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TV Review: House, M.D. — “Remorse”

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Every deed has consequences for good or ill. When we do something harmful to someone, whether pulling a seemingly harmless prank or something more calculated like swapping final papers in a flatworm genetics class, the potential for damage is unknowable. House (Hugh Laurie) continues to struggle with the notion that when you hurt someone, simple apologies are useless. When he was at Mayfield, his therapist Dr. Nolan tried to help House believe that apologies are not useless; that they do help us move on with our lives. But, like feathers scattered on the wind, the consequences of our actions are often irretrievable. 

Most people, when they do that bad deed, feel bad about it. They regret their actions—feel remorse. From his overt behavior, it’s easy to believe that Gregory House is immune to remorse. He does and says things for shock value; he hurts his friends, and doesn’t really care about anyone but himself. But is he at all like this week’s patient, Valerie, who hasn’t one empathetic bone in her sick body? 

House’s actions, so often taken with little thought to consequences, can be destructive, intentionally or not—whether he’s trying to make a point or not; save a life or not. But he does possess a conscience, and feels remorse. He has a strong—but deeply suppressed—empathetic streak, whether he admits it or not. And we have witnessed it.  For example, in the much maligned season two episode “Who’s Your Daddy,” House felt almost irrationally bad about an incident that happened 25 years earlier; in “House Divided” his guilt over Chase’s severe allergy to strawberries was extreme. 

This week’s patient is a beautiful 27-year old  woman married to a not-so-beautiful man. A psychopath who has no ability to feel at all, she is married to a homely social worker—with a trust fund and a pre-nuptial agreement. She comes to House’s attention after six doctors are unable to diagnose her after an attack of severe ear pain. Ostensibly taking the case because she’s “hot” (or because House is curious about why a beautiful woman would be married to a plain-looking social worker), 13 quickly picks up on the woman’s psychological traits and wonders if the patient’s underlying psychology should be considered a symptom. 

She gets sicker, exhibiting heart, kidney and liver issues along with bones so brittle that 13 breaks her arm by exerting only very light pressure on it. The woman’s coldness is indeed a symptom: she has Wilson’s disease, which made its first appearance on House back in season one (“Socratic Method”). The disease has affected her brain, causing her psychological symptoms. Cured, she’s still a bitch, but one who suddenly can feel emotion. But the only remorse she feels is buyer’s remorse over her marriage, and the cruelty with which she coldly dispatches her husband from her bedside and her life is particularly cruel.

At one point, House visits our psychopathic patient, curious about what makes her tick. Clearly, she’s done her research and knows House’s reputation of not visiting with patients. She finds his curiosity interesting. She tries connecting with him as someone who, like her, feels nothing for anyone. And I think her observation stings House as he argues (clearly upset) about what makes us human. Given what House is struggling with during the episode, her words must cut a bit too close to the quick.

The remorse theme plays throughout this solid mid-season episode as House is trying to address the consequences of a wrong perpetrated years earlier. Months earlier, House’s therapist had urged him to apologize to someone he had wronged. House chose a medical school classmate with whom he had switched papers in a class on flatworm genetics. And now the classmate, Wibberly, wants to have lunch. 

Revealing tragic consequences he’s suffered over the years for House’s callous act, Wibberly tells House that the paper received an F and got him booted from med school. It is a moment in time that irrevocably altered the life of a would-be physician—now a grocery store bag boy. House is stunned at the chaos he has inflicted through that one thoughtless act. He has destroyed a life. House feels terrible, more so after discovering Wibberly is now losing his home, and tries to put things to right (at least a bit) by giving the man $5,000 to help with the mortgage—something Wibberly refuses.

But, it turns out, Wibberly is playing mind games with House. His ruin is his own doing, not the result of the paper switch (he got an A+ with House’s paper). The consequences were insignificant: House has not ruined his life.

Interestingly, that doesn’t seem to matter to House, who still insists that Wibberly, though in financial ruin of his own doing, take the $5,000. Wibberly still refuses and House leaves with the check in hand, his guilt unassuaged by Wibberly’s confession.

But even as he tries to make right this old wrong, House has perpetrated a new wrong—this one on someone decidedly closer to him. Trying to engage Cuddy in a little gameplaying of his own, he defaces two photographs in her office, swapping Lucas’ head for one of a chimpanzee in another picture. It’s a seemingly harmless prank, not unlike the prank he pulled on Wibberly. (After all, House was a genius even then, and it would have been likely that Wibberly would have done all right using House’s paper.) But Cuddy is furious, telling House that the photograph has irreplaceable sentimental value—a last memento of her father, who shot it. (I’m not actually convinced that Cuddy is telling the truth here; it’s entirely possible that she’s trying to teach House her own lesson in unintended consequences.)

