hoping to help him achieve the goal that House has itself. Probably, in fact I would say definitely, Nolan as therapist knows that there are different degrees of happiness and many nuances to define “successful” therapy. (An old colleague, who taught me a lot, argued a case in which time and experience proved to me very true: to ugly problems there are bad solutions). That is, the therapeutic success is defined by many variables and one variable is related to the fundamental and indispensable starting point for the patient. More the patient is damaged, the solution could not be the best ever but simply the best for that particular patient. In short, everything is relative and nothing is absolute, especially in therapy.
    This episode was a summary of a year of psychotherapy and we found that Nolan throughout the journey, thus far, has probably been very cautious in touching hearing of House, rightly. More the defenses are rigid and more they need to be retained, not force the hand, give stimulus to induce a change but taking small steps because the defenses are the crutches that ensure the patient does not collapse. So, just because Nolan has rightly observed the time of House, it took him a year to get to touch the core problem, making explicit to House. Small steps and holding hands.

    Since the beginning of the session Nolan realized that it was time to force the hand with House, touching the nerves. Initially the underscores of the unusual delay: “You are late, it’s inusual – are you stressed? Stress can make us distracted” and led him to confess “I was avoiding Wilson”. First station.

    Nolan then sinks further salt into the wound: “You are not feeling a little betrayed by you best friend? And angry? “. And when House justifies Wilson, Nolan points out in a provocative manner: “It’s a very rational defense of your friend” and throughout the session back often to emphasize what for him are the symptoms of the suffering of House: the delay, diversion of not having noticed the painting in the waiting room and especially the fact that he took charge, without debate and without negotiating a case seemingly unimportant and wholly mysterious offered to him by Cuddy, the fact that House has decided to leave the hospital spending time with Potw, and “slamming in his face” the reason for this behavior, namely the need to escape from his friend who had driven home. And House, with difficulty, admits all. Second station.

    At this point, Nolan makes another lunge, “perhaps you want to avoid having to return your own home.” But House says that he went home, tells about the scenes with Alvie who is repainting the apartment (sometimes just a nice coat of paint for a change?). Third station.

    New thrust: “You decided to keep Alvie with you because it could be a great distraction and I’m trying to understand why.” And on the patient and the fact that apparently there seemed to be more “intimate” with House rather than with her husband, because House understands her better: “What’s the connection? He was addicted to you and that you liked? Or are you bothered?” And Nolan also stresses that this is the second case that seems to have directly to do with House himself. Fourth station.

    “Why do you see your past as such a threat?” Why it’s so important to get your stuff back?” And when House says to be tied to their things and hate when Wilson moves … just a moan assertive Nolan it’s enough to trigger a violent House’s reaction, his fist on the table. Fifth Station.

    Again (when House does not report in detail the visit of Wilson, worried about not seeing him in hospital, but said it has fixed the hearing for Alvie), Nolan: ” You say you do not care about the emotions of others, but your actions prove otherwise”. Sixth Station.

    The Potw decided to give “a sense” in his life when he was in college, following a traumatic event, what was changing. But as a result of the disease leading to loss of memory, House says “And now that’s all gone”. And Nolan: “The thing that caused the change has gone so the change itself has gone” and explains his theory on the patient and her husband. “Their problem is the synchronism, like you and me House, they are not on the same page. He’s a stranger forcing an intimacy, he’s not helping her, he feels that is losing his wife and that is why he is close stronger”. Seventh station (but this covers both Nolan and House, because here is the therapist explained to the patient the meaning of his behavior during this session, his fear of losing the patient if he could not give him the help he needs) .

    And when House enters the details of differential diagnosis and says that the patient may lose the long-term memory, Nolan counters by saying that House is telling him just to confuse, to throw dust in his eyes: “This is the moment when you say that someone else worry about the past has nothing to do with an attempt to avoid you. ” Eighth Station.

    It’s at this point that Nolan brings challenge to full strength, essentially telling House not to mystify the reality, and Nolan “acts” this fundamental communication reading a magazine with “apparent” indifference. But House can not accept being ignored and gets up to leave. Ninth station.

    Nolan however proves to be very noticing, seeing the bruises on the arm of House and so emerg the booze, the provocations that trigger fights for the need to be beaten, to suffer physically. Nolan: “and you’re are insisting that everything is fine?? Usually people punish themself for something they did or something they didn’t do. So, what did you screw up?” And finally, House, defeated, concedes “I DON’T KNOW. OK, THERE MAY BE A PROBLEM”. And he sits down again. Tenth Station.

    And from here begins the escalation, the House’s hypothesis about Wilson and Cuddy talking about him, they are concerned, “House is selfdistructive” and and feel obligated to control him. “The House problem”. And Nolan: “so they don’t trust you. Are their fears or yours? Let’s turn on the lights……in your brain”. Nolan proposes the alternative reading, one that shows that Wilson and Cuddy believe in his change, they know that can let it alone, but is Wilson who, as is done, simply feels guilty. Nolan says that both versions can coexist but House can see only the parts that bother him. Eleventh Station.

    Nolan: “so why are you and Wilson friends? Do you think this friendship is the best you can do?”.
    House’s reaction “Wilson is not a consolation prize……he will never leave”
    Nolan: “But he’s leaving because he’s putting Sam first”.
    House: “For now. But after the divorce……I take a longview”.
    It is at this point that Nolan has an intuition by saying “maybe you were right from the beginning, maybe this is not about Wilson”. Twelfth Station.

