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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Massage Therapy”

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Apologies for this coming a bit later than I’d hoped. I wanted to get the Lisa Edelstein interview up last night. If you haven’t yet read it, do check it out.

Something seemed off to me for the first half (or longer) of “Massage Therapy” this week’s  House, M.D. episode. Not so much with the patient, whose story is made up of lie upon lie; we only get to the truth (and a rather simple explanation of her condition). But the whole episode: the relationships between the main cast felt uncomfortable to me. I kept wondering why. Was it the script? The acting? The incessant commercial breaks? (It’s the first episode I’ve watched this year as it aired—with all the commercials—ugh.)  Then it finally dawned on me near the episode’s end when House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) confront the truth—and stop lying to each other; stop hiding from each other. Just like the patient—and nearly everyone else in the story.

“Massage Therapy” was written by Peter Blake, whose writing on the show is always interesting (“Help Me,” “Remorse,” “Here Kitty,” “Joy”), often peppering his scripts with subtly entwined threads. So what was I missing? There had to be something more.  

Then I realized that the characters seemed off because they were supposed to be. Like the patient Margaret, who’s hiding behind a façade of illness out of fear her husband would leave her if he learns the truth. And like House, Cuddy, Chase (Jesse Spencer), new fellow Kelly, and even Foreman (Omar Epps), who all hide their in one way or another out of fear. You might think that Kelly, a psychiatrist, might have had a little insight into the patient’s problems (or at least make a stab at it). But she submerges her psychiatric instincts and training to prove herself an able-enough diagnostician to make it on House’s high powered diagnostics team. House’s badgering and bullying intimidated her enough to obscure whatever skill she might have used. 

Margaret, a young married woman,  presents with abdominal issues and hallucinations. But House is preoccupied; he is much more interested in figuring out why Chase hired her than in what’s ailing his patient. House is often brusque and annoying, and it’s not unlike him to badger a fellow, but he is pretty brutal with her. His behavior seems to intimidate her (and she seems out of her depth, reminding me of Dr. Samira Terzi, late of the season four hiring arc. 

No matter what avenue the team follows with Margaret, they hit dead end after dead end; she seems almost a pathological liar. Although “everybody lies,” she lies more than most, as if any truths would be far worse than any lie in which she might be caught. 

In the end House realizes that she is schizophrenic, and with her symptoms are caused by a severe reaction to the drug Risperidone. All of her symptoms disappear once she is hospitalized, no longer on the meds. Of course, off the meds, her schizophrenia re-emerges, which confuses the diagnosis even more.

If Kelly hadn’t been so busy trying to prove herself as an able diagnostician—and had House not been so eager to badger and intimidate her for sport as well as to simply test her chops)—they might have figured it out much sooner. So the patient’s insistence on hiding her illness and Kelly’s hiding from what she knows best conspire to hide the truth. Of course we all hide from each other; we’re all afraid of rejection, but that fear, the tension and anxiety it causes can be as toxic as Risperidone is to the patient. 

And what’s with Chase? Is House right that he is compensating for his loss of Cameron with his new hire? Shedding his “good guy” image from the last couple of seasons, Chase seems to have returned to his indifferent stance of the first couple of seasons.

Chase reacts to loss and fear of rejection by building walls of indifference. (Remember how he reacts to his father’s visit way back in season one?) But when he begins to allow the walls to come downopens up in season three, it is to Cameron, who in the end leaves him—just as his dad had (and his mom, figuratively). So now, as in Chase 1.0, this Chase is hard, cold, self-interested. He doesn’t “care.” There’s no payoff for caring—either in taking the world on your shoulders as he had in assassinating the dictator Dibala in season five (“The Tyrant”) or in loving Cameron. And it will eat away at him bit by bit. But in the meantime, Chase reverts to hides himself behind his interior battlements and gets his “Clooney” on. 

So what is Foreman repressing? He certainly seems to get on Kelly’s case. Is Chase right when he suggests that Foreman is upset that they’ve gotten  a replacement for 13—or that House asked Chase to hire—and not Foreman? 

Which brings us to House and Cuddy. The episode’s title obviously originates in the issue created by House’s massage (or more specifically, his choice of masseuse—a hooker with whom he’s had a sexual relationship).

(It’s no secret that House has used hookers to satisfy his physical needs; they’ve provided him with sexual release while allowing him to avoid any pretense of intimacy. We’ve also known him to have friendly relations with them that have less to do with sex and more to do with some sort friendly acquaintanceship.)

So, as Cuddy leaves House’s flat after a romp in bed, she is met by House’s masseuse-hooker. House uses massage to ease the pain in his leg, and throughout the series, we’ve seen House turn to massage to keep it under control. So this (in Cuddy’s words) “slutty” young woman, it appears, has been both to House. 

House is honest with Cuddy, explaining that before they were together, he got a massage—and a happy ending from this young lady of the night. But now it’s just a massage—no “happy ending.” This is just not acceptable to Cuddy, who may buy the idea that House is no longer having sex with his “masseuse” but is unimpressed by House’s assurances that her therapeutic hands are the only ones that can ease House’s pain. 

Her reaction is understandable. I’ve always believed that House is a pretty monogamous guy. But when not in a serious relationship, he’s relied on the relief over involvement. But that’s not really what this is about. Is House trying to bend his relationship with Cuddy to test its security? He’s been known to do that (most obviously with Wilson). What are her limits? He would have known that Cuddy and the masseuse are likely to run into each other. She doesn’t just randomly stop by House’s apartment; he would have had an appointment. Cuddy is meant to encounter her.

House is also still feeling insecure about the relationship, so House is even more likely to put it to the test. When Wilson wonders whether House has yet interacted with Cuddy’s daughter Rachel, House lies to him, insisting that she’s “boring” and has no burning desire to be part of the domestic side of Cuddy’s life. “She comes over, we hook up, she leaves… You get the sex, dinners and video game partnership and a full night’s sleep.” Idyllic. But it’s not—and House doesn’t think so either. But it’s a very typical House comment, and we’re meant to understand it as Wilson does: House is being commitment-averse and he’s unwilling to take a step forward. 

Wilson assumes Cuddy has asked and House has always been ready with deflections or a million excuses why not. And House never dispels that. Throughout the first part of the episode, I wondered, like Cuddy whether House is hedging his bets, having second thoughts or really unwilling to take that further leap into intimacy. It didn’t make sense to me, knowing what I believe I know about House.

But then there is the AHA! moment for the audience, and it all comes together: clarity for us; clarity for the patient, and clarity for House and Cuddy. Fear couched in House’s perpetual testing of the relationship’s boundaries parallels Cuddy’s fear of taking another step with House: letting him be part of Rachel’s life—and spend the entire night with him. It’s not that House doesn’t want to play with Rachel or wake up in the morning next to Cuddy. It’s that Cuddy hasn’t offered that part of herself to him. She too is afraid. And House calls her on it. Good for him!

These are two huge steps forward for Cuddy. House wonders why she isn’t ready to take them. His earlier conversation with Wilson suddenly sounds less like indifference towards Cuddy’s needs and family consideration and more like hurt. He can’t admit to Wilson that it’s Cuddy who has commitment issues here. 

But instead of insulating himself from it, House asks her why. Of course it’s precipitated by her own accusation that House is trying to sabotage their relationship (which would be very House) by flaunting a hooker masseuse in her face. Massage  therapy, indeed!

Two notes: I will be a guest this evening on the Canadian radio program KW Magazine with John Maciel (CKWR in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario) to talk about House and Chasing Zebras. I will also be interviewing Robert Seidman from TV by the Numbers. With all the talk about ratings these days in not only the House fan community, but all ‘round the ‘Net, he will try to demystify it all for us. So look for that article later this week. 