In any event, Cuddy is not up to game playing with House. As she told him in “Ignorance is Bliss,” she’s done with it, tired of the games and ready to move on—and away from him. 

Wilson points out that Cuddy has been in love with House for years and he has taken advantage of his position and taken her for granted, and instead of throwing money at stranger, he should be apologizing to her, although the emotional stakes are far greater. We are right back in the same territory he was dealing with in “Broken,” fixing the unfixable. Nolan would tell him to apologize and move on. But this is an emotional minefield for House.

In the end, House takes Wilson’s hectoring and his own feelings to heart and approaches Cuddy’s door. But as he’s about to go in and confront this particular demon, he sees Lucas in her office and loses his courage. This moment parallels other moments (particularly last season’s “The Itch”) where House can’t quite muster the nerve to really cross her threshold. The scene also seems to mirror Cuddy’s loss of nerve at the end of “Let Them Eat Cake” (also last season) when, seeing House with a woman in his office, she loses her nerve to thank him for a generous (and romantic) gesture.

And what are we to take away from the final scene, in which House returns to Wibberly’s home and slips the check into his mail slot? Ultimately, House’s actions in medical school didn’t hurt Wibberly at all. There were no consequences. Yet, House feels compelled to right this wrong anyway. Has he learned that the consequences don’t matter as much as the deed? Wibberly’s fabricated scenario is at least plausible enough for House to have believed it. It doesn’t matter how it all turned out in the end; it only matters that the act was wrong. We have no way of knowing the outcome of our actions except in retrospect. House is atoning for the what he did, not for what might have been.

I liked “Remorse” a lot. I do have a couple of minor quibbles, however. The episode features a fantastic patient. Beau Garrett is almost chilling as Valerie—spooky as hell. I liked the story and the theme of regret and conscience. I also liked the “B” plot of House and Wibberly, and found it incredibly interesting that House could so easily believe that he destroyed this man’s career. And I liked the interaction between House and Wilson. There were wonderful set pieces that made up “Remorse.”

What I think the episode did less well was to integrate House’s story and the medical case. And I think I know why it seemed that way. House made “appearances” during the episode at appropriate moments, not really engaged in the case.  He consulted, he ran the differentials (to an extent), but Foreman seemed to really do much of the medical heavy lifting here. Perhaps it’s just me, but as much as I liked the episode (and the emotional beats), House seemed absent too much of the time from the core of the story. 

The new episode next week is called “Moving the Chains,” written by Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend—and guest starring Orlando Jones as Foreman’s brother Marcus. I will be participating in a conference call later this week with Jones and promise a full report by week’s end. 

And in the interest of some cross-promotion, I’ve started a new feature on SyFy Channel’s Caprica and will be writing about this Battlestar Galactica prequel series as it unfolds over the next several months. So take a peek if you wish (no prior knowledge of Galactica is necessary).

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her debut novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse comes out October 11 from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Liz

    I understand why you could think that Cuddy was being false, with her show of emotion over the defaced sentimental photograph. However, since we didn’t see any follow up to her being upset, or anything that suggests she was playing a game with him, I fully assume that she was being sincere with her feelings.

    Even though this is HOUSE, and there are pranks played on us all the time, there was no inclination that this was the case in ‘Remorse’.

    Her father might have joined her on her trips to exotic places around the world when she was younger, but he is now too old and weak to do that, so the photographs are treasured memories they have together for both Cuddy and her dad.

    On another point, it was Wilson who talked about Cuddy being inlove with House, not Cuddy herself. House obviously finds it hard to apologize to the people he cares about and would rather deflect, and try and fix that pain by giving money away to someone he has no connection too. To temporarily relieve his guilt about other things.

    Sadly, there is no continuity within the show, since he did do the same thing he did in ‘The Itch’ two years ago, where he couldn’t cross the thresh-hold both in his mind and in reality. It would have been more moving and more relevent for him to apologize sincerley to someone he has an actual connection with and whom we as the viewers have a connection with; like Cuddy.

    It would have become the firt step to him finally changing, but I suppose in the writer’s eyes, that would have appeared to be to simple. I remind everyone of Occams Razor, the simplest solution to a complex problem is sometimes the right solution.

    Good review BB.

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks for your comments! You’re right. We have no evidence that Cuddy’s tale wasn’t true. And it probably is true. But something just struck me about the way she said it to him (and in light of the rest of the episode made sense in that way). The point, I thought, is that it didn’t matter whether the damage was real or not. House did this thoughtless deed, and whether or not real hurt was experienced, the potential was there. I believe this is why House felt compelled to give the money to Wibberly.