    When House starts to tell the week with the patient, finally, Nolan asked why the behavior of her husband did him so angry and he says “he would rather risk her life than the marriage. People’s brain stop working when they are afraid of losing someone they love”. And Nolan notes that House’s leg hurts and he asks to him if there is someone else who has angered. It is here that begins to peep the matter of recovery precious book, and then House who lies to save Alvie, and at the end House who suggested to the Potw’s husband to woo his wife, as if the past never existed. And Nolan has lighting “it’s all about relationships”.
    House for the first time says that Cuddy and Lucas will live together and Nolan can make all the connections, House has done everything to keep him hidden. Because House attempts to manipulate also the one from which he chose to be helped.
    So Cuddy. Valuable Book. Special gift for a special woman who is going to live with another. Nolan explicits the mechanism of identification with the patient’s husband because he, like House, was losing the woman he loves. Nolan “opens the door” so that it kicks off the current self-destructive behavior of House: loss, lack, fear of abandonment, mourning. A real bomb for House, the unmasking of a truth so unacceptable that forces him to demean all the way done with Nolan and deny the usefulness of psychotherapy. And he goes, as it has done, leaving before being abandoned. Thirteenth station.

    But at the end of the Via Crucis is still missing a station.

    – To all: Sorry I have not read your comments yet but I will later 🙂 –

  • Lifeline

    I thought that Baggage was one of the finer episodes of this season. We finally get to see Wilson and Cuddy being addressed in his therapy. I know a lot of people here adored Broken, but I was not one of them because the episode seemed to be so cut off from the whole show. I was not interested in him discussing his relationships with short-term characters he made at Mayfield. I was furious that the episode didn’t address his daddy issues, Wilson, or Cuddy. So, I never got into that episode because the things I really needed to know about House was never there.

    As we get closer to the finale, I have a very awful feeling for Cuddy’s character and how she will be viewed by fans after this season. Frankly, there’s a lot of negativity for her character right now and it seems that the writers will add on another thick layer of negativity to her character. I am excited for the finale but also dread it because of what I’ve read about Cuddy and what happens to House in the end. I fear that if the last scene does not bring out some sort of redemption to Cuddy’s character and to the House/Cuddy relationship, many viewers are not coming back. As a Huddy, I think this mindf*ck being dished out by the show all season long has started to wear me thin. I know that ships should not influence a show. But for me, if I can no longer believe in the characters, I may need to move on to greener pastures.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you, Barbara for a great review of this intense, engaging and layered episode. IMHO it is the best episode of this rather uneven season -along with “Broken”. It will probably be one of my favorite episodes ever…
    @Simona: I really enjoyed your analysis of the therapeutic process.
    I found the last paragraph particularly thought-provoking:
    [“Nolan “opens the door” so that it kicks off the current self-destructive behavior of House: loss, lack, fear of abandonment, mourning. A real bomb for House, the unmasking of a truth so unacceptable that forces him to demean all the way done with Nolan and deny the usefulness of psychotherapy. And he goes, as it has done, leaving before being abandoned.”]
    So, my question (to Simona, Barbara and everyone) is:
    Do you think House is really done with therapy? Is he leaving for good? He is definitely acting out his abandonment issues, as Simona has pointed out. But Nolan is the only one truly capable of helping him break this repetitive self-destructive pattern. Because he is a gifted therapist and House’s equal.
    I really hope this is not the end but just a -huge- step back.
    It is indeed a tragic irony to watch House, a doctor profoundly devoted to his quest for the truth, walk away from the challenge of facing his own truth(s).

  • bluehue

    You must do this deliberately..write such interesting reviews that is, the “breath in breath out” calm & reflective variety..that encourages a serious minded fan to read clean through to the last page. Thanks…and only one little finale to go.
    A quick mention reminder for your House-isms collection..one from “Baggage” (my new favorite) when House said to Wilson, “Wilson, you span the great chasm from wishy to washy.”

  • Flo

    @Simona, great comment. Really interesting about analysis process. Like Rebecca say, it is thought provoking.
    Speaking of which, @Rebecca, it’s always nice to hear from you 🙂
    I guess we’re gonna have more element to answer your question after the season finale. I really hope House is not finished with therapy because he clearly still needs it and it is really interesting to see this for us. There are still so many themes to dig up.
    Seeing no result so far is very hurtful and frustrating for House but he has to find patience and give it a try again.
    “It is indeed a tragic irony to watch House, a doctor profoundly devoted to his quest for the truth, walk away from the challenge of facing his own truth(s).”
    That is so true.

  • janine

    I saw in blurbin TV guide abut the finale and KJ said that the finale allows us to see House is a state we’ve never seen him in before. Perhaps, this is a trick. Because it is a disaster setting, most expect House to wind up sad but maybe this new state is happiness, or at least peace with where he is in his life. This is like the only tte we’ve never wittnessed. Any Thoughts?

  • Jackie

    Barbara – Great review as always. The flashback to “that was the week that was” was an interesting uncovering of House’s shell. He has been a victim of circumstances throughout his life and that search for happiness. I think that “Baggage” was an interesting penultimate episode, but much different than “Three Stories”, “House’s Head” and “Under My Skin”. Quiet in tone but much more analytical of a House perhaps trying to come to grips with his past in hopes of finding a future. I did notice the similarity in the physical appearance of the PoTW to Lydia (from Mayfield), and the mentioning of Alvie’s move to Phoenix where Lydia is as well. Whether there is more significance to this or just a throw away line for a destination remains to be seen. Next week’s episode should be an excellent one judging by what I have seen here and there.

    I know Andre Braugher was contracted to do a season’s worth of episodes on TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age”, however it would have been terrific watching a more frequent reappearance of this talented actor. Maybe the comparisons to Gabriel Byrne’s “In Treatment” series would have been too great! The one scene where Nolan asks House what did he mess up and House’s broken anguished reply with his voice cracking and his eyes filling up was that torment that Hugh Laurie does so extremely well.

