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TV Review: House, M.D. — “The Softer Side”

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“This is the only ‘me’ you get.” A simple declaration by the resigned House (Hugh Laurie in a raw and surprisingly emotional performance) at the end of the newest House, M.D. episode “The Softer Side." Acceptance by one’s family and friends frames this episode’s narrative, a theme explored for both patient and doctor. Set against the diagnostic backdrop of an adolescent boy with “genetic mosaicism” (he has both XX and XY chromosomes, making him equally male and female), the episode touches on several key themes that so often make House compelling TV. 

Jackson’s genetic condition makes him "different." Born equally male and female, Jackson's parents had to choose years earlier whether their newborn baby was to be a boy or girl. Surgery and a lifetime of testosterone treatments will help Jackson grow into a “normal” young man. His parents (his mother, really) have decided to keep information from him, saying that “he’s not ready for it.” On the other hand, his mother in particular, seems to be forcing him into the “boy” box, making him choose “basketball or hockey” when he would prefer dance. She cannot accept Jackson for who he is, and therefore tries to make him into who he “should” be.

Collapsing while playing in a school basketball game, Jackson's parents, along with House's team are convinced that young man's illness must be related to his sexuality. Trying to diagnose the inquisitive young man without revealing the parents' secret proves difficult, and eventually 13 lets the cat out of the bag, forcing the parents to deal with Jackson's ambiguous sexuality and their own issues related to it.

And like Jackson, House seeks acceptance for who he is, not to be folded, spindled and mutilated into someone else’s version of who he should be. House’s advice to the parents at the end of “The Softer Side” ring wise and true—and–coming from a lifetime’s experience. “You gave birth to a freak of nature. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to treat him like one,” he admonishes the parents after finally diagnosing the boy with simple dehydration.

It’s good advice, and advice that perhaps Blythe and John House would have been wise to follow with their young, socially isolated genius son. In some ways, the scene contains echoes of House’s season-three conversation with the dwarf-mom in “Merry Little Christmas.”

At its core, House M.D. is the story of Dr. Gregory House’s struggle with both his physical and emotional wounds. From time to time, House has made (sometimes elaborate) attempts to diminish his physical pain. When he has succeeded ("Meaning") we are privy to a completely different side of House, more easy going and far less impatient. But we've also seen indications over the years that House somehow connects his isolated, miserable existence with his razor-sharp edge concerned about sacrificing that as the cost for living pain-free.

House’s pain is very closely enmeshed with his drug use. He insists that the Vicodinis strictly for the pain in his leg. But nearly everyone in his circle has at one time or another accused him of taking using drugs to dull his emotional pain, even going so far as to suggest that some or all of his physical pain is a manifestation of his emotional turmoil ("Skin Deep," season two).

Wilson and Cuddy have, over the seasons, raised this to an art form. From manipulating bets and watching him go through the hell of cold-turkey withdrawal to refusing to give him medicine he clearly needs to function, Cuddy and Wilson have acted the tough-love parents, in often misguided attempts to get House off drugs or otherwise change his behavior. Much of early season three focuses on Wilson's attempts to force House to change.

But House’s pain is real, and he suffers—most often in private. As recently as “Painless,” we’ve seen the degree to which House suffers, living with pain that is “on good days merely intolerable” and on bad ones “suck the soul right out of you. (“Words and Deeds,” season three).

When he has attempted new methods of pain control (“Insensitive,” “Half Wit,” season three), he has most often done it secretly, unwilling to put himself through the expected lectures about his self-destructivenss. In “Half-Wit,” even Cameron immediately jumped to the conclusion that House had entered a Massachusetts clinical trial “to get high,” rather than understanding what might really motivate someone in such constant severe pain to try something radical and experimental.

In “The Softer Side,” House has once again decided to try an alternative to the Vicodin. Of course, he does it privately, telling no one on his staff, and keeping it secret from Cuddy and Wilson. But observing House’s unusually good mood, even with a moronic (but hysterically funny) clinic patient, Kutner, Wilson and Cuddy and then Foreman all suspect something is up.

After House stops breathing in his Eames chair while napping, Wilson leaps to the idea that House has upped his narcotic ante to heroin. And to test his theory, he offers House a bourbon at a local bar, knowing that if House is on heroin, he’ll refuse to drink it, given that one drink could easily kill him.

But House is immediately on his guard, guessing Wilson suspicions, and realizing that the drink is Wilson’s make-shift tox screen. But House tips back the drink anyway, disappointed, hurt and frustrated that Wilson “can never figure anything but the most screwed up scenario” when it comes to him. As House stalks out of the tavern, Wilson follows closely and has his suspicions apparently confirmed as House vomits the alcohol. But he's not on heroin; he’s on methadone:“heroin without the high.” The news does nothing to allay Wilson's concern.

“It’s twice the risk,” Wilson argues. Assuming that House is taking methadone to detox from Vicodin, he reminds House that there are better ways to withdraw from narcotics, still not considering that House may have completely legitimate reasons for using methadone that have nothing to do with addiction. Like pain, for instance. “I’m not detoxing,” House insists, frustrated.

“Fine for pain, then, whatever,” Wilson says dismissively changing only the semantics, not the sentiment that House is behaving inappropriately and recklessly. Granted, House has been reckless, risked death (and has nearly died) too many times to count and Wilson’s panic about House’s latest death-defying behavior might be justified.

But House is an adult. He’s taking a calculated risk and asking that Wilson understand that. Finally tossing his cane into a dumpster, he reveals the methadon has completely eliminated his pain. “My leg doesn’t hurt anymore,” concludes a victorious House, leaving Wilson alone in the alley, speechless.  House isn’t high, he’s pain free. It explains his good mood and argues against the conventional wisdom that House’s physical pain has more to do with his emotional state than with his leg injury.

Wilson’s first thought is to confer with Cuddy and figure out how to stop House from continuing the methadone treatment. I’m not sure why Wilson feels the need to meddle into House’s life (when House clearly hates the meddling), but his first reaction is that methadone is bad and he and Cuddy need to stop him from ruining (or ending) his life.

Offering him an ultimatum, Cuddy tells House he must choose between the methadone and his job. “I can’t sit by and watch you kill yourself,” she tells him.  But neither Cuddy nor Wilson have really heard House's legitimate argument for changing his pain regimen. House views this a chance, maybe his last one to live pain-free. No wonder House hid the methadone from them.

Cuddy sees only an addict searching for a new way to get high. In her mind the prescribing doctor must have been conned into it and had no idea about House’s “addiction issues.” But House finally and emotionally reveals his disappointment and frustration. “He knows I’m in pain!” House must wonder why it's impossible to accept this simple explanation. It's an argument he will never win. And refusing to further justify himself, House resigns.

“You’re choosing methadone over this job?” Cuddy asks disbelievingly.

“I’m choosing lack of pain over this job.” How sad, that after all these years, House still must repeatedly explain himself. No one, neither Cuddy nor Wilson has a right to make such a fundamental quality-of-life decision for him. His resignation is House's personal declaration of self-determination.

Of course Wilson and Cuddy act out of concern for House; they worry about his recklessness and his clearly defined self-destructive streak. What they do, they do out of love. But that love and concern is sometimes misguided.And this time, their actions have pushed House away at a time when he could probably use their support and encouragement.

This scenario loosely parallels Jackson’s situation, now made awawre of his unique sexuality. Jackson is angry with his parents, banishing them from his hospital room. But, as 13 points out to them, their son needs them more than ever, and even as he pushes them away, they should be there to love and support him.

Nowhere to be found at the hospital, House is back home, having shaved and put on a well-tailored suit. When Wilson drops by to check on House’s well being (and probably make sure he’s still breathing), he is stunned to find House sharply attired, alert and determined to get on with his life—without Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, Wilson or Cuddy.

This slightly strange, but positive, change in House catches Wilson off guard, causing him to reconsider his position. Going to Cuddy, the two of them decide it might be best to support House, accept that it’s his right to choose—and that perhaps the methadone was even the right choice.  Not that it’s really any of their business…

When House drops by Cuddy's office to collect a requested recommendation letter, she has not yet drafted it, and instead offer him his old job–along with the medical support he needs to keep the methadone treatment safe. 

“We both know this is where you belong,” she says. House is slightly surprised by her change of heart, and seemingly grateful that she finally seems to understand what he wanted: acceptance. House merely responds with a nod and a quiet, sincere “thank you.” 

Now back on Jackson’s case, House realizes that the boy’s illness can be traced to dehydration, exacerbated by the MRI performed on him at the request of the parents. Under ordinary circumstances, House would never have performed a test simply at the request of the family. Especially not after he had just declared the test a “waste of time.” He would mock and deride, arrogantly telling them that they should leave the doctor-stuff to him. Instead, he did what the parents wanted.

He attributes his slip to his good mood. It’s a costly slip, and one that might have cost young Jackson his life. House’s “error” raises one of his deepest fears; one that cuts right to the core of what makes House uniquely gifted. Has the methadone, and its effect on his pain level and mood cost him cognitively. Or has the new drug treatment somehow compromised his ability to reason? Has it made him hazy? Too laid-back to be a hyper-vigilant observer? Has his good mood affected his objectivity in any way?

It is here that House’s desire for a normal, pain free life clashes with his greatest fear: that any treatment he may undertake will compromise his ability to think, to observe—to affect his medical gift. And that’s something he’s unwilling to trade. No matter the upside. 

House’s intellect, his genius, is his “one thing.” It defines him and is intricately woven into in his self-worth.  After he is shot in season two’s “No Reason,” and after much unconscious soul searching, House is willing to make that compromise, as he seeks meaning beyond simple intellect.  And in “Softer Side” House once again considers this compromise, and in the end, he’s decides that the risk is too great. 

So when Cuddy stops by to give him his first methadone dose, House tells her that he can’t do it and why. That the cost is too great and almost caused him to kill a young patient. Now arguing the other side, Cuddy pleads with House, assuring him that he is not ONLY about his genius. "You'll still be a good doctor." "I don't want to be a 'good' doctor," he insists, refusing to take the dose.

“Don’t do this,” she begs. “It’s done,” he responds, picking up his cane. “This is the only me you get.”

It is this last line, the one with which I started this lengthy commentary, that has stayed with me since the episode aired. It makes me wonder whether House’s decision to try the methadone was (at least in part) fueled by his desire to have a relationship with Cuddy. But ultimately House tells her (or warns her) that he is who he is, and she will have to accept that if she wants explore anything deeper with him. Because the cost of changing, for him, is too great.

The next new episode of House is on March 9, “Social Contract.”  


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About Barbara Barnett

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

    once again an amazing piece. i never really think ive completly watched the ep util i have read yr take on it.

    That parting line has stayed with me as well. and i loved how cuddy got right into his space and talked, well pleaded, with him.


  • Jaim

    Good article! I agree to some extent that it isn’t really Cuddy and Wilson’s business, however how many times has House delved into both of his dear friend’s personal lives?
    He drugged Wilson with speed to see if he was on an anti-depressant. He also went through Cuddy’s trash, finding the red clover, and deduced that she was trying for a baby. He confronted both of them on these issues even though it was clear that they were trying to keep these issues secret. So, I think that each of the big three have meddled in each others lives from time to time, always with concern and thoughtfulness, even if it is carried out in an intrusive and even frustrating manner.
    I think that House needs to stop doing his weird ‘negation’ game with Cuddy. She wanted him when he was still his regular snarky bastard self in the episode “Let Them Eat Cake,” but he pushed her away. I think she likes him nice or naughty, and I think he knows that deep down. Of course, she wants him less miserable. She is always going to feel guilty about her part in the condition of his leg, as she was his attending doctor during his infarction. If she can help him feel less pain and sadness then she can both finally absolve herself of the ‘betrayal'(in her mind that she committed)and see her friend feel somewhat better.
    She knows what she is getting with House. She even told Wilson that “House doesn’t do happy. Pain or no pain.” Maybe he was calmer and more easy going in this episode but he was still snarky, crude, and annoying. He’ll never be without his hard edges. Even Stacy said he whad this same personality before the leg issues. I think he needs to give Cuddy a break and just let her in a little. She wants to be apart of his chaotic world where most women wouldn’t.

  • j.i.m.

    Barbara, great job of highlighting the important themes, thanks.

    The writing of this episode was especially refreshing. It was a relaxing breather to have House content and playful. The vitality with which Hugh Laurie delivered the “phasing” speech was delicious. “I’m greatly phased.”

    The writers also dared to be irreverent with their star character, House. I saw the clinic patient as a bit of a goof on House as he opts for pain and brain instead of contentment and slight compromise. “Ouch, ouch, ouch.” Sorry, I just became irreverent for a second, too.

    Jaim, I like your balanced approach. The writers always give Cuddy and Wilson good intentions or at least reactions that a good friend would have in those situations with House, given the information or disinformation that House allows them. They also have their personal demons and faults.

    Looked at from Cuddy’s and Wilson’s perspectives, they are trying to do the best for their friend and keep him alive because they love him. But Hugh Laurie makes it easy to lose oneself in him, House, and not consider the point of view of his cohorts. That is, when we have a chance to get a glimpse of House during the episode. “13” had more screen time than House this episode.

  • Alex

    I think it’s disingenuous to think that part of House’s decision to try methadone was fueled by his desire to have a relationship with Cuddy, was part of House’s decision to go on vacation in Fetal Position fueled by seeing Chase’s hand up Cameron’s shirt too? That’s wishful thinking on your part.

    This is not the first time we’ve seen House doing whatever it takes to get rid of the pain, morphine in Who’s your daddy?, faking cancer so the guys at Boston would implant a drug right into the pleasure centre of his brain in Half-Witt, and methadone in The Softer Side. House is in a lot of pain, in Painless he admitted he was having more bad days, and that’s the only reasonable explanation I find that would explain why he was trying a new drug. But House would rather be miserable and in pain than losing his extraordinary ability to diagnose.

    As for House’s last sentence to Cuddy “This is the only me you get” you’re right that House is telling Cuddy to stop trying to change him and accept him for who he is. But I can’t stop thinking that the only reason why Cuddy wanted House to keep having methadone is because she only sees herself being in a succesful relationship with the new improved House and not because it took away House’s pain. When House explained to Cuddy that whatever new drug he was having eliminated his pain she was against it, but when House started exhibiting symptons of happines and niceness she was for it even if methadone could compromise House’s intellect if he continued taking it. Doesn’t she know what’s most important to House than being happy?

  • Veresna

    The entire last scene has haunted me since I saw it. I feel that House’s “Why do you care if I’m happy?” challenge mirrored Cuddy’s “Why do you negate everything?” moment that began this current arc. But this time it was Cuddy who couldn’t take the next step to admit to House and herself how important he is to her. And, after all the times she had derided his lack of self-control, her pleading, “Just take it” broke my heart as well.
    I find myself torn about so much in this episode. And while I have no doubt that House was indeed pain-free from the methadone, I can never fully forget the morphine shot he demanded from Cuddy that was only saline, yet alleviated his pain. I really don’t know if House can really ever know how much of his pain is physically or emotionally derived.


  • Wnkybx

    Thanks, Barbara, for a very nice review. I always enjoy reading your thoughts!

    Thinking over the episode, I had a somewhat but not entirely different take on it. To me, “The Softer Side” is a multi-layered, delicious cake with the main ingredient of dualism.

    Layer 1: POTW Jackson embodies both sides of the gender coin.
    Layer 2: Foreman shows his softer, romantic side (countering Taub’s hilarious impression of him as a one-dimensional robot).
    Layer 3: We see Cuddy thinking both as an administrator who skillfully handles tense situations and as a parent who understands a child’s needs.
    Layer 4: House demonstrates that he has a “softer,” hopeful side when he is not in pain. However, his softer side is at odds with the darker, hardened side of him that has been tethered to pain for years.

    Do you all have any more layers to add?

    In addition to weaving a story around the theme of dualism, the episode also reveals some of the emotions surrounding the time of House’s leg infarction. Although in “Three Stories” and for the first half of season 2 we watched Stacy struggle with her decision (and the long-term consequences) to consent to the failed “middle-ground” surgery, Jackson and his parents more elegantly distill the emotional process for us. The fact that Jackson, House’s mirror image, is a minor reflects House’s state of vulnerability when he was hospitalized for his leg. Jackson’s parents, mirroring Stacy and Cuddy, had a difficult choice to make; their questions and sense of guilt also mirror the emotions Cuddy has continued to experience status post surgery as well as her feelings of responsibility for House’s leg. The past several years of House’s emotional pain could be summarized by the following conversation:

    Jackson: You lied to me.
    Mom: We were trying to protect you.
    Jackson: Don’t. Just leave me alone. Get out.

    From that, we see how House’s reaction to push people out of his life, although understandable, is quite childish. The comparison between House and a child is not new, but this conversation reflects House’s emotional health in a more innocent light, despite Wilson’s claim that House just chooses to be miserable. As a mother-figure to House, Cuddy seems to understand what Jackson needs because she had been in his parents’ shoes before: she tells them, “Now is not the time to listen to him. Go be with him.” By extension, she seems to know what House needs but is not connecting the dots right now. I really wish she would.

    While Jackson and his parents are providing a mirror to House’s past, we also see House trying to move forward … with a hint of optimism. His willingness to shave, his decision to wear a suit, his decision to choose a pain-free existence over his current job with the hope he could land another job doing what he loves … these are all signs that a part of him is not afraid of change, despite Cuddy’s comment to the contrary. Some people may read House’s ultimate refusal of Cuddy’s methadone plan as his surrendering to a life of pain again. Just as House had sought radical treatments for his pain in the past, he will probably continue to do so in the future as more methods become available, but not with a drug that clouds his mental faculties. Barbara, I agree with you that House does not define himself by his pain but by his ability to be much more than “just a good doctor,” to be an excellent doctor who does not screw up. We have seen House arrive at a brilliant Addison’s diagnosis when he was pain-free from the ketamine treatment, so clearly he does not need pain to keep himself sharp. His decision to give the patient an MRI with contrast was not a direct effect of his good mood but of the relative mental haziness (and I say relative because House on methadone is still much brighter than 99% of other fictional doctors) the methadone caused. He simply didn’t want to take the gamble that he would create another unnecessary case.