    Right again on the CUddy being in love with House. And I found it interesting that House didn’t deflect Wilson with some sort of snarky remark. I think House is very aware of his own feelings now–and is feeling pretty stung by his rejection. He defaced the pictures as a harmless prank, hoping she would see the humor of it. And it backfired terribly on him.

  • The best parts of this episode for me were Taub and the scene in the clinic. I get that much of the episode was supposed to provide insight into House and his conscience, but it just didn’t work for me.

    Wibberly’s story was *so* over the top that is was obvious to me he was lying. Then Cuddy has a sob story about the photographs House cut up, which just seemed like piling on. At that point it seemed pretty even odds that someone (Cuddy? Wilson?) was trying to teach House a lesson. So I spent more time wondering why House couldn’t see he was being manipulated than thinking about what he was feeling when faced with Wibberly’s failed career and Cuddy’s lost mementos.

    I agree that House seemed too detached from the medical case. There was a point in the middle where I actually started wondering where House went, rather than paying attention to whatever the team was doing. I would like to see the writers either show House the driven puzzle solver more often -or- come out and say that other things are as/more important to him now. At the moment, it feels like he’s kind of rudderless. That’s understandable following a mental breakdown, but rudderless House makes for rudderless “House” – so they can’t let it go on too much longer.

  • savta

    Barbara – I enjoyed your insightful review, as always. I think there is an error that needs correcting asap. On page 3 of the review, the paragraph begins with Cuddy telling House that she has been in love with him for years, etc. It was actually Wilson who pointed this out and suggested that House needed to make amends to her, rather than a stranger with whom House has no relationship. (I watched the episode a second time to confirm.)

    Though House involves himself very little in the case, he actually moves forward with more than a few baby steps, because of the POTW. The timing of this patient’s psychopathic issues and the response of the med school classmate to House’s letter brought House to a new level of wanting to right past wrongs and to see the impact of his actions on others. I see this as a pivotal episode for House and look forward to seeing where he takes this new approach that almost looks like the development of something like sensitivity.

  • Nancy

    I think in the end House gives the check to Wibberly because it is the thought that counts. House always thought his schemes in medical school were without consequences but he was wrong. House hurts himself more than anyone when he mistreats people. Wibberly was the person he picked to apologize in general. House is House. Like I say it’s the thought of helping Wibberly with the check anyway that counts. It cleared House’s remorse up. I could go on forever analyzing “Remorse.” I like your review.

  • Savta–error corrected! Freudian slip? Anyway, it’s fixed.

    Marykir–I agree that the classmate’s story seemed really over the top. The fact that House couldn’t see through it is interesting, and maybe intentional–Even before his lunch with Wibberly, he’s avoiding seeing him, completely believing that he has destroyed (or harmed this guy’s life). So he’s completely primed for buying it. So that didn’t bother me much.

    I wonder where House and his prankishness will venture? Will he continue the game playing as destructive as he sees its potential? or will the next episode pretend this never happened?

  • Thanks Nancy!

  • Lauren

    I feel like part of the reason House gave the cheque to his classmate anyways, was because even though the classmate’s problems were in reality, not House’s fault at all, and were in fact his OWN doing (e.g. his gambling problem), House’s gesture allowed this guy to essentially have a second chance that he didn’t really deserve, given to him by a person who isn’t obligated to do so….something that I think House very much wants with Cuddy!!!

  • barbara barnett

    Lauren–interesting insight. Hmmm. As House might say: “Niiice.”

  • savta

    Could it be that House showed a little empathy since he also had an addiction and is working to get past it? He could certainly understand what an addiction can be like. I wondered if this was why he was trying so hard to help him though it became clear to him that the first story Wibberly told him wasn’t true and House had no responsibility for his downfall.

  • Jaim

    I thought it was interesting that after Wilson said Cuddy was in love with him that House quickly declared that she was never in love with him. I think maybe he feels that since she moved on so fast since the summer, in to this new relationship, that this proves that she wasn’t in love. I’m not saying this is true but it is how House views her now. Remember, House pined for Stacy for five years. When he loves a woman he tortures himself over her. I guess he thinks that real love is that way.
    I really liked Thirteen in this episode. I loved that she stayed true to her instincts about the patient instead of being mindlessly manipulated like the boys.
    I know as viewers we were supposed to feel bad for Cuddy about the picture but I just didn’t. Lately, she has seemed like a completely different person and I really wasn’t that sad that House did what he did. I guess I am still bothered by some of her previous tactics in Ignorance is Bliss and the way she handled Lucas’ rambling in Known Unknowns.
    I loved the usage of one of my favorite Fiona Apple songs, “Why Try To Change Me Now?” at the end of the episode. Nice surprise!
    I am tired of emo House staring longingly at Cuddy with Lucas. I get that he’s sad, but I would like to see him actually moving on from her in the next few episodes. I really wish they’d let him be with a woman for a half season.