    I hope that the writers for the upcoming season focus more on a House that has cases such as those in the past, less focus on a team member’s woes or dalliances and bring back the clinic already. This season has totally taken a detour from years past and I know that a show needs to be refreshed to a certain degree but was the jolt too much for the loyal following to handle? I for one will stay with House until the last credits roll at the end whenever that might be.

    I am disappointed with the viewership’s declining numbers – this week 9.3 million compared with last week’s 9.7 million. For the first time in a very long time, “House” failed to make the Nielsen top 20 for the week with last week’s total. I really hope that the season finale on Monday attracts a substantial number of watchers – maybe getting the series back to a solid 11.5 or more. I think the days of 13 million (sad as it is to say might be a longshot from now on, unless it is the season premiere or perhaps a finale). Hugh Laurie’s contract is up after the 2011 season and right now the way the Nielsens are and everything else out there, I’d be surprised if the show would go longer, even though I would hope that it would. I would not like to see it become a show mired in the 20+ plus ranking in the ratings on a consistent basis. I’d sooner stop the bleeding after season 8 before the hemorrhaging begins. What do you or other posters feel might cause a turnaround? I’d be interested in reading any suggestions or theories.

  • rsg

    #21 @Deia_Beatrice: Perfect. Thank you. I love the way you summarize the relationships between House, Wilson, and Cuddy. Awesome as usual.
    #35 @ Flo… I love House so much and am also sorry to see that despite his efforts at making big changes in his approach to interacting with those around him, he his still unhappy, isolated and in pain. Your take on this is right on the mark, and heart-breaking!
    Thanks for your insights!

  • Dominique

    I’m hoping the finale will lure people back to their remote… and a part of me is afraid that this decline is caused by the Luddy arc, because some fans just can’t stand it. I’m getting tired of all the negativity myself… because, as someone watching the show for the House/Wilson dynamic, I really can’t say I care that much. My heroes got to move in together, I got to see more of RSL than he ever would’ve signed up for! This season had it’s moments, the point being that the lesser episodes were not really “bad” in my book. Slow, a bit boring sometimes, though that only happened three times for me… but the good ones? The good ones like Baggage were fantastic! And they gave me the warm, overly excited feeling I watch this show for!

    I definitely think the finale will cause some sort of turn-about because one thing they do well on this show is write a finale. I don’t think Lucas could really be long term either and some part of me thinks that could be a turn-about too, because of the amount of Huddy-shippers.

    It saddens me really… the person I now call my best friend first crossed my path on a House MD fansite. Two years later, visiting a fan site has become an exercise in masochism, you can’t scroll down to the comments anymore without wanting to hit yourself in the head. I don’t mean sites like this where there’s serious discussion and proper analysis going on, but the generic sites.

    I hope the show begins to focus on its main character again, instead of this will-they-won’t-they going on between House and Cuddy, because that’s not what I want to know. I know it’s a character driven show and certain things come with that but we need to get the real formula back.

    It’s there, but it’s secondary to the drama now.
    I adored the way the case was really at the center of the show and all the character driven things just wove their way around that so that both components were enjoyable! That’s what we need to get back to, I think.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Flo, Rebecca, Simona: great inputs, all of you.

    Regarding the question of House going back to therapy – very difficult to answer before Monday night. Judging by the promos and teasers, all i can say is that i hope he does go back to Nolan in the 7th season… But whether he will or not and the circumstances and the condition in which he would go, those are as big a mistery as this season finale, probably as full of surprises and twists and turns as all the others.

    Jackie, very good points too. In regard to the ratings, personally, i am always surprised to hear it. I wake up at 4 am every Tuesday morning to catch the new “House” episode live, via sattelite, and to hear that people, who could just turn on the TV at 8 pm, choose not to is disturbing. Needless to say, i, too, will wake up at 4 am for “House” until the very end, whenever and however that may be.

    I am not familiar with this info: is the big battle between shows for the US ratings? Is that the ultimate mark of success? Because i wonder whether “House”‘s audiences have dropped worldwide, and if not, then is it not important that they were and possibly still are the most watched show on Earth?

    On the reasons for the decrease in ratings: many theories have been flying around, and probably many more to arise during the summer break. I choose not to make an actual analyses on that until after i see the finale, but i can tell you my personal reasons to like season 6 a little less (mind you, i do not consider it a bad season, i have argued this before).
    In an earlier discussion with Flo, we came to the conclusion that season 6 addressed in insufficient or improper manner the three main themes that should have been central:
    1. the identity issue / paternity / childhood trauma
    2. the pain / addiction / temptation issue
    3. the House-Cuddy relationship, developing on a natural course after its evolution in season 5.

    I also add to this the uncomfortable feeling we get from the absence of familiar and highly valued elements of the show (the white board, the clinic, the piano and generally his music, House’s involvement in cases, House’s time alone, either at home or at work, focusing on his mental processes, House-Cuddy professional conflicts and bickering).

    If we add to all of the above the fact that this season broke away from the formula in many other ways, both grand and small, we get a season that was most of all unfamiliar.

    However, i would give the first “prize” for causing the drop in ratings to the schedule. It took real passion to keep up the interest in the story during the inhuman breaks and to follow the schedule during a season in which Monday nights were non-House nights more often than not.

    For season 7 to be more successful, it’s hard to make a list of recommendations (!) before we see how season 6 ends. But if there’s anything universal to say, it’s More Screentime for House and Bring Back the Elemments from the Original Formula.

