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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Private Lives”

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It’s often easier to tell difficult truths and deepest fears to complete strangers: people we can’t see face to face. They are an audience who cannot see into our eyes, nor we into theirs to note disappointment or rejection staring back at us.

The hero of our story, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), knows this well. He will reveal himself to strangers: a patient, perhaps even a hooker, rather than risk himself to his friends or anyone one else who really matters to him.

This week’s patient, a blogger, finds that telling her troubles (and joys) to the world brings her close to those who understand her, her state of mind and way of thinking–perhaps better than her husband. That’s the great beauty of the Internet. It’s a private/public space where you keep your anonymity while revealing parts of yourself you’d never reveal to even you closest friends and family.The lure of the Internet is seductive as a forum to reveal one’s most intimate secrets, vet one’s most personal decisions. As revealing and public as it is, there is an anonymity to this sort of virtual life, and therefore less risk.

I remember first getting hooked on House back in 2004. I couldn’t tell my husband and risk his certain teasing and (good natured) ridicule for becoming addicted to a television show (again). But I went on the Internet to see if anyone else felt as I did; saw in the show the things I saw; perceived House as I perceived him. And of course I did. I could barely admit my addiction to friends (and when I did it was with an embarrassed giggle). But to my community on the Internet, who of course “understood” me in a way impossible to explain to anyone else, I could bare all without fear of ridicule.

“Private Lives” nicely explores the nature of perception and privacy in our lives. Written by Doris Egan, the episode brings restores some of what I had felt had gone missing this season—most importantly the more introspective and serious side of House. Yes, prankster House was quite in evidence, but he considered the case and the patient seriously and thoughtfully. It was wonderful to observe House deep in thought over the patient, wracking his brain and getting one of his patented epiphanies from something completely remote from the week’s case.

This week’s patient seems to live her entire life through her blog. Nothing in her life (not even her marriage) is off limits, much to the annoyance of her husband. She blogs everything, and even as she has to make a significant choice in treatment, she turns to her readers for advice, despite her husband’s pleas that she not make this decision into an Internet poll. Her real and virtual lives have converged in a way that risks her real relationship.

Like our blogger (and dare I say like most of us), House also lives two lives. Outwardly his life is an open book: he’s an unabashed jerk who (as Chase points out) brings hookers to the hospital and openly gambles with bookies. He leers and is generally a boorish lout. But House has another side, one that he keeps essentially private (even from Wilson and Cuddy). In “Broken,” House’s therapist perceptively asks him why he shrinks from letting people know the “real” him. It's a question that gets to House's deep-rooted intimacy and trust issues.

House’s real idea of a relaxing evening is rather solitary and sad: sitting on the sofa, eating cornflakes and watching porn. No intimacy necessary; no one to judge, reject or gawk at the “freak” he sees when he looks in the mirror. By contrast, Wilson is moving on with his life, hoping to score at a speed dating extravaganza. And he’s convinced House to come along, promising an equal if not better outcome to the evening he’s planned for himself. House sees the speed dating scene as a “meat market” rather than a "meet" market, and looks remarkably uncomfortable. Even when he happens upon a woman who seems a reflection of himself, he realizes that’s just not possible and pushes her away with blazing speed and precision.

The speed dating outing is a great set piece within the episode and sets up a neat little exploration of Chase and how he perceives himself. Playing on his “pretty boy status” (even without the blond floppy hair, which I personally miss), the story reveals Chase’s disbelief (and disappointment) that people like him more for his looks than anything more intrinsic to his personality. He even questions his now-defunct relationship with Cameron, wondering whether she was ever really interested in him—or only to his physically attractive surface. Does Chase’s appearance prevent women from seeing beneath the façade and into who he really is?

Wilson’s speed dating endeavor should teach him never to reveal his medical specialty. It’s a great conversation starter; unfortunately everyone knows someone who’s encountered cancer. And certainly the Wilson of years past might have delighted in finding a needy woman using his oncologist shingle. But post-Amber, perhaps Wilson has changed; his reaction to the parade of speed dating women suggests that Wilson is looking for something different. But how easy will it be for Wilson to change his persona…if that's what he really wants.

But Wilson does have another persona, and you needn't look further than an old porn movie about wood nymphs frolicking in the forest to find it. But maybe that's something Wilson would rather keep secret. Too bad that House has found said porno and gleefully outs it to the entire hospital. Wilson takes a very good natured (and persistent) ribbing from everyone. But turnabout is fair play and Wilson wants to get something embarrassing on his friend to spread around town.

Chase is shocked when Wilson asks him if he knows any embarrassing tidbits; after all, Wilson is House’s best friend. But Wilson realizes how private and secretive House can be, despite the fact that House brings what would surely be considered very private quite out into the open at work.

In any event, Chase tells Wilson that House is reading The Golden Bowl, Henry James’ novel about completely dysfunctional relationships. But House isn’t actually reading it, strongly hinting at the old axiom that “you can never tell a book by its cover,” which fits right into the episode’s theme.

Self-described atheist House is actually reading a book of sermons written by a Unitarian minister. It’s so uncharacteristic that Wilson worries it’s some sort of psychotic break—or that House has reached the end of his personal reserves regarding his pain and is grasping at straws and clinging to his last vestiges of hope by reading the ramblings of a minister. But House refuses to play along and won’t reveal what’s actually going on and why he's intently studying a book that flies in the face of his atheistic worldview.

But Wilson is undeterred, and the answer is revealed when he notes the dust jacket photograph of the author. The Unitarian minister is House’s biological father, first mentioned in Egan's fifth season episode "Birthmarks." House pleads that only mild curiosity about the man has driven him to read the book. But as Wilson points out, House hasn’t just been leafing through the pages; he’s been studying the book. But why?

Wilson may be right when he suggests that House is trying learn something about himself from the writings of his biological father. Clearly unlike either his mother or John House in his way of thinking, Wilson considers that House is seeking insight into himself. It’s lonely where House resides way out there in the fringes (as Wilson notes) and House is grasping at the possibility that in his biological father's writing he may find something to help explain him. But why not pick up the phone? Why read a book to get into his father’s head? House explains that although he’s curious, he’s not that curious.

