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TV Review: House, M.D. – “House Divided”

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“I haven’t slept through the night since Kutner died.” House’s  (the ever-amazing Hugh Laurie) grave admission  to Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) towards the end of “House Divided” tells us how worried House is about his own sanity. In that confession, the normally very guarded House finally articulates the depth to which he has been affected by Kutner’s death.

What a fantastic episode. The best House, M.D. episodes combine humor, drama, tension and fun; darkness and light. This one had all of that and more — a pivotal episode in this very dark character arc for House (perhaps the darkest yet – and that’s saying something).

As this week’s wild ride of an episode, “House Divided,” progresses, Amber’s (Anne Dudek in a phenomenal performance) constant and increasingly aggressive presence becomes more and more difficult for House to cover, as all around him begin to wonder what’s wrong. Sleep deprived and exhausted, House knows she is simply a hallucination, his overworked and sleepless brain playing visual and auditory tricks on him. Taunting him, she asks why she is the one to plague him; why she has become the avatar for his subconscious mind.

With strong resonances to last season’s finale episodes “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart,” Amber reveals what many of us have known all along. House carries with him an awful lot of guilt—the weight of the world, in some ways. Deny and deflect as he does and has, he still feels responsibility for Amber, and more recently for Kutner. “Maybe your guilt over Kutner’s suicide reminds you of how guilty you felt about me,” she needles.

Refusing to engage with a figment of his imagination, House insists to her that she is “the product of my exhausted brain.” But whatever has brought her to House, she sticks to him like “white on rice.” But in an almost creepy progression, Amber morphs from simple annoyance to constant muse to something more sinister. By the episode’s end, House sees her for what she is — his worst inclinations unbound and at play in his conscious, troubled mind. “House Divided” indeed.

We often see House struggling alone in the dark of his office or apartment with his thoughts about a patient, an ethical decision — or even his own life. What are the thoughts that float through that “rat maze of a brain” (as Wilson has put it) that provide House his genius and his biggest problems? With Amber the external embodiment of House’s thoughts, we see how his thought process works. But he’s playing with fire. (So what else is new?)

Amber represents the far reaches — the “glimmers” and glimpses of memory. The fleeting stuff that whooshes by barely considered; barely acknowledged. Those thoughts are always there, but expressed aloud, they have more prominence, and House has easier access. In his current state, Amber may represent a gift, not a curse or irritant. Properly channeled, maybe Amber’s insights can help restore House’s diagnostic super powers, which he believes he’s losing (as he expressed last episode).

It’s a seductive idea, especially because House thinks he’s losing his medical mojo. No longer an annoyance, Amber has become his muse and his ally in solving the current case. Plenty of time to sleep after the patient is diagnosed. Never mind the sleeping pills Wilson has provided; Amber has given House a new lease on his mojo.

But why is she really there? Is she the manifestation of House’s guilt? People who watch the series carefully know that House’s refusal to acknowledge his indirect responsibility for Amber’s death is simply a “river in Egypt.”

Amber’s death hit House very hard, harder than he would have had his colleagues believe. And the subsequent loss of Wilson’s friendship, his father’s death, and Cuddy’s new baby all have taken their toll on House's fragile psyche. I have always said that House’s problem is not that he feels nothing or too little, but that he feels too much. And he’s faced an awful lot in the past year.

And then Kutner’s suicide, seemingly random and with no note, no hint, no sign. That was the proverbial last straw. As Wilson told House in “Saviors,” it would be insane if he wasn’t a little out of whack. But House has been sleepless for weeks, haunted by Kutner, probably unable to turn off his mind as it processes every bit of information about him: his life, his work, his family, and his death. Long after everyone else has begun to move on, House cannot let go of it. Remember how long he held on to Esther’s death (“All In,” season two). House is not a “little” out of whack.

And so House acquires Amber as an increasingly dominant presence in his thoughts. But Amber loses her muse’s luster as she dominates House’s process. She becomes more and more real to him, as the story progresses. And as Amber becomes a more and more dominant element of House’s thought process, House begins to  accept Amber’s thoughts and ideas to the exclusion of all else — even his own conscious thought.

Has House really lost that much confidence in his own medical judgment, to the point where he must second-guess himself (literally)? Those little glimmers and flashes are in the back reaches of memory for a reason. They’re great to access in small bits: a memory there; an idea here. But as House retreats more and more into himself, he begins to conflate those flickers of ideas for something more substantial, although Amber holds the key to some correct diagnostic turns and some that are very wrong. House loses his ability to distinguish between them, relying on Amber rather than his conscious and filtered thought processes.

Eventually even House’s team fades into a surreal vision, seeming far less tangible than Amber, as House retreats further and becomes more isolated from reality. House’s mind wanders through memories of medical school (which may be helpful to the diagnosis) to strippers, as Amber helps him remember the stripper used at one of Wilson’s bachelor parties as he prepares to hold one for Chase.

When House’s Amber-inspired diagnosis turns out to be wrong — and he forgets that Chase is allergic to strawberries — House begins to realize that his insomnia-induced hallucination may not be the gift it appears to be. When called back into the unfinished case, House tells Cuddy that he can’t do it, no longer trusting either his instincts or his skills. Locking himself away in his apartment,  where he can do no more damage to the patient, he turns the case over to his team. Despite Amber’s urging, House begins to understand the terrible trouble he’s in. And that Amber must go.

Finally going to Cuddy to get a new prescription for sleep meds, Cuddy asks him what’s wrong. “Talk to me,” she pleads. Seeing Amber standing there as real as Cuddy, and looking deep into his own heart, the seriously freaked-out House is able to admit to not having slept since Kutner died. But not even a good night’s sleep can rid House of his hallucination.

Impaired as he is, House treats Seth, a deaf 14-year-old wrestler. Suddenly when in a meet, he “hears” explosions. Exploding head syndrome in kid who lost his hearing at the age of four. Wondering why he hasn’t had cochlear implants, which would allow him to regain his hearing, House learns that Seth is unwilling to leave the comfort of the disability and culture to which he’s adapted. His mother is his prime enabler.

House has had such dilemma with patients before, where questions of quality of life lead House to propose dangerous procedures or to mock family members who would prevent him from taking a risk that could bring the patient back to “normal.” “Merry Little Christmas,” “Half-Wit” and this season’s “Painless,” (although that patient simply wants to die) all get to that very sensitive spot in House.  

House can never understand why people would choose to be disabled when they can be normal. He can’t process why anyone could be comfortable in their disability to the point that they refuse to undergo even a simple procedure to become “normal.” House convinces Chase to insert cochlear implants without the family’s consent. He, with Amber’s urging, is convinced that once the kid has the implants, he’ll adjust and be fine with it; as will the mom.

But how different is Seth than House? Is House too comfortable, wearing his disability (and the drug use) like a badge, afraid to try to “fit”? Does he need someone to push him off the edge to get him to save himself? Yes, House has tried (and has been at least halfheartedly trying) all sorts of things to end his pain. But he’ll try (like the methadone) and stop when the risk of losing his gift becomes too great for him to continue to risk it. But is Amber’s real role to be a genuine scare in House’s life? A dramatic enough scare to cause him to change?

The only thing House values in himself is his intellect and his medical gift. If he can’t trust his own skills (as he could not by the end of the episode) what does he have left? What would be the one thing to drive House to seek help? It would be the loss of his skill — or the loss of his rational thought. I don’t think he’s at that point yet, but there are still two episodes to go.

Lightening up the very dark journey into House’s subconscious is the planning of Chase’s bachelor party. House planning the Caligula-esque fete is hysterically funny — he’s like a kid in a candy store. Sending Foreman and 13 out to scout strippers is an inspired move, and the fiery  cocktails are pretty amazing, not to mention the alcohol drenched ice cream. Inspired. That Gregory House sure can plan a party when he wants to. And kidnapping Chase: priceless. Is he just into parties, or is he doing something nice for Chase? Is he trying to ruin Chase’s happiness with Cameron, or simply wishing Chase well in the best “guy” way he can?

It’s not the party, but the planning that seems to make House happy. House has never really shown himself to be a party person (although he talks a good game).

