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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Nobody’s Fault”

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Note: A full review of “Nobody’s Fault” is now live.

The manner in which Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) runs his practice has come under fire a few times in the series run of House, M.D. His diagnostic team is trained to be cut-throat competitive, risk-taking, and even reckless.

The season two episode “The Mistake” in which Chase loses a patient sets the stage for questioning House’s “I don’t see patients” posture. And the back biting between Foreman (Omar Epps) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) in “Sleeping Dogs Lie” over an academic paper, leads Wilson to articulate major reservations about the tone he sets for his fellows.

House provokes, pranks, berates and pressures, and it’s been an issue waiting to really boil over for years. And this week, it finally does, in what is arguably the best episode since “Help Me.”

The episode opens on a patient room; it is a wreck. Blood is everywhere, and scattered bottles, bandages and implements cover the room. Immediate reaction: “what the hell happened here?” Cut to House in a disciplinary hearing facing the investigator Dr. Walter Cofield, played by Jeffrey Wright (Ides of March). Cofield is brought on by Dean Foreman to investigate whatever it was that happened in that patient room..

Cofield is head of Neurology at Mercy, and before that, while still on the faculty at Johns Hopkins, he was Foreman’s mentor. “I’ll be deciding your fate today,” he declares. Roll credits. Whatever did happen in that room, it is extremely serious—enough to put House’s career on the line.

Although House doesn’t really want to answer questions, pushing back in his usual sarcastic way (big surprise), Cofield isn’t biting, using the “parole card” to keep House from walking out altogether. If he is found at fault and is suspended or worse, House will be in violation of he the terms of his parole; he will be sent back to prison—and no one has any power to stop that.

Cofield makes note of House popping Vicodin, questioning his use of the drug during a case; House reminds him quickly that he’s been pretty successful as a doctor thus far over the course of the 10 years since the surgery. “Good things usually happen; bad things sometimes happen,” he says. But that is beside the point as the facts of House’s most recent case are reviewed by each member of the team to determine who, if anyone, is to blame.

I don’t really want to spoil the episode for you (yes, I’m that evil), but what unfolds examines the hyper-competitive methods of House’s diagnostic team as each member recounts the event leading up to the incident in the patient room. I can’t (well, I could, but I won’t) tell you what happens, but I can tell you that it’s very serious with ramifications extending beyond this episode and perhaps through the remainder of the season. The events of “Nobody’s Fault” weigh very heavily on House’s heart and conscience, and are not likely to disappear by next episode.

The script by Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and Dr. David Foster lives up to the best that all three writers have delivered over the seasons. Lerner and Friend have a particular ability to probe inside House’s head (and in fact they wrote that brilliant episode “House’s Head” in season four with Foster). Foster, writing for the series since season one has been responsible for some the series’ best episodes as well. Greg Yaitanes, who is leaving the series to go on to new things, has also done a great job directing this intimate, emotional, yet very complex story. 

Told in a non-linear format, “Nobody’s Fault” is reminiscent of “The Mistake” but creates a completely original take on the argument that House’s practice is dangerous to patients and anyone else affected by it. It is also has echoes of “Baggage” as House’s interrogator (Wright) slowly breaks through House’s layers of sarcastic defensive guard to get at the truth.

In general, I’ve liked season eight, but it’s no secret that I’ve been waiting patiently for an episode that leaves me a little breathless with anticipation, wanting the episode never to end, yet being unable to wait for what happens next. “Nobody’s Fault” delivers on that wish for me.

To say any more will be to spoil it too much, and I hope you come into “Nobody’s Fault without having been spoiled at all.” Instead, I offer you a clip of the opening couple minutes to tide you over until Monday! I will post a full review of “Nobody’s Fault” next week.


Untitled from barbara barnett on Vimeo.


Side Note: for those of you who are fans of Jennifer Morrison’s new series Once Upon a Time, please join me after the next episode on February 12 as I host a live chat with the writer Jane Espenson. Details forthcoming.

The next House episode “Nobody’s Fault” airs Monday night at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • How I am going to miss HOUSE. I can’t see going on without it. I will have to find some other media to entertain me– or maybe go back to writing (much more of the time than I do at present) to keep myself busy and to do my real work…
    I will miss Gregory House. And Greg Yaitanes. I had thought he’d be the director of the last episode, too. And why not???


    wait, Yaitanes is not gonna be the director of the final episode of HOUSE??????

