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TV Review: House, MD – “Let Them Eat Cake”

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First — hot off the NBC press release: Hugh Laurie will be hosting Saturday Night Live December 13! Joining Hugh will be hip-hop artist Kanye West. (Now back to our regularly scheduled episode review.)

Marie Antoinette was the most self-deluded of monarchs. As Paris starved around her, as rebellion fomented, her response was cold, yet filled with denial. “Let them eat cake,” she famously said of the masses who could not afford bread.

“Let them eat cake,” the tenth installment in House, MD’s fabulous season five, is fundamentally about self-delusion and exposure — and how exposure and coming to terms with its consequences are sometimes an evil necessary for moving on. This theme touched each thread of Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend’s intricate, funny, and insightful script, from House and Cuddy’s bizarre and poignant courtship, to the main case of the week and Kutner’s virtual clinic patient — who wasn’t. Great performances from everyone, and Hugh Laurie seemed to be having a ball (even though Cuddy seemed to have House’s stashed quite nicely away) portraying the more playful side of House.

This week’s patient is a fitness guru, who hawks her fitness and weight loss videos on late-night infomercials. She pushes her obese clients into hardcore fitness regimens, and when she turns up on House’s doorstep, we learn that rather than using a regimen of hard exercise and a strict diet, she has undergone gastric bypass operations, thereby enabling her to lose 200 pounds and gain a new career. She has, however, the most ironic of diseases: a genetic anomaly, the cure for which requires her to consume a high-carb, sugary diet. She ultimately must face her own demons: would she rather be healthy and possibly overweight, or enjoy her new body, but live a life of illness? She promotes “healthy lifestyles,” but can she have her cake and eat it too? In the end, she opts not to be healthy and to submit to drug therapy that will treat, but not cure, her ailment.

In the meantime, 13 has enrolled in a Huntington’s Chorea clinical trial being managed by Foreman. It makes sense that he would be involved in such a trial, being a neurologist. Nice continuity for the character.

Foreman tries to understand why 13 is continually late for her appointments and refuses to come into any sort of contact with other Huntington’s patients. As a young girl, 13 watched her mother succumb to the neurological disease and the toll it took on her –and on 13. Never saying “goodbye,” 13 reveals that she hated her mother until the day she died, never understanding her mother’s Huntington’s induced bizarre behavioral symptoms. Every Huntington’s patient 13 encounters, she ultimately reveals to Foreman, is another reminder of her past and how her attitude affected her mother in her dying days. It’s a lot to face alongside the issues of one’s own mortality, but as Foreman tells her, she has to “get over it” in order to move on and have a chance of succeeding with the experimental Huntington’s protocol.

Kutner, and to a lesser degree Taub, believe they can “be House.” After all, they’re only really trying to be a virtual Dr. Gregory House, famous diagnostician. In a hysterically funny side story that is a sort of “virtual” clinic beat, Kutner has set up an Internet diagnosis line under House’s name. Raking in thousands of dollars a week, Kutner has had an easy side job. That is, until he acquires a new patient with a potentially deadly boob job. Unable to diagnose the woman’s strange – and growing stranger by the minute – symptoms, Kutner turns to plastic surgeon Taub, who wants his share of Kutner’s action for the consult (and not ratting him out to House). But when the patient actually shows up looking for Dr. House, Kutner and Taub end up in over their heads. They go to Chase and Cameron, which only digs Kutner in deeper. And when the patient apparently dies, the duo are deeply in the poo.

But House has known about the scheme all along and has orchestrated this entire patient scenario in an effort to teach Kutner a lesson — and maybe get in on the action himself. Talk about self-delusion! House involves Chase and Cameron in his elaborate scheme and shells out $3,000 to hire an actress (possibly a prostitute). I loved this entire storyline. Taub and Kutner are funny together and sort of reflect House and Wilson in a subversive sort of way. But no one has House’s mad “skillz.”

The third thread of this triple chocolaty-confection of self-delusion concerns House and Cuddy. As Cuddy says halfway through the episode, “Everyone knows that this is going somewhere.” But, she mistakenly believes that proximity and then assertiveness will trigger a (proper) response from House. House isn’t one for directness; he much prefers game playing. The House-Cuddy chess match continues. The question is, who will be the first to resign their control of the board?

Moving into House’s space after her office was destroyed in “Last Resort” is Cuddy’s opening move. Pawn to king four. But they are playing on House’s turf (although you can argue that the hospital is Cuddy’s turf, since she’s dean of medicine and all that, so “potato, potahto.”)

House moves into her space, insisting on sharing his own desk; but then he goes into her office and breaks the toilet, taking control of the renovation, moving out his bishop. House is deluding himself that he can control the relationship with Cuddy, keeping it funny and non-emotional. She’s as good a chess player as he is — and maybe that’s the fun for him, the challenge. So, Cuddy moves out her knight, reacting to House’s move by removing all the furniture from his office, and yet neither one of them moves out of the office itself. They simply wait. House “castles;” Cuddy “castles,” the players on their respective sides of the board (he in the outer office, she in his usurped inner office). But then there is a delicious and frustrating encounter after House shoos the team out the door to run down Cuddy’s alternative theories.

House’s own theory is that Cuddy has them chasing lost geese, leaving the two of them alone in House’s now empty office. But House thinks he knows what’s going on and challenges her, moving out another major chess piece. (Okay, enough with the chess metaphors.) “You didn’t stop me for medical reason,” he challenges, thinking he knows Cuddy’s game — and her strategy. “You stopped me because you have the hots for me.” Very House thing to say, and a classic deflection.

“You’re still here (and let me control what your team is doing, rather than doing that brain biopsy) because you have the hots for me.” Point, counterpoint.

Deflecting, House calls Cuddy on her attire while admitting that it turns him on. “Why are you dressed like that? Why are you always trying to get my attention? Are you screwing with me?” But his tone of voice is suggestive not snarky. He finally does want to understand Cuddy’s strategy. Not giving anything away, she reverses the questions, leaving him with nothing to say as she moves close into his personal space. “Depends on your answer,” he replies to her still trying to maintain control. But Cuddy tries to take control by pushing forward the idea that “everybody knows where this is going.” Check (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Cuddy offers that this is the appropriate time for a kiss. Instead, House makes a grab for her breast: a juvenile and crass gesture. But it's not playful; it's not sensual; it's not even sexual really. It is, however, an unemotional response to her unemotional statement about the kiss. What had House hoped to hear from her? Had he hoped to hear from her lips some measure of intimacy? An answer to his question about why he matters to her so much? But that would have been risky for her, and she could not reveal that much of herself. So she speaks in third person and asks for intimacy in return.

I believe that House’s refusal to give in (and kiss her) is his refusal to end the game so soon. He’s not ready (emotionally) to commit, despite being powerfully attracted. His “boob grab” is intended to push her away. I think it took every bit of self-control for House not to kiss her. But I do also think that had she given him a real answer and taken a step forward herself, he would have responded in kind, because he wouldn't have been able to resist.

Cuddy leaves, disappointed in the defeated strategy and disappointed (but not surprised) by House’s crass and juvenile behavior. What Cuddy had orchestrated to be a “moment” between them has fallen flat, and House is who everyone expects him to be. Hence, House regains control of the situation. But House is also disappointed as evidenced by his body language as he stands, eyes downcast after Cuddy leaves him.

As juvenile as he seems, House he is clearly (and seriously) considering his relationship with Cuddy and where it’s headed — and what he should do about it. Is he deluding himself that he can control things with Cuddy? Is he deluding himself into thinking that it is lust that he feels — and not love?

I found House’s conversation with Taub very interesting. House asks him about philandering and not about his real, long-term relationship. “How do you feel when you’re philandering?” House asks him. It’s interesting that he’s asked Taub about this and not serial philanderer Wilson. Wilson’s cheated time and again — and each of his marriages ended in failure. Taub has done the same the thing, but his marriage has succeeded on some level. And maybe that’s why.

At first Taub gives him the conventional wisdom, but then House, who has clearly been thinking about this, suggests to Taub that Taub sacrifices something to make the relationship work. He sacrifices a bit of his soul, but he stays with his wife, whom he loves (and over whom he was willing to give up an lucrative career.) What is House thinking? What’s House willing to give up to make things with Cuddy work? Is he willing to give up anything at all? Retreat from his iron-clad control at all? It’s something that House is considering — and considering seriously — with all of the attached consequences. He's trying to intellectualize and analyze something that is as ethereal as love. He’s deluding himself that it’s possible.

And then the wonderful reveal about Cuddy’s new desk — just as she is complaining to Wilson that House is unemotional, juvenile, and hopeless. What a perfectly House-type gesture. And Cuddy totally gets that it’s from House.

The same guy who makes a grab for her in his open office, makes the grand gesture of restoring to Cuddy her medical school desk. That’s exactly the sort of grand, romantic — and anonymous — gesture that I think House does well. This is the same guy who wrote Stacy a prescription for her heart condition; who bought Cameron that silly corsage; who came in singing a romantic aria after sleeping with Stacy (and not “Voulez Vous Couche Avec Moi”).

So that leads us to the final scene in the episode. I’m of two minds here, so maybe you all can help me decide. If the fake patient is a hooker as well as an actress, has House decided to express his “urges” with her (philandering) while he courts Cuddy? House isn’t ready to commit to a physical relationship with Cuddy, but he’s got to be going crazy with desire. He knows that intensifying things will have broad and long-lasting implications for him and for Cuddy. So does he sacrifice a bit of his soul — getting his physical needs met, while making grand romantic gestures towards Cuddy? Was that the advice House was seeking from Taub?

Or was she really an actress and the hooker comments were typical House remarks about his own sexual proclivities? Was the scene in his office an innocent “let’s get a cup of coffee?”

Or (okay, so I guess I’m of three minds, not two!) was the scene staged for Cuddy’s eyes to get her to back off and cool things down between them? I guess I’m caught between one and two. I'm not sure about theory number three. And beyond that, is House deluding himself (threading back to the episode’s theme) that he has any control at all over Cuddy or their intensifying situation? Okay, folks, so what’s the differential here?

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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.
  • Sera G

    Hello, Barbara!
    I am so glad I read your review tonight. I was disappointed in House’s behavior toward Cuddy. Just when I thought he was ready to see where things were going, he crudely grabs her in a gesture as demeaning as the kiss was beautiful.
    However, you helped place their interaction as part of the ongoing game between them.
    I agree, the med school desk was genius from the writers; both a grand gesture and a statement.
    I am crazy about the two of them and have been since season 1, episode 1. I know there is the opinion that the relationship won’t last, but I for one would love to see how it all plays out. I can imagine the adjustments, compromises, fights and making up. I would love for the writers to give it a fair chance. They are two mature, complex equals and I want to see where the ‘dance’ takes them.

    By the way, do you know of a way to communicate with either FOX or Shore and Co.? I don’t feel comfortable with the website, being new this whole blogging thing. Thanks so much!
    Can’t wait to read the second part of your article about House/Cuddy and love.

  • Peggy

    Nice analysis, Barbara! I’ve been chewing over the ending for twenty four hours now. As I was watching I was sure House had set up the situation so that Cuddy would see him with the other woman — upping the ante one more time. After all, wouldn’t he expect her to realize who had provided that desk, and to come straight to his office? But now it seems to me the writers intended it to be ironic. He’d finally made a romantic gesture and was on the verge of “winning” the game, and instead messed it up by losing focus. It might be that his very real interest in her has actually resulted in throwing him off his game. If that’s not reading too much into it.

  • http://www.huddy-online.com/forums Renee

    I have a lot to say on this over at Huddy Online but here is some of it.

    Just to focus on the last scene where you are of “three minds”… honestly, to me that least is irrelevent as far as House’s POV. I’ll bet good money he eithr bid the chick goodnight — after all, he was dressed and ready to leave – if they were going to leave together they would have left already. Second, even if he DID go home and, er, canoodle with the “trashy ho” as I call her, it’s just a physical deflection such as we’d heard the verbal ones all episode.

    That last scene was not to further House’s POV. It was to further Cuddy’s. That’s why it’s all shot from her POV. We don’t hear what House is saying — we just see what Cuddy sees. The purpose was either to show that Cuddy IS jealous and DOES have deep feelings for him and/or the purpose is to drive home to Cuddy that House CAN’T change. And I hate this last and think it’s a cheap plot device IMO if it means they decide next episode to go back to status-quo (IE pre-kiss).

    It was the scene in the office that bothered me the most. Seriously even BEFORE he went for the boob that scene had me dead in the water. It was when he said, “We already did that.” —- I knew at that point, all was lost for that moment in that particular scene.

    I always see things from House’s POV. I have always been House’s Champion. He is me. I am not me without loving House (the character) — someone said something like that yesterday on LJ and I almost broke down and cried. He is so much a part of the fabric of me, that I wouldn’t know what to do. I understand him the way I understand a song, the way I understand where my vocal chords are every time I open my mouth to sing…. it’s very bizarrely inherent in me. And I’ve always taken his side — against Wilson, against Amber, against every character – INCLUDING Cuddy. When he told her she’d be a crap mother in Finding Judas I totally got where he was. It didn’t bother me like it did others. The more obnoxious he is, the more he flauts authority, the more he bitch-slaps people….. he’s my hero. At the end of the day I have always RESPECTED him. The end.

    But in the empty office scene and from then on in the episode, for the first time, I felt I was on the outside looking in in regards to House himself. I was seeing it, or rather FEELING it, from Cuddy’s POV. That’s never happened to me on the show. All through the Ham arc, the Stacy arc, EVERY freaking arc — it was always me-as-House. Even the recent lovely Huddy episodes — I’ve always come at it from his side. The minute he said “We already did that.” I felt shut out from House. He did to me what he did to Cuddy. It was terrible.

    Also, Cuddy should know better. You don’t PUSH House. We learned that he has to come to her in his own time and in his own way and at his own pace. You can’t push him. That’s what the ITCH taught us. He’s like a skittish WILD HORSE. You need to horse-whisper, not try and get on his back. And she shouldn’t have said what she did, IMO. BUT I think she did b/c Wilson told her she needed to do something and “not sit next to him hoping something will happen.” So, she pushed and the horse bolted. He SHUT DOWN. AGAIN. And I wanted to reach through the screen and KILL him. When he grabbed her back by the boob I thought he was going to change his mind for a second, but he chickened out again and didn’t just act 12 – he acted like a 20 year old frat boy — which is WAY WORSE IMO.

    IMO one of two things happens next week. He finally owns up to the fact that Cuddy is not a medical malady he can diagnose and cure – he will somehow OWN up to his feelings. OR the last scene will make Cuddy’s wall go up so high that even if he comes clean next week, it will be too late. And that will piss me off.

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks Sara G and Peggy for your comments. There was a lot to mull over and multiple interpretations of everyone’s motives and actions.

    Sara G–why do you ask about access to FOX. Is there something specific you want to know? I have some very, very limited access (accorded to all journalists) to ask a question here and there, but no more than anyone else, I suppose.

  • http://leakey-lover.livejournal.com/ leakey_lover

    Hi, Barbara. Been reading your columns for a few months now and very impressed with your insight and articulation. Kudos on nice work.

    I’m inclined to believe that De Coconut Lady was indeed a pricey call girl and that House accepted her offer of his three hours remaining as you suggested. Maybe House retreats into the tried and true as a foil to all this new emotional stuff going on that he doesn’t fully understand; ie, control.

    The way he touched Cuddy, and his crack about leaving her boobs behind, bordered on the cruel. I read it as a clear signal that he’s willing to play the games and maybe get horizontal but not involve the emotional. I think he’s still ambivalent about what he wants from her, weighing what he’s willing to give up and risk, wondering if he is, as he said, better off alone. So he pushes her away but makes that magnificent desk gesture. It’s all still grey.

    Cuddy’s part in the games is clever. They’re playing point for point, but her dialog is surprisingly prepubescent. She’s usually not often at a loss for comeback. I keep coming back to her “Everybody knows where this is going” remark. In what universe could such a thing matter? It sounds like a panicked excuse.

    She’s humiliated but after the desk comes back for more and gets it. The depth of her reaction to seeing House with the hooker indicates to me that she’s gone gaga and started deluding herself about who House is.

    What do you think? Pleasure to communicate with you.

  • Sera G

    I wanted to write about my appreciation for the show and offer my opions (not that it will sway them one way or the other) about House/Cuddy.
    In the ‘old days’ you could write a letter to a network or production company. Not anymore, I guess.
    I am reluctant to join the online discussions because they all seem to have ongoing interactions and I feel like an intruder. Your blog, however feels more welcoming.
    Thanks for asking. Sera G.

  • http://www.huddy-online.com/forums Renee

    Barbara, you can delete this post if it’s not appropriate, but I just want Sera G to know that she is VERY welcome at Huddy Online. We are MORE than happy to welcome newbies, outsiders and those who appreciate Huddy from all walks of life. We always try and encourage new posters to get involved in discussion as new posters and new thoughts make our day!!! So come on by, Sera G – we’d love to have you. Just click on my URL.

  • barbara barnett

    Fun to see so many new faces the last couple of days (or at least new contributors!) I will reiterate what Renee said, nice group of folks over at Huddy Online (and at other communities as well.) Sometime it gets pretty intimidating–and sometimes the conversation is too juvenile (at certain sites). And one of the reasons I write this blog is to have a place for the intelligent and diverse analysis of this terrific television series (and character)

    Cuddy may be deluding herself about who House is…or maybe the woman isn’t a hooker at all. A tried and true literary device is the miscommunication between two lovers. It predates Shakespeare and is the tentpole of many a screwball comedy. This sort of comedy of errors.

    But I do think that the final scene is meant to be observed through Cuddy’s POV entirely. We don’t catch the conversation between the woman and House, so we don’t know what they’re up to to (or not). We shall see how this plays out over the next episode and then hiatus until after the New Year.

  • L.Lilly

    Barbara, Cuddy told House at the end of “Words and Deeds” that he makes everyone else “worse for being around him.” Cuddy needs to take a good look in the mirror and see what she has become. I was so disappointed in her behavior this episode. The Dean of Medicine – The Boss – was playing adolescent games and stooping to House’s level in a transparent attempt to get his attention. I absolutely cringed at the breast fondle scene, as well as the conversation preceeding it, not only for House’s crass behavior, but that Cuddy actually expected him to kiss her in such a public place. House has undermined her authority at every opportunity with the new team (thong challenge, anyone?) but this was something she was doing to herself. She was undermining her own authority this time. I was actually embarrassed for her actions as everyone seemed to know why she was camped in House’s office.