A new House episode airs next Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • bakerstreet blues

    You know one thing that everyone seems to keep forgetting…..exactly who’s fault was it that LUCAS WENT AWAY??? Seems more like it is Cuddy that needs to grow up and let Rachel decide who she wants to be with. DUH

  • bakerstreet blues

    Ok I get it that MOST women would be offended by House’s choice of massage therapist, however trust is trust. You cannot expect someone to trust you more than you are willing to trust them. I get the whole testing in new relationships, but if Cuddy had any kind of friendship with Stacy (as indicated) she would have to know that infidelity is something that House would NEVER commit. As we all know, House completely believes in monogamy and honesty in relationships. I am afraid that this episode just convinces me even more that Cuddy will only play this relationship HER WAY. I am not convinced that House did any of this in order to test Cuddy. If you think about how House thinks…..if this would not bother him, why should it bother her? Seems pretty straight forward to me. Or to put it another way…..he does not JUDGE anyone by their words, only their actions. Oh poor House….I think he’s got himself a real mystery here….and it ain’t looking good. I guess this show is definitely teaching me that I never want to become involved with a CONTROL SEEKING NARCISSIST.,….WITH RIDICULOUSLY HIGH STANDARDS THAT NO ONE CAN MEET.

  • Eve K

    This is a crappy feeling. Im not excited to download House tomorrow. Im sorry, but I think Im out. This season is not for me after all. Thanx for the company. Its not Hugh, all though I think he is a little tired of the endless medical talk, it is the writing.
    Actually, I think that all the spoilers, the”behind the scene” stuff and directors on twitter and all the info takes away some of the magic. And I know I can drop to read about it, but I do start to believe that it is having an effect on the show. But worst of all is that im not interested in the characters anymore. I dont care anymore how tings are going. I dont know why, I just dont, and this is a sneaking feeling that started somewhere in season 6. (Allthough Broken was one of the series best episodes)

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanx for a very, very good blog and good luck with your book, Barbara.

  • Erin

    I thought the most fascinating scene in Massage Therapy was the scene between the potw’s husband and House after finding out the wife was schizophrenic. It seemed House was agitated because the husband wanted an excuse to exit the relationship because of mental illness, maybe mirroring his own sense of abandonment post Mayfield. Hugh Laurie’s acting in that scene really got to me,just impeccable.

  • Andrea

    I doubt very much Rachel has any delays. Her birth parents were healthy teenagers, both honor students, and there’s no real indication that her birth mother was on drugs or drinking through the pregnancy. She was born prematurely in an abandoned house but she was cared for after birth. That’s the way most babies were born prior to the 20th century and somehow the human race survived.

    Rachel is simply played by an older child who can take direction even though the character is still two years old, a few months older than she would be in canon. So far her age has been referred to as either “two and a half” or “two” on the show.

    But then we don’t know what the actual month or year is on this show either. Maybe the events of this episode are taking place sometime in the spring of 2011 and House and Cuddy have been dating for a few months, etc.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @MamaShante: i obviously agree:) And again, it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to hear that from an “impartial” viewer as yourself:)

    @SeraG: it is true that parents tend to be overprotective of children who have health issues or some sort of disability. But i cannot remember any indication to that, other than the initial situation, which was indeed unpredictable. Rachel could have developed health or learning problems because of her birth and first weeks of life, which Cuddy was aware of and beautifully managed to accept. But later on, nothing points to that sad scenario actually happening.

    On the other hand, there really is no need for an extra reason for her protectiveness towards Rachel, other than she is her mother. I am extra-familiar with this, i personally am an excessively protective mother and my son is generally healthy.

    I think that Cuddy made the understandable choice, taking it easy on introducing House in Rachel’s life. She had just brutally removed Lucas from Rachel’s life – a person whom the child had developed a relationship with and who had been a constant presence in her life. This is very disruptive and possibly traumatic for a child and introducing another man in her life this soon (let alone, a man of whose response to the child she couldn’t really be sure of) is something that needs to be dealt with carefully.

  • SeraG

    Michele1L;#45, not to contradict you, but Cuddy tells House that Rachel (before she was adopted) might have delays or disabilities. I have watched “Joy to the World” many times. That always struck me as bittersweet; that Cuddy finally gets the baby she wants, (and contrary to what House says; that she wants everything to be perfect), she is thrilled to have this baby to love (unconditionally) and care for.

  • SeraG

    Delia_Beatrice, re:#42, I was not implying that Rachel has disabilities that make her put things in her mouth, at whatever age she is. I was suggesting that as one more reason why Cuddy is protective.

  • MamaShante

    @Delia: The season premiere was BEAUTIFUL. To me “Huddy” is a positive change to the show and I look forward to the season ahead of us. I find myself wanting more of House and Cuddy. I was skeptical, but I am pleased to say that the writers proved me wrong! I now appreciate the relationship and what it brings to the show.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @MamaShante: i absolutely love hearing you say that.

    I have always loved the House-Cuddy interactions – seasons 1 and 2. In the first episode of season 3, i completely fell in love with them as a possibly romantic couple – and that feeling only grew deeper in time. So i have been paying A LOT of attention – even if i have always tried to keep to an objective analysis of the show.

    I am very pleased to hear the positive opinion of a fan who doesn’t share my history. It seems that people are acknowledging the quality of this season and the positive changes Huddy brings to the show. The ratings have grown constantly – 13,4 million for “Massage Therapy” is around the average “House” rating since season 4. People aren’t running away because of Huddy, even though the internet is still full of idiotic and absurd messages of hate.

  • MamaShante

    @ Delia Thank you. I never really paid any attention to “Huddy” until recently since season 7 seems to be all about them. I was worried that the show would be too different, BUT I am find myself absolutely LOVING this season!!!!

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Andrea: OK, i get it:) The classic Huddy fan behavior – deeply affected by post-traumatic stress disorder that inflicts horrible, constant fear:)))))) However, i personally stick by my point: Huddy has to last.

    @Michele1L: you’re welcome:) I am extremely happy about the relatively continuous autumn we’ve had. And i understand that a new episode you didn’t expect to air so soon is bound to make your week:)))

    @Orange450: i actually noticed that on my second viewing of the episode. It is so “Housian”:)

    @MamaShante: they are wearing matching outfits on NUMEROUS occasions. I am too tired to make a list now, i’m sorry, but it’s a constant that has reoccured many, many times on the show. People have always commented on it:)

  • MamaShante


  • MamaShante

    I just finished watching “The Greater Good” and noticed House and Cuddy were wearing matching outfits. They were also matching in “Selfish”. I don’t remember any other epis, but now I am relate curious. Do you guys think there is something to that?

  • susan

    I just saw this on an AOL internet story about the rescued Chilean miners. Thought it would appeal to “House” afficianados:
    “A trained paramedic, Barrios previously looked after his diabetic mother. While trapped underground, he administered medicine to his fellow miners and vaccinated them against the flu. The other miners called him “Dr. House,” after Hugh Laurie’s character in the Fox medical drama, which is popular in Chile.”

  • Sheryl

    Loving the comments here.

    @hwl40 (#27)–I too was struck by House’s reaction to the family member about “it” always being hard. I wonder, though, if there’s another way to look at it.

    The patient’s husband is basically realizing that his wife has a serious condition, and wondering if he should stick it out, knowing that caring for her will really change his own life forever. So while there are obvious connections there to the Cuddy and Rachel situation, what about House’s earlier relationship with Stacy? Back then, Stacy and House had a relationship established–just like the POTW–and then House’s ordeal with his leg happened. It proved to be too much for Stacy, or for both of them; I just wonder if House is reflecting on that, perhaps, since it’s so similar . . .

  • Orange450

    Last night, I watched for the second time with my husband, who’s back from his weekly business trip. He’s a spoilerphobe, so I can never tell him anything about an episode he’s missed, no matter how much I want to.

    So last night, he was surprised when I let out a scream during the very first scene, when we get our first sight of “Margaret”, stretched out on the sofa, watching TV. OMG – whatever else felt “off” or “flat” during this episode – they gave us the clue in the very first take! As the camera pans across the length of Margaret on the sofa, we see her thru one of the glass prism ornaments on her coffee table. And her image is distorted into facets – as many as there are facets in the prism. A very subtle reference to her schizophrenia – probably not even meant to be picked up. An amazing touch. I loved it 🙂

  • Andrea

    More musings here. I can actually almost buy House’s logic about the hooker/masseuse. He’s given up the drugs and if this particular masseuse is the only one of the 13 (or whatever number it was) who made his leg feel better, maybe he did reason that it made sense to keep employing her. No more happy endings “because of YOU,” he tells Cuddy brightly. That was one of the funnier lines in the episode. But he did set Cuddy up to see Brandi, he did know that she wouldn’t react well. No woman would or should have to put up with her boyfriend getting regular massages from his old hooker. I think Cuddy’s love probably is unconditional here, but that doesn’t mean she will always stay with him with no conditions. She can carry a torch for him from afar if he is so self destructive he hurts her daughter or Cuddy herself or himself or is otherwise unsafe.

