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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Two Stories”

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In six-plus years of House, M.D., the first season penultimate episode “Three Stories” still stands as the series gold standard: the episode against which all other House episodes are judged. There have been brilliant episodes in the years following as—or dare I say—even better than “Three Stories,” but this episode still stands as the benchmark.

So, it was pretty certain that the episode “Two Stories” would contain some echoes back to “Three Stories.” And is through this lens that I watched this week’s episode—with great anticipation. It’s a daunting benchmark to try and hit, but Tommy Moran has been with series since season one, and knows the character very well. And although “Two Stories” doesn’t quite hit that gold standard, it’s nice off-formula episode with House learning a lesson about relationships from two precocious kids.

“Two Stories” is a non-linear episode (like “Three Stories”) and as in that iconic episode, House is faced with teaching a class about medicine. Then, it was medical students, in “Two Stories,” his students are in elementary school. But the real heart of the story involves House’s efforts to address a conflict in his relationship with Cuddy.

As the episode gets going, we understand that Cuddy is very upset with House. She tells him that she’s had enough of his self-centeredness and she’s done with the relationship. It’s over! House is baffled, and although he realizes she’s angry, he really has no idea what’s triggered this extreme reaction. He is stunned and hurt (Hugh Laurie is quite amazing in this episode expressing House’s emotions throughout.)

Discovering that his sins are (in his estimation) petty infractions (using Cuddy’s toothbrush, leaving up the toilet seat up and avoiding taking out the trash), House doesn’t understand why these small things have blown up into “I never want to be with you again.” These are slightly stereotypical “guy” things that “girls” get angry about—petty annoyances. But petty annoyances can escalate long after the actual irritant is forgotten. The garbage incident is a tipping point for Cuddy after six months together (by my count). The honeymoon is over, and while one might easily overlook toilet seats (and even toothbrushes), when one of those petty annoyances happen at a particularly vulnerable moment, everything else that the guilty party has done—ever—can emerge into high relief and then some. They all add up to taking her for granted and “not caring.” I’ve known marriages that have fallen apart over such seeming trivialities. And although parts of this episde are a bit over-the-top, House and Cuddy’s conflict has a lot of truth to it.

Actually this is a moment in their relationship that House predicts in the season premiere “Now What?” We know that one of House’s most deep-seated concerns about being in a serious relationship has been a nagging fear that he will one day revert to himself (despite his best efforts), causing his partner to run for the hills. It’s something he’s expressed to Stacy (“Need to Know” in Season 2) and to Cuddy (“Now What?” this season’s premiere).

“I’ll do something insensitive, and at first it’ll be ‘that’s just House being House, but eventually…I don’t want to go there again,” he tells Stacy in “Need to Know”). He’d rather do that than subject himself to the inevitable hurt of her conditional love.

Now, five years later, his fear is realized. And after opening himself up to the possibility of love—and being comfortable in his relationship with Cuddy—Wham! No wonder he looks shell shocked after Cuddy sucker punches him with her news. That is the power of “Two Stories.”

If “Three Stories” is tells us something of the origin (although certainly not all) of House’s trust issues, “Two Stories” explores what it means for House to be in love and transcend those issues to keep this relationship going. Where “Three Stories” explores why House trusts no one but himself, “Two Stories” challenges the trust he’s put in opening himself up to Cuddy, eventually learning something about the nature and rewards of that trust. House acknowledging how much he needs Cuddy in his life is an enormous step, and he proves just how much he cares about her misguidedly and awkwardly—but honestly. 

Of course, House often expresses his caring in misguided ways—leading to occasional disaster. In “Broken” (Season 6), one of House’s misguided attempts to give another human being some happiness nearly leads to a young man’s death. But the more important message for House in that episode is that you can’t always fix things; sometimes you do the best you can to make amends; you apologize and move on. In “Two Stories” it takes awhile for House to remember that, but eventually he does.

So what does House do to make amends for annoying Cuddy to the point she thinks he doesn’t care about her? He learns (by elaborate and illegal means, naturally) that Cuddy really wants Rachel to get into a particular prestige private school, and House makes a deal with hospital’s CEO to pull some strings in exchange for participating in a career day. But after a run-in (literally) with another participant enroute to the school, House turns what would have been a disaster into a catastrophe.

I suppose I could have done without House’s presentation in front of the classroom. We all know that House can be inappropriate (even in front of children), but I think even House is aware enough to have navigated that minefield a bit more elegantly. I did like the way House describes the current case with his patient who (literally) coughs up a lung. His stylized telling eventually endears him to the kiddies, while ticking off the adults in the room.

But the real interaction is between House and two children caught kissing on the playground. The three (all in trouble with the principal) sit waiting on Avatars for House and Cuddy, House begins to view his relationship ills differently, and eventually deals with the problem in a constructive and actually pretty endearing way. He apologizes, asks nothing in return from Cuddy, while hoping she’ll give him another chance not to screw up.

House’s patient in this episode is a pretty secondary character, whom he finally diagnoses when glancing at a poster for The Princess and the Pea. Now, I’m going to take a leap here, and suggest that Princess and the Pea is actually the main metaphor in the “Two Stories.” If you don’t know Hans Christian Andersen’s famous children’s tale, read it. Or better yet, rent the wonderful musical production Once Upon a Mattress starring Carol Burnett as Winifred, the princess (1964).

Relationships are much like Winnifred. She is a klutz and awkward and hardly what you might think of as princess material. Although she might be a stand-in for House here, I think she represents relationships in general. They are messy and clumsy. But relationships are also delicate creatures, and the least little thing, no matter how incongruous it might seem, might be so irritating that it causes pain—and perhaps—destruction.

In the end, House recognizes a tiny object, practically unseen, is causing his patient’s dire symptoms. But he also recognizes that the tiny irritants in his relationship have been just as destructive. Of course we know that House will always be House. So how long he internalizes this essential relationship lesson remains to be seen.

Note: I had a wonderful conversation with “You Must Remember This” writer Kath Lingenfelter yesterday. She is the new House writer on the block, and later this week, please look for my interview with her to appear here at Blogcritics. We talked about a lot of House things, including the relationships, the process of writing for House—and writing “You Must Remember This,” and what is ahead for the remainder of Season 7 (and maybe Season 8!).

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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.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/tall-writer/ Tall Writer

    Great feature. Loved the episode last night. Cannot wait until the film homage episode coming in March. :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Excellent! I always forget those details from past episodes, and I really appreciate how you bring it all together! I didn’t even consider the pea a metaphor for House annoying Cuddy, but I totally see it now.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Thanks TW. Jerome W: The pea thing came to me in a dream last night!

  • JimR

    I’m sorry, but this episode was just terrible. The writers are clearly running out of ideas, and there seemed to be a lot of filler last night.

  • David

    Best episode of the season, easily.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Interesting. I’ve really picked up a split among fans on this episode. Some loved it; some really didn’t at all. I found elements that I liked less (like House’s behavior in the classroom, which verged on cringe-worthy). But what I try to do in my commentaries is to try to figure out what the writers (and Laurie and director) are trying to say. To me the actual plot was less interesting than what it said about the House-Cuddy fight.

  • Lindy

    First time i actually commented since i got back into House and became a huge fan again after i stopped watching for 3 years. Your reviews every week are fantastic. I love how you analyse little tid bits that i would have never even give a second thought of like the pea analysis. Wanting to give a heads up of how much i always enjoy them

  • thrapston cheeseley III

    House is full of remorse, and it is most delicious!

  • http://wellwellwelles.livejournal.com/ Flo

    Hey everyone. Okay so I watched this episode twice and even though the second viewing was better than the first, I must say that I didn’t particularly like this episode.

    The two major flaws for me were that the two kids House talked to on the bench were “mini-House & Cuddy” which I think didn’t work and that House and Cuddy’s situation could be related only by people who had serious relationships.

    On the first point: The kids (especially the girl) were annoying as hell. I admit that I have trouble with kids in general but here the fact that they were representation of House & Cuddy was a catastrophy which made the whole conversation too cheesy. The writer shouldn’t have made them” mini-H&C”. They should just have been regular kids and not representation of another couple. Especially that kids tend to see the world in black and white. That’s why it was too cheesy and annoying to me because the whole thing was too transparent.