But perhaps there’s another answer—one that ties into the episodes overarching theme. Reading a book, like making essentially anonymous contact on the Internet is risk-free: no rejections, no embarrassment. It’s completely private. And House, who trusts no one with his emotions, probably finds it easier to connect this “virtual” way than by actual human contact.

New episode of House airs Monday night.

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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.
  • Debbie

    Great review, Barbara, as always. :)

  • angelcat2865

    Wonderful review. As always I love your incite into the characters.

  • Orange450

    A very enjoyable and balanced review of a very enjoyable and balanced episode. Trust Doris Egan to give us people what we want in perfect and judicious measure! “Thinking House”, a topical issue which permeates every character’s consciousness, spot-on humor, no shipping distractions, an interesting PoTW, and – most important of all (IMHO) – BACKSTORY for both House AND Wilson. Bonanza!

    I couldn’t help but wonder if Chase’s discomfort with the notion of sharing (if not baring) one’s all online was timed to coincide with Jesse Spencer’s initiation into the wonderful world of Twitter – with a tornado of a Twitter chat, no less. You’ve got to admit that it’s pretty ironic :)

  • Jacquelyn

    As usual, a great review, Barbara. Nice to have you back. :)

    I really enjoyed this episode, both the POTW as well as the overarching themes of Wilson, House, and Chase. The speed-dating was great – like House, I’ve always been skeptical of it. How much can you tell about a person in 5 minutes? For most of us, not much – but it was right on character for House to see right through the crossword-puzzle woman. I’m curious to know which of the women were interested in him – his stack of contact cards may not have been as big as Chase’s, but there were still a few!

    Another thing that I liked was the interaction between House and Wilson. It always strikes me as interesting how Wilson is House’s best friend, and yet he just doesn’t get him most of the time (and readily admits to that). On the one hand, Wilson should have known *years* ago that one day House would dig up that porno and out him – and subsequently driven all over town himself and gotten rid of all possible copies. It’s just in House’s nature to do something like that, and I think Wilson should have seen it coming (of course, maybe he’d pushed it so far out of his mind himself?!?). Secondly, the situation between House’s close study of the minister’s book was very intriguing. Nice continuity from Season 5. But Wilson not understanding how House would choose reading a book over confronting his biological father?

    I think this just goes to show how well you can know somebody and still not really know them. One of the reasons I really like the House/Wilson dynamic is because of this – and furthermore, it gives me more hope for House/Cuddy, since she always seems to *get* him in a way that no one else, not even Wilson, does.

    Finally, it was fun to see House back to his trickster ways – and this time, moving away from Cuddy, who I feel is worn thin by his pranks and diversions. I thought the cutting up of the photos in “Remorse” was hilarious, but it clearly hurt Cuddy a lot – and House is learning, albeit slowly, that he’s not going to get anywhere when he continually hurts her. But the Wilson-porno arc was really Classic House, and had me practically choking on my dinner. :)

  • PH

    I loved this episode. It was the slower paced, get-inside-the-mind-of-House formula that I like most. Quite a break from the fast paced jam-packed eps from this season.

    BB, I loved your statement in the last paragraph. You hit the nail on the head.
    House studied his biological father from afar, instead of risking an emotional ‘reunion’. I think if he had discovered anything interesting beneath the sermon-speak he might have chanced a physical meeting. Concerning anything personal, House always sticks his toes in first to test the waters.

    I found it interesting that House substituted the dust jacket in order to disguise the book, in effect removing the only evidence that his best friend had to recognize the author. Also inferring, from the dust jacket, that House further studied Cameron beyond the workplace.

  • RobF

    The philosopher Jeremy Bentham designed a type of prison called the “Panopticon”, in which every prisoner may be observed at all times from a central tower. No prisoner has any privacy whatsoever, except for his unspoken thoughts and emotions. A prisoner in this type of system quickly learns not to be emotionally vulnerable to an observer — he considers all possessions and actions as outside his core identity.

    The patient of the week has decided to let everyone in the world observe her life — not simply her possessions and actions, but her inner life in (almost) every detail. She believes this will result in close human connections with many people, more candid even than her relationship with her husband. Indeed she seems to have a large support group of people who care about her, but this breaks down at a moment of actual crisis, when they can’t offer any real support compared to that of her husband.

    House lives his life as though the world was a Panopticon. Because he is so afraid of being vulnerable, he refuses to depend on any of his actions remaining private. He goes so far as to tell his colleague / roommate that he is planning to spend the evening masturbating, and while at work shouts his displeasure about his missing pornography. Of course we all know that he is, in his inner life, extremely vulnerable. He is desperately seeking meaningful connection with people, but is held back by mistrust (well-placed, in the case of the lovely potential soul-mate who turns out to be lying). House realises that, while he is searching for deeper contact, he is vulnerable to observers. So, like everyone else, he ends up hiding something.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Correct, Rob.

    Welcome to the age of surveillance.

  • RobF

    Also, like Jacquelyn, I’m interested in seeing which of the women was interested in another date with House. I kind of think it’s the fake cop, because she seemed more impressed than upset at being found out. It would be nice to see Cuddy jealous of a woman who is with House.

    There was only a small House/Cuddy moment of note in this episode. When everyone was in Cuddy’s office, and House made the link from her blog timestamps to liver disease, Cuddy looked up at him very admiringly. But House immediately defused the moment by pressing up against her and saying “wanna make out?”

    It was good to see a bit more of Chase. He did some good doctoring, was funny in the speed dating scene, and was used to show how even people who take the plunge and get into a relationship wonder if they have a real connection or just the illusion.

    I enjoyed this episode, and Barbara’s review. Thanks for doing these, Barbara! I think all of us would vote “pig valve”…

  • Andrea

    The author of the book was Thomas Bell PhD. So, House’s father is a Bell?

  • Katie

    Who said the author’s name was Thomas Bell? His name wasn’t even mentioned.