  • Andrea

    No, Delia Beatrice, I have no inside knowledge or spoilers for February! I’m going by what I’m afraid they might do, not what I have any knowledge of them planning. I’m as in the dark as anyone else.

  • Michele1L

    Delia_Beatrice – Thank you! For some reason, that episode was originally not showing on my Tivo box, and I looked on a website that lists all of the episodes and it originally said “Unplanned Parenthood” wouldn’t air until the 25th, so I am sooo happy — and the sneak peaks are absolutely hilarious!

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Michele1L: There is “Unplanned Parenthood” on Monday (and the sneak peeks look awesome:)).
    From what i know, we then have a two weeks break, followed, apparently, by three more episodes starting November 8th (“Office Politics”, “A Pox On Our House” and “Small Sacrifices” – i saw promotional pictures from the last two and they looked mighty interesting). Last episode of 2010 airs on November 22nd and the next one, January 10th.

    Might be wrong, though. If i am, please step in and correct me.

  • Michele1L

    Love all of the interesting comments.
    SeraG -I think the learning disabilities was about the first baby Cuddy was trying to adopt. I didn’t buy into House’s remarks about Rachel. He often reacts like this out of fear — not to mention he was lying about having spent time with Rachel in the first place. He hadn’t spent time with her because he admitted later that Cuddy hadn’t introduced him to her. He made that same comment, ‘aren’t you adorable’ in that episode, the name of it escapes me’, where the young daughter of a patient asked him about his leg. He responded with some deflective silliness and the little girl retorted, ‘is that why you’re sad?’, which prompted that, ‘aren’t you adorable comment’. He is, ironically, surprisingly good with children.

    Freya#39 – I think some of us would love to see Cuddy and House showing more affection and, quite frankly, a bit of lust after six seasons, but the producers/writers are also aware that some viewers don’t want the two of them together at all (I can’t imagine why) so they are, in my view, performing a bit of a balancing act so that this relationship doesn’t completely put off those who like the show but don’t like Huddy.

    Lastly, the next episode isn’t until the 25th, right?

  • susan

    Ditto #43 Delia_Beatrice: Is something bad supposed to happen in February? Don’t panic me either….
    The TV Guide spread has them dancing at a weddding in January I think. And Cuddy’s mother will start to appear around then so I don’t think the relationship is going to disintegrate. (Fingers crossed)

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @ANDREA (@24): Aaaaaaa… Did you hear anything alarming about February? If it’s too spoilerish to be written here, i’ll give you my facebook details… You got me in a panic there… I am obviously in the “Huddy can and has to last” club.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @FLO: i agree that your version is indeed more complex and more mature.
    But i stick to the point that the actual scenario didn’t bother me. What i can definitely say is that i was infinitely more bothered by the “nothing in common” plot of “Unwritten”. To have House obsess about it is somewhat understandable, given his fears and insecurities. But to have Wilson embrace that theory and not point out that House and Cuddy have everything ESSENTIAL in common – that was absurd.

    In regard to “Massage Therapy”, i think that Blake really wanted to create doubt in the viewers’ mind about House’s behavior. Many (bad) reviews note how much it resembled season 5 House, in terms of the impression of jerkiness and superficiality that he gave. I think it is very consistent with the way “House” episodes are built, that indeed one of the layers was to create this false impression and thus, make people wonder what the hell happened to all the love he felt for Cuddy and his evolution towards a more mature self.

    In regard to her reaction, i fully understand it. I cannot imagine any woman in love, madly in love, to be more exact, who would have reacted differently – definitely not an insecure woman like Cuddy.
    But there is a deeper layer of her reaction. The hooker/masseuse represents much more than a current small reason for jealousy. It represents the old version of House (the one who grabbed her boob in “Let Them Eat Cake”, then made her melt with the desk he gave her, only for her to find him in his office, in a very “friendly” posture with a prostitute). It is a version of House that has hurt her deeply, that made her feel rejected and humiliated many times. Anything that reminds her of that version of House is bound to get a very strong reaction from her.
    I do believe in the deep, organic level of her love for House, that is indeed unconditional, but i do not assume that her acceptance can, or should, include that side of his past life.

    In regard to House having both the real stress-inflicted pain AND the attempt to test Cuddy as his reasons for the massage stunt – indeed, that would have been very interesting. But then again, i believe the purpose, of both Blake and House himself, was to give a very false impression – that would have been influenced by the insertion of real pain in the equation. Thus, the old “i am a jerk with no motive other than being a jerk” behavior, thus the coldness and apparent indifference of their bedroom scene together…

    @Sera G: House’s comments in his conversation with Wilson were indeed mean – the “golden retriever” etc. But they were motivated by anger and fear of rejection, by his growing pain and panic of being kept at a distance. I didn’t see them as out of character at all.

    @Sera, Janine, Ruthinor: First of all, Rachel looks too big for a child who is barely two (she was born in December 2008,
    the episode was a Christmas episode). But apart from that, her behavior is consistent with both ages: 2 and 3. There is no absolute development rule in regard to the age limit for a child to put things in its mouth:)))))

    @Freya: i am actually happy that the physical contact we see is minimum. The one that WE see, because otherwise it’s obvious they have plenty of very satisfying physical contact:)

    In this episode, the lack of contact was meant to symbolize the emotional distance between them.

    But generally, i want them to show physical contact when it’s loaded with significance – there will be dramatic situations, turning points and emotionally loaded moments, in which to see them touching or kissing or being close will be very meaningful.

    I do not want the physical contact between them to be turned into something common, that we get used to seeing every week.
    I think that the natural intimacy of a couple in love is visible in the eye contact and general demeanor – in “Unwritten”, for instance, in the absence of physical contact, their eye contact, facial expressions, body language and the fluency of their conversations and team work pointed towards their deep intimacy.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Short reply on the bed sides and later on i’ll be back for the rest of your interesting comments:

    I phrased that wrong. I meant that House had always (literally always) slept on the right side of the bed (he was almost never shown stretched across the bed either – just on the right), while Cuddy was shown on both sides, but most recently on the right as well.

    I cannot really say if her bedroom was the same during all 6 seasons – i had a feeling at least the bed had changed, as well as its position in the room. Unlike House’s, which kept constant all the time.

    But it is not that important what happened to her bedroom and her side, this is about him. House is a creature of habit, as Wilson obsessively pointed out many times, and it’s the fact that HE made this change that is significant.
    We only see him on the right side, his regular side, in “Now What”. After that, he switches to the left. I can only assume that hapened naturally – when people lie in bed, after sex, for instance, they pick the sides they are most accustomed to. If Cuddy picked right (her most recent habit), then he automatically went left – and stayed left, even when she is not there.

    I still find it loaded with significance – this is “House” and House we are talking about. There is no way that just slipped or was accidental. It is designed to be meaningful.

  • When was the last time Huddy was fun? They didn’t even show them playing video games, they just cut to her being disapproving. And then they show him acting all vulnerable and rambling about his feelings because he’s suddenly head over heels in love and her needing him to change so she can be with him.

    … Last season, he forewent a kiss so he could grope her. That was stupid and juvenile, but at least it was House! Can you imagine this new version of House ever actually standing up to her they way he used to? He’d be worrying about how that’d affect them at home, compromising himself (like he already is) and she’ll always be waving this idea over his head like she did last episode that any aspect of his previous, mischievous (and interesting) personality means that he doesn’t really want to let her in and live happily ever after in suburbia.

    This is like Sherlock deciding to fuck Inspector Lestrade or Grissom and Brass on CSI any other combination in which suddenly the playful tension between the lead character and the actual system of authority they play against is destroyed. There needs to be a distance so we can see their characters. If they’re emotionally involved, it adds a stupid layer and the trust in the rebellious character to be rebellious is doubted. Their agenda has changed.