    When Cameron attempted to get closer to House in Season 1, House rejected her by pointing out all his flaws and what he saw as her attraction to his “damage.” I liked that House seemed so unsure of himself, and I felt sure that was why he didn’t appear interested in dating other women over the years. Yet, he was telling Cuddy in this last episode that she had “the hots” for him and was dressing provocatively for HIM. He was extremely egotistical. (I wish Cuddy had denied that she was dressing provocatively for him.)

    I’ll add my own game board analogy at this point. I think this (Battle)ship may sink.

    It is not my intention to show any disrespect for all the “Huddy” love on this forum, but I did want to bring out another view.

  • http://www.naturalobsessionsfiber.com Andrea

    Barbara I’ve been reading your reviews compulsively and first I want to say THANK YOU! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who picks up on apparently minor or little things and sees how they fit into the larger fabric of character.

    Regarding this episode, and the “boob grab” scene specifically, it seems super super clear to me that House started that conversation with the firm belief that he could throw Cuddy for a loop and she’d back off, showing he’s as dense about her as she is about him. But when she made it clear she was gonna stand toe-to-toe with him, he came as close to panicking as I think I’ve ever seen him. Physically he practically froze, and the look on his face was pure terror. From that perspective, his actions (however disappointing they were to all parties) made a certain amount of sense. Wanting to touch and connect but afraid of wanting too much. Made me ache for them both.

    Just my take on things.

  • Sheelagh

    I might have been able to roll with House’s crude and offensive groping of Cuddy if I really had any reason to think the desk came from him.Given his behavior in Season 4 & 5 to date, I don’t.
    I think Wilson manipulated the arrival of the desk in hopes of pushing the relationship along. The gesture is much more like Wilson than House.
    House has always respected Cuddy as his boss but he has also always objectified her verbally and finally did sophysically in this episode. It’s the first time I’ve truly disliked House. I wished Cuddy had slapped him, whatever his reasons for sexually assaulting her were. Gone are the days of caring about a flawed but honorable charater .
    Vulgarity is now substituting for wit and soap opera histrionics for thoughtful story telling on the shop. To see Hugh Laurie’s , and Robert Sean Leonard’s talents so ill used and degraded is depressing indeed.

  • http://www.kitotoole.com Kit O’Toole

    As always, you offered astute observations, Barbara. I particularly found your comment that Kutner and Taub have become sort of twisted versions of Wilson and House very insightful–I hadn’t thought of that analogy.

    As for the now-infamous groping scene, I’d like to propose yet another perspective. House has a history of testing the limits of his relationships, be they platonic or romantic. Remember the episode from I believe last season when House admitted to Wilson that he didn’t want to “push their friendship until it breaks” or something along those lines? One could have a field day analyzing House’s reasons–is it because he’s afraid of commitment? Of letting someone see his vulnerability? Or is it his way of saying “this is how I am–take it or leave it”?

    When House and Cuddy slowly approached each other in that empty office, I was reminded of two bulls about to lock horns. While I didn’t like her “everyone knows where this is going” remark, she did one thing right–she showed him that she’s not a wimp. As history has shown, House has no time for people who are easily intimidated or overall submissive. So Cuddy was parrying back and forth with him. Then House pulled his shocking move, and seemed to stare at her as if this were a game of Chicken. Would she slap him, yell at him, cry, walk away, or still kiss him? Clearly he was testing her, ready to analyze her response, as he has done frequently with other people. I don’t know if he was surprised by her reaction, but as you point out, his posture did suggest that he thought that maybe he had overstepped his boundaries.

    That leads to the final scene. If the woman was a prostitute, I suppose it’s possible that House did invite her back to his place. After all, he has used hookers before. It would also be a comment on how he can’t handle real relationships, since sex with prostitutes is simply a business transaction, to put it mildly. Of course it could also be the writers’ way of delaying a House/Cuddy ship just a little longer. As Hugh Laurie has stated in interviews, they don’t want to fall into the “Moonlighting” trap.

    Those are my 2 cents, for what they’re worth! Thanks for a thought-provoking review.

  • jim

    Barbara, Great review. I don’t know how, but you keep improving on writing already excellent. And thanks for inviting us into the differential. :-)

    Renee, Maybe you felt alienated from House at the moment of “We’ve already kissed” and the subsequent boob grab because House seemed completely alienated from himself at that point. When I saw the preview of that scene I assumed House was searching for the truth from Cuddy. Within the larger scene he was still focused on the challenge to his control and she didn’t have the insight to understand that.(Who would?)

    The entire episode, from the perspective of Cuddy’s character, was played a few feet off the ground. The writers have given Cuddy a backhanded compliment by gifting her character with new facets of ridiculousness that they usually reserve for House. “I think we’re supposed to kiss now”? At least it signals that she realizes she would be required to coach House through the intricacies of a relationship. She does know who she is dealing with. She has seen him together with Stacy and in love, pre and post infarction. And then again, five years later, seeking a second chance.

    I loved the sound of stifled rawness in House’s voice when he first questioned Taub about Taub’s infidelity. From boob grab to raw anguish. What’s not to love?

    About the actress/prostitute…What would House do? His past history of self-destructiveness doesn’t bode well for wise behavior at this point. If he did, indeed, copulate with her, it would have only served to bring into sharper relief his yearning for Cuddy. Dysfunction of his equipment is also likely. Or a last minute distaste for the exercise, causing him to call it off. But overall, I would guess that he made an effort to further delude himself by taking this actress/prostitute home. But how will Cuddy react to the knowledge? It seems there are a few more rounds to go.

    Favorite line – “She overreacted to my overreaction.” House’e delivery was superb. He was completely fair and even on her side as he excused her actions to his team with a light note of possessive pride.

  • Rachel

    Thank you for an insightful and well written review! I haven’t read your work before, but now will make a point of it. How delightful to engage in intelligent conversation.

    I find it interesting that you say that Cuddy didn’t put herself out because my reaction was quite the opposite. I thought she was very clear in what she wanted, taking what was playful banter and turning it into serious discussion. I feel like big declarations would have been out of character at this point because I feel like Cuddy doesn’t really know WHAT she feels. She knows she feels something, and she knows that it’s strong, but I don’t think she’s able to verbalize it. Hence the “we’re supposed to kiss now.” I think that, in letting him now that she was open to a relationship, that she wanted to kiss him, she DID put herself out there.

    I don’t want to dignify the boob grab with too many words, but suffice to say that I wasn’t pleased, although I wasn’t surprised either. It was a very “House” move.

    The desk, however, totally shocked me and sent me babbling on about my shock for at least ten minutes afterwards. That’s not something I expected from him at all, but I thought it was very touching. A grand gesture, but in his own way. Very nice touch by the writers.

    Anyway, thanks for the great read! Look forward to reading more!

  • inhibitor

    Hi Barbara!

    Thank you for another great review.

    What I find particulary interesting at the episod is the interaction between Foreman & Thirteen. She lost (at some level on her own request) her chance to say “goodbye” to her dying mother. On the other hand, Foreman is obviously avoiding the contact with his gradually “slipping away”, ill on Alzheimer, mother. Who can understand Remy better?

    About “hooker-non-hooker” scene: I strongly believe that was innocent on House’s part( as funny as it sounds regarding to our favourite physician). House often jokes about his sexual life, but he is also very private person. IMO he won’t do anything like that on the nosy eyes of hospital’s gossipers.

    And in the most naive part of my soul, I also believe he won’t do it to Cuddy:)

    PS. I’m not native, so excuse me if I devastate your beautiful language too much.

  • JL

    I find it interesting how much people are saying, “I don’t know what to make of this” in relation to the House and Cuddy parts of this episode. It strikes me that our confusion reflects the characters’ confusion – they both are aware of their sexual attraction and deep feelings for each other, but have no idea how to go about having any sort of functional relationship, or whether they even want to pursue a relationship.

    In past weeks we’ve discussed Thirteen as a parallel for House. In this episode, however, I felt her experience paralleled Cuddy’s.

    Huntington’s holds no surprises for Thirteen – she watched her mother degenerate and she knows what to expect. Yet she has shied away from this, mentally and emotionally – until the drug trials. In this episode, she came face to face with the reality she’s been hiding from.

    I think that Cuddy’s comment that she shouldn’t have been surprised by House’s behaviour was a nice summary of her experiences in this episode. She knows to expect awkward and outrageous behaviour from him – she knows he hurts those around him. But, this time, she had the reality thrust into her face.

    This is why I think House probably did sleep with the ‘actress’ (either before or after that final scene). I think the writers were reminding us of who House is, making the point that, even if he’s somewhat in love, he is still just as messed up and hasn’t really changed.

    (And, yes, it did leave me thumping cushions and yelling at the screen in frustration. But also irritation with myself in expecting anything better from him.)

    They also showed House grappling with the prospect of change, and whether it’s possible and worth attempting. I think it’s both. But, boy, it’s a loooooong road.

    And I think Cuddy’s reaction to her new old desk – just as she was declaring House ‘completely incapable of romance’ – showed her ‘seeing House in a new light’ at last, 7 episodes after House’s attempt to unmask his cheerleading past. He’s getting there…

    (Thanks as always for the great review, Barbara! And looking forward, of course, to the second half of your article about House in love!)

  • http://huddy.forumfree.net/ Mel

    Hi!

    English is not my first language so I hope you’ll understand me.
    Your review are always amazing!

    I agree on everything you said, unless the comment about Cuddy in the “fondling scene”.
    I don’t think her answer was “unemotional”. I saw her eyes changing from “playful” to “emotional” and I don’t think House touched her breast because he was disappointed about her answer.

    He was scared, I agree, but that’s all in my opinion. The Cuddy’s behaviour was the best I can imagine in this situation. She played with House, and then she kind of confessed her feelings.
    House was unable to do it, and I really dislike him for that.

    The strange thing to me right now is that I hate the main character of my favourite serie, and I prefer Cuddy.

    I hope to change my mind on next episode, right now I’ve enough of “House is scared” plot.

  • Alessandra

    Hi Barbara! I’m Italian and I study literature and linguistics at uni…I’ve been coming here since season 4, ep.15, when I desperately was searching for a review of the episode. And I found yours. So I’ve never missed one, since that moment. Well, watching House is a continue challenge for me, because of my studies, I think, but also because of something I can’t find a proper name for, maybe for linguistic difficulties, but maybe not, since I can’t find the word either in Italian. It is something related to the huge amount of surprising events, of unespected, the fact that House is damn DIFFERENT from any other tv show in spite of that. And here we are. The entire House-Cuddy thing is made and carried forward in this very spirit of “difference”: yesterday evening I was watching the episode with my friend and when Cuddy walked towards House’s office we didn’t know what to expect: Maybe Cuddy wuould have entered the office and kissed him just like House had done previously, maybe she would have walked away at the last second, maybe he would have said something incredibly stupid because he didn’t want to be revealed as the romantic man who gifted her with the desk…This is because I love House: you watch it and you can’t never tell where the whole thing will go (despite Cuddy’s words!). And then Cuddy finishes her long (for the two of us here in Italy) walk, and finds House with the hooker/actress. Again, this is quite a surprise. Ok, not a big one, but if we had been in GA the choices would have been lesser. And after Cuddy walks away, you can’t really tell what the hell she’s thinking: actually, the unemotional child she blames is the man who gave her the desk, in complete anonymity. And this is what makes us struggle for the next episode, this makes an atavic curiosity (the same for literature) bloom in our hearts and in our minds, too. Because House is this. It can lead somewhere or somewhere else and never in a dull way.
    As a side note, regarding the episode: It was ages I didn’t laugh so deeply in a House ep. Ages. And the Thirteen entire thing is so sweet and sad and… finally something good for Foreman as a charachter.
    PS I’m really sorry for my english, I hope I reached the point, anyway.

  • http://neutrinothoughts.blogspot.com Marianna

    Thanks once again Barbara! As someone above me observed, your writing seems to improve. Perfection perfects! Maybe it’s the House effect -he makes everyone around him better, but he still remains the same -or is he?

    I love the game the writers are playing with us, along with Cuddy. Is he capable of change? Is he capable to take that step forward? Right now, it is Cuddy that is involved and highly intrested in him changing, but we, too, from the other side of the screen, can’t wait to see.
    Will he respond to her vis-a-vis subtle but clear revelations (for me, she couldn’t have said ANYTHING different than her indirect “everyone knows this is going somewhere”. Something more, something more personal, something more revealing about her emotions would be too much fo House). And i don’t agree with you in that, Barbara, i think that in a straight confrontation, he would have answered with sarcasm and probably deflect and avoid to answer or do anything.
    But this, oh this cruel gesture. It’s clearly an answer. That he can’t handle it being too personal, and he has to continue the game. He chose to touch her, but not in an emotional way (great observation there). The metaphor and his suggestion are for me quite obvious: “We continue our physical interaction, but i’m not ready for emotional involvement. Cruel as it is, I challenge you. Are you up for it?”. Of course, the little, sensitive, “i-am-still-waiting-for-my-white-prince” girl inside her, is devastated. How could he? Oh well, how couldn’t he?
    And then, we are left hanging over the edge of the screen. He stands there, devastated too (Hugh’s body language, once again, brilliant). He asks Taub, clearly puzzled -puzzled over a woman. And of course, I can’t imagine someone who didn’t at least whisper “aww” with the desk thing.
    So, can he change? Do all these mean that he is ready at last? We wonder, along with Cuddy (the pleasure in her eyes and the way she sways to his office with that broad smile in the end, are just priceless). But, of course, not. What were we thinking?

    I believe she is a hooker, I believe he needs her release. But i also do believe that, for whatever that means -physical, emotional, attraction, affection- when he goes with her that night, his mind will be at Cuddy.

  • http://neutrinothoughts.blogspot.com Marianna

    also, in a completely different note and tone, i just LOVED loved LOVED Hugh’s impression of Sean Connery “this is the Chicago way” -good God. I replayed it like 10 times. Fantastic.
    And the Monty Python reference? Could this show get ANY better? I love you House people/writers, I LOVE YOU! When he asked “What else floats in water?” i literally screamed: “A DUCK!” :D
    And, of course, Wizard of Oz.

    This epi was my own little playground. Come to think about it, i am going to watch it one more time!

  • http://www.huddy-online.com Eve

    I have nothing to add to any of the comments.
    Everything has already been said so beautifully.

    I just want to express my gratitude for this review. Great review, again!
    I loved reading it.

    You express everything that is going through my mind but for which I can not find the words.

    Thank you!
    I can’t wait for part II of the House’s lovelife article!!

    x
    Eve
    (the Netherlands – Huddy Online)

    ps. Thank you for the nice comments about our Forum!

  • barbara barnett

    It fabulous to have such a nice international and very thoughtful group of fans contribute to the discussion. So, welcome to all of you from round the globe! Just know that your English is better than my Spanish, Italian, Dutch (or many other languages –except maybe French or Hebrew–but I’m not brilliantly fluent in either of those either!

    Marianna–I didn’t get some of those pop culture references you did! Cool. I certainly didn’t get the Python reference. I did get the Black Adder “cunning plan” thing and the Connery impression (which was very, very well done–Of course Hugh’s parents are Scots, so…) from the movie “THe Untouchables” which, BTW was filmed in my native Chicago (and where I still reside).

    As far as the final scene, I think it’s meant to be ambiguous. Cuddy doesn’t really know what’s going on, why should we (since it’s her POV)–but she also doesn’t know about the ruse with the Kutner patient.

    THe woman was clearly not a stranger to House. Their easy camaraderie was too familiar. So either they’re friends–maybe even poker buddies. Or maybe he’s a client (which I don’t think is the case). Her “you even have three hours left” and his “Do I now?” with the sparkle in his eye means that he was going to be up to something. Here’s another thought. House was in his jacket and she was handing his helmet to him. Maybe they went on a motorbike ride. Or maybe — here’s a thought—maybe he was leaving and sending her (remember, she wasn’t wearning a jacket or coat at all in that scene)–she was sending him to Wilson (who House has said needs a diversion).

  • http://neutrinothoughts.blogspot.com Marianna

    In case you like the Pythons and are interested, here is the link with the duck thing. It is a rather long scene, but it’s worth it. Hilarious

  • Eve K

    Thanx Barbara for an excellent review, I had missed the “Let them eat cake” reference, so thank you again for that.

    It was a great episode and again a great and very real character portrait of House. A man not easy to like. But he is not boring. (-:

    About the fake patient:
    “No formal training, at least not in acting,” House said about the girl. So we can asume that she is indeed a prostitute and not a professional actress.

    I also believe the comment from Mariana to be absolutely true.

    “I believe she is a hooker, I believe he needs her release. But i also do believe that, for whatever that means -physical, emotional, attraction, affection- when he goes with her that night, his mind will be at Cuddy.”

    Anyway, we might never know, and Cuddy will never truly know. So she has to deal with the given information.

    I would love to have more male comments on this ep.

  • Eve K

    Ok, I he also said she was a thespian, so … but, it what she is isnt really the point. The point is how Cuddy deals with it…

  • lucyvanflick

    Hi Barbara. I’ve been reading your reviews and fics for some time now. Just a recent convert to House but I’m now hooked.

    Like another poster has said, all the comments to your review about “Let Them Eat Cake” are equally insightful as your review.

    I love the House and Cuddy dynamics and would dearly pay for these two to finally do something other than simmer for five seasons.

    From this part of Asia (HK actually),

    Lucy

  • Gemma

    Honestly? I didn’t read Cuddy’s “everyone knows this is going somewhere” comment as a confession, or as a way of trying to figure her feelings out. I think she was using “everyone” as a cover for “we.” “We both know this is going somewhere” would have been waaaay too much for her to put on the line, so she uses the excuse that everybody else is telling them they should be together. This is her way of feeling him out and getting his response, just like they had both been doing throughout the scene. She got her response – the boob grab made me so angry – and that was that.

    I love your analysis on the conversation with Taub! I have watched it several times and can’t seem to sort out the subtext. Now I need to watch it again!

    Also – the “actress.” I was pretty convinced that she was a hooker and was going to go home with House, but it didn’t surprise me at all. House will be House, I guess, as disappointing as that may seem sometimes. But now that I’ve thought more about his conversation with Taub, I wonder if maybe he was just trying to “see for himself” how philandering would make him feel. He’s trying to see if his feelings for Cuddy are as deep as they seem. Maybe he doesn’t want them to be. Anyway, I saw it as a sort of test. I don’t think he wanted Cuddy to see – that would just be cruelty for cruelty’s sake, and I don’t think that’s House at all.