  • hwl40

    Barbara, wonderful to hear the of your slide into House addiction as it certainly describes mine. Internet bonding with you and everyone on your site on that issue certainly is welcome and not really available elsewhere. The parallels from this episode to all of us here made me smile while watching. Perhaps Stephen Fry could give us additional insights on this phenomenan. For myself, I am grateful to have the community – and the annonimity – however you spell that.

    Re “Private Lives”, I was struck by the trust issues. House says to Wilson, twice, “Trust me”. That is what his friends have a hard time doing. Yes, they have their reasons but the pattern of distrust, assuming the worst as Wilson does with the Vicodan reference, is an old one and a real bar to intimacy – and, as Nolan said, a reinforcement House’s own evaluation of himself. House is out there, like it or not, because his inner most secrets were revealed as his hold on reality crumbled last season. He is changing his life, but on his own time and in his own way. It’s good he has Wilson to poke and prod and, however, misquided, always accept him, Cuddy also in a different way too, so that he really isn’t alone.

    The balance between intimacy and connection was beautifully explored in this episode. Lots more to say, hopefully one of you guys will say it. Thought RobF was spot on.

    Thanks, Barbara for the insights, the forum and the place to explore inportant matters – even if the catalyst is “just” a TV show!

  • hwl40

    Barbara, wonderful to hear the of your slide into House addiction as it certainly describes mine. Internet bonding with you and everyone on your site on that issue certainly is welcome and not really available elsewhere. The parallels from this episode to all of us here made me smile while watching. Perhaps Stephen Fry could give us additional insights on this phenomenan. For myself, I am grateful to have the community – and the annonimity – however you spell that.

    Re “Private Lives”, I was struck by the trust issues. House says to Wilson, twice, “Trust me”. That is what his friends have a hard time doing. Yes, they have their reasons but the pattern of distrust, assuming the worst as Wilson does with the Vicodan reference, is an old one and a real bar to intimacy – and, as Nolan said, a reinforcement House’s own evaluation of himself. House is out there, like it or not, because his inner most secrets were revealed as his hold on reality crumbled last season. He is changing his life, but on his own time and in his own way. It’s good he has Wilson to poke and prod and, however, misquided, always accept him, Cuddy also in a different way too, so that he really isn’t alone.

    The balance between intimacy and connection was beautifully explored in this episode. Lots more to say, hopefully one of you guys will say it. Thought RobF was spot on.

    Thanks, Barbara for the insights, the forum and the place to explore inportant matters – even if the catalyst is “just” a TV show!

  • madfashionista

    Barbara, as always, an interesting review. My first reaction was lukewarm, then I watched it again without commercials, and I was howling with laughter. The Stag Boy porn, the speed dating, Chase and Wilson plotting together, Chase pretending to be an American idiot…

    I was also delighted, even the first time, at seeing House go back to his diagnostic pattern, holed up in his office, obsessing and playing with his toys.

    I can’t add more to the perceptive comments and your review. Say it loud, I blog and I’m proud! :)

  • action_kate

    Thomas Bell was the uncle of Dr. Joseph Bell, the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, who is the inspiration for House. Talk about a meta-gag!

  • Eve K

    This episode was very interesting in many ways (by the way – Eve K is not my real name, its an English version of my name, I’m an editor and have a master’s in literature and I don’t tell my colleagues about my House addiction. My close friends get to hear it though. A lot.)

    Problems in this episode:

    1. Wilson in a porn. He clearly said to Amber when they were to tape their sex in season four “I have never done this before” in a shy and embarrassed way. He didn’t have to say that if it wasn’t true.
    A writers mistake?

    2. What is with the music? Its soft and popish and not cool. Its much better with classical music or classic rock even. Or alternative music. Who does this sappy choices?

    3. God is everywhere. For us atheistic Europeans it can be kind of suffocating even though House is an atheist. It seems like someone is trying to save him. Please dont go down that road.

    But over all – a very good show and thank you Barbara for the review.

  • http://barbarabarnett.com barbara barmett

    Hi Eve…remember Wilson didn’t think he was doing a porn film (if he is to be believed). His friend poached the footage and inserted into the porno ;)

    Katie Jacobs makes most of the music choices along with the music editor folk

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I’ll have some time tomorrow to post more.

  • Eve K

    Comment on my comment.I do recall that the porn was edited, so technically Wilson wasn’t really in the action? Oh, Im to tired to rewatch. its night owl time in europe.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Barbara, what an excellent review! Thank you for it!
    I believe that “Private Lives” was a great way (chapeau to Dorin Egan, always a pleasure!) to readdress the issue of family, that came up visibly in “Moving The Chains”. House was obviously preoccupied with the idea of family then and he has clearly followed up on that, by trying to deal with his own identity issues that rise from his family and parental troubles. That is courageous of him (and another step forward in his path), and the fact that he was not able to connect in any way to his biological father’s way of thinking (“underneath all the God stuff, more God stuff”), despite his serious efforts, was very, very sad. It represents another reinforcement of House’s evaluation of himself (credit hwl40) as a man doomed to loneliness, and this is a personal tragedy that he is no longer willing to simply accept.

    I cannot help but wonder how devastating it will be for House to share Wilson with his ex wife – especially if Wilson’s relationship with Sam will progress to the point where House is asked to move out from the condo. However imperfect he has been, as House’s companion and only friend during the post-Mayfield months (we cannot count Cuddy in during this time), Wilson has been House’s shield from the old pattern of complete loneliness and misery, and the idea of living all alone again must be a difficult one to face for House.

    House at the “meet/meat market” was more sad than hilarious, and that was deliberate on part of Mrs. Egan (who could have turned that into a real laugh-your-heart-out scene). But it was a way to show how lonely he is, how awkward and uncomfortable he seems and how much of a misfit he feels. It was sad and touching, and in deliberate contrast with the House-Cuddy scene in her office, steaming with the old chemistry that seems to come so naturally to them, all over again.
    @RobF, i don’t think that House defused that moment by the “wanna make out” line. It was sheer delight to see him like that again – masculine, but autoironic, dominating, but playful, charming in his naughtiness and irreverence, and Cuddy’s smile as she turned her head towards him proves that she shared my feeling.

