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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Ignorance is Bliss”

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Happy New Year to all, and big apologies for getting this review up so late. It’s been a hectic end of the year, and there was much to mull over with “Ignorance is Bliss” (6×09) especially after feeling somewhat negative about “Teamwork” (6×08). So, better late than never…

Is ignorance is bliss? Is it something to long for when plagued with the isolation and loneliness of genius? It’s a question debated by this week’s patient, Jimmy, in “Ignorance is Bliss,” the ninth episode of House’s sixth season. Jimmy, prodigy physicist, who has quit a famous life to become a deliveryman, comes to Princeton Plainsboro after falling ill while delivering packages to a bookstore.

The team lands on a simple diagnosis (for House’s service anyway): TTP—thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disease. (Trivia question: name the episode when TTP is the final diagnosis.) It’s a straightforward diagnosis—perhaps a little too straightforward. As Taub notes, the case must be more complex, and House is simply waiting for them to catch on and catch up to his thought process.

But in actuality, House doesn’t a different diagnosis in mind; he’s too preoccupied with interfering with Cuddy and Lucas’ relationship, planning to first endear his way into a Thanksgiving dinner invitation from Cuddy and then breaking up the relationship entirely. I’m never enamored of House when he’s so overtly scheming about something apart from the medicine itself, and I found myself slightly cringing at the prospect.

In any event, a spelenectomy should cure the TTP, but it doesn’t. There is more going on with Jimmy than meets the eye. House eventually realizes that Jim is using drugs to tamp down on his intelligence: a legal, easy to obtain drug—he is “Robo-tripping.” Dextromethorphan (DXM) the active ingredient in cough suppressant (like Robitussin), lowers the IQ when taken in high enough doses. It also can cause brain damage, unless tempered with alcohol, which the team has found hidden in Jim’s apartment. Turning his brain on “low” makes life less miserable and more bearable for him, he explains as House tells the team to clear the drugs from his system.

Jim’s genius is quickly restored, but no longer buzzed, his wife—a woman of mere average intelligence—is suddenly no longer attractive. He cannot even picture himself making love to her. It’s hard to feel sorry for Jimmy, however, because he’s an incredible jerk, comparing his loving wife to a gibbon. No wonder he was miserable; his feelings of superiority probably isolated him more than his sheer intellectual gift. Sober, Jimmy is a grade-A jerk. And no wonder he wanted so desperately to leave that behind.

The answer to the medical mystery does lie, however, in Jimmy’s dissatisfaction with life—and the reasons behind taking the DXM. After years of loneliness, Jim had suffered enough loneliness and misery—the isolation he felt as an intellectual outlier. He had his gift but wasn’t happy.

Jimmy asks House whether he’s ever tried killing himself. House answers enigmatically “not quickly,” which is an interesting acknowledgement. Jimmy explains that he had tried committing suicide years ealier, hurling himself off an eight story building but failing. Instead he landed in the hospital with broken ribs. Meeting a woman there while buzzed on painkillers, he experiences something life-altering. He’s happy; he’s in love—and the drugs keep him foggy enough to turn down the volume on his overactive brain.

And as he explains this all to House, he realizes that his first diagnosis was correct; it’s TTP. Jimmy’s fall damaged his spleen, and the one splenectomy didn’t get all 16 accessory spleens resident in his body. Cured, Jimmy decides to continue taking the DXM and go back to his happier, but less intellectually supercharged, life.

Taub doesn’t understand why House accepts Jimmy’s decision so passively. No comments, no mockery, no derision: House simply sends him on his way. “Ignorance is bliss,” House explains to Taub.

This theme was explored last season in “The Greater Good,” which featured a cancer researcher who gave up a professionally fulfilling but empty life to live a happier, albeit more ordinary, life. What is more valuable if you have to make a choice: genius or happiness? Fame or happiness? It is a prominent theme in the series, and one with which House has struggled at various times over the past several seasons (and was, the focus of his decision to undergo the Ketamine treatment at the end of season two). Of course with House, it’s not only his genius that isolates him, but his physical disability and his past. But Jimmy’s conflict resonates with House.

When House restores to Jimmy the bottle of cough medicine, he understands that he has made a choice and taken an active, albeit arguably treacherous, decision to make his life better. Perhaps in Jimmy’s case, ignorance is, after all, bliss.

But what of the other relationships explored in the episode: House and Cuddy, Cuddy and Lucas, Taub and his wife Rachel, Chase and Cameron? I suppose it’s true that if you don’t overanalyze, love and relationships are simpler, devoid of games, stripped of subtext, and taken on their own merit.

Taub and Rachel

Perhaps the simplest is Taub’s relationship with his wife, who doesn’t understand why he would go back to working for House after resigning and going back into private plastic surgery practice. His non-compete agreement is by now certainly fulfilled and plastic surgery is a lucrative practice. Why resume a fellowship with a brutal, albeit genius, boss? Taub would rather keep Rachel ignorant of his reasons. He loves the thrill of high-risk medicine (as House reminds him in “Teamwork”), and perhaps, as House points out, it actually keeps him from philandering. “Maybe I don’t love my wife as much as I thought,” Taub confesses to House when coming back on his service at the end of that episode. But House, in his wisdom, suggests the opposite is true. Maybe working for House is all the adventure he needs without cheating on Rachel. And as long as Rachel doesn’t know his real reasons—and as Taub lies to her at the end of “Ignorance is Bliss,” that he has established some ground rules for his work on House’s team, she’s fine with that. As Taub said last season, he and Rachel don’t do “fairy tale.” They don’t meddle with each other and their relationship works out just fine—for them. A little ignorance never hurt any marriage. Of course that depends on the marriage—and the nature of what’s withheld. Last season, Foreman kept a medically crucial secret from 13 and it almost killed her and destroyed his career (“Lucky 13”).

Chase and Cameron

As for Chase and Cameron, it seems to be over. (And I will not rant here about why the end of their relationship simply does not ring true to me. It played out too quickly and with too little real exploration of the end game for a relationship that took three seasons to build. Fans of that relationship—and fans of Jennifer Morrison—are justified to be upset with the short shrift given to that end of the storyline.)