Having seen a couple of the party clips before the episode aired, I could not quite understand how House, the reclusive, guarded, private man he is, could be partying like that. Turns out that he didn’t. He set it up, he got it going and then distances himself completely. Very, very House-like.

I am growing to like “Foreteen.” I loved the fact that Foreman paid money to see 13 have fun with the stripper. And Wilson? What a cheap drunk he is, isn’t he? Chase was adorable, and Cameron was resigned by willing to go along with the whole thing — sort of.

But the party, a delirious, dizzy affair, turns dark when Chase licks the strawberry butter from the stripper’s stomach and goes into anaphylactic shock. House blames himself, cursing his subconscious (in the guise of Amber) for possibly killing Chase. Obviously, either House forgot or didn’t know, or was too tired to remember. Hit hard with the notion that he could have caused another death of someone close to him. More guilt. “I knew about the body butter; I knew about Chase’s allergy. I tried to kill Chase. Why would I do that?” That one line, House taking the blame on himself for Chase’s allergic reaction is almost the scariest moment of the evening. What would make him take on yet more guilt? Undeserved guilt.

And then this week’s sucker punch. House, looking much better after a good night’s sleep and not seeing Amber, is also feeling better thinking he’s rid of her. Until there she is. Right with him. Major freak-out for House. Whew!

And next week — all I can say is take the “Huddy” poll (if you haven’t already). More than 1100 people have already voted. “Under My Skin” airs Monday night at 8:00 p.m. (ET) and the season finale, “Both Sides Now,” will air on May 11. Just as a note, I will be interviewing “Both Sides Now” writer (and House co-executive producer) Doris Egan the day after the finale airs.

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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)."
  • Jen

    Barbara, as great as the episode, I truly look forward to your House Report. I love, love, just flat out love the show and HL, and so much becomes clearer after your take. I loved the ep from start to finish and worry so much for House and his problems. Can’t wait for the next two weeks! I am so glad to have found your website and blog. You, like HL are awesome!Thank you for writing!

  • Reba

    Dear Barbara,
    Again such a great review. I must say that one of the saddest moments for me was House alone in the bath tub, not able to share the fun with the others. The immersion of Amber was interesting, the way he knew she was not real, but still treated her as real in a way. Excellent acting from Hugh Laurie. But also, what a delightful comment from Wilson about Caligula. Made me laugh our loud. And it was great to see the team unwind, however dangerous the outcome.

  • Flo

    Good review. Thanks barbara. Indeed, what a freaking great episode.
    Very dark but one of the most funnier at the same time.
    So dark that, without the funny part, it would be almost unwatchable.

    Anne Dudek was fantastic. She played House (or a part of him) very well. The scenes when House has to deal with the others when she is here are really well done. Dealing with her but hiding his condition from his ducklings. Good.
    The bathtub scene is great and scary when House realize that Amber is not a “good hallucination”.

    House is in a scary place right now. Very close to the breakdown. He can’t carry so much and add another guilt (Chase).
    The weight became too heavy and he is tired of supporting it. Maybe you’re right: it’s time for a change.

    I, too, liked forteen in this episode. Foreman is cool when is drunk. Paying for seeing his girlfriend have fun like that with a stripper: hell yeah! What guy wouldn’t do that? Also good scene with Chase. You can see that these two are friend, it was nice.
    All of the bachelor party thing was great and really funny. Karamel and Wilson looool!!

    I also liked Cuddy. This is the kind of episode which you know why sometimes House calls her mummy.
    the scene when she takes care of the drunk duckling and calls House is great. It was like: Mom is calling Dad to tell him the children came back home drunk.
    She really is a caring person. That explain the scene in the end. She knows something is wrong with House since Kutner is dead. She knows him too well to not having seen it. She probably foreseen it since “Simple Explanation”. House can’t lie to her. She always knows when he is not fine. So it tells her that he is sleepless since kutner died. Terrible scene really. Sad.

    The last two episodes look also dark which is logical. I think the end of this season will be the more dramatic one ever.

    I will have to see this episode a second time, it really was a great one.

  • barbara barnett

    Hope you all like the new site! Pass the word. My review is featured on the main TV/Film Page with a lovely little picture of the House gang!

    It was hard to review this one by itself. So much is not known about House and his state of mind, his health, etc.

    It’s hard to believe the season’s almost over, and yet I anticipate the last two eps and can’t wait. But I don’t want the season to end.

  • Donna


    What an episode. As you said all the right elements integrated into this script that make House,MD. brilliant. Congrats to the entire show staff for this one!

    IMHO, I think this one is your best reviews/analysis of any House episode to date. Everything about House’s gradual mental deterioration that began nearly a year ago w/HH and fueled especially by his guilt/personal responsibilty, was spot on by you and, officially confirmed during this episode.

    It’s obvious now to House and we viewers, that his ‘Amber’ part isn’t just dark and dangerous but has surfaced in hallucination form to bury/destroy the good House: everything from his brilliance to his jerkiness. I’ll be on the edge of my seat through the final 2 eps of this season (wink, wink..obvious cliffhanger set-up) to see how much more hell House will suffer psychlogically. He’ll definitely need the 2 most important ‘guardian angels/saviors’ in his life -Wilson and Cuddy- to help him through through his journey back to mental health.

  • simplethings

    Great review. Can’t compliment them enough. You always manage to cut right into the depth of the show and explain it more articulately than anyone.

    I need to rewatch this one several times to grasp it, but I am curious about the scene in which House finally comes clean to Cuddy about not sleeping. Amber’s role there as his subconcious confused me and I’m not sure if it was deliberately ambiguous or if I was missing her message.

    Was she eyeballing House and telling him silently to confess to Cuddy? Or to will him into silence with her stare? Or did she look shy like House undoubtedly can be when confronted in a state like this, and around Cuddy who he assumedly has feelings for?

    I’d love to get your thoughts as I thought it was significant that throughout the episode Amber was continually speaking until this moment.

    I’m on the edge of my seat until Monday. This show makes me want to push through my weekends!

  • XJK

    Barbara – as ever, thanks for your great review. As ever, armed with your comments, I’m rewatching it this evening!

    What a brilliantly dark episode. This is what I love most about House, one moment I’m laughing aloud at the idea of Wilson attempting to walk home from his own apartment, in another my heart is breaking as House blames himself for yet another (near) death. His struggle with guilt and his own sanity is all the worse for his outwardly normal behaviour – Wilson is more concerned with keeping him away from the bachelor party than the fact that he’s talking to himself. It’s worrying how he accepts the hallucination, trusts it; he is so scared of losing his mojo that he pushes himself to the edge of insanity (over the edge?) to keep it.

    I’ve mentioned it already, but the scene in the bathroom was so hard hitting, so poignant, as he shies away from the crowd of people he gathered there. I think he threw the party partly for who he used to be; he used to be the guy who partied all night and woke up the next morning with a couple of strippers. But he’s not up to engaging with the real world at the moment – every exchange he had was with the encouragement of ‘Amber’.

    ON the other side of it, Cuddy hooking the ducklings up to drips to sober them up enough to be doctors was brilliant, drunk Wilson was a joy to watch, and some of the early conversations with Amber were inspred!

    Thanks again Barbara – I too am eagerly anticipating the next two episodes… although I don’t want the season to end!

  • Melanie

    Dear Barbara,

    I’m glad I finally found your review ! I was really looking forward to reading your thoughts on this fantastic episode, which is IMO the best of the season so far. I held my breath the whole time, looking with fascination into House’s mind – House first enjoying recovering his medical mojo, then celebrating solving the case with Amber in the bathtub, but finally coming back to reality, realizing Amber also symbolizes his bad impulses. It reminds me of a classical tragedy… lightened by outstanding comedy moments – how fun was it to watch the team partying (Wilson especially !), having fun not in the hospital !

    Just one question you may want to answer. Like Simplethings, I wonder why Amber was making such a face when House was in Cuddy’s office. Was she telling him to confess, or not to confess ? Was it a vision of House’s subsconscious regarding his relationship with Cuddy ? If so, it would symbolize House’s sadness, loneliness, and self-restraint towards the possibility of a relationship with Cuddy…

    Let me know what you think… ?


