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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Carrot or Stick”

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Anyone who has watched House, M.D. long enough knows that Dr. Gregory House (the always-wonderful Hugh Laurie) seems to connect with small children. Whether those kids are in the clinic or the precocious offspring of patients, House has somewhat incongruously gotten along well those who enter his orbit

It should therefore surprise no one that House has (rathercourtesy foxflash reluctantly) bonded with Cuddy’s (Lisa Edelstein) adopted daughter Rachel, no matter how hard he tries to distance himself and deny it. But how the show’s creators have done it, makes the development charming and purely Housian. More about that later in this review.

The episode’s title “Carrot or Stick” suggests that there are two ways to get what you want (whether or not it’s something you “need”). Our patient this week is Driscoll, a brutal drill instructor who brutally lords over a troop of juvenile delinquents at a work camp. He is most brutal with once particular young man named Landon (Tyler James Williams).

When first Driscoll and then Landon both fall ill—and a rather large secret is revealed—House realizes that the only answer to this week’s diagnostic puzzle concerns genetics. Driscoll is Landon’s father, having abandoned the mother many years earlier. Unable to confront his son so many years later, Driscoll enrolled him in the military camp, trying to get him to grow up right by the same use of punishments and brutality he uses on the convicted juvenile criminals under his command.

Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn) tries to get Driscoll to see the error of his ways, suggesting (and demonstrating) that you get more out of someone using a “carrot” rather than a “stick.”  I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed this episode, I would so like to have seen more scenes between House and the father, who is a natural avatar for House’s own father; Driscoll’s relationship with his son is a completely logical parallel to House’s relationship with the man who raised him—and might have set up an interesting side story about terrible outcomes resulting from fathers never coming forth for their sons (and might have further tied interestingly into House’s growing attachment to Cuddy’s child). The one conversation between House and the patient (and the look of disdain well-played on Laurie’s face), were all the bits of emotion inserted into this particular story thread. I think it was a missed opportunity. But it didn’t mar how much I enjoyed this excellent episode.

Carrots and sticks were everywhere, from the “carrots” used by House to train Cuddy’s young daughter to the stick used to teach Chase a lesson about who he really is. But this episode was more about actions and consequences than about reward and punishment.

“Words mean nothing; actions are the only things that change things” is a familiar trope on House. But actions always have consequences: good or bad. And often, so do words.

Corliss walked away from a pregnancy years earlier: how does that affect Landon, who seems like a smart, sensitive kid? Would things have been different for him had Corliss taken responsibility for his parenthood before Landon was damaged by negligence? Will Corliss’ admission in order to save Landon’s life in the end make amends for a lifetime of absence?

How might House have turned out differently had the truth about his parentage been known earlier? Would it have saved him from an abusive father, and a mother who stood by and allowed the brutality to continue in the interest of peace in her family? (Yes, I know that House’s childhood is only part of the picture.)

I loved the commentary on this theme played out by the pranking perpetrated on Chase (Jesse Spencer). It was brilliant. Chase in a threesome is what we might have expected of him back in season one. But Chase changes dramatically—maturing, and perhaps revealing the guy who “likes John Hughes movies” of whom we get to see more in seasons three through mid season six.

But then came Dibala (Chase assassinated the evil dictator) and the break up with Cameron. We don’t know the emotional cost of these losses to the very private Dr. Chase. We do know that this season, he’s reverted to type, becoming (as Taub says) a “player.”

Attending a hospital wedding, Chase finds himself involved in a threesome and someone has caught him (literally) on camera with his pants down, broadcasting it via broadband for all to see on his social network.

Chase’s question is “whodunit?” And on the road to answering the question, Chase learns something about the three young ladies—and himself. I think what he learns shocks even him, and in the end, the culprit is none of the three, but someone who’s hoping to teach Chase a lesson with a stick—and not a carrot. Either you’re a great actor, or you really are a good guy—and something happened to you, analyzes the perp. The reveal gives Chase pause, and it will be interesting to see where the writers go with this storyline over the next few months.

And with the theme of this episode we also get the punchline of Taub’s (Peter Jacobson) story. Actions have consequences. What you do (and what you say) matters. Rachel’s emotional distancing and her connection with her long-distance confidante have more to do with Taub’s neglect than with anything Rachel may have done. Had Taub not been a marital cheat, Rachel never would have met confidante Phil (or likely have the need to connect with someone else). Now Taub is alone, and what he learns from this is anyone’s guess. My guess is that he’ll out-Chase Chase.