    On the second point: I can totally understand that tiny little things can be annoying and, in time, a relationship-breaker but this was so over-the-top, so sudden that I couldn’t get into it. I mean 1st of all, the toothbrush thing was really gross and I don’t care how much House and Cuddy are used to share their germs on daily basis, it is just something you don’t do. I think it was totally OOC for House (frankly for both of them) as a doctor. I was just simply disgusted and they treated this like it was not that big of a deal (that fact that he borrowed the brush). Ewwww!
    Secondly, we never saw House being so uncareful before in his relationships. I mean House notices everything: what makes people happy and what irritates them. Plus it wasn’t his firt relationship so…
    What bugged me is that the thing was written as if he always used to do such things (even waking-up Rachel so early) but it felt like it all happened suddenly and I didn’t like that sensation. Nothing in that episode was built up previously. I call that bad writing. In the few previous episodes we saw House taking an interest in Rachel even being proud of her ability to lie. Then, here he doesn’t care and slammed Cuddy’s front door very early in the morning even if he knows Rachel’s asleep? (He was talking about that with Cuddy just before he left, Hellooooo). I’m sorry but that doesn’t sound like something this House would do.
    Also, as much as I understand those irritating little things could put a relationship in danger if done repeatedly, I couldn’t relate to that situation. It’s not that I don’t want to but the writing was too transparent and over-the-top for me to relate.

    I agree that House made a huge step by admitting he needed Cuddy in his life and by apologizing to her. This episode was important in the show regarding House and his growing as a character in his relationship with Cuddy. I just wished it would have been done better and been more logical with what we saw in the episodes before.

    However, nice review as always Barbara.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Thanks to everyone. Flo–H/C have been together for 6 months at this point. Those “little” irritants are things that House has acknowledged before are the things that will sabotage his relationship. He had the same fear with Stacy.

    My parents would fight over the stupidest things and it would escalate to the point of becoming personal and even cruel belittling on both their part. I totally get this. It’s something about which my own husband and I understand and have based 30 years of marriage of “not sweating the little stuff”–a wise rabbi advised us in that way before we got married.

    This was an important episode, but not without its flaws.

  • Bored

    Barbara, if you prefer interpreting or repeating what the writers had to say (which 99% of your blogs are about), I wish you would add a disclaimer that you really aren’t any kind of critic. Mrely a fangirl espousing your love for Hugh Laurie and House. Indeed, the classroom scenes were cringeworthy. Too bad you couldn’t come out and say that in the body of your episode description.

    Polarizing episode indeed. Even Thomas Moran admitted this script was rejected several times before, going back to when Lucas was still involved with Cuddy. He was also concerned that the classroom scenes were boring. That tells me that TPTB are lazy and/or scraping the bottom of the barrel for stories.

    The series should have ended with season five.

  • Celia

    Deeply disturbing episode tonight. Tom Moran & DS should be ashamed. House didn’t just seem eccentric in front of a group of 5th Grade Students tonight, he seemed deranged. “Who put the sand in your vagina?” he snarls to a little girl? Seriously ? Seriously ?

    He could have picked any topic but he chose to speak to the students about the details of a pelvic exam, vibrators , nibbling around the edges of alternative sexual practices (that demand flossing) , and screaming in a child’s face. None of the topics advanced the diagnosis or storyline but served only to show what ” a wild and crazy guy” our House is. It was sick and offensive….completely detached from any anchor in reality….. and counter productive to his purposes of getting Rachel a spot in the school.

    In Episode 1, Season 1 The POTW asks Wilson if House cares about him based on his actions. Wilson reflects for a moment and responds ” Yeah, he cares about me”. Short, pithy, eloquent and packing an emotional punch.

    The weepy accusations , convoluted solutions & puppy eyed apologies of tonight ‘s episode only highlighted what the once great House has sunk to.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Bored–it’s called commentary (or analysis). I like to analyze, and understand what the writers are trying to say (I know I’ve already said this).

    I like the series House. I still do. I find a lot in the episodes to enjoy and some of the season seven eps have been among my favorites. My reviews are never out to find gotcha moments to catch the writers being less than perfect or to trash the show. Believe me, if I lost interest in House, I would probably first stop writing regular columns and then stop altogether. I’d probably stop watching the show and go on to something else.

    That’s what I’ve always done, and when the XFiles became a mere shadow of itself, I dropped the series (actually after I stopped writing fanfic and reviews about it).

    But please don’t accuse me of continuing to like a show past its prime or refusing to criticize it the way you might. We simply disagree.

  • ruthinor

    Great article Barbara! I also never thought about the pea as a metaphor for the irritants in Cuddy’s life.

    Unlike some others, I didn’t see the 2 kids as mini House and Cuddy, but rather, this was “Two Stories” about relationships. Also, unlike some others, I wasn’t annoyed by the girl, or any of the other kids. I liked them all, especially the red-haired movie buff who obviously knew what a vibrator was! My take is that the 2 kids handled their relationship with much more maturity than House has done with Cuddy. This was largely done with honesty. They both owned up to what they had done and how they felt. And in the end, both were rewarded. I think House realized this when he told the boy “well done” toward the end of the episode.

    One other point which I’ve seen expressed elsewhere and agree with. The only scene in which we can be sure that we are actually seeing the “real” Cuddy was the last one. All the other scenes were seen through House’s eyes and as we know, he lies and he also is quite good at justifying his actions. So how real was the Cuddy depicted in those other scenes. Did she really just want some time away from him because he was annoying the hell out of her and making her already stressful life even more so? Or (in House’s mind) did she want to break up with him? We know how scared he is about losing her, so he sees the worst case scenario. Also, does he really think that Cuddy should love him unconditionally as he expressed in the scene with Wilson? Is it true that House “listens” to Cuddy but actually doesn’t hear her? I think that may be the truth that comes close to explaining Cuddy’s irritation at him.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Ruthinor–Very good point. We see this entire thing unfold through House’s POV. I wonder if we’d get a different story entirely seeing it thru Cuddy’s eyes. I would venture to say: yes!

  • Devil’s Advocate

    “alternative sexual practices”

    Ahahahaha. Sweet. Totally in shallow waters here, but that was the one sex reference I really liked in this episode. Most of them were just annoying or unnecessary, but that particular tidbit? *g* And Cuddy complains that House doesn’t care about her…

    As for the episode as a whole: The split in fandom goes right through my brain apparently. The dislike part is bigger, though. House spilling his personal problems to complete strangers and making such a fool of himself – not something I need to see. Little House and little Cuddy were just unnecessary, two regular, less OTT kids would have been a lot better. I did like the House/Cuddy story, House playing off of the movie kid and the Aristotle reference. It was also much easier to buy Cuddy’s anger here than in the “you don’t get to lie to me” mini-arc a few episodes ago.

  • CJD

    Did anyone else wonder about the exact words Cuddy used to House? If I remember correctly, it was “I know you need me, You might even love me, but you don’t care about me. I deserve someone who does” Please correct me if I’m wrong, if I’m not, it’s very disturbing. It sounds like she doesn’t believe House loves her, and that he doesn’t care about her either. Huh? Since when? I thought she knew he loved her, I thought that the whole season has been about that, and showed many times that he cares about her.

    I looked at her face during that speech and I saw someone who was so completely and totally disgusted with him that she wouldn’t care if she never saw him again. Other posters are saying that it was not a breakup, but the look on her face and what she said says otherwise.

    Also, when House came to her office at the end, she looked at him like he had just crawled out from under a rock. She almost looked as if she hated him-she certainly didn’t want to see him. I hated seeing House beg for another chance from her. She knows he is selfish and self centered, so now she is telling him he has to change to be with her. Huh?

    I agree with the disapproval of all the crudities. House has been vulgar in the past, but never like this. It was way too much and too many lines and certainly should not have been said in front of fifth graders. The plot was not a bad one, but the way they chose to show it was terrible.

  • Julie Ann

    I would agree with the criticisms that House’s comments to a fifth-grade classroom were over the top. I realize television requires a suspension of disbelief, but the idea that an adult could be talking about vibrators in a fifth-grade classroom without the teacher ending the conversation then and there — completely unrealistic, even if it was amusing.

