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TV Review: House, MD – “Last Resort”

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Confined-space scenarios (or as they are sometimes called, “bottle” episodes) in film and television (and in theater) generally are intended to produce heightened tension as the room seems to become smaller and options become more and more desperate. The ninth episode in House, MD’s season five, “Last Resort,” was such a “bottle” episode — and a wonderful showcase for the acting talents of Hugh Laurie and guest star Zeljko Ivanek.

Dr. Gregory House is a medical court of “last resort.” People come to him for diagnoses from all over the world because they have tried everything else and everyone else. They don’t care if he bends (or breaks) established protocols or ethical standards. They usually don’t care if he is arrogantly blunt or verbally abusive. They simply want to know. They simply want to get better. But seldom do they seek his unique skills at gunpoint. (Although, House was, of course, nearly fatally shot by an angry family member at the end of season two.) And despite the fact that the gun-wielding patient threatened House, 13, and a roomful of other people, House deeply empathized and related to this week's very disturbed patient.

Jason (played with a wonderful neurotic intensity by Emmy-winning character actor Ivanek) has seen 16 doctors over a two-year period. He has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills; he simply wants an answer. Now! He is sick and tired of being sick and tired. And so he comes to Princeton Plainsboro Hospital to see dean of medicine Lisa Cuddy. To see her best doctor. (I wonder if he had come to PPTH specifically seeking House’s services.) Unfortunately for a handful of clinic patients and medical staff, this time he has come packing a handgun.

The high-strung Jason surprises House as he rummages through (or rather, dismantles) Cuddy’s desk drawer… (STOP! Hold on a moment. Rummaging through Cuddy’s desk drawer? Okay, so just what was House doing in her office in the first place? Was he dismembering her drawer as one of his playful pranks? In Housian terms, that would be full-on courtship, as Wilson would likely say — and as he say — did in “Joy.” )

As I started to say… Jason surprises House, who chases him away, but only momentarily. After all, Jason’s looking for Cuddy, not House. But he returns shortly thereafter, bringing with him several clinic patients, a nurse, and 13, taking everyone, including House, hostage, while Cuddy and her security team empty the main hospital foyer until the Princeton SWAT team can arrive.

I loved how House tried to take early control of the situation by ordering up the sedative with which to dose the gunman. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work, and it resulted in a rapid escalation of the standoff. With one person shot, and 13 chosen as Jason’s guinea pig, House calls in his teams old and new to help speed things along diagnostically. However, Chase is unwilling to participate in what he thinks is House’s game of cat and mouse towards a diagnosis.

To House, who is, of course, a huge risk-taker, the challenge of diagnosing Jason would have been irresistible under normal circumstances. And even under these tense conditions, House follows his normal process, using Cuddy’s wall as a “white board,” finding the challenge of being right when 16 other doctors were wrong impossible to ignore.

But as Jason gets sicker, suddenly showing heart symptoms, the diagnosis and treatment path becomes more complex. The drugs used to confirm House’s theories are dangerous and a potentially lethal combination, especially given to 13, whose central nervous system is already compromised by Huntington’s disease. House is clearly uneasy with the position she’s in (and his responsibility for her) as the drugs take their toll on 13, and she gets sicker and sicker — and he gets no closer to a final diagnosis.

The theories eventually begin to point towards cancer; but a CT scan is required to confirm. Trading two additional hostages for a free pass to radiology, Jason is down to his last three hostages plus House and 13. Four have been freed and the remaining hostages are bound and moved at gunpoint to radiology.

But the test is no good with Jason wielding the gun, thereby distorting the CT image. House knows this, and realizes that this is his chance to get the gun from the patient. He tells Jason either to give him the weapon and get the CT or shoot him now, since they’ve come to a diagnostic stalemate.

Jason gives up the weapon and two more hostages flee. House re-does the CT scan only to learn that it’s not cancer. The diagnosis is wrong. House then makes a decision that is both dangerous and completely in character for him. House can end things here. He holds all the cards; he’s completely in control of the situation.

But there’s a hitch. Yes, House can end the standoff. But Jason will not have his diagnosis and House will not have his answer. House’s obsessiveness gets the best of him, and in an impulsive lapse, House relinquishes control back to Jason, returning his weapon to him. I also think that by this point, House has developed an empathy for Jason's situation. He deeply relates to Jason's frustration, his predicament, and wants to help him. House wrongly thinks that he can still control the situation, that Jason will play fair, since House has trusted him.

House has gravely misjudged Jason, who doesn’t play by the same rules of logic and fair play. Despite his promise to House, Jason still insists on testing all drugs on 13. House even offers himself, refusing to allow 13 to sacrifice herself. But the self-destructive 13 plays into Jason’s agenda, perfectly willing (at least at first) to be his lab rat.

Finally realizing that they had been missing a crucial piece of the diagnostic puzzle (that Jason had been to Florida), House comes up with the correct theory. But Jason doesn’t trust that the prescribed drugs will cure him. He still insists on giving them to 13 first, who by now is in kidney failure. Exchanging House’s freedom for the needed drugs, House at first refuses to go, not wanting Jason to dose 13 with what could very well be a fatal injection. But given no choice at this point, House leaves, staying close to the lab, deep in thought (and pretty shaken up) for the end game as he waits for the SWAT team to do its thing.

I’m wondering if he’s processing his potentially fatal decision that may cost 13 her life. Although House calls her a coward for being terrified of death, continually edging herself closer to it by her self-destructive behavior, 13 also calls House on his own fatal flaw: refusing to allow himself ever to be wrong, to ever be “ordinary” — just a plain “human being.”

