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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Gut Check”

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It’s time for a gut check, House, M.D. fans, in this week’s episode not-so-coincidentally called “Gut Check.” After delivering a check to the gut, hockey “enforcer” Hatcher collapses on the ice, vomiting blood. After the ER can’t figure out why, the case is sent to team House for debate and diagnosis.

Jamie Conoway and David Hoselton crafted a nice script, that while far from gut wrenching (sorry for the pun, guys), was full of turns and twists. It brings the series back to fundamentals needed as we proceed into the series home stretch.

The guts (okay, that’s the last one, I promise) of the story for me involved the House/Wilson (Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard) and Chase/Park (Jesse Spencer and Charlyne Yi) story threads. Each involved a real gut check—a reality check, showing Chase and Wilson a little more of who they are and who they aren’t. But I also think Taub’s (Peter Jacobson) perceptive comment to House about the nature of his mockery is also a key gut-check in “Gut Check.”

I really loved House’s fake-child ruse. I have to admit I suspected as much from midway through the episode. The kid was just too much like his father to have it all derive from “nature.” And since there was no “nurture” involved in the kid’s development, I never quite bought that the kid was genuinely Wilson’s.

What I did like about the ruse, however, is what it says about House. He knows that Wilson will pine unendingly with regret for never having had a child—that old biological clock is way past ticking. And how Housian is it for him to manufacture a child for Wilson to play at being Daddy? I think parenting and parentage are real vulnerable spots for House. He is the product of a warped upbringing and children, and House tends to take childcare—and the notion that “anyone can do it” very seriously. He’s demonstrated that several times over eight seasons with patients, with Cuddy, and now with Wilson. But telling Wilson that he’s not really parental material will never work. Wilson will insist that it’s House’s anti-social and wounded psyche talking. So, going the rent-a-kid route is a brilliant ploy—and makes House’s point elegantly. Wilson’s semi-hurt feelings aside.

Besides, House loves Wilson and the gesture of showing Wilson the error of his ways, is a real act of brotherly love for his best friend. That kid actor must’ve cost House a fair penny, but in the long run is a generous (albeit House-like) gift to Wilson. Ultimately, Wilson understanding that he’s not really the daddy type will result in less hurt in the end. In House’s universe, it’s a kind, compassionate gesture.

What to make of Chase’s gesture towards Park? Despite his reputation (and a well-deserved one at that), Chase is actually a pretty nice guy. There is still a thread of the seminarian in him and a sweetness tinged with tragedy of a lot of parental and relationship hurts.

He’d like to see Park grow up and separate from her childhood, so there is that, but then what motivates him to invite her grandmother in—and let her hang on? Is Chase somehow craving family that he doesn’t really have? Park doesn’t appreciate her PoPo, annoyed with her hovering. But that closeness is something Chase has never had. In some way, perhaps he is jealous of Park, but is he trying to show her (there’s that gut-check again) that having that sort of love close at hand is not to be dismissed, but embraced?

I think my favorite moment in “Gut Check” came when Taub calls House on his self-described bully persona. An ongoing theme in the series is that House is a bully. He bullies patients, supervisors, and most of all, his fellows. Taub insists, however, that House isn’t a bully, something he vehemently disputes. But Taub knows bullies; he’s been bullied his whole life: for being short, for being Jewish. “You mock people, but not for self-aggrandizement,” Taub argues. “You believe ideas are more important than feelings.” So House’s mockery is not mean-spirited; it comes with a purpose, one, I suspect all of his fellows—and Foreman—by now have come to accept. And expect. And perhaps even (to a small degree) respect. This is a hugely important point to make at this stage of the series, and one that the show occasionally forgets.

With now only six episodes to go in the long life of House, M.D., “Gut Check” is an excellent entry as we head into the final third of the season and the home stretch of the series. House airs Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET on Fox.

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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)."
  • DebbieJ

    Barbara, you wrote: “I think my favorite moment in “Gut Check” came when Taub calls House on his self-described bully persona. An ongoing theme in the series is that House is a bully. He bullies patients, supervisors, and most of all, his fellows. Taub insists, however, that House isn’t a bully, something he vehemently disputes. But Taub knows bullies; he’s been bullied his whole life: for being short, for being Jewish. “You mock people, but not for self-aggrandizement,” Taub argues. “You believe ideas are more important than feelings.”

    I can’t disagree more with Taub. While I believe House USED to do this without self-aggrandizement, lately he is doing it just to be mean-spirited, the way I see it. He doesn’t mock or tease the ducklings because it’ll make them think outside the box, or make them better doctors. He is doing it now simply because he is bored.