  • Leigh-Ann

    i think that House gave the cheque to wibberly, not because he was trying to right his wrongs, but because he was trying to relieve his guilt in some way–the same way that he tried to give wibberly the cheque even after wibberly told him the truth. it’s not the money that matters to House, and i don’t think he really believes that he has righted a wrong by giving him the cheque through the mailslot, i think he was just trying to find a dumping ground for his remorse. as Wilson said earlier, House was giving the cheque to him to atone for something easier than apologizing to cuddy.
    the reason that i am led to believe this is because of the progression of the scenes: first he tries to approach cuddy, but his courage fails him. in past episodes, we’ve seen him carry out similar scenarios and often in the next scene we see him slipping into taking tons of vicodin for example, which was the easy way out for him. so i believe that this last scene of dropping the cheque in the door is ‘the easy way out’ of a situation where his courage failed him when trying to approach cuddy yet again.

  • Leigh-Ann:Interesting perspective. But I do think House was feeling like he wanted to DO something. He couldn’t apologize to Cuddy–and I do believe he still felt bad about wronging the guy (even tho he got an A). We’ve seen House carry guilt (or anger) long past the time when the wrong was done to (or by)him. It’s hard for him to let go.

    I also think part of him was trying to prove to himself that he was not like Valerie. I think that really sent a chill through him, speaking to her. She’s wrong about House, who does feel and does have empathy, deeply buried as that sometimes is. But I think her accusation really struck a deep nerve.

    Of course my review was completely amiss in neglecting that fantastic clinic scene. I was so caught up in the emotional beats I forgot the fun of that wonderful scene. HL does a great job in those language scenes.

  • JesuitMan

    Barbara: Another fabulous review. Even though you’ve probably been told this numerous times in the past, I must say that you really know how to discover, compile, and analyze the different nuances and subtleties of each episode.

    After watching “Remorse” for a second time, I still have a quibble with the back-story concerning House’s “reaching out” to the old medical school colleague he supposedly wronged. Although I was not necessarily surprised by Lorenzo Wibberly’s attempts to paint himself as the modern-day version of Job in order to execute a deep-seated grudge against House (the man sure knows how to elevate manipulation and smugness to an art form) or by House’s inability to detect that something was amiss with his overly melodramatic sob story (there have been instances in the past when his emotions have temporarily overruled his logical impulses), I was somewhat confused as to why the master problem solver believed without reservation all of these years that his paper (the real one that he switched with Wibberly’s) received a relatively poor grade compared to his former colleague’s.

    As he told Wilson, House was the one interested in testing his theory that the professor teaching the seminar on flatworm genetics was somehow biased against him. Given that he has almost always gone to extreme lengths to satisfy his various intellectual curiosities, I find it rather odd that he was never able to discern the real consequences of his little experiment/mind game after all this time right up to the moment Wibberly finally confessed the truth. Moreover, assuming that Wibberly never knew who had stolen his paper until House revealed what he had done to him in the letter of the apology he sent, the guy would’ve alerted the professor or even the Dean of Medicine (unless he had the backbone of a wet noodle in med school) that someone had pulled some sort of switcheroo with the paper he turned in, especially if the final grade that he received had not been to his satisfaction.

  • RobF

    marykir: “Wibberly’s story was *so* over the top that is was obvious to me he was lying.”

    It was obvious to us, but House has such a God-complex that he believes a simple action on his part could easily destroy somebody’s life, just as he often believes (correctly, much of the time) that he is the only one who can save someone’s life.

    With so much attention having been paid to the unintentional consequences of House’s self-centred actions and how apologies can be helpful, it was a cute trick to show that an apology can also have unintended consequences. As House has always feared, apologising made him vulnerable, and Wibberly immediately took advantage of House’s vulnerability. House doesn’t need Jiminy Cricket (aka Wilson) to tell him that he has wronged his friends and should make amends; Wibberly was a test run.

    The old House would have taken Wibberly’s cynical misuse of his apology as proof that: a) Wibberly doesn’t deserve help; and b) apologising is a bad idea. But new House has learned to be bigger than that; he helps Wibberly anyway and decides to man up and apologise to Cuddy.

  • What fun it would be to sit and watch House with you Barbara. Love the insights.

  • Eve K

    Barbara – good review, it made the episode better.(-:

    Rob F, I totally agree with you.

    I liked this episode, all though I thought they could have done more with the psychopath. She was to nice and she also admitted that she was a phsycopath, which a real phsycopath would never do.
    The ending was ruined for me with the sappy song, first time to complain about the music editor, which usually does a superb job.

  • sdemar

    Nice review, Barbara. I have felt this whole season has been off kilter and the way House is acting is part of it. Correct me if I am wrong, but have we seen House totally invested in any case this year? I wonder if the cleaner life has played havoc on his genius?