    That said, I think it’s perfectly plausible that Cuddy would get so irked by petty grievances. Can’t bother to take the garbage? Totally blows off a request to leave her toothbrush alone? That kind of stuff wears real, real thin real, real fast. House is used to living his life perfectly as he pleases without taken others’ feelings or needs into consideration, and it’s no surprise Cuddy called him out on it.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    When H came into Cuddy’s office, she practically begs him “not now.” She wants to cool off before talking about this. But he pushes (yet another irritant, akin to pouring gasoline on the glowing embers) and she blows up.

  • http://wellwellwelles.livejournal.com/ Flo

    @Barbara (#10) yes I understand but I just think that the writer failed to make me relate to that. I found it boring. Usually this show talks to anyone. Here I was like: “Okay if you’re married for 20 years you’re gonna relate, it’s gonna be okay, but for other people….”
    Again I understand but I couldn’t relate because of how it was done.

    There were no real built up in the sense that in the previous episodes they didn’t talk about that and House seemed to accept Rachel. For me it was weird to see House slammed the door after hearing Cuddy talking about her daughter sleeping habits hours. Especially after what we saw in the last couple of episodes. That’s all.

    I just felt the writing was just too over-the-top to be really engaging I guess. It just felt like it all came suddenly. Since they’re together for 6 months as you said (not more? it seems to me that HM/NW took place in may or June or something like that.) it shouldn’t felt like this. Of course it just me.

    Bored (#11) Your post makes no sense.
    First of all, there is a HUGE difference between interpreting and repeating what someone’s have/want to say.

    Second of all, interpreting is what most reviewers do (not just Barbara) and also what fans do, including you.

    Thirdly, to interpret doesn’t exempt to be a critic. The other way around is also true.

    You should try to make real sense before posting an insulting message. If you were a real regular of this blog you’d know that there is no “fangirls” here, certainly not Barbara.
    Agree or disagree all you want (you’re free to do so) but please remain fair and civil. No disagreement exempt those two things.

  • CJD

    Back to say that I don’t understand the POTW story. I have always defended House when people say that he doesn’t care about the patients, only the puzzles, (because we in the audience have proof, we have seen that he does when those around him have not)but last night he actually said he didn’t care at all. Like it didn’t matter if he died because his case wasn’t interesting. Is that canon now? Is it because he was concentrating on Cuddy? If so, this relationship is not a good thing for anybody.I thought any conflict between them would be caused by work problems.That makes sense, and would be very interesting to explore-not this uncaring about me stuff.

    Barbara, if your answer about House in Cuddy’s office was for me, I meant the end scene, not the one where she was on the phone. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

  • Bored

    Barbara, where did I “accuse” you in my comment?

    I said, “The series should have ended with season five.” That is my opinion, and apparently it’s shared with nine million viewers who also stopped watching the series since the season high in season three.

    You’re entitled to your opinion. This is your blog. But don’t put words in my mouth.

  • Koji Attwood

    Three Stories has always been at or near the top of House episodes, and Two Stories definitely delivered the goods. Hell, it was worth it just seeing House once again paying homage to Steve McQueen via the cigar chomping Thomas Crown, if only for a fleeting moment.

  • Bored

    Flo:

    Definition of critic: “One who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter.”

    Regurgitating what happened on an episode is not a critique. A critic is supposed to be objective. Barbara admits she watches because she enjoys the show and will most likely stop posting if she doesn’t.

    I rest my case.

  • Jaim

    I liked the episode. I think that most of the over-the-top Cuddy reactions were House’s exaggerated P.O.V of the situation. Also just because you don’t want someone to change doesn’t mean you still won’t get irritated at some of their behavior. He likes her because she calls him on his crap and mistreatment. She finally had enough of him pushing aside her feelings and she called him on it. She may love him for the rest of her life but that doesn’t mean she has to put up with everything he does. Maybe she is unsure sometimes if he loves her because he never really says it often, appreciate her enough, or help out when she asks. It’s like she knows he wants her and needs her but sometimes she would like to see it in a more direct manner.

  • ruthinor

    Bored: I’ve never seen this blog as a “critique” of a house episode, but rather as an interpretation of the events that occur during the episode and how they may fit into the story being told about a complex, fallible medical superhero and those with whom he interacts. It’s a “blog” not a newspaper column by a TV critic. If you have a blog about a subject then you obviously find that subject entertaining and worthy of discussion. You’re the one who insists this blog is supposed to be a critique.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Bored–the last thing I do is regurgitate. I nearly never just offer a recap (which is what many reviewers to). I try to take something in the episode that grabs me, says something to me or is otherwise interesting to me. The operative word in your definition is “or.” A critic doesn’t have to be all of those. One suffices. I discuss the value or hopefully uncover an occasional truth that the show speaks.

    Few TV critics watch what they dislike for very long. Mo Ryan stopped watching House after season three. Critics are seldom objective, which is why you have a range of opinion (which is really what this is). It’s why Roger Ebert might have given a movie 4 stars and Owen Gleiberman gave the same movie one star.

    Rotten Tomatoes is a hoot to read–the opinons are all over the place, the reviewers come at the reviews from a diversity of personal experience and likes/dislikes. If everyone “objectively” watched the movie they’d come out of it with same opinion. Same with television, literature and music.

    Enough of this meta stuff, however.

  • RobF

    I loved the two kids, especially the girl, who was hilarious. (They were obviously 7th-graders, though, not 5th-graders.)

    And I loved the Pulp Fiction scene.

    But I hated pretty much all the rest of the episode. It was a prime example of the worst elements that have crept into the show recently. It was self-indulgent and lazy. It made caricatures of the characters. It lacked any sort of nuance — the dialogue was less like we expect from “House” and more like something from the last Star Wars movies.

    “You have displeased me greatly. I will explain the three ways you have shown you do not love me sufficiently. Please remedy these if you wish our relationship to continue.”
    [time passes, filled with some hoo hoo jokes ]
    “Our relationship is necessary to me. I will no longer displease you in the manner you explained earlier.”
    “I am pleased you saw the error in your ways. Let us resume our relationship.”

    After a very interesting episode a couple of weeks ago, we have had two not worth watching. If this is the future of House, it would be better if there is no 8th season.

  • BeeJ

    Wow, a very polarizing episode it seems after reading the comments so far!

    I was actually indifferent after watching it, but certainly NOT disappointed. It was non-linear, fast paced, explicit, aggressive, and entertaining…like a mini Tarantino knock off episode lol. I love Tarantino! Therefor, after a day to process the epi and watching it again after work, can say I feel positive about it.

    The main gripes I’ve been hearing are that the epi was OOC or cringe worthy. Some say Cuddy was merely being used as a prop to the detriment of her character. I also read that some felt the writing was over the top and illogical. While all are debatable gripes; I think some might have missed the point.

    I really feel like the episode was supposed to be over the top. Cuddy’s reaction isn’t in real time and it’s from House’s POV. Which will always be exaggerated. Yes, Cuddy was being used as a prop, because she was being used in the past tense (and in House’s recount) up until the last scene where he apologizes to her in her office.

    IDK, while I certainly believe any fan has the right to debate good vs bad writing…I have to agree with Barbara. We all may be better served to dig more into the material a bit. Try to see where Shore, Laurie, and the writers are trying to take us. I mean we obviously are all still uber-fans who watch religiously Monday night @ 8pm (or DVR it). We take the time to come on message boards, read reviews, and follow ratings. I just think people maybe should view the episode a few more times and really analyze the material a bit before dismissing episodes as crap or fillers.

  • hwl40

    Thank you, Barbara, for another review that adds depth to the story.

    I had an odd reaction to this episode. I love seeing House and Hugh Laurie with children, wanted to love the episode but came away thinking it was probably a very weak, not to say off putting episode in spite of the great scenes with the kid couple and touching scenes with Cuddy. The crudity was so off putting, largely gratuitous and not necessary to the jokes or the story. Do you think this was a “how far can you go” episode? Kind of like Robin Williams saying that he rifs until he feels the audience withdraw?

    I came in late to the episode and missed the early part. When I watched it again on video, I was appalled by the “sand in your vagina” comment to a child he had never met. That’s when I withdrew big time, disappointed in the entire production when I could have been delighted.

    Sorry, I really love this series and Hugh Laurie but they need to get a grip.