  • blacktop

    This was by far the best written episode in a consistently strong season. As Barbara has noted, Amber presence disintegrates from annoying nag to seductively effective muse to frightening avatar of House’s id during the course of this episode.

    I think that the final scene between House and Cuddy with Amber looking on was pivotal for the rest of the season. It was fascinating to see how Anne Dudek played that scene. Amber, House’s destructive id was silenced at last, but very much present. Her eyes were bright, as though with tears. She seemed subdued, either by her failure with the diagnosis or by Cuddy’s presence itself. It was as though Amber feared being exposed and defeated if House were to tell Cuddy about his hallucination. I thought that Amber signalled to House with permission to reveal to Cuddy the toll his insommnia was taking and the root cause in Kutner’s suicide. But when he looked again at Amber, I thought she signalled a warning against revealing her own presence. So House didn’t tell Cuddy he was experiencing an hallucination, keeping firm those high wall of his guarded soul, and Amber was able to triumphantly reappear the next morning.The eyes of both women seemed to bore right through House as he sought, but did not get, Amber’s further permission to reveal the presence of the hallucination itself. Cuddy seemed to understand that the guarded House had let her in as much as he could at that moment and she left the door open with her acceptance and unquestioning support. This moment captured the core of their relationship beautifully.

    Cuddy giving breath mints to cover up the drunkenness of her staff was wonderfully emblematic of her risky, but practical approach to running the hospital as a whole. Her confidence and daring were on full display in that tiny moment.

    I don’t think that Amber’s role was so much about exposing House’s guilty conscience as about revealing the anger, hostility, and hurt that lie near the center of his make-up. Through Amber’s increasingly uncontrolled suggestions, House was separating himself from the people who matter most to him, his friends and colleagues. Amber’s suggestions to House about the bachelor party were directed at either humiliating Wilson or harming Chase and damaging his relationship with Cameron.

    How ironic that while the wasp-tongued Amber was quick to disparage the team as nothing more than attractive clothes hangers for their lab coats, it was in fact the dogged persistence of Foreman and the others that resulted in the successful solution to the mystery. I guess we were suppposed to see this as a case of House losing his mojo. But for me, this was a good reminder that House’s methods have very real limitations that even genius cannot always overcome. Sometimes it is in fact necessary to closely examine the actual patient in order to figure out the diagnosis, rather than the strategy of retreating to the safety and solitude of the mental exercises and the white board that House usually favors.

    The scariest scene for me was the DDX in which House’s preoccupation with Amber drew him into a darkening cave of isolation. The lighting and direction in that scene was gripping, I felt. The fact that she interpreted the frightening experience as evidence of House’s increased concentration on essential things (like her) was the information that confirmed House was slipping into a dissassociative state from which he could not recover without assistance.

  • nicole.o

    I thuroughly enjoyed this episode! One of my favorites.
    I want to comment on the preview for next week. I am trying to figure out how all the pieces with House and Cuddy come together…
    We see her on his couch in promo pics holding his hand while he leans his head back with eyes closed, in the same outfit she is standing in the doorway when she says “You want to kiss me right now don’t you.” In the couch pictures she looks concerned, in the doorway she sounds playful. I don’t think the doorway scene comes before the couch scene (Cuddy doesn’t look like they just made out)making me think he is dreaming the doorway scene while his eyes are closed and she is next to him on the couch. The only way that makes sense is if she left and then knocked on the door again…coming back for more? Cut to them both in different clothes (shirts at least)when House is passed out on the bathroom floor and Cuddy screams “NO!” and leans over him. I’m confused. I seriously hope House is not dreaming the doorway scene but the attitude in it doesn’t fit the dramatics of the other moments between them? The preview makes it look like the doorway is after the bathroom floor pass out but that doesn’t seem right? We’ve all had our own ideas and now with more clues I’m trying to piece it together….Still confused as ever…. Barbara, are they going to put up the 4 sneak peaks again?
    Monday could not come soon enough. I’m going to have serious withdrawals after this season is over….I’m excited and sad and the same time. Why do I let a show get to me this much? Ah well….haha

  • Val

    Thank you Barbara! Your review was so very appreciated for this very dark and excellent episode. The way you break it down to the bare bones always adds to my viewing, but especially this time around.

    House is always so layered and this episode was no exception. The transformation of “Amber” from a sort of muse to a dark manifestation was brilliant and some of the funniest moments were when they spoke at the same time with the same thought. Excellent timing from both Laurie and Dudeck!

    The parallel with the patient was not as easy to see this time around. Perhaps there was meant to be none as House seems to be unintentionaly slipping away, but the quality of life theme did hit me right away as he urged Chase to put in the implant. “Half-Wit” and “Painless” were mentioned as episodes touching upon quality of life, but the one that came to my mind during the ordeal was “Meaning” and the patient House treated simply to see about improving his quality of life…where was House at that point in time? He had just had another conversation with his mind (in the form of “Moriarty”) and was in somewhat good form due to the ketamine treatment(but that was fading fast). The placement of the implant was significant, I thought, because though House is in a much graver state now than three years ago, he still tried to improve Seth’s quality of life. Something he has tried to do for himself time and time again.

    There were light bits. One in particular…I liked Flo’s comparison of the scene with the drunk ducklings and Cuddy to a Mom calling Dad (House)saying the kids came home drunk lol! I had originally enjoyed the scene, but that added spin…I have to laugh thinking about it again. And boy can House juggle!

    I’ve seen Hugh Laurie in many roles, but I don’t think I’ve seen him play anything so dark (and I feel like House may be headed to down a dark road for a bit). So far, it has been amazing. No wonder I still love it!

  • wackjob

    Thank you for this thoughtful analysis, Barbara. When I saw the episode on Monday, I was at first irritated by Amber’s character, and I’ve had a lot of trouble with the idea of House wanting to kill Chase. It seems absolutely ridiculous on every level. I could understand Karamel viz. a new level of humiliation for Wilson, but as a death weapon? Is he going to try to kill Cuddy’s baby next? That, for me, was the one part that did not add up at all, although I believe you wrote that it is adding to his unresolved guilt.

    Be that as it may, the corpse-burning scene brilliantly showcased Laurie’s gift for physical comedy, and I loved the new dynamic between Foreman and Thirteen, how he not only accepts her bisexuality but is really turned on by it.

    How are we supposed to wait for next Monday? AUGH!!!

  • cj_housegirl

    Barbara a great article as usual. I loved this episode and have already watched it three times. Each time something new about House/Amber or his crew is revealed to me. The layers in this episode are amazing. I can’t help thinking about Hugh Laurie’s comments that the last six episodes of House are very ambitious. That man spoke the truth.

    It was funny, sad, sweet and frightening all at the same time. I loved House’s preparations for the bachelor party and that scene in the morgue was one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever seen — period.

    I too couldn’t believe House would set up a bachelor party and then party with everyone else. It just doesn’t seem like him. It was both amusing and sad that he set it up, got it started and then spent the night locked away in the bathroom in isolation from everyone else. On the other hand, House could throw a party for me any day!

    The bath tub scene with Amber was frightening as House suddenly realizes that his unfailing trust in Amber was a mistake. She was dangerous/destructive and that meant he was dangerous or could be dangerous. Both Anne Dudek and Hugh Laurie were absolutely amazing in this episode.

    House Divided was a well written character drama with tons of depth and layers to it that also had so much humour and was just plain fun.

    Barbara, put me down as someone who wants to see the preview option available again. Thanks.

  • Shaz

    I think this is one of the best House episodes, if not the best ever. Loved it.
    A number of people have already mentioned the bath tub scene already but I think one of the keys to that scene is the fact of what happens when House thinks he needs no one as is invincible. He asks Amber what did his team does, and Amber answered flippantly they look good in their lab coat (other than Tab). A well House knows (as does Cuddy and everyone else) he absolutely needs a team of doctors to bounce ideas off and most importantly, to disagree with him. They are his checks and balances. Why didn’t his team do their job and challenge him this time round? Instead they meekly did everything House asked them to do.
    Incidentally, really do not like the new BC format!