    I believe Taub was made to say this to try to convince us, the audience, but for me, it’s too late.

    And what I once found endearing with the show, I am becoming annoyed with. That every little thing that anyone does or says, is with keeping in mind that they have to be two steps a head of House, knowing how he thinks, but still, he always gets the upper hand. You know, mind games. Especially with Taub. I feel sorry for the guy. And I don’t buy the fact that House does it to make him a better doctor. He does it because he clearly dislikes him. House has always had a reason for his actions, not just to be a bully.

    And I won’t even start on the ridiculousness of the whole Wilson is a Dad – NOT debacle. It was totally uncessary and did not do anything to move the narrative along. I don’t buy that House did it for Wison’s benefit. Again, just mean spirited and selfish on House’s part.

  • HouseObssessedAgain

    I loved, loved this episode. Most peeps are wondering how House set all that up so quickly. Easy. When Wilson talked to Beth, he told her to play along with House’s scam.

  • Finale”
    Everybody Dies.”
    I hope not EVERYBODY, but it sounds as though somebody (13 and House?) will.

  • Did you review “We Need the Eggs?” I don’t see it here.
    Obviously they were saying “HOUSE”is
    OUR sex doll, our hooker, and we need to find a way to be ok with its ending.
    “You can know something’s not real and still love it.”– Chase

  • Action Kate

    @30: You mean you think the finale is going to be House going over Reichenbach Falls holding lupus by the throat?

  • Jason

    Am I the only one who thinks something sub conscious is going on, along with the relationship mending? Last week Chase cracked the case and this week Taub, are the writers setting up a ‘sign off’ or Holmes type ending for House where, the team as a whe can crack the difficult cases to make up for House not being there? If Park/Adams/Foreman crack the case this week it’ll fuel my speculation fire!

  • Maria-Eleni

    22 – Kaliera
    “I knew from the promo the kid was a fake – and I have not seen the episode. But from the comments I can see where they went wrong with.”

    How can you comment on something you have not watched? Others’ comments can be biased and misleading.

    I also suspected that the kid might be fake but I surprisingly enjoyed that as part of the suspense, in the same way as with H. being sick in the previous episode. As the show approaches its end these life-changing plots are more or less expected so they become believable even in their abruptness.
    Actually, I was quite doubtful of H’s sicknesses in the previous seasons, but this time I got anxious that it might be true!
    As for the child, it could have been introduced as real to create dramatic tension between H. & W.
    Also RSL and HL were very good in this. Wilson was initially disbelieving of H. and after meeting the child both eager and fearful. H. looked troubled when alone as if fearing of loosing W. which made me think that if there was fraud that might have originated from the mother. He was also negative and mocking towards W.’s newfound fatherhood.

    1. “Wilson’s desire for a child was stated off screen.” Not at all!
    There was a whole scene, quite moving actually with a funny ending moment, leading to H. partially disclosing the possibility of W. having a child. It was enough for an “impact” as we know that W. got married three times and was going for a fourth. Why get married if not for wanting a family complete with children in this time and age?

    2. He was already freaked out by the boy wanting to spend an evening with him as soon as they met. At the end, though not rejecting the child, he admitted he did not want the responsibility.
    And why should Wilson throw Taub’ parenthood to H.? What had H. to do with it? He was equally mocking and suspicious of Taub’s parental feelings.

    3. In this I agree with 25 – lobentti.
    H. was right in Cuddy’s case as in W.’s. Being a product of emotionally dysfunctional people he is very negative and suspicious of his friends’ desire for parenthood. He evidently abhors the idea of children growing up with such screwed up characters as W. and C.
    He recognises that such a desire owes more to an egotistical need for conventional fulfilment of self than real love for children.
    C.’s attitude to Rachel, devoid of real tenderness, proved H. doubts to be correct.
    W. needs the “idea” of being loved and acceptanced by his child (which makes believable that he buys the “I love you father” which for most of us proved that the son was fake) but rejects the everyday reality of reciprocating that love which comes with heavy practical and emotional duties.

    4. We have already seen H. with a kid, a younger one actually that is Rachel. His fears do not need exposing as he was very open about them. And a scenario of H.’s “bad influence” to a child would be nothing but a repetition and a maudlin subject for comparison with Rachel.

    All in all this episode was characteristic of the whole season where serious matters are mostly touched in a light manner but I sense an undercurrent of melancholy acceptance of the inevitability of life’s tragedies. And that contrasts with the earlier seasons that were more dramatic but with a constant undercurrent of comedic lightness and the hope of changing to better circumstances.

