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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Runaways”

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Tonight’s House, M.D. episode “Runaways” is full of possibilities: a clinic patient catching House’s (Hugh Laurie) interest, a girl preferring the poverty of homelessness to live with a drug-addict mother, a parent with an addiction problem that hits very close to House’s home, the suggestion that House is being hyper-protective of a patient he believes is a victim. All the pieces are present for a compelling and textured episode. House even has recidivist clinic patients: a pair of brothers who are Civil War re-enacters. All the boxes have been ticked, but somehow it doesn’t quite all fit together into a cohesive fabric. A nice effort from new House writer Marqui Jackson (Lone Star), but I think the episode doesn’t quite deliver on its promise. I felt a little too much like a checklist of beats that should be in a House episode without much weight to it that might have really brought the episode home.

Homeless teen Callie (Bridget Mendler) comes into the Princeton-Plainsboro free clinic, catching House’s attention after he notices blood dripping from her ear. Although he legally should have, House doesn’t call in social services to deal with Callie, which Wilson explains as House’s way of empathizing with someone he perceives as a victim. He is quick to accuse House of caring for the girl and her sad story about an abusive parent, something House, of course denies.

While House does seem to sympathize with his patient, understanding her need to live apart from her mother, Adams (Odette Annable) hopes for a reconcilliation between mother and daughter, believing that Callie would be better off living with a parent. She contacts social services against House’s wishes, which locates Callie’s mom Ellen (Darlene Vogel). It’s very reminiscent of something Cameron might have done back in the day.

House also disagrees with Adams’ medical assessment. While Adams believes that Callie is suffering from alcoholism (after all, her mother is an addict), House believes the teen has a brain aneurism and needs surgery to locate it. In the end, House realizes that it’s a parasite that’s eating away at her brain, and can cure her with a couple of pills.

Elsewhere at Princeton-Plainsboro, Foreman (Omar Epps) is having an affair with a married woman, but loses interest after she discloses the relationship to her husband. Is it that the relationship has lost its adventure, or is Foreman running away from having any sort of relationship actually requiring committment? And Taub (Peter Jacobson) tries to make life a little more interesting for himself—and his daughters Sofia and Sophie—while trying to bond. He wants to feel committed to these two young lives, and ultimately finds a way with a little advice from Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard).

The story circles back in the end to the recurring House theme of “nobody changes”—perhaps even if they want to do so. Even after Callie and Ellen bond, Callie understands that change is fleeting, and soon enough Mom will be back on drugs. She’s better off, she believes to live on her own, where she has control of the situation. House both agrees with and admires her for her courage—we think. Neither Foreman nor Taub can easily change who they are, although Taub finds a way around the problem.

Onto February sweeps, which always promise big, emotional episodes for House fans. And certainly, next week’s “Nobody’s Fault” fits that bill very nicely.

I’ve already screened “Nobody’s Fault,” and I have to say it is an excellent episode. The story by Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and David Foster is right up there with their best work (and that is saying something). Expect a preview article up by the weekend! Here’s a preview courtesy of Ms. Housefan to tease and please (spoilerphobes, please exit the room now!).

For readers who follow my Once Upon a Time reviews and articles, I will be doing a post-episode LiveChat with writer Jane Espenson (Torchwood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones) following her next Once episode “Skin Deep,” which airs February 12. Once Upon a Time stars House alum Jennifer Morrison as well as Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, and Robert Carlyle, airing on ABC Sunday nights; it is and is absolutely worth a peek if you haven’t already seen it.

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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.
  • MeMe

    @Barbara

    I just finished watching the clip for Nobody’s Fault in which Jeffrey Wright’s character introduces himself to House as “Walter Cofield, chief of neurology, Mercy Hospital.” Is there a reason why he’s heading the disciplinary hearing into House’s handling of the POTW when he doesn’t work at PPTH or associate with any of the medical staff? Also, I thought the series skipped a year or so after the events of Moving On? Is this another continuity slip up from TPTB?

  • Djesus

    OMG the sneek peak! the season starts with this ep for me! here we go!

  • http://barbarabarnett.com Barbara barnett

    There is a reason, and the hearing has nothing to do with the events of season 7.

  • Josie123

    I found the second half of this episode boring. Not enough Hugh Laurie! When he said to the mother that her daughter should hate her, is House also implying people should hate him, too? He, too, is an addict. House seems kind of numb to me this season. Too many episodes where he’s busy with fun and games. Too many episodes of him being a “runaway” from his problems. Please tell me he shows some depth next week.