But can we understand the ending of their relationship within the context of the episode? Chase withholds the nature of his actions for weeks following Dibala’s assassination (“The Tyrant,” 6×04). His silence—and his mood—leads Cameron to believe he’s having an affair. Even had Cameron remained ignorant of Chase’s murder of Dibala, the tension between the couple would have become increasingly corrosive, so perhaps she is much better off knowing.

Knowing Chase’s culpability in the Dibala affair isn’t what drives Cameron away. Not really. It’s Chase’s lack of shame about it. Cameron can live with Chase’s actions if she understands that he’s ashamed of what he’s done. But Chase isn’t ashamed, and tells her, taking ownership of the assassination, whatever he may have done—for better or worse—it was his action and not House’s that killed Dibala. 

But House’s shadow looms large particularly where Chase and Cameron’s relationship is concerned, and Cameron views House’s “damn the consequences” attitude as the real poison here. Would Chase have been better off to just kept his mouth shut and let House take the heat? But for a long time, Chase has tried to extricate himself from House’s shadow in his relationship with Cameron. So, Chase’s pride really makes that an impossible choice for him.


And then there is the complexity of House’s relationship with Cuddy. It would all be so much simpler if House could sit down and talk to Cuddy—cut through the intricate games and complex one-upmanship. But House is afraid. And no amount of antidepressants and therapy will change that in the short term. There’s simply too much at stake between them.

He tried that in “Known Unknowns” (6×07)—rather tried to try. And Cuddy responded by running from his sight. Rather than pursuing it further, House reverted to type and the familiar (and less emotionally treacherous) ground of game playing. House’s agenda here: drive a wedge between Lucas and Cuddy, much like he did between Cameron and Chase. If he’s successful, believes, the sooner they break up the better. If he can’t break them up, then their relationship is strong and he’ll back off.

House’s plan? Wrangle a Thanksgiving dinner invitation from Cuddy by endearing himself. For this he sacrifices 45 minutes in the clinic, seeing six patients and winning his coveted prize. Except Cuddy knows him too well and sets him up to drive three hours to the supposed dinner at her sister’s house only to find that, yes, he’s been sent to the right house, but no there’s no Thanksgiving dinner going on—at least not there. The only bit of Thanksgiving he’s offered is a turkey sandwich by the house sitter, who’s been given a heads up about House’s visit. Touche, Cuddy.

But House ups the ante, appearing at Lucas’ home playing drunk and pathetic. House confesses that’s he’s not worthy of Cuddy’s love. (The scene didn’t ring true to me. First, because I don’t think—given how House really does feel about Cuddy—he’d use his feelings as a ploy. It’s giving too much away to Lucas, even if he’s play-acting. And second, as good an actor as House is, he’s not that good—and we had no “tells” at all). But all it accomplishes in the end is for Cuddy to tire of the game entirely. “There is no us,” she tells him. “There never will be.” And here, too, House’s reaction is too gleeful when he tells Wilson about it—like it doesn’t really matter to him at all. (which we know isn’t true).

Most importantly, House learns a hard lesson: that he’s pushed too far. Cuddy no longer finds the fun in their games. Having found the happiness in a less complex relationship, she is tired of the energy it takes to engage with House. “I’m not doing this, House. It isn’t fun anymore,” she tells House wearily, She’s done with the games; done with him. His playfulness falls flat; his games no longer appeal to her sense of adventure.

Realizing he’s lost Cuddy, House apologizes with a simple act. He offers her tickets to a circus so she can take Rachel—no strings attached. It’s an act of kindness that Cuddy slaps down, underscoring that there is nothing any longer existing between them—a clean and final break. (And no, I don’t believe it’s that final).

This is the point at which I actually felt bad for House. I didn’t feel bad that Cuddy had mistreated him sending him on a wild goose chase within their elaborate game—and House’s ultimate scheme to intrude on House and Lucas’ relationship. But I did feel bad that finally, House was acting out of remorse and generosity and Cuddy couldn’t recognize it. But it’s not Cuddy’s fault. How could Cuddy know that it isn’t more game playing? How is she to know when House’s actions are honest and when there’s an agenda—and whether that agenda is good or naughty?

In the final analysis, this is the real collateral damage of House’s history. And maybe as he gains more confidence himself, he’ll better learn how to cope in social situations. The games are corrosive, especially when they’re unilateral. That’s when the fun stops.

Cuddy she has opted out finally of the complexity and game playing for (what she believes will be) a simpler, happier life for her and Rachel with Lucas—at least for now. Perhaps in the end, that’s the lesson House has learned: to keep it simple. Wilson asks him about his next scheme to break up Cuddy and Lucas. As House tells him: there is none. Game over.

New episodes of House return January 11.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her debut novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse comes out October 11 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)."
  • PH

    IMO, I loved the fake drunk scene. It was a very Housian move.
    I also enjoyed it when House used Taub as a shield from Chase. LOL I’m guessing that one was probably an off-the-cuff move by HL himself.

  • Thank you for elucidating so much of what bothered me in this episode. One thing that bothers me…stepping out of the “House” universe and into the real world…is that gifted people with superior jobs then write about how it’s better to be “ordinary.”

    Yes, the people who create “House” probably have known a lot of anguish and sacrifice over what they have given up, but they are doing things they love and being rewarded for it, both monetarily and in terms of pride in their work. To me, if the issues of being brilliant are not delved into meaningfully, which it was not in “Ignorance Is Bliss”, than there is an unintentional hypocrisy.

    This episode reminded me of a lesser “The Social Contract”, where House’s emotional and intellectual predicament are mirrored by the POTW, but it was too easy. In TSC permanent damage was done by the patient’s frontal lobe disinhibition. Here, the genius would go happily into idiocy without his wife suspecting. (His judgment of her when sober was so harsh I felt that he didn’t deserve her.)

    As for the Thanksgiving prank, I found that incredibly cruel. Cuddy’s revenge pranks are usually crueler than House’s games (i.e. the tripwire), causing him either emotional or physical pain.