Now to the story of the other Rachel her relationship with Dr. Gregory House: talk about carrots and sticks, and unintended consequences! House looks a bit stricken when Cuddy first reveals her desire to get Rachel into an elite preschool. He doesn’t see normal toddler Rachel as anything but a “paste sandwich.” She’s dumber than a stick—at least that’s what he thinks.

He believes that if Rachel is rejected, Cuddy will be devastated, and of course when Wilson suggests that House actually cares enough about them both to meddle, House blows it off as a Machiavellian ploy to keep him from having to be the supportive and loving partner he surely is not! Right. I don’t think Wilson buys it either.

So, believing that there is no way for Rachel to be admitted to the school, House sets out to make her the ideal candidate—by training her. House’s scheme is elaborate as it is diabolical, and he nearly does too good a job, practically getting the unsuspecting Cuddy in trouble for “coaching” Rachel. But Rachel has learned more than how to play “Feed the Monkey” from House; she has picked up on his ability to lie when necessary.

But for all of House’s efforts, Rachel isn’t accepted into the school for lack of space. Cuddy is disappointed but takes it better than House seems to; he is clearly dejected about the rejection. But there is an interesting consequence to House’s scheme. As House spends more and more time with Rachel, buying her toys, and paying lots of attention to her, the little girl becomes ever more drawn to her mom’s boyfriend.

Rachel doesn’t know she’s merely part of House’s experiement in intellectual conditioning; she only knows that this man, who spends a lot of time at their house and with her mom is spending quality time with her. So in the end, as the three of them sit on the nursery floor, Rachel returns the favor, giving him the only thing she can: her affection. As she crawls into House’s lap, cuddling against his stomach, his reaction is priceless and I can’t say enough how wonderful Hugh Laurie’s acting is in this scene. House is surprised and completely caught off guard. But House’s discomfort gradually transforms into resigned acceptance that he has, in fact, bonded with this sweet little girl. It’s a great moment in House history.

I’m sure that out there in the fandom, some will scoff a the very idea that House not only allows Rachel to cuddle on his lap, but that he responds by touching her back. Of course we know who House is, and some of what causes him to act the way he does. But we also that he does respond to love and tenderness.

The consequences of House’s early life still affect him, help shape who he is. His closest attachments: to Cuddy and to Wilson are forged from their use of carrots and sticks to support and encourage—but also to help him find the limits within which he can function within society. His attachment to Rachel is different; it’s not fraught with baggage and conflict. It’s simple and sweet. (And if I were House, I’d try to stay on her good side by keeping those toys coming!)

House returns February 7 with “Family Practices.” I don’t know if you saw the preview for it, but it promises to be an intense, dramatic episode with consequences for everyone involved. I will be appearing next Monday morning on Fox Milwaukee’s morning news to talk about the show and season seven. 

 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Crazy4House

    great review
    I agree that the parallels between House’s childhood and the POTWs was sort of a missed opportunity, but then again a lot of people saw the paralles themselves so it didn’t really need to be siad. I would rather the writers wait until they cast an actor to play House’s biological dad to do a proper story rather than give us bits and pieces ehre and there.
    I loved the Chase storyline and I was almost willing to bet that House or Taub was doing the pranking, and I was pleasantly surprised by the end to his story
    An House/Rachel well, you pretty much summed it up, it was a GREAT Moment!
    One small thing I loved was that Taubs posters were still up around the hospital. Thoses little continuities always make me simile (even though it makes me wonder how the writers do this but mess up such big continuitites like timelines but whatever)

    The next episode looks really intense, although I think what they showed in the promo was sort of a red herring and there will be a different dramatic even to surprise us.

  • LizzieE01

    Always enjoy your reviews – it’s refreshing to read analyses that discuss episodes within the framework and history of the show (where we are) rather than from a reviewer’s perspective of where he/she would like the show to either have gone in the past or will go in the future. BTW, I noticed House’s political comment as he knocked over Rachel’s tower, likening it to the army corp of engineers failing to build the New Orleans levees high enough. Unusual for the show I think – perhaps a nod to Hugh’s time recording there.