    It was also touching to get a full view on Chase’s post-Cameron vulnerability and lack of confidence, and the very smart and sharp way he fought against it through that idea he pursued all on his own. I miss the hair too, Barbara, but still, “God, he’s pretty!” (that was so funny!). House and Chase seem to share a level of mutual understanding that is well worth exploring even further – House’s worst outbursts and uncontrolled reactions have been towards Chase, together with acts motivated by concern and deep understanding, while Chase admires House in a very ireverentious manner – probably the manner he hopes he has learnt from House himself. Very interesting territory there, much more interesting (to me) than the House-Thirteen and House-Foreman relationships.

    Also, major treat next week for me – Taub seems heavily featured on Monday. I have missed him this season.

    @Eve: Wilson was filmed by his roommate for a completely unrelated school task, that was later on inserted in a porn. His face is shown fully in the beginning of the “movie”, during the dance around the fire, then his “character” changes actors when the real action begins. He didn’t lie to Amber.
    And on your 3rd observation: what in this episode made you fear that the show is going down “that” road? I sensed nothing out of the ordinary in regard to religion. If anyone is going to save House, it’s gonna be himself – his efforts have been so impressive, and so quiet, and so shy in a way – i love him even more for it.

    Hm… I use my real name here and pretty much everywhere i post. And nearly all the people i know are fully aware of my “House” addiction. I live in Europe too and i wake up at 4 am on “House” Tuesday mornings, to catch the new episode live on Fox. I never tried to hide this particular form of insanity to anyone. Of course real people in my life don’t understand or share my passion with equal intensity, but i don’t care – i consider “House” to be a part of my indentity that i am proud of.

  • byzantine

    This was an interesting, well-written and, of course, well-acted episode. And one that prompted me to ponder certain aspects of it—something that has not happened since the sixth season began. I have been waiting for your insight Barbara and am most grateful that you are willing to be in dialogue with House addicts like myself.

    I sometimes get stuck on small details, a fact which perhaps reflects my personal obsession with Byzantine art where every detail matters, a lot. I am fascinated with the whole “Golden Bowl” reference which, I think, we, the viewers, were supposed to notice and think about. For the title of Henry James’ novel is not simply a title but also a reference to the shattered golden bowl in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes. Indeed, the bowl in James’ novel is similarly chipped, flawed, whatever the right word could be here. And it is hardly coincidental that a reference to sacred scripture covers a collection of sermons. The episode seemed to address the issue of façades and appearances. So far so good. I have a feeling though that there is more to this. I’ve been wondering–does the façade that House presents us with one that is flawed and chipped, like the bowl in James’ novel? Yes, I know he has been flawed since the moment he was conceived as a television character, but we have been presented in the course of this season with a House somewhat different from what we are used to—drug-free, patient (it is hard to think how he’s different, but he seems to be, right?). But is he really that different? What do we know about him since he got out of the psych ward (apparently not much, judging from what the episode revealed)? Is this the beginning of a gradual revelation of the flaws House has been ‘practicing,’ of which we, as an audience, have remained unaware so far? Are we in for a surprise?

  • Andrea

    Byzantine…you just hit on something that has been bothering me all season. I somehow feel as if I no longer “know” House.

    Re: Thomas Bell – when Wilson or Chase (I forgot who), opens the book, the author’s name is on the title page.

  • http://gertrude2034.wordpress.com/ Gertrude

    I can’t believe I missed the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ metaphor! Thanks for pointing that out. Great insights, as usual.

    I agree — House’s decision to ‘discover’ his father through the book rather than contacting him directly is very in-character and very much part of House’s private nature. I can’t imagine him taking the risk of rejection that might be involved in reaching out to his biological father, but then he does seem to be opening up to risks in his private life (like going to speed dating in the first place) so who knows?

    Oh, and I know exactly what you mean about sharing your little House infatuation with the online world. Much easier. Much more fun. And, I think, in a way, a mercy to the real world peeps who really just don’t want to us ramble on about it!!

  • Eve K

    Delia_B – about the names – I guess I was fascinated by this episodes theme and by Barbaras intro about blogging, end felt like revealing a bit about myself. At the cost of getting some moral comments. (-; Most of the people here have pseudonumes, and I think that is ok, as long as the conversation is desent and interesting.(Thanks to Barbara) PS Im in a new job, so I guess the House thing will slip in the conversation soon enough.

    I know that I was not “close reading” this episode, but I felt like commenting anyway. Hope thats ok, there are so many other comments here that are very interesting indepth analyses of the episode.

  • janine

    Barbara, this is kinda unrelated, but I thought maybe you would have an answer for me. I just read on TV guide that the episode directed by HL, which was origionally advertised as going to air on March 22, is not going to air until April 12! That means that after this Monday’s episode, we will have another month long hiatus!? Please tell me that the date on the TV guide is wrong!

  • http://barbarabarnett.com barbara barmett

    Eve K– Yours (and everyone’s) comments are always welcome of course. One of the things I love most about my readers is the respect they show to each other. May it long be so!

    Janine–I will try to check on the schedule. But if the next episode is Tuesday (March 16) and HL’s is April 12, you are right…that’s four weeks’ hiatus.

    One of the problems with shortening the season this year to (essentially) 21 episodes is that there are three fewer episodes than most other season have had–and hiatuses have always been the bane of House fans every year.

    I didn’t catch the Thomas Bell thing. What a great subtle Easter Egg for observant viewers. Cool.

  • janine

    i agree hiatuses are terrible! a part of me wishes they would just air it as a half season show (like they do with 24). sure we’d have to wait longer between seasons but at least we’d get to see all 20 something episodes without interruption.

  • janine

    edit: barbara you said the next episode is tuesday march 16 but i think you mean monday march 15 (its hard to remember sometimes that House is not on on tuesdays anymore)

  • Flo

    Nice review Barbara for a really good episode.
    It was really great to see House concerned about his patient and conducting the ddx again.
    Introspective House is a joy to watch. The “perception” theme of this epsode was interesting and Doris Egan did a good job to develop that theme to every character, especially House and Chase.