Ultimately, confronted with her own probable death, 13 chooses life, refusing to inject herself, even as Jason threatens her at gunpoint. But unable to pull the trigger, or force 13 to self-inject — and knowing that the SWAT team are very near to breaking in — Jason wrests the syringe from her, injecting himself.

With the standoff over, a shell-shocked House returns to the radiology lab. He’s not sure what he’ll find — whether 13 is even still alive. It’s an incredible acting moment for Laurie as re-enters the room, horrified, terrified — and then finding 13 thankfully alive.

Now in handcuffs, Jason observes House, who is still badly shaken by everything that’s happened, looking almost as lost as he did in the aftermath of the bus crash. House gestures quietly, his hand to his abdomen, perhaps a small, silent gesture of thanks (at first I didn’t even catch it) for sparing 13’s life. (I’m not entirely sure what the gesture meant, but perhaps House was assuring Jason that 13 had survived the final moments of the standoff. Perhaps House was even checking that Jason's breathing properly after the right treatment.) Whatever else it is, it is a stunning moment between the two men in the denouement of their intense confrontation. As Jason is removed, the camera lingers on House’s very emotional expression, with much to think about.

For her part, 13 has turned a new page and is ready to submit to some sort of treatment for her Huntington’s. House is also ready to turn a page — with Cuddy. His prank with the desk drawer was clearly intended as an attention-getting move, and their furtive glances at each other during the entire ordeal spoke of something very definitely going on between them. In the end, Cuddy finally asks House point-blank whether he wants a relationship with her. And while his words said “no,” his eyes, with that fabulous deer-caught-in-the headlights expression said “I am in such trouble!” But even the SWAT team guy picked up on Cuddy’s concern about House, so one only has to wonder where that will all lead — and who’s in control.

This episode was all about control: control over the way one lives; control over the way one dies. House, who controls so little of his physical life, and whose life has been pretty brutally out of his own control for months, tries to control an impossible situation. And he does it with mixed results, succumbing to his own weakness, despite the positive eventual outcome.

Jason, too feels a need to control — something. Anything. He is fed up with the unfairness of the medical establishment. He realizes that he won’t come out of this a free man – he’ll either die or be arrested – and he doesn’t care. This is something to which House can deeply relate —  needing to know so badly that nothing else matters; he needs to control something in his life.

13, too, needs something over which she has power. And as her life careens out of control, she believes that the one thing she can control is the manner in which she will die. House also can relate to this, and having been there, part of him understands, and part of him is appalled and unwilling to watch while she self-destructs in such an overt manner.

Ivanek and Laurie are perfectly matched in the episode. Laurie’s slow burn intensity as House was a great counterpoint to Ivanek’s crazed gunman. Both men obsessed with finding a truth that may or may not exist; both willing to risk themselves (and possibly others).

Katie Jacobs has a wonderful director’s eye. I’ve loved her other two outings: “Half-Wit” in season three and “Wilson’s Heart,” the heart-stopping and heartbreaking finale to season four. Her intimate camera work ratcheted up the tension by millimeters at a time, while eliciting nuanced and sensitive performances from all of the episode’s central characters, especially Laurie, Ivanek, and Olivia Wilde.

Next week looks like a fun and lighter episode. As much as I have adored this season’s gravitas and angst, a lighthearted episode to send us into the winter holiday season will be much enjoyed.

At this season of Thanksgiving, I wish to thank my readers for a wonderful first (plus) year, and for making this column such a success. A joyous and peaceful end of the year to all.

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About Barbara Barnett

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

    Good work Barbara!

  • http://www.livejournal.com/sweetspaci Liz

    House’s gesture at the end, when he touched his stomach and inhaled, was telling Jason to take a deep breath..which Jason was able to do, confirming that the diagnosis, and the medication given, were correct.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks Mary. I think I wrote that in record time (and as such I’m sure I missed many a nuance :))
    Have a happy Turkey day!

  • Cate Malone

    Thanks for the review, I agree that Laurie and Ivanek were so compelling to watch. Olivia Wilde was wonderful, too. I don’t think House was reassuring Jason at the end, though. He was asking him to take a deep breath to see if he could, and he did. It was House finding out if he was right, which, of course, he was. I love that they are going to play out the Huddy thing, though. It’s gonna be fun to watch!

  • Barbara Barnett

    House’s gesture at the end, when he touched his stomach and inhaled, was telling Jason to take a deep breath..which Jason was able to do, confirming that the diagnosis, and the medication given, were correct.

    Agreed. But that was only one of thing, I think at play in House’s psyche at that moment. Hugh conveyed so much more than a simple diagnostic test with that gesture and his expression. The emotion in his eyes in that scene was incredible.

  • eve K

    Thanx again for an overwhelmingly positiv review. I needed that, because I just dont know about this ep. I agree that Laurie can do wonders with anything, but this ep was abrupt, and in some ways to short, even if it was longer than usual. But the thing with giving the gun back was idiotic. Maybe you can write it off as a character flaw, but – I dont know. Please not more over the top eps.

    The thing that saved it all was the drawer prank at the end. LOL! And the remark to Cuddy, telling her that she is already way beyond choosing if she is in a relationship with him. Sort of anyway.

  • Amri

    I’ve stopped by because of your advertising in the livejournal community housemd. I wanted to say that I really enjoyed your take on this episode. It had wonderful insight on what was going on emotionally and I enjoyed the banter between House and Jason.