    Like you, I questioned the validity of Cuddy’s story to House about the picture incident. Let’s remember she is as good at the game as he is. But thinking about it further and the fact that they didn’t give any hints about the picture story being fabricated, I have to assume her story was legit. I think it was in the way LE played the scene. Perhaps they wanted to make us think about whether it was legit or not?

    BG? Interesting. Like House, that show has a strong following.

  • Sdemar–Upon watching a second time, I do think I believe Cuddy in what she said. I don’t thinks she was playing with him.

    I wonder if House is being portrayed this season as a bit afraid to get himself too involved in his cases. Consulting, treating the cases surficially without the deep agony his obsession would cause in seasons past. But I wonder if that’s intentional. I’m not sure it is. If so, it would be incredibly subtle as a change. Maybe that’s what also explains the absence of the whiteboard.

    I have to give this some thought.

  • RobF

    sdemar: “…have we seen House totally invested in any case this year? I wonder if the cleaner life has played havoc on his genius?”

    The series established very early on (most clearly in season 1’s “DNR”, with the genius jazz musician) that House’s brilliant success as a doctor is due not only to his genius, but also in large part to his focus on medicine to the exclusion of all else.

    This season, they have shown that his level of physical pain from his leg is nowhere near what it would have needed to have been to justify his Vicodin addiction. As had been hinted at in the last couple of seasons, it is being made clear that he was taking Vicodin to blunt emotional pain. The psycopathic PotW felt no emotional pain (until the end of the episode), and had always been free to live her life in a self-centred, uncaring manner. House had tried to do the same, but his subconscious would not let him alone. He fought a battle to suppress his emotional pain, but the subconscious always wins in the end. The harder you fight it, the harder you fall.

    It was very interesting that the first action of the PotW, when finally feeling remorse, was to act in an apparently cruel manner that was actually generous. She pretended to still be a psychopath so that her husband would have a way out of the marriage. House has similarly started facing his remorse, and is also acting in ways that appear cruel/heartless to the people around him. But he is, in his clumsy way, trying to do what’s right.

  • blacktop

    Thank you for another good review, Barbara. I didn’t feel that House was as removed from the medical case this week as in past episodes. We saw him leading the DDX in a strong and effective way. In addition this time, his interactions with Foreman and Thirteen were crucial in helping them sort through the conflicting array of symptoms. He also made a critical intervention in the bickering between those two doctors by pointing out that their personal dispute was interferring with their interpretation of the medical data. House is above all a teacher and that aspect of his professional and personal role was on display here.

    With his timely interventions, House kept his team on the path toward a diagnosis and a final cure for his patient. House was never out of touch with the case or unaware of the progress of the patient. As usual, he monitored the case closely and even made the unusual step of visiting the patient himself, if only to satisfy his personal curiosity about her rare psychopathy.

    House’s intervention in the case also had the important side result of pressing Thirteen and Foreman to reach a truce in their dispute. Foreman’s apology was heartfelt, simple, and tender. It was a telling contrast to the hesitancy and difficulty House encountered in a similar moment. I also think that here, as in many previous episodes, Foreman’s emotional trajectory mirrors House’s. House has repeatedly and explicitly indicated since at least “Insensitive” in season three that Foreman’s relationship difficulties parallel his own and here was yet another example of that dynamic in action.

    I did believe that Cuddy was telling the truth about the meaning of the defaced photo. It was, as you point out, yet another example of how actions have unintended consequences. Likewise, I thought that the creepy patient was being kind by being cruel when she dismissed her husband at the end. She knew she was doomed to hurt him again and took the opportunity to push him away even at the cost of her own newly-felt misery. (Parallels to House’s abrupt dismissal of Stacy were quite intentional here, I felt.)

    This was a good episode with a memorable POTW and a satisfying B story which allowed us to delve again into House’s twisted character and haunted psyche. After the thin whimsy and fluff of recent episodes this was a meaty return to basics.

  • barbara barnett

    Blacktop–good counterpoints. And I wholeheartedly agree that it was a welcome return from the whimsey and fluff. Peter Blake has been with the series from the start and has an interesting take on House based on his past scripts.

    The Itch, Joy to the World, Babies and Bathwater are among some of his best (solo) efforts. The Itch and JTTW are interesting threads in the same line as “Remorse”–We see House hesitant and unable to overcome his fears in all three episodes. All three have scenes that mirror each other: House at Cuddy’s doorstep in Itch; House looking on from a distance as Cuddy gazes at her new child in JTTW–and now another similar scene in Remorse.