  • MeMe

    @Barbara

    Thanks! As to my second question, I think you misunderstood me. I know that the disciplinary hearing has nothing to do with what transpired in Season 7. What I meant to say was why does the hearing take place in February 2012 according to the sneak peek when the show flashed forward a year or so since last season’s end? Shouldn’t it instead be taking place in 2013?

  • http://barbarabarnett.com Barbara Barnett

    Well, MeMe, if you think about it, House was in prison while the show was on Summer break (3 months) and then again for more than 2 months. So it would still be in 2012 when this happens, even if February may technically be early. They’re not quite caught up with their own time line, but I think that’s a minor complaint overall.

  • Lesley

    Remember: “Time is not a fixed construct” !

  • dago

    Hello Barbara,thanks again for this nice but short recap.I haven`t watched it yet but I definitely will.But have you actually skipped the last episode or did it vanish into the orbit of the internet?

  • MeMe

    Thanks Barbara. Actually, according to Adams after she reviewed his prison records, House was in Fiji during the three-month Summer hiatus following Moving On. Afterwards, he voluntarily returned to the states and took the first deal offered to him by the authorities. By the time we saw him in front of the parole board at the start of Twenty Vicodin, he had already served 8 months out of a 12-month prison sentence. However, due to his misdeeds (and the riot he started!) trying to diagnose another prisoner, an additional 8 months were tacked onto his original sentence, 2 months of which he had served in solitary confinement before Foreman finds a way to spring him loose. That means that House had been away from PPTH for roughly 13 months (3 months in Fiji + 10 months out of a 20-month prison sentence), and that Season 8 began in late 2012 with Nobody’s Fault taking place in early 2013 according to the series’ internal timeline.

    And before you ask, yes, I am anal retentive. Almost 6 years of working in accounting/finances at a public university tends to make you a bit OCD. LOL

  • 20V

    Yeah, a true supernerd complaint, but I think they messed up the timeline. He was in prison for a year, and assuming you don’t want to be literal about it, let’s say approximately eight months or longer. And then there was the two-month timeskip between Twenty Vicodin and Transplant, so it should be nearing spring time when House gets out of jail and bak in the hispital. But, everyone’s been wearing winter clothes all season, and it snowed in Better Half…

    I quite liked this episode. the scene where Taub connects with the twins through football, I’ll embarrassingly admit, had me in a short state of awe. Peter Jacobson does some great things with that character. Adams and Foreman kind of stumped me. I’m not entirely sure where there characters are headed. Adams idealism isn’t quite as charming on her as it was on Cameron, and Foreman being a thrill-seeker seemed thrown together. Weakest parts of the episode.

    The patients are getting better, which is nice. I didn’t drift off or go to do something else during Callie’s scenes with her mother. I especially liked House leaving the pill bottle at the mother’s side. People don’t change, and when they force it, bad things happen. The mother’s attempts to reconnect with Callie and stick with the alcoholism diagnosis nearly killed her. Not sure I agree with the sentiment to that extent, but uncovering the layers is a joy all the same.

  • buborek

    For me, House thinks that people should hate or avoid him, because he’s not good for them. I think it’s why he seems to avoid deep personal connections this season, even with Wilson. I liked this episode,very season1 like.

  • rjw

    I’m with Lesley on this one “time is not a fixed construct”.Anyway,I thought it was an okay episode,but may grow on me when I can see it again next week on the net.

  • TheDamageDealingMeatShield

    Well they already made a mistake in the posted video, House was in prison for a year, so technically the date should be February 3, 2013, not February 3, 2012. ;)

  • Paul

    You have to remember that what now happened on the day after help me.

  • Action Kate

    I find it amusing how art and real life occasionally parallel. Newt Gingrich (this is not a political attack; just an observation) insisted that he did not ask his wife for an open marriage and was insulted that the debate moderator asked him about it — but he did not deny that he’d been having an affair with a young Congressional staffer for six years. Foreman is okay with being the piece on the side, but once his girlfriend opens her marriage, he walks.

    So openness, honesty, transparency, and trust are unacceptable, but adultery and lies are okay? Dan Savage must have permanent keyboard dents in his forehead about now.

    Separately: Yeah, why no review of last week’s ep? We hunger for your insights. :)

  • 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…