    But I agree about the “drunken” scene. At first I thought it was maudlin, lazy writing and was genuinely surprised by the twist. But you nailed why it didn’t work for me. House would never make himself so potentially vulnerable to a man who not only has the woman House wants, but who has also publicly humiliated House for his fantasies about Cuddy.

    The part I enjoyed most was Chase’s B-story, and Taub’s using it to have sex with his wife. Those actors are wonderful.

    Thank you once again for an illuminating and well-written review.

  • Mia

    once again, your review amazed me. and specially because it was such a difficult episode to review on. dont get me wrong, I really enjoyed this episode because it set many feelings, understandings, steps, explanations, places for the characters but it’s so opened to interpretation and I think you’ve made the most of it with your structured review.

    Chase & Cameron: although they’ve never been my main focus on the show, couldnt stand her the first couple of seasons, I had learn to know her and she grew on me so much the last 2 seasons being mature and detached from her teacher; I felt like her speech brushed off all of her growing up what with blaming House. come on, he wasnt even that much around when Chase dealt with Dibala and that says a lot about her opinion of her husband. she thinks he’s weak and uncapable of thinking for himself.
    not satisfied about her exit. I dont blame the actress, her delivery was great, dont blame the character, but the way it was handled was rushed, OOC, and just not right.
    still, Im happy that for once, Chase stood up for himself and made his own decision.

    Cuddy’s scam: I did feel bad for House BUT I totally understand Cuddy’s action and I dont feel it was cruel. she completly knows who she’s dealing with, what he’s capable of and she was actually right to fear the worst. he has a 100 times more dirty tricks on his conscience than she does. she only acts that way when it’s too much for her to take (him forcing her to drop the baby and come back to work, his actions making her deal with Vogler & Tritter in un unatural way…). she is entitled to some defense and tiredness.
    do I think it’ll stick? absolutely not. I think she’s in delusion and will eventually realize that there is a difference between what she needs and what she wants.

    House: we see glimpes of his old self but we knew he was not a changed man, just himself with new skills. Im routing for him to get something out of his enhancment in his own way and with the people around him as dysfunctinal as it may be.

    Taub cracked me up with his picture thing. liking him more epi after epi.
    13 is thankfully toned down and she doesnt bother me so much.
    Foreman is foreman.

    Wilson is pleasing me a lot this season! it’s great to find out more about him, house, them.

    I’m enjoying this season and at this point, it’s really messy, the first third stirred out many troubles, relationships are complicated, House is hanging/walking on a line of pre & post Mayfield, the team is re mixed…
    I cannot wait to continue the ride this season is taking us.

  • MRose

    Episode was OK. I liked Chase & Taub, hope they stay consistently entertaining. Glad to see the 13/Foreman storyline mellow out.

    Gripe: House has never had anything but contempt for people who purposely handicap themselves, and we know that he fears losing his mind/intelligence more than he fears pain or “unhappiness.” Especially post-Mayfield, I find it odd that House supported the POTW’s actions.

    >”House’s agenda here: drive a wedge between Lucas and Cuddy… If he’s successful, believes, the sooner they break up the better. If he can’t break them up, then their relationship is strong and he’ll back off.”

    I thought this plan was very much in character for House. It reminded me of the way he practices medicine. He used a simple, logical, almost scientific dichotomy to test his hypothesis: that Cuddy/Lucas is not strong enough to last. That’s not to say that he now believes his hypothesis was wrong- I don’t think he’ll ever give up on Cuddy (or vice versa- “Everyone knows this is going somewhere…”). But he’s stepping back now to get a new perspective.

    When diagnosing a tough case, one of his favorite strategies is just to wait for something new to happen. Similarly, House now accepts that the ball is in Lucas’s court. House has suffered a setback but I don’t think he’s lost that much confidence. He’s just biding his time until Lucas makes a mistake. Also, the circus tickets were a promising act. I think eventually, House will only win Cuddy back by convincing her that he would be a better father figure for Rachel.

  • Grace

    Thank you for your review, but I really don’t have much to say about this episode.
    Didn’t really care for it, don’t feel like talking about it. Just wanted to say thanks.

  • Belle

    I thankyou also for your review. I too can not say too much about this episode. It left me dissatisfied on so many levels. I felt the writer strayed over the fine line from smart and funny into mean and callous with the script and it worried me that the very clever production people of House were not smart enough to realise that when shooting the episode. I don’t think any of the characters Cameron, House or Cuddy came off favourably and it left a bad after taste with me as a viewer. I can see what they were trying to do and perhaps where they were trying to get too but they just didn’t hit the mark, their execution of the story was poor. For example The Thanksgiving sting on House should have been funny and we should have been lauding cuddy for being smart enough to outsmart House but I, as a viewer who likes the character House, got distracted by the very minor detail that a cripple on a cold day had been sent on a 6 hour return car journey. That act of meaness (and I felt the echo of the tripwire here), probably an afterthought of the writer, jarred me so much it coloured my view of the rest of the episode.
    I tried to rewatch this episode but just couldn’t it has left far too bitter an aftertaste in my mouth. I simply don’t wish to revisit it and honestly I never thought I would say that about an episode of House!

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Neither “Teamwork” nor “Ignorance” were among the best the series has to offer. I want to slightly disagree with MRose. I don’t think House saw Jimmy as crippling himself. As he said himself–he was turning the genius onto “low.” House has advocated grabbing “normal” or “happy” over keeping a gift. It’s pretty consistent for him. Most notably, Patrick in “Half-Wit,” but it’s not inconsistent. Especially in the state House is in here, I think JImmy’s loneliness resonates with House. He went to see him after Cuddy told him “there is no us.” He knows he’s lost her, and I think he believes that Jimmy should get the happiness he can–however he can. He had also advocated 13 do something to increase her happiness in “epic fail” (tho I can’t immediately think of it). House is trying to cope differently than he has in seasons past. So I didn’t have a difficult time with this part of it.