  • millie

    i used to view this site from my cell phone (out of sheer laziness i didnt feel like booting up my computer) since the upgrade i cant view the site aymore from my phone 🙁

  • barbara barnett

    Was she eyeballing House and telling him silently to confess to Cuddy? Or to will him into silence with her stare? Or did she look shy like House undoubtedly can be when confronted in a state like this, and around Cuddy who he assumedly has feelings for?

    Ah that is the question…Blacktop made some very good observations about what Amber was up to in that scene. when House goes to Cuddy, he has nothing left. He’s beyond exhausted, his hallucination is slowly draining away his sense of self and quickly draining (and had throughout the episode) his self-confidence. At the end of the episode, it was as if he was trying to ignore what his mind was telling him, and for the moment at least, he was successful. Maybe Cuddy’s presence–a lifeline for him was keeping him safe from the lifeline he had begun to cling to. Amber. That could explain her silence.

    Or, as Blacktop said, his subconscious mind is urging him to get help. Maybe even Amber’s increasingly aggressive presence was also that urging. (sort of like unexpected pain tells you to get yourself checked out.) At first, House does try to get help. The Sleeping pills from Wilson. But he gets sidetracked by his curiosity about the hallucination. Like I said, he was playing with fire. Because he couldn’t control it.

    At the end, when he goes into Cuddy he’s back to the understanding that he needs help (he needs the sleeping pills). And Amber by granting permission is telling him that it’s alright to do it.

    If the FOX PR Machine releases promos, you can be sure that I will post them on Blogcritics (would I deny you all that pleasure?)

    I can’t wait for Monday.

  • Jen

    I just love all of the insight into this show from everyone! It makes waiting for Monday just a tad bit easier, and watching the ep over and over helps too. Everyone has such great things to add. What will we do over the summer? This is the best Lit class I have ever attended!

  • Wnkybx

    Thanks for the review, Barbara! It was very well written as usual, and you ask some terrific questions.

    This episode made me feel uneasy (just as I’m sure it was intended to). I loved how Amber gives House’s mind a voice. We usually hear the ducklings throw out ideas, but we never usually hear what he’s thinking as he’s processing their suggestions until he says, “Foreman is right. Go get the MRI, yada yada yada.”

    Although House was disturbed by Amber’s presence, I found it interesting that he latched on to her rather than tune her out. He desperately WANTS to believe in himself and in his medical mojo, even if he has to listen to her to do so. Their secret conversations reminded me of an exclusive treehouse club where they’re the only ones invited, and they enjoy being by themselves. House’s comment in the bathtub about how his team was essentially worthless seemed to me to be his internal defense mechanism of rejecting the ducklings before he loses anymore of them, the way he unexpectedly lost Kutner. Remember how House hallucinated Foreman’s presence at the beginning of season 4 (he probably actually saw Chase and Cameron, but Foreman was physically in NYC at Mercy Hospital)?

  • Wnkybx

    Ack! Accidentally hit the publish button before I finished my thought. Anyway, House was deeply rocked by Foreman’s decision to leave, and losing him temporarily caused him to hallucinate. Given the magnitude of his life-changing experiences this past season, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Amber” wreaks much more havoc in the next couple of episodes.

    In an earlier discussion I was wondering if House would lose his diagnostic gift for a while, forcing him to re-evaluate what he values in life. Taking away the main element by which he defines himself will cause him to have an existential crisis, and I wonder what he will learn from the experience. I’m definitely staying tuned …

  • Celaeno

    In the weeks preceding this deliciously twisted episode, my speculation was focused almost solely on the role hallucination!Amber would play in House’s life. Would she act as an embodiment of his guilt, taunting and torturing? Or would she be his “savior” like she was at the end of season 4, and pull him back from the brink of despair?

    As many people have said, it seems as though Amber’s presence will force House to seriously reconsider what he values in life. I see now that she’s back to play both roles. She will torture House and scare the hell out of him, and, in doing so, save him from himself – just like she did on that pristine white bus.

    House’s writers just RADIATE gorgeous parallels.

  • Veresna

    Thanks as always for your wonderfully insightful review. And another episode directed by the incomparable Greg Yaitanes! I guess that now I can hope that his exec-producer title means he will be a very frequent director. I am thrilled that you will be interviewing Doris Egan. I have wondered if you will ever get the chance to interview Hugh Laurie himself (a girl can dream can’t she)?

  • Peachie

    Love the article…You are the best. As everyone else, I can’t wait to read your review and everyone else’s comments.

    My comment is on Amber and House in Cuddy’s office. I don’t think her facial expressions were trying to tell him not to tell Cuddy or to tell Cuddy. I think she was letting him decide for himself on this one. Why she wouldn’t give him advice on how to deal with Cuddy is what I question. Is it because its a no brainer (he likes her and should be with her) or is it because he really doesn’t want a relationship with her, he just wants to sleep with her.

  • orange450

    Barbara, many thanks for a wonderful review. As usual, you bring out every nuanced thread of meaning, and weave them all together into a beautiful tapestry of coherence 🙂

    I also thought the episode was outstanding. One of the very best of the season. (It occured to me that since the mid-point of the season, I’ve been describing every single episode as “one of the very best of the season”. TPTB are batting 1000, and this has been no ordinary season – not that any House season has ever been ordinary…)

    Like Celaeno, above, I had the sense that Amber was to be included among the saviors that appeared in that episode. But after Monday night, the logic behind the choice of Amber as avatar is even clearer than it might have been before, and the potential is there (should TPTB choose) to effect a lovely closure for the ideas that House and Amber have left hanging ever since the end of Games.

    While there’s no doubt that House’s combined guilt over Amber’s death and his consternation in the wake of Kutner’s makes her the perfect choice for his subconscious, I think the parallel goes even farther. As many of us observed early on in S4 – shortly after she began to show her true colors as a contestant – Amber was a young House in many ways.

    (I once commented that she, House and Bosley represented the three “Ghosts” from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Amber was “House past”, when he was young, strong, hotly competitive and full of piss and vinegar (but with a strong – and not always hidden – caring streak). House, of course, was “House present”, and if House was lucky, Bosley was “House yet to come (in a happier vein)”, when he would hopefully have mellowed and ripened to a sager wisdom. But I digress…)

    And Amber’s progress in this episode, from simple annoyance all the way to something much darker, mirrors the trajectory of House’s downward spiral throughout much of S5 (besides all the other examples, I’m also thinking of his seemingly cruel treatment of Taub). But even tho’ House is in a bad place right now, much of the season has (IMO) shown us his sincere, albeit halting, attempts at real growth and change. So I think (and hope) Amber may be here to push him along that way, and represent his learning some important life lessons. (Before he manages to vanquish her – as I’m sure he will – in some fashion that will be incredible to watch.)

    In one of my comments on the Saviors review, I quoted the dialogue from the end of Games, where House tells Amber that she plays the game better than anyone else, but has to be willing to be wrong, willing to lose in order to work for him. So perhaps that will finally happen now. Perhaps something is in store that will drive that lesson home to House (oy!) in some way (about Kutner? about his own lifestyle? about Cuddy?…), and Amber will finally have “worked” for House.

    I’m not sure this makes any sense. It’s perfectly clear in my own mind, but seems to have gotten strangely convoluted on its way out 🙂

    Besides the “Caligula” line, which was priceless, I also loved Amber’s “damn those imaginary pens”. And what about House wearing his bluetooth earpiece so that people would think he was on the phone when he was talking to Amber? Inspired!! As was Anne Dudek. She deserves an Emmy for this recurring role!

    Btw, I really don’t like the new site. I preferred seeing all the comments without having to do the “next 20” thing. And I can’t see where to preview the comments. Is that gone, or am I just missing in on a much-too-busy web page?

  • Barbara, Your review is a fitting addition to an inspired episode. And the new site, with the House team photo, resembles an inviting magazine.

    Barbara wrote, “By the episode’s end, House sees her (!Amber) for what she is — his worst inclinations unbound and at play in his conscious, troubled mind. “House Divided” indeed.”

    Both Seth, the POTW, and House are being forced to change. Seth, by his mother, and House, by himself, while looking in a mirror at !Amber (himself). Is !Amber going to scare House out of the bus this time? Did he get back on the bus when he opted to return to PPTHospital in “The Softer Side”? House ultimately resisted change in that previous episode after initially embracing it, just as Seth did in this episode. After contemplation, both wanted to return to their familiar comfort zone, House to PPTHospital and Seth to his special school. Even so, House’s tentative safety zone did not endure as Kutner’s suicide finally succeeded in overturning his world at PPTH.