  • Gerry

    Hi Barbara, lovely review again. I’m so frustrated with House right now, sigh. There’s only so many times he hurt Cuddy like that in a way to deflect from committing himself to anything. She’s now let him know unequivocally that she would get into a relationship with him. The ball(s) are back in his court. But the end scene didn’t bode well for him taking any risks.

    “THe woman was clearly not a stranger to House. Their easy camaraderie was too familiar. So either they’re friends–maybe even poker buddies. Or maybe he’s a client (which I don’t think is the case). Her “you even have three hours left” and his “Do I now?” with the sparkle in his eye means that he was going to be up to something.”

    I really think the only logical place this adds up to is she was a hooker and House was getting his money’s worth. He doesn’t have a social life outside of Wilson and he doesn’t even know his poker buddies’ names. That he was familiar with a woman who comes with a price and is willing to flirtatiously remind of him of that and he’s willing to flirtatiously take up on, points squarely at a hooker. She wasn’t an actress, as we learned. Cuddy knew what she was seeing, and she has to decide whether she can really open up to someone who functions this way in relationships. House sent Stacy away because he knew that no matter how hard he tried, he would inevitably do something crass and make her hurt/angry. Obviously he had in the past and knew he couldn’t change that part of himself. He’s making the choice to not even try to suppress that part with Cuddy. We know House can be sensitive, but he never leads with that part and his crassness is not covering up his sensitivity, it’s co-existing with it. It’s not going away.

    I do think House was wondering what he would be willing to give up for a relationship when he was talking to Taub. But so far, the answer is: not much. The interesting thing to me is that House looked so devastated when he found out Cuddy was thinking of adopting, as he thought about her moving away from him. Now he’s pushing away quite harshly in a way that’s going to affect their friendship as well as their relationship prospects. So what is he willing to give up to protect himself from emotional risk? Half of his friendship club? Making Cuddy feel like a piece of meat rather than someone he values is a pretty risky move in and of itself.

  • bliffle

    House is quickly degenerating into Just Another Soap Opera.

    It’s impossible to understand the medical detective story any more, it just twists and turns without cohesion and the only purpose seems to be to stimulate the interpersonal struggles. Nothing makes any sense.

    Very boring.

  • Flo

    Hi Mrs Barnett and everyone. I read your reviews and comments for a little while now but it is the first time I post.

    I Think the review is very well done and thoughtful and very interesting as usual so as the comments. As a cinema studient I realy like to analyze. So there is not much I have to add but I think that we may have forgotten two important points:

    1- We all speak of House’s difficulties with women and his relationships with them. His fears and mixed signals are the center of all the discussions and for good reasons of course but I think we forget too much to talk about Cuddy’s problems with men and her relationships (or in her case her lack of relationships) with them. She has big issues too.
    We can see that she wasn’t in a relationship for a very long time. The show doens’t even refer to one (contrary to House -> Stacy). She also has her fears of love and romance and I think that is why some of the scenes were showed in her point of view. I think it was to show us that she isn’t so sure about it herself and that she is as scared as House is but deals with it (or tries to anyway) in a different way. It would be interesting to know more about her past when in comes to relationships.

    Mrs Barnett I know you write a little about that in your reviews but very little though I’m sure you will say more on this in your analysis of House and Love (I like the fisrt part by the way).

    Anyway I think that the future of the relationship depends as much of how he’ll deal with his fear and emotions as how she will do the same thing.

    2- I think the fear of House (and maybe Cuddy) is a little different this time. We know that one of the reasons (and the main one apparently) why House doesn’t want to be involved in a relationship is that he fears that it won’t work and he will be hurt again as much as he will hurt his partner. It has been said several times in the show that he’s scared of the failure of romance and its consequences.

    But What House is also afraid of is happiness and success in a personal kind of way. I think he is afraid of a relationship with Cuddy not because of its potential failure but because of its potential success. He is scared that it might actually work.

    Like Wilson said in “The Itch”, Cuddy is smart beautiful, and more importantly she can stand him.
    He is totally right. Cuddy can understand and appreciate House in a way that no one else can. They know each other for at least twenty years and she is the only one who could cope with him for so long. She knows him very well.
    I think the fact that they knew each other when they were very young and before they were doctors is very important. She’s not afraid of playing games with him and she doens’t want to change him desperatly. She likes the challenge too.

    House is very aware of that and that’s what scares him. In its own weird, dysfonctional way, this relationship could work.

    Anyway I’m sure Barbara (I just realize that everyone calls you by your first name lol) will write something on this ship better than I did.

    ps: I’m french so I hope you will all be able to undersdant my post well.

  • Chrissy

    I agree with what someone earlier said about Cuddy; I didn’t think that her response to “Depends on your answer” was at all indirect or distant. I definitely heard ‘”everybody knows this is going somewhere” and we’re the only ones hiding from it. We should face reality.’ She didn’t exactly leave any question about what she was thinking. There was no womanly dropping of hints there. Everything was on the table.

    I also have my own take on what House did. I think that he did that because he needed to see how she would react. Again, as someone said before, House needs to test all his relationships because he doesn’t believe in unconditional love (but I do think he sort of hopes he’s wrong, he wants it from someone). So despite everything Cuddy has done for him, despite how often she’s shown her ability to deal with him and understand him he can’t quite believe she’s really seeing him. So he does something that is very much in character for him (a crass sexual gesture) and then he waits to see how she reacts. When she is disappointed by it, I think he is too. He wanted her to react better than she did. Hence the conversation with Taub. He’s disappointed and I think that he’s weighing how willing he is to bend to his perceived conditions of her love. Which is more important, the love or some of the more harsh elements of himself?

    Another possibility here (I think it’s quite excellent how none of us seem to be able to settle on quite what happened anywhere in this episode!) is that he may have already expected her to have seen the desk when that conversation took place. Her office was probably done by then (no way that anyone was working on it in the evening and her conversation with Wilson was obviously on the heels of what happened). Perhaps the above gesture was supposed to fit within that context. It’s possible that he was both testing the boundaries of their relationship and making sure she knows that he will be who he is and part of that is both large yet private romantic gestures and outwardly crude behavior of the sort that she’s been subject to since Season 1. If this is the case then it’s possible that his conversation with Taub is even more bitter than my earlier interpretation. He’s using Taub to confirm his own negative view that there’s nothing to be gained from a romantic relationship and feelings to the contrary are only rationalizations—House rationalizing his own disappointment.

    Going back to Cuddy for a second. I think whoever it was that said something about Cuddy and the little girl inside her has something there. I’ve always interpreted House’s performance review of Cuddy as him telling her that what she wants, a nice guy and a normal family life, are not something that she is really capable of maintaining and the she needs someone more like him.

    I’m not entirely certain what actually went on with the hooker(and I do think she was a hooker myself). I do think it was intentionally ambiguous and it, like many other aspects of this episode, will be cleared up next episode. Honestly, she did seem a little affectionate for a hooker. I mean, that is a business transaction after all and she didn’t strike me as expensive enough (sorry, that’s probably a bit crass) to be expected to fake such behavior so well with a client. Then again, she obviously charged more than 10 dollars an hour too (it was $62.50 an hour, I actually did the math), so maybe this is just my own ignorance about hookers. Still, she seemed like a friend and it seems like House would want to keep his relations with hookers less personal than that. He did ask that one girl in Season 2 if she had to talk to be a distraction. Still, he is House so it’s hard to put this past him. If he did, I imagine that it’s because he may feel totally rejected by Cuddy and is thus totally rejecting her. If he didn’t then I think that it means that he’s decided he’s not done with her yet or is too caught up to be very interested in the hooker. We’ll see.

  • genagirl

    I always think Wilson’s “philandering” is with his wives, his real emotional relationship is with House.

  • operahouse

    Barbara, I’m glad you are enjoying the House/Cuddy interaction. They are certainly promoting that ship full force this season. I am a viewer who thinks it looks very forced and I don’t feel it has grown organically over the course of the series. I didn’t find their banter at all funny in Let Them Eat Cake and I don’t seen any chemistry between them.
    I did (finally!) enjoy the Thirteen storyline. I thought that was really well done, including the powerful flashbacks. And the Kutner storyline was very funny.
    I think House grabbing Cuddy’s breast after her emotional (I know you thought it was unemotional) revelation that she wanted something serious was his way of saying, “That’s you. This is me. It’s not going to work.” And I hope that stop it soon and get back to the medical stories and ethical dilemmas. Although I miss the amount of screentime Wilson used to get and I don’t think S4 and S5 hold a candle to the first three seasons, it’s Huddy that will make me stop watching. A chess game is smart. This is just silly.

  • operahouse

    I just wanted to add that I agree with genagirl:
    “I always think Wilson’s “philandering” is with his wives, his real emotional relationship is with House.”

  • Tigerfeet

    Thank you Barbara! Fantastic review, as always, both interesting and entertaining. You – and a lot of the commentators – add so much to my House experience!

    I agree with those who see the boob-grab as testing Cuddy. He had an amused, curious look on his face while they were talking – as if thinking: how far can I go before she retreats? It might have been his way of testing if she would still be interested in a “proper” relationship after the initial flirting. “The next logical step” he said.

    But of course, he regretted it. It was almost heartbreaking to see him deep in thought in his office afterwards, not bouncing or throwing his ball as usual, but caressing it. The very ball Cuddy had played with earlier (so clumsily!! Goes to show how adept HL is at everything he does!). An then how he looked at the ball before reluctantly putting it away while talking to Taub. (Putting away Cuddy? Hope not!!)

    Hugh did an impressive Sean Connery impersonation, but also – who did he imitate in Wilsons office as they were looking at the drawing of Cuddy’s office?! As he said “I smashed it with a sledgehammer.” He sounded almost like Stephen Hawking…

    Thanks again, Barbara! Looking forward to your analysis of the Cuddy/House relationship.

  • val

    Wow! is all I can say with this review Barbara. I felt this episode had more to reveal than I was seeing and I appreciate your insights–Kutner and Taub ringing familiarity of House and Wilson–and all the thoughts of others. How I love this smart and fascinating series and blog…

    The new team (and Foreman) are certainly coming into their own and this can certainly be seen via the great comments here. Kudos to the new ducklings.

    The important line for me with regards to he and Cuddy, and what I think is on House’s mind, was when he asked Cuddy “Why are we still together?” Its placement at the beginning of the episode as they’re walking off the elevator towards his office, for me, sets the tone of his frame of mind at this point regarding Cuddy. This is the inner puzzle he must solve. She, however (perhaps deflecting in her own way) takes it into the present situation, she knows what he means and, hence, the dance continues and the steps get complicated.

    That complexity, I believe, was what the empty office scene illustrated. Laurie and Edelstein were both superb in this scene and the writers know their characters so well that the scene was perfect, if not frustrating. They both appear to know they are feeling something for the other, but as many posts have commented there are road blocks for each. Cuddy knows House. I agree that when she said “everyone knows something is going on” she meant ‘we’, and maybe Wilson:) In a way, House was more direct in his question to Cuddy than she was with him. Cuddy, like Wilson, gets House to see things differently and knows she can push him when it comes to medicine. Does she know how far she can push when it comes to his feelings? Probably not, and as a result we have her POV in the final scene. She is jealous. Cuddy may know another layer of House that is unknown to us, the viewers (lets hope it will be explored someday) and through the kiss and the desk (which I do agree was a grand gesture from House) she may have started to see it again–dare I say fall in love with it?

    It’s been mentioned in past comments and quite agree, of the Shakespearean nature of the House/Cuddy romance or courtship or whatever we have going on here. At the discussion of Barbara’s last article, it was ann uk (I believe) that mentioned the “Benedict and Beatrice act” between House and Cuddy and I couldn’t agree more. How fitting that Leonard played a role in the matchmaking of that famous pair in its unforgettable movie version:)

  • Sheelagh

    It speaks very well of the actors involved that everyone is so offended by House’s groping of Cuddy.
    I was trying to put my ‘outrage’ aside and think of the scene itself. Was it significant that the room House & Cuddy were in was completely bare and harshly lite by daylight? Neither actor was shot at a flattering angle. No soft atmosphere; no romantic overtones. House was very angry with Cuddy before this scene for interferring in his Team Differentials…and perhaps in his emotional world too ? His words to her when he grabbed her breast were ” It seemed like the LOGICAL next step”. Not the next emotional step; the logical step…all head and no heart here. Love doesn’t flow in “logical steps”. It was also very interesting that he didn’t let go of her breast when she was clearly offended and then hit her with what seemed an intentional & cruel insult ” can’t you leave them (her breasts) here ?”
    Along with his observations on her revealing attire House was clearly saying ‘this is all about sex on my side; a transaction; my emotions aren’t engaged’. Is he protecting himself by pushing her away ? He wonders out loud to Taub ” you gave up something to save a relationship and you RATIONALIZED that you were getting something in return” (paraphrasing here). I don’t know if he’s denying his feelings and trying to cling to the status quo or he really afraid of loosing the flirtatious friendship and support of Cuddy in his day-to-day world . His easy camaraderie with the ‘bought & paid for’ gal showed how much more comfortable he is when he knows the clear boundaries of a relationship.
    I’m still not convinced the desk was from House. I’m thinking Wilson, that master manipulator is in there somewhere. Cuddy jumped to the conclusion that the desk was from House. I think both she & the viewers need to think again.
    I do really miss the meaty discussions between House & Wilson on ethical issues & behavior. Robert Sean Leonard is a Tony Award winning actor and Hugh Laurie does his best work opposite from him. I’ve had enough with the frat boy dialogue and pranks for this Season. I want the writers to look back at episodes like ‘House verus God’ and dig down deep once again.

  • Cinnamon

    I know the writers might be afraid to actually “consummate” the Huddy relationship, but I personally feel like it could be a very exciting non-traditional union that ADDS to the dynamic. Hugh Laurie, and House of course, has clearly became a sex symbol (very deservingly so). While the show should maintain its focus on the medical mysteries, our lovable grumpy doc needs some female interaction beyond sporadic hooker encounters! Cuddy and House have undeniable chemistry and there’s no reason their sparks can’t turn in to flames and still maintain the spontanaity and complexity of their relationship. It’s not like as soon as they seal the deal they’ll turn into the Cleavers. Sexual tension can exist AFTER sex.

    On a more juvenile note…if I were Cuddy I would skip the semantics and just jump House. I doubt he would resist :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org jim

    Gerry, Your interpretation that Cuddy knew what she was seeing (a prostitute with House) had not occurred to me, but like almost every other point you made, I agree. That was a knockout blow for Cuddy! She had just offered herself to House and been rejected and then to find him with a girl for hire. Yikes! I don’t think she’ll overreact this time, but rather go cold.

    The part that I’m not sure is as important to Cuddy as it seems to have been to Stacy is House’s crassness. Cuddy has always withstood that. House does not need to temper that part of himself for Cuddy’s sake. In that rejection scene, House wasn’t asking, “Can I be crass if we’re together?” He was simply rejecting her by refusing to kiss her, and then pushing her away with the crass hand gesture for good measure.

    It was not the crassness that hurt Cuddy, but rather his refusal of her. In the same way, if the boob grab had somehow signaled a yes and not a no it would have been a strangely welcome gesture for Cuddy, although crass.

    But even after this blow, when she saw the desk, she hopped downstairs again to be with him, the rejection forgotten. This second implied rejection of placing another woman in her place is the knockout blow. Poor Cuddy.

    House is confusing.

    Cuddy will be a bad/great mother.

    House races to Cuddy’s home without cane to offer himself to her/House refuses to kiss Cuddy and places his hand on her chest to block her from continuing to offer herself to him.

    House wants Cuddy out of his office/He delays her renovations.

    House retrieves Cuddy’s desk from her mother and arranges for its secret delivery with the contractor/House perfers a prostitute to Cuddy

    I’d like to see Cuddy receive something good over the holidays.

  • jesse

    Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for your blog they are always fun to read. I am looking for your thoughts on an old interview I saw on you tube that Hugh Laurie gave where he says that if House was to fall in love or get healthy emotionally that would be the end of the show. So based on that do you think the writers will always dangle potential love interests for House in front of us but never actually have one work out. I’m curious on your take.

    Thanks

  • Luisa Borges

    Hi Barbara, I´m back to commenting. I have been reading, and loving, your reviews and insights for quite sometime, but only now in this supercharged Season 5 I have decided to start commenting more. Too bad I don´t now what Huddy Online is, anyway, I also comment on the house fox comunity. And, I´m from Brazil.

    Without further ado, let´s get down to comenting. Some of this I said on the fox site also.

    Well, I really liked this episode. It was not a “closing of the issues brought forth” but I think it moved things along really nicely.

    From the preview I expected something more on the slapstick comedy type of thing, but in the end the managed to merge fun with deep Housian games. I was a huge fan of “Moonlighting” back in the day, so I was kind of thinking something along the lines of that, only much more sofisticated.

    After the charged “Last Resort” epi, with its tension, this was a nice shift of pace. Count on House to surprise you everytime.

    So, on the House-Cuddy front, I liked Cuddy getting in charge. And I also liked the fact that in doing so she choose an approach that resembles(not to say mimics) House´s own courtship m.o.

    The “in your face, let´s annoy you into admiting you love me” scheme whats great to watch. Lisa Edelstein did an amazing, really amazing job, and Cuddy is so controled and sure of herself all the time, that it was nice to see her being more loose, and more unsure of herself as she went along the way. These two are going to be a “mating of porcupines”, they´re both full of spikes and have to figure out how to get by the other´s defenses.

    And I don´t think any of this is negative. The mismatches and the fighting. It´s like “The tamming of the shrew”, only in this case, House is the shrew, the one that can´t commit and is afraid of lowering down the guard.

    And yet he does so in the little gestures, such as getting her desk back. Part of him wants to test her to see how much she can take, to make sure she won´t run away and leave him hanging, and on the other part he knows that this relationship will change his current life, hence the talk with Taub about “leaving his old habits of cheating”. Still on the desk subject, I was kind of surprised that House would actually get in touch with Cuddy´s Mom, that was a bold move and very commiting on his part. I agree with you that he is a romantic, even if he tries to mask it, but the getting the desk, is just huge gesture.

    While he surely wants something from Cuddy he also feels the need to pull back a little, is afraid of surrendering, and mourns the life he will have to leave behind if he chooses her.

    Hugh Laurie was superb, once more, he can do comedy like no other. And also place such depth and emotion into every stare, every breath, every gesture that House makes. It´s a real gift to see him act.