    House is designed to think around authority; Cuddy represents authority. And she’s done a lot for him etc. and that’s most fabulous, but they’ve destroyed the show by making him get intimately involved with the authority figure. Suddenly he goes from being the rebel with a cause to… this weird gray area in which it’s not just his drive to solve a puzzle he needs to deal with but his desire to have regular sex with his wife figure.

    Sherlock Holmes died solving his biggest puzzle. They should’ve just killed House off, it’s better than neutering him.

  • Freya

    Thanks for another wonderful review Barbara and it is always interesting to sift through everybodies ideas about and impressions of the episode. For me I also found the episode to be a bit flat, I wasn’t particulary engaged by the POTW or the introduction of the new Doctor. The House and Cuddy interaction was interesting and it was nice to see them progressing their storyline but I did find the whole hooker massuse thing a bit icky. Also as a general question does it seem odd to anyone else that House and Cuddy barely touch each other? I can understand the distance at work but apart from Cuddy kissing his cheek in this episode there is not any occasion where they so much as brush hands (this was the same in the previous episode). I’m not suggesting that the characters should be all over each other but I am finding their interactions quite physically distant and passionless which seems odd for a couple who are being portrayed verbally (mostly by House) as revelling in their physical intimacy. Maybe I’m just old fashioned in my thinking about these things – fancy expecting people engaged in a relationship to actually touch elbows, brush hands or heaven forbid kiss for longer than 1 second 🙂

  • Leodie

    Mmm spoilerphobe here. That’s a LOT of spoilers in recent posts. Could you warn please ?

  • ruthinor

    The little girl who plays Rachel is actually 3 yrs. old, although in the show she is presumably 2 and a half (I think!). (It’s TV, where folks magically age!). Rachel is played by twin girls, because it’s easier to film that way. I think they aged her in order to get a child who was more interactive with adults around her. I think kids put things in their mouths while they are teething, which should be over by 2 and a 1/2- 3 years old. But it must be a habit for some older kids or they wouldn’t keep putting those warnings on toys with small pieces. I don’t correlate it with a developmental abnormality. I would guess that some kids do it, others don’t. But I’m no child expert either!

  • Janine

    Good point about Rachel possibly having learning disabilities. That might explain why she is still putting things in her mouth at two (i’m no child expert, but I thought that stopped after infancy). I guess we will see next week? I only watches one preview, so can anyone answer if Rachel Talks? The episode will be all that more entertaining is we get at least one scene of dialogue between House and Rachel.

  • SeraG

    ruthinor, I agree, she scares him and brings out all of his insecurities; will he be like his father? What if he and Rachel don’t bond? (I think they will.) If it comes it a choice, will Cuddy chose Rachel over him?
    I just didn’t like the hurtful things he said about a little girl, even if she would never know.
    As Cuddy said, House holds back but he knows right where to poke. Didn’t they imply that because of Rachel’s difficult and traumatic birth, she might have delays or learning issues? That would make Cuddy even more protective. Just me, with a lot to do, who would rather think about House/Cuddy and what I want to be: a happy ending or as close as DS allows.

  • ruthinor


    Yes, we posted pretty much simultaneously! One thing, it’s possible that House has been to Cuddy’s place and not seen Rachel She could have already been asleep. I don’t see House being mean towards Rachel with his comments. I think he’s scared to death! That kid could ruin everything for him.

  • SeraG

    ruthinor,#32, We saw those two scenes the same way. I am glad I am not alone in my thinking.

  • ruthinor

    NancyGail, No, Kelly was played by another actress. Amber Tamblyn arrives later. I think she is supposed to be a super smart student, but perhaps unready for the antics known as “Housian”.

    My reading of the first scene of House in bed alone was that he remembered the night before with Cuddy very fondly, but he also liked having the bed to himself sometimes. The later scene of him in bed alone seemed to me to be more pensive, as though he was wondering if having his alone time was worth the loss of Cuddy.

    Very interesting review which had me rethinking a number of things. Just wondering: remember the scene in which House tells Cuddy he slipped the nanny $40 so she could stay later? Doesn’t this mean that he has been to her house?

  • SeraG

    Dear Barbara,
    Thank you. I can always count on you when an episode feels ‘off’ to help me see through the fog.
    I have only been able to watch once (live) and therefore am going on my first impressions:
    *I thought House was almost mean; to Dr. Robert, Dr. Kelly and to and about Cuddy.
    Granted, we get the AHA later, but I was a bit disillusioned by his conversations with Wilson. I did not take it to be House feeling left out of her life, I took it as almost gloating that he had this dream woman but didn’t really have to change much to keep her.
    His comments about Rachel were cruel. He has at least seen her, as he paid the nanny to stay longer. I didn’t find it funny, I found it mean spirited. That is the kind of remark that causes Cuddy to have reservations about having them (House/Rachel) spend time together. He could be a sarcastic and cutting father, much like his own? This vulnerable child doesn’t deserve being ‘raised’ by a man who resents and denigrates her.
    I agree, that is not like House, as he is usually better with children than adults. That part of the writing I felt was really out of character.
    *My impressions of the bed sequences differed from many comments here. When he first stretches out, it was ‘great sex, the bed to myself now and I can do as I wish.’ Later, there is a lonely look as he realizes that bed may be empty for a long time. Delia_Beatrice,#11, I was glad to see you had a similar impression.
    Whether it was fear of rejection or not, these scenes seemed a bit harsh after last week’s episode where we could see House showing more of his human side.
    *In defense of ‘my’ Cuddy, how else do you expect her to react? She loves this man, has always loved him and doesn’t really expect him to change, but she is also a realist and has seen him do self-destructive things over and over and over. She is naturally going to guard a bit of her heart and protect her daughter. Rachel cared about Lucas (gack!) and now he is gone from her life. Could Cuddy in all good conscience introduce another man and watch her child come to love him and him leave too? We would be calling her all kinds of names best used by social service workers! It broke my heart when she tells him, with a muffled sob (IMO) that what would happen to Rachel if he “went away”? Don’t you think she is wondering the same thing for herself?
    *If House was trying to provoke a response from Cuddy, it seems a cruel way to do it. She knows of his use of prostitues and this is rather early in their relationship to expect her to trust him or to feel confident that he has no sexual interest in this woman. She sure wasn’t dressed for a professional massage. (I know, that was deliberate for effect, but still…)
    *Zay, I agree, I don’t think they are moving this relationship too fast. House is ready to commit quite quickly when he is in love and that feels right for this character. Cuddy is the one being a bit more practical. Again, in keeping with her character.
    *As for the sides of the bed. Cuddy slept on the right side when House comes to her home in season 2. She was on the right when he called her after diagnosing the actor. (season 4) she is on the right when she can’t sleep after her date gone wrong in Insensitive. House sleeps on the left, in almost every episode I can think of. They were in those positions in Now What? Do you think they will resume that once they are living together and more settled? I know, that is a silly thing to obsess over, but I do.
    *Finally, a huge relief when House acts like a grown up, like a MAN, and talks with Cuddy about how he feels. She is honest with him, too. At last! That is six years overdue!
    Sorry this went so long, but I have been waiting for days to discuss and read others’ thoughts.

  • hwl40

    Great interview, by the way!

  • Kelly. Played by Amber Tamblyn? Had to miss watching due to a conflict.

  • Flo

    I also agree on the “it’s always hard”. Very good moment.

    I too noticed that the video game was the same one as in “Epic Fail”. Nice reference.

    @Delia, In the earlier seasons Cuddy actually slept on the left side of the bed (her left when she’s on the back). She apparently changed this for Lucas. She didn’t always slept on her right side of the bed as you said. Also note that in the Premiere House was on his right normal side of the bed. So I wouldn’t really read into this too much.

    Also, apparently I’m the only one to not find the episode mature. Maybe someone can explain it to me.
    the masseuse/hooker McGuffin was IMO really badly handled.