    Thank you for writing your review!

  • Sheelagh

    I really, really wanted to like this episode. I know House MD likes to take risks and can do superior ‘over-the-top’ episodes when called on. This was not one of them. This episode however was (as House would say) ” a dog wearing a cape”. The kernnel of the idea was strong and it should have worked but the writing just wasn’t there & I found the direction choppie & cluttered.
    Actors can only work with what they are given and I really felt for Hugh Laurie in this one. My family actually burst out laughing at the ‘ hostage shuffle-to-radiology ‘scene. That’s bad for dramatic tension.
    Olivia de Wilde is an arrestingly beautiful woman but possesses no were near the acting chops required on a show of this complexity. I didn’t believe in her character’s situation for one minute, which really hurt the episode. Hugh Laurie as an actor can make a connection with a rock, but he just seems to be going through the paces in his scenes with Olivia.
    Lastly, the hero’s best friend should have been scripted to demonstrate just a bit of angst over the scenario. Here is is his “bestest buddy” with a gun to his head; a buddy he fled in fear of loosing only a few short months ago and it was as if House had gone off to the gym. What a missed opportunity for some great writting for Laurie & Robert Sean Leonard.
    The writing is so inconsistent this year, I’m almost prepared to walk away. But I won’t because of those now one-off shining episodes that show what a TV Drama can be

  • Marianna

    I have mixed feelings about this episode. I was expecting it with hopes up, tried not to spoil anything with the previews etc, and when the first three minutes were over, i felt my heart beating faster nad my eyes locked on the screen.
    But then, although i could see the the tensity and suspense allover, i just.. couldn’t feel it. I wasn’t into it, it felt.. “Meh”. I can’t explain it!
    Hugh Laurie was excellent, as well as Zeljko Ivanek (you could see Jason wasn’t an agressive madman but just a desperate, repressed and frsutrated poor guy who was left with nothing to lose -he didn’t plan it, he didn’t know what to do at most times, he was making amateurish mistakes with the hostages. But he wouldn’t back up, at any cost. Excellent portrayal). Olivia Wilde and Lisa Edelstein and the others, hm, not so much this time.
    But it wasn’t the acting that felt wrong to me -it was the continuity, the feeling of the characters, the development of the situation. I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel the “it”, you know? House was there, in danger, with a gun pointing right at him, and my heart wasn’t beating any faster (and i do love my Gregory, you know that :p). Cuddy was delivering the stuff and exchanging apprehensive glances with House, and i couldn’t feel the angst and the passion. The ducklings and Wilson were on the phone, bouncing answers off the wall under those impossible circumstances, and couldn’t feel the pressure and the expectation for the right diagnosis. All the elements were there. Frankly, i don’t know what was missing. It just wasn’t there most of the time.

    I can point out the right stuff, the ones i clearly liked: i, too, loved the fact that House gave him back the gun. That was the highlight of the episode -completely in character, completely Housian, i actually yelled “yes, guys, now THIS is our man”. I loved his prank at Cuddy. I loved the glances with Jason at the end. I loved his paternal behaviour to 13. And I can actually point out one negative thing that annoyed and disapointed me: the fact that 13 got the last “boom” scene with Jason. House shoulda been there, in that high tension and heart breaking scene. That is something i can point out as being plainly wrong.

    The rest of my negativity, frankly i can’t explain it. Maybe my hopes were too elevated, the hostage situation and all and the huddy arc at its possible peek, but the delivery wansn’t what i expected.

    Sorry for all the negativity – as alawys i love your positive view and review. And as always House is tv at its best. But sometimes when you expect the “bestest” out of the best, you get just a little dissapointed, you know? Just wanted to whine i little bit somewhere :)

  • genagirl

    This could have been done in the regular forty-odd minutes. What benefit were those extra eight? Nothing I could see. I thought Hugh did an amazing job as always and damn, he was smokin’ HOT last night. Still, this episode didn’t involve me very much. I don’t care for Huddy, I like them as antagonists much better than as lovers. I just didn’t get any connection there, except for a few fleeting looks between them. And I agree with the above post, Wilson could have added the needed emotion. Laurie and Leonard have great chemistry and their scenes are always charged – this was a wasted opportunity.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/11/26/080233.php sf aka jim (Joy in the Morning)

    Thank you, Barbara, for the quick write-up before you rush off to your Thanksgiving preparations.

    I was glad that Shore addressed the problem of using patients as bargaining chips. House has done it twice in the past, himself, so I think we will have more episodes clarifying and exploring the parameters of the problem. We have already seen an exceptional portrayal of the complicated question of Amber’s death. I hope Shore is as direct as he is nuanced with the patients-as-bargaining-chips problem.

    On a lighter note, House and Cuddy do not disappoint. Reading the double speak in the last scene was a rare pleasure given the recent kissing scene. It’s just a matter of deleting all negatives.
    As Cuddy said, “You negate everything!”

    Consider, “We can try it again, without me.” (delete “without me”)

    Or, “I don’t know what I can do to help you.” (delete “don’t”)

    And “God, no! (becomes God,yes!)

    When I remember my single days, I always knew a man was very serious about me (and rather a ‘good’ man) when he started looking for meaningful ways to help me. I wonder what House will find to do to help Cuddy. Of course House had to add the prank as well!