    Cuddy stepped up the plate quite nicely, she´s more sure of what she wants even if she´s not sure House will be up for it.

    It´s been a Joy (pun intended) to watch this journey, and I´m sure much more great stuff is to come.

    Loved the hooker (I´m still going with the hooker option over actress), so House to do this, and so Kutner to actually believe he could get anything past House. The rescue by House at the morgue had me in fits of laughter.

    Taub was really great too. By the way, loved all the other characters as well. I´m really liking Thirteen more and more as we go along and I think “Forteen” will be fun to watch too. Foreman had great story lines in the past and Omar has more than proved he´s able to make them great to watch.
    Wilson is still in a very funny “Yenta” mode, he´s advice and “back and forth” between the “lovers” is great.

    Cameron and Chase also had a fun story as House´s accomplices, Chase can do fun like no one.

    About the last scene, I can´t really think that he staged that for Cuddy. He hired the girl to do the prank way before the desk thing and the boob thing, so I don´t think he planned how this would play on Cuddy. I´m guessing his talk with Taub, about giving things up and if doing so was worth it, did get him thinking about his relationships, and his use of hookers and casual sexual arrangments. I agree that this current exchange with Cuddy obviously left him excited, and that he could be “scratching his itch” in the only way he allows himself how.

    From the scene alone is hard to say if he was indeed going to sleep with her, although from the morgue scene I could see that they had a familiarity with each other that suggests they have done so in the past (the smiles, the inuendos and all that). But if he did sleep with her do scratch his “Cuddy itch” I sure it will not help and only make him want her even more. Fantasy is a powerful thing, and unfulfilled fantasy is doubly so.

    And that is what I have to say about the episode. Also I´m looking forward to next week, can´t wait for it to come, and I want to see what else it would bring.

  • Jen C

    Am I the only one who loves being strung along with this storyline? I don’t care if Cuddy jumps House or if House jumps Cuddy or if they wait four more seasons to do the deed – I like to watch them work it out. I don’t think it’s a soap opera – it’s just human interaction. I can definitely relate to Cuddy’s “juvenile” actions in the episode – I’ve certainly dressed up to impress someone and made excuses to be near them. Why shouldn’t she? The woman needs to have a relationship! It’s been years!

    As a woman, I was offended by House grabbing Cuddy’s chest, but after watching him harass her for four+ seasons, it doesn’t shock me at all. It just made me sad to see how hurt Cuddy was when she realized that House was shutting down again after seemingly inviting her real feeling with his “depends on your answer” comment. Poor Cuddy.

    I love the Beatrice/Benedick parallel! My favorite Shakespeare couple! They’re definitely House and Cuddy!

  • Flavia

    HI BARBARA,
    I LOVED YOUR COMMENT BUT I HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT VIEW ON THE LAST SCENE. I BELIEVE THE GIRL IS A HOOKER THAT HE ALREADY KNEW. I THINK THAT CUDDY GOING TO HIS OFFICE AND SEEING HIM FLIRTING WITH A WOMAN IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF BAD TIMING – SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS A LOT IN LIFE. WE CAN’T FORGET THAT HOUSE IS A MAN AND HAVING SEX WITH A HOOKER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS FEELINGS FOR CUDDY. MOST WOMEN CAN’T GET THAT BUT FOR A GUY IT’S THE NORMAL THING TO DO. AFTER ALL HOUSE IS 49 YEARS OLD SO HE DOESN’T HAVE TO KEEP HIMSELF PURE FOR CUDDY SINCE HE KNOWS THAT HE HAS A LONG ROAD IN FRONT OF HIM WITH LOTS OF OBSTACLES THAT HE MAY BE OR NOT ABLE TO OVERCOME.

  • Eve K

    I totally disagree that House can continue with his lifestyle AND Cuddy. Yes, House does use prostitutes, but he must get rid of them if he is pursuing Cuddy. He cant have his cake and eat it too. (To use a cake-metaphor)

    House said to Stacy – either be with Mark or me. If he doesn’t have the same standards for himself then he is a total jerk. (Ok, I know he is, but anyway) And he was totally occupied with whether Stacy had sex with Mark or not when he was trying to get her back, so Its only fair that Cuddy wants to know that too.

    But – and there is a but. A prostitute is not a girlfriend. A prostitute is not an emotional threat, its more like a bad habit? A really bad habit? But then again – sex is sex, with all the health risks and other stuff that follows.

    So it all comes back to when this Cuddy thing started or starts. She knows he has been seeing prostitutes, but when is the line crossed, when is she “entitled” to be jealous? Her look at the end of the episode tells me that its already to late. Most people will draw the line when they have had sex. Then they are entitled to set an ultimatum. As House did with Stacy. But the kiss obviously meant more to Cuddy than she realized.

  • Cinnamon

    Responding to Jen C…

    I’ve enjoyed the “being strung along” too…to a certain extent. I think there should be some payoff though…and it’s much more realistic (in my opinion) that they would actually hook up… at some point in the near future. This has been building for over 4 years and we don’t get to see nearly enough of THAT side of House. I wouldn’t expect them to have a “normal” relationship…but I do expect it would be great fun to watch them try :-)

    I adore House but I have been disappointed with some of his actions lately. And I felt so bad for Cuddy when he wouldn’t kiss her and when she saw him with “Coconuts”.

    I agree that the “dance” between House and Cuddy is tantalizing but sometimes I want to yell at the tv “Just do it already!”

  • Mel D

    My take on the end was that the woman was a hooker and perhaps House had decided to take her up on on those free 3 hours but changed his mind.

    He doesn’t touch her at all. She pats his lapels. I’m hoping (sad romantic that I am) that what Cuddy would have heard is something along the lines of the hooker saying “Whoever she is, she’s some lucky woman” as House turns down the option.

    Let’s face it, how sexual are you really going to get in a glass-fronted office? If he was going to use those 3 hours, I’m sure they’d have gone somewhere more private. Although, I’m guessing the hooker had to wash all that makeup off somewhere – how private are PPTH’s showers?

  • NLP

    Interesting analysis as always. I know the storyline is going the way you want it to go, but, whatever anybody says, it’s still 180 degrees away from Seasons 1 & 2. There will always be many of us who continue to be disappointed in the lack of internal consistency.

  • barbara barnett

    One thing I must say, and that is that this episode has certainly spurred a lot of lively discussion! Not just here but across the fandom. I have to agree that the conversation with Taub is very, very important to understanding House and his emotional state.

    “You weren’t miserable. You gave away something to help a relationship. You thought you were getting something back.” Taub was able to rationalize his affairs. He gave away part of himself, part of his soul, but what did he get back. “You thought you were getting something back.” From whom? From his wife? The mistress?

    These are crucial questions that House is pondering. I think House is big on fidelity. He nags Wilson when he has been unfaithful–and unethical sexually with a patient. Even though he had sex with Stacy when she was married, he wouldn’t allow himself to become embroiled in an affair while she was still tied to mark. His mother had an affair, of which he is the product and was brutalized by a man who probably suspected it. I think House hates the idea of being unfaithful (and I doubt he was with Stacy. Ever.)

    But he’s trying to figure something out before making the huge step of commitment to a woman (CUddy).

    Hooker or not hooker? Hookup or not hookup? That is the question, isn’t it? FWIW, I don’t think they did the deed, and I can’t imagine House having sex with someone with whom he clearly has a friendly relationship and have it be with no strings attached. that’s part of House’s intimacy issues, and he and hooker/actress were very chummy, and I just don’t think House would go there. Not with her, anyway.

  • Luna

    Hi Barbara.
    this is quick note from a first time poster. That was a very nice review!

    I will add yet another view point to that boob scene.

    I also think (like somebody already said) that House wanted more a confrontation at that moment, and somehow it didn’t go as planned. I thought, however, that was there had been a “game” motif all the way up to that scene, escalating rapidly.. that the touching House did was yet another (and, yes, incredibly juvenile and crass) “move”. There was something in House’s face, when he realises Cuddy is not responding at all well to the action, that to me screamed “Oh, oh. So you didn’t think THAT was funny?”

    Basically, I think he was in “game mood” still, panicked when Cuddy requested the kiss, and basically made a really crappy decision. Once he saw he had messed up, he went with it. But as you mentioned it, from his body posture you can see he was disappointed, too.

    so that’s my take.

    Thanks for letting me share!

    Luna (from Argentina)

  • Luisa Borges

    Hi to all,
    Just watching the epi again and thought of a few more things.

    1)The line Cuddy gave to her cell caller, but really to House as she was looking straight at him as she said it “I just had to tell him I have his balls and his not getting them back”. That was something besides playful batter on her part, it was a show of power but not on the professional side, it meant something on the emotional play. She really believed that she “has him by the balls” so to speak. She was confident he was powerfully attracted to her and that with that she could make him come forward and admit to wanting something more with her. This is also evident by the way she exited the room, brushing against him, albeit to get around the desk, but she did it in a sexual manner, maybe to prove to him the point of the true meaning of her words.

    2)Throughout the epi up until de boob grab, she was always overtly seductive towards him. The way she walked, the near touches, as the first one when she puts her arm on the door frame to his office. And all the time she walks when she is in his office is not the “normal Cuddy walk”, it’s a parade to get him to break point so that he´ll flip and stop resisting. Great job on Lisa Edelstein´s part by that way in doing all that.

    3)So the boob grab scene is really the showdown of her strategy (by the way I agree 100% with Barbara´s take on the exchange). When she gets up and walks into his personal space, for the first time in this epi, she is not up to physically seducing him, she shows her emotional side. She gets sweet and romantic. And as she does so, he turns into a teenager. I think he really wanted to kiss her, you can see the work in his face (great Hugh Laurie) as he considers the options and goes back into banter mode. It´s like he is torturing her by not giving her what she wants, and what he wants also. He deflects the tension and need to open up by starting a game. But the minute he sees she is hurt, he changes. When she leaves I think he is really afraid that she would give up on him, his talk with Taub also happens right after that, and we can see he´s still deeply troubled by what happened. And also he says to Taub as they leave “Cuddy doen´t always get want she wants”. This is the return of the secular dialogue line between them. So he the desk move is his signal to her, to not give up on him. Maybe he sees that if she doesn´t get what she wants and/or needs he also won´t get want he wants and/ or needs (endless play of words on this line). To me this confirms that he wouldn´t sleep with his hooker/friend, and that Cuddy seeing that was an accident.

    So this is it for now. Great reading all the comments and insights.

  • JL

    Barbara, I agree that House and Taub’s conversation is vital to understanding House’s current thinking. Your take on it seems very different from mine:

    “You weren’t miserable. You gave away something to help a relationship. You thought you were getting something back.” Taub was able to rationalize his affairs. He gave away part of himself, part of his soul, but what did he get back. “You thought you were getting something back.” From whom? From his wife? The mistress?

    I think you’ve taken this as House saying, “You gave something up to help the relationship (and so you had an affair)”.

    Whereas, I understood it as,
    “You weren’t miserable having the affair, yet you gave up something that made you happy (the affair) in order to help your relationship (with your wife) – because you believed you would get something back.”

    If House means that, then it would read as him pondering whether he should give up parts of his current life that make him happy (like hookers, for example) in the hope of finding something better in return. Better the devil you know?

    You can see why that interpretation could make a significant difference…

  • barbara barnett

    JL–significant difference, indeed. See why I called this a differential in the review? Taub hasn’t given up cheating, however. Cheating is his way of (how did he put it in Ugly? His way of dealing with life: some people take pills (House) I cheat (Taub).) What does House feel he has to give up for Cuddy? Maybe the part of his lifestyle that is private and no one’s business (whether it’s drugs, beyond the painkillers; drinking or hard living, or just not having to account for anyone but himself….) It’s a huge step for him, if he decides to take it.

  • Orange450

    JL and Barbara, I have a germ of an idea about this that’s struggling to get out. It isn’t fully thought through, but I’m letting it fly anyway. I hope it’s somewhat coherent.

    From Need to Know:

    Wilson: This was no great sacrifice! You sent her away because you’ve got to be miserable.
    ….
    Wilson: You don’t like yourself. But you do admire yourself. It’s all you’ve got, so you cling to it. **You’re so afraid if you change, you’ll lose what makes you special.** Being miserable doesn’t make you better than anybody else, House. It just makes you miserable.

    And remember Adverse Events, and the comment House made to Lucas, when Lucas asked House why he was trying to make Taub miserable (in an episode which featured Taub and the impact that his philandering had on him):

    “Miserable people save more lives. If your life has meaning, your job doesn’t have to have meaning.”

    I know that I’m one of the very few people who thought that Wilson had a point when he made that observation about House’s personality way back in Need to Know. And adding into the equation what House said to Lucas – could House be harking back to that conversation in this episode? Could he be afraid that if his own life takes on a new kind of meaning outside his work – he’ll have to give up his unique edge – the drive, the focus that makes him who he is? And enables him to save more lives than anybody else? Could he think *that’s* what he’d have to give up for Cuddy?

  • Quin

    Three questions-who was Cuddy talking to on the phone when she said what she did about House’s balls? It must have been someone she knew very well, and someone who knew House very well, and on a personal level, not a business caller, to say something so outrageous. And who wasn’t in that scene with the rest of them? Or am I making too much of this?

  • Packrat

    Hi Barbara!

    I’ve been a faithful reader of yours for a long time, but this is my first post.

    I’d like to agree with Flo’s observation on Cuddy’s issues with men/relationships. I have long suspected that she is every bit as emotionally guarded and stunted as House, perhaps even more so. Remember her date with Lube Guy? She set it up for failure from the beginning. She didn’t want him to know anything about who she really was and was trying way too hard to be what she assumed he would like. When he caught a glimpse of the real Cuddy and wanted more, she was resigned to the fact that she would not be able to give herself to him. I would not be at all surprised to learn that she has never maintained a relationship longer than six months to a year, tops. Her career has always been her priority. I think she would totally relate to Amber’s view of having to choose between love and respect. Now she finds herself in completely uncharted territory, and is just as clueless as House is on how to proceed. It’s both fun and frustrating to watch.

    I also think she may have Daddy issues, as well. She said that the desk was in storage at her mother’s house, not her parents’ house. Dad could be estranged, dead, or both. I am reminded of the injection scene in “Who’s Your Daddy?”. House makes the comment about her father choosing her mother for childbearing purposes. He intends this as one of his jabs at the size of her backside, but she responds with a rather touchy “Shut up!”. I do hope we learn a little more about Cuddy’s past through all this. It is a testament to Lisa Edelstein’s portrayal that despite the fact that we know relatively so little about the character, she is still so complex and fascinating.

    I also agree with JL’s take on the House/Taub exchange. I believe that Taub has come to the conclusion that the fun, but ultimately cheap thrills he got by cheating were not worth losing the woman I believe he truly loves. It remains to be seen if he will continue to be faithful or relapse into his old habits, but I think he is at least trying to invest himself fully in his marriage at this point.

    Lastly, the more I think about it, the more I think that House did not sleep with the hooker. She was handing him the helmet, indicating that perhaps they had been on the bike. But, if they were returning from a tryst, why go back to the office? Why not just drop her at her car, and part ways? Just doesn’t fit, to me. Perhaps he used his three hours to enlist her help in another scheme, yet to be revealed? Or, perhaps I am a naive, romantic sap. That is another strong possibility!

    Thanks so much for your wonderful work on this blog. I don’t always agree with your take, but it is always insightful, (as are the comments that follow) and gives me so much to chew on.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thanks for the great review. I just saw the episode, and really liked it on many levels. I’d read your article and all the comments beforehand, so I was dreading the “House/Cuddy in the office” scene. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I think that House’s behavior can be interpreted as something quite different than crass and juvenile, while still very much in keeping with his personality, and the journey of self-discovery that he’s currently embarked on.

    I had to go back to The Itch, and their morning-after conversation about the kiss.

    Cuddy: I just want to say ‘Thank you’ for not taking advantage.”
    House nods curtly, “You’re welcome. Any time you want to stop kissing, I’m there for you.”

    When someone says “thank you for not taking advantage”, they can be sending the message that they don’t *want* to go further with you. I thought at the time that House was hurt when she said that, and his reaction was a very Housian way of expressing that hurt.

    Now fast forward to the office scene in this episode. When Cuddy asked House “are you screwing with me?” and he said “depends on your answer” – great play on words – he was talking about the real thing. When she says “this is where we kiss”, and he says “we did that already” – I was amazed at the emotion in his voice and facial expression. Like he was back in that moment in her apartment, under the spell. To me, what he did wasn’t a “boob grab” – he touched her breast. There’s a big difference. I thought he looked at her seriously, and when he said “this seems like the logical next step” – I thought he meant it, and was waiting for her response. Was she going to pull away from him again? Sure it’s inappropriate for the office, but he’s House. And the way the camera pulled back and we saw them standing close together in the middle of a large empty space – gave the impression that they were totally alone.

    So then she does misunderstand him, and he says the line about her leaving them there, and she leaves – upset, and he’s visibly upset, and all the rest happens, and she finds the desk and goes to thank House. I agree with Packrat – whether or not the thespian was a hooker, I don’t think there was a hook-up. I think Cuddy misunderstood. And with the scene entirely from her POV, I think that she might very well walk away saying “Let them eat cake”. Bread is the staff of life, but no one can live on cake. (And if you try, you get sick of it pretty quickly.) She might be thinking something like “you could have me, and something substantial – but no, of course you can’t do it that way. So go make yourself sick on gooey cake. See if I care.” But she does care, and the stage is nicely set for the next installment.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/03/222450.php jim

    Luisa Borges, Two porcupines trying to figure out how to mate, I simply love it!

    Barbara, You wrote, “House is big on fidelity.” I am so glad you said that. I somehow have an implicit belief in that too. Although he told the nutritionist girlfriend(Honey?) that he was sometimes unfaithful. I think, as in everything, House makes up his own ethical rules. For a Stacy or Cuddy, House would be strictly faithful, as much for himself as for her. But for a woman that he knows will probably be short-term (nutritionist, Honey?), he informs her immediately of his changeable position.

  • Sue

    Barbara, again a great review. I agree with what you said, but I also took a different look at the situation.

    Starting at the beginning of the episode, Cuddy was asserting her superiority over House. He knew it, and he couldn’t get her to stop. He even said she had his balls. How much clearer could he make it to her?