  • Maineac

    I just wanted to say that my favorite scene in this ep was House trying to force Lorenzo to take his check–beautifully played. I think House was desperate for some way to expiate his guilt over Cuddy, and when Lorenzo turned out not to need an apology–no matter how hard House tried– he had no choice but to face Cuddy. And when that too went awry–again, I am amazed how HL can convey emotion when you can hardly even see his face!–when that didn’t work, he went and gave the guilt money to Lorenzo. Problem solved…but (of course) not really.

    I think some of my overall dissatisfaction with this season comes from the decision to put HL in fewer scenes, to give him something of a break. They wisely chose to reduce the number of medical scenes he’s in,rather than the ‘personal’ scenes, but I still miss having HL in every single scene (as was true in previous seasons). Greedy of me, I know, but he’s why I watch.

    Also, frankly, I miss the angst. That’s what pulls me into this show, not the fluff.

    Although I must say, one of the funniest scenes in many months was House “pretending to go back to work” at his “typewriter” (I laughed aloud). And I loved the Spanish scene with Wilson, too.

    But I miss the pain and angst.

  • Erin

    Valerie’s sister talked about their father being abusive,and there might be a correlation between their father and House’s father being similiar, though not a mean drunk. He changed her, made her cold and manipulative according to the sister. Maybe House’s father changed him too, though her’s came with puberty and House does have a supressed conscience.

  • maddy

    Does anyone else feel like there’s a lack of continuity between episodes this season? I feel like there’s all these unnecessary plot lines. House’s recovery after being in a mental hospital, for Pete’s sake, would have been more than enough to carry the season, especially with Cuddy in her new relationship. His pain has barely even been mentioned after episode 2! Not to mention the Chase/Cameron issue, fraught with drama and complicated moral questions, which has been largely dropped.

    But instead of delving into these areas, we’ve been watching the team play a prank on Foreman, Thirteen drama, Cuddy having some crazy story about her dad shooting a chimp… and like Sdemar pointed out, it even seems like we’ve lost a central characteristic of House: his obsession with the case.

    When I try to explain the show to someone, it sounds more like a soap opera than an intelligent drama. I don’t know. I just felt like there was so much great potential after the premiere for continued character development on House’s part, and it’s been largely unfulfilled. We only got a taste of it in this episode. It seems a pity the next episode is centering on humor again and adding yet another plotline (Foreman’s brother??).

    Thanks for the great review, though, Barbara : )

  • Orange450

    Great review, as usual! I loved the episode. Solid is a good way to describe it. It was a satisfying experience, on many levels. But every time the writers revisit the issues of apology, remorse, and the consequences of wronging another (mentally/emtionally or physically) I always have the urge to point them in the direction of Judaic thought on these subjects. Reparation plays a very prominent role in Judaic philosophy, where it’s seldom just enough to say “I’m sorry” and move on. One must seek to repair the damage that one caused, whether mentally/emotionally, or physically. In this way, responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions becomes something practical, not merely theoretical.

    Like many viewers, I was sure Wilson had put Wibberly up to conning House. And I also initally thought that Cuddy was conning him too, when she yelled at him about the pictures. Maybe because she was a bit too emotional, and it felt a little off. Although I don’t think House did it as a harmless prank hoping she would see the humor – I think he did it because he’s jealous of Lucas, and doesn’t like the fact that Lucas and Cuddy are together! And I also thought of LTEC as soon as House approached her office door and saw her with Lucas. Missed opportunities – one of the sub-themes of the past two seasons.

    I had a revelation about why House persisted in giving Wibberly the money. It was triggered by the exchange between them, when House asked Wibberly why he finally told the truth, and Wibberly said words to the effect of “I thought you were the same bastard you were in med school, and then I realized that you weren’t.”

    I was struck by the look on House’s face when Wibberly told him that! House himself had a revelation. I think at that moment he finally realized that HE REALLY IS NOT the same bastard anymore that he was in med school! And what’s more, he realized that someone out there actually knows it, not based on anything House did to manipulate him, but based on House’s own unpremeditated actions.

    For a guy like House, who has more than the occasional problem with self-loathing, that’s an amazing and liberating thing to learn! And I think that’s what enabled him to approach Cuddy at the end. Poor guy. One of these days he has to get his timing right.

    A little thing I loved was the interchange with the clinic patient in Spanish. Some years ago I wrote a fanfic in which House speaks some Spanish with one of the characters. At one point in my story, he tells the character: “no te preocupes”. My delight knew no bounds when I heard House give actual utterance to a line that I wrote for him long ago! 🙂

  • PH

    I liked the episode as a whole.

    My fave scenes included

    – House questioning the patient during her radiotherapy (although I’m not quite sure what we were supposed to garner from that)

    – House’s delivery of “Those of you who haven’t slept together, you can go”…
    & PJac’s response was ooooh so good

    – HL’s spanish conversation with clinic guy.