    I agree that sending House 6 hours away was mean. But he knew dinner was to be at her sister’s house. And he checked and double checked it. He was going there to disrupt dinner–not to be altruistic. Not because he had nothing else to do. He was going there to break up Cuddy and Lucas. He did it to himself. (And I love House. It’ s why I watch and I care a lot about him.) But in this particular case, he had it coming. Nothing told him to try to break up Cuddy and Lucas and nothing told him to interfere in her holiday dinner and disrupt it.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    The final scenes of “Ignorance Is Bliss” show us that House offered Cuddy the tickets as a test, to see her reaction and figure out from it whether she told him the truth about breaking up with Lucas. She refused to take the tickets not as a final slap of his hand and a clean final breakup, but because she felt guilty that she had lied to him about the Lucas breakup. This is made crystal clear to us in the final Cuddy-Lucas and House-Wilson scenes.
    After all, it was all a big game. Nobody was being honest and genuine in this episode. Together with the “tormented genius versus happy ignorant” dilemma, the episode was also focused on deception and pretense – showing how people try to keep the others ignorant about the truth and how people themselves try to remain ignorant of their true deep emotions and feelings. Playing the games that House and Cuddy play is a way to ensure both of these purposes – they are not sincere, not to the other and not to themselves.

  • barbara barnett


    I’m not so sure that final scene was a test anymore. House thought they had broken up. I really did buy that based on how he explained it to Wilson. There was much sincerity in his explanation. The game was over by then. But he realized after he’d done it (he had a lightbulb moment in the seconds after she refused the tickets) that they had not broken up. I think Cuddy stopped playing the game. She was tired of it.

    The final slap was in the office scene when she said she was weary of the game playing. Done. Finished. That’s when House went to talk to Jimmy and give him back the DXM.

    It was a big game–one deception after the other. But House resigns his position at the end, which of course we don’t realize just how sincere he is until the next episode, when he’s trying to cope with his loss and “move on” as Nolan had tried to get him to learn in Broken.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Also, there are contradictory info everywhere about the air date of episode 11. Is it the 11th of January, as originally planned, or has it indeed been moved to the 25th?
    And a little personal remark on this: it is terribly frustrating for me to have such huge breaks between episodes this season, but i am so House-addicted, that i stick by no matter what. However, are they so certain that their 60 million viewers (or whatever the number was) are patient enough and dedicated enough to remain focused during so many 3 weeks-6 weeks-8 weeks breaks between season 6 episodes? I mean, aren’t continuity and weekly delivery of the “drug” part of the success recipe in television? It feels so discontinued, so disrupted. Time frame was always so carefully set in “House”, the summer breaks between seasons were always correspondent to similar time passing in the character’s lives. This season feels extremely weird that way, and i feel that’s a bad thing, especially since this season is different from the previous ones in quite a number of ways and it’s not all that easy for us to fill in the blanks within a two months pause.

  • barbara barnett


    I have personally confirmed the January 11 date with Fox. It was changed to the 25th and then changed back to Jan. 11. So, yes it is January 11.

    One of the problems this season is that there are really on 21 episodes. Broken counted as two of the 22. In several of the past seasons we’ve had 24 episodes. S1-22, S2-24 S3-24, S4-16 (writers guild strike year) s5-24. This year there were scheduled 22, including the two parter.

    In years past, we’ve also had the same problem, but in different ways. September start, only to be broken by the October baseball season, then november, december episodes, only to be broken by the American Idol premiere, and then more breaks in March again for Idol. In the early days of the series it didn’t matter quite as much since there were many stand-alone type episodes. Season one for almost the entire year, and season two as well. Season three tried to give the series more of a flow/serial rhythm and less of the procedural stand-alone feel. So we feel the stops and starts more keenly. We got lots of episodes in a row at the beginning, so we’re paying the price now.
    I think you’re right that the breaks seem weird because the show is set up to be in “real time” and with so many breaks, it’s hard to get continuity. For example, are we to assume that Lucas and Cuddy are together all these weeks? That Chase and Cameron’s separation has now become entrenched? Will we get any pick up of time’s passage when it all resumes? Or will things pick up one week post “Wilson.”

    I’m hoping to do an interview with one of the producers early in the year and I will certainly ask that question.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    When House closes the door after Cuddy told him those completely hopeless words (no us, not now and not ever), the hungover look he presented Cuddy is gone and a look of hard-to-understand joy replaces it. He tells Wilson that his plan had worked, but he is surprised that Lucas, whom he knows well and who is a skilled scheme-designer himself, had fallen for the eldest trick in the book, the drunk proclamation of love. I think he knows deep inside that Cuddy lied (but he tries to fool himself into not fully facing it), which is also a reason why he later approaches her in a very unconvincing manner – we have seen enough great Huddy scenes to know how easily he can get to her, if he really wants to.
    I am pretty sure that the tickets were a test – his falsely “matter-of-fact” expalation to Wilson, in the end, made me think that he was hurt, but not surprised. He hadn’t expected it to work, not really – that old trick is not really the best House had up his sleeve and it was clearly not something the “evil genius” House could really think that would work against evil genius Lucas. I think he wasn’t really trying hard enough, i think it was a game more than a serious attempt at the woman he loves, much like we are shown from the playful manner in which he announced his intentions to Wilson in the beginning of the episode. It felt like House pulling his punches, just like in ‘Both Sides Now”, and by now he must be even more scared than he was then. His new ability to acknowledge his emotions and feelings must make it clear how much she means to him in every single way (including the professional level) and how a personal relationship going bad would mean the end of the world for him. In short, i don’t think he’s really ready, even if he’s made great steps forward. And i don’t think he’s trying to cope with his loss and move forward, i think he’s postponing a confrontation with himself and her – he’s trying to understand and trying to work up the courage to really address this, really put himself out there, really tell the truth. Which, apparently, he will, much more openly and violently than in these little games.