    As for his bittersweet comment at the end (“This is the only me you get”), I don’t think he was implying that he was permanently giving up on trying to alleviate his pain; I think he did want acceptance, as you stated. I think House didn’t want Cuddy to get her hopes up that he would be a happy-go-lucky guy. He knows himself, and he knows that he “does not do happy, pain or no pain,” just as Cuddy had so eloquently said earlier. On one level, he asked her “Why do you care if I am happy?” because he wanted her to admit that she cares about him; on another level, as Alex was getting at, I think he was trying to figure out if she was pushing the methadone so that she could pursue a relationship with the version of him that she wanted. But then I diverge from Alex’s thoughts because I do believe that from Cuddy, he wants unconditional love (despite his claim that it doesn’t exist), not love for happy-House-on-methadone.

    **As a side note, I applaud the writers for building a story around nephrogenic sclerosing fibrosis (NSF), a rare complication of gadolinium contrast when given in the context of renal impairment. It hasn’t received much attention in the medical community outside of nephrology and radiology but is still important to consider in medical management. Although the writers fumbled a bit by having Foreteen assess the patient’s kidney function in a very roundabout way (no one mentioned the word “creatinine” once), they did a great job in coming up with some fresh medical material … finally!

  • j.i.m.

    Alex wrote, “I think it’s disingenuous to think that part of House’s decision to try methadone was fueled by his desire to have a relationship with Cuddy…” Last time I checked, disingenuous can mean naive or uninformed. In fact, given the ending of the last episode with House at the piano, such a conclusion seems highly informed.

    I also saw House’s renewed effort to attain a better quality of life as inspired by his feelings for Cuddy. As I wrote, last episode, I was led to believe that House has deep emotions for Cuddy by the scene where he was crying at his piano while playing a song to honor Cuddy and Rachel during her baby-naming celebration.

    Part of the reason why I love the character of House is that he takes action when he reaches a moment of informed understanding about himself. It came as no surprise this episode that House took decisive steps to improve his life after that evening of crisis over his relationship with Cuddy. Of course House sought pain relief to be relieved of pain as well. But his emotional breakdown and desire for Cuddy was the vital impetus that led him to seek a new form of pain medication, IMHO. Everytime he tries some new pain panacea without success, the disappointment weighs ever heavier. I think, at the end of this episode, House was doubly disappointed with the blind alley of a pain reliever and the blind woman, Cuddy, who will not see beneath the mask he has held so firmly in place for so many years. At the end, he turned out the lights and left her and him in darkness as he walked dejectedly away from her.

  • barbara barnett

    jaim–I do understand Cuddy and wilson’s pov. And in a sense, as I said, their story here is parallel to the parents in “Softer Side.” Yes, House can and HAS interfered in both of their lives. But I think House’s leg issues are very private, and offering him an ultimatum: your job or your quality of life was unfair without first hearing his point of view. Both of things are so enmeshed, and this is the first hopeful sign for him since the Ketamine. So I can see House’s point as well.

    Yeah, that “negation thingy.” I was thinking about that during that scene and id did remind me. I don’t think he was negating her, though. Just negating the whole idea. I don’t think this was about her (not directly).

    j.i.m.–I loved that clinic patient. Even my husband laughed (and he’s not a fan of the show particularly). But I missed that bit of (maybe unintentional–or not) foreshadowing House’s choices at the end of the episode. Nice catch. I do think that Cuddy is fine with House, whatever. I think the methadone was more about himself. I think he believes it’s important. I remember at the end of Honeymoon–with Stacy back in his orbit–he tried to take that “normal” step. He did that to try to make himself “normal” (physically). Does this in some oblique way parallel that?

    How people feel about him has nothing to do with the leg. I dunno. Maybe trying the methadone is a way to test. Is her love tied up in his neediness? Will he be less needy without the pain and the cane? Maybe that explains part of it too.

    I would agree with Alex that the methadone had nothing to do with Cuddy and was just the next in House’s efforts to be pain free, except–it’s been a long time since we’ve seen him using anything but Vidodin. The morphine in Who’s Your Daddy? was a one-time shot to deal with an very bad day–not a permanent fix (as it were). This was more like Half Wit and Insensitive. But we haven’t seen anything like it since then.

    Fetal position was part of that whole series of episodes that included half wit and insensitive, and I categorize that with those efforts to help himself. I do agree with you, Alex that what happened in Painless has weighed heavily on him (and I said that) and really fueled this decision to try something else. But I think his final words to Cuddy suggest that his relationship with her was also much on his mind.

    Veresna–I have always believed that the saline helped with the pain (as an adjunct to the Vicodin) due to the placebo effect. House believed it was helping, so it did. Until the shot, deep inside the case, he was in pain. It wasn’t involvement in the case that took away the pain it was the belief that the shot was working. Placebo effect.

    Wynkybx–very nice distillation of the parallels between Jackson and House. There were very strong echoes in this episode to Three Stories.

    Fundamentally this was a story about acceptance, but I love your pinning down the little and more subtle “softer sides” to the episode. A beautifully written entry.

  • Alex

    j.i.m. wrote: I was led to believe that House has deep emotions for Cuddy by the scene where he was crying at his piano while playing a song to honor Cuddy and Rachel during her baby-naming celebration.

    I hope you’re kidding when you say House was crying at his piano.

  • j.i.m.

    Alex, I was kidding. House had dry eyes and he was enjoying his evening alone with his bourbon and music.

  • barbara barnett

    j.i.m.–Seriously? :)

    He was having a grand time, so great that he can enjoy that all-important alone time.

    I do think he was dry-eyed, but certainly thinking about Cuddy and Rachel (and probably what he was missing in his life).

  • Alex

    I do agree with you, Alex that what happened in Painless has weighed heavily on him (and I said that) and really fueled this decision to try something else. But I think his final words to Cuddy suggest that his relationship with her was also much on his mind.

    If that were the case House wouldn’t House have tried methadone when he was facing a major fall-out with Wilson at the beginning of the season? Can’t it just be that House has an increased level of pain because there’s something physically wrong with him that has nothing to do with his emotional state of mind and that Painless is the beginning of that arc?

  • barbara barnett

    Can’t it be both? I viewed that final scene–House’s resigned decision to forego the methadone, his question to Cuddy about why his happiness matters to her to have some significant to them (your mileage may vary, and we may just need to agree to disagree on this). That final line had the feel of a direct answer to a question that Cuddy didn’t ask.

    You’re right, Alex, it could all be the beginning of a new pain arc. But it’s an arc within an arc, because the thing with Cuddy is not resolved. The end of “Unfaithful” left things between them begging for resolution.

  • Alex

    House’s feelings for Cuddy are unresolved and they will be addressed before the end of the season, but that final line to Cuddy doesn’t imply that he started a new treatment for his pain with having a happy relationship with Cuddy in mind. I’d say that during the exploration of their relationship House’s level of pain has increased because he has a physical condition not because he is emotionally affected by Cuddy.

  • mk879

    Barbara – great review, as always.

    One thing I found very interesting that I don’t think I saw mentioned by you or in any of the other comments was about the woman House hired to “watch him sleep.” Nevermind the sexual side effects that methadone can cause. The woman was awfully similar in looks to Cuddy – wavy brown hair and wore a tight, structured business suit.

  • Pat

    I only wish that House were still at the core of the show. Once again Thirteen got more time than House did.

    It’s interesting how different people can see the same episode and view it differently. I thought this pretty much explained yet again why House cannot be in a relationship with Cuddy, as did Unfaithful. Cuddy wants a House that does not exist. She wants him to be part of her and Rachel’s life, she wants him to be painfree and nicer so that they can have a relationship.

    But that’s not who House is. And it’s not who he wants to be. As he said at the end when he went off methadone, “This is the only me you get.”

    He may have wanted her to finally admit that she has feelings for him but he also wants her to see that she’s never going to get what she wants and her constant efforts to change him into what she wants him to be are going to fail.

    I agree with Alex that this is part of a larger pain exploration cycle that started in Painless.

    Whether it’s significant that it was Cameron who noticed his increased pain yet again as she did in season 3 and not Wilson or Cuddy remains to be seen.

  • barbara barnett

    re: #14 (Alex)–I think that House believes his leg affects his ability to have a “normal” relationship with a woman. And while he is primarily driven by the pain and his desire to live a pain=free life (even if it’s shorter), I do think Cuddy enters into the equation. I agree with you that his increased pain has nothing to do with Cuddy. It’s physical. Actually in many people with physical pain issues, stress and anxiety exacerbate the pain, no reason that can’t be true of House as well.

    #15 (mk879)–That was an interesting little scene. House hiring a hooker to watch him while he sleeps so that he doesn’t die. I’ll have to watch that scene again (yeah, I know someone has to do it) and think about the metaphor.

    Pat–I had read that 13 had more minutes on screen. But there is no way that this was not House’s story. I completely didn’t mind her in this episode.

  • Monica

    Once again I totally and completely disagree with you. I do not think that there is any way that House started taking the methadone because of his feelings for Cuddy, he did it because his leg hurts. That’s it.

    No offense Barbara, I am sure that you are a very nice person, but it is painful for non Huddy fans to read your reviews. You are certainly watching a different show than I am, I guess your rose tinted Huddy glasses has a lot to do with it. I always thought that reviews of tv shows and movies were supposed to be somewhat open minded, but yours are not at all.

    And I don’t think you could possibly be more judgmental or negative towards Wilson, and I totally disagree with you on that too. Everything Wilson has ever done, while perhaps misguided, was only because of his love and caring for House, not some malevolent evil plan on his part. Maybe Wilson’s plans don’t work, but his heart is always in the right place.

    Again, no offense intended at all, I just needed to respond.

  • barbara barnett

    Monica–Disagree with me or not, I think it’s a matter of interpretation (and mine is given on the season’s narrative thus far.)

    I pretty roundly criticized both Cuddy and Wilson, so I’m not sure how you could take what I was saying as “huddy-esque.” It’s a pattern that she and Wilson seem to repeat regarding House. It’s unfair (on both their parts) to him and bravo for finally saying something about it (to each in a different way.)

    You say you disagree with me about Wilson, but say exactly what I said: that however misguided he acts, he does it out of love and concern–like Jackson’s parents. That was sort of my whole point regarding that part of the story. I barely mentioned House’s motivation regarding Cuddy. I think I maybe spent three sentences on it in the entire commentary.

    I’ve loved Wilson this season (for the first time in a long time)–starting with Birthmarks. I think that he and House have come to an understanding. In my opinion, Wilson got freaked by House’s sudden behavioral change, respiratory issues and overreacted by reverting to old self.

  • Barbara

    Barbara, I disliked Thirteen’s continuing increased screentime because with it there is no room on the show for the characters I am interested in. Not everyone watches for Huddy and Thirteen, and if tptb continue to think that they do, it is going to cost them greatly next season.

    Another example of Cuddy wanting House to be what he cannot be was in Let Them Eat Cake when she asked House to kiss her and he grabbed her boob instead. She was hurt, then optimistic at the desk, and then hurt again when he went home with the hooker.

    Now that I look at it, there are so many clues that Cuddy keeps wanting House to be who she wants him to be and not who he is and that no matter what their feelings about each other are, her hopes for a relationship with him are doomed to fail because of that.

  • Sheila

    It’s true that watching an episode of House doesn’t feel complete until your review, Barbara, and all the comments that flow from it are posted.

    Personally, I loved this episode.Any exploration of House’s mind and character are fascinating to me. A few comments follow:

    I realize that some dramatic license has to be given to move the story along, so Cuddy’s blanket ultimatium to House , although unlikely from a Hospital Administrator to her Star Physician, it made sense in terms of Cuddy’s personal fear for House’s safety. Lisa’s tomented body language during that sence said more than her dialogue could.
    I also want to ‘stick-up’ for Cuddy and Wilson here in their ‘meddling’ with House’s decisions. House is arrogant enough, and risk taking enough, that self-starting on an unsupervised Methadone Program would pose serious risks for him. The very fact that he risked downing a shot of bourbon on the same day as a respiratory arrest, driven by the desire to show Wilson that he was misjudging him….. even with planning to heave it all up shortly…. demonstrated a scary level of risk taking right out-of- the- gate.
    As an asside, I think Chase was the prescribing physician on the Methadone as Chase was privy to House’s distress over his increasing pain in ‘ Painless’. Maybe we’ll find out, maybe not.
    Back to the meddling:
    House accepted the supper date with Wilson knowing he would “get a lecture on moderation”. In ‘Emmancipation’, House was almost driven to distraction when Wilson didn’t have opinions on his behavior. As House said to Wilson while pleading for feedback in that episdoe ” You were designed to have opioions and force them on people.” I see House , by his own descriptions over the past seasons, as having been a lonely and isolated child. I think Wilson’s hypervigilence and interventions are seen by House as a demonstration of friendship and caring…..regardless of how annoying and, at times, counter-productive they are. House has used the words ” you were trying to protect me, that’s what friends do” on a number of occassions. Wilson is drawn to neediness & designed to try and safeguard those he loves . House is like a thirst plant in the desert , just drinking up the attention . He really is bereft without it.
    Wilson is a busy guy these days trying to explain House- to- Cuddy and Cuddy -to -House. I took hope when House phrased his question to Cuddy as ” WHY do you can if I’m happy” because it at least showed his awareness that Cuddy does ‘care’ about him. I hope she can answer his question soon.

  • Kathy

    Barbara, great review.Its just a pity that you are getting the odd negative critism.

    Monica, you have missed the whole point of blogs yet again. As someone said the last time (can’t remember who) blogs are personal reviews. Barbara doesn’t have to be objective. It is to her credit that she gives up a lot of her time to do these reveiws. The least we can do is not deride everything she does with such negativity. There’s nothing stopping you from starting your own blog with your own reviews.

    House’s experimenting with methadone could be both to relieve his pain and perhaps as a way of having a less miserable life -possibly with Cuddy or with some other person in the future figuring in his life. He’s not been in a relationship as far as we know since Stacy, and he pushed Stacy away after the infarction. Couldn’t that indicate he may not believe he’s capable of another relationship whilst he’s in pain??

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks Sheila and Kathy. Sheila–what an interesting point. Hmm. That would make some sense that Chase might be helping House with the methadone.

    I agree that House, while fighting their constant meddling and resenting it, values it in the end. And the degree to which he listens to them both (eventually) suggests that. Emancipation also showed that.

    Kathy–thanks for coming to my defense 😉

    I don’t do recaps, which are available elsewhere–like the official site, and why they usually take me a bit longer to write–these are really commentaries. My opinion (just as any review is an opinion). Even movie critics have variable mileage when it comes to some films.

    You also hit on something very important. Remember at the end of Honeymoon? With Stacy back in his orbit, House tried taking those first tenative steps cane-free? It was a step he had to try (and his failed), because I do think his self=worth as a partner is tied up in his physical pain as well. He feels a need to be physically normal to explore a relationship with any woman.

  • Flo

    Good review Barbara, for a good episode.

    I didn’t mind thirteen at all. The importance of a character is not to be based on screentime alone. This was a story about House.

    I understand the critics towards Cuddy and Wilson but I also want to say that House has addiction issues and as he seems to not really care about it, Wilson and Cuddy feel the need to do it . Cuddy being House’s doctor and Wilson being the one who prescribed him the vicodin for so long they are a part of House’s health and I think that a change of drug is a little bit their business (as doctors but also as friends who care about his health I mean).

    Yes the prostitute was a bit Cuddy-like, it was fun.

    I also agree with Barbara when she says that Cuddy is part of the equation. House didn’t decided to change his drug because of her or for her but unconsciously she’s always here.

    I disagree with those of you who say that Cuddy want to change House. She knows him for years and she likes/loves him for years. Just as he is. The last scene is not about her wanting him to change but, as Barbara pointed out, about acceptance of him trying to be painfree with methadone.
    Cuddy is not so selfish. I think she wants him to be happy because she feels he deserves it. But like House and his decision of taking methadone, yes House is also part of the equation. That’s why the last scene between those two was kind of heart-breaking for both of them. Oh and House IS afraid of change.

    This is coming from someone who’s not a huddy. Actually I’m not a shipper at all.

  • Quartier_Latin

    Regarding Cuddy’s role in House’s methadone use…

    The romantic in me would like to think that his exclusion from Cuddy’s special occasion got him thinking about who he’d have to be, to be included and seen in a different light. Perhaps this sparked his search for an end to his pain, a new drug- the methadone. House knows that his pain affects his personality (to some extent, for he is who is, pain or no pain) and not vice versa as everyone else seems to think. So- maybe Cuddy could have been the trigger and motivating force.

    The second argument, and the one I tend to believe, is that House didn’t initially take the methadone with solely Cuddy in mind. House was seeking another option to eliminate his pain. Did he evaluate, analyze and breakdown the repercussions of taking the drug? Yes, as much as he possibly could- my feeling is it that this is House. He surely played out the different scenarios if he were to be pain free. I’d guess he anticipated that the ‘painless’ House would be a more tolerable House, a House with softer edges and someone who Cuddy would invite to special occasions. But, I don’t think Cuddy was the driving force. I think being pain free was, and being seen by Cuddy in a different light was an added bonus that he’d welcome.

    Unfortunately for House, the only thing he didn’t count on was that his sharpness and accuracy would be dulled and compromised by the drug. I think as we see him in his office in the closing scene, he’s given a lot of thought once again to the pros and cons of the drug. And ultimately, whether Cuddy was the driving force, or a contributing factor- he came to the same conclusion. She’d have to take him as is.

    Also- just read a negative comment to which Barbara already addressed, and I’m sure she doesn’t need anyone to come to her defense- but I’d like to share my opinion on the ‘rose tinted Huddy glasses.’

    I’m a House and Cuddy fan, but I was also a House and Cameron fan, and a House and Stacy fan… That is because each relationship allows a different side of House to surface. We learn something new about him, we get to peel away layers of this complicated character. And that, to me, is the most enjoyable part of this show. Getting to understand this brilliant character through excellent writing and the relationships (friendships, working, and romantic) he has.