  • Lisa Wood

    I must agree with Sheelagh here, while I absolutely loved this episode and the intense scenes with Hugh Laurie and Zeljko Ivanek I was a little disappointed with Wilson’s reaction to this all. Cuddy’s reaction was great and just what I expected/wanted but Wilson seemed to be perfectly fine with everything that was going on. We got the one line, “Are you alright?” to which House shrugged off with sarcasm and that was that. I must say I was looking forward to some Wilson angst for his BEST friend as they built up on this relationship earlier on in the season. Oh well, I am, however, very much looking forward to next week’s holiday episode as those are usually light and fun to watch.

  • sdemar

    Thanks for your speedy and comprehensive review, Barbara. I hope you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to spend them with your kids.

    I liked this episode and thought Katie Jacobs did a fine job with directing. She kept it tight and I was wondering how do they keep it all together. What a massive project. I think she is a very talented woman and have enjoyed all the epiosodes she has directed.

    I read the reviews above and can understand where some of them are coming from. I think to underutilize Wilson in this episode is sort of strange and unfortunate. RSL has incredible acting chops and can stand toe to toe with Hugh. How wonderful it would have been to see House, Wilson and Jason in at least one scene together.

    I thought Olivia did a nice job in this episode but I am a little OD’d on her character and hope she drifts into the background. I much prefer to see more scenes involving Wilson and Cuddy and less 13.

    The scene where you could see House after the door/wall was blown up reminded me of House’s heart. He had a shell-shocked look and was trying to take it all it. Very surreal.

    I do believe the final scene between House and Jason was House asking Jason if he could breathe. When he could, his puzzle was solved and both of them were pleased in spite of the consequences for TPOW. I forget the actor’s real name but wanted to say how awesome he was. I remember him in “Damages” and knew we had a pro on our hands. The scenes between House and Jason were pure delight.

    While I screamed “I can’t believe you did that” when House returned the gun to Jason, I do think it fits in line with who he is. He was determined to figure out the diagnosis. It is what makes him tick so as absurb as that was, it should not have shocked me. But he did put a lot of lives on line.

    All the House/Cuddy scenes makes me grin. Those two had some serious bedroom eyes going on when House entered Cuddy’s office at the end of the scene. They were both relieved and happy to be back in each other’s space. Then like magic, their eyes/smirks/words start to dance around each other again. I did love Cuddy asking House if he wanted a relationship and the prank at the end was priceless. Those pranks are House’s way of showing the love.

    Shallow-Hugh in tshirt with beautifully buffed arms.

    I am curious, what was the purpose of 8 extra minutes? I don’t know that it needed longer than the usual episode and wonder if there was a reason for it. Was it to see how ratings did after 9pm?

    Next week should be lots of fun and seems like a light episode. War of the Roses and we can sing along to the “you put the lime in the coconut, daaaaatooooor.”

  • sdemar

    PS-wanted to add, your left margin on my computer was cut off. Noone else seems to be complaining so it must be my set-up but I have never had the problem before. It made it a little difficult to read.

  • triggerpt

    Just wanted to add that Cameron came up with the diagnosis not House.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/11/26/080233.php sf aka jim

    sdemar, Your reference to the ‘lime in the coconut’, just reminded me of something very sweet indeed! In the episode where House and Cuddy are on the airplane together and Cuddy gets sick, House describes her scent as ‘toasted coconut’, I believe. So is House the lime? Will they feel better if they are shaken together?

  • http://www.noondarkly.com Krisztina

    I read the review (fantastic, as usual) and agreed with it, as usual. Maybe I’m so into House that my perceptive skills go up a notch every time I see Greg House, LOL. But I agreed with Barbara 100%.
    I read the comments and that’s when I realized something must be wrong with me… I think Season 4 is the BEST season of House to date.
    Quite frankly, there was so much tension in yesterday’s episode that I never missed RSL… House and the gunman alone were enough to steal the show. 13 was great, and the episode was much needed for her character development. What I missed was a bit more of angsty looks from Cuddy… although Lisa did her best and yes, it was obvious she was scared sick for House.
    Hugh Laurie was amazing as always, and seeing him in that T-shirt it took all my self-control not to moan out loud beside my boyfriend, who would have understood, by the way, I just thought it inappropriate. LOL. HL looks hotter each episode, is it the hair? The arms? The acting? His soul? Probably all of these.
    For me this episode was a highlight of this season.

  • Claire

    Thanks for the quick review, Barbara. Control. You really nailed the theme on this one. When House gave the patient back the gun, the writers had me. It was so very wrong. It was so self-indulgent. It was an act that could easily have killed 13 or the other hostage or even House himself. It was even worse than the jerky pick-up chatter in the the CIA episode. There is just no way to excuse it. It was so House. Yes, he is noble, attractive, competent–and a REAL JERK. That’s why I love this series. The writers don’t let the viewer off that hook any more than they do the characters. A very good House.

  • JL

    I couldn’t decide whether I could quite believe House would actually give the gun back to Jason. But I agree that it fits with his pattern of seeing truth as ultimately more important than anything else. I like the point that House felt he and Jason had arrived at a point of trust – that made his actions more plausible to me.

    I also like the point that House was shocked that Jason was prepared to continue having 13 inject herself. One might expect him to be more cynical. Expecting Jason to act morally and to care about another human being doesn’t sound like typical House behaviour.

    I noted the SWAT leader’s comment relating to hostages beginning to sympathise with the one holding them hostage. That sounds like something House would see as evidence of people’s irrationality – and yet it describes his own behaviour exactly.