  • Djesus

    @ lobentti
    Cuddy not a good mother? lmao
    maybe House’s mother was better with a violent husband?

  • Action Kate

    @24: The mechanical wall has been replaced with a static one; there’s a phone and a flatscreen TV attached to it. You can’t get electrical wiring into a movable wall.

    I called the “child actor” almost from the beginning, particularly since the kid showed up without his mother in tow. I’m sorry, that wouldn’t happen. And then in each subsequent scene when there’s still no further contact with Beth, and he leaves with “I love you, Dad,” and “Don’t send me to the jungle”… nah, it was obvious.

    I do think it was brilliant on House’s part, and Wilson obviously forgave him immediately because it was so clearly an act of love from House. Wilson’s parents, however, are going to want to string House up for giving them a grandson and then taking him away.

    (Although not for anything, House, there’s nothing wrong with proscuitto. Why a Jewish guy would have it in his fridge, and cheerfully enjoy it on the same pizza as goat cheese, is another matter entirely.)

    Chase and Park are excruciating. Chase and PoPo are adorable, however.

  • Kaliera

    @ lobentti
    I disagree – but like politics and religion, trying to convince anyone to change their opinion over the internet is pointless, and futile… so I will leave it at that.

  • lobentti

    @ Kaliera,
    sorry to say, Cuddy was never ‘a good parent’ to Rachel: she idealised her, was highly repressive, doing a ‘new edition’ of what Arlene did as a mother – IMO; even House saw this, and tried to ‘soften’ things to Rachel ‘training her’ to school and watching carttons with her.

    • Isabella McFarlin

      What’s wrong with watching cartoons with your kid? Jeez.

  • Nichelle

    I think the series will end with the death of Wilson-I have a GUT feeling.

    I think that House is really worried about Wilson. He’s so worried that he is tying up loose ends. He’s even helping out his team so that they can function without him while he goes off and takes care of Wilson…maybe. I don’t know, I just feel that this would explain some of the subtle weirdness that’s been going on. For example, house building a mechanical door that links to Wilson’s office, Wilson sleeping a lot and avoiding house, Wilson reflecting on his life and the choices he’s made, and with House’s help, being at peace with those choices, and House’s lackluster attitude for some episodes prior to this one which shows him acting peppier and do-gooding in a Housian way. It’s almost as if he’s figured out how to handle some major personal problems…like his addiction, or what he is going to do about Wilson’s illness.

    Call me crazy, but I think that they even changed RSLs makeup in order to indicate his underlying illness like they did Olivia’s/ Thirteen’s. I’m probably looking too hard for zebras, gorillas, ox, and sheep, but I’m starting to think that I’d be OK if the writers did kill Wilson. At this point, it would just be too easy to kill House. After all the effort of this episode to tell us how much Wilson and House need and love eachother, it really would be something if we saw House’s reaction. Can anyone imagine what House would he do? Would he do something drastic? Would he do nothing at all? House said some episodes ago that he couldn’t get rid of Wilson, but what if Wilson was taken from him (if he died)? However House would react to Wilson’s death, I’m sure I’d get really pissed because I’d have to grab a tissue box-I’m just saying…

    Well anyway, I thought this episode was nice and had more possible foreshadowing and purpose. And we finally learned how much House loves the people around him that he feels close to and how those people appreciate House’s “do-gooding gifts” and personality.

  • Aurora B

    @Kaliera: Right you are. Well done.

  • Kaliera

    I knew from the promo the kid was a fake – and I have not seen the episode. But from the comments I can see where they went wrong with.

    1) Wilson’s desire for a child was stated off screen. Writing is supposed to be “show not tell”. If this episode had come after a few weeks of the audience hearing this lament, its impact would have been stronger.

    2) ANYONE faced with an 11 yr old they don’t know who then wants to come live with them would be freaked and have qualms. House’s “lesson” was stupid because most people i.e. Taub get advance notice and time to step up and parent. I would have ended this episode with Wilson throwing that back in his face.

    3) The storyline of “you’re not ready” was already done (and better) with Cuddy and it turned out that House was wrong. Cuddy struggled, but her desire was real and she made a perfectly good parent.

    4) It would have been better if there was a kid (I would have gone younger though) exposing House’s own fears. Part of why Cuddy feared her relationship with House was becuase of how it would affect Rachel. If Wilson had a kid, how long before House’s “influcence” might be considered bad – especially if they cast a strong “mother” who didn’t want a drug addict/ex con around her child – forcing Wilson to actually choose. Wilson being forced into a choice would have been a much better storyline.

  • Linda W

    I was relieved that the child was an actor. Wilson really wouldn’t be much of a father to an 11 yo. I think it was a compas-sionate thing House did; it was a teaching moment for Wilson.