    Clearly, this season is a House & Cuddy season. It’s been leading up to that for quite some time and there seem to be a lot of supporters- hence why it’s taken this direction. I mean, if you read interviews with cast, producers, writers it’s pretty apparent that this is a heavy part of season 5. Therefore, I think Barbara is most definitely watching the same show… at least the same show as I am. What bothers me about the negative comment is that the opinions were so definite and sure “he did it because his leg hurts. That’s it”… Really- was this expressed by a writer to you personally?

    We have no way of knowing what the writers truly intended. We’re here to share our different perspectives. I think Barbara does an excellent job of showing objectivity and an all-encompassing commentary on something that is fundamentally subjective- this whole show is up to interpretation. Make of it what you like, and if you don’t like what you’re reading, read another blog.


  • Helena 2

    Barbara, admit it, your reviews are huddy sided. That’s the reason you post your reviews in the huddy’s sites, and not in the hilson’s or hameron’s sites. admit it. 😉

  • Kirpio

    Barbara – a great review again! The reason I come for your reviews is because you and the majority of your readers seem to watch the same show as I do, and I enjoy the different elements that you and your commenters add to my understanding of the episode. Thanks 😀

    As has been said above, he sees his leg pain as a barrier to women, the last moments of season one were heartbreaking as he attempted to walk without his cane for Stacey, and then leaving for Cuddy’s without it earlier this season. Wilson and Cuddy acted out of concern, to counteract his perceived addiction to a harder drug, ignoring the rationalisations he always produces… it’s not their fault that this time, the drug was working exactly as he wanted.

    His decision at the end was typical House, it made me think back to ‘son of a coma guy’ where he explains why he became a doctor: it doesn’t matter if you’re a freak, as long as you’re right. With or without pain, he is a freak (he is reliant on methadone for his pain relief, and is still, to his mind, physically disfigured). If his judgement is clouded, if he isn’t right, he has nothing. He isn’t willing to sacrifice the respect he gains for his medical abilities for a ‘normal’ life (and he does have respect – even the CIA come calling for him!)

    Anyway… yay for the return of the clinic, yay for Taub’s hilarious Foreman impressions, and yay for 13 getting a credible storyline (lets never mention the ‘tumour-for-a-day’ again).

  • Kathy

    Helena 2: Admit it Helena2, so is David Shore and Katie Jacob. One or both of them have stated at various times that they will be exploring the relationship of these 2 at least for this season, that if anyone could have a relationship with House it would be Cuddy, and we get hints that it won’t work out. So who are mere mortals like Barbara to disagree with the producers. Whether you like it or not, it is a Huddy season.

    Hameron romance is dead as a dodo except in fanfictions. She’s with Chase, clearly happily now as seen in Unfaithful and Cameron even encouraged Cuddy to tell House her true feelings i.e. that she wanted House over for Rachel’s naming ceremony

    Hilson – well we had Birthmark and the Bromance; which by the way Barbara commented favourably on.

  • barbara barnett

    Thank you all for your kind comments about this blog. Like Quartier Latin, I’ve been interested in all of the House relationships. From Cameron, through Stacy and now Cuddy. Even the (overused cliche alert)bromance of House and Wilson. I’ve written about them all and positively.

    But as you guys have noted in various ways, this year is the year of House and Cuddy. Do I have “Huddy” lenses. I don’t really think I do. I tend to get caught up in the angstiness of the relationships what they show about House, who is really why I watch the show. Right now, i think his heart is with Cuddy. And like Kathy, I think Shore and Jacobs are in that camp as well.

  • Jaim

    Barbara, I get what you are saying about House’s leg, but I also feel that if Cuddy and Wilson said nothing of their concerns then House would feel like they didn’t really care about him. He dislikes their interference, but he would also be lost without it. It’s somewhat of a double-edged sword. They are the only two people who have known him a long time and have consistently shown their affection for him.
    I think that the ultimatum wasn’t completely out of line because Cuddy has seen House go through alot of critical health scares. She is his boss and although her meddling had little to do with that aspect of their relationship, she had to assert her disapproval professionaly as well. At that moment I think she just feared the worst of what the methadone could do to not only his well being but his medical career. She has reluctantly resigned herself to the fact that he is a vicodin addict. She sees that he can’t function well without it. But methadone is a whole new variable. She has no idea how this will change him. So, I think she felt she had to do something before he really went off the deep end.
    It’s difficult for an addict to see the extent to which they effect those that love them. I’m sure there have been times when Cuddy and Wilson didn’t know if he was alive or dead because of an overdose(Merry Little Christmas comes to mind). I think that it’s hard for friends and family to ever give you the benefit of the doubt when they have literally been through hell and back because of said addiction. He has lost their trust in regards to this issue. I think he has to accept that they we always be weary of his choices when it comes to drugs because he has given them no reason to think otherwise.
    I have read some other comments and some people think Cuddy was trying to change him, but I think Cuddy, like I mentioned before, just wants him to be less miserable. She hates the role she played in his leg and that guilt will always effect her decisions to better his life. I think she changed her mind about the methadone because of this guilt and also because she didn’t want to lose him. She’ll always be weary of the drug use which she should be. No one wants to see their close friend become a slave to a drug. But much like the vicodin use, at that last scene in the episode, I think she was resigned to his usage of the methadone.

  • Monica


    I don’t think you get my point. Everyone is entitled to write anything that they like on their blogs. And of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. But this doesn’t appear to be a personal blog site, it seems to be a critic’s site. And these reviews are the only ones linked also linked to LJ and forums too. I read all the major blog reviews, like Alan Sepinwall’s the a.v, club, etc, etc. etc., but non of them are anywhere close to as one sided as Barbara’s. I really don’t see this as a review, I see what Barbara writes as mostly a Huddy analysis of each episode.

    That’s fine, everyone is entitled to do that. But please, then one should not call themselves a critic writing a review if one is solely looking for evidence of their own ship’s fantasies.

    A fangirl’s blog post? Yes, absolutely.

    A critics review? Absolutely not.

    Again, Barbara, no offense intended at all, really, but I am entitled to my opinion too.

  • ns

    It would be none of Cuddy’s business if House was on methadone if he were merely a friend. However, let’s not forget that she is his BOSS and the hospital administrator. So, it is her business and, ultimately, she goes against her own better judgement and agrees to let him use the drug (and even administer it herself), not because she was actually doing her job, but because she liked that it made him nicer, or maybe because he shaved. Sheesh!
    Wilson, as a friend, makes the same argument. Sheesh! Everyone wants House to be nicer I guess. Or perhaps they just believe that being without the pain was making him happy – which it was.

    Happy enough that he was obviously willing to leave the hospital and his job there in order to be without the pain.

    In the end, he gives up the drug as it was affecting his work. Which was, of course, the right decision.

    The degree of rightness in this character where one would almost certainly think he would be absolutely wrong is extraordinary. I love that about House.

  • Gina

    Monica, critics are not supposed to be objective. They state an opinion, whether it’s theirs or their media vehicle, but an opinion nonetheless.

    Frankly, I call this bitterness. I do not want House and Cuddy to be together and yet I find myself agreeing with Barbara’s reviews most of the time. And if her reviews were actually biased and/or coming from someone who watches “a different show” than the one currently airing, I guess the folks at FOX would choose another reviewer to link their reviews to.

  • Nate

    Hi Barbara,
    “This is the only me you get.” that may be the most truthful and open house will ever be around Cuddy. They may have sex in the future, we may even see it, but those words describe –and dissect– house down to the very tee. I’ve read other reviews on this episode, and almost everyone thinks that the writers are scared of change. They wonder why they keep waving something different in front of house’s face, only to return the same way by the end of the episode. I don’t agree with them on any level. Sure, change may be waved in house’s face on many occasions, but it is becoming more and more clear that he could change, the only thing is, is house knows that isn’t him. I think he likes being alone, he’s comfortable, and safe by himself. No one knows him, they claim to, but they only see a narcissistic, egotistical, sarcastic drug addict. Everyone sees him this way. His peers may respect his medical brilliance, but no one respects him. In every episode, we as viewers learn something more about house. Usually, we learn it when he is in the company of others, but they can never see his true caring. They can only see a drug addict.

    Which brings me to Monday’s brilliant episode. I didn’t know what to expect, and from what the previews showed I couldn’t imagine what his secret was. All I knew was he was being nice, but soon it came to the surface: House was trying to change, trying to erase his pain, and even his reputation for being a jerk. But, instead of erasing anything in the eyes of his peers, they only saw it as his next attempt to get high, and maybe die in the process.

    Out of everyone, I think Wilson knows house best. I think that’s why he meddles in his business, why he tries to stop him. All you have to do is think about it in terms of friendship. Such things as friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Really, Wilson is house’s designated driver. House is persuasive, and stubborn, and would damn the risks and drive home even if he was as drunk as could be. But, luckily Wilson cares enough to help him when house needs it. It may have been meddling in this episode and many other, but I honestly believe he is scared one of these times his best friend is going to push it too far and die. House said in Birthmarks that Wilson was running from the one thing he really cared about: Him.

    Wilson calling house an idiot and checking up on him constantly is what friends do. If I had a friend with a drug problem, I would do all I could to save him. I’d probably even go as far as betray his trust and try to get him help, like Wilson did in Merry little Christmas.

    House showed in this episode that he would be willing to die to change. He’s tried every treatment imaginable, and will continue trying other treatments. I think the reason house can’t get close to anyone romantically is because he feels like a freak. His leg keeps him from doing many things, it keeps him from being human to many people. House is an island onto himself, not that that’s a bad thing necessarily, it just means he’ll never fully open up.

    One more thing. I think one of the best interactions between house and his peers is when Chase hugs him thinking he’s dying of cancer. Chase has seen house as a father figure, and has grown to love him. I think we care more about the old team because they related to house at times. Cameron sometimes seemed to see house for exactly what he was; Chase at times was like an illegitimate son; Foreman was like house, but more selfish. It’s true. Foreman does things to get ahead, like stealing Cameron’s article in season 2, or quitting in three. Now the new team, they have yet to show real care for house. Maybe they never will. Thirteen is dying and needs to live her final several years the way she wants; Taub is a pile of ego; (typical plastic surgeons) Kutner is the only person I could see relating to house in the future. The other two are too absorbed in their selves, and their battles to care.

    Finally, the end of the episode showed why house and Cuddy can never be. Cuddy loves house. Not the one she sees, but what he could be. She loves the side without pain, the side she sees as human. More than anything, she loves the idea that one day he could be normal. House will never be normal. “This is the only me you get.”

  • ns

    Nate! YES! I agree with your assessment, with one exception. A key premise is that “people don’t change.” Yet, people actually do change, they are either getting better or they are getting worse. In reality, a person afflicted with the need to take pain killers on a regular and increasing basis is going to slide downhill, whether the need is legitimate or not. I think the writers have actually captured a good degree of realism in this aspect of House and the show. I can see a definite darker element to the show as regards what is going on with House, than in previous seasons where he was more light hearted, even if still maintaining his proper level of acidity.
    The writers (I can only assume deliberately) have subtly woven this aspect into the show this season and we can see that House is getting more and more “serious” and, subtly, less and less happy. I think this is good writing, it’s the proper amount of realism. Again, as you pointed out, willing to die. Though I think NOT to change, but, rather, to be without the pain.
    It doesn’t seem to me that Cuddy is a factor in this decision for him, it’s a personal decision.
    I agree that Cuddy loves House for what she wishes he could be, but that’s a dead end street for the show.

  • barbara barnett

    It’s interesting, Monica, that in the 2200 words I wrote in this commentary, the only reference to House and Cuddy’s relationship is in the final paragraph:

    “It is this last line, the one with which I started this lengthy commentary, that has stayed with me since the episode aired. It makes me wonder whether House’s decision to try the methadone was (at least in part) fueled by his desire to have a relationship with Cuddy. But ultimately House tells her (or warns her) that he is who he is, and she will have to accept that if she wants explore anything deeper with him. Because the cost of changing, for him, is too great.”

    The entire remainder of the essay, commentary, review, whatever you want to call it is about House, pain, methadone and the patient. Not about relationships at all. And even in this final paragraph I refer to something that is part of the narrative, since, yes, they are considering and struggling with whether they want to have one.

    It’s part of the storyline and may (or may not, depending on your interpretation) have had an impact (in whatever small way) on his decision.

    Reviews are opinion. Two people can see the same film, read the same book and come up with completely different interpretations. Why is my interpretation less legitimate?

    Also–to set the record straight, FOX has only linked to my essays and more general feature articles about the series,not my weekly commentaries.

  • Manu

    I strongly disagree with the idea that House’s use of methadone had anything to do with his feelings for Cuddy. It was a personal decision based on his ongoing desire to feel less pain – in my humble opinion, of course.

    Also, the fact that anyone can say that Cuddy wishes she could change House or loves him for what she wishes he could be is beyond me. She loves him for who he is and that is – in my opinion – exactly what is the most frustrating and confusing aspects of her feelings for him. She said it herself “House doesn’t do happy; pain or no pain” and when she acknowledged in ‘The Greater Good’ that as annoying as it is, it IS who he is. Cuddy knows him well, as Wilson does. They love him and accept him for who he is, but both of them wish to see a pain free House find his way to happiness. That’s the beauty of it to me.

  • ns

    @ Manu. Mmmmmmm….yes and no. If Cuddy and Wilson truly loved House just for who he is and simply wanted to see a pain free and happy House, then they wouldn’t have spent many episodes trying to force him off the Vicodin, calling him an addict and rejecting his standpoint that the vicodin takes away his pain and allows him to do his job. I don’t see Cuddy and Wilson in an all out quest to find a way to bring happiness and a pain-free existence to House. I haven’t seen an episode yet devoted to Cuddy and Wilson trying to solve House’s plight. I just see them freaking out at all the different methods he chooses to implement in his personal quest for a pain-free and happy existence because they are concerned for his welfare and for the lengths he will go to.
    Do Cuddy and Wilson love House? YES. Do they love him and accept him just as he is? mmmmm.. I don’t think so. But, to me, there’s a lot of beauty in that too.

  • j.i.m.

    Since Cuddy met House during their university days together, perhaps Cuddy is holding onto her past image of House. Or maybe Cuddy wants what doesn’t exist, a House that wouldn’t be, on occasion, a mentally abusive boyfriend. I think Cuddy feels she would be acting without self-respect, letting herself down, to become involved with House intimately. Thus, her reference to her shame if she ever had sex with him.

    This complex story speaks to each person with a different voice. I am never watching the same show as the next person. That is why I find these comments so interesting.

  • Jaim

    I totally agree, Manu. I think that Cuddy has always seen him for who he is. She wanted him in “Let Them Eat Cake” when he was still a jerk so I don’t understand this argument others are making that she wants the ‘nice’ House. She even played his own game in that episode. I also think it’s weird that people say that her suggestion that they kiss in that episode is her trying to change him. What the heck does that have to do with changing him? She just wants a kiss. He did it before. Also someone had to break from the game at that point. Cuddy knew it had to be her. So, she let herself be the vulnerable one and suggest the kiss. Of course, she would love him to be a bit more tender at times, but his brutal honesty has also been her safe haven during various times in her own life and career(Fetal Position, Who’s Your Daddy?, and Humpty Dumpty illustrate these moments) Yeah, she ‘sees what could be,’ but that’s only natural. She loves him, at the most, as a good friend, and you should always hope for the best for a friend. Those who truly love us should see beyond our misery and bitterness. I also think that he wouldn’t expect her to act any other way. They have been in each other’s lives for over twenty years. I think that she has proven that she is alright with who he is. Many times it has been said that his personality has always been harsh even prior to the infarction.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thanks for a wonderful review (as usual)!

    I don’t usually cross-post comments from one House discussion venue to another, but after reading your words, I simply have to post my comments from the Fox forum in their entirety, so I hope you don’t mind. I promise, promise, promise that the following was posted there last night – before your article was available here at BC, so I wasn’t influenced in any way 😉

    “Like so many other viewers, I thought House’s struggle to control his pain was a fascinating and well-executed storyline. But since other episodes over the seasons have focused on House’s search for relief, I’ve been wondering why it was being revisited yet again just at this point in the season/series. Several viewers have commented that the topic seemed like a natural follow-on from Painless – and I can see that POV. But I can’t get away from the idea that another significant purpose of the plot line was to set House up to deliver its last line: “this is the only ‘me’ you get”.

    I have to preface this by stating categorically that the various ships on the show are not a primary focus for me at all. But for better or worse, House’s relationship with Cuddy has been simmering away on the front burner since the end of S4, and to me – TSS seemed as much a natural follow-on from Unfaithful as from Painless.

    I thought about House’s initial response to Cuddy’s initial invitation to the simchat bat, which precipitated the respective backs-and-forths, i.e., House not wanting/wanting to go, and Cuddy wanting/not wanting/wanting to have him there. I also thought about all the contradictory feelings of distance and closeness that House expressed in Cuddy’s Serenade, without saying a single word. (Hugh Laurie is a genius.)

    Then it occurred to me that in addition to seeking a solution for his pain, the methadone may possibly have been an attempt by House to see whether he could match Cuddy’s current state, which – as was demonstrated at the simchat bat – is (for the time being, anyway) warmer, happier and more family-oriented than we’ve ever seen it. He may have wondered whether the methadone might accomplish two things for him: 1) eliminate his pain, and 2) make him happier because of that, and more in sync with Cuddy’s current wavelength.

    (Many viewers have offered sound interpretation of the symbolism behind House’s shaving, and his dressed-up look. I have one to add to the mix. I think that they’re a sign of his (inevitably unsustainable) wellbeing, which manifests in his caring about his appearance. Some examples: The first time we saw a cleanshaven House was in Three Stories, before his debridement. I’ve always thought that besides making him look younger, it was a sign that he previously cared about what he looked like. (Not that I don’t love the scruff, but there’s no question it’s an “I don’t care” look.) He dressed up very nicely for his date with Cameron – and IMO, before Wilson said “she likes lame” and started him on that train of thought – he was sort of looking forward to it. Then there was the day after Baltimore, in Need to Know (when he was definitely feeing very good) – with his ironed shirt, and his comment to Wilson that he’d thought about shaving, but couldn’t find a razor! And there was the elegant light grey pinstriped suit and pink shirt in Meaning. In TSS, I think that a valid explanation for the shave, suit and tie is that he cared what he looked like as he went out to interview – in defiant pursuit of his right to take methadone and continue to feel well.)