    Thanks as always for the review, Barbara!

  • Anna

    I’ve just seen the episode and yes,….House giving back the gun to Jason is so tipically House and of course difficult to digest for those who are not so much into this character. What House does is always surprising to the ordinary person but this does not mean he is always right: his action could have caused the death of somebody and indeed I was expecting someone to die (those stupid spoilers!). I liked the episode very much and I ‘am happy that
    the diagnostic part was stronger than the conventional drama that is usually present in situations like this one.This was also the very first time I happened to see Ivanek: great performance.And HL was as good as always.
    I’ve seen some people have complained of Wilson’s absence in the episode, and they might be right, but, apart from him being present in the room as hostage, I don’t think two or three more answers on the phone would have made the difference.

  • Barbara Barnett

    So many comments and so much cooking to do! (Actually not too much, since we’re not hosting Turkey day–just some vegetarian stuff of us non-carnivores :))
    But I wanted to respond, comment make note of a few things, forgive the not addressing you all directly.
    The diagnosis was Cameron’s. But ultimately it’s House that processes everything and gives the yea or nay based on what makes the most sense to him, so in effects it’s probably always at least his co-diagnosis, but you’re right Cam did come up with it.

    I have to say, I was completely stunned that House gave back the gun. House believed that he understood Jason, and could control the situation, thinking that Jason wasn’t really capable of harming anyone, and didn’t really want to hurt anyone, but was desperate and frustrated. Giving back the gun was a sign of trust to Jason that House was going to finish the diagnosis. He thought he could gain Jason’s trust enough to ensure no one was hurt (and maybe he took out the clip, too–something we never saw???– Not saying he did that….) But House misjudged Jason. And House’s arrogance about his knowledge of human nature cost him. He also thought he could talk him down and talk him out of using 13 any longer. Wrong again.

    Would I have preferred he didn’t give back the gun? Yes. Was it in character? Yes. Was it a stupid act? Yes. House is flawed as a character, and despite his ability to be noble and even heroic. Here he was not heroic. Not at all.

    I completely loved the bookend scenes with the drawer! So House. Pigtails in the inkwell. He was testing Cuddy to see if she would put up with it or even bite back. when I was in Junior High, I was the sole girl in a group of geek-guys. The fact that I was accepted in this group as one of the guys was very cool. That prank was House accepting her as much as anything. It was fun, not cruel; something he would do to Wilson and vice-versa.

    As far as the lack of wilson and angst outside the room, I think to keep it within the bottle-drama format, they could not (nor should they have done much of that). I would imagine all of the worrying happened off screen. I personally didn’t miss it.

    Ah…SF–you’re “jim”–and jim isn’t in “jim,” it’s joy in the morning. Now I have made the connection. Thanks for the clarity.

    Happy thanksgiving everyone!

  • http://justspaz.livejournal.com Sarah

    I always look forward to these reviews, but this one was just missing something: you discuss the wonderful acting of Laurie and Ivanek, which I agree with, but there was just as much of that wonderful in Olivia Wilde’s performance.

    I may be one of the only people who love Thirteen more than most of the other fellows combined, but I know that the emotions and turmoil presented in the character by Wilde in this episode were outstanding. Especially at the end of the episode. In the scene of her epiphany, Wilde displays Thirteen’s crazed and rushed feelings perfectly. In the scene with Foreman, her facial expressions are right on, and that little smile after accepting his help with the trial was beautiful. I’m definitely looking forward to the future interactions between Epps and Wilde and their respective characters.

  • SF

    To answer your question why House patted his stomach/abdomen whilst looking at Jason, he was silently asking Jason to try and take a big gulp of air and Jason did and he could which meant House got the diagnosis right and Jason was cured. It wasn’t a thanks for 13’s life or anything.

  • Sarah

    The diagnosis was Cameron’s. But ultimately it’s House that processes everything and gives the yea or nay based on what makes the most sense to him, so in effects it’s probably always at least his co-diagnosis, but you’re right Cam did come up with it.

    Because giving Cameron credit where credit is due would be too much to ask for, right?

  • Barbara Barnett

    Sarah, you are absolutely right. Olivia Wilde did a great job conveying 13’s journey. She hit every note. Lovely. I’m also not one who hates 13.

    I don’t hate any of them; I even like Foreman sometimes ;). I dislike Wilson sometimes. I even dislike House sometimes (Like when he gave back the gun–and when he’s being an ass just to be an ass–and when he puts his own needs ahead of the patients’.)

    I did give Cameron credit in my comment. I generally don’t count the number of times who gets what credit. The credit goes to House, because he synthesizes everything. But who did what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the episode (at least not this one.) it’s great that Cam got the diagnosis, but irrelevant to the story.

    I agree about the hand gesture, SF. But there was so much else at play in HL’s body language and behind those haunted eyes, othter things were going on, but not in the gesture. I stand corrected (after re-watching multiple times!)

    Looking forward to what will be a fun episode–and for those who need something to do whilst the turkey (or in our case vegan casserole) cooks, USA network is running a House marathon!

  • Orange450

    Hi Barbara – after many years of hosting Thanksgiving for a large crowd, my husband and I have taken the drastic step of moving the party off-site, and we’re taking everyone out for an early dinner. I wasn’t sure I liked the idea originally, but it didn’t take me long to get used to the relaxed morning (and time to analyze House), with the added benefit of time to see the episode last night.