  • Dominique

    By the will-they-or-won’t-they comment I mean that it has become too much about things like that. Who slept with who and who has marriage trouble is a part of the show, but not the biggest. It wasn’t meant to be the biggest. The medicine and the characters always balanced each other off… it has gotten too far away from the medicine. House’s medical genius is rarely really shown in the heroic way it used to be, part of it can be blamed on the routine, I think, because we now get the idea that certain things happen to patients on certain times, but it never mattered!

    I feel like it’s just something House does most of the time, and it shouldn’t be. I don’t know whether the writers could be blamed for it or if it’s a perception issue.

    Exploring House’s psyche is good, when it’s done like in “baggage” it’s excellent, but the proportions need some work in my (might I add very very very) humble opinion. I’m missing the medicine, I’m missing feeling for a patient.

    It’s not that I don’t like this kind of House MD, I loved this season, in fact, but when asked to theorize I can’t help but come to the conclusion that some of the key starting ingredients just aren’t there.

    I think they need to pull the medicine up with everything else again. Everything always fell into place that way. I’m missing the way the medicine used to be the real red wire. (of course its still related but I no longer see it as a red wire)

    This might sound negative…

    I’ve really enjoyed this season myself, but I can’t remember a real shot of the whiteboard, House playing with the lacrosse ball… I liked the change, but I hope it’s not permanent.

    They’ve shown us a medical genius with other things on his mind, I think. And it was enjoyable, but did anyone ever read a Holmes novel because they wanted to know who he was going to kiss?

  • Dominique

    This always happens, I spend so much time typing that by the time I hit “post” someone has made similar points. I agree with you, Delia_Beatrice!

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @ rsg: thank you very, very much:)

    @ Dominique: i respectfully disagree with the idea that this show can be watched for one thing or another exclusively (you said that you only watch for House and Wilson and don’t care much about anything else), as well as with the idea that “House” has become a show about who slept with who.

    Personally, I watch “House” for House and i am interested in everything about him: his best friend, his religious beliefs, his philosophy, his food preferences, his music and yeah, whom he kisses or loves, as well as pretty much everything and anything else about him.

    I do not mean to upset anyone, but i have said it before and i’ll say it as many times as i have to: to try and separate House’s intellect from his social self from his emotional self from his romantic self and so on, feels pointless and diminishing for the show. Ever since the very beginning, “House” had elements from each and every one of House’s facetts. His friendship with Wilson was explored, as well as his romantic interest in Cameron, Stacy, Cuddy and Lydia. His intellect and his affective side, his rational mind and his emotional depths. The reason why any of these elements should be cast in a comptetition of sorts in the mind of a fan is beyond me.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    PS: Dominique, my post was triggered by yours, but i was making a more general point (i am pretty fueled up in that department, the things that people post about the show on other “fan” sites are unbelievable…).

    You were probably referring mainly to the will they/won’t they games, that writers play with House and Cuddy. I have to agree. It feels like that storyline is discontinued. The House-Cuddy relationship was built like a puzzle for five seasons, each of them adding a different element and more depth. Unfortunately, it seems like the creative team of “House” feared a natural sequel to that evolution, which would have been giving that relationship a try in season 6. So they chose to keep beating around the bush, in a way that required the artificial insertion of the Lucas arc into the show – which got more on-screen time and attention than it deserved.

  • Dominique

    I did not mean that I by having absolute favourite characters I therefore do not care about anything else. I mean that there are characters I’m interested and invested in and characters I’m less interested and invested in, which I do think can happen, simply because it has in my case. And what I see now is a whole Summer to bridge and I want to be left hanging, I want to be anxiously awaiting the premiere, and it’s House MD, I will want to, but to really really hang?

    I guess you could say I’m a little defensive because I’m a true fan but I have likes and dislikes and I think that’s relatively normal.

    Maybe I’ve become too invested in my favourite characters to be able to view this thing from afar, I can admit to that, but I just have to clarify that House and Wilson aren’t the exclusive reason why I watch this show.

    Maybe, as I get older, I’ll have a clearer view of the entire thing. I don’t know, sometimes its hard to see the big picture when you’re young. I’ve never been able to.

  • Dominique

    And now, after typing ^that^, I get to see your post and I must apologize for that reaction even though it was based entirely off of your previous post because I did not see the other one yet.

    Delete buttons should be added, or edit buttons at least, to avoid embarrassing yourself like… well… that.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Never apologize for being young. For one thing, it’s amazing, and second, it surely passes, so embrace it now.
    Bits of the whole picture add up all the time, just watching and reading Barbara’s reviews will build it up.
    As for having personal favourite characters and relationships, that is natural, we all feel that way, even if we may try to discipline ourselves into focusing on the big picture and how everybody contributes to forming it.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    It’s OK, don’t sweat it. I think we both misunderstood on some level, so i apologize too.
    It’s a classic situation in which we had other things on our mind (i, for one, was very angry at some comments i read earlier today on Aussiello’s page – why i go there, you ask?… because i am sick with impatience at the season finale and i surf the web in search of anything House-related) and we expressed ourselves slightly off-point. I am sorry about that:)

  • simona

    I finally read all your comments 🙂

    @21-Delia_Beatrice: great

    @25-sophie: beautiful question

    @35-Flo: totally agree, beautiful comment

    @36-HouseFan: “I’m a Huddy shipper, but after this season, I don’t think Cuddy deserves House”.
    OMG! Why not?? Cuddy is complicated too and equally in pain. Both deserve each other and deserve a little peace…and some “little deaths” too ;-)))) (this is my “bad girl side” starts talking)

    As for the parallelism with the Chirst’s passion I firmly believe that the path of House so far has been very painful and I refuse to believe that there will not be a final reward for all this suffering, and we could call it “resurrection” but only after touching the bottom (a metaphorical “death”). But always following the train of my thoughts and returning to therapy, I think (or at least strongly hope) that sooner or later House will come back to Nolan because House really needs to explore himself deeper, without being a coward. He is really crazy but I want to believe firmly in his great instinct for survival.
    At the end House tells Nolan: “Whatever the answer is, you don’t have it”. But House needs to understand that none of us will ever have “The Answer” because none of us is omnipotent.
    The House’s problem, that really makes him feel bad, it’s a swing of the two opposing forces: omnipotence and helplessness. The struggle between these two forces, equal and opposite, is destroying him, is leading him to paralysis and resignation, looking stunning, inability to act. He must be helped to find a balance.