    Here another scenario (just an idea): House asks for a massage because perhaps his leg had been bothering him a bit more lately. His leg could be fine but Cuddy doesn’t really know how often he calls for a physical therapist so she wonders (cos you know, she supposed to be smart). She notices the masseuse but not only for her physical appearance. So she doesn’t only questions the “slutinness” of the girl but she also asks House if his leg is bothering him more than usual (as someone who knows House well and who has an actual brain would do – Oh wait! Did I already said Cuddy was supposed to be smart?). Then the “holding back issue” becomes more interesting cos it is more personal for both of them & more dramatic (House’s leg). We all know that his psychological & emotional state have an effect on his leg so her wonderings would be legitimate. The theory being: Cuddy holding back hurts him emotionally which has an impact on his leg. He then asks Brandy for the massage but also for (unconsciously) testing Cuddy. As a result, Cuddy is worried about his leg and asks why he didn’t tell her about it (if it really bothered him).
    Then they have the same talk about holding back + the pain leg issue back on minus the Felipe scene with a ooc Cuddy.

    I don’t pretend to be a genius writer and I have a lot of respect for Peter Blake who wrote some really good epi before, but please, someone tell me how this episode is more “mature” than what I proposed.
    This epi could have been way more deep (not that I’m saying that the hypothesis which I came up with in a few minutes really is).

    Anyway……maybe you’re right….but I think it wasted an opportunity to deal with important, serious issues properly.

  • hwl40

    Thanks to all and especially Barbara for the great review and comments. Really adds another dimension to watching this show, so many things I didn’t notice or connect.

    Just a couple of comments: Did anyone notice House’s conversation with Chase after his “It’s always hard” comment – which, by the way I loved as a classic House direct connection with pt or family member after 40 minutes of deflections, rapier thrusts and bad boy behavior.

    House seems without his usual defenses, perhaps struck by insight into his own relationship as well as the husband’s. His evaluation of Kelly is straight forward, and he gives the determination of her fate to Chase, trusting Chase’s judgment, letting go of a little bit of control, just for a moment letting his guard slip. I don’t remember that happening before – at least not with his team, but maybe some of you do. I found it poignant to see the lion’s heart so unexpectedly (for him and us) and ever so briefly exposed.

    Last thing, DB, re the bed, I think I remember Cuddy on the left side in the episode about the paralyzed pt with hypothalmic disregulation – House was jumjping up and down at her window having run to her house. It was the episode after the ketamine treatment. There may have been others too where she was on the left side, so I like the concept and your wonderful analysis but not sure the episodes have been consistent on this.

  • Zay

    @Janine: Oh yes, I saw the sneak peeks, and am now absolutely in agony waiting for Monday night. Hugh and RSL are a riot together; we should get some really nice interplay next week.

    @Rob F: I feel your confusion as well. I feel like poor Chase – despite the justifications given about him reverting back to indifference like in S1 due to being hurt – has had his character massacred lately. I still haven’t forgiven Doris Egan (saint that she usually is) for letting Chase come out of the blue like he did and ask 13 for sex; honestly, he is good looking enough to get it without that kind of embarrassment to himself. And now, with the “sleeping his way through Princeton” story we’ve got going on, I’m a bit alienated. We need answers – pronto.

  • Andrea

    Sneak peaks are funny. House and Wilson avoiding the babysitting duties and trying to palm it off on each other, one of them doing something stupid, House (justifiably) afraid Cuddy will attack him like a mama bear. I hope there’s a lesson and some sort of affection for Rachel by the end of it. After all, it’s not like Cuddy took to instant parenthood like a duck to water either, so House’s reaction shouldn’t be totally unexpected for her.

  • Andrea

    I liked Kelly and I thought she held up fairly well under House’s nastiness. Any woman in the real world would have slapped House with a sexual harassment/hostile workplace suit. Chase must have prepped her more than usual. I wouldn’t object if they kept her around as Chase’s girlfriend. I also enjoyed Chase’s smackdown of Foreman, who has always been my least favorite character. I also don’t miss Thirteen. If they were to kill her off off-screen I wouldn’t shed many tears.

    I’d agree that House is a little bit off balance all through the episode and so his actions might feel a bit off. If the writers are trying to overcompensate by having House be extra mean just so they can tell all the nay-sayers “He’s still House! Hasn’t lost his edge!” it might backfire on them because it will feel more than off. He needs to have a good reason for the nastiness and they need to do a better job of integrating their A and B stories.

    I did like their subtle moments, as in House waking up alone in bed, calling Cuddy on her reluctance to let him get to know Rachel or stay over, and the final dinner scene where he’s trying so hard to be on his best behavior. I’m not seeing any real evidence so far that they intend to break them up. After this amount of work getting them together it would be such a waste to blow it up spectacularly during February sweeps. It would also be “common,” just like every other show I’ve seen, and House as a show should be “uncommon.”

  • Janine

    I agree the Hous Rachel scene was funny, if not a bit sad. Have you seen the sneek peaks for next weeks episodes? I won’t go into detil, but the “Tell Cuddy” clip is HYSTERICAL, and if that 30 seconds is any indication of what the House/Rachel scenes will be like, this should be a good episode.
    I like that face too

  • RobF

    Oh, I forgot to mention the fleshing out of the “What’s Up With Chase?” side plot that had been tacked onto previous episodes. A fair bit of time was spent showing how Chase is behaving. Does he miss Cameron? Why is he such a self-centred jerk? What does he do all day? These questions and more will be answered in an upcoming episode.

    Pretty please with sugar on it, all you writers, find a replacement for Cameron/Thirteen who brings something to the show and isn’t at all a romantic possibility for any other character.

  • RobF

    I really disliked this episode, except for a few brief bits which others here have mentioned (the revelation that House and Cuddy were each keeping the other at arm’s length was really well done; Chase confronting Foreman was a nice surprise and important for the team).

    For the most part, the characters seemed wooden, going through the motions, almost caricatures of themselves. House didn’t seem to be putting any effort into the berating of Kelly and Chase, as if he knew he should be on them but his heart wasn’t in it.

    The patient came from a well to which the writers have gone far too often, where a patient endangers their relationship by not trusting their partner with a terrible secret. It has lost its effect.

    When the episode finished, I looked online to find out who had written it. I was very surprised to see who it was; the episode seemed far below his usual level. Barbara, I think you may be onto something when you say the characters were deliberately written to be flat and childish. I think I need to watch this episode again; maybe I’ll appreciate it more.

  • Leodie

    I’d like to add that i am becoming addicted to the “dear in the headlights” face House makes when he realizes he did or might do something that could endanger his relationship with Cuddy. This time in his office when she accuses him of trying to sabotage their relationship. Last week when Cuddy asked him to pick an activity they’d both enjoy and again later when he discovers she’s not too fond of go-karts. The week before during the “bureaucratic ass” incident.

    There is a progression though. In “selfish” he backpedaled when confronted with Cuddy’s wrath, in “unwritten” he faced the music as well as he could. This week he confronted her with her own shortcomings.

    House is still House. Is it the message TPTB are trying to convey? Interestingly enough it seems to be good news for his relationship.

    I wonder if the writers made him be “extra” mean with “Dr Kelly” just to prove to worried viewers that although in love and as close to happy as we’ve seen him, he hasn’t lost his edge and the sacred fire of jerkiness still burns bright in him.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Leodie (#12), Val S (#14), BeeJay (#17): Glad to see we agree – at least on some things:)

    @Orange 450: i actually agree with you on Alice Tanner. It was my feeling too, in regard to “Unwritten”.

    @Zay (#18): i fully agree on the “It’s always hard scene”. It was another scene that has held an ocean of emotion. After telling the patient to accept his wife with her baggage of personal damage, because “it’s always hard”, House enters the elevator and he stands with his back half turned against the door, his head bowed, an intense expression of concentration and exhaustion on his face; he quickly raises his head and turns to face the door as Chase enters after him. But his initial expression and the bowed head point to what he is really feeling: he is exhausted by how consumed he was with the whole “adjusting to reality” phase of their relationship, he is scared and overwhelmed by what he has decided to do – which is, go all in.

    I watched the episode again (5th time…) and i was struck, again, by the beautiful, minimalist, symbolic way in which they showed maybe the most significant of all clues about House’s true state of mind. I mentioned it before, but i think it’s worth mentioning again: House changed the side of the bed he sleeps on from right (which he has slept on since season 1) to left – to match Cuddy, who has always slept on the right.

    It is very significant and telling that he sleeps on the left side of the bed while she is not even there – a symbolic expression of his need for her to be there and for this relationship to move onto the next phase.