    The things that bothered me….

    – Why does Wilson keep trying to scramble House’s brain? One week he’s looking out for him and saying that Cuddy should be punished, the next he’s trying to have House spend more time around her and try to apologize for all his wrongs. Wilson is quite aware of the vulnerable state he is in concerning their lack of relationship. hmmmmm…. Is Wilson going to continue his ‘best bud’ philosophy and eventually push House back to his drugs????

    – Once again, I am too busy counting Olivia Wildes’ LIP SMACKS to be able to concentrate on the plot. (BTW it happens every 3rd time she opens her mouth.) AAAARRGGH !!! Will Foreman PLEASE fire her again?!

  • andree

    Barbara, I enjoy reading your analysis of House. You reveal so much more to the show causing me to rewatch them. (My sons got me seasons 4 &5 for xmas!)

    I think “Erin” is onto something with the comment (Jan 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm)
    “Remorse”-Valerie’s sister talked about their father being abusive,and there might be a correlation between their father and House’s father being similiar, though not a mean drunk. He changed her, made her cold and manipulative according to the sister.

    As for Cuddy’s reaction to House defacing her photos, I doubt she’s playing him. She seemed genuinely upset (God, how GOOD is Lisa Edelstein’s acting and why hasn’t she been nominated for an EMMY???). Besides, what person is going to have a framed old (B&W) photo of themselves unless there’s some sentimental value to it? He’ll have to make a gesture soon we hope.

    Really looking forward to seeing your thoughts on the Cuddy-centric episode #14 Feb 8th. If you need questions for any interviews with LE/HL/MW on that epi, please post soon!

    Do what you can as soon as you can to bump up the LisaE/Cuddy coverage. We miss her this season!!!! Lucas = yecccch!


  • I’m with Maineac — I miss the pain, the angst, the dark side. I also simply cannot believe in House’s recovery from Vicodin. For five seasons we’ve watched this man tortured by physical pain as well as emotional, and yes, in “Detox” he admitted he was an addict.

    So, he goes to the hospital, kicks Vicodin, finds new ways to cope with his pain (although we’re never really told how). In real life, when addicts become clean, whatever was mentally torturing them becomes exponentially worse before it gets better. House doesn’t seem to be taking anti-depressants (or at least we’re never shown it), he drinks (which would bely his recovery, because booze is another drug and stimulate the inner addict) and he has no support system to help him stay sober. So my reaction tends to be, WTF?

    One of the reasons I love this show is its dark intensity, its willingness to go where no other shows go. Recently it almost feels like the creators are listening to focus groups (look, we get higher ratings when we go for the funny!). Honestly, I wish House would relapse.

    Cuddy has been in love with House for years? In lust, maybe, but nothing about rewatching, say, Season Two shows that these are two people in love with each other. Maybe Wilson actually meant himself, that House should apologize to him, but I don’t buy it otherwise.

    And what really got me about the episode was the foregrounding of 13. Remember when House was about a tormented genius called House who was obsessed with solving medical puzzles? A fascinating, multi-layered character played by one of the world’s best actors? Who wasn’t in only a few scenes, most of them comic relief or pining over Cuddy?

    When I read that Thirteen was the “voice of reason,” I cringed, and I cringed during the episode. Olivia Wilde offscreen could be a combination of Gandhi and Lenny Bruce, it doesn’t mean she can act. Except for snarky one-liners. The things she did throughout this episode were so wrong, any other doctor (except House) would have lost their medical license.

    There seems to have been a seismic shift since it was announced that Foreman is the “team leader.” So, who needs House?

    The show does.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    First, a little something: I disagree with what was said about the parallel between “The Itch” and “Remorse”: they are not the same in essence, only in outcome. There was a huge step forward that was marked in “Remorse”, and that is the fact that he actually reached for the door this time, he was ready to go in, before he saw Lucas. This is something that he was unable to do in “The Itch”, when he just stood there and looked at her and then turned around and left. It was especially significant, since he was now capable of facing a crucial conversation with her, even if their relationship is far, far less encouraging to him than it was last year. I find it natural that he stopped when he saw Lucas – there is a lot of pain there, the wounds from “Known Unknowns” are still open, and for House to go and have a very personal apologetic conversation with Lisa in front of Lucas is something I honestly would not have liked to see.