    I got the idea that this season, started with a House alone, will ultimately with a House equally lonely but not necessarily “worse”. I have faith in season 7.

  • Dominique

    Ah, those comments always drive me up the wall, don’t worry about it.

    The one I can’t help but think of is the comment someone made about the “first look”, describing the whole episode as garbage from a less than 30 second clip!

    Scrolling down on ANYTHING House related has become vaguely masochistic and that has gotten to me too!

    it’s 4 AM, so goodnight to all… and I’ll be checking in tomorrow!

  • janine

    @ Delia and Dominique
    I know exactly what you mean about other “Fan” sights. I too surf the web of anything House related, and as a result frequently wind up on Ausiello’s page. I always scroll down, in hopes that someone will have started an actual discussion but its all just fan bashing and complaints about how this show isn’t good anymore. This makes me really mad because I feel that the people who say that don’t really get this season. It was ment to feel different (imo) because House himself felt different. Someone said about this season, that there wasn’t really any story arc to make it feel continuous (ie tritter or vogler) but Houses recovery has been the underlying story of the whole season and we will see this story come to some sort of resolution in the finale. As Simona said before, I too have a feeling that House will end this season the same way it started, with House alone, but I think he may not necessarily be a sad person.
    ALso about the Cuddy/Lucas story, I agree that it felt a little discontinued to the House/Cuddy story, but that was the point. For the last five years the relationship fit together like a puzzle that always had a piece missing. That piece was House’s willingness to open up and commit. Once that was established the puzzle could have fallen into place, but Cuddy metaphorically hid the missing piece by dating Lucas. She is afraid of what might happen if she enters into a relationship with House, After all she saw what happened to Stacey, when he opened up to her convinced her to leave her husband and then House changed his mind about the whole thing. Cuddy wants someone who she knows will stand by her, and right now that person is Lucas. Whether that person remains Lucas is yet to be seen. I know a lot of people don’t like Lucas because they want Cuddy with House, but the writers did not totally have a say in this decision. From what I have heard, the network told them to keep House and Cuddy apart for another season to draw out the drama. Besides, if the writers HAD actually put the two characters together, what would happen next? Either House and Cuddy would live happily ever after and the whole theme and tone of the show would be over, thus ending the series or (more likely) the two would work for a while, temporarily satisfying fans, and then break up leaving an akwardness between the two characters (or perhaps the necessity to write Cuddy out entirely) and a very angry fan base. Although I am not really a shipper,(I basically root for the relationship that has been set up for us; first Stacey then Cuddy I don’t have any ideas of my own on who House should be with) I would like to see House with Cuddy because at this point, given the way the story has been set up, it would be creul to the fans for the writers not to see it through to the end.IMO A perminant House/Cuddy relationship needs to be saved for closer to the shows end. Perhaps in the final or second to last season if anybody wants to see them have a happy ending (no sexual pun intended).
    BTW @Delia_Beatrice
    WOW you wake up at four am just to watch House? I thought I was dedicated, designating no other events or work for Mondays just in case something were to go wrong and I would miss House! If you don’t mind me asking, whereabouts in the world do you live that this is necessary and is House as popular there as in the U.S.?

  • janine

    Also, on the will they or won’t they issue:
    I’m fine with it with all characters as long as it is limited. One character “love life” story per season or per arc, in addition to House’s is enough. I feel like this season had a good balance of that. There was Cuddy and Lucas sort of intertwined with House. Now there is Wilson and Sam, who are also intertwined with House in a way. The writers focused on Chase and Cameron earlier in the season but that wasn’t as much about their relationship sexually as it was about the dictator, and consequences. Then there was Taub and his wife, but that was only really focused on in two episodes, which is sufficient. I feel like as long as the writers focus on one additional relationship at a time, things will stay good. (Ok some overlaped this season, but none were focused on withing the same episode except for a little of Wilson and Taub).
    Kind of related but does anyone else have a feeling that Sam is going to end up serving a greater role in the show than as Wilson’s girlfriend. Don’t ask me why but ever since her introduction to the show, I had a feeling she was going to become a part of House’s team, or at least the hospital.

  • Rebecca

    @Delia Beatrice (#46) _ You have put into words all my thoughts regarding “the insufficient or improper manner the three main themes were addressed this season” along with “the absence of familiar and highly valued elements of the show”.
    I believe many [H]ouse fans share your point of view and express the same wishes for the show’s future.

    @Janine (#57) _You are so right about some “discussion” forums. What saddens me the most is to see this complex, cerebral and multilayered show reduced to “shipping” discussion material.

  • janine

    @Delia and Rebecca
    I agree about the changes in the show although I too liked this season a lot. I think in hindsight, this season will have worked effectively in refreshing the show. A lot of people complained about House being the same foremat all the time, so this gave us a break from that. Pain/temptation have been addressed more recently and House/Cuddy too. House’s father (bio) was mentioned but that could be explored later. the House writers are notorious for bringing up storylines then dropping them only to bring them up again later. (like Foreman’s brother or Wilson’s brother which we till have not completey seen). I have a feeling though that House will be back in therapy eventually and all of these isuses will be reslved.