    I find this extremely touching. It is a display of emotional nakedness that really gives me goosebumps. This man, this brilliant, sexy, hurt and cynical man, sleeping alone on the side of the bed that would symbolically allow his lover to be there with him. She is not there – but he still changed his life-long habit of sleeping on the right side, because he has made himself available to her so deeply.

    We get a glimpse of how truly organic his love for her is, how gigantic his need of her, how tremendous the change in him and how enormous the emotional risks he is putting himself at.

  • Zay

    Just because I can’t resist adding in my two cents…

    – I wasn’t deeply impressed or deeply disappointed by the episode; I enjoyed it, enjoyed watching it, cursed the commercial breaks to several places and back, and look forward to watching it again.

    – The last scene with House, Cuddy and Rachel was adorable, hilarious and sets up for an awesome episode next week. House, Wilson and Rachel…Hugh and RSL are such great comedic actors that I predict (and hope) that I’ll be in tears of laughter trying to watch them take on a toddler.

    – The House/Cuddy progression is still going really strong and I love it. I love that it’s not House causing all the problems either; Cuddy has her own issues to work out, she can’t be strong every single minute, and it’s nice that though they are committed to each other, they are bumping along and making mistakes like human beings do. It makes me so happy (yet again) that the writers chose to take this relationship forward. It’s been such a great dynamic for the show.

    – I liked the bit where Chase prepped Kelly, Kelly realized it was wrong to both cheat and lie and Chase acknowledged that it’s hard to remember correct office ethics when working with House. It was small, but for me, sets up for when Amber Tamblyn comes into play and we get a fresh pair of eyes on the insanity constantly brewing in House’s office. We as viewers are so used to the insanity that we forget that really, it’s not very good for the workplace.

    – IMO, the patient of the week was an interesting change; we have so many episodes where it’s one crazy condition at the end, but this time, it was all caused by the one condition and the reaction to the meds. Changing up the formula is always good.

    – No one’s mentioned this yet, so I will: the look on House’s face when the POTW’s husband says, “It’s hard” in response to living now with his wife’s schizophrenia, and House tells him, “It’s always hard.” That was a cool moment for me because it brings home the fact, in context of the epi, that we’re always debilitated by something that makes our relationships hard, whether it’s mental illness or deep insecurity. And if you want to get anywhere in life, you have to suck it up and live through the hard stuff.

    So…that was longer than I thought, but there you have it. Awesome review as always, Barbara! Thanks!

  • BeeJay

    Barbara, again thanx for the great analysis!

    I am too one of those people who initially thought the episode was off. However, my whole Monday was off! I usually watch House live and record it…then watch it again before I go to bed. However, my husband and his two brothers decided that this was the MOST important Monday Night Football game EVER, and I could not watch House live. I suspect Brett Favre took a good share of the ratings from many shows Monday night! So, my Monday was a bit thrown off.

    However, after watching this episode again on my lunch break and reading this analysis I have to say I appreciate it a lot more. I cannot just dismiss it as a “filler” episode.

    I have to agree with (11)Delia_Beatrice– this really did feel like a very mature, old school (like season 1) episode. It felt subdued but in a good way…I wasn’t bored. I agree the POTW was a little weak, but I think it was designed to be by the writer. This episode was more about the characters and what they each were hiding from…themselves and each other. I think they are writing Huddy fine. It doesn’t feel too fast. It’s been a month or so and he barely met Rachel. That seems logical and very mature on Cuddy’s part for making that decision.

    I’m enjoying this season. To me, we’re coming to the end of the “House’s search of Happiness” arc. This is the final stage…can he make it work with Cuddy, be happy, and be in a serious relationship? I can’t wait for next week’s episode, and will be there to the end!

  • Orange450

    Thanks for a great review, Barbara. I thought it was a solid episode with a lot of heft to it – albeit much of the heft was hiding beneath the surface, in keeping with the episode’s general theme 🙂 I wonder if Peter Blake did that on purpose?

    I actually liked this week’s PoTW better than Alice Tanner. Somehow, I felt that AT (not Amy Irving, who was wonderful. I’m talking about the character) – and much of Unwritten – were too artificial. IMO, Alice Tanner was such a stereotypical “idiosyncratic author” , and intertwining of the themes was so obvious and anvil-ly, that the whole thing had a “packaged” feel, for me. This episode, by contrast, felt much more natural. And I infinitely prefer when we have to search for the connections and associations between character and subplots – rather than having to protect our heads and duck!

    BTW, I know that the conventional wisdom is that the House writers don’t read any fanfic, but sometimes the coincidences are rather striking! When Wilson asked House whether he was sleeping over at Cuddy’s, and asked about House’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Rachel, I actually jumped. I wrote a fanfic in which Wilson asks the same questions in almost the exact same words to House. Of course, in my story, it’s Stacy who has adopted a little girl 🙂 But the principle remains the same!

    Looking forward to hearing you on the radio tonight.

  • Andrea

    House with Rachel was amusing. There’s House on his very best behavior. He’s all “Yes, please” to the meat that he obviously doesn’t think tastes very good and heroically restrains his urge to yell at the kid gnawing away on his cane like a chew toy: “Hey, hey, hey kid. Hey.” And then, having pulled the cane out of her sticky little fingers, his quietly growled “Aren’t you adorable?” Cuddy’s right across the room. No way is he going to make a bad impression, even in the face of provocation. He didn’t want Cuddy to adopt this kid, he most definitely views her as a rival for Cuddy’s affection and attention, and he also knows that in a contest between him and Rachel, Cuddy would pick Rachel every time because she is Rachel’s mother and that is what mothers are supposed to do. I doubt he’d even want it otherwise. His own mother put John House ahead of her son or Greg’s right to grow up free of abuse. The question is whether Gregory House can be a grown up and learn to find something meaningful in his own relationship with Rachel. The dinner at the end is a positive development for them.

  • Val S

    Barbara, great review once again. I always get a new perspective on things after reading your article (and subsequent comments). No difference this time around…except that despite your review and great comments (i.e. Delia_Beatrice’s #11)I still feel a bit disappointed.

    I agree quite a bit with Flo’s (#1)first comment. The patient this week was a bit boring to me (in comparison to other House patients) and I felt the connection was a stretched. House barely saw her and spent more time with a DDX on why Chase hired the lady fellow rather than the case at hand. Just not enough there for that aspect of a House episode.

    But, then House being distracted by his relationship concerns is far better than pain and a vicodin habit, right? Which is the thing that saved the episode from being Very disappointing…House’s relationship with Cuddy.

    I am enjoying watching this relationship take shape and like how it has, mostly, kept to the background or outskirts of the show. I, too, loved the two, very different, scenes of House waking up in his bed; however, due to their placement I thought he was thinking two different things. First shot: Woke up feeling good after the night, remembered her there, but also glad to be able to return to his habits and stretch across the bed. I thought he was quite honest with Wilson in the bike garage: enjoying the physical itimacy, being with someone for dinners etc, but still having his own life…being able to sleep through the night as House said. The conversation about Brandi/Randi (cannot tell what her name is) was a changing point in his thinking/attitude. His subsequent talk with Wilson, his and Cuddy’s conversation in his office, and then the second “wake up” scene. I believed House when he told Cuddy that up until recently meeting Rachel again wasn’t on his priority list: he wasn’t ready. For House and Cuddy, making him part of Rachel’s life is just about as big a moving in…it adds that level to the relationship they both seemed to be avoiding.

    Also, I think Cuddy may have been slightly jealous of the hooker/massuese (and who could blame her). In “Let Them Eat Cake”, we saw how House’s interactions with a hooker made her hesitate to thank him for the desk. It would not be such a far leap to think that this hooker unleashed some of those same feelings.

    After Cuddy’s two reassuring speeches to House, I was hoping for one from him, but the fact that he gave up the hooker/massuese was clearly his way of telling, and showing, her the relationship was important…and in turn, we get the final scene, which was kind of had an awww factor.

    Where am I going with this? Not sure anymore 🙂 I was disappointed because I felt some “classic” House elements were a bit lost or not fleshed out enough for my taste, even if the new, refreshing angle of House’s major relationship continued to be strong.