    And now, let’s take it step by step. When Wilson opened the Cuddy subject in a very surprising manner (especially after “Wilson”, in which he thought she should be punished), revealing his personal view on their relationship (and let’s not forget that Wilson is Cuddy’s friend, she confides in him more than in anyone else, so he should have a good view on both sides of the story), House deflected and pretended not to believe and not to care (btw, the way he pretended to be typing was hilarious:). But a second later, after Wilson left, he bowed his head and sighed, a tormented look on his face, because he knew Wilson was right and the remorse and the sorrow he was feeling were overwhelming.
    I personally do believe that Wilson was right – all of Cuddy’s actions can be explained by her being subconsciously in love with House for years (even her lack of “luck” in building a strong relationship with a man). I do not believe that the “hospital’s biggest asset” argument flies as an expalation for her behaviour and the grand gestures she has always made for him, for the very clear reason that House is anything but an asset to the hospital (and there were a thousand speeches, made by third parties, in which House as a major liability was discussed), unlike he is to Cuddy herself, who used to be fascinated by his genius, often delighted by his games, pleased with his sexual interest in her and loyal to him beyond any imagination.

    After his conversation with Wilson, House finds the power to act on his remorse and goes to her office. It was surprising to see that he changed enough to actually try to do something about his guilt and sorrow, first of all because it is not a common thing for him (he was unable to do it for Wilson, for instance, after Amber died), and then because he has clearly been trying to avoid Cuddy lately, avoid the pain her recent attitude inflicts on him. He felt his pain and sorrow, he acknowledged it and he acted on it, trying to share his feelings with her, say he’s sorry.

    And here comes the part that impressed me above all else and convinced me that he has really changed. He could not talk to her because Lucas was there, so he was feeling the pain of not being able to reach out to Cuddy anymore (considering what a huge change and effort he made when he reached for that door, we can only assume that the pain and disappointment and sorrow he was feeling were horrible and heartbreaking). But he did not give in to those feelings – he did NOT do any of the things he used to do in order to unload his painful feelings – he did not get drunk, call a hooker, abuse his employees or insult anyone, go and sulk alone at home drinking or getting high. He did none of those – instead, he did something good for someone. He took his pain in regard to Cuddy, his remorse, and he tried to pay for his sins and seek absolution and redemption with a good deed. Doing something generous for someone who did not deserve it (because Wibberly tried to manipulate and con him into giving him the money). Forgiving Wibberly and doing something extremely generous for him, even if that was not RIGHT in the way that House understands the concept of justice and rightfulness, thus making his decision even more impressive, because we got to see House acting out of his personal standards of right/wrong and worthy/not worthy .
    House being capable to learn the lesson of pain and loss and trying to turn his misery into forgiveness, generosity and tolerance -that, my God, that was something amazing to watch. So, I thank the writers for “Remorse”!
    Next episode brings us the much awaited return of clinic duty, and i would really like more Taub instead of more Thirteen…

  • Val

    Great review Barbara and great comments everyone!

    Solid is an excellent description for this episode. I found everything about it to be spot on. The POTW was excellent (also cool that we share a first name, lol) and the medical aspect held my interest. I certainly agree with the mirrors and parallels to previous episodes and I think that it keeps character continuity. House can’t seem to cross the threshold yet with Cuddy (even with Wilson to some degree), both with apologies and truthfulness about his feelings; we know he can though because of Wibberly and Lydia. The moment he does it will be all the more important.

    Cuddy’s reaction to the picture was certainly believable. This was clear to me because in previous episodes have mentioned Cuddy’s mother…House getting the desk from her and Cuddy lying to her since she was 12…but this is a first, significant mention of her father. We know House’s relationship with John House was not good and we quickly learned a bit of a background with the POTW’s father. I got the feeling, by the way LE played the scene, that Cuddy’s father was very sick or had even passed away and House’s second attempt to cross at reaching out to Cuddy strengthened that line of thought.

    House’s diminishing focus on his cases from the previous seasons does not bother me (though I miss the whiteboard and agree it has been happening). The team is quite solid with two senior fellows and two junior fellows, but they still need House. A previous comment mentioned House’s role as a teacher and that fits this season as he was worried that the cases and PPTH may have been a cause of his breakdown. The continuity continues. I think Fellows 2.0 continue to evolve. Foreman and Chase bring their preconceive notions and experiences to their interactions with House and Taub has his own take and interactions with House. Thirteen was solid in this episode. Foreman/Thirteen seem to have parallels to House/Cuddy just as Thirteen seems to have parallels to House in her character. ‘Epic Fail’ and ‘Teamwork’ have had instances where she sees House a bit differently than the other fellows (i.e. their conversation in Wilson’s kitchen while he’s cooking and in the gym as he tries to get her back on the team).
    House/Wilson interactions continue to be wonderful. Best season yet for them. Wilson and House in front of the TV is all that’s needed for a little lightheartedness amongst the angst.

  • Calia

    I just wanted to let you know that Cuddy’s dad death has been confirmed by the writter of the episode on Twitter.
    so that should settle it for everybody.
    cant wait for your review of next’s week episode.
    cheers & thanks!