    It is really great to see the relationship between those two. Chase is certainly the character that changed the most since the beginning of the show and the more he grows the more I see him as House spiritual son.
    He is the one who learned the most from House and even back in season three, I already thought he was the best diagnostician of the ducklings.

    Both House and Chase want to be seen and be taken for what they really are but it is not that simple. It is particularly interesting to see that the obstacles are differents. House is directly responsible for his appearance. His “jerk act” prevent most people to seeing who he really is. Chase on the other hand, is not responsible for his handsomeness.
    Their insecurities made some really good scenes. The speed dating one was great. It was both fun and revealing. I liked the talks between Thirteen and Chase. The way people perceive us is also determined by how we perceive them. Great scenes.

    For an atheist like House it is really ironic to have a total religious man as a biological father.

    On the “it is easier to reveal yourself to complete stranger” front, I think it is interesting to have an episode about this at that point of the season. It reminded me of “Broken” of course but also of “Remorse” when House couldn’t apologized to someone very close to him, choosing to do so to a man he had no contact for years instead.

    House has intimacy issues and he find it difficult to put his mask down and let people see the real him by fear of rejection.

    By the way, Flo is my real name, it’s my first name. I think I already said in a couple of comments that I study cinema and that the fact that, in my studies, I am a scriptwriter/director was important on how I watched the show. The people around me, for the most part, know that I watch this show and my family even know that I analyze this (of course since I am a complulsive analyst) and that I comment here. I am not ashamed of being a fan of this show. On the other hand, I couldn’t pour all my life out like the PotW did.

  • Eve K

    Flo: I guess I have trust issues. (-: There must be a reason why I like this show so much.

    I am not ashamed of the show at all, but maybe a little of the time I use obsessing about it. This morning I almost missed an interview appointment (I am a magazine editor) because I was writing on this blog. Ugh…

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Eve: we all come here in order to speak our mind and dive deeper and deeper into the Faberge egg that is each “House” episode – we come here with firsthand impressions, as well as well thought of analyses, after watching the episode again and again. This is inevitable when we deal with artistic products that are built upon layers and layers of meaning and significance. We climb on the shoulders of eachother’s comments and grasp further meaning than what we could get on our own. I actually enjoyed your comment, because it made me think about it a little deeper.
    On a larger note – one of the blessings of Barbara’s influence is the fact that nobody is going to be judgmental or rude here – and it’s a blessing indeed.

    @ Flo – nice to “talk” to you again. You know, your comment made me think about where the borderline might be here. The two of us are using our real names here and being open about our jobs, age and interests, as well as we are sharing our “internet&House” persona with the people in our real lives – but i only consider this a low level of exposure and disclosure. What PotW does for a living (sharing the world everything and anything about her life, as well as her husband’s, except her intestinal evolution, so to speak) seems to me like an extremely high level of exposure and disclosure, one that looks like entertainment and compulsion much more than like communication.

    @ Byzantine AND Spoiler alert: I apolozige for bringing spoilers here and i promise to never do it again, but Byzantine’s very insightful comment set me off. Yes, that is what i have been wondering about too, under the influence of some recent spoilers: whether this season is going to end with an even bigger shock than last year – something involving House not being really sane and having lived a double life ever since Mayfield – his official life with Wilson in the condo and a secret life, with Alvie, in his old appartment…
    However, i hope this is NOT the case: i have enjoyed House’s journey to a better self, i found it touching, realistic and admirable. After all, it’s House we all love, and we participated in his recovery with all our hearts, so… it would be a bit of a fictional blow in the face. Also, on the story-telling level, such a “surprise” is acceptable within a two episodes time frame (like “Under My Skin/Both Sides Now”), but on a whole-season or half-season time frame, it resembles soap opera-type facile and cheap “creative sollutions”.

    The “Golden Bowl” refference bears other possible interpretations, with far less dramatic consequences – after all, disfunctional relationships, to name just one, are all over “House”, and there are other possibilities too. The essential interpretation – House as a flawed golden bowl – also works fine for me.

  • Flo

    Eve K (#29): loool I think when it comes to the internet we all have some trust issues. For no other reason that we don’t really know who we talk to, or who is gonna read what we write and how they gonna react to it.

    Delia (#30): always a pleasure indeed. The things I agreed to say about myself are specific facts about me that can make people here to understand where I come from and therefore understand my point of view on the episodes.
    The fact that I am no shipper and watch and analyze the show as a whole is driven by my propensity to be naturally analytic and reinforced by my studies in cinema. I think I also mention to be French which explains my misses of the typically American pop culture references.
    That being said, I couldn’t do what the PotW did. It is too intrusive. I shared part of myself with you all because I believe it is interesting and a good way to see how and why I see this Tv Show the way I do. I wouldn’t post anything else to strangers.
    This girl had an idea of what is private that I can’t agree on but that’s what made the episode so interesting. The idea of privacy is different to everyone.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Agree, Flo. And yes, always a pleasure:)
    I cannot wait for Monday. The patient with somatic symptoms of psychological issues who cannot express herself and her pain – that was a reccuring theme in “House” forever, and last year it was addressed in ways never seen before. It’s gonna be a treat to see House through that perspective and dealing with that situation and to see the progress he has made since last year – how far does his personal progress go and the extremes to which his determination to help that girl will push him. And of course, spotlight on Taub – it’s gonna be fun.
    However, another four weeks break is something that makes my heart sink. At least the last five or six episodes are pretty much in a straight row. And what a mind-blowing end of season it will probably be!

  • Debbie J

    @RobF – #8 – I was hoping the same thing that the “police detective” was one of the few phone numbers he received at the speed dating. I’m hoping this isn’t considered a spoiler as it is listed on imdb, but the character does return next episode. I believe she was more intrigued by his deducing skills than be insulted/offended by them and she wants to get to know him a little better.