  • dago

    Thanks again for another of your insightful reviews.I liked the ep very much the more because it had some really beautiful moments like the ones your described.
    The problem for us who live some seven years in the house universe is that because we konw already so much and we expect so much the 40-43 minutes are barely enough to tell the story.The whole journey of House now has so much depth and color that one sometimes gets the impression topics are only scratched at the surface.But anyway I`m still a fan and am looking forward to more.

  • http://idontcareish.livejournal.com/ Jacksam4eva

    Okay I have to say that this missed opportunity about House’s father actually made me like the episode a lot less. I’m guessing the writers figured they didn’t have time or already have plans to deal with that further in the season but I really felt like they should have made something out it. Understand me here, I’m not saying I didn’t like the episode or anything but the parralel would probably have made it “great” instead of “okay”. We now know a lot about House, but his family is something he is REALLY secretive about and we’ve seen this question raised a very few number of times over the last seven years. So as Crazy4House said, yes we probably all saw the connection because we know the show really well but I doubt the average viewer had the time to actually see what was at stake here. Moreover, lately, it seems like a fair number of fanfiction writers tend to try and understand House’s relationship with Rachel and how that relates to his own history, proof that there actually is more to know than what we have learned so far. This is why I think the writers souldn’t have dismissed the parrallel so quickly. Maybe we’ll have an episode about that later in the season though I don’t know.

    So far the only reproach I have to make regarding season 7 is that I think the writers seem to come up with ideas one episode after the other and don’t have a long term thing in the background. What I mean is that episode 1 was about “Cuddy and House getting together” and then all the following episodes were based on the question “what obstacle do people in a relationship face?” It’s like the writers made a list and then they wroter an episode about every situation. But life is not like that, I mean not all issues raise in logical order like “meet the kid”, “meet the mother”, “go to a wedding together”, etc. it’s all mixed up. And on the show it should be even more mixed up since this is Cuddy and House in a 24 episodes season. Here it’s like one episode could be watched after the other without any kind of connection between them. Apart from the two or three episodes about THE lie (which to me wasn’t really that relevant but whatever) none of those episode had a REAL material consequence in the following one. Moreover, I also feel like everything that happened last season (the drugs for example) is completely cut from the issues that are raised today. I’m not saying I hate this season, I like it, but the problem is that all these eps should add up to something in the end and I don’t know yet what that is. Okay there is the simple statement that says “gosh being in a relationship is hard for House!” but that was just what everybody expected to begin with, nothing new here.

    After 9 episodes now, I’m really eager (and impatient) to know what their point is.

  • http://idontcareish.livejournal.com/ Jacksam4eva

    Oh yeah I forgot, when I say I didn’t think THE lie was relevant, I mean that it should have shown a deeper issue (like how he doesn’t really trust her and she should she trust him?) than the quite superficial one (you don’t see me/ respect me as your girlfriend).

  • http://www.npr.org bigHousefan

    Barbara -PLEASE HELP!

    I loved the show and completely agree with your take. And I, too, was so hoping the story would tie into House’s own experiences with or without his father. What a missed opportunity.

    What confuses me is that, like you, I very often think I see through House’s battle-armor exterior into House’s gentle, but tortured soul as brilliantly expressed by Hugh Laurie. But, the writer’s often contradict this. Just two examples: I don’t know if you watched Liz Friedman’s clip, but she remarks that ‘he (House) doesn’t really like Rachel’ and ‘he’s not a fan of kids’. That’s not what I see at all!

    The Bonus clip (on the DVD) for the episode ‘Wilson’ has David Foster commenting on the beautiful scene in House’s office where House admits his fear to Wilson,’if you die, I’m alone.’ David’s comment was that he loved House’s ‘further manipulation of Wilson’ especially where House rubs his leg at the end of the scene to accentuate the point. I saw pure honesty, with no hesitation or House sarcasm. Again, so beautifully executed by Hugh Laurie I cried.

    And why the continued apologies for exploring the House/Cuddy relationship, as if to say, ‘we just need to get this exploration out of the way…’

    Do you have any insite?

    Wow! The next episode looks great! How do I last two weeks?

    Is it just me?