    Now on the Cuddy side of the game – i think she is trying very very hard to convince herself that she wants out. I am certain that Cuddy understood correctly the meaning of House’s hallucination (we can see it in “Known Unknowns”) and i also think she waited for him to return from Mayfield and finally discuss openly about where things could be going (we can see it in “Epic Fail”). But the response she gets from him in “Epic Fail” must be so confusing and humilliating for her – after all he’s put her through, he refuses to admit anything and he denies her place in his life. I think that is the end of her romantic illusions about her and House. Her great affection for him makes her give him his job back when he changes his mind about leaving, but by then she is determined to pursue other paths in her life. She wants the game to be over and she fights hard to keep herself away from his games. It’s not fun anymore – because she got hurt and because she still has absolutely no idea how serious he was and is. And playing maningless games is the one thing she does not want to do anylonger, because she really fell in love with him and it all backfired on her badly. However, she cannot take her mind off of him – Lucas’s line “is our relationship going to be about us or House” is just one of the many hints at this. She feels responsible for him and she feels guilty whenever she thinks she might have hurt him – deep inside, she glimpses the truth too, but is afraid of it, so she tries to convince herself he’s just a jerk jerking her around. Her face at the end of “Ignorance Is Bliss” is priceless – she teamed up with Lucas to fool House, she played as tough as House would have done, but in the end, her guilt and her sadness give her away – she is afraid of House’s impact on her life, but the thought that “he might not be that bad after all” shakes up all her pretense.
    I also think that she started her relationship with Lucas out of loneliness and a hurt ego. He actually says that she didn’t expect them to stay together too long. She probably just wanted to lick her wounds in the arms of a man who was very clear about liking her and wanting her. Perhaps she really got to like him more than she has expected. Perhaps her fear of getting close to House grew bigger and she tried harder and harder to make her relationship with Lucas work. Perhaps the illusion of a “normal” family life appeals to her greatly and she wants to play THIS game for a change. I’m pretty sure the truth is gonna kick her in the face at some point.
    Also, Barbara, i really want your opinion: I have heard a lot of viewers noticing that Cuddy/Edelstein looks much older this season, she looks tired, sad, weary, grey-ish. Since i have seen Edelstein looking just as good as ever in various photos, i wonder whether this is intentional, to underline the fact that she is deeply conflicted and troubled?

  • barbara barnett

    Delia–on your last question: I agree that Cuddy looks more worn and older this season. It was very evident in this episode.

    When Cuddy came to the door, House was still playing the game. As he still was in her office after Chase slugged him. Note the little “lets go out to dinner” quips despite Cuddy’s yelling at him. But those fell flat on her. She ignored them and told him she was tired of playing. I think that did get to him and it showed when he went to look in on Jimmy. He was very much down in that scene–and that’s when he was carrying the bottle of DXM to restore to JImmy.

    We can agree to disagree on the ticket scene 🙂

    I think Cuddy has a sort of idealized picture of what she wants and she doesn’t see House as fulfilling that. But as House said in Living the Dream(?) She has no idea of what she wants or needs. I think she will come round to her senses. Lucas is a creep–much more dangerous and despicable than House, who has a deeply compassionate streak (not everything is an agenda for him). Lucas is also a game player and right now he’s winning in his little competition for Cuddy began at the start of last season. To him, it’s a game and he’s happy (and with a very wealthy woman).

    I see nothing good coming out of this.Eventually.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    My God, Barbara, thank you for that confirmation of the air date! It’s made my day, my week, my month, I swear! The excitement of the Holidays gone, it would have been an unbearable January for me if i really had had to wait until the 25th.
    You are absolutely right about the first two seasons not really playing the “serial series” card. And yes, there have been breaks in every season, but they feel different to me this year:) Perhaps the breaks are longer, or maybe i just got too caught up in the storylines and cannot wait for them to unfold.
    Also, isn’t it amazing how “House” makes us debate passionately about every single line and scene? Especially in “coded” episodes like “Ignorance”, in which things are not what they seem, but also in general, because of how subtle and nuanced everything is. Brilliant, they are. Brilliant.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Yes, agree to disagree, it’s part of the “House” charm:)
    He did look sad and down in the scene with Jimmy – and the thing is, game or no game, she has the power to hurt him with every little word (that’s also true the other way around) – the fact that she refused to play the games they had both enjoyed so much for such a long time must have been a blow.
    I have a distinct feeling that the Cuddy-Lucas affair is a complete fake – she is merely playing a part, so desperate about something that has the appearance of normality and reality, that she cannot even see the kind of person Lucas really is. I mean, as Wilson once said, one thing we know about Cuddy is that she’s not clueless. She always seemed so witty and sharp, not the kind of woman who would fall for the pretense of someone like Lucas (and her reaction to him the previous year was amused and flattered, but not in any way fooled). So this time around she has changed a lot, in the sense that she would settle for pretty much anyone who showed real interest in her. That’s how desperate and sad and hurt her experience with House left her… Well, wait and see, what else can we do? They will take us on the same winding path as ever, but the thing is, the classical Huddy interactions provided such joy and fun, that half a season without them is a heavy price to pay for whatever the great Huddy “thing” will be:) My guess is, it will have to be BIG, to make up for everything that’s happened. And of course, then they’ll have to take a thousand steps back, so that the other fanbases are not pissed. Complicated game the writers are playing:)

  • Epiphany

    Thank you for your review Barbara; a very fair assessment. After a promising start, I am finding season six extremely heavy-going indeed. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if the writers are going off the boil.

    The tone of the show is more deeply entrenched in the soapy and melodramatic rather than the genuinely dramatic. In addition, I don’t think TPTB have covered themselves in glory in the way Chase and Cameron’s marriage was brought to an end (or Jennifer Morrison’s exit – but that’s another story). Dibala feels more like a massive contrivance than ever.

    Having watched Teamwork and Ignorance Is Bliss again, I now no longer wish to see House and Cuddy sharing scenes together. It’s just too depressing – more so than in season five. In what universe do TV writers dump all over one of their USPs? It’s either really brave or really stooopid.

    At this moment in time – much like season five – I am enduring season six rather than enjoying it. If it carries on like this, I will be writing off a second consecutive season of House – not good. Not good at all.

    The one recent bright spark has been wonderful episode Wilson. This pefectly illustrates what the writers are still capable of. They need to be producing episodes of this calibre on a more regular basis.