  • Jackie

    To Delia_Beatrice:

    Thank you for your comments in regard to my posting. The scheduling and frequency of the airings has an impact on the ratings. I do agree that the gaps in the airings have been most unsettling. It seems that the show has been more off than on throughout season 6. “Dancing With the Stars” is the main competition and it appears that it will remain such until “House” has solved his last medical mystery.

    I admire your early morning tv watching! My dvr is holding the entire of season of “House” which I will not erase until the arrival of the dvd in August. Hugh Laurie is now occupying 90% of my dvr usage. Thanks to HD, more of the available percentage is being used up, but well worth it. Tell that to the competition!!!

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @ Janine: ha ha ha. I live in Eastern Europe (Bucharest, Romania). The television networks here are currently showing the 4th season of “House”, so i need to see it on my own:) I have a lot of friends who are huge fans and watch the show on the internet or sattelite. Generally, “House” is considered a masterpiece of television and there are many public persons who talk about “House” on various occasions, referring to it as the ultimate brilliant show.
    I do not consider my 22-24 (nearly)sleepless Tuesdays a year as a major sacrifice. I do it because i want to, “House” is a major part of my life and i treat it with the rightful respect:))))))

    Really, i find it essential for my well-being to break away from my real self and real life and real responsibilities and to lose myself in a creative, fictional world that i love and admire. So there’s no loss or sacrifice at all – it’s my choice to pay tribute to a masterpiece that has made my life much more filled with (fictional) passion.

    I will get back to the other layers of discussion later, i don’t have the time to give it proper attention.

  • Janine

    wow!! I feel the same way about House as do my friends. I think the thing that makes House so briliant is that it is the only show that is about sadness and suffering as muc as comedy and happiness. People are able to relate to it, I know I fell in love with this showat first because of the wit but later because I like House kind of isolated myself.I hated shows and movies that always ended happily and was so glad that House was real enough to relate too but just fictinoal enough that it is entertaining. Its amazing that something like House is able to unite people from around the world, not many other things in life are able to do that. Just out of curiosoty, is english your first language? Your posts are always so articulate and wonderfully thought out. I am an AP (advanced placement) english student and I always have trouble saying everything I want to say about this show within one post.

  • Dominique

    I started watching this show for completely immature reasons, but I think I’ve gotten a wider view of the whole thing as I grew.

    It started with a cookie, actually… it was in season one somewhere so I must’ve been 11 or 12 and my mother had installed herself on the couch with tea and a box of my favourite cookies. I didn’t care much about the show at first glance (at 11, I didn’t understand why you’d call a show after something you live in, that was just odd) but I went in for the cookies… my mother said: “If you don’t watch, you’re not getting any.” Ergo… heh.

    It meant quality time back then. Now it’s an escape, something to get really involved in, something to theorize about it night.

    I have an alarm clock set at 2 AM for Monday and a packet of chocolate chip cookies stashed away somewhere. I’ve also studied my dad’s nightly toilet rituals so I won’t be interrupted by a frustrated hiss to go to bed.

  • Michele1L

    Delia_Beatrice- Ratings are a big thing in the U.S. The ratings haven’t been this low since the show’s first seson when people were just discovering it. The higher a show’s ratings, the more advertising revenue it can earn, which pays for the show. Hugh Laurie, I believe, once Kiefer Sutherland of “24” leaves the airwaves, will be the highest paid actor on episodic television. Once the ratings decline to a certain point, the issue would be whether they could still afford HL, the cast and other production costs, which generally leads to cancelation.

    I agree with your comments that the decline in viewership could have something to do with a lack of familiarity, but I lean more towards the bad scheduling. It also doesn’t help that it is up against “Dancing With The Stars”, which has increased its ratings to “American Idol” levels. The drop seems to have corresponded with this show’s debut in April.

    Jackie – Ha,ha. I must have twenty-five “House” episodes saved on my DVR. I’ve got to just order the box sets of all of the seasons and be done with it.

    Dominique – As far as Lucas is concerned, David Shore said the Luddy relationship is not a permanent one. Initially they had brought Lucas in in order to spin him off into his own P.I. series. Don’t know if that’s going to happen now.

  • Dominique

    I had already expected that. I only brought it up because of all the crap the show seems to get on generic fansites because Luddy even exists… maybe that does influence things a bit, but I agree the scheduling has been hell this season.

    We’re finishing later than the previous season which had three more episodes! I mean… the delays were everywhere, and not every gap was led in with the kind of cliffhanger that would keep everyone in touch with House for sometimes 4 weeks, sometimes 2… I say everyone, because die-hards were in front of the TV as soon as it started again, but everyone isn’t like that.

    The dancing with the stars phenomenon could possibly be avoided next season, because it’s something for Fox to mind. (evidently…)

  • lifeline

    In regards to ratings, the decline did start from the episode Lockdown. There was a one month break before that. I believe that one month break found some viewers (who were on the verge of jumping off the ledge) determining whether they wanted to come back to the show, and many decided not to. I don’t think you can blame scheduling for the lower ratings. Many shows actually had very long breaks this year, and part of that was due to the Winter Olympics and many networks didn’t want to waste new episodes airing opposite the Olympics because they’ll be crushed anyways. My point is many viewers are unhappy with this season and the break helped some viewers to decide in not coming back. For the ones that did watch Lockdown, more later stopped watching because again the same old formula with not much progression. Frankly, who wants to see House always be miserable. Most viewers turned into House because they wanted to see the self-confident SOB best everyone else with his genius and sarcasm. This year, House has been too emo, and viewers like myself are finding it very hard to connect with this emo House.