    By blacktop, “I don’t think that Amber’s role was so much about exposing House’s guilty conscience as about revealing the anger, hostility, and hurt that lie near the center of his make-up.”

    I see !Amber as a part of House that is separated from his conscience, leaving !Amber with no internal compass of right or wrong; no mature emotions and thus, no anger or culpability. The question is how well “conscious House” controls !Amber, not what !Amber is capable of because she is, of course, capable of anything. Further, House’s anger doesn’t inhabit his center but rather he is constantly pushing his anger away. He turns away the anger that he feels when his current “family”, Wilson and Cuddy, mistreat him. He does this by forgiving or excusing them. The anger and disappointment he feels for his parents he directs toward himself, not Wilson, Cuddy, Cameron or Chase. However, he doesn’t want his friends happy as that is surely a fool’s paradise, according to him. He takes out his disappointment in mankind on innocent colleagues, underlings, and bystanders. But this disappointment is made of a darkly mischievous nature rather than a lethal one.

    On another subject, I loved your interpretation of Cuddy’s actions, especially the significance of the breath mints.

  • Anna (from Italy)

    Dear Barbara,thank you as usual for your always brilliant review. I have not posted for a long time, but I have always read your thoughtful analyses of the episodes.
    And what an episode it was: dark, threatening and at the same time incredibly funny at moments. Once again, I have found H.Laurie’s performance extraordinary, even more extraordinary than usual , if this is possible. And Ann Dudek, though less slim than when I remembered her in last season finale,simply fantastic.
    Just a little note: I laughed out loud when Hugh pronounced the Italian word” limoncello” while tasting ice cream: never in my life had I heard an English person pronounce an Italian word without any native accent; he sounded Italian to me. This man has amazing talents!

  • barbara barnett

    Orange–I’ve always loved your comparison of House, Amber and Bosley (Rid. Old Fraud) as the three ghosts of “A Christmas Carol.”

    There is so much to this episode, I can’t wait until tonight when I can watch it for a third time (and for the first time uninterrupted for analysis and furious writing.

    I think the preview button will come back, and there have been several comments made throughout the site about the multiple page-d comment threads. Both are being looked at (and I’ve passed these comments on to the powers that be as well).

  • marjohn

    As usual, a tremendous review on a spectacularly grim/hilarious episode. I do look forward to your reviews, as well as the lively commentary from your loyal peanut gallery, with whom I remain consistently impressed for the collective appreciation and mutual respect.

    Laurie and Dudek both turned out superlative performances. Brilliant on so many levels. It will also take weeks to get the image out of my head of Wilson walking home pantsless from his own home! I was waiting for Amber to make some emntion about being back in her old apartment, but the moment came and went.

    On a sad note: how much would Kutner have enjoyed the unbridled debauchery of House’s party?
    RIP, Kutner…

    Btw, as a DC resident, Kal Penn is the second most talked about DC newcomer this year! He appears in this month’s Washingtonian magazine as among the new hot people to be seen in town. As far as I’ve heard, he’s single, so cross your fingers that I run into him… Recession or not, wishing and hoping are still free!!

    Barbara ~ You have a legion of faithful readers, and I hope you have plans to keep us entertained through the off-season. Thanks, as always.

  • Luisa Borges

    Hi Barbara and fellow commenters,

    Right up there with you Barbara, and with your comment above. I can´t wait for the nest 2 episodes of House and yet I don´t want the season to end. Can´t think of a better frame of mind to show how great this House year has been.

    I really loved this week´s episode. And it was a major, major, surprise for me. I never saw Amber coming as House´s inner voice and was surprised about this great move.

    Scary and a half great move by the way. I enjoyed the insight into House´s way of thinking, and his massive detail retention capabilities. Seeing his inner dialogues was a wonderful thing.

    But there is such a thing as being too in love with yourself, to the exclusion of all others. And the scary part of it was seeing this take place, more evidently during Chase´s bachelor party in the bathroom scene.

    House the party planner was a joy to watch. He really took to the task and I loved his “Hugh Hefnery” gettup. Seeing everyone else at the party was also great.

    Agree with Barbara´s take on Foreteen, Chase, Cameron and Wilson. Horray for all of them, and Chase´s kidnaping was hilarious. Seeing Taub as confortable as a cat on cleanning day was also fun.

    Cuddy was on full mother mode nursing everyone back to sobriety. And I could just see the Wilson scene she told playing back in my head. I loved that House opened up to her about not sleeping, it was a beautiful scene and Lisa E. was great!

    Anne Dudek was a gem in this episode too. Soo many things to love about her performance, which was a cross between Amber and House.

    Hugh delivered a very strong performance, he is the master at work when doing House´s emotional turmoils.

    FOX has just posted up a “Huddy” (their name for it) video, spoilery but to a manageble degree IMHO, so everyone who was taking part in the pool and is not strong into keeping a spoiler-free mind should just pop on the main site and watch.

    All the best to everyone!!


  • barbara barnett

    Thanks guys. Yes, Mar, I do plan on keeping you entertained all summer. Lots of things on the horizon: interviews, some very special features, a new trivia quiz…maybe even a “revisited” episode review of a season one or two episode. (maybe done in light of whatever happens at the end of this season). And of course the season recap.

  • Johnna

    Hey everyone,

    I also loved this episode. It was tragic and comic at the same time, which was balanced very carefully in my opinion.

    I am really feeling bad for House right now, as I’m sure all of us are. He certainly has a lot on his plate, but there is one thing still niggling in the back of my mind.

    I don’t think that whatever caused the motorcycle accident in “Locked In” has been entirely resolved yet. Did anyone else notice that in the flaming morgue scene, House drops the flaming shot glass? Now, he could have been burned entirely by accident, but it looked to me like he was having trouble with his reflexes. Maybe it’s an intermittent symptom, caused by whatever mysterious treatment caused the bike crash. We know House is back on Vicodin, but he could be experiencing slow reflexes due to another new treatment–which would cause the bike crash and the shot glass fumble…and maybe the sort of memory loss that would cause him to forget that Chase is allergic to strawberries?

    Also, I totally loved the scene where Cuddy says, “talk to me,” and House tells her the truth. But I also think it’s a partial truth. Amber’s looks to House in that scene say, “I know you’re not telling her the whole truth.” And while I have compassion for House feeling guilty over Kutner’s death, I don’t believe it’s causing him to lose that much sleep. I think Kutner’s death is an easy way for House to explain his insomnia, but I don’t think it’s the only reason.

    There is WAY more to the conclusion of this season than meets the eye, and I can’t wait to find out how this will all play out!

  • *replaying the huddy video on the Fox site*

    Thanks Barbara for another insightful review. What an episode!!
    Loved all the comments about the Amber-Cuddy-House scene. Didn’t pay that much attention while watching the epi.

    I was absorbed by the fact that we could see how House’s mind works, through the whole Amber hallucination. It’s almost as we could see the wheels of his brain spinning furiously. A-mazing. When he hears something, so many different things pop in his mind, so many associations of ideas.
    I especially loved the scene at the morgue, where he set the dead body on fire -did you notice? He was in a physical frezny, trying to prevent the fire, and his mind (Amber) was working furiously at the same time. And in the end he came up with a related solution: Heat -as in, fire! I loved that. How this genius mind works!!

    I then replayed the whole episode, just trying to ignore Amber being near him, and replacing Amber’s quotes and comments with the usual pauses and stares House does when he’s thinking at the differentials. It works perfectly! It’s like the ‘Sixth sense’ and Bruce Willis’ character (if you get the connection).
    What a fantastic, fantastic episode. Inside House’s head, literally.

    And of course it has been quite a while, an episode having so many killer one-liners i would like to quote. He-man reference anyone (“by the power of greyskull..”)? Caligula?! Imaginary pen? “Listen, two things I do well. Bachelor parties rank towards the top” (*wink*wink*). The whole Wilson drunk thing? HL in a robe and bartenting? What more could a girl ask for?