    She interfered with his diagnosis sessions. (He didn’t use a whiteboard). She challenged his ideas, and overrode his choices. She told him which tests he could run. She took all the furniture out of his office. His way of taking something back was to destroy her toilet and take over the renovations of her office. But that was not enough to get his pride and his ego back. She emasculated him. House likes power (Son of a Coma Guy).

    House made the first move when both he and Cuddy were emotionally vulnerable in Joy. He regretted it the moment it happened, not because he didn’t want it to happen, but because he knew what the ramifications would be, and he was not ready for it. He did not know if he was capable. At first, he could only deal with the emotional aspect of it. Then, he dealt with it rationally. At that time, the ball was in his court. He could either “do something” or not, his choice. He chose not to do anything, to deal with it at his own pace.

    Now, Cuddy moves in to his office and takes over. He is no longer in charge of the case or his team. He knows why she is doing it, and he gets scared. He confronts her about her motives, expecting her to back off like she did at the end of Last Resort. But, she doesn’t. She stands nose to nose with him, and forces him to make a move. He stopped at the kiss in her house because he was not emotionally ready to commit to a relationship. If he kissed her again, could he stop at that? If he responded to Cuddy’s advance, would that encourage her that he was ready for something more? He did the only thing he could do to discourage her.

    House, by groping her, turned something emotional into something sexual. They have been down that road before, and that was likely just sexual. He knew that would turn Cuddy away. He was upset with himself for chickening out on something that could have given him what he really wants but he doesn’t know how to have.

    Stacy was not in his world at the hospital. When House made himself vulnerable to her, it was not as much in front of everyone as it would be with Cuddy. They are like two friends who don’t know if they want to have a relationship because it would ruin the friendship if it ended badly. House talks about it with Wilson, because he needs encouragement that his world will not fall apart if he makes himself emotionally vulnerable to someone. That it is okay to take the chance.

    But, who would have the balls in a relationship with Cuddy? She is his boss, so at any time, she could assert her superiority over him, like she did in this episode. He could handle that if it was kept at a distance. But, how would he deal with that on a day to day basis. His relationship with her at work is confrontational. That complicates a relationship where someone has difficulty being open and vulnerable.

    Underneath the bravado, House is a romantic. Because he is aware of how deeply emotional he can be and how attached he can become, he has to hold back as a protective measure. He did it with Stacy, when he turned her away in Need to Know. With Cuddy, the unknown is scary. It would be 24 hours a day. House was standing on the diving board, and he chose to step off rather than dive in. Would he drown in a relationship with Cuddy?

    House will always take the route of self-protection, even if he has regrets.

    The whole 13 arc felt like someone tried to meld two different shows together. It was distracting and unnecessary. Olivia Wilde does nothing for me, and her plight did not endear me to her character. Foreman is as boring as ever. He has made the dour expression an art form. I also find Taub unappealing. Kutner is just goofy.

    Did anybody notice that Greg Grunberg’s brother was in this episode (Sex Kills, Band from TV). He was the guy who sat next to the POTW and told her they knew about her gastric bypass.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/03/222450.php jim

    Orange, In your germ of an idea about House’s conversation with Taub, I can see your interpretation fitting very naturally. To be with Cuddy in a relationship would require compromise in his vocation of saving lives. I was at first confused by House’s words of infidelity and give and take in what I assumed could only refer to Cuddy as the infidelity.

    The two things that House has been faithful to are Stacy and his vocation. So, I also was forced to conclude that a relationship with Cuddy, in House’s mind, is not the “right, good path” which he is simply avoiding from fear of failure, but rather, she is a temptation, an infidelity to his work that would compromise the purer life that he has lived, devoted to his vocation.

    I even posted to that effect somewhere, here or at HHOW, but later assumed I must have been mistaken until your post! Though almost from an alien perspective, it fits perfectly with the dialogue with Taub and House’s mind that often works at 180 degrees to our expectations. If this interpretation is correct, the prostitute would be the pure path in House’s mind.

    Yikes! I’m confused. But it fits.

    On another subject, I had never considered the possibility of Stacy returning. I still have not reconciled myself to her leaving House when he needed her. If she didn’t know he needed her, she should have. But I’m sure House could take her back if the conditions were right.

  • Eve K

    I also think the conversation with Taub is of utmost importance. I do believe its about Taub giving up the girlfriends. For what? What will House get in return for giving up his current lifestyle? As Barbara so truly put it – not just his sex-life but all of his private life.

    Im watching season 2 again and it suddenly hit me – the only time we have actually seen House use a hooker (call girl) was the episode distractions when he was totally depressed because of Stacy. Maybe it was a one time thing?

    I have always found the whole hooker thing a little out of character, but willing to accept it as a part of Houses estranged personality. But him using hookers on a regular basis doensnt seem right. I know he symphatise with hookers, but thats just nice. What would be in character is him hiding the fact that he is alone, creating a hooker-using image, as happened when Wilson lived with him. That would have been kind of cute, huh? But I guess that’s just wishful thinking…
      
    But in that light he certainly would not go home with the little thespian, being a big old softie.

    Anyway, I think that last scene was a test for Cuddy and her trust issues.

  • barbara barnett

    Again I awake to so many detailed and thoughtful posts! But I want to pick up on Orange’s and Sue’s comments.
    Now fast forward to the office scene in this episode. When Cuddy asked House “are you screwing with me?” and he said “depends on your answer” – great play on words – he was talking about the real thing.
    I hadn’t considered what (I think) you’re saying. Was he telling her he was waiting for an answer to which he hadn’t yet asked the question. What would be her response to his touching her breast. He didn’t grab it; he touched it. It was mechanical, and the look on his face was searching. What would she think? what would she do? Actually, come to think of it, I’m wondering if he was hoping for the response he got…let me explain.

    Up to that point, CUddy’s language (body and verbal) was agressive and suggestive. Even the way she walked (as someone astutely pointed out above). “You have the hots for me.” “I suppose we should kiss now.” The way of walking–and he wonders if she’s screwing with him (because he screws with everyone–is she getting payback?) He’s simply not sure. Of himself or of her.

    If she plays along with the grab, I think he would believe that she was playing a game. But because she was offended by it and looked so disappointed, he knew she wasn’t playing a game, but was actually serious. So now House still doesn’t know what to do. Games he knows, courtship, not so much. He stands in his office confused and realizing that this is “real.” And not a “game.”

    This is something he has to brood over. Yes, she’s offended, but she serious about him. As he is about her (House doesn’t fall in love easily, but once he is…it sticks. He’s probably been in love with her –without knowing it–since she hired him back and saved his career–maybe his life)

    So, he talks to Taub about whether giving something up to gain something. Would he be philandering on his career? On saving lives? On teaching fellows? On his monastic genius bit? He would gain being loved (and sex of course). But the games with Cuddy would be different. I guess we’ll know more on Tuesday. And then the long break!

  • Luisa Borges

    Great stuff to think about.

    Thanks Jim, for reminding me about House´s dialogue with Honey, quite interesting indeed.

    I´m guessing he said that to her not because he tends to me unfaithful but because he knew he was not in love with her. House is one to lust after women (case in point the CIA Doc from last season) and I guess when he is just “in lust” he doen´t consider that to warrant exclusivity status.

    And thanks also to Orange, Sue and Barbara for the new insights.

    This last take on House´s boob grab was very good. I´m still going over the possibility that he was assessing the possibility that Cuddy was toying with him.

    Another thing, when he asks Cuddy “Why to you dress like that, why do you try so hard to get my attention” he takes a step toward her and then says “Are you screwing with me?”. She then repeats his question back and steps up to him.

    When he takes the step, and moves closer, was that his way of maybe saying that “yes I´m into you, its working” or more and intimidative way of asking “say what you mean by this behavior, do you love me”.

    I have to say, this break after the 12th is going to be one hard withdrawal syndrome moment for me.

  • Johannah

    I think during the discussion with Taub, House was talking about the emotional distance, which he prefers to have with most people, he will have to give up if he wants a real relationship with Cuddy, which I think he does.

  • Cinnamon

    Do you all think we will be left with a Huddy cliffhanger at the end of the next episode…or some clue of resolution?

    And I agree…it’s gonna be a long break :-(

  • Sheelagh

    Really interesting reading all the different takes on the ‘Breast Grab’ scene. It dawned on me that House was initially very discreet about his kiss with Cuddy. His banter with her over the years has been quite sexual but he didn’t bring up the kiss publicly until she approached him and then only as a joke that no one but Wilson believed.
    It wasn’t until Cuddy invaded his space and ‘took his balls’ …literally & figuratively…that he started pushing back. It was Cuddy who sexualized the tone of the exchanges between them, yet she seemed to think the socially awkward House would somehow understand what she wanted was love. He does in away, but he responded in kind to her sexual aggressiveness & constant innuendo. He even called her on her wardrobe.
    I noticed he had all his balls back on his desk before he & Taub discussed giving up their right to ‘roam’ for some harder to define connection with a woman.
    I think Cuddy & House were fighting for control of their agendas in that scene. I think he realized he ‘won the battle’ by pushing her out of the office, but might have lost the war at the same time by pushing her further away emotionally.

    Why Cuddy & House take relationship advice from Wilson is a whole other story, given Wilson’s failed track record. Men like to chase…why Cuddy would think she could push the recalculate House into anything says more about her flaws. He matched her tone-for-tone and ended up hurting both of them. If Cuddy backs off and lets House come to her…but that would mean a compromise & change for both of them.

  • Frenchy

    I’ve been enjoying these reviews for two months now, when I stumbled on this website.
    I must say, Barbara, I look forward to reading them. Deciphering a House episode is not always simple and you do a great job.

    And this one was tough.
    For the first time, I didn’t agree with everything you said in your review and I couldn’t make out the Taub-House conversation.
    Thanks for everyone who participated in the differential! I finally managed to make something out of this episode.

    My point of view:
    Like Eve K said in post #60, we’ve only seen House with a hooker once (2×12). And he didn’t really seem comfortable with it. All the other times he mentionned hookers was because he was making a sarcastic remark. I never understood why everyone thinks he’s a regular client…
    Even if he is “House” and does unorthodox things, I truly believe the hooker in season 2 was a one-time thing. I think that deep down he is the romantic type (not wanting to get hurt again by a failed relationship, buying a corsage for cameron, the med-school desk thing…) and wouldn’t go for hookers.
    For me, the coconut girl is just someone met maybe at a bar, who he payed to do a prank.

    I don’t think that last scene was planned by him. I think it just served the purpose for Cuddy to stop being giddy and mushy like a teenager and get back in the game (of chess)… Cause she had lost, she gave in when she asked him to kiss her and was going to again by showing him the desk gesture worked on her. He was going to win the game of power over her.

    And they were just having a good last laugh at their prank while she was handing him his helmet.
    I don’t believe anything happened after that (except maybe a drink).

    Concerning the Taub-House conversation, I like to think that he is pondering the fact that he has to sacrifice something to make his relationship with cuddy work. Would that mean that he is ready to sacrifice something (his miserablity? which he likes) for a relationship?

    Concerning the boob grab, Barbara’s last interpretation (#61) fits perfectly. When Cuddy said “everyone thinks this is going somewhere. I think we’re supposed to kiss now.”, she stopped playing and opened up but House didn’t know how to react and kept playing the game…

    Can’t wait to see the next step in their game of power!

    And looking forward on the 2nd part of your article about House and Love…

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/03/222450.php jim

    After watching the episode again, armed with this review and all the comments, I was less confused on the broad strokes.

    I think Cuddy had a “wrong idea” to challenge House to a game of wills in order to precipitate another kiss and the start of a relationship.

    The actual result of Cuddy’s actions was rather to convince House that he shouldn’t have a relationship with his boss. (his “good idea”)

    But the way House held on tightly to the ball when he was talking with Taub says two things at once. He wants Cuddy badly and is anguished at how thier encounter ended but he’s going to keep the ball in his court and take no action.

    The situation is still volatile and could turn on a dime. Anything could happen next episode and that’s one of the things that keeps us coming back. Not to mention Hugh Laurie who we kidnapped from the Brits!

  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    Taub is talked to about ‘philandering’ because House knows Wilson was destroyed by it. Get the impression Amber was willing to cheat on Wilson with House.
    Cuddy LET House touch her breast. With Wilson, no chance in Hades.

  • Sera G

    Hello, Barbara
    Thank you for the welcome to your blog. I have posted once before, after “Joy” and was so eager to get your imput on “Let Them Eat Cake” that I jumped in without a greeting. Sorry about that.
    I think you write beautifully and insightfully about our favorite show/character.
    I was really troubled by this episode. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s ‘differentials’ because they have helped put things more in context. I was anticipating a few steps forward in the relationship. I should have known better. That is not the way with this show!
    A few of my thoughts, for what they are worth:

    1. When I heard the line, “Everybody knows this is going somewhere”, I took it as wink at the audience i.e. “You have been waiting a LONG time for this, let’s see where it goes.” I didn’t take it as her challenging him. In my mind, Cuddy thinks that House is moving toward something. He almost acknowledged that at the end of “Last Resort.” Taking Wilson’s advise, that “sitting next to him hoping wasn’t going to make anything happen,” she took the first step.

    2. Although totally in keeping with House’s ability to be crass, he had to know that after the wonderful kiss, her only response to something so emotionally empty (groping her breast) was to be hurt. He knows her pretty well. That scene still upsets me. Although House is often disparaging of Cuddy to others and even to her face in front of others, when they are alone, he is quite different; more serious, quieter, more reflective and he takes what she says to heart. They were completely private in that office. He was a jerk! I agree that he was remorseful after, but Cuddy has done nothing to deserve that disrespect.

    3. My amateur analysis (I can’t wait to read Barbara’s. I know it will be amazing.) is this:

    I think Cuddy has been in love with House since college. He was older, had a reputation, they were in different places in their education; so she never thought there could be anything but a fling. Still; she loves him.
    Depending on how you read the timeline, she met him again when he was involved with Stacy and therefore, unavailable again.
    Cuddy hires him after the infarction; he was emotionally devastated and once again, there is no opportunity for anything between them.
    It is now 5 years later, House has been through so much and it is Cuddy who supports, encourages and taunts him to be his best. She sees what he could be.
    I think the writers dropped big clues that he was thinking about getting ready to consider wondering if he might have a relationship with her. The fantasy on the bus (who does he discuss the problem with? Cuddy, brilliant and yet sexy as h***.) Cuddy at his bedside, holding his hand. The discussions with the PI. Those scenes were very telling.

    There is a great deal of trust between them. She is his doctor, he goes to her when he needs to work things through, knowing she is smart enough, clear headed enough to keep him balanced.
    Respectfully, I don’t agree that House is not sure of where Cuddy stands in regards to him. I think he knows how deeply she cares about/for him. I think he doesn’t know if she will be able to accept all parts of him if their relationship becomes that of lovers and not just friends. Friends tolerate a lot, but you go home at the end of the day. Your significant other deals with the real you all the time.
    Anyway, I love reading all of the thoughtful posts. I am glad to know that I am not alone out here obsessively analyzing a TV show. (Granted, a fabulously written, marvelously acted, deeply plotted one!)
    This went REALLY long. Thanks for letting me ramble.

  • Orange450

    And on a lighter note – since no one has mentioned it – I can’t be the only one who thought that HL’s delivery of “open up, here comes the airplane into the hangar” was beyond doubt the most adorable offering of a bite of chocolate cake ever to be shown on TV. Can I?

  • barbara barnett

    Orange–I think you are the first to mention that very delightful moment ;)

    In an episode filled with multiple meaning and a lot of intensity (besides the fun of the prank, that it)that moment was adorable, as you say.

    I guess we will all know more about who is right about House’s feelings re: Cuddy and how the relationship might play out.

    I also guess, being from the XFiles school of unresolved sexual tension, I waited through many seasons, hoping for Mulder and Scully to acknowledge their unrequited love for each other (that went beyond Deep Abiding love and friendship). they came close, pulled back, sniped at each other (Scully was terrible to Mulder during most of season five) pushed back against their mutual attraction. It was frustrating as hell, but I loved every minute.

    I’m looking at this House arc as something not yet resolved. I think we’ll get some resolution this week, but some of it will wait until january or (even) February (wonder what the 100th episode will be like?). so I’m sitting tight right now, fascinated and intrigued. Waiting.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, it almost doesn’t matter who is right, or how it plays out – so much of the fun lies in the analysis itself, and exchanging opinions with so many viewers, all with such a wide variety of perspectives.

    I have to admit that as much as I love the entire show, and as taken as I was with the Stacy arc, my very favorite part of the series dates back to the first two-thirds of S1, before the ships started muddying the waters. I was truly blown away by those earlier episodes – they grabbed me, and I was sucked in like I’d seldom been sucked in by any TV show before.

    That being said – I’d like to see this arc resolve in a way that feels realistic and believable. And I’d like to be sure that both House and Cuddy escape intact. Whatever happens, I want them to retain the mutual friendship, affection and respect that I’ve always enjoyed watching between them.

  • Tigerfeet

    Fabulous comments everyone! I tend to agree with Frency (post 66) on House and hookers.

    In the beginning of “Last Resort” House was at Cuddy’s desk, doing something. At the end of the episode we saw what – he had destroyed the desk drawer. In “Let Them Eat Cake” he arranged to have it replaced by the one from med-school. I wonder if the “prank” with the drawer was actually his first step in that plan? (The desk itself wasn’t destroyd during the siege, but I understand if she still would want a new one.)

    Even it this theory is right, I don’t know if it puts what happened in this episode in a different light. If nothing else, it supports the fact that it was all House’s doing and not Wilson. (I sooo hope it wasn’t Wilson!)

  • Chrissy

    So, apparently, whatever he meant to have happen, House did not want that boob grab scene to end as it did. A number of people, including myself, have, upon repeat viewing, heard him say “f*ck” at the end of that scene. I think that’s a very interesting thing for Hugh to have done. Very telling. Tuesday should be interesting.

  • barbara barnett

    Not sure what he mouthed (but he did mouth something). But whatever he did, I agree that the encounter didn’t end the way he wanted it to end. Maybe he wanted Cuddy to push back (they would be on more familiar territory). Maybe he wanted her to tell him off and wait for his response. Maybe he wanted her to tell him “no that’s not the next step.” Maybe he wanted her to understand what he was doing (if he was telling her to slow down) and say: “you’re right. we need to slow this down.”

    I don’t think he was asking for sex; I do think he was speaking (or acting) in metaphors and symbols (as is his most articulate language). Tuesday cannot come soon enough for me.

  • Kate

    Hi Barbara, I’ve just discovered this site and I must say that I’m glad I did.