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    bighousefan–I think each writer has a slightly different take on the actors (something I explore in Chasing Zebras). That’s a good thing because we see House’s various facets through their eyes: they’re like different sides of the character expressed through their words. Liz Friedman or David Foster might have a different take than Doris Egan or Russel Friend. So, not to worry. And don’t forget that the performance is the intangible “something” that fills out the script’s words. I’ve read HL’s take on his character (especially as he sees House season three and later). He adds so much unspoken to the words, it interprets the character in ways the writer may not have conceived. But it’s equally authentic.

    Next episode looks quite intense. CAn’t wait!

  • HouseMDFan

    I was feeling a bit lukewarm about this episode in the beginning (the lack of the obvious connection to House’s father being one of the reasons), but in the end it came together beautifully and I really liked the resolutions to all three substories. Great to see Chase finally getting some backlash and having to literally look into the mirror.

    That one look of disdain from House towards the father made up for the lack of in-text acknowledgement of his own issues. I also agree with the first commenter: Everybody who knows House made that connection by themselves. I think we already had a lot of episodes that illuminated House’s relationship with his dad, we even got a little bit of closure in “Brave Heart”. So it would have been difficult to tell us substantially new things without making it a Big Deal and otherwise it might have gotten repetitive. I think it’s great to get one look or one line in an episode, and to be able to connect this to everything we learned throughout the past years on our own.

    I also have to agree with you, Barbara, Hugh Laurie played that last scene beautifully and it really got me. Unintentional consequences for the win.

    @bigHousefan
    That’s one of the reasons why IMO the writers (plural anyway, which is great as Barbara said) are just one more voice to consider, not the voice of God who has the last say regarding the actual meaning and substance of a scene. They can give great insights, but I as a viewer might see something additional or even different, and that’s just as well. Also, a lot of times it doesn’t have to be either/or.

  • ruthinor

    I enjoyed the episode a lot. I think Liz Friedman’s point that House does not like kids in general is belied by the fact House relates to kids much better than he does to adults. That’s because he’s essentially a kid himself. One other point, while the POTW may remind one of House’s dad, I think it should be pointed out that the former deserted his child while the latter raised a kid who was not biologically his own (something he must have known since he was away during conception). Yes, House’s father used the stick instead of the carrot, but he was there. To blame his father for the way House evolved over time seems very simplistic to me.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Ruthinor–I didn’t do that. But it affected him (as did his mother’s compliant, peace-maker attitude, and his feeling since 12 that his father wasn’t.) Combined with his loner, isolated, outlier genius kid who was moved from place to place to place. No wonder House is a mess. But of course it’s not all psychology–or environment. House’s biological father is a minister, interestingly, who heals people’s spirits. House heals their bodies. Intentional?

  • ruthinor

    Hi Barbara. My comments were not pointed towards you, but made as a general observation. Sorry if you took it that way! You’ve been even-handed here. But I think there has been too much emphasis in past discussions on how horrible House’s father was and I don’t think there is enough evidence to support that. I think House’s dad tried to raise him as he himself was raised, with a stick, and I think it was well-intentioned, not meant to be “abusive”. That would work well on some personalities, but certainly not on someone as iconoclastic as House. It wasn’t a good fit. And there have been indications that House realized it wasn’t ALL bad, and I bet he respected his father for staying, unlike the POTW. When it comes to families and how members treat one another, House, through the years, has shown himself to be extremely moralistic.

  • Andrea

    One thing that bothers me a bit is how freely House speaks around Rachel, calling her dumb or talking about whatever lie he’s telling her nanny or her mother. Kids pick up on quite a bit more than the adults think they do and Rachel has been getting an earful. I’m operating on the assumption that she knew at least a little bit what House was up to and she lied so he wouldn’t get into trouble with her mother! House has done all sorts of things in her presence that he shouldn’t be doing. House taught her to lie. It isn’t necessarily a native talent.

    I also thought the closing scenes were touching. Getting a child to like you isn’t rocket science. House played with her, paid attention to her, praised her, bought her toys, is liked by her mother. Ergo, he is Rachel’s friend and she will plop down on his lap without hesitation. And House looked flabbergasted and can’t bring himself to admit he likes the child. Rachel will be hurt and will miss House if the relationship ends and House will now miss Rachel as well as Cuddy. The stakes just got a little higher.

    I found the patient of the week a bit dull and the Chase story is wearing out it’s welcome. He IS a man whore, one who’s darn lucky that the 17-year-old he slept with is at the age of consent in New York. In a lot of states she wouldn’t be.