    But his experiment failed, and since he couldn’t continue on the methadone, he had to make his position very clear to Cuddy. He won’t dull his edge, ever. Not for anyone. He won’t try to be someone he isn’t and can’t be. “This is the only ‘me’ you get.” Take it or leave it. But deal with it, because it’s not going to change.

    I think Liz Friedman brilliantly killed two birds with one stone. She wrote a mesmerizing, psychologically complex story of House dealing with his pain and the aftermath of treating it, for those who focus on House’s mind, and the very same lines provided a compelling and believable (IMO) situational development between House and Cuddy, for those who focus on his body. (OK, I didn’t really mean that – I just thought it sounded good and I couldn’t resist. I think it’s great to focus on both :-))”

  • barbara barnett

    Orange–Great minds, eh? Friedman wrote a very complex story, indeed. It was as intertwined as House’s complex feelings, emotions, pain and coping mechanisms. She did a great job on several simultaneous tracks.

    I’m so much loving this season. The march episodes look phenomenally good.

    Hey and if nothing else, this episode has spurred a lot of discussion. 42 comments in 12 hours. Not bad.

  • Kathy

    Monica, I haven’t misunderstood. Barbara’s articles are on this BLOGCRITIC site, not just a Blog site nor just a critic site. In any event, even if Barbara is a acting as just a critic as you are suggesting, a critic is “One who forms and expresses judgements of the merits, faults, value or truth of the matter. “ Judgement means “The capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating”. So even by your slanted view, Barbara is perfectly entitled to take a view of each episode she reviews. It is to her credit that she is gracious in entertaining alternative views, especially constructive criticisms. Even were her reviews totally one-sided as you allege, there’s nothing that says she can’t be. She has no duty to be totally objective, neither does any other critic – professional or otherwise.

    By the way, the definition of critic also includes “One who tends to make harsh or carping judgement, a faultfinder”.

    You may also may have not apprexciated what this BLOGCRITIC site is all about Here’s what it actually says:
    “ is an online magazine covering everything from music, books, film, TV, video, politics, culture, sports, gaming, science, and technology, to celebrity and the internet. We’re interested in original reviews, news, and commentary on any of these subjects, or most anything else interesting and well-written.”

    I for one think Barbara’s reviews meet all these criteria.

    It is to Barbara’s credit that her reviews are widely linked, and not only on the Huddy site as you seem to imply. I have seen it referred to in site; not to mention Fox’s own site.

    The above is just my opinion, no offence intended (why do people keep saying that when they tend to use the phrase in the same way as others who start with “With greatest respect”, then launch into a tirade attacking that very person or their views?)

  • Shaz

    Barbara, you really should have given a more balanced view:

    – you didn’t even mention Cameron or Chase. Oops they weren’t in the episode

    – you could have mentioned Foreteen as they seem to predominate this episode. Ugh may be not

    – you could have given Cuddy the benefit of the doubt, her actions weren’t Cuddy trying to change House – she was doing it because she loves him. Erm, but that would make you liable to greater criticsm that you are way to Huddy-like


  • ns

    and now…back to our regularly scheduled program..please!

  • blacktop

    I think that a crucial element in understanding the motivations of House, Cuddy, and Wilson in this episode is the near-death experienced in the first act. House might easily have died right there in his chair in full view of his occupied fellows. That Wilson and Cuddy arrived in his office to save him was an extremely fortunate accident. This event frightened all three of them and they reacted in the ways that drove the rest of this excellent episode.

    Wilson was deeply scared by House’s near death and he took the rather drastic and duplicitous step of foisting the bourbon test upon his friend to drive home the point that unsupervised drug use, even with the goal of pain relief is extraordinarily dangerous.

    Cuddy’s fear of House dying took a slightly different tack: she offered a shoot-from-the-hip ultimatum that he give up the methadone or quit her hospital. I think that she expected House to reply with a negotiation that would have ended up where they actually did, in a supervised methadone treatment plan. She wasn’t counting on House’s stubborness to carry the argument at that point.

    House himself was shook to the core by the near death. He hired the hooker because he feared dying alone in his bed. I don’t think he was happy about the prospect of seeking another job at a different hospital, but he couldn’t see another way forward that would not compromise his independence and pride.

    Most of all, this episode confirmed that House does not harbor a suicidal streak, he wants to live. He wants to work at the top of his mental abilities, he wants to be without pain, and he would like relief from his profound loneliness. That is why he has been pursuing – in halting fashion to be sure — a relationship with Cuddy for this entire season.

    I think that without the death scare at the beginning the entire experiment with methadone would have proceeded quite differently. Wilson and Cuddy would most likely have agreed with House that this was a reasonable pain management program worth trying under close supervision.

    I don’t think that House tried the methadone FOR Cuddy, he did it for himself. But I do think that he was aware of the possibilities that being pain-free open up for him. The fact that he is willing to turn his back on a chance for a relationship with Cuddy and on being pain -free in order to preserve the extraordinary mental abilities that are his “one thing” is at the heart of his tragic story.

    With his final question to her, House was asking Cuddy if she is able to accept him as he is or does she require that he become a happier person. We don’t know what her answer will be, but their long history and strong mutual understanding suggest that she does not need House to change in order for her to seek a more profound relationship with him.

    Cuddy wants House the way he is — tortured genius with the abrasive, abusive personality and all– but she wants him to live.

  • ns

    @ blacktop, I agree with everything, except now I somehow can’t get the image out of my mind of Cuddy and Wilson dancing around House’s office to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are.”

  • Debbie

    I just want to say that this was perhaps the best episode of the season.

    It totally rocked and I cannot wait to be able to watch it again.

    A few comments I’d like to share:

    -Was it just me, or did House/Hugh look especially gorgeous this episode – before and after the shaving? (Especially in the restaurant and restaurant alley way scenes with Wilson. I thought, dayum, he looks so damned handsome!) There was something about his face throughout the episode that seemed peaceful which allowed his handsomeness to shine through. And that, of course, was because he was out of pain. This is a true testament to how great an actor he is. Meaning, during a normal epsiode when he’s *in* pain, although he’s always sexy, his face exudes pain. (Am I making any sense here?)

    -I wanted to smack the mother upside her head. Who was she trying to protect from being hurt? Her son, or herself? I’m glad 13 was the catalyst for Jackson finding out the truth.

    -I thought the little boy playing Jackson was wonderful.

    -A clinic patient! YES!

    -One thing that disappointed me last night was we didn’t get to see him shave. We *needed* to see him shave. I would’ve paid money to watch him!

    -When he asked Cuddy why does she care if he’s happy, you could just see her busting, wanting to admit to him why. (But I think he already knows.)

    -The funniest line of the night; Wilson to House: You own *two* ties?

    -And the best line of the night; the one that killed me was House to Cuddy: This is the only me you get.

    Like you, Barbara, I cannot get that line out of my head, or the look on his face as he said it.

  • 60 plus


    If I may quote you in your second article on “House in Love”:

    “In the the fourth season episode “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” House is ordered to give performance reviews to his new team. He rebels against that task, but presents to Cuddy his evaluation of her. “You want to have someone jump you and tell you ‘I love you;’ you run away from what you need, you have no idea of what you want. Your accomplishments make you proud; but you are still miserable.” What do we take away from that? What clues? In my humble opinion, House is baring his own feelings to Cuddy; telling her that she needs him, and doesn’t (yet) realize that she wants him.

    What Cuddy does see is the hidden gem that is at the heart of Dr. Gregory House. She sees what might be. As House articulated in season two’s “Humpty Dumpty:” “You see things as they are and how they might be. What you don’t see is the gaping chasm that lies between. If you did, you’d never have hired me…” ”

    It seems to me that, in saying “This is the only ‘me’ you get,” House is just reiterating his earlier observation. And, I believe he is also saying it to himself. He tried to get to where things “might be,” in terms of his release from pain, his being “happy” and his possible relationship with Cuddy. But the chasm of losing his ability to do his job was too much to overcome. So he, too, has to realize that “This is the only ‘me’ [I] get.

  • ns

    @ 60 plus. Hmmmm…brilliant.

  • barbara barnett

    ns–thank you. Back on topic we go!

    Blacktop. You’re right. When House’s lungs gave out, it scared both Wilson and Cuddy and had that not happened, things might have proceeded quite differently. That did set all three off on unanticipated paths; Wilson, who is always on alarm for what he views as House’s not caring whether he lives or dies; Cuddy as someone is his boss as well as someone for whom she cares very deeply. They did act out of love and protectiveness, but they didn’t allow House to make known “his side” of the story. They simply became confrontational with him. That was driven by the fright House gave them both and they were both in panic mode. The assumed, and that caused House to offer his own knee-jerk reaction: his frustration that 1)they always think the worst and most screwed up of him and 2) they know what’s better for his pain than he does. Both are common tropes in the series.

    I don’t believe that Cuddy wants to change House. I do think that part of House believes that he “should” change for whatever relationship he’s in or the relationship will blow up. His “this is the only ‘me’ you get'” was an answer a question he believed Cuddy would be asking herself.

  • Flo

    60 plus, it is an interesting point of view!

    House may try to convince himself too. I don’t know.

    Personnally, in “No More Mr Nice Guy” when he gave Cuddy her evaluation saying “You want to have someone jump you and tell you ‘I love you;’ you run away from what you need, you have no idea of what you want. Your accomplishments make you proud; but you are still miserable.” I immediately thought that he was talking about himself too!

  • Orange450

    Flo – so did I!

  • 60 plus

    I don’t think that it was a matter of House convincing himself that “this was the only me” he’d get. I believe it was more a matter of accepting what he sees as the reality after the methadone experience. IMHO, he had to accept that reality himself before he was able to say it to Cuddy.

  • barbara barnett

    I think that’s a very important point 60-plus. It wasn’t until after he stopped the methadone that he told her. Has he, finally, decided to accept himself?

    Was he also talking about himself in his words to Cuddy? “This is the only me?” He’s now been there, done that with change and radical treatments. I think it will be a long time before he tries something chemical to treat his pain (other than the relatively mild) vicodin.

  • Amie

    LOL Shaz!

    Wow, I quickly read your review, Barbara, before going to work (european time) with just two comments.
    Throughout the day, I was thinking about the episode and of all I could add to the discussion and here I comme back and all theses great comments are here.
    And I’m sure that by the time I’ve written my bit, another 20 posts will have been added! So sorry if I say something that has already been said before…

    Just like many others, thank you, Barbara. I can hardly wait for a new House episode, and then I can hardly wait for your review, and then I keep coming back to read everyone’s thoughtful insight.
    Just sad that some people mistake “commenting and analysing what TPTB show us” for “shipping”…

    Ok, where to begin. So many things said already, so many things to ponder…

    I will first of all respond to those who say “that prooves cuddy is not for him” or that cuddy wants him to be the way she wants him to be. I have to very strongly disagree.
    She has never wanted him to change. She just wants things to be “right” (cf House in Humpty Dumpty – which by the way, is a big connection between the two as House values BEING right). She doesn’t want him to die (so against methadon) then supports his want to be happy (so agrees for the methadon). But she never forced him to try and be happy. Anyway it’s been said that he was a jerk before the injury, and Cuddy says it herself “pain or no pain, he doesn’t do happy”. And she was willing to forego his jerkiness even after the boob-grab, when she goes to his office after seeing the desk. She knows who he is and is willing to go with it.
    But trying to do what is best, she is always dragged by Wilson into his ploys to change him. He’s the one who told her to lie about curing the wheelchair guy in Meaning, the one who says they have to do something about his being nice etc…). Cuddy always ends up trying to see House’s POV and trying to compromise (like when she turns doing clinic duty into games for him). She lets him get away with lots of things.
    I think she is starting to see behind his mask (“or this is all an act” in the greater good)
    As it’s been said before, Wilson and Cuddy are “real” friends. The ones who don’t let a friend do stupid things. I really don’t mind them meddling especially when House meddles so unscrupulously in their lives. (And, anyway, I think he would be upset if they didn’t, cf “Emancipation”).

    Just one random question : when have we ever have heard Cuddy express guilt over her part in his leg injury?

    I agree with Alex that the methadone was not for Cuddy (although it is “collateral damage” ;-)).
    But I am confused because that last line made me think right away of Unfaithful… (even though, she never asked him to change in Unfaithful. She just said something brutely honest like House would do. Up to him to deal with it or not).
    I think the “why do you care” was a rethorical question. It was a way to push her back and be a jerk again. Because , (1) he knows the answer and (2) if ever she had truthfully answered, what would he have said? He was in no mood to be romantic. I think he would have said the same thing. And it would have been hard on her.
    I think HE was the one he was saying that last line to…

    Because, this episode was about duality, yes, but also choice and acceptance.
    Jackson’s parents choose him/her to be a boy. House choose pain. Foreman and Thirteen chooses just one ice-cream flavour 😉
    And then, Jackson’s parents have to accept him as he is, the way Wilson and Cuddy and the all have to accept House the way he is.
    Hence his “you gave birth to a freak of nature but doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to treat him as one” line and his “thank you” to Cuddy when she accepted his choice of taking methadon.
    He wants acceptance and I think that last line was all about that. “This is the only me you get”.
    Accept it or not. But could he be he was talking to himself? And somewhere, couldn’t it be that House is accepting his pain? At least, he has decided to choose pain. I really wonder where that will take him. Will he stop seeking new treatments?

    Oh, and I really laughed out loud at Taub’s Foreman imitation. The “you slept with House” line.

  • Sheila

    To paraphrase what House said to Cuddy in ‘Humpty Dumpty ‘ ” you see what is and what can be; what you don’t see is the giant chasm in between..otherwise you never would have hired me”.
    In the pilot the POTW said while expanding her question to Wilson “does he care about you ?” : “it isn’t what (he) says; it’s what (he) does that counts “.
    Does Cuddy see House as he is ? IMO Yes.
    Does she harbor hopes of better things for him i.e. less depression; pain; isolation . IMO Yes.
    Can she articulate her love for him ? Not so far. Has she showed her love for him ?
    Lets see: hired him & gave him a diagnostic team after he had been fired from four other positions; fought off Vogler & prevented House from being fired at risk to her own position; perjured herself and fabricated evidence in court to prevent him from going to jail;got him into the car with Wilson to heal their friendship (unorthodox of course)…lets see ” How Do I Love Thee: Let Me Count the Ways”.
    I actually don’t care who or if House ends up with any other character. I’m interested in the journey the writers and the very fine actors are taking us all on.
    OK….in my own heart I want House to be happy, which I know won’t happen, but if you love the character how can you not wish, as Cuddy does, for his life to be even a little bit happier ?

  • Amie

    OK, so I was almost right : 12 news posts came while I was writing.

    – “you own two ties??” : LOL yes! that one was great!

    – I usually like clinic duty but this one was so stupid (and a very old joke) that I found it lame.

    -“With his final question to her [why do you care], House was asking Cuddy if she is able to accept him as he is or does she require that he become a happier person.”
    OK forget what I said. This is much better! I love this interpretation!

    I think House was willing to try and change and he realized it failed. He was trying to see if it was ok with Cuddy.
    But still, that last “This is the only me you get” was for him.
    — And I realized some of you had come to the same conclusion as me during those 12 posts 😉

  • Wnkybx

    60 plus, thank you for reminding us of House’s words to Cuddy in “Humpty Dumpty.” I was about to make a similar comment but couldn’t quite place the episode in which he said it.

    I agree with the general sentiment that Cuddy is not actually trying to change House. She is not trying to force spoonfuls of “happiness” down his throat; she understands perfectly well who he is, hence her “House does not do happy, pain or no pain” comment. Her ultimatum was a completely reasonable one. Methadone is a huge deal. Cuddy’s line “If he buys a new pair of shoes, should we let him smoke crack?” illustrates how serious of a drug methadone is. Many doctors will not prescribe it, and there are quite a few patients who claim that they can only find pain relief with Vicodin, methadone, morphine, etc. This is serious stuff, and Wilson and Cuddy were definitely in their right minds to be concerned and to meddle. However, her urging him to take the methadone safely (on her terms) was her act of caring for him, his well-being. Of course you want your friends to feel better. Again, I want to say that House is not defined by his pain. As someone said earlier, House was rough around the edges prior to his infarction, causing Stacy to feel lonely in their relationship. Both Cuddy and Wilson have known House for a long time, and they know that he has never been Mr. Nice Guy. If House’s personality was somewhat unpleasant before the pain, taking away his pain is not going to change that. Therefore, Cuddy’s support of a pain reliever is not a move to change who he is. She sees what might be: House pain-free, not being tortured by his leg, and with the same wit, devilish ego, and interesting personality. Both she and Wilson are great friends for wanting the best for him.

    As for whether House can change, I agree with Nate that he does have that potential. I really do think this episode plants those seeds with the shaving, the kind thank you, and we will have to stay tuned to see if he does change in certain ways. Just like how the main character of any great drama or novel is moved or changed by either internal or external conflict, House can’t possibly remain the exact same man at the end of the series as he was in the pilot. He has gone (and will probably continue to go through) so much.

  • Wnkybx

    Amie, I don’t think we ever really heard Cuddy say, “I feel so guilty about House’s leg!” However, Lisa Edelstein has shown us Cuddy’s sense of guilt through looks (I felt in in “Three Stories” when she came to the lecture hall at the end as well as during the episode when he, in desperation, showed her his infarcted leg), and it has been alluded to during the episode when she gave away House’s parking spot to another employee in a wheelchair. Sorry I keep blanking on episode names. Also, the decision-making process surrounding the leg surgery was questionable in terms of ethics; when ethics are in question, the door to guilt can remain wide open. House, as the patient, explicitly stated his wish not to have anything done to his leg; yet she did not respect that wish as the attending on his case. Although Stacy, as House’s designated medical proxy, had the legal right to consent to the surgery, ethically Cuddy as the doctor was supposed to respect his wish. Doctors cave in these situations to avoid lawsuits that eat up time and money to fight. If I were in Cuddy’s shoes, I would feel incredibly guilty.