  • Sera G

    Hello, Barbara,
    Great, as usual. I feel dumb; I didn’t put the pea with the minor irritants that become huge. Very nice metaphor!
    I really liked this episode. Nothing compares to “Three Stories” not only because it was brilliant, but because it was so unique in the House storytelling, up until then. “Two Stories” handled itself quite well. I must agree that the frank discussion with the fifth graders was inappropriate; although I wondered if perhaps ‘Dr. Hourani’ thought he might get kicked out if he was out of line. It was funny, but it was WRONG.
    ruthinor,#14, I think you might be on to something with Cuddy’s anger in the door scene. House depicted the team in their most caricatured ways; Masters as Florence Nightingale, Taub and Chase making passes at the nurse, ignoring the choking patient and Foreman worried about who is in charge.
    (Great scene, btw.) House is terrified that Cuddy will leave him and in his retelling, that might be how it seemed to him.
    I loved the children. That little girl was excellent. She held her own with HL.

    House has always been more comfortable telling strangers anything, over telling someone about who he cares. The passengers on the plane, the priest/patient, the man to whom he makes amends in season 6, rather than apologizing to Wilson or Cuddy. He needs an impartial sounding board. I think he is often at his most honest at those times.
    I love that House really wants this relationship to work and to last. As with Wilson, he takes his friends for granted. Perhaps to Cuddy it might seem he only enjoys the sex and companionship and does not want to really be part of Cuddy/Rachel’s daily lives. Daily life can be boring and mundane. Perhaps Cuddy fears that he is getting bored and wants her to force him out. He tells the children not all patients are interesting (as if it didn’t matter that the man died.) She might wonder if he is deliberatly being difficult or boorish. I find them both still so vulnerable. I liked that 6 months in, all is not smooth, yet they are not giving up.

    On a completely different track, I laughed out loud that they were watching “Cinderfella”, a delightful Jerry Lewis movie (imo) with Jerry as the male Cinderella. Another fairy tale, where all is not ‘happily ever after’ as the story portrays.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    I thought the classroom scenes were funny (and I bought the strictly from House’s point of view telling of reality), but as I said, I felt that he was over the top in the classroom.

    Tommy Moran has been with the show a long time (Fidelity was his first episode), and has consistently shown the rougher edges to House–his boorishness (“Whatever it Takes” for example), interestingly.

  • Andrea

    House is an unreliable narrator. I suspect that the classroom scenes actually went down a little differently and he was playing it up a bit for the two kids who got caught kissing. He seems to be telling the story for the benefit of these particular children. I don’t know if he’d have gotten out of the room without the police being called if he’d actually said and done everything he tells them he did.

    I thought the story and plot was an enormous tall-tale, everything exaggerated. I don’t think Cuddy was breaking up with him in this scene. I think she was exasperated with his self-centeredness and wanted time to herself, much like House wanted time alone to watch TV in his underwear. House leapt to the conclusion that it was the beginning of the end and he has to do anything he can to save the relationship.

    I like the young actress who played the little girl with the black eye. She’s a regular on General Hospital, where she plays a similar character.

  • Andrea

    The actress who played the girl is named Haley Pullos. She is 12.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Andrea–That is completely logical. House is a very unreliable narrator and those episodes seen completely from his POV are often exaggerations and–as you say–tall tales.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Does anyone remember the British comedy series “Black Adder”; Hugh Laurie played the most hilarious bafoon in it when he was in his twenties.

  • Michele1L

    Overall, I didn’t like this episode much. I not only agree that House was much too vulgar in his presentation with the children, but even in his scene at home with Cuddy when he was intimating about needing to brush his teeth after performing a ‘certain action’ with her. He deserved to get lit into because in talking like that to her and shrugging off the use of her toothbrush, he cheapens their relationship. He was absolutely over-the-top disgusting in this episode until the last scene. As I understand it, the b-story in next week’s episode will test their relationship even further. I’m worried.

    CJD(17) – I don’t believe that Cuddy is convinced that House loves her. Despite his telling her (after coaxing from her) that he did, I don’t believe Hugh Laurie’s delivery of the line, ‘I love you’ was meant to be convincing. It certainly didn’t convince me, and I didn’t think Cuddy was convinced either. I believe House has difficulty separating a desperate need from love itself. I’m not sure he knows the difference.

    I wasn’t as blown away by the “Three Stories” episode as some were. I’ve seen what I believe to be far better episodes than that one since the series’ inception, “House’s Head”, I loved, “Help Me”, the episode with the priest — the name escapes me — is one of my favorites, and my list goes on. — However, it was a bit bold to name this episode “Two Stories”, because it falls well short of the episode it is meant to homage in structure. Surprised Moran, one of the veterans, wrote such a weak episode when the one prior to it, the well-balanced, enjoyable, “You Must Remember This” was written by a newbie to the staff. Interesting to see what’s next.

  • D1234

    I came away from this episode not really knowing what to think. I was not a big fan of it. I agree with the classroom scenes as being over the top. I thought all of the sexual jokes were a little too much for me, such as tossed salad and sunday brunch. Did the writers look up what they mean in places such as urban dictionary. I’m not meaning to sound judgmental by any means, it just felt a little over the top by the amount in this episode. I felt like Cuddy’s character seemed a little off to me. I realize this is coming from House’s point of view. Also, I do think some of Cuddy’s insecurities are shown in the episode, especially the scene at the door. I guess I will re-watch the episode and see if I appreciate it more after reading your comments Barbara. I am always excited to read your comments especially in an episode like this.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Jet–BlackAdder was awesome. Hugh was perfect as “George” in all of his iterations!

  • Dmckoy

    As always Barbara, great review. Looks like I’m in the minority here because I loved the ep. It really showed just how vulnerable House really is in this relationship, and it was done in a very entertaining way. Ok yes, some of the dialogue with the kids were a little off putting, but honestly that lead to the humor for me…the wrongness of it all!

    I know some posters expressed that once again Cuddy was over reacting and being over the top. Couldn’t disagree more with this. Her reaction rang so true. Those little things can become very annoying over time, and she had every right to be pissed. But it shows great strides with House that he was able to accept fault, admit he needed her, and commit to doing better. Love that!

    Also, loved House’s view of the team…spot on. Overall, I’d give the ep a B, maybe even a B+ for all the huddy scenes we got this week. And I’m not some fangirl, just a longtime fan of the show who enjoys watching the characters grow over the years

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Hi Dmckoy–like you, I’d probably give the episode a B. One of these days I have to go back and rate seasons three through seven as I did for seasons one and two. I didn’t rate the episodes in the book (except to point out the “classics”) thinking I’d reserve it for this column. Maybe when they’re on hiatus again.

  • Mimi

    instead of Two stories, the Episode should be named STUPID Stories. The writer of this episode needs to be fired.
    I finally get my friends to watch house and this episode totally turned them and me off. after it ended they were cracking up about how bad it was. I love House and huddy, but I think the Huddy relationship needs to end. it is so embarassing to watch with cuddy’s nagging every second. the woman never apologizes, only House does. House is definaelty not happy in the relationship and i hope he decides to end it and move on. The episode was sexist, bad dialogue and wired storylines. Cuddy’s character is written so badly i have lost my repsect for her, seriously ending a relationship over small relationship problems like this, laughable.

  • Elisabeth

    Just one correction to a previous poster. House asked, “Who put sand in HER vagina?” when he was speaking about the strict teacher (playground Nazi?) who had just brought the two children to the principal’s office. It a minor point, but he wasn’t talking about the child’s vagina.

  • Dmckoy

    @barabara #41: I would def be interested in ur ratings…we know they all can’t be As

    @Mimi 42: just want to point out that I really dont think Cuddy was breaking up with House. She just needed some space, perhaps just for the night. He was getting on her nerves and she needed some “me time” to think about things. I certainly know what that’s like. She was just expressing her feelings to him. She loves him and I doubt would end things so abruptly.

    But of course ur entitled to ur own opinion

  • pawpaw

    I really liked this episode although initially didn’t think I would but stuck with it because it is a House episode. What I liked best was House’s interactions with the two kids. House wouldn’t have gotten “it” if the “it” came from Wilson or M3 or the 3 stooges on his team, and certainly not from Cuddy herself. It had to come from “outsiders,” but smart outsiders who can push back at House. It was priceless to watch House’s epiphany, especially Hugh Laurie’s expressions. I’m really liking these “reveals” (as Shore likes to call them) about House. He’s come a long, long ways, baby, and I’m liking it a lot! Especially how he admitted to the principal that he NEEDS Cuddy in his life. That’s really huge!
    BTW Barbara, good pickup on the Princess & the Pea! It didn’t even occur to me until you mentioned it!