  • Dmcky

    OK, great review Barbara as always..

    I have to say that I LOVED this ep. While I found Larger then Life to be a pretty decent ep, with some LOL moments, Carrot or Stick just made me smile, throughout. Here’s why:

    House/Cuddy/Rachel: Love them. I really love how domestic House is becoming, even if it is in his own Housian way. Showing up at Rachel’s interview, loved it; his remark to Cuddy about going to cook cuz he was hungry, how “we’re an old comfy couple” was that?? and of course everyone’s fav moment, rachel sitting on his lap..OMG, i just about died from smiling..if was incredibly heartwarming, and ur right Barabara, Hugh nailed that scene..

    Of course in other news there was Chase. i found his story line pretty entertaining..made for some great one-liners

    The POTW was pretty decent as well. I kinda knew where it was heading, but i still enjoyed the journey. great acting to!

    So yeah, this was one of the great ones, and I AM ON THE EDGE OF MY SEAT FOR FAMILY PRACTICE!! that one looks fantastic!

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Ruthinor–indeed he has. There was even discussion among the writers about whether what House’s father did constituted “abuse”. And I think Masters’ point is well taken in her take on Foreman and his brother who were both treated “the same” (one would guess), but one individual may require a different type of “caring”

  • Sera G

    Hi, Barbara,
    Just wanted to chime in with another, “Bravo.” Truly, the House experience is not complete without reading your review. I really enjoyed this episode.
    Briefly:
    I, too thought that enough it known about House/his dad that it didn’t need to be brought up again. I liked ruthinor’s #9, comment that the man was there, doing his best, trying to raise another man’s child. As was said, it wasn’t all bad.
    Chase storyline was great. I think he deserved a hard look at his actions. I hope he will soon return to the solid man we have seen in seasons 3-6. Also, I was thrilled that the sister was not at all interested in dinner and no sex with Chase. Smart woman, he is a mess.
    I LOVE the scenes with House/Cuddy and Rachel. We have had six years of angst. I am enjoying the Housian ‘family man.’ How could he not fall for that adorable girl? As Andrea #12 said, “The stakes just got higher.” I thought the look on Cuddy’s face as Rachel settled against him was perfect. I was afraid she might gloat, but instead, to me it was almost as if she was holding her breath to not spoil the moment. In the past he would have said something sarcastic or pulled away to deflect from the emotion. How beautiful that he didn’t. Growth, happiness, baby steps, call it what you will it was terrific. That Hugh Laurie, what a talent.
    The previews for “Family Practice” look amazing! I can’t wait two weeks and yet I am afraid of what might be ahead.

  • Action Kate

    I loved House and Rachel together. I love how he admires her “native talent” for lying. He is participating in raising her, whether he wants to admit it or not, and she’s learning from him. The question is when Cuddy will pick up on it.

    On a different note: I really did not see the drill instructor as being all that harsh, maybe because we only saw him drilling in the teaser. The rest of the episode (other than the psychotic break) he was quiet, reflective, and remorseful. Also, he was played by the amazing Sasha Ruiz, Sam Adama from “Caprica,” so I’ve watched this particular actor deliver volumes of dialogue just with those soulful eyes (not unlike HL). I thought the “Doctor-Patient Parallel of the Week” was more about Masters and Foreman and their respective worldviews, and not as much about House.

  • http://idontcareish.livejournal.com/ Jacksam4eva

    @Barbara: “There was even discussion among the writers about whether what House’s father did constituted “abuse””

    Oh I didn’t know that. Though it’s understandable since it really depends what we qualify as “abuse”. Do you know if they came up with a conclusion on that or is it still up for debate?

  • Monkalicious

    Hi, Barbara. I’ve been a lurker here for a few months or so, but only recently decided to register and stick my neck on the chopping block. Please excuse my eagerness.