    Regarding your “three minds” about the House/Cuddy aspect of this episode, I think House’s boob grab was more than a deflection, I think it was a test. I think he’s trying to assess how much of his crap Cuddy will put up with before she gives up on him.

    As you mentioned in your essay on House in love (can’t wait for pt. 2 btw), House rarely puts himself out there emotionally. He was so hurt by Stacy that I think he’s testing Cuddy before he lets her get too close. If she can put up with his insensitivity and games without giving up on him, then their relationship has staying power and he won’t have to deal with the pain of loosing yet another person that he loves if the relationship ends. I think that once he’s satisfied that Cuddy won’t run off the second the going gets tough, we’ll start to see more of the tender side of House, the side that so far we’ve only seen in Season 2 with Stacy.

  • Melissa

    Great review.

    What I find so interesting about this episode is that even almost a week later, I am still finding new layers to mull over and analyze. That’s why I love this cray relationship between House and Cuddy. I can’t remember any other show where two character have had such a fascinating, complex, infuriating and heartbreaking interaction.

    Once thing that has been really at the forefront of my mind since the episode in which House wrote Cuddy the performance review is how SIMILAR these two are emotionally. (what you want you run away from, what you need you haven’t a clue). Both are terrified of intimacy and of rejection, and use their careers as a substitute for emotional connection. However, what both crave most is unconditional love. Cuddy through her desire for a child, and House through his constant testing of the boundaries of his friendships with both CUddy and Wilson, trying to see how far he can push it to ensure they won’t abandon him.

    What is interesting is that House and Cuddy have such different self – protection mechanisms. Cuddy hides behind rules and order. She’s the penultimate perfectionist. She thinks this brings her security and it keeps her from having to take risks. The rules make her invulnerable. They keep life orderly and spare her the messines of emotional connection.

    House, on the other hand, hides behind defiance of the rules and rebellion againt social mores. He can’t be rejected if he doesn’t try to “fit in” to society. He’s forged his identity on being the rude, crass, disagreeable genius who doesn’t have to ever put himself out there because everyone has already written him off as a lost cause (except Wilson and Cuddy).

    So this makes their interaction all the more fascinating for me…How do these two try to navigate a relationship when they are outwardly so different but inwardly so similar? and I think in the last couple episodes we saw each coming close to stepping out of their comfort zones – hence the parallel scenes of each at the window, “looking in” at what could be, and ultimately running away.

    I do believe that they love each other, and probably have for a long time, because I think if they didn’t this situation wouldn’t be so intense. I sincerely hope they do NOT drop this storyline. I know they need to drag it out, but it has so much potential. I think it gives two amaing actors such great material to work with, esp. LE, whose talent has not been sufficiently used until this season, IMO.

    Okay, this was very lengthy, sorry!

  • Claire

    Barbara, I just love your “of three minds” ending to this review. It is as Cinnamon says, the writers are playing us and I don’t mind being played at all.

    For my part, the Emmy nomination for this episode must go to the costume designer. That first little number with the low neck and little ties on the sleeves belonged at the 8th grade dance. The last outfit — I really can’t blame House for grabbing her boobs — they were just all hiked up there being offered up. Yes, yes, he was a jerk, I know. It was cruel. But that suit with the boobs hike up, the tight skirt, and the tottering high heels was a parody-level. Lisa Eddelstein must have had the giggles when she put all that on and saw herself in the mirror. It was simply hysterical! And yet, that made it all the more painful. Dr. Cuddy is vulnerable herself.

    In some ways, Cuddy is just as juvenile as House. Both have put work ahead of relationships and both have love the games.

    A very good story arch indeed.

  • Veresna Ussep

    Once again, thanks to your marvelous and entertaining analysis. Are you going to wait until after this week’s (December 9) episode to finish and post Part 2 of the House/love analysis?

    One thought that occurred to me this morning is that a few weeks ago it would have been completely in character for House (after Cuddy’s “I think we should kiss now”) to SAY “We’ve already done that, how about I move on to making a grab for your boob now?” and make an exit, classic House deflection. The fact that he stayed there and did it instead does lead me to think that a part of him was indeed ‘testing’ and I do not think he really had any idea of why he was doing it, but was very unhappy with how it ended. Upon rewatching, I also think that the fact that he kept his hand there as she turned and made the other comment was also telling, and I’m still not sure if it was trying to somehow repair the damage or to make sure that if she was going to be mad, she was going to be really mad. But his slumped body language as she left does tell volumes.

    Another gesture that really caught my attention was when Cuddy stormed into the office telling him not to do the brain biopsy, to rule out the other possibilities first. That long, rotating gesture with his arm before raising his fist to his mouth and blowing is rather threatening, you feel the need to flinch away. That gesture (Hugh Laurie’s inspiration, I’m sure) also lets us know that House is getting to be feeling very penned in by her proximity and may also lead into the following confrontation between them.

    I agree that the writers and the performers here have raised a number of intriguing avenues that can branch off of what transpired in this episode. That they’ve managed to raise the show back into one of the best on television after what I consider to be the debacle of the fourth season gives me hope that they will continue to amaze me.

    Veresna

  • Sheelagh

    For me personally, the analyzes by Melissa(#77)nails the House/Cuddy relationship so aptly. I had also been considering House’s Performance Appraisal on Cuddy in Season 4 & how it realted to this arc. Melsssa really provided a lot of insight and folded it up with the story progression for me. I appreciate the thoughtful story analysis by this Blog’s readers for a show I truly adore and want to continue to shine.

  • http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/03/222450.php jim

    The comments on your blog, Barbara, are some of the best around. Thanks again.

    The longer an episode percolates, the more I ask what the writers might have intended.

    This time, it seems they wanted to give the audience, who relate to House and Cuddy, a glimpse of what the writers imagine we want – House and Cuddy in close and intimate proximity. But in so doing, they also wanted to make sure we realized it wasn’t a good idea over the long-term. Judging from the episode, not even over the short-term. So, they had Cuddy become a parody of herself. This almost “Betty Boop” Cuddy had the effect of goading House into asking himself in disbelief, “I agreed to this?”.

    The writers showed us our ‘fool’s paradise’. In Romeo and Juliet, we hear the injunction, “…if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise it were a gross kind of behavior…truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentelwoman.” House never offers false hope.

  • barbara barnett

    jim–how right you are. You guys are the best. great analysis all round. So many ideas and interpretations.

    I wonder what the writers have in mind for the end of tomorrow night, knowing that we’re in for a month-long hiatus (at least). It’s really like the end of the first half of the season.

    Much to mull. I was going to post part II of House in Love today, but I think I’ll wait until after tomorrow’s episode airs, so I can make sure my thoughts incorporate the resolution to this part of the story.

  • Melissa

    Thank you, Sheelagh! I love the analysis on this blog. It’s given me so many different perspectives on this show. Since the end of the second season I have been seeing major House/Cuddy parallels. Which may be because I recently re-watched seasons 2, 3 and 4 in order (yes, I have too much time on my hands!). But it sort of drove it home for me.

    I think this is part of what makes their interaction so volatile. They understand one another and know how to get under each others’ skin. But of course, once deeper feelings are brought to the surface, they engage in this extended game of tag or hot potato. They’ve got the same emotional insecurities. So what brings them together also drives them apart.

    This last episode made me so sad for Cuddy, just as The Itch made me so sad for House. There was something really unnerving about the groping scene, and I love that I am able to keep reevaluating exactly what it meant.

  • Eve K

    Jim: I so agree that Cuddy has Betty BooB (couldn’t resist) tendencies in this episode. That doesn’t become her. And that clumsy playing with the ball thing – not cute! And not sexy. Just annoying.

    I don’t really think that “sexy dressed Cuddy” is necessary to make House interested, id rather see her just elegant and not trying to be sexy. Maybe then she would be more sexy. I like bossy Cuddy. She rules.

    And I also want to say that I enjoy reading all the comments on this page (this episode must set some kind of record? Over 80 comments?) And they all bring something new to “the differentials”.

    And off course – we have no life – but who cares, we are not alone.(-;

    One last episode tomorrow and then there is no more TV for me the rest of the holidays, I think my family will like that.

  • barbara barnett

    EveK–I think this is the most comments I’ve gotten on an article (except for my political articles–and, trust me, these are more articulate and insightful). Or close anyway.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I simply haven’t had the time to respond to everyone’s ideas and analyses, but you have all done such a great job doing that. It’s been a pleasure to read them all.

    Just got word that Doris Egan and Leonard Dick received a WRiters Guild nomination for “Don’t Ever Change.” Cool and well-deserved.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, I’m absolutely thrilled about the Writer’s Guild nomination for Don’t Ever Change!!

    I’d been pretty nervous about that episode before it aired, and I was delighted afterwards, and appreciative of what a terrific job TPTB had done. All my fears (of poorly researched, stereotypical writing, portrayals, etc.) had been in vain. I realize in retrospect that I should have known better – after all, the show is famous for complexity and nuance, and it did not disappoint. And in the final scene – my worlds collided, and I turned into a very happy, very squeeing fangirl :-)

  • Orange450

    jim wrote:

    “This time, it seems they wanted to give the audience, who relate to House and Cuddy, a glimpse of what the writers imagine we want – House and Cuddy in close and intimate proximity. But in so doing, they also wanted to make sure we realized it wasn’t a good idea over the long-term. Judging from the episode, not even over the short-term. So, they had Cuddy become a parody of herself. This almost “Betty Boop” Cuddy had the effect of goading House into asking himself in disbelief, “I agreed to this?”.”

    jim, I also experience the “episode percolating” effect – what a good way to put it! I hear what you’re saying about this situation, but I also think it’s possible that we’re first being shown “the wrong way to do it” – from both House AND Cuddy’s perspectives. I don’t think that tomorrow’s episode will give us any permanent resolution of this pas de deux just yet, and I think (or hope?) it’s possible that we’re being set up for both of them to come around and learn from their mistakes, and try to correct them.

  • barbara barnett

    Orange–I really felt that DEC was done so beautifully and respectfully (of course David Shore would never have heard the end of it with two Aish HaTorah rabbis as brothers :) (exec directors of Aish at that!)

    I think tomorrow will end a chapter (and do it with an emotional cliffhanger) but not end the story. Not by a long shot :)

  • Orange450

    Barbara, I’ve heard that at Aish they call David “the Shore that got away” ;-) I also read somewhere that Leonard Dick studied there for a while as well.

  • Luisa Borges

    Great batch of new comments and differentials. The team is sharp and I have enjoyed reading every single one of the comments above.
    Great news about the Writer´s Guild, very much deserved.
    And loved the Cuddy Betty Boop (and then BooB)insights, as well as the one about House mouthing something, how very observant.
    Sure, as Eve K said, we have no life, but who cares, it´s been a fun week and tomorrow we´ll have a lot more to mull over.
    I hope to read Barbara´s House in Love essay and then the epi review as well as everyone´s takes on both.
    Hope we´re left with a major cliffhanger in the end of tomorrows epi, something to keep us guessing and bitting our nails for the next month.
    All the best to everyone!

  • Mrs Jane

    Greetings from Croatia, the fanbase here really is international!
    I’ve only recently discovered this web-site, read all of the posts on recent and “best of” episodes (and the soundtrack review as well and my favourite House in Love and…), it’s been a lot of fun!
    I too agree with Melissa (what you want you run away from, what you need you haven’t a clue), so I’m looking forward to the development.
    One other thing, Taub has really got some quality airtime in the last episode or two, I wish they developed his character more, it seems to me there is a lot of material there.

  • Flo

    I agree that there was some emotion when she said “everyone knows this is going somewhere.” but that can be seen as emotionless because she said the “we’re supposed to kiss now” in a matter-of-factly kind of way. It was an invitation as much as an observation.

    As for the last scene, this is the cinema studient in me talking but I think this is very interesting to see that the angle of camera on her doesn’t change at all. There is just one cut in that scene just for us to see what she is seing but that’s it. She walks towards the camera, stops and then goes away, disappointed. The camera didn’t move. Meaning that she runs away from House just as she went to him.

    She could have just entered the office and introduce herself to the girl. It wouldn’t have been totally out of character. Except that in the scene she is vulnerable. I think it took her a lot of courage to do all what she did in that episode, especially to confront him in his office.
    As I said in my previous post, it’s apparently been a long time since she went to a real relationship with a man and she’s got issues too. It’s not easy for her to open up to someone like that just as it is for House.
    That’s why I think in that last scene she realizes that she opened up too much. All her fears come back.

    Now it’s wait and see.

  • Thim

    I have just a small question: Anyone knows what’s the name of the song at the end?

  • blahblahblah

    Marie Antoinette never said let them eat cake

  • Chris79

    Unlikely most of you guys, here, I found the “boob grab” – Lord, is the term annoying! – rather funny. But, I’m quite a jerk, myself! I read it on two levels : on one hand, House’s inappropriate move looks more like he’s testing Cuddy (or may be as some desperate attempt to push her away, as someone intended previously). But, on the other hand, it also resonates with his “Have you seen my balls?” and Cuddy’s – hilarious – indirect answer on her cellphone : “I just had to explain to him that I had his balls and he’s not getting them back!”… If a woman has a man’s balls (even though metaphorically), what would be the proper answer he could give her so he can get even? Given the power play between House and Cuddy, I think the “boob grab” (even though physically) makes twice more sense, actually! Of course, the first reason is the most relevant one, and the second one – which made the scene so particularly funny to me – is just my own extrapolation, but I think as twisted as House’s mind is, both are possible!

    Another thing which got my attention too, is how most of the people think Cuddy is “the normal one” and House the “mad one”. As if it was as simple as “the good boss” and “the jerky employee”. Cuddy can be as much of a jerk herself than House is. She proved it all along the show.

    Of course, the late episode “The Greater Good” in Season 5, is a good example of it, as she herself admits she was a jerk throughout the whole episode. But, in fact, in the very Pilot episode, which is, somehow, a very good parallel to “Let Them Eat Cake” – you’ll see why, she already was a jerk to him.
    Remember the elevator scene (the very first scene of Dr Cuddy on the show, by the way), when House is getting back home and she asks him “To what?” and House says : “Nice”?
    There’s also the run to the stairs, so she can be sure he won’t follow her and House’s ironic comment that’s there no more respect for crippled people. Not to mention her “I’m pretty sure I could out run you”. Though she feels guilty about it, for some reason, she’s the only one (Vogler and Tritter, excepted, but for other reasons, obviously) who’s not condescending about his being a cripple, because, in her way, she also is. And as she attacks him on his – visible – weakness (his leg), he responds on her – hidden – weakness (she can’t have children). It’s a game between them along the whole show. Only when she’s too much emotionally involved, then lost (“Finding Judas” and “Joy”), does she take it personally. The fact she can’t get pregnant, is Cuddy’s cripple, reflecting House’s leg : being incapable of baring a child means failure, Cuddy’s greatest fear. As House’s leg with a dead muscle means pain, his greatest fear.
    That they can joke about their greatest fears is very telling about how much they know each other and how much they are “in sync”.

    Now, remember how “Let Them Eat Cake” starts? In the elevator (I wonder whether that’s not reminding me something? Never mind!), Cuddy starts the “Who’s the bigger jerk?” game, as she wonders House has taken the file of a patient without fighting, he says : “No point. I’m in an elevator. Can’t run away”; then, she says : “You can’t run away anyway!”. Soooo – deliciously – mean! And that’s House reply : “That was just mean”.

    Second shot : out of the elevator. Cuddy is still walking aside House. As he wonders “Why [they’re] still together”, Cuddy says : “We’re going to our office”. And House to answer : “Pronoun confusion. Starts kicking in when you pass child bearing age!”. Again, soooo – deliciously – mean. And Cuddy herself replies : “Well, that was mean”. But she’s not mad at him. In fact, she continues joking about her desk which “won’t fit in [the hostages taker of “Last Resort”] cell”.
    The two can really be obnoxious towards each other. And it’s a great part of the fun in the show… At least for me.

    [It makes me think : has anybody ever noticed that Cuddy finds House funny? And that House himself says to Wilson she is in “Forever”? How could they possibly show more their resemblance than in humor? House sense of humor is either mean, either sexual, irreverent anyway, most of the time, and, alright, witty, and even kind sometimes. Cuddy’s sense of humor is also rather mean and sexual, as we see in “Let Them Eat Cake”, but not only (I do remember some hilarious comment about House’s cane in the first season) and witty]

    House, Cuddy and Wilson, are jerks. They can be obnoxious, manipulative, liars, cheaters (especially Wilson), disrespectful of the law, regardless of Good and Evil and all that bullshit… They’re fun! Okay, House is most overtly a bastard (and as I can’t be objective with Hugh Laurie, my dear “Roger the Jingle”, I won’t start a panegyric on his acting so wonderfully that – American!!! – bastard, right now), we expect him to be a jerk, the surprise comes when he’s not, and with the reasons why he’s not. But the respectable Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy and the kind head of Oncology Department James Wilson, with their acceptable figures of dignity and all the blah blah blah that comes with, are no less interesting. Because respectability is their mask, their trespassing the borders is even more delightful. I think House appreciates that about them. He said once to Wilson (“Forever”) : “People think you’re the nice one”; and to Cuddy (“Joy”) : “[…] You’re a control seeking narcissist”. He knows them and their flaws (but someone like House wouldn’t have flawless people as friends. Besides, there are no such persons).

    House is always testing his friends and the borders of their friendships to know if “unconditional love” exists, as he said Wilson once. Being a jerk towards them is a BIG part of it. But they never miss an occasion to do likewise.

    Cuddy doesn’t understand House just because she loves him (well it helps sometimes, but there’s nothing to do with love, here). She understands him and tolerate his jerkiness, because she’s like him. She’s not his contrary but a variant of him (as Wilson is, in his way).

    The two of them like control as they are fearful creatures. As I said before, House is afraid of pain, Cuddy of failure. They both use work to express, each in their own way, the control they want to take over the fear. That’s why they so much love their jobs, it’s their only way to cope with their fear.

    House takes each case as a puzzle because it’s challenging enough for his – brilliant – mind to avoid thinking about how miserable he is, crippled and lonely. I do remember House telling someone, about Taub, that being miserable would make him better in his job or something alike. He also, in “Who’s Your Daddy?”, meant to his – old – team that to become such a great artist as the jazz pianist whose music they were listening to, it required misery (as misery feeds art… Common thinking!)… Inspiring! No wonder House can only express himself properly through art. Through music, more precisely.