  • andree c

    Personally, I felt 2 stories left me feeling unsettled but like a good episode, things come back at you a little while later. I realized much of the subtleties like House’s version of things being way more colorful in the telling than they were in reality. House annoyed Cuddy several times with his inconsiderate behavior all in one morning and it boiled up in her response to him at work and later at the door of her home when she let him know (or called him on his crappy behavior) that she need to be away from him for a little space. I think from her asking him to handle the garbage and he used his leg to get out of it was standard behavior but slamming the door stopped her yoga time, then the up toilet seat and the gooey mangled (cuddy) toothbrush and spittle in the sink piled it on. When she nicely asks him not to use her toothbrush because he shreds it he tells her to shut up albeit politely and she shoots him a “really?” look. He may be affectionate and sexual but that’s not enough for a relationship to sustain itself. It IS the little things and the 2 stories device shows us the 2 stories of what the relationship is like and what it should be like if its going to succeed. It can’t be on House’s terms and he can’t continue to act like an ass if he expects Cuddy to be happy being with him. She’s not asking him to change at all. She’s asking him to treat her better because they’re in a deep personal relationship. He knows he can’t behave like a kid if he wants her to respect him as a man. If its all one-way, the relationship is doomed so the future is in House’s control. Either he steps up a bit or can plan on it ending. Its totally his call. Cuddy’s quite clear about her feelings and he’s lucky she’s handling it well and verbalizing it to help him see what he’s doing which is being very lazy about her needs. He can make her happy and in turn, make himself happy. Or he can screw it up. He’s capable of both.

    The best part of the story was in the final portion of the show when House acknowledges Cuddy’s importance to him (he needs her) to the principal who tells House its time to grow up. It’s really more about House finding a way to tell Cuddy he needs her although she seemed to know that. She just needs him to show he loves her by being loving not selfish or self-centered 24/7. It doesn’t take much to make her happy so that’s all he needs to do.

  • FrustratedFan

    Barbara,
    Love your blog – and liked this episode.
    But I’m easy – I only judge an episode on whether I enjoyed it or not. So it’s always nice to read others who take a less shallow approach on their viewing of what I consider one of the last remaining shows on broadcast television that is clever – at all.
    But…
    As someone who has avidly followed House since it’s inception, the frustration I feel is not with the show but with it’s fans.
    Because I can no longer tell the difference between honest commentary and viewers simply being angry their favorite character or character pairing didn’t get the appropriate attention in the particular episode being discussed.
    The responses to your weekly blog on the show surely shows that.

  • 54

    I was jarred by last night’s episode and agree with the people who say that there was a lot of bad writing.

    In Season 7, I think that House is “dumbed down” in certain episodes, in several respects. This is really disappointing and OOC for me.
    1) House is extraordinarily perceptive. Is the audience really expected to believe that House–who is who he is because he notices and remembers subtle details–does not know what will make Cuddy mad? Maybe this is playing off the idea that House is a genius as a doctor but really underdeveloped in relationships, but the extent to which this is being played out is frankly ridiculous in light of how long House has known Cuddy and the fact that he has lived with someone for five years before.

    2) Can the writers please stop writing out the theme of the episode in big, block letters, like they are holding up a sign? There’s some serious heavy-handed treatment going on here. If Hugh Laurie wasn’t such a good actor, I do believe that most, if not all, nuance would go out the window.

    3)Why has Cuddy turned from sassy and sexy to whiny and glaring-at-House-for-90% of the episode? Cuddy, even when arguing with House, was so interesting because she had sass, she was funny, and she “got” House on a different level–all of which provided for excellent chemistry. Now, I feel like she has lost her Cuddyness. Where is that spark that was Cuddy? If you can continue to drop crude sexual comments all over the place, you can afford to write in some dialogue for Cuddy where she is the perceptive, intelligent, assertive, and lively character that she has been in prior seasons. Just because she’s arguing with House does not mean she has to turn into someone else.

    As an additional comment on the heavy-handed treatment, sometimes I think that House is written as a caricature of himself. I get that in Two Stories they wanted to show that House is House even with children, but, his prior interactions with children in previous seasons have always shown that yes, he is brutally honest with children, but he is insightful about what they need. I don’t think House would be a gentle Career Day participant. I even expect him to be rude and obnoxious, but I don’t expect him as a character to talk the way he so crudely talked about sex.

    Lastly, I feel that House’s “nasty” comments in the past have been so memorable because they were shocking and offensive but rang with truth and resonated with some type of insight. Now I feel like a lot of House’s dialogue is written to show, “look, House is a jerk. look at all the shocking things he says.”

    Sigh. I know I wrote a whole of of criticsm today, but it’s because I sincerely want the show to do well. Here’s to hoping for House’s future.

  • Mars

    I usually troll this board a lot, and decided to post for the first time. Great analysis Barbara. I always learn something new and you force me to think on different levels or at least rewatch it…thank you.

    I don’t understand all the fuss, I’m sorry! I don’t mean to offend anyone. I love all House fans! But aren’t we nit-picking a little? I mean think about the state of TV right now??? We got American Idol, Dancing w/ the Stars, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy (aka ER #2) and the all those generic, old people shows on CBS that take absolutely NO writing talent at all (CSI 1-3, Criminal Minds 1 & 2, NCIS 1 & 2, TWO IN HALF MEN???, etc.)

    I agree w/ “FrustratedFan #47– House is still the most clever show on television.

    I read this board every week. Most of you naysayers only come out and bombard the board when you have something negative to say. The minute you think Huddy is written badly or a less than perfect epi airs, you jump on the producers and writers and call the show DOA.

    I’m sorry, can we just appreciate the last 1 or 2 seasons of this great show and stop tearing it to pieces??? I’m disturbed by the trend. If you hate it and think the show is terrible, why take the time on message boards to watch it, hate on it, or hate on fans like Barbara who try to find the importance and positive in every episode?

  • smk46

    “two stories” seemed to me to be very poor writing, indeed: shock value was substituted for witty dialogue, cuddy’s personality took a huge backward step into being shrewish again (there are ways to communicate displeasure without delivering ultimatums), the patient of the week barely existed, the classroom scenes were not only unbelievable they were ridiculous, and house would never, ever tell some stranger that he needed cuddy in his life. heck, he barely told dr. nolan whom he trusted and respected that he had a problem.
    this script gives no support to the circumstance that it’s totally house’s pov and therefore skewed because it goes back and forth between the fantasy scenes and the reality scenes. if we are to believe that device, why should we think there is a third level of reality we are not privy to? there is no clue to inform us of the objective truth of the situation. and if we are to believe the final scene with cuddy, how do we know when we have slipped from house’s pov into an impartial narrator’s? weak, weak writing.

    on the other hand, hugh laurie was terrific in his over the top role. and lisa edelstein, despite getting the short end of the character development s(ch)tick, was excellent as well. too bad the writing wasn’t up to showcasing their skills with a dramatic story worthy of them. i’d settle for “one story” if it were a good one.

  • dvbfan

    The “Two Stories” episode definitely not rank high in House episodes we have seen through out this season and previous seasons but it is not a very bad episode .
    I am agree that some of the scenes were a little boring , but overall I like the whole episode .

    In my mind,this episode is an important one because in this particular episode we have seen a real fear in House mind about his relationship with Cuddy and if he can continue this needy relationship with her and change himself, House always say this ” people never change “, and become more caring person or he wants to come back to his selfness and the actual House.
    personally I have doubts about this special relationship between House and Cuddy and I want to find out what is going to happen in upcoming episodes .

    Dear Barbara, as always it is enjoyable to read your reviews and at last , I should apologize every body because of my poor English .

  • hwl40

    Elisabeth @43, thanks, I must have heard it wrong and that does make it somewhat less inappropriate. Still gratuitous, but what he says to adults has a lot more leaway to me. I remember in one episode – the name escapes me – with the mother and daughter who refused to lie to each other, he asked a sexually explicit question to the daughter but had the grace to look horrified when she answered. Here, he has lost even that, albeit recessed, filter.