    Since we’re on the topic of House’s frayed relationship with his deceased (step)father, I’d like to add my own two cents to this discussion, if no one minds:

    I’ve always wondered what caused John’s relationship toward his son to resemble perpetual guard duty. This is pure speculation on my part, but it’s possible that he somehow discovered – from a third party that was aware of his wife’s affair or even from Blythe herself – that Greg was not his biological offspring. Given that he came from a military culture that still frowns upon officers unable to police their own families and social networks, a revelation of that magnitude would’ve been a terrible blow to his self-view, not to mention his long-term professional ambitions. It’s important to remember that a particular stress to military households is the so-called “fishbowl” within which the whole family lives. They reside, work, socialize, and study in a structured and observant community that overtly (and covertly) demands absolute conformity to relatively conservative and inflexible behavioral standards. The norms and values of family members are determined, to a more than usual extent compared to civilian life, by external agents, with a resulting low tolerance for individual variation.

    From the perspective of an authoritarian warrior culture, a “good” military family is one that demonstrates in all things its submission to the ways of conventional military life. It conforms in appearance as well as behavior to what is expected and approved of. Moreover, it displays to the world what ought to be displayed – polished, meticulous perfection. If something is amiss beyond the rehearsed standards of conduct (such as marital infidelity, rebellious children, fractured friendships, etc.), it is viewed as a direct commentary on an officer’s ability to lead and to command. Under such circumstances, it would be recklessly foolhardy even to hint at familial discord. The constant pressure to be perfect in the interest of projecting an all-powerful, godlike persona to the recruits creates an extraordinarily high stress level – and a great deal of difficulty in changing roles beyond the uniform at home.

    For John House, he not only suffered the ignominious humiliation of playing the role of unwitting cuckold for an unspecified period of time, but also endured another betrayal upon realizing that the sole heir to the family name was actually the illegitimate child of a close friend and fellow brother-in-arms. (A child, by the way, that he had no other recourse than to continue acknowledging as his own flesh-and-blood for the previously stated reasons.) Due to his professional standing – not to mention his personal integrity – he was essentially powerless to direct his frustration and rage toward his higher-ups, fellow officers, or even underlings without raising serious suspicions regarding his competency as a leader of men. Moreover, given the nature of martial hierarchies, household scapegoating (especially involving children) is often inevitable since open confrontation is practically prohibited and conflict is channeled through the chain of command. In this particularly toxic situation, unfortunately, Greg House became a very convenient, “safe” outlet for his (step)father’s pent-up frustrations under the guise of discipline and parental authority. Everyone in that family learned to wear a mask of stoicism or, worse, one of denial, and all paid a price for it.

  • Tourmaline

    I enjoyed the House & Rachel scenes in this episode, but I’m puzzled by the way that she clambered onto his lap and he didn’t appear to be in any physical discomfort from this – is his leg magically all better now?

  • ruthinor

    I’d have to look at it more closely, but she seemed to climb onto his lap in the center and towards the left leg so that really shouldn’t bother him too much. Plus, she’s pretty small and doesn’t weigh much.

  • http://www.npr.org bigHousefan

    * * Barbara and HouseMDfan * *

    Regarding the writer’s take on the characters, I appreciate your comments very much. That the writers are another voice to consider, not the final say makes me feel a lot better!

    That House has such a following in it’s seventh season says a lot about the passion the writers, creators, and especially Hugh Laurie have for the show and how much, we the audience, have invested in these characters.

  • Action Kate

    Monkalicious, that’s an excellent analysis, beautifully written. Add another 25 points to Gryffindor for getting “ignomious humiliation” and “unwitting cuckold” into the same sentence. :)

  • Orange450

    Thanks for a great review, Barbara!

    Like Action Kate – #16, I also didn’t see Corliss as brutal, even in the teaser. There have been many movies, shows, etc. that have portrayed disciplinary boot camp situations, complete with sadistic drill instructors. When I saw the teaser, I began to say “oh no, not another one…”, but then I noticed that Corliss didn’t come across as unduly harsh at all. And most of the guys didn’t seem to fear or dislike him. In fact, during the bunk scene, one of the cadets comments explicitly that Corliss is much harder on Landon than he is on any of the rest of them.

    I’m wondering if it’s this perspective of mine that caused me to overlook any comparison to House’s own upbringing. As has been mentioned above – House grew up with a father present – however unsatisfactory. In fact, his look of disdain at Corliss’ neglect could conceivably reflect favorably on John House who, after all, raised Greg – John’s knowledge of whether or not Greg was indeed his son notwithstanding.