  • Maddy

    I personally really like your outlook Barbara! I kept refreshing the page before I went to bed last night to see if the new review was up – the episode always seems so much more complete after reading it! I hope you’ll keep up the great work : )

    Love or hate the new season, Huddy fan or Huddy cynic, it is of credit to the brilliance of the show in general that it can generate so much passionate and intellectual conversation and interpretation. Just saying, all things considered I think it’s a wonderful show, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else on television, and I hope that it continues to be as superb in the future. Seeing how the writers got to this point without listening to other people (a jerk drug addict genius doctor TV show – who could’ve possibly predicted it’d work?), I like to hope that I can still have faith in them. Maybe there’s some great plot twists that will tie everything together that we simply could have never guessed . . .

    To Flo, #24: I completely agree with you! “She knows him for years and she likes/loves him for years. Just as he is. I think she wants him to be happy because she feels he deserves it.” Exactly – I think part of the chemistry between the two characters is their acceptance of each other, despite obvious flaws. (Except for a superficial example in the last episode – see below.) If Cuddy had really wanted to change House, she would’ve realized the pointlessness of that intention by now and fired him!

    I interpreted House’s dialog in the final scene as a response to when Cuddy told him in the last episode that she didn’t want him at the baby naming ceremony because, more or less, “It’s an event full of love and acceptance and the last thing I want is someone there full of loathing and hate.” This was really the first time Cuddy had openly and sincerely communicated that she disliked who House was, and it was obvious by his defeated response that he was hurt by that. It’s a shame though that she couldn’t tell him in the end that she really did want him there, regardless of his snarkiness. Cuddy accepts him despite of herself and all her best rationalizations.

    I think it’s been debated enough about whether House tried to become pain free for Cuddy, which from a moderate view of the show I don’t think is the case. I agree, it was a factor but not the stimulus. His pain has been increasing greatly this season from an already excruciating point, and I just think it became too much. Maybe this physical pain coupled with the emotional pain at the end of Unfaithful just pushed him over the edge.

    Anyway, I felt that, “This is the only me you get” directly responds to her recanting his invitation. Maybe he began to seriously think about what Cuddy’s feelings about him as a person were after what she said; perhaps his frustration and dare I say it disappointment poured out in “Cuddy’s Serenade”. I think House misinterpreted her motives in this regard. In his mind, she was encouraging the methadone because she wanted the new happy House in her life. This is what he was trying to figure out when he asked, “Why do you care if I’m happy?” But Cuddy deflected (of course), and he jumped to this conclusion based on the following logic: she doesn’t want him at the naming ceremony, and thus in her life essentially, because he’s miserable; then she must be taking the opportunity to keep him happy only so he can be in her life.

    What House failed to understand was that Cuddy has been trying to act for his well-being, not her own. We know she cares for him and really did accept him in Unfaithful; maybe he doesn’t know from another failure to communicate. But throughout the episode it seemed like Cuddy made decisions to protect him, not from selfish motives to change him. When the methadone almost killed him, she naturally from a medical perspective can’t let him continue (“I won’t stand by and watch you kill yourself”). But with the help of Wilson and seeing him on the drug, she realized what a positive thing being pain free truly was for House. The benefits outweighed the medical risks so far as what’s best for House. And accordingly, she arranged that he could stay, as long as he took the drugs safely under supervision. So in the end, she didn’t want him to give up the drug because she wouldn’t be happy. She didn’t want him to sacrifice happiness because of his own stubbornness. She could see how drastically his well-being was improved without pain (honestly, House shaved!!), and I think she just didn’t want to see him give that up. She was practically begging him not to do it to himself, after he’d come so far. (The scene tore me apart; she desperate, he misunderstanding her motives, suppressed and complicated passions in their eyes!) Perhaps subtly it reveals how Cuddy simply cares for House.

    Kudos to everyone’s comments! There so insightful – I especially liked blacktop’s, jaim’s, Orange’s and Manu’s – but my own comment is way too long so I’m gonna stop . . .

    p.s. “With his final question to her, House was asking Cuddy if she is able to accept him as he is or does she require that he become a happier person. We don’t know what her answer will be, but their long history and strong mutual understanding suggest that she does not need House to change in order for her to seek a more profound relationship with him.” brilliant : )

  • sdemar

    When I read #2 from Jaim, I swore I wrote it. I feel the exact same way.

    I would also like to add that House makes it difficult for Wilson & Cuddy to truly understand him because he doesn’t talk. While I do understand it is none of their business, they both love and care for him dearly and he is an intregal part of their lives. Perhaps if House was open with them on what he was doing and why, he may have gotten a different reaction. They want what’s best for him.

    And add me to the group that says Cuddy accepts House the way he is. She has known him a long time and she understands that he “doesn’t do happy”. She likes the challenge he offers her and loves his rebel nature. Like me, I am sure she finds that intensely sexy.

  • sdemar

    PS, great review, Barbara, to a fabulous episode.

  • ns

    I wish I had the ability to remember some of the lines word for word as some of the other people here do. But, if I’m not mistaken, at the end of this episode, Cuddy does say to House “You are afraid of change.” This would infer that she is indeed looking for a change to occur, or for him to be willing to change. His response, in essence, “it ain’t gonna happen – especially now.” So I guess now we’ll see where she’s at with that and where he’s going to go from here, if this was, in fact, a last ditch effort, on his part, to free himself from pain.

    If Cuddy decides to love and accept him just the way he is, and to be in love with him just the way he is…and he then decides what the heck and decides to be in love with her, as far as I can see that’s the end of the show. But, Barbara is correct that this is the season of House and Cuddy and that will explored thoroughly, I’m sure, in this season.

    The two of them don’t belong together in a long term relationship. Both great characters, both alone and dealing with their own struggles, both deserve to find happiness – just not with each other.

    I’m for Cuddy and Wilson myself. House hasn’t met his match yet.

    Taub’s impression of Foreman was sooooo funny! More of that for him – please. He’s a great actor and I really like his character.

    Wilson’s, “You have two ties?” Hilarious. Wilson is one of the funniest characters I have seen. Some of his lines are so incredibly funny. He’s a great straight man for House, too. Also, his performance in “Wilson’s Heart” was amazing. Sometimes he gets overlooked for the great actor and character he is. Why doesn’t he get nominated for an award?

    Also, get off Thirteen. She’s a fine actor, a hot lady and I definitely think she offers something to the show.

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks Sdemar. You are so right. In that final scene (yeah, I watched it again) Cuddy begs him to not stop the methadone. “Don’t do this.” She’s not saying it for herself, because I don’t think she wants him to change. But clearly the methadone helped House, eliminated the pain and improved his outlook on life just a little. But House is afraid that if his thinking is blunted (he attributes it to his lack of pain leading to his good mood) he will suffer as a doctor, and given his specialty, could easily kill a patient. He’s unwilling to do that.

    When Cuddy tells him that he’s afraid of change, she may be right, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on with House. He fears losing the only part of himself that he believes matters–his intellect. He jealously guards it;defends it and is proud of it–perhaps the only thing he does pride himself on.

    I just realized that in less than 24 hours, this column has generated 65 comments. Thanks everyone for the awesome discussion. Keep it going–we have more than a week until the next episode!

  • ns

    Ok, but he also says, “Why do you care?” Perfect opportunity for her to say “Uh, because I love you, just the way you are.” So why doesn’t she?

  • barbara barnett

    ah…but ns, Cuddy is just as bottled up as House. I think she might have wanted to say something to that effect, and in a way, House was waiting (with his eyes averted) for her to say something. But she doesn’t. The opening is brief. But she, like House, is as reticent as the heroine of a Victorian novel.

  • ns

    Yes, that is one perspective, and an interesting one. But I think it’s because what she really wanted to say is “because I need you to change so I can justify to myself, loving you.”

  • JL

    I looooove this blog (thanks, Barbara). Everyone’s comments (well, most of them) are so thoughtful and make me think (and laugh).

    I’ve been off having babies, so I’m identifying with Cuddy a lot right now. Her position reminds me of the point at which I was becoming ‘serious’ with my socially outrageous, ‘the world are all idiots’ boyfriend (when it comes to men I find attractive, I’m a creature of habit).

    The refrain, “Don’t know how you can put up with him – I couldn’t stand him!” was one I heard frequently. While I found him very attractive and easily loved the beautiful man behind the facade, I found his behaviour much more concerning when considering our future children.

    It’s one thing to love someone, to care about their happiness and wellbeing, and even to have a friendship with them. It’s quite another to build a life with them or to let them influence your children. Several recent episodes of House have brought this issue into focus for me.

    I think that, since their kiss, House and Cuddy have reached a point of clarity regarding their feelings for each other. Despite their protestations to the contrary, I think that they both know that they care and know that the other cares and know that the other knows…
    (The knowing pause between them as Cuddy openly struggled with her answer to House’s question, “Why do you care if I’m happy?” confirmed this one for me.)

    But, while I believe Cuddy accepts House as he is and loves him for who he could be (oh gosh, how appalling to find oneself paraphrasing Jerry McGuire), she doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with him. Who would? He’s outrageous and embarrassing and cynical and impossible…

    (even if he is darned attractive)

    … and, in my case, I decided that the prospect of a mad, frustrating life with my man ultimately outweighed the thought of one without him. And that I would accept that the man I was marrying wasn’t perfect, probably wouldn’t change much, and that I would choose to love him anyway.

    And I think that, when compared with the person who marries someone they think is ‘perfect’, knowing your partner is flawed and deciding to accept this ultimately makes for a much stronger relationship. Which is why I think that House and Cuddy, if they ultimately decided to embark on a relationship (as opposed to a fling, which doesn’t require thought), could actually be a succcess together.

    (Of course, I realise House is in a league of his own when it comes to ISSUES and outrageousness. Whether he could ever reach the point of being prepared to become involved with another human being is another issue, let alone the difficulties of actually HAVING the relationship…)

  • Orange450

    ns wrote:

    “Wilson’s, “You have two ties?” Hilarious. Wilson is one of the funniest characters I have seen. Some of his lines are so incredibly funny. He’s a great straight man for House, too. Also, his performance in “Wilson’s Heart” was amazing. Sometimes he gets overlooked for the great actor and character he is. Why doesn’t he get nominated for an award?”

    I completely agree! RSL is everything you say and more, and I also wonder why he hasn’t yet been recognized for this role, which so perfectly showcases his talents.

    Before this week’s episode aired, I watched the spoiler clips. The end of the brief exchange between Cuddy and Wilson (in which Cuddy suggests that Wilson try to get back some of the money that House owes him) had me rolling on floor, laughing. It was the way Wilson says “hmmmm” right before he walks out. His timing is absolutely impeccable!

    On another House discussion venue, I commented that RSL can do more with a grunt than most actors can do with pages of scripted dialogue. And I also asked why he hasn’t gotten his Emmy yet? :-)

  • ns

    @orange450 YES! Hugh Laurie is obviously a genius, no question about it. But there isn’t a show that I’ve seen with RSL in it where he didn’t have me laughing out loud. He is such an important part of the show, such an impeccable character. He should be recognized.

  • ns

    AHA! JL, you bring up an excellent point and that is the fact that there is now a child involved!! This, even more so than the other arguments, would certainly indicate that Cuddy is not going to just blindly accept House for who he is without trying to change him if, for no other reason, the fact that she has a child.

  • ns

    And let’s not forget that Cuddy went and adopted the child and brought Wilson with her to look at the crib she had chosen, didn’t even discuss it with House, which he was visibly hurt by. Not a real strong basis of a relationship. She obviously was not planning to include him in that.

  • sherlockjr

    As always, a great review — so well thought out and elegantly written. I haven’t commented before, but I love the way your mind works — you always provide insights that enlighten me and make me think about the show in ways I haven’t before.

    One point I’d like to discuss for a moment. Further up in the comments, you said: I think that House believes his leg affects his ability to have a “normal” relationship with a woman. You didn’t elaborate on what you considered to be a “normal” relationship, but I got to thinking about it.

    We all remember the date with Cameron. House, in essence, rejected her interest in him because he felt she was one of those people who was attracted to him only because he was damaged — she needed him to be damaged, she wouldn’t be interested in him if he weren’t in pain (both emotional and physical) — and she couldn’t see past the damage to the person behind it.

    Perhaps, on some level, he thinks that’s true of most women he’s been interested in since the leg injury, whether we’re talking about how his relationship with Stacy changed, or how Cuddy often treats him as a recalcitrant child — that somehow since his injury, he is perceived first as a damaged person (in pain, or reacting to the physical pain by being cranky) and only after that as who he is/can be apart from what the injury has done to him. The only exception is Cate Milton, the character played by Mira Sorvino in “Frozen.” Remember how stunned he was when she asked him, “Who said you needed fixing?” and how that piqued his interest in her even more? Finally, a woman who could see through all his crap and accept him exactly as he is, warts and all. No wonder he was attracted! Who wants to be seen as only an extension of the worst thing that ever happened to them? And how refreshing to be told that you’re really okay as you are.

    Having said that, I think there are actually women who accept him warts and all, too, and they don’t get mentioned in discussions about the show, probably because House pays for their time — the hookers. We’ve seen two of them this season, and both seem to genuinely like him, even if they are getting paid to be with him. The hooker who helps with the practical joke against Taub and Kutner clearly knows House well and enjoys his company. And then there’s this week’s hooker of the week, who seems quite at ease in House’s home. She’s relaxed, smiling and comfortable.

    Is it possible that he trusts the hookers more than he trusts even his close friends, and perhaps actually opens up a little more with them than he does with others? This week’s hooker was there to make sure he continued to breathe during the night — that’s a pretty major level of trust on House’s part — he’s trusting her with his life. We haven’t seen him interact with these ladies much, but what we have been shown is a House who is a little less guarded than he is around others. And why wouldn’t he be? He has no need to put on any kind of front for them? He’s paying for their time and has no expectations of them, so he can relax and be himself. And they seem to like that person.

    It seems to me that House sees himself (possibly with a little help from moments of criticism by Wilson and Cuddy) as too damaged to deserve a “normal” relationship — that the only kind of relationship he can have that works reasonably well for him is one that he pays for. Which doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t like to have a more “normal” relationship with someone like Cuddy, but that it’s much harder to trust when the rate of exchange is more nebulous.

    I don’t know if I’m actually onto something or if I’m just whistling on the wind, but I do think there’s something going on between House and his hookers that no one has really examined before.

  • j.i.m.

    Maddy wrote, …”which from a moderate view of the show I don’t think is the case. I agree, it was a factor…”

    Is it wise to start labeling your comments as moderate? Then who are the extreme ones? Definitely starting down a prickly path…

  • simplethings

    When looking at the ebb and flow of the House/Cuddy relationship, I think back to the consistency of Cuddy’s support for House. While she may put up her administrator front, she cares deeply for him as a person, and respects him immensely for always having the larger picture of the patient in mind as seen in Vogler arc, Tritter arc, etc.

    I’m surprised by viewers who believe Cuddy just wants House to take a magic pill so he’ll be right for her. She takes him for what he is and always has. Even in this week’s episode, she was at first opposed to the drug (of course because of health reasons), but at the same time, if she had wanted him to change for the bettering of their relationship, she might have been more encouraging of it.

    These last couple of House episodes have utterly wrecked me. I am left with an open mouth, fingers gripping a pillow, and eyes wide open. My heart just breaks for these brilliantly written characters who just keep missing each other!

    The tipping point for me in their relationship was the boob grab in LTEC. There it was. Cuddy put herself out there as much as she could (as she too is as emotionally inept as House can be) and House mistepped majorly, and through his body language and muttering immediately afterwards, we can see he is immediately regretful.

    Lisa Cuddy isn’t the type to not learn from her mistakes. She took that and then mistakingly saw House with another woman, and then she closed up shop, at least in respect to readily admitting her intense feelings for House.

    Last week, I was ready to wring her neck and House’s for not coming clean with each other about the baby naming. His piano piece brilliantly illustrated how much he does want to be in her life and how tortured he is by not being able to be anything but himself and be upfront and there for and with her.

    She doesn’t want to change him. She wants him to accept the idea that it is possible for him to be out of pain, and still an undeniably great person and doctor. It’s him who is choosing himself and his job over being painless because he can’t accept himself as anything more than a brilliant man (which she clearly points out).

    If anything, she sees him as so much more than a genius doctor and pleads with him to give this pain-free lifestyle a try regardless of how it affects their relationship.

    Of course, it wouldn’t be House without him misinterpreting her pleas as her wanting him to change. He wasn’t privy to the Wilson/Cuddy conversation earlier, so all he sees of Cuddy is her pleas to get him to take these happy pills. He is right to be frustrated with her, but neither of them are ready to be forthright with one another.

    It’s going to take another episode like Joy to bring it out in them.

    Thanks to everyone here that enriches my House experience from week to week.

  • ns

    Again I say…
    And let’s not forget that Cuddy went and adopted the child and brought Wilson with her to look at the crib she had chosen, didn’t even discuss it with House, which he was visibly hurt by. Not a real strong basis of a relationship. She obviously was not planning to include him in that.

  • ns

    Sherlock Jr, I kinda like the way you think! That’s a really interesting idea. I didn’t really put much significance on the hooker thing, personally, but in retrospect, it would take quite a large degree of trust to have someone watch you sleep to make sure you don’t stop breathing. That is a task I would most certainly assign to someone I knew I could count on. So, maybe you’re onto something there. Don’t know how significant it is to the writers but, it’s an interesting idea.

  • ns

    The more I think about it, Sherlock, yeah, you’re onto something.

  • Jaim

    ns, I think there were a number of reasons she didn’t initially include him in the adoption.
    1. He had just lost his father and only just got back his friendship with Wilson(She knows how hard big changes are for him and maybe wanted to tell him in her own time)
    2. She was a little afraid he’d mock her( His assertion in “Finding Judas,” that she’d suck as a mother really hurt her. In that epsiode, Wilson comforts her afterward, and I think this incident was a big reason she chose to confide in Wilson this time)
    3. I also think that a part of her still was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think she felt that once she told House, that then the adoption would become that much more real for her. He is her oldest friend afterall, and she always seems to value his opinion above all others. I think she was hoping for the best but out of habit expected the worst would happen. She didn’t want to get her hopes up about this baby, tell him about it,have all this build up, and then lose the baby. Ironically, it happened anyway.
    –However, since this new baby has been in the picture I think she has been trying to include him more, even though she doesn’t always completely know what she wants. I do think the look she gave him when he held Rachel showed quite clearly how much she would like him in her daughter’s life. He is good with kids. He always seems better with them than adults.