    (also, what is a “broken cowboy”? and what could possibly “the whole thing with the duck” be (the thing Wilson supposedly did at the last bachelor party). 😀

    To sum up, i loved the episode. Pure adoration.

    *replaying the SPOILERY huddy video on the Fox site*

  • Orange450

    Barbara, I’m already excited about the summer entertainment plans!

    I really hope you do a “revisited” episode review from S1 or 2, because I wasn’t part of the fandom during those seasons, so I never got to participate in any in-depth discussion about those episodes.

    If you do – maybe you could let us know which episode a short while before, so that we can make sure to do our summer homework, and watch it ahead of time.

  • Sera G

    Again, Barbara, another amazing analysis of Monday’s episode. I think this season might be the best yet!
    Maybe I am totally off base, but I have always questioned why nothing very much was done with Season 2’s cliffhanger, House being shot. Yes, they addressed the ketamine and his possibility of walking without pain, but never discussed the consequences of being shot and hallucinating a solution to the mystery of his own hallucination. House has been through many emotional and physical traumas and he always stuffs down those feeling, deflects them or medicates (alcohol/Vicodin) them away. I wondered if all of this is a reaction to his repressions for the last 5 years. That has probably already been expressed more eloquently by others.
    As House thrived on the ego boost of his genius consulting with itself, I thought that to him, that must be the perfect situation.
    As the episode progressed and he seemed to focus more on Amber and less on the real people around him, I became more and more concerned.
    I was not at all surprised to see House alone in the tub while the others enjoyed the party just beyond the door. That is House. He is so used to not being part of the social/fun that he wouldn’t know what to do out there. It was incredible how that scene turned so chilling when he confronts Amber about the strawberry allergy. It almost felt like a Jekyll and Hyde moment. Didn’t he say that he knew Chase had an allergy? I will have to rewatch.
    I, too have hopes that Amber is House’s way of forcing himself to get help, admit that he has been troubled by all the losses in his life and take that chance that he seemed to want on the bus. However, I am worried, very worried! How much more can he stand?
    As for the scene with House/Cuddy. Beautifully played. She knows/loves/worries about him so much. Cuddy knows that she can’t push him to confide but can’t let him suffer either. Her instinct is to offer help/support/comfort however he will accept it. Her simple, “Talk to me” was heartbreaking. That is what she has been trying to say for 5 years and especially this season. “Talk to me, we can work it out.”
    Last of all, I understood the fading to black and white and narrowing of the perspective during the DDX, but why was the color so odd during the entire epi? I could understand when House was in the scene, as that might be the effect of lack of sleep and that woozy feeling when you need rest, but why was it that way when others were in the scene without him?
    Also, was it my very old TV, or was the scene with Wilson/Chase discussing the party narrowed? All I could see was parts of each of their bodies? Again, if House was in the scene I could understand the distortions, but he was not there. Am I clueless and missing a cinematic moment?
    Again, what an episode, what a season what a show! They amaze me every week.
    I can’t wait to see how it all turns out, but then it is a very long 4 months until Seson 6.

  • j.i.m.

    I just saw the Huddy video on Fox. Very disappointing. The music gave it a sarcastic tone, the photos used were more a “24” style recap rather than seminal moments in their relationship. But no one could ruin House’s line at the end about kissing. It is the same line that he used in the promo at the end of “House Divided”. I wish someone had told me to skip it.

  • Luisa Borges

    Barbara, ditto all Orange450’s comments on your summer plans, I’m really looking forward to them.

    j.i.m. sorry I didn’t put more warning forward on contents (since I’m one of the people that commented on the video being available), but I rather liked the scenes, seeing them put together no less.

  • sdemar

    Great review for a great episode, Barbara. I, too, was one that had a hard time believing House was going to party at a bachelor party since he can’t even have a drink with his colleagues. Turns out it was the planning that he like and he was in his element. Kudos to the Hugh Hefner jacket.

    I think we will find Amber becomes a stronger and stronger presence in House’s mind in the last 2 episodes. Poor House. He’s too tired to fight her off.

    This has been a wonderful ride this season. I don’t think the show has lost anything.

    Congrats on your interview with Doris E even if it is after the episode. I actually think that works better because you will have so many more questions after seeing the episode. If you think of it or care to, I am curious as to why she had to rewrite the script. Did they have one storyline and chuck it or did it just need fine-tuning.

    I like this new format just fine. Finally, wow oh wow, 1100 votes on Huddy.

  • cj_housegirl

    Sera: As for the Wilson/Chase scene and parts of it falling off screen, I think that’s a by-product of the PTB giving up on the 4:3 format and going wide screen. It’s not a cinematic moment as much as a technical one. All the new digital high-def televisions are all wide screens and I think they’ve made a change over to that size, which means that effect is likely to continue unless you get a wide screen television.

    As for the colour, I think we were getting a feel for House’s point-of-view especially during those moments of brightness/haloness; a use of lighting to place House in another place – his mind. It’s like the white light people sometimes see when they are on the verge of death. In this case, House is on the verge of losing grip with reality. It’s an almost death. That’s my interpretation of it anyway.

    They really used a lot of contrast in this one. Intense brightness coupled with darkness for a show named House Divided.

    The last few episodes I feel like they’ve used lighting to try to visualize House’s mood for the audience. They’ve also created a more grainy look about the show. There’s a sort of rawness/grit to it since Kutner’s death most especially when House is in the scene.

    I’ve watched this episode more than any other this season and it’s only Wednesday. It’s still amazing. There are so many layers. Seeing it a second and third time just helps the viewing experience because the first time you don’t understand exactly what Amber is until House does. His revelation is our revelation which is what makes it so frightening. You’re living that moment of discovery with House.

    The second and third times around you understand what Amber is and all of the sudden you hear and see the sinister under tones of her comments. The danger that she actually is throughout this episode.

    I’m still in love with the morgue scene. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch it I kill myself laughing. Hugh Laurie you are amazing.

    House is the only show that can put me into fits of laughter and tears and leave me in stunned silence all in one episode.

    Can’t wait for Monday!

  • Flo

    okay, this is gonna sound superficial after all these great comments but I found interestingly funny that the song that House makes the boy “listen” is “Fight the Power”.

    We can clearly hear “fight the power that be”. After the “jump the shark” in “Here Kitty”, we can really see that TPTB is playing with us.

    maybe a fun and clever response to all the critics?

  • Tourmaline

    Thank you Barbara, an excellent analysis of a fantastic episode. As you point out, the season finale and the concerns for House’s mental wellbeing are going to be interesting to see, as something which has been building up for so long (and so many shows would take the easy option of resolving something so troubling in a few episodes). I’m looking forward to the final two episodes, thankfully a little calmer about them than last year! But knowing Doris Egan has penned the season finale makes me very happy, her episodes are always wonderful.

    And was I the only one who thought of Stephen Fry when Chase went into anaphylaxis from strawberry flavoured body butter? As he is also allergic to strawberries, I wondered if that was the touch of the show’s star and new Executive Producer… 🙂

  • JL

    Barbara, thanks so much for this review.
    Having been so caught up in the promo madness that has swamped the internet this week, it’s rather good to have my attention diverted back to House himself for a minute. It’s interesting to see the picture unfolding in all its brilliance and horror.

    I’m really excited about seeing Episode 22 next week – it sounds incredible. Mind you, it airs the day after Ep. 23 airs in the U.S. – so I imagine it will feel somewhat passe…
    Looking forward to the ‘inevitable’ (hee!) Monday meltdown.

    (I TOTALLY agree – I need to be able to preview my comments.)

  • barbara barnett

    Spoiler TV has three promo clips up now. Very interesting, indeed (nothing to do with Huddy)

  • barbara barnett

    Looks like the comments are all posting again properly.
    Sdemar–decision to talk to DE after the episode was mutually decided upon. Can’t wait!

  • barbara barnett

    Did I mention I was doing a conference call with Lisa Edelstein tomorrow?

  • @Luisa Borges, No. 41, No importante. 😉 What mostly disappointed me in the Fox Huddy promo was the overall tone. I found an alternate Huddy preview on youtube that used the same pictures in House’s apartment from the Fox promo but edited it to remind one of dancers, House and Cuddy. I thought it was brilliant.