    Cuddy assumes her job as Dean of Medicine and hospital administrator very efficiently, because she’s good at it and she likes being good at it. Remember what she told Stacy, about the fact she was “pissed off being second of [her] promotion” in “Humpty Dumpty”, though she got her M.D. at 25? She’s “competitive by nature” (as House says about himself, in “Histories”, to the two young interns). And in competition she’s very gifted, her fast social success (and her ability to respond to House, after all those years) being the best proof of it. Her professional success and her job keep her away from thinking how empty her life is, and how much she failed personally. And if you add to that she’s been desperately trying to get pregnant…

    Their power play since Season 1 is inspiring, so far. It’s all about control. “I have it”, “you have it”, “I let you believe you have it”… Manipulation, lies, blackmail, bets, humiliation… No rules! Of course, she’s his boss, he’s her employee, but House always wants to keep things balanced between them, so they can be kind of equals. Here’s starts the game…

    Both House and Cuddy are emotionally weird. House more especially since his infarction and Stacy’s departure, Cuddy… Well, I’d say she’s always been an emotional freak. She’s as secret as House, so little do we know about her life… And I’m cool with that! Imagining things before you know them, is much more interesting than just knowing them. It involves much more brain activity, anyway. How life would be like – and worth – without a touch of mystery, I ask you?

    So, Cuddy. Scarcely have I ever met – in an American show – such a strange creature. Even stranger than House, actually! House is an heterodox – stricto sensu – character, with logic as spinal column. It works for me! But Cuddy is apparently (“apparently” being the keyword, here) an orthodox – still stricto sensu – character, who has her own personal logic (sometimes quite tough to decipher) as spinal column and whose heterodoxy never shows up when, nor even the way, you expect it would. I guess that’s why I appreciate her character. She’s rather intriguing. That, and the fact she can be a jerk, too! So seldom do authors dare to use female characters in all their aspects (and Cuddy certainly does have a lot of aspects). And even when they do, it’s so often a mere caricature of women… In that way, Cuddy’s character, more than a gift to TV Memories, is a jewel (funny though! As jewel is the perfect translation of Edelstein. “Edel”, meaning either “high quality”, or “precious” in German, and “Stein”, stone…). For God’s sake, the woman is soooo crazy!

    Cuddy is a perpetual unsatisfied woman, as she is a perfectionist. The end of the review House made about her (“No more Mr. Nice Guy”), “What you want, you run away from. What you need, you don’t have a clue. What you’ve accomplished, makes you proud… But you are still miserable!”, is a good analysis of that trait of her character.

    Cuddy’s basic fear of commitment makes her an emotional cripple as much as House is (so they’re both double cripples, physically and emotionally). I think this is why she wanted so much a child. To find “unconditional love”, in a way, but also to prove herself she wasn’t totally emotionally crippled. Which would make of her baby a metaphorical cane, actually… Creepy!
    I do believe her being a perfectionist, is her response to the fact she knows she’s a freak, but just don’t want to admit, ’cause she deludes herself that she could fix it, eventually. And she wants to be normal, which is socially right. I think her situation mirrors pretty well House’s one, here too. She wraps herself in a perfect image of normality to hide her being freak to the rest of the world, he wraps himself in his heterodox stature, his being a freak, to hide to the rest of the world he wants to be normal. But as he knows very well, “you can’t always get what you want”. However, “normality [definitely] is overrated”, so…

    Knowing but the few we know about Cuddy, we, nonetheless, have some clues here and there about how complex she is emotionally. Sometimes even given by herself. But when it comes to House, and though it’s clear she is emotionally connected to him (what a wonderfully subtle euphemism for such an obvious love… Had to give a great antithesis to follow. A shame I’m not just in mood for oxymoronic verse!), she’s even more secret.
    She can deal and even play the flirtation game with him. It’s unemotional. She feels secure in unemotional. But when it becomes to personal matters and that she’s not too involved emotionally to figure out she is being emotional (like when House’s dying or suffering… which happened to the guy a great deal of times), she’s as, maybe more, freaked out than he is. What makes her fear so much commitment? Part of the explanation is that, like I said before, she’s a perfectionist. I guess, that’s what House intended to make her understand in “Humpty Dumpty”, saying : “You’re not happy until things are just right. Which means two things : you’re a good boss and you’ll never be happy”. Looking for perfection (the greatest illusion ever, as perfection is an Absolute, therefore can’t be something human… Can be but for some god, goddess, David Bowie or Charlie Watts, whoever God might be! Has to be Charlie Watts, the guy is coolest man ever!), Cuddy can but screw up every relationship she has, in so far as she deludes herself she can find a perfect life with a perfect man. And as we all know there are no such things… It’s endless. Actually, her quest tells more about her father than everything else. But, curiously enough, House may be the perfect choice for her. As he’s not perfect (far far from it!) and though their possible relationship would be twisted and somehow unhealthy, it would be a solid one, just in not being perfect and normal. Those two people are the quite the same. So, why is she so afraid of her feelings towards him (I mean except the fear of losing control, which is obviously one of her – as it is for House – main concerns… Thought it was implied, but I want to make sure I make myself clear… Like I’ve ever been clear! I have my own dialectic, anyone who read this will have to cope with it!)? I think the whole thing starts with the mysterious love/friendship (has this ever been friendship at all?) story they had years before, hiding – though transpiring – behind the weird and highly both amusing and dramatic “non-relationship” (as House calls it in “Last Resort”) between present House and Cuddy, that we’ve been witnessing for few years, now. I feel like that emotional background sets her character, as she was very young at that time. That’s why we can’t know all of it now, because there won’t be any mystery/fun anymore. It’d be a pity! Whether she dumped him or he did, it would tell us a lot about her and the second reason of her pathologic fear of commitment, anyway.

    The best episode to mention to find out what’s behind this “non-relationship” thing, is “The Itch”. In that episode, the exceedingly charming – Robert Sean Leonard – Wilson talks to Cuddy, after having learned from House (but she perfectly see where he wants to go. How deductive is Cuddy’s character, by the way! Less than House’s one, but still) they kissed… Wonderful line of Wilson, after Cuddy’s rationalization that she “leaned on [House]”, because he was a friend : “Funny! I’ve leaned on friends in the past. Never leaned so far my tongue fell into their mouth”. Irresistible!

    I have nothing particular to say about “the kiss”. I suppose it had to be, and it’s a great element for the crazy team writing HOUSE M.D. scenarii (one scenario, two scenarii. Sorry, remaining from years and years of Latin, from junior high school to University!), but the looks they both have just after (especially Cuddy), is engraved in my mind! I’ve barely laughed that much after a kiss (I barely laugh after a kiss, anyway. I mean, I think… I’m not that insensitive… Well, maybe I am)! It reminded me in “Humpty Dumpty”, though it has nothing to see with it, what (and especially how) House, just after Cuddy and Cameron’s departure, says to Chase when the latter learns Foreman and him are going to break out Cuddy’s house (funny thing to say “Cuddy’s house”, isn’t it?), Chase both wondering and worrying about it. House says : “You see, it is shocking!”. House and Cuddy looked both so shocked. Call me cold-hearted, but I just couldn’t help laughing!

    “Therefore no more, but to the matter”! “The Itch”, so. Most of the people think Cuddy was rationalizing, saying to Wilson why she has never “thought of House” as a lover. But her answer is so peculiar. AND so precise. Wilson thinks it proves she did think of House “this way”. But Wilson so often misunderstands people (that’s why, amusingly enough, he took House’s joke about Cuddy, despite his tone, as truth. And it turned out Wilson was right, for once). Little does Cuddy betrays her secrets. However, I suspect what she told Wilson wasn’t what she imagined a relationship with House would be, but what happened years before. Let me explain :

    She starts with “We know how it will end”. “We”? We, who? Then she analyzes very precisely “a relationship with House”, giving several reasons that will make it exciting first, but will soon lead the two in “the inevitable blow up, recriminations […]”. As far as Wilson knows, he has seen House involved for years with Stacy. He has no reason to think it would end badly this time (as House already had his infarction) for House and Cuddy. So, who the Devil is the “we”? I think “she”, might be the more proper pronoun (again “pronoun confusion”, but Cuddy often do that. It’s her way of not being personally involved, when things get too serious).

    What she says about “the novelty, the hostility, the forbiddingness”, does however tell us something interesting about her character and resonates with what House says about her to Wilson in “Forever”, when he learns Cuddy asked Wilson out : “You’re too nice for her to like you” (God, does he know her!). Cuddy though seeking perfection, and dating boy scouts, is attracted to “bad boys”. It goes perfectly with her real self, but being so much hidden behind the mask of respectability, it sounds funny to hear that from her. And explains more explicitly that, even though she admires House because he’s a brilliant doctor and all that – and that it attracts her, his nasty attitude has as much a powerful effect on her. She’s attracted to his “bad boy” side, as he’s attracted to her body (though he does appreciate her intellect as well). And I firmly believe that whatever happened between the two of them, when they were younger, it was already the case. “People don’t change”! I also think that’s why they act so childishly : they still have the same mentality and the same look on each other they had before. Only, the difficulties they’ve been through explain their mutual – yet different – protectiveness to each other, when they’re really down.

    And then, the thing that bugged me for ten good minutes, before I figured out, what I just said about Cuddy’s sayings : “[…] And we don’t talk for two months”… “Two months”? Okay, there may be patterns in relationships. And, actually, the Lube guy in “Insensitive” and the marine in “Top Secret” are the only men that we know about. Not precisely the kind of men she would cross every morning, so she can say “we don’t talk for two months”, implying they’ll be like good old friends, after. Besides, as it ended with the Lube guy, and given the shortness of her relationship with the marine, it doesn’t make sense. Of course, as she’s House’s boss and sees him every day and her sentence makes sense. Breaking up with someone you see every day is awkward. But why the hell, that precision? “Two months”… Unless, she’s talking about something real, there’s no way she could be that precise. Had she said “for months” or “for a while”, I would have bought it, but those “two months” are illogical. There’s a French expression for that : “Ça sent le vécu!”… But I can’t think of any proper translation, nor any English/American idiomatic turn that could render the irony of it. As Italians say : “Traduttore, Traditore”, so the best way I could explain it, would be that it’s more like she actually experienced what she says to Wilson, than imagines it. That’s frustrating! God, I wish you could understand “Ça sent le vécu!” thoroughly, with the light irony behind it…

    As House and Cuddy knew each other in college as they were both in Michigan (as we’ve learned in “Humpty Dumpty”), and as we assume it was at that time they slept together (as we’ve been more or less told by both House and Cuddy, in “Top Secret”, they did), for it could but be before Stacy (and University time without sex would be quite pointless! Without a considerable amount of beer and vodka too, by the way. University definitely rhymes with depravity!), the “two months” of avoidance after the “blow up” make sense. As for the details of that mysterious story between House and Cuddy, God only knows… Or David Shore… I’m always so confused about it!

    Cuddy’s look to Wilson, when she realizes what she just said is very telling. And shows, if some of us were doubting it, how Lisa Edelstein is a great actress. Luckily for Cuddy, Wilson doesn’t have the faintest idea what she’s referring to (settling definitely in our minds, that he doesn’t know what happened between her and House. Isn’t it weird, that House never told his best friend about it?). I liked the deflection : “I’ll be more careful with my tongue in the future”. Cuddy can be so funny! And then, there’s the other look, when Wilson acknowledges her that things don’t have to end up badly between them (he will say that to House too). That look of hers so much says : “I know better!”. What she says to Wilson in her office after having figured out his plan to make House jealous (deductive, I tell you!), and after an utterly daring and funny line (Wilson astonishment is priceless!) : “Trust me, everybody would be happier if we aren’t dating!”, tends to accredit the theory that she’s not imagining things, she’s not even rationalizing, she remembers. “Trust me”? Seems to me like she really knows what she’s talking about…

    In “The Softer Side”, there’s another moment of misunderstanding between Cuddy and Wilson, when he storms in her office accusing her of sleeping with House. Look at her reaction. She looks annoyed first, then when he continues with the bagel story, she doesn’t seem to get what he’s saying, until hearing about the case House took “without a fight” and the fact he honored the request of his patient’s parents, she understand he’s speaking of present (still doesn’t know!). This time, again, she makes one of her a typical joke to deflect (this kind of attitude does ring a bell!). “Yes, those were my terms for sleeping with him”, was a good one! But Wilson insists : “[House] is in a good mood” (!!!). Meaning, for Wilson, the only way House could be almost happy (“House doesn’t do happy, pain or no pain”, as Cuddy says later to Wilson rightfully), so he would behave quite normally and even be kind to people would be to sleep with Cuddy. It tells a lot about himself. And Cuddy to answer : “Sex with me will explain that. But what it doesn’t explain is why I’m not curled up in a ball, weeping in shame!”… Funny and yet intriguing. Do I have to say “Ça sent le vécu!” again?

    I think it’s the fear of losing House once more, in “Last Resort” and his ambiguous words at the end of that episode, and the still palpable tension the kiss installed between them, though they both rationalized it, that settled the plot she uses in “Let Them Eat Cake” in Cuddy’s mind.
    As Cuddy fears commitment like plague, it’s an interesting move she made in this episode. No less than House does she lives in denial (of who she really is, of what she really wants, of what she really needs…), and here she was being direct, though not completely direct (she barely is), she intended to change that in “Let Them Eat Cake” (by the way, how could they possibly have translated “brioche”, by “cake” which actually means “gâteau”? Once more “Traduttore, traditore”!). House surely noticed that enormous progress, and as certain he was that “People don’t change”, this change (a huge breach in his worldview) freaked him out. His test could have been to check if she was ready to accept anything from him (as well as a rude manner to tell her to slow down, as he’s not ready to change himself to commit, yet he knows he has to), even his distasteful manners. To test if she could accept he wouldn’t change at all. When she leaves disappointed (he has his answer), he looks sad, he always is when she’s truly disappointed (which shows how “so in sync” they are emotionally). And as it was his fault, he doubly is.

    House said to Wilson in “The Itch” that he was “better off alone”, after Wilson told him to take his chance with Cuddy (not without listing her qualities, the same House told him she has in “Forever”, when Cuddy and Wilson had dinner together). I can’t think about House’s words that he’s “better off alone”, without immediately thinking of Benedick, in “Much Ado About Nothing”, after he was hooked by Don Pedro’s plot, and has learned from him, Claudio (hey, Robert Sean Leonard!) and Leonato, that Beatrice (wonderful Emma Thompson… It’s a small world isn’t it?) loved him. Benedick rationalizes his past usual sayings that he would remain a bachelor with that hilarious sentence : “When I said I will die a bachelor, I did not think I would live till I were married”. It goes wonderfully with House’s character.
    House and Cuddy, are – I agree – some (post?) modern Benedick and Beatrice (with a bit of Petrucchio and Katharina mixed in each of them), as their wit game reminds the one Shakespeare’s characters were playing… “The harpy” line about Cuddy was very Benedick’s style.
    Cuddy as a literature character is somewhere between Elizabethan theater and pre-Victorian novels. Somewhere between Shakespeare’s Beatrice or Viola (“The Twelfth Night”) and Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot (“Persuasion”) and Elizabeth Bennett (“Pride and Prejudice”; and House’s sometimes as obnoxious as Darcy, with his pride), with a touch of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Miss Kenton (“The Remains of the Days”; and House as Stevens would be perfect, as he can’t tell her anything about his feelings and can’t share intimacy).

    Wow, I had no idea I had been that chatty! Well, I guess this post comes too late, but I discovered this place quite recently and I’m still reading the old entries and comments, both being very interesting on different levels.

  • Flo

    Never too late Chris79!! I’ve just finished to read your essay for the second time and I think you have some very interesting insights!

    I agree that the “boob grab” can be viewed as resonance of the “have you seen my balls,” scene. Writers like to put scenes that can be mirrored like this so why not. Like you said both explanations are possible.

    When you say that Cuddy can be a jerk I tend to agree even if I would more say that she can be House’s jerk. At the same time, it is all a game, they are not jerking each other around just to do that. The only time House was really horrible with her was when he said to her that it was a good thing she failed to become a mom because “you/she suck at it”. On the other hand, we know he didn’t really meant it.
    Cuddy’s pranks in “The greater Good” were mean but I can understand why she did them.
    Otherwise, you’re absolutely right, there is no such thing as “the good one” or “the jerk one”. Writing is more nuanced than that, especially in this tv show. Nobody can labelled the characters. They are more too complex for us to do that.

    Cuddy aknowledged their mutual dance as a game, in the first season (sorry don’t remember which episode). She actually says it: “It is a game”.
    House and her are both good players. They know each other for a really long time and very well. They know each other flaws and they’re not afraid of calling the other on it.
    In LTEC, the elevator scene and the next one which you refered, are good exemples of this: yes they were making mean comments and they knew it. It was purely a game and they weren’t mad at each other for those comments.
    I like how they can talk like that too. Speaks volume about their relationship, about how they like, know and trust each other.

    “Both House and Cuddy are emotionally weird.”
    They are emotionnaly troubled.

    “Cuddy’s basic fear of commitment makes her an emotional cripple as much as House is”.
    Totally agree with this. Like I said in my first comment for this episode:
    “I think we forget too much to talk about Cuddy’s problems with men and her relationships (or in her case, her lack of relationships) with them. She has big issues too.
    We can see that she wasn’t in a relationship for a very long time. The show doesn’t even refer to one (contrary to House -> Stacy). She also has her fears of love and romance and I think that is why some of the scenes were showed in her point of view. I think it was to show us that she isn’t so sure about it herself and that she is as scared as House is but deals with it (or tries to anyway) in a different way. It would be interesting to know more about her past when in comes to relationships.”

    “She understands him and tolerate his jerkiness because she’s like him”
    yes they have a lot in common. They really do have strong similarities. They are both confident and sucessful in their jobs but both desperately suck in the social and personal level. They are both afraid of loneliness but can’t help themself to do everything to remain lonely. It is like a refuge and their worst nightmare at the same time.

    “Both emotionally crippled”. Nice way of putting it. When I said: “What House is also afraid of is happiness and success in a personal kind of way. I think he is afraid of a relationship with Cuddy not because of its potential failure but because of its potential success. He is scared that it might actually work.”
    It can be reversed. She also is afraid of the potential success.
    “House is very aware of that and that’s what scares him. In its own weird, dysfonctional way, this relationship could work.”
    same goes with Cuddy.