    I’m thinking that it’s no coincidence that this episode comes directly on the heels of “Emancipation”. What a contrast in themes – freedom vs. the ultimate captivity – on so many levels.

    So we know that House has always been a helpless captive of his need to know, his obsession with the answer at all costs – collateral damage included. And as we saw – this episode brought him face-to-face with the consequences of that obsession as he may never have been before. So my question is – was this another step on the long, slow road of emancipation he seems to be walking in S5 (ever since he got off the bus)? Did the realization of what almost happened to 13 because of his obsession free him of his shackles to it (to a certain extent)? Did he finally meet a cost too high to pay – even for him? And will he recognize it and balk at it if he ever comes across it again?

    I have no idea, obviously, if the showrunners did this intentionally. I generally appreciate the smaller details; I’m not so good at grasping the big picture, overarching themes – I have to wait until you point them out :-) But this one occurred to me after thinking about the episode for a while, and I think it fits so perfectly that I really wonder if there’s anything to it. One small detail that I noticed and loved was the way Jason said “I lied” when they were all still in Cuddy’s office. That was a key foreshadowing to his lie of omission, which when finally found out, led to his diagnosis. So well done!

    I’m also wondering about 13. (In general, the team (old and new) don’t mean much to me – I’m only interested in them as they relate directly to House). I really dislike the idea (which I’ve read in several different places) that 13 is being presented as a sort of parallel to House. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have anything against OW or 13, but I don’t think either of them are multi-faceted enough to pull it off.) But if it’s true, in spite of MHO – does her newfound will to live (and agreement to participate in trials) reflect his?

    So what form will his clinical trial take ;-) When he said “hell, no” to Cuddy’s question, “methinks the gentleman doth protest too much” popped right into my head!

    I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I thank you for a wonderful year of writing on House and other subjects of interest, and I’m looking forward to more. I wish you and everyone here many good reasons to be thankful in the coming year.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/11/26/080233.php sf aka joy in the morning

    Barbara and all her readers, I hope everyone is having a relaxing Thanksgiving. Here in Switzerland it is just a normal day as children go to school and adults to work.

    I’ve noticed that a fellow commenter has the same name as I but with capital letters. “SF”

    So, I think the thing to do would be to change my name on this site from “sf” to “Joy in the Morning” aka jim. It is the title of my favorite P.G. Wodehouse novel.

  • Erin

    Wonderful Recap.

    This episode did not actually capture me the way it should have. Something was lacking. Perhaps I would have had more of an invested interest if there had been more, emotional risk? Rather than simply Thirteen (who actually did a great job here but is hugely over-used) and a bunch of random clinic patients. I mean the script was great, acting was great, but for some reason it just didn’t do it for me.

  • Orange450

    jim – so your new name was inspired by Wodehouse. When I first saw it, I thought you were using a different novel by the same name – Betty Smith’s “Joy in the Morning”. Never as famous as “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, but also a lovely story.

  • JL

    Orange450, what interesting connections you make! I hadn’t considered the effects on House of having the potential consequences of his obsession wiith “the answer at all costs” thrust into his consciousness. It will be intriguing to see how it may affect him in future.

    And as for the clinical trial as a parallel – you’ve given me a whole new reason to look forward to next week’s episode! And, I suppose, a greater interest in Thirteen and how her situation plays out…

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/11/26/080233.php jim

    Orange, I’ve heard of Betty Smith but have never read her. Thanks for the recommendation. And House beginning to emancipate himself this season from some of his compulsions is an excellent theme. I’m going to keep my eyes open for House balking at extreme risks.

    I wonder if the passing of House’s oppressive and denigrating father has anything to do with his increased sense of freedom and ability to breath freely(like the potw). I liked how House, during the last scene with Cuddy, took a deep, strong breath before he made his comment about a “relationship”.

    I recently watched “The Lion in Winter” and was struck by the similarities between King Henry II and Queen Eleanor with House and Cuddy. The Royals savor their clash of wits and passionate verbal sparring as do House and Cuddy. (And Laurie and Lisa for that matter!)

  • Sue

    I liked this episode, but it lacked the tension a real hostage situation should have. The nurse was the only one who really showed fear. House, who was shot in an earlier episode, never even winced at the site of the gun. That would be an subconscious reaction that happens before you know it. None of the ducklings showed concern, and Cuddy’s reaction was not significant enough. The team, as they were talking to House near the end, were as calm as if they were talking to him about any patient.

    Wouldn’t a man want to get his pregnant wife out of a hostage situation? Would a pregnant woman say she would stay? The people fleeing outside Cuddy’s office were more scared than the people inside her office.

    When House took the breath at the end, he acknowledged the patient’s desperation. He told the gunman he forgave him, that he understood his plight. “No hard feelings. I understand why you did it. It was a small wink and a nod after the guy took the breath that conveyed those thoughts.

    When House gave the gun back, it was more about the patient’s welfare than the puzzle. House could have easily overpowered the guy, who looked like a 90 pound weakling. House said at the end-that the gunman would have died if he did not do what he did. It’s never just the puzzle for House. He cares about the patients, he just doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. The patient told House he would do anything for an answer.

    When the patient said ‘it was his body, and his life, and there was a truth out there, House could identify with that from when he had the surgery on his leg. When he said “and he would do whatever it took to get an answer, House identified with that too.

    If 13 had died, that would have been the second resident who died young after House had made a mistake.

    At that point, 13 was okay. House kept the hostage because he knew he needed to trade him for the next treatment. House thought he had control of the situation.