  • episode 23, alt. title:
    “Dr. Strangelove, M.D. or: How I Learned To Stop Deflecting And Love The Boss”

  • XJK

    Barbara – conference call with Lisa Edelstein, how cool is that??

    Loving the comments, and glad to see I’m not the only one who’s seen this episode three times already (and twice in one evening… that ones bad, right??) I think Amber in the office scene is silent because House really doesn’t know if he should tell Cuddy or not, but the fact that Amber’s there pushes him to it. The second look is a ‘thats all I’m saying’.

    Staying away from the ‘Huddy’ video, steadfastly spoiler free. I even regretted watching the promo for next week, and to a lesser extent try to avoid finding out the POTW! Very difficult in a time when House spoilers seem to be more prolific than ever.

  • XJK

    Also – I’ve found the link to the comment RSS feed, but is there still one to the articles themselves?

  • Kim

    The RSS feed doesn’t work for me. I know I have to be patient until everything is settle down.

  • Kim

    Is one blink for ‘yes’ and two blinks for ‘no’? If that’s right when House is in Cuddy’s office and she asks him to talk to her. He looks to Amber (to see if she has to say something) and you can see how she blinks once and what I understand from that is that she agrees with him into letting know Cuddy what is going on with him.

    By the way, thank you Barbara for a wonderful review.

  • Luisa Borges

    j.i.m. WOW thanks do much for the link, great vid, very sensitive and with great choice of scenes. Loved the piano playing too. It’s quite obvious but it always amazes me, how much music can “mood” a scene.

    Barbara, great one, conference call with Lisa E., can’t wait to read your writing about it. I love your interviews!! She has been constantly doing an amazing job and is a very gifted performer who’s work is a joy to watch.

  • Luisa Borges

    oops and forgot to say something majorly important.

    Barbara, also looking forward to your interview with Doris Egan. That will be another great one, love her, and love your interviews, so that’s another pairing made in heaven for me.

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks everyone for your patience. RSS links will be fixed. Such growing pains!

    Looking forward to the CC with Lisa tomorrow and the episode on Monday!!!!

    I’ve also posted three spoiler clips on my personal site, which you can access at the bottom of the article. Will be reposting them here with my Lisa E. interview.

  • wackjob

    Having seen the “Huddy” spoiler and compared it to the first promo, there’s a couple of inconsistencies that suggest to me that the Huddy sex takes place in House’s mind. (DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T LIKE SPOILERS!!)

    First of all, in the Huddy promo they are tearing their clothes off, including her blouse, and presumably whirling into his bedroom. But in the first promo, Cuddy is clearly fully dressed, not disheveled at all, yelling “No!” over House’s prone body lying on the bathroom floor. He is in a black t-shirt, also fully dressed. Although yes, it could have been under his blue shirt during the Huddy scene, but it does not quite add up.

    Second, you know how much TPTB like to mislead us in the promos (i.e. taking the Amber in the red suit sex footage from the season 4 finale and putting into last week’s second promo, or showing Kutner running for “Simple Explanation”).

    Jeez, how are we supposed to wait for Monday? I feel almost pathetic, getting this excited about a TV show.

  • Luisa Borges

    Barbara, great that you will be interviewing Doris Egan. Love her, love your interviews so this is a match made in heaven. Will be looking forward to reading it.

  • Kim

    Luisa Borges: “Barbara, great one, conference call with Lisa E., can’t wait to read your writing about it. I love your interviews!! She has been constantly doing an amazing job and is a very gifted performer who’s work is a joy to watch.”

    I cannot agree with you more.

  • wackjob

    When I rewatched the last scene with Cuddy, it seemed to me that Amber ‘gave permission’ to House to tell Cuddy that he was hallucinating, but then slightly shook her head to indicate ‘no’ about what. Poor Cuddy, she looked so hurt for House.

  • Kit Sum

    Hello everyone. This is my first time commenting :).

    This episode is probably one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen in the series. Thanks to the brilliant acting from ALL the characters, especially Amber, and also the amazing plot. David Shore and his Co. never disappoint me a bit.

    I want to comment on the scene with House talking to Cuddy in her office. That was poignant. “Talk to me” was heartbreaking. I agree that is what Cuddy has been trying to say in these 5 years. This is a big step. I guess this foreshadows the sex scene in the next episode. Also, well played by Amber and House. Amber is House’s subconscious. I think at that moment, Amber made House realizes that Cuddy is the one that he can rely on, instead of giving House permission to tell Cuddy. Amber shows that to the audience with her facial expression.

    I don’t know whether this makes sense but that’s how I interpret it. 🙂

    Anyway, Barbara, I love your reviews. They are all great. Keep it up! And I can’t wait for your writing of the conference call with Lisa. I love her, as a character in the show, and in real life.

  • Sera G

    Hi, Barbara,
    Back again to say I, along with everyone else can’t wait to read your interview with Doris E.
    I am thrilled that you have another interview with Lisa Edelstein. I won’t say again how terrific I think she is. Oh, I did. Knowing you, spoilers will be forewarned.
    I am curious if TPTB, the writers or the cast is aware of all of the discussions, analysis and debate that takes place at your site. Obviously they are very impressed with your essays as you have been linked on the official Fox site. I just wonder if any of it is mentioned or discussed. I wonder if they realize how seriously we take the show? The creative forces, both behind and in front of the camera take the show quite seriously. They surprise, challenge and amaze us week after week. To me, there is no lessening of quality in any aspect. If anything, Season 5 has gotten deeper and more powererful.
    Congratulations to you, Barabara and looking forward to all that you write in the weeks to come.

  • cj_housegirl

    j.i.m.: Great link thanks. ITA, I think that’s better than the Fox clip.

    Marianna: episode 23, alt. title:
    “Dr. Strangelove, M.D. or: How I Learned To Stop Deflecting And Love The Boss”

    LMAO, that’s a good one!

    Barbara: Can’t wait to read what LE has to say. Hopefully, she has some things to say about her and Hugh’s scenes together.

    Sorry about the triple post. It wasn’t posting at all last night. I waited a few minutes to see if anything would pop up. Nothing. Now, all of the sudden, well, there they are.

  • barbara barnett

    Looking forward the CC. Expect to see an article later this evening with some streaming video preview stuff.

  • wackjob

    Thank you for this insightful review, Barbara, and to the other commenters.

  • wackjob

    Oh my goodness, as soon as I unchecked my “remember name and URL,” all of my comments published! Sheesh!

  • barbara barnett

    comments thing will be fixed soon. they are working on it as we speak!

  • Orange450

    Looking forward to the LE CC article! And incredibly excited for the DE interview!!

    Barbara, thank you so much for the way you enrich the House experience for all of us. It used to be that TV was just TV. One watched a show, maybe talked about it with a few people, and that was the end of it. But not only do you provide the best and pleasantest discussion environment in the fandom – you throw in all these great “extras” as well. Your access to behind-the-scenes personalities mines a treasure trove of insight and understanding that I, like everyone else, really appreciate.

    You play a significant role in turning what used to be largely a passive experience – just watching TV – into a highly active, enriching and rewarding one. Just thought you should know 🙂 Kudos!

  • barbara barnett

    Sera G–I don’t know how much the writers and powers that be read this stuff…or even see anything (certainly) that’s here in this space.

    When I do get a chance to speak to someone from the show, I always make a point to tell them that there’s some very intelligent discussion going on about the story lines, narrative arcs, ethics, etc.

    Thanks to all for your patience. RSS is also being fixed now, and it seems that the comments are working again. The technogeeks are working hard at this. So please continue being patient!

    Just got off the call with Lisa and I’ll put up an article tonight if I can.

  • Orange450


    wackjob: re your comment #63, that’s exactly how I saw it. But contrary to what Amber said to House: “I’m a hallucination, not a fantasy.” – I think this one is the other way around 🙂

  • Orange450



    Just thinking out loud while I should be doing other things.

    So this past episode’s title was “House Divided”. And the full quote is “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. And in one of the clips, we saw (an incredibly sensitively done) disagreement between House and his subconscious. Evidence that the two are becoming divided against each other. And that does not bode well for House. Looks like he’s got an existential crisis brewing.