    As for the Luddy arc – the sooner it’s over, the better. It’s one of the most lazy, unconvincing plot devices these writers have ever employed. I’d go as far as to say it’s ruining House. Little wonder I’ve embraced the break; it’s been oh-so-welcome. If this keeps up, I can certainly see more male House viewers heading over to Chuck. I will respectfully disagree slight with Delia_Beatrice: it’s not a “complicated game” the writers are playing; it’s a dangerous one.

  • Flo

    I didn’t really like this episode. The writing wasn’t that good.
    The are still some interesting things to talk about but overall it was a weak episode.

    First of all, I must say that Jimmy was a jerk. It is hard to feel sorry for the guy. The way he treats his girlfriend when out of DXM is unacceptable. It is not because you’re not a genius that you’re automatically a total dummy. He should know that. His ignorance of this fact makes him just an arrogant ass.
    With Dibala and Wilson’s pal in “Wilson” I think it is the first time in “House” history that we have 3 complete jerks as patients in just 10 episodes. Weird. Is it just for showing us House’s evolution and how he cope with people worst than him? I don’t know, but this stat is weird. Or Maybe it is just a random fact and I need a Spychiatrist too.

    Anyway, The subjects of this epi were obviously “How much do you care about another person (most importantly a person you personnally are interested in)?” and “What are you prepare to do to get to (or at) this person?”
    Two questions brought up by Jimmy about also by House and Cuddy.
    House and Cuddy always played games together. It’s a way for them to work and flirt. It’s like a ritual in their relationship. No matter what happens they play. They care enough to do it in every circumstances.
    Cuddy always played along and if season 5 told us anything, is that she do it well but also can be as cruel as House can be a jerk sometimes. The trip wire thing taught us this. Cuddy is not limitless. The past season was really about how similar those two are. In the process, we learned that when Cuddy feels that her back is up against the wall, when she feels cornered, in short, when her limits have been reached she can be cruel just like House can be a total ass sometimes, when he wants to. They both can be really devious too.
    So in “Ignorance Is Bliss” House has a plan to break Cuddy and Lucas up while Cuddy just tries to have something approaching a normal life. She is tired of the games and don’t want to play anymore, saying to House that it is no longer fun. The thing is (and I think that was the purpose of the episode), she can’t help herself. She plays anyway. The 3 hours drive and the turkey sandwich can be interpreted as mean but it is totally in character for her. This is something that House could have done and it’s a way of saying, as Barbara put it, “he pushed too far”.
    On the other hand, she did play the game, she responded with a devil plan of her own and I think that’s what makes House happy. No matter what she says about being tired of the games and that “there is no ‘us’” and all, she is still playing meaning that she still cares about him. The day Cuddy will not respond to House like that, that she will indeed stop playing, is the day House could worry. As mean as the drive and sandwich can be viewed I think there is a part of House that is relieved that she cared that much to do all this. That’s why in the end he can stop messing around and just offer her tickets. He now knows it’s gonna be harder than he originally thought to get her but she is still here, playing along, therefore he still has a chance.

    I agree with you Barbara that Cuddy gives away her feelings by saying no to the tickets. Like you say, that shows that there is still something going on. That being said, the game playing was also a big giveaway so I must agree with Delia_Beatrice that the ticket thing was a test. I actually think it was a “two birds with one stone” kind of thing. I believe it was , in his mind, a true, nice gesture but also a test.

    Anyway now that’s wait and see. Good review Barbara and interesting thoughts everyone. Always a joy. Good to know that House is coming back on January 11th. Thanks for the info.
    I hope you all spend nice holidays.

    ps: Barbara when House says to cuddy “What you want, you run away from. What you need, you don’t have a clue.” It’s in “No More Mr Nice Guy”.

  • JesuitMan

    Hello, Barbara! I’m a longtime lurker, first time poster. Before I start, I just have to say that I’ve enjoyed reading all your great articles regarding “House, M.D.” with rapt attention and respect. My viewing experience is never complete until I’ve had the chance to ponder your perspective on each new episode.

    I have several issues concerning IIB that I just can’t seem to shake even though it’s been more than a month since it first aired, so I’m hoping maybe you can shed some light on my questions:

    (1) Why did House unblinkingly take Cuddy at her word when she told him that she was going to spend Thanksgiving Day at her sister’s place? I’m not saying that Cuddy is incapable of effectively pulling the wool over his eyes. Far from it, she is arguably the only person (besides Wilson, of course) that can consistently match wits against him and his mind games. However, judging by the conversation he had with Cuddy about her sister near the end of “Unfaithful,” House apparently knows enough about her family history to be aware of the strained and uneasy bond between Lisa and Julia Cuddy. I was reasonably perplexed as to why his innate “spidey sense” didn’t kick into overdrive and force him to question her supposed willingness to spend her first Thanksgiving with her nascent Norman Rockwell-esque family life (i.e., Rachel and Lucas) in the presence of an older sibling who Cuddy doesn’t want to engage with even under special circumstances such as her baby daughter’s simchat bat.

    (2) Why would House initially search for Julia Cuddy’s home address in such a pedestrian manner which required tremendous time and effort and only provided incomplete/inconsistent results? Setting aside the issue of how a man like House with an encyclopedic memory could be genuinely unaware that she was married and had taken her assumed husband’s surname despite working with her younger sister for nearly 10 years, I truly expected more from House than just manually searching the phone book under Julia Cuddy’s maiden name for the information he needed. He has repeatedly accessed PPTH’s employee/personnel records without authorization, hacked into other people’s email accounts, broken into other people’s homes, run background checks on both his friends and his fellows, and has engaged in all sorts of other unethical/illegal behavior in order to facilitate his goals. It’s almost as if the writers couldn’t come up with even a semi-plausible scenario that would eventually lead to Cuddy inviting (or rather, dis-inviting) House to Thanksgiving dinner.

    (3) In relation to the previous question, why wasn’t House more suspicion from the very beginning of Cuddy’s seemingly straightforward decision to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner? With all due respect, Cuddy is not some sweetness-and-light Pollyanna who managed to graduate from medical school as second best in her class and later became a Dean of Medicine at the age of 32 with just a wink and a smile. Their previous interactions from past seasons should’ve more than adequately reminded House that she is someone who is willing to give as good as she gets (and then some) in order to keep one step ahead of his antics or to prevent him from interfering with her private life. Although he ran Julia’s home address through New Jersey’s DMV to confirm that Cuddy didn’t provide him with a fake address, I was expecting more from the poster child of mistrust and skepticism!