    Andrea @ 46, really helpful comments, also thanks to others who, unlike myself, are able to see past the surface to what may be a tall tale from House’s point of view.

    That said, I’ll be forewarned if we get another Tommy Moran story as I still think he pushes the “boorishness” (great description, Barbara) of House past what feels authentic – to me anyway.

  • Elisabeth

    My biggest problem with this episode is that it seemed to be shoehorned in place rather than making sense in the overall arc of the season. Because of this, the plot can make sense, but the emotions don’t ring true to me.

    Last week (as Barbara pointed out) we saw House and Cuddy interacting in a loving and comfortable way – the scene on the bed when Cuddy has just showered is touching and memorable. In the previous episode, with Arlene as POTW, there is great tension between House and Cuddy, but through it all Cuddy still respects House and his skills and House is still being careful not to insert himself between Cuddy and her mother.

    I agree with previous posters that in a relationship little pea-sized issues can accumulate to become major problems. I just don’t buy it that these would sneak up on House as presented. This is a man who notices EVERYTHING and especially everything about Cuddy and her reactions. Remember that he knew where she was in her menstrual cycle way back in an earlier season and remembered her screen saver of Mont Saint-Michel in “Now What.”

    It seems to me that this whole argument was invented to create tension so that House would have something to talk about and figure out when he went to the school. It also seemed a little bizarre to me that this school would now be Cuddy’s #1 choice for Rachel. The original Rachel pre-school episode worked so well and made sense in a House-bonds-with-Rachel way, that this again seems like an awkward attempt to tie this episode into the season arc.

    Don’t get me wrong, there were things I liked about the episode. I liked the two kids and their story and their interaction with House – this part was well written. I liked the way House came to see things from a perspective other than his own and therefore was able to apologize and admit his mistake (thanks Dr. Nolan).

    But there are also things I would have left out or toned down. Like many of you, I found House’s classroom lecture out of character. I think the writers could have come up with a wonderful “Day in the Life of Doctor House” that was crazy and unconventional but not so crude. And the car accident and classroom tussle should have never made the final cut, in my opinion.

    Held up against the brilliance of “Three Stories”, this one is a disappointing reflection on its name.

  • Julie Ann

    Did House really say, “I love you” to Cuddy? I watched it again last night, and I didn’t catch it either time.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Julie Ann–he said it in Now What..and probably since then (off stage)

  • Orange450

    Hey Barbara, thanks for your review. Sorry to weigh in so late!

    A polarizing episode indeed!

    I’m casting my vote on the side of “I loved it”. It worked for me on every level. I thought the format-breaking style was exemplary in its precision. Somehow, I was reminded of a Rubik’s cube – as each segment pivoted, showed its colors, and slid neatly into place. IMO, the OTT feel of the combined storylines was exactly right – not too much and not too little :)

    I loved the writing, the pacing, and the sequencing. Aside from all the great examples already mentioned in previous comments, there were some additional gems. I think my favorite has to be the way House leaves the principal’s office, after his aha moment with the Princess and the Pea. “May I be dismissed?” – and he wasn’t being ironic in the least! When was the last time House took his leave in quite such a polite kind of a way?? Come to think of it, maybe a stint at a rigorous, high-expectations elementary school is just what he needs. Cuddy should stop worrying about where Rachel should go, and fill out an application for her boyfriend :)

    Which movie reference was it where House shoots a look at the movie kid and waits a beat – waiting for the kid to come up with the reference? That moment too was tiny, but brilliant.

    I also loved the House-eye-view of Cuddy’s grievances. And it must be noted that the toothbrush and the garbage and even the toilet seat (S2’s Hunting, anyone??) probably wouldn’t have provoked the same reaction had House not thoughtlessly slammed the door, and woke Rachel, just as Cuddy had reminded him that Rachel was going to wake up soon. As we’ve seen before in 5 to 9, Cuddy’s yoga is a highly important and stablizing part of her day. I heartily empathize with her violent irritation at the thoughtlessness which caused House to mess it up for her.

    I loved House with all the kids. The use of mini-avatars reminded me of Airborne. As others have mentioned, we have many seasons of proof that House is generally at his best with kids. I’ve been a bit surprised that the writers initially chose to portray House at less than his best with Rachel, but I guess we had to be reminding that sharing is not his strong point. Hmm, maybe House would benefit by a semester at Waldenwood, rather than Brye Park. Preschool is where we early childhood educators try to impart those pesky “sharing” notions.

    I definitely agree that the little annoyances of everyday life can erode a burgeoning relationship quickly. And we know that in general, House is the kind of individual who is better at the periodic “grand gesture” than the day-to-day “little acts of thoughtfulness” that grease the skids of long-term relationships over time. Which is why I thought the ending of the episode was perfect. Because few things are more endearing that the evidence that your partner not only hears you – but is actually going to *try*. I’m also a veteran of a > 30-yr relationship (ad 120), and from my POV – the willingness to try outweighs a multitude of mistakes :)

  • Kate

    Hi Barbara,
    Unlike some other fans, I don’t think the boy and the girl mirrored House and Cuddy despite there were some similarities. Yes, the girl is a bit bossy and that reminds us of Cuddy and the boy mentions playing games to ensure the girl kisses him. House even mentions how the girl’s questions are like Wilson’s. Still, I found the girl’s overall pursuit of truth and constant questioning of the reason behind House being in the principal’s office quite like House’s treatment of people in his live. He analyzes everyone, he forces them to face the situation and comes with a few wise words just like the girl did.

    I agree with you that the episode didn’t measure up to the standards of Three Stories, but it was fun to watch. What I find troubling is the overall story writing in this season. Although some fans attribute the problem to the Huddy relationship,I think the course of this season was problematic beyond that. The fact that there have been some changes after the initial planning of the season is public now. The network decision to cancel the road trip episodes are also known. Maybe the problem is this intervention. Or maybe it is because the writers are quite restrained about House’s relationship with Cuddy since they don’t want to alienate non-Huddy fans. Either way, neither the exploration of the relationship nor the course of the entire season seems satisfying. This is the seventh season of the show and some rating decline is not that surprising. As I said, I find the problem is beyond that.

    Hopefully, it will be figure out soon since the show deserves a proper ending. I also hope that the blame won’t be put on House’s relationship with Cuddy.

    I am really curious about how Season 8 can remedy this one. Of course, I assume there will be Season 8. That’s why I wonder what you think about this season and the fate of the next one.

  • julieann

    OK, BB: The “I love you” in “Now What” I distinctly remember, but I haven’t heard it since. And it was apparent in that episode that those words don’t come easily to him.

  • Julieann

    Oh, Bored, give it a rest. If you don’t like Barbara’s reviews, find other site. Why deprive those of us who enjoy her writing just because you don’t?

  • byzantine

    Oh Orange, thank you for this. I could not have said it better. I loved the episode as well with all its quirkiness and intertextuality. I loved House as a narrator, I loved also that he lives on 221 Baker Street, that he kissed Cuddy as if they were in an old movie (he aggressive and she limp), and that he included us the viewers, when, in response to the irritated adults who wanted him to stop while the kids wanted him to continue, he said that the audience wins. I love also how he loves Cuddy–so painfully intense, sometimes it hurts me, but this is House, one cannot expect any less.

    Thank you Barbara for writing your weekly reviews and for putting up with yours and House’s demanding audience.

  • http://www.NPR.org BigHousefan

    Orange and Byzantine – I’m with you! I thought it was an interesting way to remind us of the child-like side of House. I loved the reference to the Rubik’s Cube with regard to how the story developed. Also the comment noting how House kissed Cuddy as he left for work. Now that you mentioned it, it reminded me of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man and fit nicely with all the movie references. Thanks for pointing it out. More great examples of why I never miss visiting Barbara’s blog after each show! Thanks Barabara, too, for the Princess and the Pea reference. I totally missed it!

  • Devil’s Advocate

    The relationship between Cuddy and House just isn’t working. It’s not. Everytime that the audience thinks that these two are going to be okay, TPTB never miss an opportunity to show us how their relationship is ultimately futile by always pigeonholing House as the source of their romantic problems. And since they also never fail to remind us how House is incapable of NOT screwing up, it doesn’t take a genius to know this isn’t going to last long-term. We know by now that House is a jerk; he can be rude and abrasive. Moreover and among other things, he doesn’t weigh his words before he says them, as anyone that has followed this show should know by now.