  • Jane E

    Great review. It is by far the best episode this season. It was classic House! I really liked you wording about weighing heavy on House’s heart and conscience. I never saw that apology at the end coming. For the character of House, that was such a giant step.

  • Nickel

    One more thing:…..Way to go Taub. I an normally not a big fan of Taub, but I got to say he ROCKED in last nights episode. He was non-judgmental and completely objective of the events. He seemed more like House last night than any other fellow ever has. He really impressed me. Great writing…..

  • Nickel

    The other barnett#19….wow, Chase (the murderer?) is the moral center of this show? ugh. House has already intervened for Chase on a few occasions to “save” him, personally I think that House is definitely going to feel like all this is his fault, however Chase really needs to take some responsibility for his own actions at some point in his life….now seems to be as good a time as any. After all he was “surfing” with a medical license during House’s incarceration. Doesn’t seem very “grown up” to me. I did notice the look that House gave himself in the mirror of the restroom was eerily familiar to the look he gave himself in “Merry Little Christmas” and we all know how that turned out. House had already judged himself more harshly than Cofield or anyone else ever could. All his deflections during his questions SCREAMED: “I AM AT FAULT”. I think the more pressing issue during this episode was WHERE DO THESE FELLOWS GET OFF PUTTING HOUSE’S LICENSE ON THE LINE? I remember Cuddy allowed House to get sued (for her own poor judgment) in Humpty Dumpty and didn’t seem to even care that House was the one to pay for that. I get that House wants DR.s to stand up for not only what they believe to be right, but he also uses them to better judge himself, so he never goes “out of bounds”, but seriously I don’t think any boss in America would continue to allow blatant insubordination…(well except House I guess.) Overall, I thought this was a great episode.

  • The Other Barnett

    RobF #17
    I’m curious if the environment that house has created is not so much one of chaos. Imagine that you are Park. You have gone astray from House’s orders before, and he rodein to save the day. Maybe House has created an environment where each member feels like they could (at some times) stray from House’s judgement because they know that House could always come in and make everything right.

    You make the comment that everyone is thinking of their back-up plan. I might agree with this observation if you agree that they each seem to believe that there is nothing more viable or valuable that they will do in their professional lives than this. This is their highlight of the resume’.

    And that was what I liked more than any other aspect of the show last night. While the team may be irritated or annoyed by House, they know how lucky they are and how good he is. Now, if Chase (as the previews suggest) does take the route of Cameron and go away….then its the death of the show.

    Chase is the moral center of this show.
    I did not notice Wilson was not in the show, until I woke up today and thought about it. I’ve forgotten about Cuddy and Foreman could have easily been off the episode. “Where’s Chase.” was in my mind as soon as the first 10 seconds of the first scene elapsed.

  • The Other Barnett

    Last night I did something that I have not done in a while with a House episode….probably since the opening of season 6; I sat through the whole episode and did not take care of home chores off to the side during commercials. It was that good….until,

    I felt that Wright was so well used for this episode until his conclusion. I was so relieved that House spoke up. If the writers had left it at Cofield’s (by now trite) conclusion that House is expendable, the whole episode would have drooped like one of those thanksgiving balloons that rips on a traffic lift and falls into the street. But let be back up….

    Since House has returned, he has been trying to re-connect with people in his life without being too vulnerable. He has tried to help people in his life without being too nice. And, he has succeeded. But, as has also been pointed out, House has also been acting in such a way that his team (half of whom do not have a real bhistory with him) has drifted away from him. At this point, House is fine with it….but this attack on Chase changes things. The one doctor who has been with him through everything and has evolved into (one may say) his pride and joy, has been seriously harmed by an environment that he has created.

    If this season is the end, the revival of Chase could be an incredible way to end it. Chase’ dead eyes looking at House at the end of the episode, after house has become vulnerable and apologized…chilling! If Chase becomes the soul that has to be saved and House is the one who fights his own asinine instincts to do it, what an incredible story-arc we could have!

    This is Jesse Spencer’s opportunity to be eligible for an Emmy. I know its kind of a cheap way (like Dr. Carter rehabbing from the attack on ER) to do this, but this could be what would constructively drive the show through the end of this season.

  • RobF

    hmmm, very interesting!