    (4) Did House honestly believe that his fake confession of love would convince Lucas to end his relationship with Cuddy? In spite of his constant diarrhea of the mouth, Lucas makes his living by not only astutely observing every imaginable facet of human behavior but also detecting when someone is blatantly trying to manipulate and/or lie to him. House would never have offered to put him on retainer back in Season 5 if he hadn’t been impressed with his skills as a private investigator during the brief time they got to know each other. Furthermore, as evidenced by his not-so-innocent rant during the restaurant scene from KU, Lucas was resourceful enough to somehow uncover/decipher the main details regarding Cuddy’s imaginary role in House’s mental breakdown, and yet, illustrated to House that he had no apparent moral qualms with pursuing Cuddy while he was seeking treatment at Mayfield.

    (5) Why didn’t House readily see through Cuddy’s charade regarding her so-called “break-up” with Lucas when she previously tricked him into driving 6 hours total outside of Princeton-Plainsboro to preempt any attempts on his part to mess with her evening plans? House may often act out of desperation and/or anxiety under stressful circumstances, especially when it comes to his small circle (or should I say “Gordian knot”?) of friends, but “gullible” or “naïve” is not how anyone would ever describe him. It was surprising that he didn’t realize that Cuddy had duped him not once but twice until the moment she refused to accept his holiday carnival tickets during the final scenes of IIB.

  • barbara barnett

    Hello, Barbara! I’m a longtime lurker, first time poster.
    Welcome JesuitMan to the comments section! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying, and am thrilled you’ve decided to add to the discussion.

    (1) Why did House unblinkingly take Cuddy at her word when she told him that she was going to spend Thanksgiving Day at her sister’s place?

    House can fall prey to wishful thinking from time to time–that and his narcissism might have given him blinders. But you make a very good point.

    (2) Why would House initially search for Julia Cuddy’s home address in such a pedestrian manner which required tremendous time and effort and only provided incomplete/inconsistent results?

    This very much seemed out of character for House and of course you’re right. But House can be very dense sometimes when you least expect it.

    (3) In relation to the previous question, why wasn’t House more suspicion from the very beginning of Cuddy’s seemingly straightforward decision to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner?

    Again, House’s narcissism and wishful thinking. He believed that his nice behavior in the clinic won her over. He wanted to believe her.

    I would argue that is the only thing that can explain how easily House bought Cuddy’s line–and believed he could sell Lucas.

    That’s all I got 🙂

  • Flo

    JesuitMan, you got really good points. That’s exactly what I meant by the “not good writing” comment. My post was already really long so thanks for pointing those writing issues. You’ve done it better than I would have.

    I think all of this was just a plot device to make House and Cuddy play game in order to establish that there is still something going on there. But yeah, that was really forced.

    For you fifth question, I believe House was happy to see she still played games with him but didn’t know for sure she broke up with Lucas or not despite what he said to Wilson. That’s why I believe the ticket thing was a nice gesture but also a way to see if she was still with Lucas or not.

    House was a bit OOC in this episode. The “supposedly drunk” scene was too much as his glowing after his talk with Cuddy the morning after.

    I can see the point of that episode, I understand what TPTB want to say but as you pointed out, it was badly written.

  • I always find it difficult to watch House scheming because, at times, he’s annoying in his pettiness. I do understand that we are not meant to agree with House on everything he does, but when he tries to mess with Lucas and Cuddy’s relationship, for me, he steps over a line that he has no right to cross. Another example is in ‘Teamwork’ where he seems to want to sabotage Chase and Cameron’s relationship. This is probably why I didn’t enjoy these two episodes as much as, say, ‘Wilson’- I find House much more compelling when he is tugging at my heart strings rather than just being a jerk! I also found House a bit dumb in this episode, but do like that he is seeming to change after going into treatment.
    I have to admit, I have really enjoyed the start of season six. I absolutely loved ‘The Tyrant’ storyline, and can’t wait for the new episodes!
    Another excellent review, Babara. Well done!

  • JesuitMan

    Barbara – Wow, I didn’t expect such a fast response since you had mentioned in your review how incredibly busy you were (are?) during the holiday hiatus! Thank you for taking the time and the effort to answer my questions! I would’ve responded much sooner, but I too was driving myself near-mad after Christmas trying to ensure that all the preparations were in place for the onslaught of immediate and extended relatives and friends that came into town to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my family.

    I agree with your assessment that House’s rather sloppy maneuverings could conceivably be explained by his occasional moments of supreme overconfidence and self-delusion. I don’t want to give the writers too much credit for subtle writing after viewing such a imperfect episode, but there’s a part of me that wonders if perhaps House recognized that Cuddy knew him too well to easily fall for his usual bag-of-tricks after so many years working together and unconsciously (or even consciously) allowed her to turn the tables on him, so to speak, in order to gauge her commitment to Lucas and her pursuit of a “normal” family life. Although I’m probably reading too much into House’s actions, it would still be a very House-ian twist on Dr. Nolan’s repeated suggestions that he allow himself to be vulnerable enough to trust others.

    Flo – I appreciate your comments and point of view. Thank you for your kind words.
    Personally, IIB is probably the first episode – with “Teamwork” coming in at a close second – that I found nearly too painful to watch in terms of sheer emotional carnage, and yet, I still could not take my eyes off the screen. Compared to Cameron’s erratically OOC behavior – specifically her final on-screen monologue – throughout the preceding episode, however, at least Cuddy was allowed to respond to House’s half-baked machinations in a reasonably consistent manner. Unlike last season’s TGG in which Cuddy essentially had no one else to blame but herself for failing to take into consideration that Cameron would not be able to effectively recognize when/when not to tow the line against her former mentor, she had plausible justification this time around for her actions against House’s persistent (albeit careless) mind games. In fact, his premeditated confrontation with Lucas at the P.I.’s apartment as well as his so-called “declaration of love” nearly erased any sympathy I felt for House after what occurred to him on Thanksgiving Day. Even if Lucas had truly been duped by such bogus stagecraft and consequently ended his budding relationship with Cuddy, she would have more than ample reason to question not only the sincerity of House’s feelings for her but also whether or not he views her as nothing more than an exotic plaything that caters solely to his whims.