  • lifeline

    Forgot to mention that Luddy also became very tiring for many viewers. Most shows utilize arcs to progress the characters and wrap it up within a handful of episodes. However, Luddy it seems will progress into season 7. Now, we can hardly call this an arc anymore, can we? As such, even though ships make up a very small part of the show, these viewers I believe gradually left too because they didn’t like this new Cuddy or dropped any hope for Huddy. But of course, we have Cameron’s departure which saw many of Jmo’s fans leaving also. So, in regards to ratings, there’s been an avalanche of things brewing this season that have all contributed to decline in viewership.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Janine: i am constantly amased at how this show can bring together so many people from such various backgrounds. It is the mark of true brilliance and value that will stand the test of time, no matter what one year’s ratings have been.
    No, English is not my first language:))))) Romanian is my first language, i was born and raised here, and i studied English in school (starting in 5th grade), along with German and Japanese (which i also studied in university and i completely forgot by now:)))).
    You are very, very nice to say that about my posts, thank you! I, too, find it hard sometimes to express myself, because of how emotionally invested i am in the show. It’s always hard to put complicated ideas and emotions into words in a language that is not your first, no matter how familiar you are with it. I read in English a lot, and that helps, as well as the fact that i love words more than anything and i have a very solid literary “baggage”, but still, sometimes it’s tricky.

    I completely agree with Michele1L and lifeline about the reasons for the decline in ratings. Your posts combined seem to explain it all:) However, i hope that things will once again change in season 7 – i can think of no other show that deserves it better.

    On the reasons to fall in love with “House”, for me it was clear: first of all, it was the script. Since i am an addict of words and literature, i was instantly fascinated with the lines in “House”. The wit, the impecable style and rhythm, the cultural refferences, the juicy humor, the puns, the multiple layers, the superb way in which logic is perfectly expressed in the most original and surprising manner.

    After that, i got hooked on the crystal clear logic of it all. I am a fan of logic and reason, and House’s deductive reasoning, as well as his impecable sense of logical rightness, felt so correct to me, it was a delight.

    And then it was the philosophy behind House and the show. Every aspect of it (moral, ethical, religious, social) was so very close to my own way of viewing the world, that it felt like a match made in heaven.

    And then, it was the construction of characters and the psychology. Each of them, a creative masterpiece, while House himself is, to me, the most sublime creation of a fascinating, fabulous paper person.

    And from the great characters derrive the great relationships. I consider House-Wilson and House-Cuddy to be absolute works of art, while House’s relationships to each of the other people in his life are also intriguing, complex, layered and interesting.

    This is it: my list of reasons to adore “House MD”. Of course, i love other things too, but those were the grand ones. If i went into everything i love about “House”, i would still be here writing at the time the season finale airs:))))))))

  • I am an addict to House from the day on it was first aired here on german TV.And sinde I got my laptop I also watch house online.Ep.6X06 was the last one on Tuesday night and we are heading for another hiatus.
    Anyway I enjoy your rewievs very much ,Barbara ,and also the comments of the
    followers.You are all an amazing bunch of people.All I wanted to have said is already expressed by you in almost no time . It seems like you are all sitting with ready to go pencils to share what you saw ,feel ,
    assume ,wish,hope and speculate on that
    intriguing figure of House.
    Thank you for letting me share.
    Considered all that was allready said I have
    to admit the fact I got hooked on House was
    the nonverbal superb acting of HL , express-
    ing his inner thoughts with mimic and eyes
    only.That is far above standart ( the whole series is ) and I haven`t seen it in this
    quality before.

  • And by the way : I always have to keep myself form reading your blog before I saw
    the corresponding episode .So it`s watching first,then reading.After rewatching the ep
    I usually have the feeling it should have been much longer than the usual 43 min and
    it often appears to be the summary of all
    that was expressed here.

  • Ted

    I got tied up at work and couldn’t keep up with this week’s comments earlier, so please bear with me if I can revisit some points that you all have mentioned:

    1. When House was angered by the husband risking his wife’s life for his marriage, I didn’t immediately remember House’s history with Stacy. I thought it was a reference to House’s current struggle to give up his relationship with Cuddy so that she can get the ‘real’ life that she wanted.

    Of course, to interpret it as a reference to his making peace with what Stacy did to him fits too. And, IMO, it is evidence that House is getting better so he’s not really always miserable.

    2. When Nolan mentioned how Sydney had lost her memory of what changed her life and so become a stranger to her changed life, it made me think about House’s changed life. One of the reasons House changed his life was because he wanted to become the more stable person that Cuddy wanted. But as he is gradually trying to give up Cuddy, maybe he’s also finding his new self somewhat strange and frustrating.

    House’s guess about why the patient and her husband couldn’t get along was that he bored her. Maybe House was afraid that he was boring Cuddy too, what with Cuddy’s recent disinterest in House’s attempted stunts, medical or romantic.

    3. On how some fans are thinking House might be a permanently miserable character and they are getting tired of it…

    With no intention to offend anyone, I find it interesting that fans are reacting in a very real way that people would around depressed people. I mean, people tend to behave in very predictable ways. Initially, they are curious or even attracted to damaged people like House because they identify with them or because they (like Cameron) need to find their charity case. Then they root for them and hope they get better. But when their patience wear thin or they see no hope of improvement, they stop caring, start criticizing and then abandon them–just like the fans on generic fansites. Ok, maybe I’m being unfair and melodramatic here. But it amuses me that the true value of commitment is so elusive. Commitment, to me, means to give of myself to something or someone for its or his own sake, not because it’s going to work or not. Commitment is motivated by the adoration of the object itself and given to the object itself rather than what can come out of it.