    “So, Cuddy. Scarcely have I ever met – in an American show – such a strange creature. Even stranger than House, actually! House is an heterodox – stricto sensu – character, with logic as spinal column. But Cuddy is apparently (“apparently” being the keyword, here) an orthodox – still stricto sensu – character, who has her own personal logic (sometimes quite tough to decipher) as spinal column and whose heterodoxy never shows up when, nor even the way, you expect it would. She’s rather intriguing. That, and the fact she can be a jerk, too! So seldom do authors dare to use female characters in all their aspects (and Cuddy certainly does have a lot of aspects). And even when they do, it’s so often a mere caricature of women… In that way, Cuddy’s character, more than a gift to TV Memories, is a jewel. For God’s sake, the woman is soooo crazy!”

    Very interesting point. She is as lost as House is.
    I totally agree, it is reassuring to see a woman character with great good looks being so psychologically profound and ambiguous and sometimes tortured. Really good writing and absolutely great performance by Edelstein!

    I agree that when she talks to Wilson about the possibility of a relationship with House in “The Itch” she referes of a past experience and not imagining what it would be like. You’re right, her speech was too precise to be just imagination.
    As a french I understand your “ça sent le vécu” point and I agree.

    Finally as being a Shakespeare fan I find your reference to “Much Ado About Nothing” fun and interesting. I love that play.

  • Chris79

    Flo – You’re French? No kidding! So am I… Salut, donc! We kind of tending to prove that French people don’t suck THAT MUCH at speaking English! I mean, I think… I mean, I hope! :-)

    Of course, Cuddy is a jerk only to House (but that makes her a jerk anyway. Remember in “Mirror, Mirror”, when she replaces House’s Vicodin stash with laxatives, after having replaced his regular Vicodin? Hilarious!)! The episode you mentioned, when she says “it’s a game” (“Occam’s Razor”), perfectly sets their particular relationship. Wilson’s question, just after that scene, “What’s between you and Cuddy?” and his deductions that House’s behaviour towards her indicates something, settle in viewers’ minds that, actually, there is something particular. And House’s sentence “There’s not a thin line between love and hate…” is far too wrathfully said to prove them wrong. Besides, House doesn’t hate her…

    And you’re right she, indeed, is “tortured”. Well, she’s not exactly Stéphane Mallarmé, but… Her lack of self-confidence as a human being (in opposition to her professional confidence, except when she compares herself to House as a doctor), her emotional awkwardness and the way she tries to hide them is just fascinating!
    Even in her emotional interactions with others she’s awkward (but she can be very supportive for others, if she’s not personally involved). Remember when she talks to her dying handyman in “Humpty Dumpty” (okay, lots of guilt in it, but guilt, it’s a feeling, right?), or when she talks to the little girl in “Finding Judas”, or even the way she handles her new baby, at first?

    Lisa Cuddy really is a compelling, intriguing and all the more interesting character. Being House’s variant, she was endowed with a little more emotional – issues and – material than him (and a little less skills).

    Bon, ben, à un de ces quatre, Flo! (As we guys in France say! LOL)

  • Flo

    we don’t suck at all at speaking english lol!!

    I liked your reference to stephane mallarmé!! it was really funny!!

    “Occam’s Razor” right!!! Thanks!

    yes she is very confident in her job but on a personal and emotional level…she’s a mess. She admitted it in “Joy to the World” in a nice scene with a great confrontation with the patient.

    oui à un de ces quatre! J’espère sur ce blog. barabara écrit bien et tu as plein de choses intéressantes à dire apparemment!

    so long! (as we say in english)

  • wackjob

    Having just seen the episode for the first time, although it broadcast a few months ago, I felt that House’s boob grab was perfectly in character. Cuddy was in his face, challenging him; he will always push back and try to push the other person’s buttons. If he senses Cuddy wants romance, he’ll give her a crudely sexual gesture. (How many thousands of crudely sexual remarks has he made to her face?) And then look at how crestfallen he was when she left. I’m guessing he really hated himself at the moment, even more than usual.

    Obviously the “actress” was a hooker–that’s always where House gets his sexual release, and of course he would know some of them well enough to know which one who could pull off a stunt like that. I felt that they had obviously had sex more than a few times and were laughing and joking with friendly camaraderie, nothing more (although they probably had sex later as well).

    I’m disappointed that it’s 10 episodes later and there’s been almost no movement on that front!

  • Chris79

    I was sure you would appreciate the Stéphane Mallarmé reference! Un vrai joyeux luron, ce bon vieux Stéphane, hein?

    Oh, and we do suck at speaking English!

    See you! :-)

  • cj_housegirl

    Chris79 I loved your essay and you make so many excellent points. I loved how you were able to reflect the Cuddy of this season with her actions in seasons one to three. Many people seem to think Cuddy has changed this season. I don’t think so. She’s exactly as she has always been. But, many people seem to want the oh-so fictional “professional” version of Cuddy.

    There are archetypes in Hollywood about what a “professional” woman is supposed to act like which tends to be overly idealized. Cuddy breaks that archetype as does House as the Hollywood anti-hero. That’s why they get compared to literary characters because it is generally only in literature that you find such complex characterizations.

    I love the fact this show sets you up with familiar Hollywood iconic characters, story-lines and plot devices but ends it all as the antithesis of those things.

    As for Ça sent le vécu! I would translate this as “it smells like living” which I think is a really terrific saying. I don’t think there is an appropriate English translation, except for idioms like: If it smells like a duck, and walks like a duck…or even “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” Basically, it’s the notion that there are times where the evidence is enough. You don’t need to be told or to actually see something to know it exists or once existed. In this case, the fact that Cuddy can give such detailed information about how a relationship with House would go we can assume that that information is based on “living knowledge” rather than imagination. Very good.

    I think both House and Cuddy are rather complex characters and enjoy watching their rather insane relationship.

  • Chris79

    @ cj_housegirl :

    “Chris79 I loved your essay and you make so many excellent points. I loved how you were able to reflect the Cuddy of this season with her actions in seasons one to three.”

    Well, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Each of House, Cuddy and Wilson have evolved since the beginning of House M.D., but I guess, there is sometimes confusion between “evolution” and “change”… Cuddy hasn’t changed. Few things have changed in her (and in her life), but her personality is still the same. She’s more direct, or rather less able to hide her feelings, as the 5th season ends, but she’s still the good old Lisa Cuddy with funny lines, emotional awkardness, and, yes, still professional too.

    “There are archetypes in Hollywood about what a “professional” woman is supposed to act like which tends to be overly idealized. Cuddy breaks that archetype as does House as the Hollywood anti-hero. That’s why they get compared to literary characters because it is generally only in literature that you find such complex characterizations.

    I love the fact this show sets you up with familiar Hollywood iconic characters, story-lines and plot devices but ends it all as the antithesis of those things.”

    Cuddy’s character is such a delight, especially for a woman (I can only think of Miss Parker in “The Pretender”, to find a compelling female TV character… Most were – and still are – males. I did loved X-Files when a was a teen – until season 5, but Scully was such a bore! It was all about Mulder for me!), as she has lots of aspects, remains mysterious AND is really funny (that, of course, is the talent of both writers and actress behind the character). Seriously I thought of Jane Austen a lot of times, hearing her replying to House(though she’s a lot more daring than Austen’s heroins… Question of time!)!

    “As for Ça sent le vécu! I would translate this as “it smells like living” which I think is a really terrific saying. I don’t think there is an appropriate English translation, except for idioms like: If it smells like a duck, and walks like a duck…or even “where there’s smoke there’s fire”.”

    I wouldn’t have translated “Ça sent le vécu” literally. I know it kind of works, but it’s the kind of expressions you use with a particular tone to render the irony of it (when you say it, it’s really funny!). As I said before: “Traduttore, Traditore!” (Translator, traitor!) and I like being able to express things the way I think them (but with my crazy slightly hypermnesiac brain, it’s always a challenge to be simple and to make myself clear. That’s why I told I have my own dialectic, cope with it! I do speak this way too, it’s a total nightmare for the others!), or it’ll stay on my mind and bug me!

    The idioms you’re referring to exist in French, though slightly different : if it smells like a duck, would be rather for us “si ça ressemble à un canard, que ça marche comme un canard…” (“if it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck…”) and the other one would be translated by “il n’y a pas de fumée sans feu” (“there’s no smoke without fire”)… And it doesn’t fit that much, or does it?

    Anyway, I got a real interest reading the articles and the comments around here… I guess, when I’ll be done with it all, I’ll make some more comments, on some more recent stuff.

    As for House/Cuddy relationship, it’s not insane… It’s… unusual! (What a great euphemism, huh?) :-)

  • Amie

    Chris79 : Great insights! Love everything you said. I really liked how you linked it all to the first season. It really proves that no one changed, no one is “out of character”

    I also really liked how you explained better than I would have what a complex caracter Cuddy is (and why she is my second favourite character on this show… or could it be because I relate to her a lot?)
    I’ve never thought she was out of character. Because, even in real life, people don’t always act coherently. It’s easy, watching from afar, with a god almighty vision on their world, to say “she should do that, she shouldn’t have behaved that way”. I mean, he that has never snapped at someone who didn’t deserve it because he was in a cranky mood, let him first cast a stone at her.
    It’s really good to see TV characters that are not black or white, not stereotyped.
    Amber was(is?) also a great “gray” female character. I was so sad to see her die.

    I also like your reference to “Much Ado About Nothing” as I’ve always thought of House and Cuddy as a modern day Beatrice and Benedict. And, as the famous Shakespearian couple, their long time knowledge of each other and their comfortable banter gives a solid basis to their relationship, which is much more likely to work out than the one of Claudio/Hero. They know their strength, they know their weaknesses, their flaws. No surprises. They’ve seen the worst! LOL.
    Which is why I think their relationship can work out, if the writers dare to go that way.

    As for the boobgrab, I always thought about the american teenager baseball metaphor.
    He got to “first base” with her (that is, kissing).
    “Cuddy: I think we’re supposed to kiss now. House: No, we already did that”
    SO, what’s the next step, in House’s mind? Second base! That is, groping. (I checked the wikipedia page to be sure. Cause I always get confused about 2nd and 3rd base : )

    House specifically mentions the baseball metaphor in “the Itch” (Wilson: You… hit that? Like making out? Or full-on sex? Or…
    House: I’ve got a chart laid out with all the bases. I’ll take you through it.)
    CQFD – oops, another french expression (QED : quod erat demonstrandum)

    He was continuing the games that Cuddy had started in the episode.
    But I must say my favourite part of this scene is after Cuddy leaves, when he bows his head and slumps his shoulders, you can very slightly hear him say (but you can totally read his lips) : “F*ck!”
    They weren’t in sync here… He didn’t get Cuddy wasn’t playing anymore.
    He tries, in the episode after (JTTW) to play again, to see if she’s still in the game, but Cuddy is never in the mood, looks annoyed most of the time and never goes along (but still has some very funny lines).
    And House at the end, gives up (“Merry Xmas, Cuddy”). End of chapter.

    Man I love these conversations on this blog! Thanks Barbara!
    The wait for the next episode is killing me and your blog is what keeps me going!

  • Amie

    “As for House/Cuddy relationship, it’s not insane… It’s… unusual! ”

    Actually, I find it neither insane, nor unusual! Well, it IS unusual for TV. But so true to real life. People being scared of their feelings (oh, and I loved the parallel with Remains of the Day, too)
    Am I the only one here who thinks that?

    I would even go as far as saying I don’t think House and Cuddy are damaged. They’re just humans with fears and expectations and flaws… (that goes for every other character on the show)

  • cj_housegirl

    “Unusual” for television I like that. I like your “second base” theory Amie. It works because we know from S1 episodes that House has at least some knowledge of baseball plus he did mention the base thing to Wilson. I hadn’t thought about House wanting to move the relationship along by hitting second base because they already did first base. (lol)That’s funny.

    I think one of the reasons that House was playing games with Cuddy is because he and Cuddy have always played games with each other. House has always pursued her in some manner or another and she has always said no to him, in her rather snarky way. This time she isn’t saying no and House is wondering what “game” she is playing. That’s why he asks her straight out before the boob grab if she’s screwing with him, playing with his feelings for her. Her answer is to ask the same question back. They can’t be honest with each other about their emotions for each other because they are both acting to emotionally self-protect. I think that is very true to life.

    Chris79 My french is not that great and what I know is Canadian so…;) The idioms I used don’t exactly correlate to your expression. I was just trying to say I think I get what you mean with it. I also think it is pretty cool and accurate in the context of Cuddy’s discussion with Wilson about what a relationship with House would be like. :)

  • Chris79

    @Amie :

    – I like the conversations around here too! It’s great to think a lot of people from different countries are able to discuss rather cleverly about the not less clever show “HOUSE MD”.

    – I understood the metaphor “I hit that” was a sport one (as House likes sport), but I wasn’t to sure what sport it was (except basket ball, soccer and tennis… My knowledge on sport sucks. To say nothing about my practice of it!). In France, we’re not very familiar (huge, HUGE euphemism!) with baseball (I vaguely remember playing softball in high school, do you think it counts?).
    Your analysis makes perfect sense anyway. It’s excellent! Now, I’m waiting for your essay making the parallel between Love in general and Baseball (5000 words at least). I want names, years AND stats. I’m sure I’ll like it! :-)

    – Of course, they are “in sync” emotionally when Cuddy leaves House’s office! She’s miserable, he’s miserable because he made her miserable… He only continues to jerk her around in “Joy To The World”, because he seriously thought his rude move to test her in “Let Them Eat Cake” was enough to maintain Cuddy at a certain distance too. And yet she is back in his office… What does that mean? That his test can go further? That she’s now testing him? “Competitor by nature”, House doesn’t understand that she’s not playing with the teenager case! He keeps playing the game (also because it’s all he knows… Playing games with Cuddy)! Until he realizes it’s not a game for her. He can’t see why this kid so much echoes the young Cuddy.
    I think, by the way, this teenager mirrors on the outside, how Cuddy felt – and still feel – on the inside when she was a teen. It reflects the image of the freak she has of herself. It’s a common pseudo psychological thinking that being adult, we’re still the kid we have been or something like that… As I said before somewhere, Cuddy knows she’s a freak, and what best time for feeling a freak than the time you’re a teen (though I liked the time I was a teen! Seriously, it was great! I spent it on 3 continents, I’ve done the stupidest things you could ever think of – and when I say “the stupidest things”, I really mean “THE STUPIDEST THINGS” – and 90’s rock was cool! As for my being a freak, I’ve always known I was and I’ve always been pretty cool with that! Why fighting it? We are who we are… Beautiful lapalissade!)?

    – What I meant by House/Cuddy relationship is unusual (I’m not the kind who think people should get involved at all, anyway… Schopenhauer is one of my personal God! My Pantheon is crowded with writers, philosophers, painters and musicians…), was that their twisted worldviews and the way they act to each other, their games (which honestly doesn’t happen in real life. At least, not that much and not on that level… Or you’re really a special one!) can but appear as unusual for anybody, and therefore make their relationship unusual, but it makes perfect sense with their personalities.
    You never wonder why those two childish middle-aged characters and their weird relationship fascinate so much teenagers and young adults still watching dumb shows like “One Three Hill” (the “Dawson ‘s Creek” of the years 2000), “Gossip Girl” and other dumber stuff (but I guess “De gustibus and coloribus non disputandum”… I suddenly feel Scholastic! LOL)? Because, they’re not mature! And not mature people have non-mature relationships! Non-mature relationships are weird, over complicated and fascinating! Well, at least, it’s fascinating because it’s not real (but the genius of the whole “HOUSE MD” team, writers and actors, is to make it realistic) and because, we’re the viewers! Living it wouldn’t be that fascinating, I guess.
    I’m not judging here, ’cause I could barely consider myself as a mature person (which should perhaps worry me, as I’m not getting younger)! When I said “I’m quite a jerk myself”, I wasn’t exaggerating (ask my friends and my mother!)… :-)
    Actually, what strikes me in House and Cuddy relationship is how it reveals their psychological issues, how it deals with the phobia of each of them (pain for House, failure for Cuddy) and, of course, I enjoy the funny lines it involves.

    It’s funny you don’t think they’re damaged! Of course, they’re humans with fears ad al that. We’re all human with fears. I, myself fear birds (so, I’m human after all! I wasn’t too sure… The magic of syllogism!)… But you happen to get through your fears as you grow up, as you get older, at least, you tame your fears. Or you end up, like the guy in “The Itch”! Metaphorically, both House and Cuddy are like this guy. They’re stuck in their work and the world they built around it. They’re not 20, they’re not even 30… There’s something pathologic about the way they act, and why they acted like that so long. What do they expect? You can’t even be sure… They aren’t even sure! Except, they don’t want to suffer. Okay, nobody wants to suffer (except masochists!), but it’s a rational thing to try, to experience things (even House did with Stacy, which makes me think Cuddy is the more damaged of the two), even though you go through suffering, if there’s the least chance of getting something good (I wouldn’t say Happiness, ’cause I don’t believe in Happiness… I don’t believe in Absolute!), most of the people do that. Most of the people got the guts to try several times to experience things that feel good, no matter what the result is. Isn’t what the whole life made of : trying? When you’re unable to do that, there’s an underlying pathologic issue somewhere! Now, they’re slightly moving, because they’re realizing acting this way, make them even more miserable and involves their greatest fears too. So, “minima de malis” : they move!

    I’ve got another theatrical reference for House and Cuddy, by the way : Marivaux (“On ne badine pas avec l’amour”…)

    @cj_housegirl :

    Canadian French? From Québec, you mean? Don’t you know those Canadians are the Ayatollahs of French speaking? The Guardians of the Temple “du beau parler”! Even translating into French things that don’t need to be translated, actually… Good God! How much more French than that could you know? :-)

    I got your point about the expressions related to “Ça sent le vécu!”, but I just wanted to be precise (and possibly helpful… But you never can be sure with me! LOL). I always want to be precise, it’s ONE of my biggest flaws, as it’s quite obsessive. As you certainly noticed my thoughts come in a rather anarchic way, so being precise enable me to put some discipline, so to speak, in that mess I call my thoughts. But, I’m always too precise, telling what I think and what it makes me think of or remind me (bloody digressions!), in the same time… You’ll have to deal with it, ’cause it’s not going to be otherwise! And believe me, it’s way more unbearable when I speak in French! Speaking in a foreign language constrain me to use but the few vocabulary I know (would you believe me if I told you I started to learn English in junior high school thanks to German? No kidding!). Imagine what I’m capable of in my own language… Scary, huh? ;-)