  • ns

    Good points, thanks for answering!

  • ns

    But, Jaim, the adoption was after the whole kissing thing happened. So, she must have been at least contemplating a relationship with him, one would think. And, if she was contemplating a relationship with him, then bringing a child into that would be a major issue that I would think she would have wanted to discuss with him, or at least determine if they were going to even have a relationship before she made a final decision of that magnitude.
    I can see your points as to why she wouldn’t have included him, but that would all be based on the premise that she doesn’t plan to have a relationship with him.
    I still see pointing her in the direction of Wilson for a relationship as the best, most natural way to go. But we know she will likely give it a shot with House first.

  • j.i.m.

    I think Shore and Co. have been building a story that is difficult to quantify because it is about human beings who are often illogical, confused, conflicted, passionate, willing to sacrifice for others, dependent, independent, euphoric, anguished, spiteful, generous, etc.

    The blueprint of the story is obvious but the absolute meaning is not because people are never plain to see, even to themselves. We can only chart and conjecture from the perspective of our own lives and, sometimes, agendas. Personally, I prefer a comment with an agenda, even when it doesn’t coincide with mine, then one without. I appreciate the emotional investment whether it dovetails perfectly with my own or not.

  • Meena

    wow, so many thoughtful responses already! I’ll try and do my part…

    I thought this was a great episode – I really liked its subtlety. I didn’t get the impression that House was in a good mood due to the methadone, per se, but that he was just not as bothered or focused to be as miserable or contentious to those around him (which is still huge for House).

    Hugh Laurie’s acting never ceases to amaze me, as he was incredibly convincing of someone doped up on super strong narcotics: he talked with a slight slur, his head slightly nodding back occasionally, his eyelids closing a bit more slowly. I kept thinking of the song “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd: “there is no pain, you are receding…”

    I loved that the POTW’s mosaicism was a red herring, I did not see that coming at all – very clever. I found it interesting that the ‘families’ each thought the worst of the POTW and House due to circumstantial evidence – the poem meaning the kid was suicidal, House’s dulled behavior meaning he was on heroin, both false. And that thinking the worst was somehow the easier conclusion.

    The end scene was remarkably raw. I do admire how confrontational and emotionally up-front House can be sometimes (between the lines of course:) ). In this case, it’s when he asks Cuddy, point-blank, “Why do you care if I’m happy?” The look he gives her while waiting for her to respond – it’s almost like he has lit dynamite and is waiting to see if it will go off or not. It doesn’t, though they both know the answer (and know the other one knows as well).

    I think her exquisite sadness at the end, in profile, when House turns off the lights and leaves her alone in his office, was just heart-breaking.

    Other random observations…

    What’s with House throwing things out lately? In this episode, he threw out his cane, then a medical journal, then his beeper, and finally the methadone. He seems stuck, so ready to change something, and yet not knowing what he should change into. The way he sat in contemplative silence at the end, while holding the red dice – it’s as if he’s not ready to roll them just yet.

    I loved the sartorial dialogue – red ties (House/Foreman), 13’s shoes, House’s nice suit, even the shaved face. It made me wonder about his RTAI jacket – where has that gone? After he wore it on the bus last season, I only remember seeing it this season in Joy and The Itch, both with Cuddy longing.

    Finally, speaking of Cuddy, I loved the prostitute in a Cuddy-esque suit, glad someone else noticed that as well:)

    I guess if you dress the part…

  • ns

    I’ve yet to see a comment lacking emotional investment on this particular site!

  • Amie

    JL (70) — Exactly why I think a long term relationship would work (if they don’t screw up) and why they belong with each other. They know each others, flaws and all (and mostly flaws for that matter). And they still love each other.
    If I may share a bit of my experience, I’ve had two long term relationships in my life : one that didn’t work out because I wanted him to change. One that is still working because I take him how he is and I make a point to never ask him to change. And still, he HAS changed, on his own (for the better). :-)

    Simplethings (77) — You wrote it much better than I have. I completely agree with you.

    ns — wanting to be in a relationship with someone is one thing, wanting to raise a child with him is another. I don’t think Cuddy sees that far ahead. She started the adoption thing before the kiss. I really do think she didn’t want to be mocked by House.

  • whateverthename

    I’m just too annoyed by House’s thinking (or in fact, script writer’s thinking) here. As Cuddy said, just because House is happy doesn’t mean he can’t be a brilliant doctor. They are not relevant AT ALL. If I were the writer, I would make the methadone trial fail rather than have House thinking like this. He did say that living pain-free is more important than the job (which is the only thing that requires him to be brilliant, to be a genius) He didn’t even care to answer Foreman’s calls and that could have led to patient’s death. So why is it so important now that he screwed up by missing a little thing? In the end he was still able to make a right diagnosis immediately after return which means he had not lost his intelligence (may I add that he was in the good mood at that time too!). At the very least, he should be able to realize that he could and should be more careful next time, just like how he forgave 13 in that episode with the cripple and his dog. Finally, the only way I can rationalize his behaviour is to think that he doesn’t want to be happy or people will lose interest in him. Geez.. (But not that I lost my interest in House, he just disappointed me this time.)

    About House’s love life, be it with Cuddy or anyone else, I think it can’t be successful relationship except the woman would jump him first (no, seriously). Take Cameron’s kiss in Season 3 for example. He seemed to be able to accept “actions” better than words. I believe he needs a woman who is so sincere and not shy to admit that she wants him. One who is willing to toss her pride to be equivalent in the relationship away for him. Cameron was almost like that but she pushed him too hard and too soon to make him think about her seriously. And I won’t say it’s Cuddy’s fault that the relationship with her and House didn’t go the way it should have but her characteristic (being a successful business woman/doctor and all) makes her too proud to out-rightly admit her feelings to him, which I think is what he needs. Now that I think of it, Huddy seemed even less likely than Hameron because House wouldn’t give in and Cuddy wouldn’t either, except the writer decided to pull off some event to force them to be honest with themselves. And that probably won’t happen until the series finale.

  • Jaim

    ns, House found out about this first adoption at the end of “Lucky Thirteen,” because he basically followed Wilson to the baby shop. She had to tell him then because he crashed the party, so to speak. She didn’t tell him about wanting to adopt before this, and for all he knew at the time she had given up on babies all together. Also the look on his face when she told him of her plans in the baby shop scene, in my opinion, showed him hurt and shocked that she is doing something this big without him. In my opinion, this moment is when the House opened his eyes to what Cuddy means to him. She doesn’t open her eyes to his significance until he kisses her.
    Also I was trying to explain that her reason for asking Wilson to come to the baby shop, making him her adoption reference, and confiding in him had to do with the list of reasons I stated in my other post.
    I think after she lost baby Joy, and House kissed her that’s when she started to think about exploring a relationship with House. He showed a vulnerability and care for her that he often keeps under wraps. I guess what I ultimately mean was her hiding the first adoption, her losing the baby; were catalysts to him revealing his desire for her as well as her realizing her own desire for him.
    Baby Rachel is pretty much hers(unless creator,David Shore, breaks Cuddy’s heart once more) and now that these feelings have been unearthed between her and House, she does want him more apart of her budding family. She has a little more certainty that he does have romantic feelings toward her, whereas months ago when adopting Joy she was in the dark until he came over that night.Thus, the stakes have changed and he is someone she is thinking of now in a serious way.(i.e. father type figure)

  • barbara barnett

    So I wake up to find more than 20 additional comments here! Cool.

    JL–Thanks for sharing your story and mazal tov on the baby (as House might say–though much more snarkily). Thanks for sharing your story. I think back to what House told Stacy in the end. “We’d be happy for a few months…a few weeks…(as he made an effort to be who he though she would want), but then I’d do something or say something…” and he went on to say that she would eventually look for someone who could provide what he could not. It would lead to a bad break up and a lot of real hurt. And House doesn’t “want to go there again.”

    I think House is not a “fling” sort of person. “Love ’em and leave ’em,” which is part of his problem. I think once he committed to doing anything with a woman (not paid), I think he would become emotionally invested. Look how long it took him to even allow himself closure over Stacy, a woman who robbed him of his normalcy?

    A relationship for House is such an enormous step and he needs to know for himself if it’s even worth trying…even with someone he’s known for as long as Cuddy. He’s testing. Through words: “why do you care if I’m happy?” “This is the only me you get.” and through actions: the desk, going to visit her after she lost Joy (notably, Wilson did not immediately go to her), the “seranade.” Even agreeing to hold the kid and humoring Cuddy in that way. Even the boob grab was a test.

  • Maddy

    j.i.m.: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply in any way that my thoughts were right and everyone else’s were extreme – because I certainly know that’s not true. In fact I’m still in awe at how insightful everyone’s thoughts are. I just sort of meant like looking at the episode middle of the road – like not through Huddy vision and not by a Huddy cynicism. That’s sort of what I meant. Sorry if I offended anyone.

  • barbara barnett

    Sherlockjr–Thank you for your kind words–and for your thoughtful comments (and everyone’s wonderfully articulated comments, for that matter!)

    Yes, that is what I was saying. I think we have a lot of evidence for how House feels regarding the leg being an obstacle with women.

    With Cate, as you said, she stunned him by telling him that he didn’t need fixing, which put him off his guard and allowed him to open up to her (that and thousands of miles between them).

    But you also make a great point about hookers (and , in fact, about strangers in general.) With them he hasn’t got to put up a front and he has no emotional investment in them. I would guess that there is little intimacy involved in their sex. But I’d bet he pays them well (and is probably a pretty good tipper).

    It seems to me that House sees himself (possibly with a little help from moments of criticism by Wilson and Cuddy) as too damaged to deserve a “normal” relationship — that the only kind of relationship he can have that works reasonably well for him is one that he pays for. Which doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t like to have a more “normal” relationship with someone like Cuddy, but that it’s much harder to trust when the rate of exchange is more nebulous.

    I agree with this entirely. I also think he feels less “judged” around strangers and hookers. I do think he would want to have a normal relationship (and a long-term monogamous relationship at that), but at what cost to his already battered self esteem?

    I’d love to see an episode where his patient is a hooker (one he knows). Or is that better in the realm of fanfic?

    #85 ns–you are right there! Passionate comments from all! As long as they don’t include personal attacks on anyone, that’s what this space is for!

  • Kathy

    Much as this season is clearly leading to House and Cuddy exploring a possible relationship, I can’t see this lasting for more than a week or so. Not only are both of them scarred, I believe Cuddy can only be objective (well as objective as she can ever be given it is House) and manage House if she is not even more personally invested in House as she already is. As Cameron said in Unfaithful, anyone else would automatically say no to House as he’s mad. The only person he is capable of listening to and who will temper his madness is Cuddy.

    So the only way I can see the relationship working is if Cuddy stops being his boss. As House has not been able to keep any job for long since his infarction other than with Cuddy as his boss, they are destined to be apart.

    Perhaps if he had kept on methadone, it could have tempered his misery sufficiently enough to hold down a job outside PPTH ….. but that would come at a heavy cost – House being just a good (not brilliant) doctor. It was too high a cost for House.

  • Sheila

    I’m a bit confused by the variety of sites & apologise if this is the inappropriate site for an off-topic question, but here goes : Wilson’s LLB is apparently part of the story line of the March 09th episode ‘The Social; Contract
    ‘. I’ve been waiting 5 Seasons for this storyline and now I hear Wilson turns to Taub and not House for help. Is the LLB storyline a one episode wrap-up by DS or is this perhaps an arc where House & Wilson might actually share something over this big event in Wilson’s life ? Again, my apologies for disrupting the conversational flow on ‘The Softer Side’.

  • 60 plus

    When I watched this episode again, I was struck by the similarity of the last scene with that of the season’s premiere, Dying Changes Everything. In DCE, Wilson turns his back on House and walks down the hall after delivering the double blow of “No, we’re not OK,” stating that they are not friends and doubting that they ever were. (He is able to say this only after accepting this new reality himself.) House, in the foreground, is devastated.

    In Softer Side, House’s role is reversed. He turns his back on Cuddy, turns out the light and walks away from her down the hall. He has confronted her with the question of why she cares about his happiness, and follows up with “This is the only ‘me’ you get.” Again, he had to accept that reality for himself before he could say it to her. And we see a bewildered, stricken Cuddy in the foreground.

  • Kim

    Hi Barbara!

    Thanks for a your review. I haven´t read it yet, because I am having some problems with my ISP. I´m now in a library copying and pasting your article in a document so I can read it at home.

    Also I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your last two reviews, which were well written and all the insights of the other fellows as well.

    Have a nice weekend.

  • barbara barnett

    Sheila–I don’t really have any information about the long-lost brother at all. One of the things I try to do is to keep things pretty spoiler-phobe friendly, so I generally don’t spill any beans (if I had them, which I don’t :)) But no worries about going a bit “off topic” or asking questions.

    60-plus–interesting observation about the parallels between Dying Changes and Softer Side. Something to chew on a bit.

    Hi Kim–Now that’s dedication! I appreciate your kind comments–they feed the soul and motivate the fingers. You also have a nice weekend! And hope your ISP troubles resolve.

  • j.i.m.

    Maddy, thanks for explaining. (-: I like this site too.

  • Kim

    Hi Barbara! your online.

    ‘Sorry, I am going off topic’ but I want to ask you a question about Unfaithful. I was wondering to know if in the last conversation House had with the priest he figured out that Cuddy was not a hypocrite at all.

    As the priest, she was trying to understand how her life can change in a single day (getting a baby in JTTW). Obviously as House said you can have a rational explanation but there are many coincidences. So IMHO y think he understood that the Shimchat bat is her way to thank god for the gift.

    What do you think?

  • barbara barnett

    Kim–I’m ALWAYS online! You can always find me on Twitter under B_Barnett.

    I’m not sure House was so fazed by that with regard to Cuddy. But you never know. Because House doesn’t believe in God–or wants NOT to believe in God–I don’t think he’d necessarily make that connection. But he could have processed it in some way. Interesting point to think about!

  • Kim

    Thanks a lot.

    Good to know your point.

    I let you know if I agree with you or don´t, but I always do. So I just want to run at home and start reading your (beautiful) article.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, Kim’s comment about cutting and pasting your article reminded of a question I’ve been meaning to ask. I don’t see a link to a “printer-friendly” version of an article while still on the BC site. Am I overlooking it somewhere on the page? Often, your article appears on the site either very late at night or early in the morning, and I also have to copy and paste so that I can print it and read offline (including the comments) – otherwise it would be almost another day before I’d get to see it.

    If BC would implement the feature, I would really make good use of it!

  • sherlockjr

    Thanks, Barbara, for taking the time to respond to my thoughts. Very much appreciated.

    One of the things you said really struck me:

    But you also make a great point about hookers (and , in fact, about strangers in general.) With them he hasn’t got to put up a front and he has no emotional investment in them. I would guess that there is little intimacy involved in their sex. But I’d bet he pays them well (and is probably a pretty good tipper).

    From the beginning of the show, it’s been apparent that House is more comfortable dropping his guard with strangers than with people he has more of an emotional investment in — patients, hookers, etc., and even us, the audience, who get to see House alone at home, where he doesn’t have to put up a front at all.

    The only thing I would disagree with is your comment about him not being particularly intimate with the hookers. I’m not sure I agree with that, although there’s evidence for either side of the argument.

    I believe we’ve seen at least four of them since the show started. The first we see only at his door, and he tells her he’d rather she didn’t talk. Obviously, in this case, he’s not looking for intimacy, just physical release.

    The second, I believe (although I may have missed one or two) is the “donkey” girl from the clinic, who is not strictly House’s hooker. But he chooses to spend Christmas Eve watching her (and possibly getting together with her afterward, if eye contact can be interpreted as intent) rather than with his colleagues at the hospital. Again, if one can interpret eye contact, he seems more open and relaxed dealing with her (and, of course, she’s also a patient, so she fits into the other category of stranger he’s comfortable with) than with his so-called friends.

    This season, we’ve seen two more, and these two are far more interesting than the others. The first is the woman who participates in the practical joke on Taub and Kutner. From the script, the body language and the eye contact, she is clearly someone he knows fairly well and is someone he feels comfortable enlisting in his gag, which means he’d have to trust her enough to share his plans with her — not something he does much even with Wilson. Plus they’re close enough for Cuddy to sense something between them just by seeing the two of them together from a distance. The script suggests that they’ve known each other for a while, and that she’s assuming that she will to spend the rest of her allotted time with House once the practical joke has been pulled off.

    Finally, we have this week’s hooker. She’s comfortable enough in his apartment to answer the door for him, and although she does show some interest in Wilson, she’s also relaxed enough to just call out to him that she’ll be back at 10 that night (rather than quietly going back to talk to him privately). In addition, which I mentioned before, he trusts her with his life by hiring her to watch over him as he sleeps. We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re asleep, and in addition to trusting her with his life, he’s entrusting her to see him at his most vulnerable.

    Although he might ask a newbie not to talk during sex, I doubt that he spends all those hours in complete silence with the hookers he knows well enough for a) practical jokes or b) watching him sleep. Just my guess, but I think on some level, he must open up to them at least a little bit.

    The other thing I’ve been meaning to mention is how different he is with Cuddy than he was with Stacy. I could write a whole essay just on that (and I won’t bore you), but if you compare the dialogue, body language and eye contact, it’s very very different. Despite what Stacy did to him, there’s a trust and rapport there that just doesn’t exist (yet) with Cuddy. With Stacy (think of the time spent in the attic watching Steve McQueen or their interactions on the roof or at the airport), he lets down his guard a bit, lets her into his interior life. With Cuddy, so far, he’s always on guard, always wary… she hasn’t earned his trust yet.

    Good grief! I need to get a life and quit interpreting the lives of fictional characters.

  • barbara barnett

    Orange–Thanks for the suggestion. I will take it up with a higher authority (and I don’t mean Andre the Giant)

    Sherlockjr–I’m not saying they wouldn’t have playful and friendly sex–just no emotional investment. I could see a certain camaraderie. Hookers are outside of society like he is (for very different reasons). But he would share a certain outside the circle bond his hookers. It’s all the image I have in my mind. After all–fictional character.