  • Paulac54

    well done Barbara. You summed up very well my own take on House’ reasons for doing what he did. He knows Wilson like no other person and knew showing him he is not ready for fatherhood, now, if ever, was the only way. Wilson would never have trusted or believed Any verbal argument from House.

  • Aurora B

    I think House came off as a total sh*theel in this episode, and Wilson looked like an idiot. WTF are the writers thinking, for chrissakes? House’s little trick wasn’t funny or edifying; it was just plain cruel.

  • Rachel

    I agree with Cyndi and everyone who agrees with her. I haven’t checked this blog in ages because I have been so bored with the show, but wanted to see how others felt. As only the 18th comment days after airing, I can see many are losing interest in discussing the show.

    I just feel there is nothing to discuss. The timing is off, the jokes are often bordering on cheezy, the melodrama is tidied up too quickly, and there are too many characters with too little development. The stories aren’t creative. For two episodes in a row we have had intense storylines (House being ill and Wilson’s son) end up as House pranks. Cheap.

    I’ve been watching past episodes and it is sad to see that House was more complex, nuanced, and begrudgingly endearing in season 1 than season 8. I just don’t root for him anymore, so why watch.

    But I will. It’s been too long of a journey to quit now. It’s just a shame to trudge to the end.

  • housemaniac

    I’m afraid I’m with cyndi #12 as well. I found myself for the first time I can remember doing other things while watching the show. But as I’ve written here before, I think in some ways the show has already ended for me and nothing can live up to my expecations any longer. Still, I’m looking forward to the final arc–the last four episodes, I believe. Until then, we’ll probably be dealing with one-offs.

  • Koji Attwood

    This season has been markedly superior to last, and all that Hudy foolishness as well.

  • ajcuz

    I agree with cyndi 100%. The medicine doesn’t even interest me anymore. The energy has been missing this entire season. I used to LOVE this show but now I find watching has become a chore.

  • Djesus

    Buborek : “Everybody likes Wilson, but he doesn’t seem to have deep relationships except with House.”

    Yes! this guy is more pathetic than House, he seems to have no life. Poor guy who won’t ever have kids and a girlfriend, weird in a way. Sometimes I think Wilson doesn’t exist and is just House’s imaginary friend.
    Agree with cyndi about the last eps, it’s really boring, nothing happens.
    Glad we’re near the finale, I miss some good dramatic moments now!

  • buborek

    I loved this episode” I was happy to see Wilson as a father, and like him was relieved the boy was a fake.
    It seems to me that House wants to help his team and hs friends, like a man who wants to go in peace.
    The fact that he entered in the MRI to prove that Taub was influenced too… He knows that something is not fine and hope the team will find it.
    I’m a little bit afraid for House, but maybe all this is a trick to disappear at the end, to begin a new life without the old one…
    I find Wilson far more alone than House. House has a connection with his team. Everybody likes Wilson, but he doesn’t seem to have deep relationships except with House.

  • cyndi

    Barbara, I love this show. I feel like all House and Wison are a part of my life.
    I’m sorry, the last two episodes have been so boring to me. Maybe because the end is near, I expect each episode to be WOW. But, i keep looking at my watch to see if there is time left for something to happen. The patient stories are horrible. I want them to wrap up some loose ends in the next few episodes. I am a romantic, I want House to find happiness. Any chance Stacey can come back on a white horse? Yes, Chase/parks was sweet. Yes, House stepped out of his bounds to do something sweet for Wilson, but all in all ZZZZZZZZ.

  • andulong

    I saw the episode and did not see thru the “fake child” ruse as some of you did. It was very House-like so I should have seen it coming too. Only thing I missed in the entire episode….how did Wilson finally discover it was a trick? He and House were talking about the kid and I had to leave the room. Next thing I saw was House and the kid walking out and House asking him if he could do an accent? What happened? Please. Thanks!

  • Jane E

    I really enjoyed this episode with all it’s twist and turns and subplots. As you, I really liked Taub’s analogy of House’s bullying. Most of all I can’t tell you how happy I am that Wilson’s son was a joke. I know it sounds cruel, but ever since they announced this was House’s last season. My first reaction was Oh no they will kill him! Oh no what about Wilson? What about Cuddy? When I heard this week’s episode had a storyline for Wilson having a son, I was like OMG House is dying. So at least this episode has removed my anxiety,

  • It seems as though House is trying to “fix” relations with people. Does he know something we don’t know? (Most likely!)