    Despite this, really looking forward to next week with a strong guest actor and Two Doctors and a Baby…

  • Zaze

    “It’s not that House doesn’t want to play with Rachel or wake up in the morning next to Cuddy. It’s that Cuddy hasn’t offered that part of herself to him. She too is afraid”

    No he said to Cuddy that before this he wasn’t ready with Rachel, I would never ask (or force) a man like House to meet my child, even now, it’s normal that she waited for him to ask her about it. House should be more involved in this relationship and mainly he should show it to Cuddy. Enough with silly behaviours…
    Cuddy is right about everything since the beginning of this season.

  • Leodie

    #11 Delia, i agree with you, i liked the episode, the POTW was compelling enough to have me interested in her story and my simple mind wasn’t able to solve the puzzle before the end. Great development on the House/Cuddy relationship front too, although I agree it’s moving a bit fast. We do know it’s House’s MO when he is hooked though. He is the one accelerating things. I also agree that we’re seeing more of Cuddy insecurities but it isn’t the first time. In “What now”, although she had said she trusted House in his choice about going back on drugs, she did discreetly pocket the vicodin that had remained on the bathroom floor. Actions speak louder than words.

    #1 Flo. I agree about the whole massage in her office thing being a bit out of character for Cuddy. It made me cringe to think that House has deliberately let Cuddy be unknowingly manipulated by a hooker, it seems very invasive to me. Boundary issues anyone ?

    #9 Janine. You’re not hallucinating 😉 I did notice the video game from season 6 too.

    #10 Maykir. Funny post, I agree, but isn’t it often the case? Or am I just too dumb to notice medical clues earlier in most episodes.

    Also probably irrelevant but can’t help the rambling.
    -Wouldn’t it be nice if the next Thirteen replacement was ugly for a change? (I guess she would have to be picked by Cuddy then).
    -Did it occur to anyone else that the hooker looked a bit likeSam ?
    -Little Rachel (not played by the same actress as before, is she ?) allegedly tries to eat shoes and really chews on canes. The dog analogy (remember Hector, Wilson’s dog who used to do just that) is fully playing here. Let’s hope House won’t maim her and make her become vicodin dependent like he did to the dog 😉

  • Delia_Beatrice

    I seem to be in the minority here, but I appreciated this episode a lot. I found it to be very old school “House”, a very mature episode.

    I appreciated the way the House and Cuddy relationship has fallen into the regular structure of the episodes and the fact that the team finally seems to be more alive, after watching them being more or less still in the first three episodes.

    I also enjoyed having House back at his wittiest sarcasm and the script back at its great quality – the quick and witty lines were classic “House” magic for me, as opposed to last episode, whose writing i found too corny and common.

    I appreciated the old-school “House” special effects that illustrated the patient’s mental illness and also the good insertion of humor (Felipe was divine) and the good House and Wilson scenes.

    I completely agree with Barbara’s interpretation of the House-Cuddy situation. It was very visible, from the initial conversation with Wilson and the two images we get of House, waking up alone in his bed, that this episode was about Cuddy’s boundaries and fear of further commitment, that House is deeply hurt by, because he depends on her unconditional acceptance.

    I found Hugh and Lisa amazing in the way they underplayed it with perfect subtlety – exactly as they were required to; the intense emotions and the expressivity of their eyes and faces were impressive, underneath the general appearance of emotional distance between them.
    I also loved how the distance melted in the make-up scene in Cuddy’s office, but did not give way to sweet or corny touches or declarations – it was a simple scene between two exhausted people who have taken another step towards each other. Their interaction was minimalist, soft and intimate.

    By the way, did you notice that House changed the side of the bed he sleeps on from right (which he has slept on since season 1) to left – to match Cuddy, who has always slept on the right? It is very significant and telling that he sleeps on the left side of the bed while she is not there – a symbolic expression of his need for her to be there and this relationship to move onto the next phase.

    His two scenes in bed alone were wonderful – in the first one, he wakes up submerged in the delightful memories of the previous night, he caresses her side of the bed, he smiles, even giggles and stretches across the bed, covering her side too – as to feel her closer.
    In the second one (after their fight), he wakes up and his face is dark. He touches her empty side of the bed with a preoccupied and sad look on his face. No smile, no exuberant stretch across the bed. There had already been two nights without her. They obviously feel like an eternity.

    I believe that “Massage Therapy” also gave us an answer to the question of them moving in together, that we were debating here last week. I believe that it’s clear that House is ready to be as impulsive about it as he was with Stacy and with Cuddy, in his half crazy/half honest proposal in “Both Sides Now”, but he had no room to act on that, because of Cuddy’s protective fences.

    It makes perfect sense to me that House’s behavior in this episode is nothing but HIS DEFAULT COPING MECHANISM: abandon, so not to be abandoned. Test, so not to be disappointed. Push the boundaries, until one of two things happen: you either get confirmation of the unconditional love, or you manage to sabotage the relationship.

    To quote Dr. Kelly (Dr. Robert:)))): his behavior is 100% consistent with the coping mechanisms of an abused person, which we know House is.

    This episode revolved around Cuddy’s fears and insecurities for a change. Ever since “Help Me”, she has been the strong one, reassuring House whenever he had doubts. This time, we witnessed the way conditions sneak up on her unconditional love for House.
    I believe that Cuddy as a woman does, indeed, love House unconditionally and without wanting him to change. Cuddy the dean of medicine is nearby – she is often tormented by it, but generally, her appreciation of House at work is also unconditional and incredibly selfless. But Cuddy the mother CANNOT love House unconditionally.

    I think this is the essence of this episode. House needs her love to be unconditional (sine qua non condition for him to be into this to begin with, otherwise he would have run off in “Now What” like he did with Stacy in “Need To Know”) and he was faced with the first limit to her limitless love.

    When faced with a painful, intense emotional situation, House uses his default coping mechanism: he pushes the boundaries and tests the limits, so that to accomplish one out of two possible outcomes: either he is accepted for who he is and thus gets confirmation that he is loved unconditionally, OR the relationship is shaken – sabotaged. Either way, he is going to have a clear answer – thus it all comes down to the fact that he cannot accept duplicity and deception of any sort and he just has to be sure of what he’s dealing with.

    Well, the sensational thing here is that he eventually went for option 3: compromise. This time, Cuddy could not give him unconditional acceptance, neither on the hooker thing, nor on the “let me in your life” thing. And he didn’t just let the relationship be hurt by it – he gathered his strengths (and we know him well enough to realize what gigantic effort that must have been) and he went for the MATURE compromise that can help them function together. It’s huge.

    Remember “Bagggage”, in which the unconditionally conditional nature of House and Wilson’s friendship is discussed? House says “i can say anything to him and he won’t leave”. Then corrects himself and admits that there are things that are taboo between him and Wilson – because there are landmines that can blow their relationship up. Those are the inherent, inevitable conditions in their generally unconditional friendship. Very few, but they exist.

    I think it’s the same with Cuddy. Based on the deep acceptance and unconditional love, they have to build an adult relationship, in which transactional, contractual parts will enter as well.

  • marykir

    Watching this episode live was like reading one of those mystery novels where the sleuth wanders around apparently aimlessly for 300 pages and you learn a lot about 17th century burial practices, 19th century sanitation, Great-Aunt Agatha’s trip to France, and various quirky characters indirectly connected to the original crime. Then in the next-to-last chapter, the sleuth suddenly discovers an essential clue that you, dear reader, either could not possibly have known because the character involved has shown up for the first time on page 325 -or- suspected on page 100 and have been wondering why the sleuth is ignoring it for the last 200 pages. It’s only in retrospect (if you’re lucky) that most of the diversions can be seen to tie into the solution to the crime or advance a personal relationship that will be developed in a future volume in the series. This sort of writing is unsettling because it defies our expectations of a story. You know, one with a beginning, a middle, and an end 🙂

  • Janine

    when house first made the comment to wilson about rachel being boring, i thought it was really out of character and mean, since he has always had good chemestry with kids. it was only later when we learned that cuddy hasn’t allowed house to see her did i not only understand, but i actually felt bad for him. the end scence where house said “aren’t you adorable” was mixed for me. on one hand i felt sad/worried because if house doesn’t like/can’t bond with Rachel his relationship with Cuddy will be over. On the other hand, I lauhed because the akwardness between them should provide great comedy for next weeks episode.
    I agree this episode was “filler” but it was still solid and really entertaining and funny, unlike some of the filler episodes of last season (Black Hole anyone?) We did not get a lot of development, but we at least got some. I also thougth the patient story was a bit weak, chalking the whole thing up to an underlying illness has been done before, which I normally don’t mind, but this added nothing new and didn’t really seam to make sense, plus I knew that the “i was married 5 years ago” was a lie from the minute she said it (although polite dissent gave the medicine a B grade, so i guess it made more sense than I thought). Luckily the episode was more about the team interactions than the patent, and I like those stories (one of my favorite lines in the episode was when tabu said “Its baby Chase and his mama thats adroable). I have watched the episode twice though, so I enjoied it and would gladly watch it again.
    My only gripe involves time lines again. Wilson refers to Rachel as being two and a half, but based on when she was born (season 5) she would barely be two (also, she acts barely two, putting stuff in her mouth and the way she was eating with two utensils). One nice continuity though: did anyone else notice that the videogame House was playing was the one created by the patient in “Epic Fail”?