    @Delia-Beatrice – #18

  • Debbie J

    @Delia-Beatrice #18 – {If anyone is going to save House, it’s gonna be himself – his efforts have been so impressive, and so quiet, and so shy in a way – i love him even more for it.}

    You have articulated exactly what I feel about Season-6-House. I used to belong to a forum where a lot of fans dropped the show like a hot potato because House “changed to much”. If he had continued on as a miserable, drug-addicted loner, I think he would become boring and a cliche`. To see him grow and evolve but still remain the same man deep down, is what I as a complete and utter fan of the character, am thrilled over.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Debbie: Really? She returns in “Black Hole”? Interesting. I didn’t know that, they didn’t say anything. Of course she would be intrigued by him – i mean, who wouldn’t?…

    Obviously, I fully agree on the “House changing” issue. First of all, i don’t consider it a “change” per se, because we all witnessed, through all previous five seasons, shy revelations of his good heart, great moral conscience, impecable sense of justice and ability to care for the people closest to him. However, all these were hidden as well as possible, and the biggest “change” this season is the fact that he is learning, with baby steps, to be a bit more open about his inner good nature. Not much, though – we, as viewers, are the ones who are aware of his “change” fully, but nobody in his life is as convinced by it as we are (not even Wilson, who seems to be contaminated with a “boy who cried wolf” attitude towards House, still assuming the worst about him).

    What else has changed in his character? A tiny bit of difference on the dynamic of the show, House a little less involved in the diagnosing, and also House a little less confident as an overall attitude (completely understandable, considering that he experienced hell and was afraid he was losing his mind).

    Otherwise, “season 6 House” was impressive and touching in his battle for sanity. He was strong and brave fighting the pain, the addiction and the fear, he was strong, brave and mature when losing Cuddy, finally able to admit and face his vulnerability. I was touched to tears when we got to witness moments of great emotional depth, revealing his vulnerability and his frailty, his loneliness and his pain, but most of all, his determination to get better, to try to be less miserable, to value his own life and the people important to him a little more.

    All the while, he was just as brilliant and sarcastic as always, just as ironic and full of the same extraordinary naughty humor. He was just as masculine, even in his most vulnerable moments, just as straight-forward and original. Untouched genius and “magical” deductive powers. Untouched ability to surprise.

    All in all, i love him now more than ever and i honestly cannot understand people who loved and watched this show and are unable to understand how a character cannot stay exactly the same for years and years. In a show as brilliantly written as “House”, characters grow and reveal themselves more and more, and this is nothing but a fascinating process for fans. I am captivated with the revelations of House’s deeper self and i want more of them, i want to see everything about him and i want the character of House and all other characters on the show explored and revealed further and further and further.

    Also, to be quite honest, i love House so much and i’ve loved him for such a long time, that i do want the best for him. I know this is not a show about happiness and i know that complex characters with such a sharp conscience cannot be happy, but as far as “happy” goes in a show such as this, i want it for him. It is painful for me to watch the misery and suffering of a character i love so much, so i cannot but support House in his battle for a little happier self with a slightly better life.

  • Debbie J

    @D_B – #34 – When looking on the imdb, it lists the actress, Elena Evangelo, as Belinda, in 2 episodes, the second one being Black Hole.

    I really like your thoughts on the growth of Gregory House and I’m glad to be in such good company, like the commenters on this blog, that appreciates it. :)

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Thank you:)
    This place is heaven for me too, so we should really thank Barbara for attracting us all here with her great reviews!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you Barbara for another insightful review.
    As it is the case for many of your fans, my viewing of a House episode is never complete until I’ve read your review and all those thought-provoking comments that ensue.

    @ Delia Beatrice (# 34): I am ever so grateful to you for a concise character study in just one comment. Hats off to you! You expressed all my thoughts (and feelings…) about Season 6 and House’s changes. And your comment gave me further food for thought.

    I know that the internet can be a dangerous place where people like the patient/blogger in “Private Lives” can lose their sense of privacy.
    On the other hand, online communities like the one built around Barbara’s blog bring together people who share the same passion and can create genuine connections between them -if not on a personal- on an intellectual level. And this is not always easy to find in real life.
    I can find people around me ready to understand my House “addiction”. But I know no one who would give me the intellectual pleasure I draw from reading Barbara’s reviews and all those wonderful comments from people contributing to the discussion such as Delia, Flo, Eve, Byzantine, Orange, RobF.
    Only to name a few…

  • Debbie J

    You’re correct, Delia. Thank you Barbara for your wonderful reviews and a chance for us fans to respond! :)

  • Ted

    I’ll just like to point out two things:
    1. Thomas Bell can’t be House’s biological father if he is the uncle of Joseph Bell who died in 1911. Nonetheless, I still appreciate the reference to “Bell” is a valid and interesting one.

    2. House, very uncharacteristically, did a ‘full body scan’ for the patient by going through her blog when he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. I don’t know what I would expect House to do otherwise, but to do what he thinks is the stupidest idea for a diagnostician…got me worried that he’s losing his confidence and flare in his talent and work.

  • barbara barnett

    Thanks everyone for your kind words! I Ted, I do think House’s confidence is relatively shaky as it’s been all year…

  • Ted

    @Barbara: I agree that House’s confidence this season has been shaky, but mostly it’s with regards to his own personal life. E.g. he’s not sure that coming back to the diagnostic department was good for his own recovery. But when it comes to work, I think this is the first time I’ve seen House acting timidly.