    Huurrraayyy! Olivia Wilde finally had an expression on her face!!! I thought it would never happen. Did anyone notice that Olivia Wilde seemed to look at House in a sexual way when she was on the floor at the end?

    The “either the drugs kill me or he kills me, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference” did not make sense. Would the guy have shot House if he didn’t leave? Would he have shot 13? The guy had more to lose by shooting either one of them than he had to gain. That whole scenario seemed forced to legitimize the 13 “I don’t want to die” scene. I hope this is the last 13-centered episode.

    The strength of this episode lies in Hugh Laurie. The man is just brilliant. He never lets down the “House” façade. He never gives us a reason to think House could not be a real person. His consistency in acting out this highly complicated character is just remarkable. We got more “original” House this week. In the past few weeks, House had been one-dimensional. He was back this week full force. I hope we continue to have House with his full persona.

    Did anyone notice that the pregnant hostage was Natalie Wood’s daughter-Natasha Gregson Wagner?

  • http://www.huddy-online.com/forums/index.php Anna M

    Incredible review as usual Barbara.
    You have a knack of summing up perfectly what everyone else can’t quite articulate about each weeks episode.
    Your reviews always make me think in new ways about different aspects of House.

    I too loved the part where a handcuffed Jason was being taken away by the SWAT team with House just standing there looking at him and then putting his hand to his chest and breathing in then out. I think Jason mirrored his action, so House could check his diagnosis was right, get his final answer. It was like an army salute between them, a mark of respect and a final goodbye. That moment summed up the connection House felt to Jason: he empathised, identifyed and – in a strange way – respected him.

    It was like a re-affirmation to House that unlike Jason he still has that control over his life, despite his flaws and crazed risk-taking. I beleive this relization will have a marked impact on House in the future.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Hope everyone has had a great holiday weekend. It will be hard to get back to work tomorrow! (Yes, I do have a job outside of writing House for Blogcritics!)

    Now that my daughter is safely on her way back to Seattle and school on to some of your comments!

    #26 (ORange)–I’m thinking that it’s no coincidence that this episode comes directly on the heels of “Emancipation”. What a contrast in themes – freedom vs. the ultimate captivity – on so many levels.

    So we know that House has always been a helpless captive of his need to know, his obsession with the answer at all costs – collateral damage included.

    You’re right. It IS an interesting juxtaposition. I think he really understood jason on that level of his helplessness in the face of needing to know. House has risked himself, and occasionally others with it. I think he was impacted by the consequences that might have been realized this time in enabling 13’s self-destructiveness.

    I think another interesting thing (something I’ve just considered, actually) that’s a corollary to this contention. House won’t give up. Period. He has nearly died several times, and each time he could have simply slipped away, something stops him. He’s been at the brink of despair and each time returned from it. His insistence on life, even though his is miserable and he’s been sorely tempted to end it, is fascinating. It’s come up several times since “Wilson’s Heart” and his talk with Amber.

    For example, in “Not Cancer,” he told the patient that the difference between them is that he hasn’t “given up.” Is that also the difference between him and 13? He was horrified that she’d waved the white flag, that she hadn’t given up. Even the agorophobe–House drew a distinction between them: he risked his life to not be a cripple; the patient was risking his life to avoid sunshine and fresh air. I have to think more about this.

    jim–Lion in Winter is one of my favorite films of all time! Fantastic performances all round (and the very, very young Timothy Dalton as well!). The dialogue is snappy and quick and smart. Peter O’Toole is marvelous as it Kate. And the young Tony Hopkins as well.

    Sue–House, who was shot in an earlier episode, never even winced at the site of the gun. That would be an subconscious reaction that happens before you know it. None of the ducklings showed concern, and Cuddy’s reaction was not significant enough. The team, as they were talking to House near the end, were as calm as if they were talking to him about any patient.

    I think House has PTSD on a variety of levels and for a variety of things, but he compartmentalizes. He absolutely flinched at the weapon. I think his body language was right on the money. I think most of the worrying was off camera. The nature of the episode style precluded anything much at all from beyond the “bottle.” I think they all were worried.

    Agree about HL’s brilliance in this episode. :) good catch on the pregnant girl, too.

    Anna M–Thanks for your kind words. I agree that this event will have a subtle, but lasting impact on the good doctor.

  • Gerry

    Barbara, excellent review as usual. I agree that one of themes of the show is that House never gives up, personally and professionally, and sometimes those two areas blur for him. I also think that he’s got PSTD from more than one incident in his life, and to me, the infarction and its aftereffects are the area that most often seem to impact him emotionally.

  • Eve K

    I just read another review about “Last restort” from Blogcritics, by Gerry? Does this mean that this is considered to be a pivotal episode?

    Im still mulling over “Last resort”, Im actually starting to like it. I have always liked the “not normal” obsessive side of House, but not to the extent of him risking other innocent bystanders lives (the hostages). But this may be the way of showing some ultimate consequences of his obsession.

    “Last Resort” still has its weaknesses, mostly the staffs lack of proper reactions to this very unusual and dangerous situation. They seemed too relaxed about it all.(almost like they were on a TV show!)

    But the episode grew on me and is clearly important for understanding this character.

    I guess House is always worth writing about, the more the merrier and all that! And as long as we get our Barbara-fix every week!

  • Barbara Barnett

    Eve K–Agree with you about needing to get a bit of the really NOT normal person that House is. I’ve liked it better and better on each viewing. HL is fabulous in it–and the episode is really important as a dissection of House as a character.