    But I do love your analysis of House’s hookers.

  • Sheila

    To Sherlock Jr. : It’s true what you say about Tracy and House vrs.Cuddy & House. The dialogue between House& Tracy snaps & crackles with intimacy. Tracy is a confident woman with a five year history with House.
    Cuddy & House were blindsided by their attraction when it was ignited by ‘the kiss’. Cuddy has been a friend; colleague; mentor and most significantly a Boss to House. The man with authority issues. Their relationship has been more adversarial by nature of their work relationship. House has always found Cuddy sexually attractive but has used that more as leverage in their day-to-day battles. I often felt House was willing to let the potential relationship with Cuddy drift until he saw anyone else…man or baby…encroach on what he saw as his territory (” she only has thighs for me”) .Cuddy has proven her commitment to House time & time again. Perhaps he’s a little frightened of what being emotionally vulnerable to Cuddy whom mean, although she’s be there for me much more than Stacy. He has tended to objective Cuddy until his emotional walls were breached by ‘the kiss’. Add to that , Cuddy thrives on conflict, and has had to keep her own guard up as a female Administrator and someone who is isolated & lonely herself, and I don’t see too many cozy moments in the attic for these two. But perhaps they can have their moments of solace with each other.

  • sherlockjr

    Sherlockjr–I’m not saying they wouldn’t have playful and friendly sex–just no emotional investment. I could see a certain camaraderie. Hookers are outside of society like he is (for very different reasons). But he would share a certain outside the circle bond his hookers. It’s all the image I have in my mind. After all–fictional character.

    But I do love your analysis of House’s hookers.

    I agree absolutely. And thanks for the love.

  • barbara barnett

    A note to let you all know that I will be interviewing Jennifer Morrison next week. If you have any questions feel free to let me know. It will be a short interview, but I’ll try to include at least a couple of your questions.

  • capetown

    How do we submit questions for your interview with Jennifer Morrison? Do you just want us to post them in the comments section here?
    Thank you.

  • Sheila

    I would love to thank Ms. Morrison for her eloquent defense of Mr.Laurie’s character at the Winter TCA Tour . A Questioner asked Mr. Laurie if he ever “wondered why he was so good at playing a jerk”. It was an ‘attention getting question’ that Mr. Laurie eventually impaled himself on by declaring that he ” must indeed be a jerk” . Ms. Morrison stepped up with an eloquent explanation of the chasm between Mr. Laurie & House’s character, as well as why Mr. Laurie’s personality softened House’s personality. She sounded like a great friend and colleague & I’m sure many fans appreciated her response.This fan certainly did.

  • Bertha S.

    Hmmmm . . . you have been lying about having seen previous seasons before writing this “I’m not sure why Wilson feels the need to meddle into House’s life (when House clearly hates the meddling), but his first reaction is that methadone is bad and he and Cuddy need to stop him from ruining (or ending) his life.” Maybe you missed the S5 episode where House got really annoyed at Wilson because he wouldn’t comment on what he was doing. Or when House his nightmare and ran to Wilson’s place. Wilson and House have still not made up. They’re still struggling.

    You are talking about the same Wilson House wanted joint custody of with Amber or the Wilson House hired a private detective to check out if Wilson was pining for him.

    You’re right House is a grown man – really grown – being almost 50 and all. It would seem that it’s time for him to start acting like a grown-up. Where could work where he nearly kills patients, sexually harasses and demeans his boss, his female team members, intrudes into their personal lives, make racist comments to his staff, and cost the hospital dearly because of his antics?

    Sorry I don’t have any sympathy for House.

    There’s something that happened in this episode that I really don’t understand. Cuddy refused to allow House to work at the hospital on methadone but she’s okay with having a drug addict work at the hospital. What kind of craziness is that?

  • Louise

    Barbara, I think you are right on target about Cuddy and Wilson’s loving but sometimes misguided efforts. One great things the writer’s do is let us (the viewers) see the private pain. That makes us feel we understand House better than his friends do. One reason we are all so connected to this character–we think we understand (and could help?) him more than his friends can. Very good writing!

    In this episode, I thought the pivotal line was, “Why do you care if I’m happy?” House was challenging Cuddy, and she was the the one who bailed first. She broke eye contact. She deflected. If she had accepted the challenge and told him how why, then his intellect and the job would NOT have been all he had. The cost/benefit of the methadone equations would have shifted. I adore both these characters and both are emotional cowards.

    Absolutely a great episode. One of my favorites!

    BTW, I do not think you favor one relationship over another. This is just where the narrative of the series is right now. Your reviews are great!

  • Alice

    Barbara, this is great news that you’re finally interviewing the lovely Jennifer Morrison. Could it be posible if the interview didn’t mention Cuddy or Huddy, please? If it’s going to be a short interview it’d be nice if we get to know more about Cameron role on House. Thanks

  • barbara barnett

    capetown–put them here. or email them through my personal site (link at the top of the page under my byline.

    Bertha–my comment about the meddling didn’t only refer to this episode. Wilson has been meddling, manipulating and making a priori assumptions about House since the pilot (sure you’ve seen all five seasons?).

    Sheila–I’m really looking forward to interviewing her. She seems genuine and nice (of course–she’s from the midwest!)

    Louise-thanks.Yes, I think that’s the difference and why we (or at least I) sometimes get unduly frustrated with Wilson and Cuddy (who after all both love House each in their own way). We see how he suffers. If he let his colleagues see the extent of his physical and emotional pain, they would be shocked at how bad it is.

    And gee, Alice, didn’t you know? My entire intention was to interview Jennifer about the “Huddy scoop.” (sarcasm intended, in case you weren’t aware.)

    But just for you, since you asked so politely,and because on my own I never would have thought to ask her questions about her role on House, her new movie, etc…(more snark intended), I’ll try to get in a question or two that isn’t about Cuddy.

  • Wnkybx

    Barbara, I am excited that you’re interviewing Jennifer Morrison! It is very kind of you to be open to our questions. At the risk of being chased around by virtual pitchforks on this forum … [taking a deep breath before the plunge] … I would like to know how J.M. perceives Cameron’s relationships to the other women working at PPTH. She and Cuddy seemed to start off on less friendly terms, being almost adversarial at times; now they appear to be forming a friendship, thanks to baby Rachel serving as a catalyst. Cameron certainly does not appear to respect 13 as a doctor, much less as a member of House’s team. Does J.M. think the three female characters are threatened by each other professionally, personally (in terms of being territorial of House)? Does she think these dynamics are just more of a product of the working environment House creates? Why can’t the women just get along?


  • Vittoria

    Hi Barbara,
    asking for JM questions trough fans is a brilliant idea!!!

    I’d like to know…

    1) Would Cam be in the ER also in season 6 or could you tell us that she will change her role at the hospital? what does the last Season 5 episodes have in store for her?

    2) Do you think that House feels something for Cameron altought he spents most of the time with Cuddy?

    3) What you think about the future of Cameron and Chase as a couple? Do they really move forward or they will failed because they are so different from one another?


  • Naika

    My question for Jennifer Morrison is this: since you’ve had a lot less screentime on House were you able to get involved in other projects? We know about Star Trek, anything else interesting on your plate? Your fans would love to see more of you.

  • Jan

    Barbara, there is no need to be rude to Alice. Anyone who reads your analysis of the show knows you’re interested in the House/Cuddy relationship and not Cameron. In the House in Love pieces, you spent one page dismissing Cameron, who was the main ship for House for the first two seasons, and more than 7 pages on Cuddy including the set-up for the Cameron and Stacy parts.

    Even this announcement you buried the information that you’re interviewing Jennifer Morrison in comment #106 of a review that is all about House and Cuddy and that Cameron fans would have stopped following after the first few comments.

    If you’re offended that readers perceive you to be biased about the show, the remedy is in your own hands.

  • barbara barnett

    Jan at the risk of getting to “meta” here, I announced the interview because I literally just arranged it last night. and I thought my readers might like the opportunity to suggests questions. Given the complexities of writing for an internet magazine, I decided to put the request for questions here and in several other places, inlcuding twitter. I’m sorry if I offended you by putting it at the 106th comment to this active discussion.

    I’m never offended by any of my readers, I’m disappointed that a couple of them have chosen to attack me for opening this forum to questions. I’ll know better next time.

    At this point, I’m closing that opportunity in this space. You can reach me privately if you have any other questions. I regret doing this, but I will not allow this occasion to be turned into an opportunity for personal attacks on me or any of my readers.

    I want to thank the many readers who have asked excellent and thoughtful questions.

  • Chrisden


    Hear hear Barbara and the majority of others who have made some excellent comments. There’s too many (that i’ve enjoyed reading)to add personal user names to :)

    Usually being more of a silent observer than a commenter there’s just some small observations i’d like to add(though they may have already been commented on seen as i havn’t had time to read the last 30 posts or so ;).

    Not in a long time has an end scene (or any scene for that matter)on House touched me as this one has, it was emotionlly heartbreaking.

    BACK ON TRACK (i’ve started rambling now)

    THE DICE: House is seen deep in thought fiddling with dice as the scene opens(never seen him with dice before it’s usually his play balls when he’s thinking – I’m not positive he may have in the past and i’ve not noticed).
    Does the fact that he’s playing with dice symbolise that he’s now willing to take a gamble/chance of opening up to Cuddy about his feelings and to pusue a realtionship with her(or am i looking too far into it??).

    THE CANE: His new cane is kept completely out of shot until he throws the methadone in the bin and it’s revealed leaning against the filing cabinet where Cuddy would’nt be able to see it (House usually always has his cane – when he’s using it- by his side).
    Does this mean he didn’t want her to see that he needed it again (as he had already come off the methadone) beacuse he actually wanted to explain to her his reasons for doing so, hoping she would understand?
    In the past he would not have gone to so much trouble to do so, he would have told her point blank in his usual extremely sarcastic and witty way that his descision is his own right FINISHED. Cuddy would have been left frustrated but accepting.

    TURNING OFF THE LIGHTS – Is the turning off the lights a way(after he has said “this is the only ME you get”) of explaining that he gives in and the balls in her court now, if she wants to make a move and accept him for who he is then that’s the only way she’ll make him open up again??

    I believe (this is only MY opinion) that House has indeed accepted himself and that he wants to pursue a relationship with Cuddy. I agree totally with Barbara’s comments that during this courtship dance he has been testing all the way to try and figure out if/how a relationship between them could/would possibly work but i guess their cycles arn’t matched up yet;).

    I also believe that Cuddy deeply hurt him in ‘Unfaithful’ when she made the comment about not wanting him to go because he was “full of self loathing and contempt”. When he replies with “okay”, he clenches his teeth afterwards and inhales only letting it out when she she asks if he’s really not coming.
    Though i don’t believe he started the methadone for her (knowing it would alleviate his pain) i do believe he took a hard look at himself to understand others perceptions of him and felt that he needed to sort his pain problem out to be accepted.

    With regards to House and Cuddy knowing each other for many years. It has been stated that indeed they have but not (other than a one night) in this capacity.

    All the above are only MY own opinions of what I have observed.

    I’m not usually a commenter at all as i’ve stated above, i’m more an observer of this blog but i must add that i feel like i’ve had to walk on egg shells to even make my comments as some people are just plain nasty.

    BARBARA! you write an excellent review of every episode PLEASE don’t let the minority of negative commenters upset you and continue with what you do brilliantly.

  • carolyn

    Chrisden: I really like your point about the dice symbolizing House not willing to take a chance on Cuddy . . . not sure if the writers intended it, but it fits! Though if they did intend it, I hope they were meaning it more to symbolized House’s debate about whether to take a chance on Cuddy; I hope he hasn’t decided to opposite.

    Just one small comment, because everyone has said my thoughts so perfectly so there’s no need to be redundant : ) The rerun of House on my local channel today was No Reason, in which he realizes that his medical brilliance was not worth the emotional and physical sacrifices, and he subsequently asks for the ketamine treatment (to cure his leg). Softer Side marked the opposite realization: House has decided his medical brilliance, “his thing” as Barbara put it, is the most valuable thing in his life. Another example of great writing!

  • Jill Goucher

    Hi! My name is Jill Goucher and I think it’s safe to say that I’m Jennifer Morrison’s BIGGEST BIGGEST BIGGEST fan!
    hehe here’s a question I think you should ask her since so many young people want to get into acting

    “What advice can you give to inspiring actors?”

    thanks!! xox Jill Goucher

  • barbara barnett

    hi chrisden–Your comments are always welcome! Nice observations about the dice and the cane. You could be right.

    You certainly don’t have to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, by the way. I think you will find comment contributors mostly pretty good folks, courteous and have great excellent observations to share (agree or not with the substance.) I think most people try to be respectful to everyone else,and that’s why this space does tend to work fairly well.

    Thanks for your kind comments. There are so few negative/nasty comments that it really doesn’t bother me at all when pretty much everyone else (whether they agree or disagree with me) is respectful (not just to me, but to fellow commenters).

    Carolyn–No reason is a fantastic counterpoint episode to “the softer side.”

    Jill–got it. Good question. Again I probably have a pretty short time with her, and lots of questions (my own and all of the many thoughtful contributions sent to me) so no promises, but I will try.

  • Andree


    I must say that I was astonished watching how the tone suddenly started to rise with these personal attacks and so. If there is something on this site I always admired then it was the respectful tone of the comments, even if people disagreed with your comments.

    Don’t let a couple of people get you down, there is still the large majority of us readers who appreciate what you are writing, even if they are not Huddy or Cuddy fans or even if they have a different opinion of the meaning of a certain scene.

    For those who don’t like what you are writing, well, there are other sites they can join.

    And I am sure that I speak for all the others here, please continue like this, Barbara, it is always a pleasure to read your articles.

    Have a nice Sunday


  • marie

    QUOTE .. It makes me wonder whether House’s decision to try the methadone was (at least in part) fueled by his desire to have a relationship with Cuddy. But ultimately House tells her (or warns her) that he is who he is, and she will have to accept that if she wants explore anything deeper with him. Because the cost of changing, for him, is too great. UNQUOTE

    Wonderful review as usual Barbara,the above comment is my Favourite and most exciting one because that is exactly how I read it , ((and what a fantastic scene )) I couldnt breathe watching that and I am not on Methedone ha ha , House has in my opinion always believed himself unworthy of a real relationship because of his limp and pain which causes his gruff attitude ,( that was why he left the love of his life in the first place , ) he always seems to want to improve his physical ability by getting rid of .. or at least lessening his pain when he is even thinking of a relationship, the end of season 1 he tried to walk without cane when he knew Stacey was back at PPTH,and that comment above is another example of that , I too think that he was trying to change and improve his demeanour and attitude as well as his physical ability so as to be more acceptable (in his mind ) to a relationship with Cuddy especially as he Knows she now has baby Rachel to consider , and he is a very astute guy , he knows exactly what Cuddy wants from him , I think he was trying to put himself in a better position (in his opinion ) to provide it .
    I loved this episode apart from 13 and Foreteen again , I must admit I fast foreward all thier scenes and at the moment I am only watching about 20 mins of every episode because the rest is 13 and Foreman which I find very boring and in no way connected to the rest of the episode, but the rest of the cast were superb in this episode, House/Cuddy scenes were fantastic as was the scene at the restaurant with Wilson.
    That last scene was awesome, when he asked why she cared if he was happy or not I was willing her to tell him, but he already ‘knows ‘the answer and that is why he made the final statement, as good as saying ‘ you get what you see’ I cant be anything else .
    thank you again for your excellent review xx

  • barbara barnett

    Hi Andree–thank you for your kind words and support. I think actually there were only two or three rather nasty comments in this whole thread (of 123), so I can’t complain too much! I appreciate the intelligence of the commenters and the thoughtfulness of the vast majority of comments on this blog.

    marie–I agree with you on the two scenes you mention. I, too was holding my breath. How heartbreaking was that final scene. Yow.

  • Tyson

    Barbara, i always come to this site unfairly late, and by the time i read about 20 reader replies and am ready to add, i scroll down to see another 50+ already speaking my mind! I don’t visit any other House sites or blogs or any television critic sites, I found yours very early (early as in once you started reviewing on a weekly basis i was clicking the bookmark) and i have never found the need to visit a similar or radically different site for that fact! (the gushing continues haha) Thank you for taking the time to write and to also reply to the numerous topics brought up by also very smart and astute readers :)

    My thoughts on House this season are simple – I think it is straight focused (i honestly am bamboozled if anyone thinks the MAIN plot thread is NOT about Huddy), the wit has returned in forms not always relating to a teenage House focusing on sex, and the patients this season are interesting, many even thought provoking.

    Personally, i didn’t see House taking the Methadone for Cuddy in this latest episode, I just figured he was doing it for his own benefit. In reflection i can totally understand those who say it was for Cuddy, and I won’t fight it, but there’s no doubt that the final line was House taking another step towards initiating a relationship with Cuddy by preparing her to realize she needs to accept who he is for anything to work between them. Whether that epiphany came AFTER he realized the mistake he made with the Methadone, or whether he took the Methadone for that chance with Cuddy, i don’t know, but it was another moment for House to take a step in a POSITIVE direction. I feel no matter how you look at what he says, it was spoken for positive reasons. House is maturing. Wilson and Cuddy are maturing. The undertones for all characters this season have been about moving forward with their lives, dealing with their ailments and new found joys, and I look forward to more of House’s cane addled steps to find the perfect medium for both his necessary intellect and his desire for the woman who I believe is his match.

    Thanks again for your reviews :) I know i didn’t add anything thought provoking, but it was time i said something.

    ps. I have a question for Jennifer Morrison! With a cast of stunningly beautiful women, how does it feel to be the Belle of the ball? (she’s mesmerizing in my eyes haha)

  • Debbie

    Barbara, I feel it’s those who commit themselves to one ship are the ones who miss out the essence of the entire show. Even the ones who dismiss the scenes with other (secondary) characters do themselves a disservice.

    I realize that you are focusing on Cuddy at the moment because that’s what the writers are doing. And regarding your pieces regarding House and Love. You wrote more about Cuddy/House because obviously, there is more material between these two than any other possible ship. I just don’t see why some other people don’t realize it as well.