  • simona / italy

    Hi barbara an all! Thanks for the beautiful insights. I love reading your reflections about this fantastic tv drama. Here my two cents about the episode.
    Once more [H]ouse has offered us a Fabergè Egg, an episode to handle with care and to eviscerate for coming to disclose the surprise jealously guarded in his “heart.” And they always catch me the endless connections that the authors are able to establish both with the accadimentis proper of every episode both with the events of past episodes and straight of the trails seasons. All of this that happens is not casual, I am convinced of it. The thread conductor of Private Lives is the fear of the loneliness exorcized by the need of communication, the search of similar spirits, the ways and the circles in which he manifests, the ability / incapability of every to be connected with the others, to know and to make to be known, using whatever tool to disposition to establish a contact without moral judgments. Problem of confinements and respect. The patient’s boyfriend to the beginning feels that his/her own privacy is violated in the moment in which its life comes on a blog but, at the end, it is himself that gives the personal computer to the girl and he can do it because both have reached the core of the matter: they have restarted to interact between them and therefore, since the communication is reestablished among them two, it is possible that she maintains opened the communication with others using different channels but as many meaningful for the patient. A thing doesn’t exclude the other, rather it adds completeness to the relationships.
    The speed-dating and the different formalities to enter relationship: Chase and the beauty (House: “life is a contest of beauty and the children that kiss the toad they are waited that exactly become as you “…..stupendous!); Wilson and his repetitive scheme in to present to the women as the “consoling of damsels”, we know that it is so that he has always conquered his ex, excluded Amber. House and his marvelous impossibility to “to leave the brain at home” at least for once……….
    The book of the biological father (a preacher???? Really??? Interesting!): Step by step, meaningful the title, connected with that we have seen of House in this season, the babies steps. Very touching the dialogue in the kitchen when Wilson encourages him to open on the pain and on the meaning of the reading of the book of sermons: “to read that book for one as you seems a psychotic break.” And House, that appears so tried and that doesn’t want not to even reveal nothing to what should be his best and only friend, that asks only him “trust me” speaking of the fact that Wilson fears his return to the Vicodin.
    The discourse to the patient, so illuminating on the meaning of the episode: “We all need burdens secrets” and then “our secrets, until they don’t kill us, they maintain us safe and they warm us”
    The final discourse of Wilson that outlines so well and so sadly the essence of House: “you are not an ordinary type, I am your best friend and I often labor to understand you, you are alone, you have always been. Reading the book you hoped to find someone as you, someone whom you could recognize and therefore after all you want what we want all, “to know there is someone else like you.” Self-acknowledged that has gone down me a little tear.
    And we come to the Huddy. House is alone, his best friend doesn’t even assuage him the sense of loneliness. Sometimes comfort him, it accepts him but it is not his similar. Instead Cuddy is “House in skirt”: the final scene with Lisa that strenuously walks alone in the hospital ordering to remove the poster has established indeed a connection with the loneliness of House, and it has been a cross-reference to 5to9, same anxiety, same grim, same need to make to square the things. Them two are equal two faces of the same medal. House has understood it with the smile at the end of 5to9 and Cuddy has understood it with the smile in her study while House worked with her personal computer. In different moments but they both have “recognized” themselves, as it has never happened before now. I don’t know where they will bring us the events but I hope that those two islands will be united, even thanks adrift of the continents.
    And to end, the porno film, A Gregory House Production, Animal Pleasures and the nymphs of the forest: “Be not afraid, Wilson!”!!!! Beautiful!
    Very interesting the connection Chase /13: “to understand the people you need time.” And very cruel, I think, the joke of Chase that gets the copies of the book for everybody. Probably not cruel in the intentions, anymore a heavy, but cruel joke in the facts for the meaning that has for House (it hurts me when they casually make only also some evil to House, it hurts me as if they did it to me……well, I’m not normal).
    Few Taub but always “on the piece.” Few Foreman and I never know thing to say of him, I find him some useless.

  • RobF

    I find myself still thinking about this episode a week later, which is a good sign for the series.

    One last note on a theme about which several others here have commented — Wilson’s desire to get revenge on House was balanced nicely against his desire to protect House. He wants to use the secret book to embarrass House, but first wants to make sure that it’s not a symptom of an emotional collapse. (In the same way that we would publicly mock a friend for wetting the bed after someone has dipped their hand in a bowl of warm water, but would certainly not mock them if we thought they had incontinence due to a medical problem.)

    Let’s hope tonight’s episode is as good! I am really looking forward to some more development of Taub’s character.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Thank you, Rebecca:)
    It is all about connection and communication, isn’t it? We responded well to the great quality of this episode, but also to the theme it presented, thus, it got us talking and talking, even a week later…

    When i connect to somebody, or when somebody connects with my way of thinking and feeling in regard to this show (like you so kindly did, Rebecca:), that got all of us to fall in love with it so passionately, i indeed feel not just intellectual stimulation and pleasure, but also a sense of communion that is very important for me.

    After all, for me, and maybe for many of us here, “House” is not merely entertainment, nor is it a cold intellectual exercise or a puzzle. It is fiction, and it is a melange of arts perfectly blent together (theatrical art, literary art, visual arts and musical art), but it is also a part of our lives, that we gladly welcome in our thoughts and that arouses such strong emotional responses from us. So when one feels so strongly about something in one’s life, sharing and community are absolute necessities. So, here we are, and i am happy to know that there are others out there like me! Yeah, it does feel good!

    PS @ Simona: i agree on pretty much everything you’ve said, with a plus to the similarity of House and Cuddy and the significance of the two smiles, of recognition, admiration, pride and love, that they give each other, House in “5 to 9″, Cuddy in “Private Lives”. I also think it is significant that the other is not aware of that smile and that look – they are still far apart because of the silence and the never-told things they feel, but it is certainly interesting to see when the islands collide.

  • simona

    @Delia_Beatrice you said “I also think it is significant that the other is not aware of that smile and that look – they are still far apart because of the silence and the never-told things they feel”…..and I agree but I think they behave equally for two different motives: Cuddy can’t recognize the House’s “opening” because she is still inside the history with Lucas; instead it seems to me that House is aware of Cuddy’s respect but only about a professional point of view, as usual. And it is not what he wants. Well, bad romance.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Simona: well, i think things go deeper than Lucas, on Cuddy’s part. After all, Lucas was initially a simptom of what was wrong between her and House, and she found refuge in this uncomplicated relationship. For House, yes, the only thing he feels safe to be sure of is her professional respect and admiration.
    The game of “bad romance” and “bad timing” etc has already gone too far. I doubt they can push it around like this much longer – it’s either gonna be addressed and acted upon, or just abandoned, as a storyline. Up till now, it has been building up and building up and the writers have to get them to face it at some point.

  • simona

    @Delia_Beatrice: yes it’s complicated and I doesn’t know how they will go out from there but I have always thought that these writers have a great talent and I hope they will be able to unravel the skein. I like [H]ouse M.D. because it always catches me and I really hope it don’t stop surprising me in the future.
    Let’s go on, hoping to make baby steps…
    bye :-)

  • Flo

    great comment Simona (#42)! I agree with you assesments.