  • Lorireen–I agree, House is an “all-in” guy with women.

    Flo–of course, I’ve been there from time to time myself with the writing.

    I would have loved a deeper delving into the pain thing as well. Maybe it’s coming.

    I also would have liked to see more of a discussion of it.

    And I did, BTW, also miss 13 in the mix.

  • Flo

    @Barbara (#2), yes I know it wasn’t really jalousy but that’s how House took it at first. It was a sort of McGuffin if you like used by Blake here. I didn’t like it. Cuddy shoulda and coulda question the things further. After all it was the first time his pain was mentioned and it could have been handled better and in a more adult manner. It was just a bit too shallow for me.
    Otherwise I agree about the testing thing. I’m disappointed in the writing, that’s all.

  • simona

    Hi barbara! I was waiting for your review and before reading it I had sketched some thoughts on this ep. I think they are pretty much in line with your reading. Here they are.
    Massage Therapy or, better, “When the going gets tough….. the tough get going”??
    Take care with what I’m writing (maybe I’m delusional) but I love House, unconditionally, and this is why I read everything that happens from his emotionally POV.
    In this episode I felt from the beginning, with some unease, the extreme House’s fragility against Cuddy. The “strange coincidence” of the masseuse’s arrival (House who was pressing Cuddy to remain just a little more time just to let her to meet the hooker), I saw it as scheduled by House to send a clear and strong message to Cuddy: it sounds strange to say but probably House at this point felt himself like a hooker, somehow forced to remain within the boundaries that are close (in contrast with what he apparently claims). A good dichotomy highlighted in his conversation with Wilson at the motorcycle shop. House wants more and he is fully conscious. The play about the masseuse and the male masseur as a gift for Cuddy (of course the masseur was to be gay, House could not bear that another man put his hands on Cuddy!) has been cleverly programmed to bring out the contradictions and to get a response about the Cuddy’s involvement in the relationship. And the showdown takes place during the final interview in his office, when he said: “Call what it is…I’m not the only one who is holding back”. A statement so honest, so sincere, so touching and so brave for a man who has always had a fear of involvement. But now he’s ready to risk everything and he wants to know if Cuddy is on the same wavelength. And apparently she is because she’s shocked by this request but she agrees.
    All in. Symbolically it’s a ‘Heart Massage Teraphy’: they need to build a deep, strong, reassuring, honest relationship, comforting to both. Each has its own defenses, different but equal, and the road will be long and full of obstacles but they are willing to drive (and we have gotten used to suffer with them).
    I totally agree with you about the “show and hide” side of every character, very interesting observations as always.

  • Michele1L

    Nice analogy, Barbara. The episode did seem a bit off kilter, but for me, I am really, more and more, feeling the absence of Thirteen in the differentials. That’s what’s “off” for me.

    I agree with Flo in that the POTW was boring and unsympathetic — and I didn’t like the introduction of the psychiatrist either, but I loved the Cuddy-House storyline. It seems like they are moving a bit quick though. I’d like to see them actually date more. It would be nice if House would take her to a blues club and show off his musical prowess. Women “lobe” a man who can play an instrument!

  • Meg

    Barbara, what a home run (to quote House) your review is! I think you really hit the nail here.

    I like this explanation for what House says about Rachel. It makes perfect sense.
    For House if Cuddy lets him inside that part of her life with Rachel, it’s a proof (an ACT after only her WORDS from 7×1&2&3 : we know he thinks actions matters more than word) that she’s IN the relationship fully too!
    Even if he is a bit weird out by Rachel, he still wants to be a part of Cuddy’s life FULLY, in every way and that means Rachel too. didnt Wilson make that exact same comment when House was struggling with Cuddy organizing the Simchat Bat, right?
    and I noted that he actually discussed what was bothering him openly and honestly only with Cuddy this time and not with Wilson. He’s making progress and communicating with her more yet still remaining House by using questionable and undirect means to get where he wants and make a point.

    nicely done!

  • Barbara, I believe you’re right. House is continuing to test Cuddy as he did throughout the whole first episode. Would she turn off her phone/take the day off and regard the possibility of this relationship as seriously as House does? Was her decision to dump Lucas and go to House after their experience of losing Hannah just an emotional reaction or a serious choice to be with House? Was she willing to publicly admit she was dating House? Would she take a far away trip with him? And finally, does she accept the fact that House is House, screwed up and damaged and love him for himself. With “I lobe you” House shows us he’s nearly there. Then, House being House, throws down the gauntlet testing Cuddy’s resolve with “This isn’t going to work.” But, Cuddy comes back swinging. Cuddy tells him she does not want him to change and loves him without delusions. Finally, House can say “I love you.”

    House is child-like and selfish but admits to himself and Cuddy he’s not content with the ‘hook-ups’, he’s ready for a serious relationship. This is all very dangerous territory for House. I remember in Season One before Cameron’s ‘date’ with House that Wilson wasn’t worried for Cameron, but instead for House. And Wilson rightly chastised Stacy as well, reminding her how devistating an emotional loss would be to House.

    Barbara, what do you think? And did you notice that House has taken a liking to red and pink shirts lately? How adorable!

  • Flo–See, but it wasn’t jealously over a masseuse. Cuddy was ready for validation that she needed to back off. She was also sure that House was ready to sabotage the relationship–not because he’d want to consciously, but unconsciously, that’s what he does.

    House sees it as jealousy, but it’s not.

  • Flo

    Nice article. I can only agree with you on the “off” part. I was very disappointed by the episode.

    It is, for me the first filler one of the season (there usually are a couple ones per seasons). As soon as I saw this ridiculously “teen-horror-movie-esque” teaser, I got worried. I immediately knew this episode wouldn’t be a good one.

    The PotW was boring, I couldn’t care less about her problem and the final diagnosis was too obvious and easy to me. It was a bit cliche with the story of the schizophrenic who, of course, lived on the street for a while and is afraid to tell her husband the truth cos, in the 21st century it is still such a shame to be a schizophrenic that her stupid husband wouldn’t understand.

    I get that it was supposed to be related to everyone else on the show but the PotW story wasn’t strong enough for this to work as the H/C thing demonstrate.
    It wasn’t good either. Jealousy over a masseuse, really? It couldn’t have been the fact that maybe House experienced a bit more pain in his leg and he doesn’t confide in Cuddy about it? It would have been more mature and it would have addressed the pain issue once more. But no…we just have some shallow sexual story that only induce jealousy. After reading your article, it doesn’t seem that bad but I think it was badly handled. Cuddy accepting the massage in her own office was absolutely out of character for her IMO.

    Chase is in a very bad place after the Dibala and Cameron debacles. I agree with you that he is clearly afraid to be rejected. Even 13 – with whom he formed what seemed to be a beneficial friendship – suddenly left.
    His response is not a solution but he is probably not in the condition to do something else right now.
    I like his talk with Foreman, when he called him on his arrogance. It was nice to see Foreman standing up to House afterwards.
    These were actually the only interesting parts of the episode as far as I am concerned.

    After 3 good episodes, we got the first filler one. Not a big deal but I was disappointed especially that Peter Blake wrote some interesting episodes in the past as you well said it.
    I’m sure it will be better next week.