    IMHO, the most troubling aspect about this entire episode was not necessarily House and Cuddy’s mutual scheming, but rather just how far they’ve alienated themselves from one another. In previous seasons, even under intensely complex/intricate circumstances, there always existed an undeniable undercurrent of affection and understanding between these two deeply flawed individuals that frequently transcended their respective roles as employee and employer – as evidenced, for example, by House’s promise to keep Cuddy’s IVF treatments a secret from the rest of PPTH (including Wilson) or by Cuddy’s decision to commit perjury (at great risk to her career and to her own personal freedom) in order to protect House against Detective Michael Tritter. Now, at the end of the first half of Season 6, these star-crossed non-lovers are hardly able to maintain a bare minimum of civility, only really coming together for the sake of their respective careers but otherwise refusing to even communicate directly in public. Since neither House nor Cuddy are willing to continue pushing each other’s “buttons,” I wonder exactly how their professional relationship will endure in the absence of familiar banter and emotional cues.

  • Flo

    “IMHO, the most troubling aspect about this entire episode was not necessarily House and Cuddy’s mutual scheming, but rather just how far they’ve alienated themselves from one another.”

    Yes they’re both pretty screwed up, we already knew that but it is true that it’s not going any better for any of them in that matter.

    “In previous seasons, even under intensely complex/intricate circumstances, there always existed an undeniable undercurrent of affection and understanding between these two deeply flawed individuals that frequently transcended their respective roles as employee and employer”

    Absolutely! They are really lost right now. They are not in a good place emotionnally regarding each other. Like Lisa Edelstein says “they are not on the same page”.
    Maybe it is due to the fact that they were both suprised and unsettled by the revelation on how their relationship started and ended 25 years ago in med-scool (him learning he was wrong about the start, her learning she was wrong about the end), but their personnal interraction took a turn to te worse lately.

    wait and see, two weeks!!!

  • errantacademic

    I loved your review, Barbara; it’s the first I’ve read of yours, but I’ll be back regularly from now on. I love seeing someone analyzing TV so intelligently.

    I do however disagree with you on one thing: the scam that Cuddy pulled on House. You could justify her sending him on a wild goose chase. But the turkey sandwich at the end? That was utterly unnecessary, and designed with only one purpose in mind: to twist the knife in. It was the act of an enemy, the act of someone who actively dislikes her victim. It turned me from someone who has always loved Cuddy into someone who feels genuine dislike for her.

    This current arc is, I believe, I a very dangerous one for the writers. Instead of the omnipotent, manipulative SOB we have all grown to love, House is now rather a pitiful character: out-gamed by Cuddy, badly treated by her, discarded in favor of the lesser Lucas, and in agony over losing his love. And the spoilers indicate that there is more of this to come.

    Many viewers seem to be finding this very hard to take, but as a male I would guess that it is turning one group off in particular: men. Men may try to be generous towards victims if they have any decency, but viscerally they neither like nor respect them. My guess is that if we start to see a drop in viewers, males will largely be the cause.

  • “Men may try to be generous towards victims if they have any decency”

    Why would you victimize anyone if you had any decency?

  • Andy

    Great review, as usual, I read every one of yours.

    However, sometimes you just don’t get stuff.

    When Cuddy says, “I’m not doing this, House. It isn’t fun anymore,” she’s just playing her part. She’s trying to convince House that even though he’d managed to break up her relationship with Lucas, she’s still not interested in him, and he should back off.

    Of course, we learn (from the ticket scene, where House is, again, acting, and not really feeling hurt or anything) that he hadn’t succeeded in breaking them up. Cuddy still likes House, and the possibility of there being a “them” remains very much alive. Just look at her expression at the very end, when Lucas leaves, and Cuddy fantasizes about a universe where House is nice. What she says to Lucas has bigger implications.

    About the patient’s wife being of “average” intelligence, and getting compared to a gibbon: Her IQ of 87 is very close to borderline mental disability, and in some classifications, would place her at “dull normal.” So saying “average” is rather generous in this sense.

  • Chris

    I’m a first-time poster (and not even a lurker)
    This episode left me feeling so world-weary that I wonderered if anyone else felt this way.
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading all these intelligent and interesting comments -even the ones I found myself disagreeing with!
    I find that the writers continually exceed our expectations, and whatever the Huddy outcome, we will not be disappointed.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks Chris–and welcome!Glad you joined into the conversation!

  • Chris

    Thanks Barbara.
    We’re a little behind you here in the UK but thanks to the joys of the internet I’m nearly up to date now. “Wilson” tonight and then back here tomorrow to find out what everyone else thought!

  • Leah

    I’m not really all about debating the nuances of all the interactions of the characters on house, because everyone’s gonna see it differently, and in the end it will just be what it is.
    I do wonder, though, if the people who weren’t able to sympathize with DXM genius boy, can’t do so because they just aren’t smart enough to see his point of view, and are too busy sympathizing with his average wife. He openly admits to house that he’s a jerk when he’s sober, he knows that the way he feels is hurtful to other people, and it obviously hurts him to feel this way, otherwise why try to dumb himself down at all? He doesn’t want to think those things, they’re just a by-product of his intelligence. The poor guy probably hates himself for being so smart and everyone else for being so dumb when he’s sober, you can’t win there. He’s not much different from frontal lobe inhibition guy, he wants to be a nice guy, he just… can’t. But isn’t what we want the world to believe we are just as much a part of us as who we actually are?

  • bakerstreet blues

    Given that even when House is completely honest, no one believes him anyway….why would he try honesty??? Half-Wit, Whatever it takes to mention just 2 episodes off the top of my head. In my opinion, House did nothing different than Cuddy did with Cameron in Saviors…turn about is always fair play.