    Communication can be hard. Personally, I don’t have many friends myself, I am not and never were a social kind of person. I don’t really chitchat very well. My thing, my credo is: “if you don’t have something to say then say nothing.”
    The thing is, when you don’t say anything for a while most people find you uncomfortable or weird, you know, like “you don’t say anything are you okay? are you bored?”

    But that’s me, That’s who I am. I don’t hate conversations but I like the ones which actually ‘say’ something, the ones which are challenging and interesting.
    That’s the kind of talk I do well.

    That is why I like it here. People here don’t say just “it was okay or it was dull, I didn’t like the scene be cause I hate this character or blah blah blah…”
    Here is a space where we all can have real deep, interesting dicussions about this TV Show. We care about meanings and analyzing themes.
    Usually in forums, especially big or/and official ones, it’s just about fans who get hysterical about their favourite actors and characters and fight over their ships and over-analyze what the show should do next in order to have what they want so they could like it better (usually their theory is very bad fanfiction-like, btw).
    Here is a place where you can really give your two cents in retrospect, you know, having good insights without being too biased.

    As a cinema studient I’m used to analyzing films. Trying to see how the the things are written and why it was written and filmed this way or not in an other.
    I do the same with this. The inner construction of episodes and seasons is what of the things that interest me the most.
    As a person I am naturally fascinated by the human nature and condition. Even when I was little I watched the others around me and I listened to discussions etc.
    What people say and do and why they do it is a subject I’m sort of drawn to. I’m kind of a complusive analyst.
    This Tv Show is a really a godsend for this propensity lool!

    Therefore, I totally understand and agree with Delia. She is right, we can thank Barbara for this. She created this great place of analysis, beginning with her very insightful reviews which are a great platform for us to then expose our point of view in the meaningful themes of each episode.
    Thanks Barbara and all of you!

    Back on the episode, I find it interesting that just after Wilson said that House was probably looking for someone like him the camera heads on Cuddy. Especially after season 5 was all about their similarities which were confirmed in some scenes this season too.

    I also agree with Ted and Barbara, After his break down and Mayfield, House’s confidence is not that great. It is reinforced but the fact that the changes in his life he was expected are taking a long time to come.
    He really doesn’t know what to do now, with all this new life and condition for him. I think that’s why he wasn’t fully ‘here’ on the ddx sessions before, he has more trouble to concentrate perhaps. I believe that’s why it was so good to see him in full diagnostician-master in this episode even if it’s still difficult for him to do so.

  • simona

    Thanks Flo, very kind. Your credo it’s also mine. I like to think that there is once for every thing, there is once for the words and once for the silence and this is a legitimate choice for us. Perhaps what makes me feel House so near is the fact that Hugh Laurie makes so well the idea that we are alone in the world and the only comfort that we can have is to find some twin stars. In the real life I have my soulmates, but they are few in truth and seeing that there are other of them that wander in the galaxy/web and that I can grab only also for a moment, well it makes me happy. So, after all, we are not so alone.
    And thanks to Barbara, always so careful and stimulating with her reviews, the motive for which we can quietly speak in this place. A comparison could be made with the Babele’s Tower, we originate from different worlds but we have found a common language.

  • action_kate

    @39 Ted:

    No, you missed a step. Go backwards:

    Gregory House, the character, was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, the character.

    Sherlock Holmes, the character, was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, a real person.

    Dr. Joseph Bell, the real person, had an uncle named Thomas Bell.

    As a gag, the writers gave the character of House’s biological father (“Nice pick. He looks like Sean Connery. So back when you were devising this fantasy, did you tell your father: “Dad, I refuse to recognize your existence because I have chosen James Bond as my dad”?” — Wilson, from “Birthmarks”) the same name as the real person Thomas Bell, the uncle to the real person Dr. Joseph Bell.

    With me now? :)

  • http://barbarabarnett.com barbara barmett

    kate–you have it!

  • Ted

    I see! Thanks, Kate, for pointing out that coversation between House and Wilson. Interesting continuation.

  • CW

    Surly byzantine a more likely explanation for use of henry james was that james own father was a minister who wrote books of sermons and then the golden bowl does not exactly embrace the morals of his father

  • bakerstreet blues

    I loved this episode….all of it. This has one of my all time favorite scenes in it. House concentrating on the patient, playing with his cane, meandering around his office and finally reading the blog. The music was perfection. The fact that House FINALLY outed Wilson was great. I have often noted that Wilson outs House for EVERYTHING and House keeps Wilson’s indiscretions secret. Tells me a lot about who is really the better friend. At the end of “Dying changes everything” when Wilson told House that all he can feel is misery and therefore spreads it, all he does is manipulate people because he cannot have any real relationships, and that Wilson thinks that they were never really friends to begin with screamed PROJECTION at me. Wilson was basically describing himself as far as I saw. I have always thought that House was the better friend…non-judgmental of Wilson, kept his secrets, trusted Wilson with not only his heart but his confidence (which in my opinion was always a mistake) and never assumed the worst in him. Not to mention the biggest betrayal of all…the huge lie in Meaning that almost cost House all of his self-confidence. Why would any friend want the look on House’s face at the end of Meaning to be on your best friend’s face???? Wilson always jumps to the worst assumption possible (I always think of his remark in Honeymoon about how House is going to save Stacy’s husband just so he can win her back…and then the real blow “I just love that level of narcissism that you have”. Wilson has manipulated the hell out of House, never keeps any secrets of House’s, and psycho-analyzes him to death (almost always wrongly) not only to House himself, but has no problem wrongly analyzing him to anyone else as well. The whole “Never judge a book by its cover” was definitely a theme that no one in House’s orbit even remotely gets except House himself. I can only think of 2 patients that House placed a judgment on, both after he cured them and both were being untruthful to their partners. (Sleeping dogs lie, Open and Shut), shows where House places loyalty in a relationship…right at the top. I was also glad to see House actually involved with the case. I like the fact that he is on anti-depressants, but I definitely think his skills are less razor-sharp. He definitely loses more patients on “Happy Pills”.