    And to be fair, Cuddy does have the right to expect that House should do certain things for her at this stage in their relationship such as respecting something as simple as leaving her toothbrush alone after specifically asked him to. But the truth is, House is not great at doing the little things and even worse, he doesn’t normally do them even when asked to do so. He is the supreme contrarian; he has to challenge – consciously and otherwise – those around him. It’s who he is. He thrives on conflict and controversy, framing both professional and private issues as highly personal rivalries with winners and losers at the end. And yes, he can be selfish, insensitive, and almost too intense, but that’s part of what makes him compelling and attractive to the viewers. While I can’t blame Cuddy for complaining that he doesn’t often put her and her needs before his own, the crux of their situation is that while House does want her in his life, Cuddy only sometimes wants him in hers. Although I disagree with her assessment that he might love her but doesn’t care enough about her, House will always end up falling short of who Cuddy wants him to be however much he tries to placate her. And that makes me think it’s better for them to just call it quits sooner rather than later before they both end up miserable.

    To clarify, I know that Cuddy cares about House. I’ve never doubted that. But she will never be able to love him unconditionally. She may love parts of House, but not him as a whole. Not really. She probably loves that he gets so invested in a case he will ultimately do what is needed to do right by the patient because she doesn’t necessarily have that freedom and can live vicariously through him. She probably loves that he’s extremely intelligent and witty, even that he’s acerbic, because he can offer her the challenges she longs for which no one else can. She probably loves the way he makes her feel when he looks at her, perhaps even when he makes sexual remarks about her body because it makes her feel good about herself as an attractive woman even when she protests otherwise. Cuddy probably loves the way he needs her because the truth is that Cuddy needs to be needed. I’m not saying any of that is bad. It’s just that she loves him for what he can do for her as well as for who she thinks that he can be instead of who he is. Cuddy doesn’t accept him anymore, not like she used to once upon a time, and that means that she gets stressed when he fails to measure up to her expectations. He can never truly please her, which means that he gets stressed out by how he’s always messing things up from her viewpoint, and everything in House’s personal life then centers around how to get her to forgive him. House feels that he needs her so desperately that when she’s upset with him, it’s all he can think about and suddenly he’s not doing his job, one of the few things he does extremely well in his life, because he’s spending every moment he can trying to figure out how to make her happy or appease her so that Cuddy won’t end things with him. In short, what they have is just not sustainable.

    And that’s where House has made his mistake since the beginning of Season 7. Relationships involve compromise, as people like Wilson are always nagging on about throughout the show’s history. When was the last time that Cuddy truly compromised for him? When was the last time she acquiesced for something he wanted? I don’t mean the last time she tolerated him or what he wanted. I mean the last time Cuddy significantly bended for him. House is always testing the boundaries of their relationship because he doesn’t know how to do anything but that. There are all these behavioral guidelines that he’s suddenly up against. He’s trying but fails to make any permanent headway before some other obstacle crops up. And let’s be honest, Cuddy will always have all the control in their relationship, she’s always going to be the one to end things. For instance, let’s take the issue of sex. She uses withholding sex to control him, to bring him back in line, and/or to get him to do what she wants him to. That’s what most women do anyway, and even House accepts that. But then he finds himself retaliating by making everything with Cuddy about sex all the time, which has to drive her nuts, but it’s because it’s the one thing House must believe he can do right for her. Consequently, he falls into making their relationship about sex; whether because he’s a man or because that’s actually something he can please Cuddy in, it doesn’t matter. But at the same time, Cuddy falls into making it about House changing to better suit what she wants him to be, which she probably deserves but which, no matter what efforts he makes, I doubt House will ever be able to change enough to suit her version of Mr. Perfect. This is no longer a real relationship; this is an unwritten contractual agreement, the terms of which are set in stone and not to be violated: House obeys, Cuddy gives him sex. Cuddy gives him sex, he better obey.

    I feel that House is just waiting all the time for the roof to come caving in on him. So I think that House should’ve accepted Cuddy’s decision from earlier in the episode that they were done. While House may need her in his life, he’s not necessarily good in hers. Not the way things currently are. So if they can somehow go back to her being his boss and him being her reluctant employee, then hopefully whatever they share will end on good terms before Cuddy no longer feels that she needs him at all in her life. At least it should end before she arrives at a point where she never wants to see him again under any capacity whatsoever.

  • Leodie

    I cringed during the first half of the episode which had never happened to me before (not on House anyway).

    I have been known to watch an episode, be half skeptical about it, read Barbara’s review, watch the episode again and find hidden merit to it. But not even Barbara’s review, although insightful as usual, was enough to save this episode.

    No one does grossing out people with as much gusto, timing and humor as House. The problem is that it is like skating on thin ice, if it is a bit off or not funny enough the ice breaks and here I am feeling sorry for HL trying but failing to swim back to the surface. Is it just me or was he himself not very convinced by the whole masquerade ? HL generally does a great acting job, but in this episode he seemed off. I didn’t find the movies references very convincing either, and I found the girl annoying.

    That’s too bad because I liked the “you need me, you might even love me but you don’t care about me” theme. I find it much more interesting and believable than the “you can’t lie to me” arc we had a few episodes back.

    I wish we had at least one episode without tension between H and C. I know relationships are difficult, especially House’s relationships and without issues it would be boring to watch. But there are also moments when everything is just right and I wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit of that. These are two great minds I would like to see work in the same direction at least once.

    We’ve had two good episodes before this one, fingers crossed for the end of the season. Please no shark jumping.

    House has changed birth date for the third time. In the first season Cameron wished him a happy birthday during a winter episode, when he was shot at the end of season two he shared Laurie’s birthday in june, and now we see on his driver’s license that it has moved to may. Are the writers toying with us, trying to see if we’re paying attention ? Did they sack the script ? Or is it the writers leaving the toilet lid up on us? Don’t care enough to bother anymore?

  • Andrea

    I don’t necessarily think they have to be doomed or that Cuddy doesn’t love House unconditionally because she wants him to take out the trash and stop using her toothbrush. You can love someone and find them hellishly irritating and not want them around all the time. So they’re human. So what? Cuddy had Lucas if she wanted a presentable guy. She didn’t want Lucas. House is, for better or worse, the one she wants around. What I’ve seen is two flawed individuals who are doing their level best to make a difficult relationship work. House is TRYING and sometimes succeeding and vice versa. They don’t want to walk away because their relationship isn’t perfect. Of course, the writers might screw the whole thing up. If I were writing it, I think they could be kept together realistically.

  • Elisabeth

    DA @62 is right about this: “When was the last time that Cuddy truly compromised for him? When was the last time she acquiesced for something he wanted? I don’t mean the last time she tolerated him or what he wanted. I mean the last time Cuddy significantly bended for him.”

    I too would like to see Cuddy sometimes taking responsibility for the problems between them. She says she loves him and knows he is screwed up and will always be screwed up. So maybe there will be a scenario where Cuddy can apologize to House for withholding love (and sex) because she was expecting him to be something that he is not.

  • The Other Barnett

    WOW, the fans are restless this time, aren’t they! The show was probably a B- for me. I agree with LEODIE that I cringed during much of the first 20 minutes. It was not enjoyable, the show was going a bit over the top in the stupid House behavior and the naggy-fussbucket Cuddy act. But, then the episode changed….

    All of a sudden House was playing off that movie kid (which was soooooo cool, to me)and he was engaging with the young couple (by the end of the show, I wanted to adopt that girl). House also explained to the board member his intentions for helping Rachel (whom I think he secretly admires now) to help Cuddy. The show turned and it got back to a semblance of why we like the characters.

    Sad for you MIMI that you tried to get new viewers to turn on to the show in this episode….bad choice. Its like trying to get someone to like Anthony Hopkins by watching him in the movie Proof with Jake Gyllenhall and Gwenyth Paltrow. This episode required too much explanation of the back-stories and the characters to get a full appreciation. YOU NEVER TRY TO HOOK A NEW VIEWER IN THE MIDST OF A SEASON…USE DVD’S!