    The early childhood educator in me had a field day with this episode. I actually squeed when I saw the “Feed the Monkey” game on the classroom floor! The kids in my class love it too :) And I absolutely will rise above all temptation, and NOT hold forth on how VERY not OK it is for House to be so proud of Rachel’s apparent native facility with the timely lie :)

    I can’t say enough good things about Kayla and Rylie Colbert’s performances! Their eyes sparkle with intelligence, even as they portray a little girl who – to be honest – hasn’t seemed to me either to require the services of a “gifted program” at preschool. And take it from me – Rachel is most certainly not a “sweet child”. She’s a little devil (and I mean that in a good way :)) Her behaviors are consistently designed to provoke, and how well the Corliss twins do it!

  • Orange450

    Oops sorry. I meant “Colbert twins” above.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Good points everyone. I noticed that Rachel crawled up onto House’s left side and planted herself on his left leg. Good girl. Orange–I also see Rachel as having a “bit of the devil” in her. Cool. A sweetly saccharine tot would have no place in House’s universe (of course ;)

    I am amazed like some of you at the passion the writers and actors bring to the table week to week. Some of the writers have been there since the beginning (including Liz Friedman, who I think was either there in season one, or certainly season 2) and they know the characters well (despite their sometimes differing takes on House).

  • Mosquitoinuk

    Hi Barbara,

    Perhaps you could comment on Liz Friedman’s comments about House this week. She said that House + Rachel was more about cheating the system than House really liking Rachel. She even says that he doesn’t care about Rachel but he’s just trying to be a good boyfriend. In my view, this is not what we saw in the episode but I feel confused every time I watch one of these videlogs from one of the House’s writers.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Mosqui…It’s hard to argue with a writer (but I actually have gently debated with one or two of the House writers). I think I might excerpt my discussion of this very topic from CZ. Have to check to see if it’s OK to do that. But basically, the printed script often plays differently–and has since the beginning of the series. HL adds volumes to the printed word. If you read original shooting scripts from even season one, you see what a jerk they’ve written him, but HL gives that natural humanity to the role and creates a complex person who feels and bleeds inside. It’s astounding how much he actually alters/interprets and always has. So who’s right? Liz Friedman or what we saw in the actual performance?

  • Andrea

    Rachel hasn’t struck me as an especially gifted child either but she’s apparently big for her age since they said she was only 2 1/2 in the last episode she was in. Her birth parents were both bright teenagers from upper middle class families. She doesn’t talk much but she does seem to understand what’s going on and maybe enjoys stirring things up. House is more likely to like that sort of kid. A good little girl would bore him.

  • Andrea

    At this point Hugh Laurie has as much to do with the character we see on screen as the writers do. The character is a melding of acting choices and the script, so I wouldn’t take the writers as the final word on what motivates House.

  • Flo

    I really liked the last episode that I found really funny but this one less.

    It’s been now two episodes in the row that we don’t have a great profound scene between House and the patient. I really missed that. Granted this patient wasn’t exactly exciting. It was really the weakest point for me, in this episode. Every person who had seen the preview for this episode could have forseen that the guy was the father of the teen. That was the big secret??? How many times the writers have done that on House? I guess a little too much. I wasn’t able to be interested in the PotW. I found the theme of the epi wasn’t really well intertwined with all the storylines. Last week’s Hess episodes was better at that, I think. This week patient didn’t have a real impact on the team and on their stories.

    Otherwise, it wasn’t all bad, there was fun moments. House training the kid like a dog was fun and housian. I like how this show revisits themes like that. House is real good with children.

    Nice to see Chase be put in his place, I’m interested to see where it will go from here.

    All in all, it was a “meh” episode for me. The next one looks very intense but I don’t really trust the previews. Looks like the drama will come back after two light episodes. We’ll see.

  • Jane

    I loved the comeback the kid gave to his drill instructor when he said “‘Can’t’ doesn’t exist here!” I thought the show was going to be about House trying to make possible some really difficult situation. I miss watching the intense doctor creating cool medical miracles.

    I agree with HouseMDfan (#8) that to play on House’s relationship with his disciplinarian father would be reptitive unless it’s something BIG. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Masters, like House, had an authoritative parent. I was dissapointed that the episode didn’t show more of how House might have changed his treatment of Masters upon this new knowledge of shared experience.