    All this season, I have been noticing how the team no longer sees House as a true authority figure. Even his “or I’ll fire you!” threats only cause them to roll their eyes, because none of them is unprepared for life outside the team; each is constantly aware of his/her backup plan. They listen to House only because he is right more often than anyone else. When he can’t convince them he is right, he can no longer browbeat them into obeying. Sometimes they do what they know to be best in spite of House’s orders. In this case, it turns out very badly.

    House knows everyone has a very dim view of the fact that he was out of control for years, ending up first in an asylum and then in prison because of his destructive actions. He knows they don’t trust him to make constructive choices, and he has fallen back on the façade of the “ass” who doesn’t care. Everyone sees through this to House’s insecurity and shame. Even the investigator who has just met House remarks on the fact that House acts like an “ass” for no reason — not for fun, not to spur on the team. House responds by putting his feet on the desk and being more childish, essentially daring somebody to punish him for his actions.

    At the end of the episode, House has a moment of clear self-awareness. His apology is not so much for the stabbing as for Dibala and Cameron. House finally agrees with what Cameron said, what Cofield echoes: he creates an environment in which things that are not OK become OK, and he is responsible for the consequences.

  • cbbu27694

    Who was the patients wife

  • ada102

    Whats going on with the Chase storyline? where is this leading, we are getting more information about his family than any other season so far…

  • I would go as far to say that it’s the best episode since the end of season 6. A classic House episode.

  • bigHousefan

    Rob F IT DOES!

    Thanks Barbara, I can’t wait for your full review!

  • RobF

    It’s been a while since I was waiting with bated breath for an episode of House. I hope this one lives up to the hype…

  • Martha

    So glad to see that David Foster is in the writing mix for this one.
    It seems that there is great potential for this to be an especially thought-provoking episode – where the provoked mind is not just that of the viewer’s, but also in House’s character. I have missed his being challenged by another character in a truly profound way. That makes for the “drama”, more than the consequences. He has already had to endure some of the most severe of man-made consequences. What if he actually were finally forced to deal with consequences of no longer being who/what he believes himself to be? Where would he go from there…
    One of the sad truths of being brilliant is that there is always someone just a little more brilliant than you are.

  • Vera

    Barbara, who had impressed you most as an actor in this episode? just curious…

  • Reality Check

    @blake: Then where is the drama? If there is no possible chance that House could lose (and based on his history, he should), then why bother to watch, especially if the ending is already known? Where is the suspense in that? You may as well be watching NCIS. This is the last season of “House.” They should make it a good one.

  • blake

    All i can say is that the suspense of this episode will be amazing, but ill be greatly insulted if Walter Cofield comes out on top, isnt that what started the character of house in the first place? He has no medical intellectual equal, so who is this guy to question him? Especially considering all the people house has saved. Show him whats up house!!!

  • Kim in California

    I don’t see Chase in the hearings, so I worry that something terrible has happened to him. I’m sure that an injured Chase would trouble House. Whether he likes it or not, I think House has a soft spot for Chase.

    I’m with you Barbara, Season 8 has been okay, but I haven’t really felt an emotional tug yet. I’m hoping you’re right this time because I’m not a GY fan. Since coming onboard, the series has flagged. Also, his directing was responsible for leaving all the fans wondering last season if House was a psycho for driving into a room that appeared to be filled with people (only to have GY and DS and everyone else waving their hands and screaming ‘no, they had left the room!’) A good director would have left us with no doubt that the room was empty and that House knew a little girl wouldn’t be running around the house when he rammed a huge car through the dining room. As far as I’m concerned GY’s exit is no great loss.

  • MeMe…not specifically

  • lobentti

    Interesting! This time de Dean of Medicine will not be there, to protect PPTH’s super-star!!!

  • MeMe

    Since Cofield brings up House’s Vicodin habit according to your review, I thought that his use of pain narcotics was being restricted by Foreman and/or Wilson, possibly as one of the terms of his parole. I know it’s difficult to say much more without straying into spoiler territory, but does House’s pill-popping become a major point of contention during the hearing? Also, does his reliance on Vicodin appear to be slowly escalating as compared to previous seasons?

  • Adriane

    Oh gosh, I was way too excited to find out what happens. I guess I’ll just have to wait unfortunatley. Although, this really is a great review.

  • Right you are, of course (and boo on me for screwing it up :-))

  • Derek

    Great review. Although I must add that the season four episode was “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart”.