    I was seriously bothered by how domestically challenged Cuddy and House came off in this episode….but then I remembered. They have had between them possibly one functional romantic relationship in their life, and none since House’s surgery. Thanks to Barb for bringing back the Stacy side of this, it helped me accept this House stumble with Cuddy. I was initially bothered by the way House was behaving in the classroom and the desparate acts to get back in Cuddy’s good graces; until I thought about how my operations in professional life have been clouded and compromised by serious emotional concerns that are playing out in my head and outside of the room. Love makes you stupid :)

    So, all in all a decent show, but God I agree in wishing for one episode without the Cuddy/House drama getting in the way of other more productive story-telling. And Mimi, calm down, lets not fire the writers, just yet. :)

  • Visitkarte

    I actually liked this episode, in general. I didn’t see House as the total jerk, immoral or not, I don’t care, because he has redeeming properties, not only created by Hugh Laurie, but, let’s say, portrayed by him but consistent with the true character he’s incorporating. House is highly incompetent when it comes to ‘acting like a human being’, but he cares and he is thoughtful, he has deep insight for the deeps and failures of the human nature, feeling awkward and incapable of acting according his insight and, especially, feeling bad about his own judgment. I think intellectually he didn’t even understand Cuddy or anyone else that mattered really insufficiently. He is just not self confident enough to trust his intuitional judgment (and I guess John House has very much to do with that specific failure of his, always giving him the signals how ‘messed up and incompetent jerk’ he supposedly was.

    What disturbed me were the crude remarks. It must have to do with Moran, because I still can’t stomach Houses ‘Position on his penis’, and I certainly had problems with ‘who put sand up her vagina’ to an 11 years old girl. I don’t think so crude remarks are genually Housian, because even when he is highly inappropriate, he uses smarts more than crudeness to be a jerk. I get it that he doesn’t believe in mincing words, but between that and being just profane… There is a fine line he normally never crosses… unless it’s the said screen writer putting it into his mouth.

    Even when you say, he was distressed and out of his mind with worry, he sometimes is, but he stays in control. Even when he was hallucinating he didn’t let the patient get worried about his mental status, needing his team to trust him enough to do the right thing. Using street language like a crack seller from the ghetto isn’t his style.

  • RJW

    Enjoyed your review as usual, Barbara.I’ve just seen the episode once,although I do feel it was weird (not bad,just different).I know that the writer,Moran, is taking a lot of heat about this script ( as well as Season 4’s “Whatever it Takes”) ,but let’s remember that he has also written/co-written such episodes as “Detox”,”Daddy’s Boy” and “5 to 9″.He doesn’t always focus on House’s boorishness.I’m reserving judgment until I’ve seen it again.Loved your observation about the pea!

  • Garentite

    I really respect this site and read and like all the feedback to Barbara’s take about each episode.

    I am really surprised though with the lack of posters comments that this episode was told through House’s exaggerated interpretations of what really happened? The man is a liar and a great story teller but nothing of this episode can be proved of being of any truth because of that.

    Barbara i am very surprised YOU didn’t highlight that?

  • Koji Attwood

    Loved House’s Scooby Doo reference as well. Brilliant episode.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Garentite–I definitely picked up on the fact that everything was in House’s POV (I thought I mentioned, but perhaps not). He is always an unreliable narrator in these things.

    He weaves a good story, but it’s not always the truth!

  • DebbieJ

    I just noticed something after watching Two Stories for the 2nd time that I hadn’t noticed on the first viewing. On the classroom walls were cut outs of hearts, as if they room was decorated for Valentine’s Day.

    This makes me wonder, as someone above stated, that the episodes are not being aired in sequence. And if this is so, what is the reasoning? Anyone have any ideas?

  • simona

    @debbieJ – if I can help you, I can say that I have just discovered that the right sequence should have been:

    11 two stories
    12 you must remember this
    13 family practice

    Rewatching the episodes in this proper order may change a little the perspective and the analysis too :-))

  • DebbieJ

    @simona – #73 – This makes so much sense to the narrative. The order in which they were aired certainly seems like one step forward, two steps back. This sequence would’ve moved the relationship along as well. Not that there shouldn’t be setbacks, but it would’ve made so much more sense.

  • Elisabeth

    Question… In the fantasy scene where they are bringing the big gun from the car trunk to break down Cuddy’s office door, does House limp at all? It seems to me that when House imagines things, he walks without a cane or a limp.

  • DebbieJ

    @Elisabeth – #75 – I noticed that, too and thought, hmmm…. Then realized it was a fantasy sequence. I would imagine he does fantasize about having a normal leg without a limp.

  • House fan

    I cannot believe that a reviewer cant see the complexity of an episode House has never been black and white and always written on a deeper level. The kids waiting at the office Avatars for House and Cuddy?? The Girl =Wilson and the classroom teacher=Cuddy. Others also interesting, And House was obviously playing that principal at the end to get rachel into the school!1 “Have you ever needed someone?” And camera pans to her little family House was being House. Princess and the Pea. -House realized its not a big thing(getting Rachel into school) that would cure the situation but something small(the toothbrush)

  • ruthinor

    Housefan: Interesting thoughts, but I disagree on some points. I don’t see the young boy and girl as “House and Cuddy” young version, but rather, they are “one story” and H+C the other. When House says to the girl “you remind me of someone” and Wilson appears in the next shot, to me, that doesn’t mean the girl is “Wilson”, just that she was annoying in the same way Wilson can be. Remember, he also compared her to Cuddy at one point. (As you say, “House” is NOT so black and white). The teacher as Cuddy?? Where does that come from?

    Almost nothing in this episode can be taken literally. The only “real” Cuddy we see is in the last scene. All other representations are though House’s eyes and NOT the whole truth. This is just my opinion, but I believe that Cuddy was annoyed by House and just wanted some alone time (as House did in an earlier episode). She did NOT want to dump him, this was just his fear conjuring up the worst possible scenarios. If she was really as upset as House assumed, she would not have reacted the way she did in the last scene.

    I like your thoughts on the small vs large thing. Was he playing the principal? Probably, but I think he also needs Cuddy and knows it…why else do all this??

  • House fan

    When did he compare girl to Cuddy? I definitely think the girl=Wilson And the teacher right down to the mannerisms was Cuddy Just as Cuddy puts up with Houses outlandish behaviour in her hospital this teachers remarkable calmness during House’s behaviour in her classroom. A friend I watched with actually noticed the same thing re teacher.

  • ruthinor

    He compared the girl to Cuddy (and essentially to all “girls”) because females always nitpick over the small stuff, or words to that effect. Remember when the girl said “because we’re both girls?” (referring to something House said about Cuddy and accusing the girl of similar behavior)

    All the classroom scenes were seen through House’s eyes, including the teacher. What’s real? What’s exaggeration? And I still think the girl was just the girl and the teacher was a figment of House’s storytelling. So let’s agree to disagree…that’s what this series is all about!

  • House fan

    We will have to disagree Hes often caled Wilson :you’re such a girl” so the analogy still aplies And the teacher wasnt real? Then why was he sent to the principal? Of course it was real His exaggerations using movie themes were his fantasy.

  • ruthinor

    I didn’t say the teacher wasn’t “real”. Of course she exists. But what you’re seeing is House’s version of what the teacher did or didn’t do. The car accident was real and some sort of interaction with the guy whose car he hit was real. That’s why he was sent to the principal’s office. Cuddy does NOT let House get away with everything. Maybe we are not watching the same show, but she has frequently stopped him from doing some very bizarre things. Yes, she lets him get away with a lot, but she’s not the easygoing compliant female that House wishes she could be at times (like the teacher we see) otherwise they wouldn’t be having all these arguments! Agree to disagree!!

  • Grace

    Julie Ann–he said it in Now What..and probably since then (off stage)

    Barbara, Are you saying what I *think* you’re saying here??

  • Grace

    I, too, noticed a few times when I didn’t think that House was limping, but I can’t remember them now. If someone watches this one again, and it won’t be me, please notice the limp? I don’t think I imagined it.
    LOVED the good-bye kiss the morning of this episode.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    Grace–not sure what you’re referring to…can you clarify?
    Also, when House is not acting in “real time” he often doesn’t limp. So that might have been what you were seeing.