  • I saw through the kid ruse and was hoping and praying it wasn’t true till the end. I wanted poor Wilson to have a kid. He’d probably have learned to deal with it in the end. That was a chance for House to take. He might have really p.o’d Wilson for good.
    Oddly my favorite part of this (to me) quasi-mediocre (if House can ever be that) episode was the conversation House has with Taub. One finally sees that there is some real understanding and communication between them, such as House often has with Chase.
    I will so miss the show, but I hope the next few eps. are more passionate and intense than this… I think they said the last 4 would be part of an arc, which is always more interesting.

  • housefriend

    At least first review Ive seen here that acknowledges a deep relationship with House and Wilson,But very careful to put in the brotherly qualifier! Totally not needed but clearly to make a point that they cannot be more than friends.This relationship goes beyond friendship,Even HL says its not just buddydom. This episode explored the House/Wilson very well and the elevator scene was very emotional.Ive seen other reviews of episodes that pick up on the relationship these two have. This is the one constant on the show. Women come and go and their commitment is still to each other,

  • Jess

    Did not like the trick house played on Wilson. It set Wilson up for a potentially major letdown.

  • Koji Attwood

    “Chillax, dad.”
    “Can you do an Australian accent?”


  • Eve K

    I have only one question – whats with the black tint? All season the colours is black and dark. Is this because its the last season and will end in disaster?

  • hazel eyes

    I loved this episode and I think your view,Barbara are spot on. I too think that House loves Wilson and only did the fake kid ruse as a way for Wilson to address his true feelings towards having kids.

  • KMC

    I loved Taub’s “light bulb” moment.

    But, I have some quibbles about the H/W plot. First of all…when did House have time to set all this in motion? I don’t think it would have happened if he hadn’t had the opening chat with Wilson, and there really wasn’t time between when he dropped the bomb on him and Wilson called the girlfriend for House to have found her, made contact and arraignments (presumably paying her) plus finding the kid actor, engaging him…which would have included using Jedi mind control on his parents to get them to agree to letting their son visit alone with a strange man(!), and coaching him in how to be a miniWilson.

    The only point I can almost see is House’s “tough-love” approach in proving to Wilson that while having progeny…in theory…is a good idea, the reality can be a lot tougher. Then again, it’s one thing to be in a relationship and plan for kids…or even have an oops…you have nine months to get used to the idea. The shock of finding out that he’s a father…along with the guilt of being an absent one…even if that wasn’t his fault..then in the space of a few days having full-fledged daddy hood thrust onto him…of course Wilson’s freaked…he’s never been able to sustain a long-term relationship with anyone other than House, he’s epic failed at every other relationship (who knows how he and Amber would have worked out in the long run), so I don’t know how fair a test it really was.

    Plus…it never occured to Wilson that if the boy was really his, wouldn’t the mother have gone after him for child support? A doctor, a department head? No way would she have not gotten him to pay up, one way or another. And I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during House’s negotiations with the “son’s” parents…so the kid’s an actor…would YOU have let your young son spend time alone with a strange man, no matter how much you were being paid…especially if it were House doing the asking/paying?

    Yes, maybe I’m over thinking it, but I found I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief.

    I’d just like to know if this is going to factor in at the end…Wilson realizing that he may end up just as alone as House is…we know that Wilson is just as screwed up as House is, perhaps even more so.

    Frankly what I’m hoping for, but not expecting, is one good knock-down-drag-out fight between the two of them (verbal..but I could live with a punch or two). God knows it’s due…considering all the angst and manipulation and badly-crossed signals they’ve inflicted on each other, I really think one full-out blow-up between them to “clear the air” before the show ends and they continue on with the rest of their lives would be a good resolution…not to mention giving HL and RSL some great screen time together. It’s just for two people who are “bestest buddies”, they’ve inflicted more pain on each other then any rational friendship could withstand. I want want to see them fight..then kiss(ok, metaphoricaly)and make up.

    Still…at least RSL got to stretch a bit in this ep…had some really good scene showing his mixed emotions.

  • emmy4hugh

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about the significance of Taub’s comment. That was a great line!

    I didn’t see through the ruse about the kid and I’m kicking myself because it was so Housian, as you say, and there were so many signs. While it was interesting to watch Wilson respond to the boy he thought was his son, I can’t say I liked what it said about House. Yes, everybody lies and especially House, but House’s lies are getting so personal and painful between last week’s ruse that he was dying to test his team and this week’s ruse to teach Wilson a lesson. House always pushes me, which I appreciate, but lately he’s pushing me, as a viewer, almost to the brink. Probably a fitting place at this point in the series, but not a comfortable place.

    Thanks for your blog. I missed you last week!