    4. But I have digressed, so let’s get back to the show proper. It has been mentioned that the changes in House this season have so far been only superficial. The obvious question then is, ‘What is House’s real problem?’

    Nolan has advised House to be more socially acceptable (kicking his addiction, respecting others’ choices, being mature, not living in isolation, obliging people, etc.) but being socially acceptable has done House no good. The problem, therefore, must be within House.

    I think it is House’s craving for a deep and lasting relationship that will place him on first priority and the fact that it is not happening that is eating him up. Let’s face it, it is only this kind of relationship (some find it in their spouse, some find it in their religion) that can give us the unconditional love that gives us an unshakable self-worth and security. House won’t find it in Wilson because a friend is always less than a girlfriend/wife. Only someone like Stacy or Cuddy can heal him. So I say, House is right when he says whatever the answer is, Nolan doesn’t have it.

  • Ted,
    I like your point about what might heal House. House is obviously capable of real love and being in a relationship (hence Stacy, with whom he lived for five year–and was united with her enough to have given her his medical proxy). He had to have trusted her and felt comfortable with her and loved her (and it was obviously mutual). Their love was so important to House that it transcended all that happened with the leg. He still loved her and was able to come to peace with her about it.

    House used the phrase “want to believe” in reference to what Nolan was doing. House “wants to believe” he can be cured. He’s bought snake oil enough that I think this is really his quest. I’ve sometimes thought of House as being on a conventional hero’s quest, although I’ve looked at him through a different sort of anti-heroic prism.

    The answer is elsewhere, perhaps, but also perhaps, Nolan has got him to a point where he might be able to seek it more effectively.

  • Michele1L

    Let’s face it – House, since the inception of the show, has always been miserable — he just deflected a lot more in the beginning with wit, and was much more lively in the past than he has been this season. Of course, I understand the reasoning for this, but others clearly are unable to accept this transitioning. I love this character and would never abandon him. I would just like to see him have a bit of happiness. I don’t think this would compromise who the character is. I would still fully expect him to be challenging for anyone with whom he would get involved. I think it would be nice to see him actually work at having a relationship with someone. I’d rather see this than see Taub’s relationship with his wife. Sure, House has had a significant relationship in the past with Stacey — but that was all back-story. I don’t even care if it’s with Cuddy at this point — I’d just like to see him try with “someone” who is available to him. I think it would be interesting and potentially funny.

  • janine

    Perhpas we will be surprised and we will get to see House be happy or “try” with someone next season or even in the finale. There is always the potential for CUddy to change her mind or maybe Alive will bring Lydia back from Arizona (lol thats unliely). Although I would like to see House try with anyone, I do kind of hope its Cuddy because how its been set up, or at least a character we’ve met before, Unless they can get a really good guest star like they did with Sela Ward. I also think it would be interesting to get Mira Sorvino back to play a love interest, they had good chemestry in “Frozen” and she hasn’t done anything in a while

  • sheryl

    “House is right when he says whatever the answer is, Nolan doesn’t have it.”

    I agree, Ted, and I like thinking about this moment with House and Nolan–and what we have here, which is House’s decision to quit therapy. Why does he, exactly? Just before he makes his decision, Nolan has called House out on the Cuddy factor, which House of course dismissed. “It’s just a gift!” he exclaims. But he goes on to say basically, “Do you think I got drunk about a woman I’m not even with, just because she’s moving in with someone? That would be pathetic.” It’s that moment that causes the switch, and we’ve seen House (or others even) worried about being “pathetic” before. For instance, Lydia this season called herself pathetic in “Broken,” for lugging her friend’s instrument to the concert, in the hope she’d play. Last season’s “Under My Skin” raised the issue through Amber’s accusation (so House’s mind) that he was “pathetic” to sneak a single pill from the bathroom floor while Cuddy left the room (again, in his mind). So part of his frustration, I think, and that leads to his saying Nolan has no answer for him, is this concern with appearing pathetic–with being so . . . what? desirous? in love? in need of someone else, whoever it is? that he’s willing to get that worked up over it?

    Again, I can’t wait to see what will unfold on Monday–but I’m worried for sure.

    One other quick note on the quality of the season. I think House started off as an inventive medical drama–a formula type of show–but has become more complex. It’s a show that gives great payoff for close, consistent viewing. It’s not unlike Lost in that regard, and that show, too, declined in ratings, once the storyline required a good deal of mental energy to enjoy . . . No complaints here. I’m enjoying every minute! Just happy to see a great ep like “Baggage,” where House–and his actual feelings about things–can be shown, as Nolan, says, with the lights on.

  • Michele1L

    Janine – I have always wanted them to bring back Mira Sorvino! I thought House, with her, had mesmerizing chemistry. Unfortunately, the writer’s strike interfered with any potential for that and I guess they just dropped it.

  • Jackie

    The last conversation with Dr. Nolan in “Baggage” is totally indicative of the House persona. He said to Lydia in “Broken” that he pushes people away when he is afraid. He’s afraid that Dr. Nolan is getting too close to the truth about House’s feelings regarding Cuddy, hence the hasty exit from therapy. Wilson and to a lesser extent, Cameron, know of his feelings towards Cuddy and at some point this must be seriously addressed by the writers already. At some point House and Cuddy are going to have to be on the same page. Either that or kill off Mark Warner and bring Stacy back!

  • HouseFan

    I finally watched all the episodes thus far and this is what I thought of Baggage:

    Baggage as it pertains to House is his history. He’s holding on to it and its stopping him from going forward and being the person he wants to become. He tells Nolan that his friends are waiting for him to mess up, they don’t trust him – which again is due to his history – destructive behavior and one or both of them baby sitting him.