  • barbara barnett

    good stuff. I like that Orange!

    Lisa E interview coming out tonight and three great interview cips if you haven’t seen them elsewhere on the ‘net.

  • savta

    Barbara – your insightful reviews and essays have truly enhanced the house experience for all of your readers. This one was truly superlative reflecting on an episode outstanding in every way.
    HL and AD deserve emmys. AD made such an impact at the end of last season and beginning of this one. It was a real treat that she was brought back for this arc.

    Pt of information for Anna from Italy –
    I would guess that AD shot these episodes less than three months after giving birth to her first child which would explain why she didn’t have enough time to get back to last year’s slender figure.
    Questions – Every once in a while, TPTB insert a line referencing an inside joke.
    Any info on House’s rejection of one of the dancers while looking at the pictures with Foreman and Thirteen as being the one who “hooked him to Madoff”?
    Any insight into Cuddy’s hair? When the bangs are covering her eyes is she hiding from House?
    I agree with #63 and Orange450 about the Huddy spoiler. It doesn’t add up. Towards the end of the spoiler we hear Cuddy asking if House wants to kiss her but her mouth doesn’t seem to be moving.
    I look forward to reading about the call with LE but will have to wait until tomorrow night –

  • Hannah

    That’s what I thought, too.

  • Eve K

    Thank U Barbara for one of your best and most analytic reviews this season. Haven’t read all the comments yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

    I just watched Mr Lauries brilliant take on season five and the character of House, he states that House was never that stabile a personality to begin with, the seeds of his own destruction are carried within him. This season is about the disintegration of his personality.

    My take on this has been that House has no firm inner core, but relies on interpreting the world around him to make his decisions. When his senses and brilliant mind fails him he is going down. An from what Lauries says, he drags others with him in the fall. This season is about tearing down Houses wall of defence, leaving his unstable core open. But that is not going to happen without a fight.
    Cant wait till Monday.

  • Meena

    Barbara, thank you for this delicate and careful review. Sorry my comment will be so long…but I am still thinking this episode out (and this seems to be the place to do it!). (And I’m glad the comments section is finally working, there are always bugs in a new system)

    This episode was truly inspired. Such fantastic, layered writing. The direction was PERFECT to display the heightened, overexposed, isolating effects of insomnia (something I unfortunately have experience with). Also, lots of long scenes with few cuts, and Amber weaving in and out continuously – so cool. Such amazing detail, especially with sound when the POTW hears for the first time, the dripping medicine and clicking clock’s sounds are reversed in his ear (OK, I have really watched this episode too many times). Overall, I really could get where House was coming from – well, except for the hallucination bit. He even looked terrible – red-eyed, pasty-pale, haggard, forlorn, taped together.

    I have to say, when I saw the preview for this episode, I felt that they were going to take it in another direction – Amber as confidante, or Amber as healer. But Amber as House’s id, his instinct, his remembrance of things past (and hidden), his darker motivations – incredible. I loved that we got a chance to see inside House’s thinking, his inner dialogue, to see how he puts his ideas together – having to always figure out or deduce himself as to why he notices something as instinctually off, be it a person’s behavior, bloodwork, or thinking pattern.

    I loved how Amber started off as a light, almost funny hallucination, but slowly delved into something much darker – or, rather, her darkness was coming to light for House (no pun intended) (AD is really a fantastic actress, as this seemed a very hard balancing act between camp and evil, which she conveyed so effortlessly). I don’t think House really tried to kill Chase (with his id, ego, or superego), but I have always felt that because of House’s unique genius and talent of observation and deduction, he bears tremendous responsibility, and therefore guilt, for when things go wrong that he may have had prior knowledge about.

    I think all the way back to Humpty Dumpty, at the end, when talking with Wilson, and Wilson says that Cuddy shouldn’t feel guilty because there was nothing she could have done any sooner to save her gardener’s hand from amputation. And House says, “No, SHE couldn’t have,” accentuating the “she”. Even though he saved the young man’s life, you got the feeling that he wasn’t going to sleep well that night. Though I think Kutner’s suicide was the catalyst for House’s break from reality this season for a myriad of reasons, this guilt still seems to be part of an issue that has played out throughout the entire series.

    I really loved that his id, Amber, wore a lab coat the entire time. I don’t know why.

    The POTW was an interesting choice, in that they were both comfortable with and preferred their handicaps – House with his hallucinations, the POTW with his deafness, at least in the beginning.

    The humor in this episode was fantastic, both with dialogue, props, and inclusion of characters. On second viewing, I noticed that Lou the janitor was at the party, Wilson wasn’t wearing pants with the stripper, and Chase was cuddling a stuffed-animal kangaroo with boxing gloves. They were both so superb at playing lascivious, fun-loving drunks. Most of all, I really loved LE’s line delivery regarding Wilson being picked up by the police in his underwear walking home from his own apartment, that had me laughing hours later (If I continue, I might come dangerously close to rehashing EVERY single funny line this episode).

    Finally, regarding Amber at the end in Cuddy’s office: such a great, provocative question mark. I feel Amber was silent possibly because all parts of House are confused about his feelings and desires for Cuddy – theirs is a loaded relationship that will change every aspect of his life if it were to happen, etc. I found it so sad that he can’t even confide to himself how he feels. One thing about House, is that he is not generally shy about trying to get what he wants (when he knows what that is)– yet has been so guarded, contradictory, and confused over Cuddy. At the same time, he couldn’t lie to Cuddy, he had to tell her something that was true. This time, he didn’t deflect – he omitted. So sad, and yet so lovely, their relationship. Perhaps, this is my stab at a differential diagnosis – I really do like other people’s interpretations of this scene, and House and Cuddy’s relationship, as well. So many layers.

  • Roo

    Thank you Barbara for such a great resource online for discussion and debate that doesn’t revolve around only the soap opera. I love the insight and depth at this site, for a show that is deeper and more layered than any casual watcher can see. That’s why I watch this show and not others I could mention.
    Thank you again!

  • playdoh

    what about if amber’s face at the end was showing House’s emotions? if she is him on the inside, then why cant she be his emotions too? and also, she said “That’s not ok” (or whatever it was) when House said ok to wilson not coming to the party–she was displying his emotions.

  • Kit Sum

    Response to the Huddy hook up on Monday:

    I actually don’t think that would be a hallucination, even though the clothes do not match. However, gotta remember our evil David Shore. He likes to play with us. Also, from Lisa E’s conference call, she said that House and Cuddy’s relationship will change in the season finale. I guess it is because of the hook up. So, if the hook up was a hallucination, how was that going to change anything?

  • Having finally caught up on this episode and last night’s, I’m glad to see that the teaser inconsistencies were simply teaser inconsistencies, and the episode delivered.

    My wife said she’s been waiting five years for last night. 🙂

  • Merrick J

    Thank you very much for that fantastic review of a fantastic episode. I particularly enjoyed the party scenes with Wilson. Classic stuff.

  • Mario

    Hello Barbara. Thank you for all your insightful reviews after each House episode. It is my favorite ritual now to watch any episode, internalize my own thoughts and then cross-reference them with yours. Yours are truly inspired and take on a very Housian approach – logical, methodical, witty and deep.

    I could mention many many things about this review, but I wanted to give you MAJOR kudos on your quick note about House setting up the party, getting it going, and then distancing himself completely from it.

    Being a little bit like House in that regard myself, I had the same questions as you did prior to watching the show. It REALLY was my one and only beef with the commercials leading up to it.

    I couldn’t believe it at all that House would be partying. He just isn’t the kind. I know how House the Character almost always seem to distance himself from the crowd (during X-mas, away from patients, etc.), so I knew there had to be SOMETHING about him that kept him away from the party.

    And lo and behold, he went to the bathtub and stayed there. 🙂

    I didn’t think he was feeling lonely, I didn’t think we was feeling guilty or anything like that. I just saw it as the House thing to do. It’s who he is, tragic as it may look. But like he says himself: “What exactly did my team do? Some people just work better alone, sort of speak.”

    I can’t wait for the next season.

    Again, thank you for all your hard work!