    I was utterly shocked and held my breath awaiting disaster when Masters accused House of running his team with cruelty to achieve results. It was as good as saying “House, you are just as bad as your dad.” I was further shocked when House was presented with the challenge of coaching Rachel to produce results. I don’t know exactly what I expected (or I would be a writer on House already!haha), but I felt that there was a missed opportunity.

    I agree that more interaction between House and patient might have been interesting to watch. The patient was not just the parallel of John House, IMO, he was the combination of both House’s fathers: abusive and absent. I think House would have despised him doubly. While Masters gently suggested to the patient how she thought carrots might be better, House would have delivered his piece with reproach and wisdom simultaneously–something I loved and missed recently.

    But this episode was not all gloom. I did enjoy it too. I love the comic Chase story and I have a feeling that there is a deeper significance to his man-whoring right now. I am excited to see how the writers bring Chase back to his serious self.

    I loved House’s story with Rachel too. It was sweet that underneathe his pretense to help Rachel for Cuddy’s sake, he really did care for Rachel to pass the test. My only quarrel is I’m not sure if House believed in elite pre-school. I really don’t know. Do you other fans out there think that House would subscribe to conventions that value “elite” education?

    I also loved how House continued to gloat over Masters at the beginning of the show. It’s like a small continuity from last week. It might have been fun for House to continue the gloating game until Masters come up with a good come back at him too!

  • Jane

    Just want to say that the more I think about it, the more I love what Masters (the character) brings to show. She challenges what we fans have come to accept about House. We may have come to think that House’s unorthodox methods are justified and necessary, but Masters challenges them. For instance, maybe lying to patients are not always necessary so that Houses’s compromise on honesty and trust might not be needed. She makes me wonder if there is a better world beyond House’s world. It excites me to think that there is more even as House is getting better now.

    Without drama, Masters is a tool the writers have used to remind us of the real House and all of him that we have come to know over the last six years. IMO, it’s an extremely important device they have used because since shifting focus to House’s relationship with Cuddy/Rachel, we are focusing on House’s reaction to people (his external world) and losing screen time of his inner world which was so thoroughly explored in his various personal crises in previous seasons. I think House fancinated me in the previous seasons because of who he is–his personality. This season, we see a very busy House trying to accomodate other people and these accomodations can erode the coherent and strong core that audience feel about a character. Hence, I thought it was a good idea to have Masters to provoke our knowledge of House and our loyalty. How? Masters sees House and his team more or less like an outsider. For one, she sees House as a manipulator who lies to his patients, but we understand this is the workings of his brilliant understanding of human psychology to help him find clues to save his patients. The other example in this episode is Masters’ misconception that House is a cruel slavedriver, but we know that House makes his team slog day and night because they are fighting to bring patients back from the brink of imminent death. We also know that House is sometimes harsh so as to hold his fellows accountable but never too harsh to condemn them. We have seen how House gave his fellows second chances that no other bosses would have given. Recall House covering up for Chase when he killed a patient after receiving news of his father’s death and, of course, when he killed Dibala. Recall House keeping 13 when she didn’t make sure her patient swallowed his pills. Recall House saving Foreman’s license when his meddling in the Huntington research protocol was found out.

    Like Wilson said and to which Taub agreed: House is secretly a very good man.

    And of course, Masters, whom I see as a reflection of House when he just started out as a junior doctor, carries on House’s brilliance, determination and energy on the medical aspect of the show.

    I love Masters.

  • Sera G

    Jane, #2, that was a very insightful reflection on Masters’ character and purpose on the show.
    I enjoy her portrayal. I will be sad when she leaves at the end of the season. As you stated, she views House as an outsider, not aware of the inner man, lacking the knowledge the audience has.
    She is also finding her way with the team. Chase, Cameron and Foreman started together and bonded, clashed and re-bonded at a unit. 13 was able to have a connection with Taub from the ‘Survivor’ period, as well as her realtionship with Foreman, so she was never, imo, an outsider. Her personality was aloof to me, so I never felt like she was seeking connections with anyone. Masters, being younger, not yet a doctor and trying to fit in with an established group, is a very brave young person.
    She stands up to House, accepts his gloating and mocking and never seems to wilt. Maybe some of that is her Aspergers, some of it might be never really fitting in anywhere in her life and some of it might be enjoying the elusive pursuit of House’s approval. Again, I will miss her when she leaves.

  • Michele1L

    Liked this episode, look forward to the next one, tired of Masters, want 13 back.

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