    Thanks for your kind words. I look forward to writing about House (and other things) for a long time to come.

  • Sdemar

    A little sidenote for those that did not think House was affected by the gun, when Jason shot one of the hostages, they showed a quick look over to House and he had his face covered. It was brief but it was there. I’m with Barbara in that House can compartmentalize with the best of them.

    While we always give a shoutout deservingly so to Hugh, the guy that portrayed Jason was on the same acting level as Hugh. It was subtle but powerful.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks, Sdemar. You’re right about that–on all counts. Fab acting all round. and about the gun too. One of the things that House consistently does is not to panic. He is always the calm voice of reason in panicky situations: remember in Airborne (which is not one of my favorite episodes) how he called Cuddy on scaring a plane-full of passengers? He told the flight attendant to tell the passengers not to worry, but then confessed to her that they should be worried. He does try to be calm and to deal with situations. He can certainly be over the top and a bit crazy, but when push comes to shove, he is all reason and calm.

  • ira80

    About the fear of a gun. I noticed a few instanses when House recoiled from the gun pointed at him (for axample when he is on the knee in front of Jason or after the big guy fell unconsious or in the lab when House asked to give him the gun).

  • Orange450

    “I think another interesting thing (something I’ve just considered, actually) that’s a corollary to this contention. House won’t give up. Period. He has nearly died several times, and each time he could have simply slipped away, something stops him. He’s been at the brink of despair and each time returned from it. His insistence on life, even though his is miserable and he’s been sorely tempted to end it, is fascinating. It’s come up several times since “Wilson’s Heart” and his talk with Amber.”

    Barbara, in “97 Seconds”, he said it explicitly: “Misery is better than nothing.” And he was talking about Stark, who surely had a right to feel more miserable than House, at the time. (House has his problems, certainly, but I don’t think he is always all that miserable.)

    Interesting that during his talk with Amber he actually expressed a desire for nothingness instead of misery. And he only got off the bus because she made him do it. Hypothetical question – would he have stayed had she not forced him to get off? You know, I also wonder whether he’ll remember his conversation with Amber the next time he talks to a non-terminal patient who wants to die rather than continue in misery (physical or emotional). Whether he’ll be able to relate, given that he now knows what that feels like.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Yes, Orange, he did say that in 97 Seconds! Obviously Amber was a stand-in for House’s subconscious mind (like the shooter in “Meaning”) so who can say? Clearly it was something he was grappling with. even so far as to wonder if he deserved an easy death as opposed to a difficult life. Wilson had actually once told him that death was the easy way out.

  • Orange450

    “even so far as to wonder if he deserved an easy death as opposed to a difficult life. Wilson had actually once told him that death was the easy way out.”

    Barbara, I’m not sure I’m understanding you, here. It seemed to me that while we saw him on the bus, he felt quite strongly that he was the one who deserved to die, and not Amber. I know that Wilson told him that dying is easy, and living is hard (and only RSL could have delivered that line without making everyone groan from the platitude!), but I’m not clear on where/when House wondered whether he deserved the easy death over the hard life.

  • Barbara Barnett

    You are right. He did believe that he deserved to die–and not Amber. But remember he was having this conversation with his subconscious not with Amber.

    The comment I made about Wilson was that he had told House at one point last season that living was the hard choice and self-destructiveness were the coward’s way out. I don’t think House believes this, nor does he believe in taking the easy way out… the only exception to that was in MLC when he was at the edge of real despair. But even then, he couldn’t do it.

  • Orange450

    Thanks for clarifying. I agree that House does not believe in taking the easy way out. He is all about making a difference, doing vs. hoping. This life – the here and now – is the only space there is in which to accomplish this, so he must cling to it, no matter how difficult – or violate one of his own core princicples.

    Since he is driven to save life for others, I’m glad that he doesn’t generally consider his own to be dispensable. That would be incredibly sad.

  • http://perceivingwholes.blogspot.com Jane

    House giving Jason back the gun is such a powerful moment! I don’t think it’s a matter of misjudging Jason’s character — by this point, House is too wrapped up in the case to care about anything except the diagnosis. (This only changes when there’s a direct threat to 13.) How much his action is due to his curiosity and how much to empathy for Jason is unclear, and I got the impression that even House may not know. It’s a spur of the moment decision, but not in the sense of being hasty. Rather, it’s one of those instant decisions driven by something so deep you can’t even say why you did it.

  • bakerstreet blues

    I really think had 13 kept her mouth shut about going for the drugs which would slow Jason’s heart rate, House would absolutely won this showdown. 13 saw an opportunity to hop back on her self-destructive track and took it. I thing that I thought was interesting was that all the fellows immediately blamed House for basically doing exactly what he was being ordered to do at gunpoint. Not to mention the fact that if anyone could recognize the danger in that room it would definitely be the person who knows exactly what a gunshot wound feels like. I also hated the fact that 13 accused House of being a coward, just an ordinary human being….the idea that she is a doctor with a sick patient never entered her mind. The last thing I would ever accuse House of being is a COWARD, and the second to last thing I would ever accuse House of being is AFRAID TO BE WRONG. Not to mention the accusation of 13 to House that he is a martyr (oddly enough he is willing to risk himself all the time, never anyone else.) The coolest part about this episode was the fact that Cameron really seems to be the smartest fellow in the House. (haha play on words there.) I have always contended that Foreman, Taub, Kutner and 13 are too stupid (or too judgmental) to breathe.