    On an entirely different note, I noticed in this episode that it was the second mention of the suicidal poet, Sylvia Plath. (Jackson’s English assignment was to write something in the style of Sylvia Plath.) I knew she was mentioned before but couldn’t remember in which episode, but it was on USA Network last night. It was the premiere of Season 4, called Alone.

    I wonder who from the show is a fan.

  • Cath

    sorry for not being as eloquent as most of the people here…just wanna say thanks once again for such an insightful review!

  • Shaz

    If it is not too late, it would be good to have JM’s view of how Cameron seems to have matured this season. She has moved from being a naive, sometimes irritatingly puppy-eyed love struck teeanger with House, to someone running her own section and providing sound advice to Foreman etc. She clearly was trusted by Cuddy to help take over some of Cuddy’s task and mature enough to realise she could not say no to House and voluntarily stepped down as a result. I like this Cameron.

    As for the personal attacks, ignore them – there will always be some people who are resentful of the success of others/canot accept people who have different views to them. Your reviews are great!

  • Donna

    Hi Barbara-
    I am in complete agreement with Andree (#122)
    Love to read your reviews and insights as well as the reviews and thoughts of the reader’s who contribute to the discussions on House whatever their take is. One can always disagree respectfully!
    Keep doing what you do here.

  • Suzanne

    Until this point, I have only ever commented once before. I can’t remember why, but it was a good reason. I tend to just read, and silently judge – in a good way. The comments on here are generally great and really, I can’t say I have much more to add than the brilliant posts above. Kudos to you Barbara, for facilitating such an elevated discussion. Who knew it was possible, when, we’re all really talking about TV – smart TV, yes – but TV after all.

    Anyway, following a tough night of insomnia and a few House episodes saved on DVR, I have come to one very clear conclusion on House and Cuddy – this dance they’re doing is really appealing and great to watch, but he’s not playing. Someone mentioned this at some point, hundreds of posts ago, I’m sure, but he’s being completely honest and straight forward. Have we ever seen a House that isn’t trying to screw with someone? There’s no game for him, between Unfaithful and The Softer Side, he is being (what I can only imagine to be) himself. Truthful answers and doing what he thinks his friends want. Cuddy’s playing games (tricking him into NOT going to the baby naming), Wilson’s playing games (a shot as a drug test), but he isn’t. It’s amazing…and I think will be great to watch the rest of this season. No games, who knew it was possible.

    Anyway, the comments are all great and I love to see the little nits that people find (the cane and the dice? great calls!). Oh, and whoever mentioned the comfort thing (the way he and Stacy were really comfortable and he and Cuddy aren’t), go back to the scene right before we cut to his serenade in Unfaithful – he knows her sister and their relationship? He knows she wouldn’t necessarily want her there? It seemed pretty comfortable to me, well, until it got awkward.

    I apologize if I shouldn’t have carried that episode into a discussion of this one, but I can’t help it, they really tie together well.

    Anyway, yes, great comments, great discussions, and no House episode is complete until I’ve come here and read about what others thought.

    Thanks, Barbara, and thanks to all!

  • Flo

    Don’t apologize suzanne every opinion is welcome.

    Yes House reference to Cuddy’s sister is interesting and show that Cuddy and House know each other for a long time and very well.

    They also show comfort at the end of “Act Your Age” (I hope I’m not mistaken) when they discuss relationships (the guy with two kids who was dating a younger woman) and also in “Half-Wit” in Cuddy’s House. Oh and of course the injections in season 2.

    Yes in the last two episodes House wasn’t playing any games.

    also agree with everyone on the negative comments. I always thought it was obvious that Babara wouldn’t ask J. Morrison about Huddy.
    Those who are not happy about her reviews can just stop reading them instead of being nasty.

  • barbara barnett

    Crazy day yesterday, so couldn’t pop in to respond to comments. JM interview is set for early this afternoon, and am looking forward to it. Thanks again for your wonderful (and greatly appreciated support).

    Suzanne–Yep. I think House is not playing games with Cuddy since Unfaithful (actually he didn’t play games in Unfaithful except the snark at the beginning.) In a sense that’s a letting down of his guard for her. If you read it that way, he is leaving himself open for being hurt–and that’s a big step. I think at the end of Unfaithful if Cuddy had asked him, he would have gone. I think that’s why he paused for small talk (something he hates) and the awkward just standing there with her. When she didn’t, he told her “have fun” and left.

    In Softer Side, again, no games. He just didn’t tell them (and why would he, knowing that they would judge him–which they did anyway).

  • j.i.m.

    A week after “The Softer Side”, it still resonates; add to that, wonderful echos from “Unfaithful”. The pain-free House was like a little miracle. His life turned around in ways he can’t negate. Now he has choices.

    I strongly second Suzanne’s idea that these last two episodes were a double hitter in impact for House. I also like the several posts which dealt with the notion that the writers are heading towards a two-pronged goal from a double source of inclination and inspiration in House’s life.

    There is an inclination that House maintains his “lone ranger” status and one that inspires him to find solace, comfort, and love, even if only temporarily so. Wilson urged him to explore love if the opportunity presented itself, remembering Amber.(“Itch”) This reminds me of the Paul Newman Tribute at the Oscars. Newman said in a film, “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who have found pleasure in love and those who have not.” Both House and Wilson have found pleasure in love with Stacy and Amber. And Cuddy has her daughter.

    The most important development in a long time is the pain-free existence now available to House at any time through methadone. And since methadone works, why not something else as well, yet unknown? Before, House’s reality was bleak. He was in prison under a life sentence of pain without parole and a guarantee of an early death, 10-12 years, with a much earlier loss of function.(similar to 13) This inevitable time of loss of function would be House’s focus as the end of a viable life. (“Painless”)

    Now, House is out of pain prison and his horizon has opened up to include the world any time he wishes. His new abode resembles a half-way house where he has his own set of keys. His work fulfills him but he enjoys the choice to plan a vacation with pleasurable anticipation and a methadone schedule.

    Half of House’s load has been lifted. He has been freed and given the keys to his future. Now, what will he (the writers) do in a season with a theme of “Do Something”? I am curious to see how the great Hugh Laurie interprets his character’s broadened reality.

  • barbara barnett

    j.i.m.–what a fascinating take on this arc. You may be right. And at least House KNOWS this pain treatment actually works (when he needn’t think). Maybe when the pain gets really bad (and likewise impairs his ability to function)he now has something to fall back on!

  • Meena

    j.i.m., very interesting point!

    A corollary of your thinking might be that now, in a way, House has chosen pain for the first time – a huge step in the growth of this character I feel.

    From the start, House has had a lack of choices leading to his life of chonic pain. His infarction was not a choice, Stacy’s decision/betrayal to remove the dead muscle was the opposite of his choice, etc. – ever since, he has suffered with chronic, intolerable, increasing, and unyielding pain throughout the series, with little hope for improvement.

    Sure, when given the chance, he has chosen to ameliorate that pain – even at the potential expense of some of his intellect, with the ketamine treatment in the No Reason/Meaning episodes. He was able to live pain-free (and pain-management-regimen free) for a small window of time, and seemed to really enjoy the increasing choices his new situation offered. But again, many of those choices were stripped away from him when the pain returned.

    He has also chosen sometimes unethical means to alleviate or remove his pain – the episodes Insensitive and Half-Wit come to mind, though I know there are others. He may not have been successful, but no one can accuse him of being passive about at least trying to widen his options.

    However, in The Softer Side, House has, for the first time that I can recall, chosen pain over a known cure. The opportunity cost of taking methadone could not outweigh the chronic leg pain he feels, which means that something must matter to him more than not being in pain. And by ‘choosing’ pain, and understanding that his pain is a choice (and not a reality), it can’t ‘own’ him in the same way as before.

    By the way, I went from never commenting on blogs last week to now having something to say here twice this week…you all have converted me:)

  • Flo

    “By the way, I went from never commenting on blogs last week to now having something to say here twice this week…you all have converted me:)”

    It’s a drug!!!! LOL

    On a serious note I totally agree with you. He chooses pain.
    There is no proof that the methadone would have indeed reduced his ability to do his job and would have take away his genius. This case was absolutely not conclusive to say that the methadone really made him weak.

    Knowing that the meth treatment makes him nicer he just could have be more careful to his medical decisions in the future. He has people who can help him with that and with time, once his is used to be ‘nice’, who knows?
    Cuddy said in season two “Humpty Dumpty” that he was already a legend in College. We don’t know if she was talking about the fact that he already was known as a jerk or if it’s a reference to his “gift” (maybe both).
    Suppose it’s a reference to the second one, that means that methadone would not have interfere with his capability to be a great doctor, a genius.

    Okay I know at’s all suppositions but like Meena I also think that it’s interesting to see that for the first time he chose pain. Even choosing this without really knowing if that’s gonna make him a less good doctor.

    On the other hand I agree with j.i.m. that to have the certainty that a drug actually works, opens a good, positive perspective to him.

  • Kate

    I know this isn’t the right place to ask, but… I saw on House of Whining that you might be interviewing Jennifer Morrison, if you haven’t already. I’m not a member of the board. Any other way to reach you with questions? Thanks!

  • JL

    (I know everyone’s now concentrating on the Jennifer Morrison interview but…)

    I was pondering this idea that House has, for the first time, chosen pain-and-brilliance over comfort-without-brilliance. I’m intrigued to see how his seeming acceptance of his situation might finally allow him to deal with life more successfully.

    It struck me that in my previous comment (#69), this is similar to what I was describing in terms of ‘choosing’ a relationship, accepting your partner’s flaws.

    I have been saying for ages that, while I believe Cuddy loves House, she doesn’t want a relationship with him. She’s still holding out for Prince Charming who will whisk her away to a white picket fence happily-ever-after. And she’s miserable because he hasn’t turned up yet.

    I’ve pondered whether anything could ever lead her to actually want a relationship with House, given how dreadful he is.

    I could really envisage a parallel situation unfolding (over a series or 2, not just an episode), in which Cuddy finally has a relationship with Methadone Man (ahem), who has good manners and is generally nice…

    … and that getting what’s she’s always wanted is what ultimately could make her realise that a not-painful-but-no-spark relationship may not be what she *really* wants after all. She may actually need a painful-but-brilliant relationship with House, which can only work when you actually choose it for yourself.

    Having seen House in a romantic relationship with someone other than Cuddy, I would really like the balance of seeing Cuddy in a relationship with someone other than House.

    I also like the idea of seeing House’s reaction to Cuddy dating Methadone Man. Rather than reprising the House-Stacy-Mark storyline, in which House fought for Stacy until she chose him, at which point he decided that she was better off with the nice guy, I could see House fighting, then accepting Cuddy wanting a pain-free relationship – and Cuddy then choosing pain-with-House after all.

    (Anyway, I found it interesting to play out the parallels in my head, as ‘life beyond Series 5’…)

  • j.i.m.

    JL, Congratulations to you and your family on being blessed with a beautiful newborn baby.

    Your entire post was brilliant. House and Cuddy are such intellects but in their private lives they seem to be able to learn only by doing, like most of us. Thus, I would also welcome a serious relationship for Cuddy so she can comparison shop. Plus, it would be more realistic given the facts; she is attractive, aggressive and she likes sex.

  • JL

    (Thanks for the nice wishes, j.i.m. and Barbara!)

  • LadyDyna

    Barbara–as usual, I LOVED your review & analysis (the Softer Side). I also love all the wonderful, insightful comments. Everyone seems to have loved Softer Side, but I felt like this episode was a bit of a cheat. Can House change? Grow? Begin to find a little pain relief, personal peace & happiness? This episode, as so many others in Season 5, says ‘NO!’

    I watched this episode with a jaundiced eye. I KNEW House wouldn’t be truly delivered from his pain; I KNEW he’d pick his ‘One Thing’ even over painlessness.

    The scene where he rejects the methadone didn’t have the feel of a Big ULTIMATE CHOICE moment. To me, it simply didn’t have the drama of say, the rooftop scene where Wilson confronts House about giving up Stacy, which was immensely powerful & heartbreaking. Was it a moment of acceptance? I didn’t get that feeling. House lives with two big paradoxes: 1) “Either I live with torturous pain or I can’t Be All I Can Be–Sucks to Be Me.’ 2)’If I give some of me away by letting somebody get close, there will be nothing left of me for me to love.’ ‘This is the only me you get’—felt like a bitter affirmation of both these paradoxes.

    Traditionally, when we get tragic characters like this, say, in Shakespeare, they end up dead after 5 acts because there’s just nothing else you can do with them—they can’t change or grow; their tragic flaw destroys them. House is a tragic character. I don’t think death is the plan for the end of Season 5 (Hugh Laurie recently signed a new 5 yr-multi-million $$ ‘House’contract), but House’s existence is pretty ‘dead-end.’ Despite a lot of ‘thinking about’ maybe taking a chance on change this Season, House still clings to his isolation & self-centeredness. Its like the definition of insanity—I know House will keep making the same choices he always makes. Yet, I still hope that things will get better for him. My hopes are always dashed.

    Many have commented that they think House has been ‘growing’ or ‘reaching out’ this season, but I don’t see it. Compare House this season to House in rehab during the Tritter arc. Hugh Laurie was beyond AMAZING the way he portrayed rehab House with such dignity amidst utter humiliation. Same in the episode ‘Detox.’ He is heroic in his suffering. This season, House is just very frustrating. I’m tantalized when he considers change, but he always runs away, back to his dark cave. Sure, his brilliant fabulous self remains uncompromised. But Brilliant Uncompromised Self hasn’t been enough for him.

    I’ve been particularly frustrated by how TPTB have been dangling the ‘Huddy carrot’ in front of us as an avenue of possible change/growth for House. The repeated miscues, misunderstandings & standoffs between them haven’t ‘grown’ the characters or revealed anything new about them. In fact, it’s starting to undermine them. The Cuddy who stands in mute stupor, too afraid to JUST SAY IT in the ‘why-do-you-care-if-I’m-happy’ scene—is this the SAME woman who stood up to Vogler & the Board to save House & her hospital, or who connected so passionately with the dying girl in Joy to the World, or who risked her career & PERJURED herself to keep House out of prison? On the other hand, why has it become so important to House to hear a declaration from her when HE’S the one who always says ‘Words don’t matter, only actions.’ After all she’s done for him, I’m not sure what more he wants from her. To me, TPTB have no intention of giving this ‘relationship’ a real chance. It’s not dramatic to me anymore, it’s just tiresome.

    I whole-heartedly agree w/the person who said that House ‘choosing’ his pain this time means that it can never ‘own’ him again the way it has. So, I guess there IS a dim ray of hope. Still, ‘this is the only me you get’ doesn’t sound very hopeful.

    I guess I’m not a very good ‘Wilson.’ I’m finding it very hard to stay enthusiastic about the show. Probably the upcoming ‘wild surprises’ Jennifer Morrison promised in the interview will blow away all my frustrations and put me to shame. But, I’m still not getting what I want or what I need this season.

  • sean sverige

    Just discovered both blogcritic and these reviews – good stuff: fantastic to find somewhere to indulge my interest in House – none of my friends watch it.

    To be honest I thought this season started poorly – or at least morbidly. Although House’s Head / Wilson’s Heart was a superb end to season 4, Amber’s death seemed to have painted things into a very dark corner – it seemed that the humour element of ‘black humour’ had been dropped. Just as I was losing faith, things improved: like Wilson, ‘Birthmarks’ was the most fun I’d had with House in ages.

    There have been a few cracking episodes recently (especially ‘The Social Contract’) but this also good episode saw the return for something I also feared lost: the clinic. I’ve always thought this an elegant device that gives us short, sharp doses of House that can serve to complement or counterpoint the main plot – or simply for laughs.

    The problem is that not only was he nice to the clinic patient, he was only doing the clinic itself because he was in a good mood. Can the writers please engineer a way of forcing House to do clinic again on a regular basis?

    As regards the methadone storyline, my only frustration is that this was done and dusted in a single episode – I know that these themes are often a counterpoint to a particular episode, but sometimes it’s almost a waste not to extend them over a few episodes. The fake brain tumour subplot in ‘Half-wit’ was particularly frustrating as it had bags of potential.

  • Dominic

    I played the kid, Jackson, and this is when i started watching HOUSE alot… I just need to say House is AWESOME and i want to thank you all who watched and loved my episode..

    Dominic Kay

  • barbara barnett

    Hey, Dominic.

    Thanks for stopping by and saying hi. You were excellent in the episode.


  • barbara barnett

    PS–to Dominic: would enjoy sitting down to do a brief interview via phone, email or online.

    Barbara Barnett

  • Nickel

    I personally am not a Huddy fan. To go even one step further I cannot imagine why House would even want to join her in a relationship. House trusts 2 people in this world and in my opinion, neither of them are even remotely trustworthy. When we really think about what Cuddy (and Wilson) have truly cost House it boggles my mind that the writers would even think that viewers are that stupid. I wonder how Wilson would have felt if House had ratted him out when he moved in with his terminal cancer patient (just for his own good) or how Cuddy would have felt if House had blabbed her IVF secret to the entire hospital staff. Throughout this entire series I have only one really important question……WILSON RATS HOUSE OUT FOR EVERY LITTLE/BIG THING THAT HE DOES…..EXCEPT WHEN HE REALLY NEEDED HELP (enter Amber post death). If Wilson were really a friend he would have strapped House to the bed in the sleep lab, and gotten Cuddy involved at that point. The bottom line to this entire scenario is quite simple. Wilson and Cuddy both have sabotaged House’s every grab for happiness because they want him BROKEN. Cuddy cannot control a healed House and Wilson cannot FEED on a healed House. I wonder why Wilson never felt the need to apologize to House for asking him to kill himself in trying to save Amber. (considering he said that he did not blame House). This trio is TOXIC to all of them, but only truly hazardous to House. Every time that Wilson and Cuddy plan and plot House ends up paying the piper. Each and Every time.

  • Nickel

    One more thing, gotta say I wanted to slap Cuddy for saying that she would be “curled up on the floor weeping in shame” if she had slept with House. Nice thing for her to say considering that is exactly what she wants and has wanted for YEARS. Some friend.