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TV Review: House – “Moving On”

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FOX’s House season seven finale cannot be said to end on a boring note. With a framework story of Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) talking to the cops, the story builds to a big finish. House (Hugh Laurie), a patient himself after attempting to do surgery on his own leg, directs his team to treat a performance artist (the great Shohreh Aghdashloo). As the doctors research the artist, they discover she knows she has a terminal illness, and is faking symptoms to make her case more attractive to Dr. House, all the while filming the procedure to make another artistic piece. House is fine with that, but when he diagnoses the artist with something non-fatal, and she decides to do risky brain treatment because of love, House grows angry. He takes her choice personally, feeling all that he has is his work, and he thinks he has a kindred spirit in her. Soon after, House sees Cuddy with another man, and drives his car full speed into her dining room, hence the frame story.

There is much speculation as to if House really did drive his car into Cuddy’s home, or if it is another Vicodin-induced hallucination. After all, Wilson comments that House takes almost a month worth of the medicine in just three days, and House has visions because of the drugs before. But there do not seem to be any hints or clues in the episode that point to the stunt as not being real. Hence, for now at least, it appears to happen.

What is most surprising is House’s utter lack of concern for people he has previously shown to care about. He does order Wilson out of the car beforehand, but doesn’t pay much attention as Wilson hurts his arm getting out of the way. When House last looks through the window, Cuddy and her guests are sitting right where he plows his car. What if they didn’t move? He would have killed four people. House is self-destructive, but rarely shows so little regard for life, and especially for Cuddy.

But is it really out of character? This might just be the result of the good doctor finally snapping. Pressure is building, and with feeling betrayal first by Cuddy, then the patient, House may not be able to take anymore. He has done some crazy things in the past, and while this may be a new level for him, he does have pent up feelings and a drug problem. Those two elements might explain why he would act in this manner.

Is there a hint when Wilson tells House to let out his anger so he will feel better? House is shown at the end sitting on a beach, having a drink and smiling. Could this be a result of letting his emotions out, finally finding relief, rather than keeping them bottled up? Is he “Moving On,” as the episode title suggests? Is he smiling at the fantasy of driving a car into a house? The House that has delighted TV audiences for the past seven years is not so cruel as to delight in others’ pain. The whole situation is very confusing.

Which is why judgement should be reserved. The House writers have proven themselves time and again over seven seasons, and the series always manages to come up with something exciting and true to the characters. With such an unfinished ending, there is obviously more to what happens than seen at first glance. I, for one, trust the scribes to come up with something plausible and satisfying as the story moves forward from this point.

As this season is already announced as Lida Edelstein’s last, the car stunt may be a convenient way to write her off  the series. After being assaulted so directly by House, it is no wonder the character would not want to stick around. By the time next season begins, she may easily have moved away to put some distance between her and this crazy man. Their relationship, a long time coming, is sadly over, probably for good. She will be “Moving On,” too.

The patient of the week is a gripping, though not unusual, story for House. Aghdashloo takes the acting to a higher caliber than most guest stars because of her immense talent. But the mystery, while contrived, a neat twist ,is no greater than many other patients’. As such, the actress at the center of the story can be credited for much of the wonderfulness of the plot.

As usual, the patient speaks to what House is going through. Dr. House has an uncanny ability to pick the patients he needs, not just the patients that need him. When choosing the performance artist, he needs justification for his life, the way he is, and his inability to change, as he sometimes wants to do. The fact that the patient completely surprises him sets him off. Perhaps there is more going on here than surface. Maybe House really does, at least subconsciously, surround himself with those who match his mindset or the situation his personal life is in, or help or fascinate him in some way. He thinks he has the perfect candidate here, and after she tricks him, he doesn’t trust himself anymore. His judgment is skewed.

The only subplot of significance is that of Taub (Peter Jacobson), who the writers have been especially generous to lately. Taub avoids Rachel’s (Jennifer Crystal) calls, as she is his soon to be ex-wife, whom he is still very fond of, and isn’t sure how to break the news to Rachel that the object of his fling is now pregnant. And that is all this new girl is to Taub – a fling. She may be carrying his child, and that may make Taub determined to force a relationship that isn’t there for the sake of the kid, but he is not shown to especially care about her in the series at this point. By contrast, Taub cares a great deal about Rachel, and while his avoidance may seem cowardly, he genuinely does want to spare her feelings.

And then Rachel shows up to drop the bombshell. She, too, is pregnant. By the look on her face, a baby makes a difference in her relationship with Taub, and she is there to take him back. Despite all of the things the pair have gone through, they are going to be parents, and that matters more than the rest of it. That tune may quickly change when the other woman enters the picture. Taub can’t keep one of his children a secret. If he has to choose, he will pick Rachel. But he can’t just abandon his other kid, either. This is a messy, complicated situation that guarantees Taub continued focus next season.

House will return for its eighth, and likely final, season next fall on FOX, sans series regular Lisa Edelstein. Be sure to tune in!

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    I read Blake said that in an interview, but it did work out neatly, did it not?

  • Nix021

    its not a Vicodin-induced hallucination because the plice is talking to wilson and cuddy at the begining

  • rjw

    Liked your take on the episode.A very thought provoking story.I’m with you on this.I trust the writers …they’ve given us 7 seasons of great TV!

  • BeNotAfraid

    Sorry I can’t buy your analysis. There is never any excuse for violence, particularly murderous violence toward another human being. I’d like to see how the writers walk back from House’s criminal behavior.

  • MHM

    House as a character is irredeemable now. (I KNOW the show doesn’t OWE me anything. I’m speaking in terms of how House, in his own painstakingly slow way, has always been on some sort of journey for redemption– whether it be for truth, less, pain, love, or clarity.)

    House has always had destructive tendencies–to himself, to others, but this is, IMHO, too insane, even for House. More importantly, what does it reveal? That he either really does have homicidal tendencies or that he has such reckless disregard for human life that he doesn’t care if he kills someone? None of those things make sense to me. I don’t believe that we are supposed to believe House knew no one was in the dining room. Really? How could he be sure that no one came back/was still in the living room in the time it took to turn his car around and come back? And Rachel. The teaser does say she was at Arlene’s, but, how could House have possibly known that?? Is he an omniscient being? What if she had been in the dining room, playing under the dining room table?

    House’s act was so insane, even for House, that it just makes him irreedeemable and just plain unlikable. If the attraction to House as a character was that, despite all his flaws, he was a compelling character, I don’t see how any compelling factor can overcome what he did, and I don’t see how what he did can make him a compelling character anymore.

    I can’t get over the fact that, even in an insane rage, he would have such a reckless disregard for human life. When he took deadly risks before, it was always to preserve life, or if he took those insane risks, it was upon himself. I never thought I’d see House in this way, and it’s so unbelievable that I definitively choose not to watch Season 8. This is just unbeliveable and irreedeemable. The only logical conclusion for House to end up now is either in a padded room or in a jail cell for all the forged prescriptions and attempted vehicular manslaughter.

    This season has felt like a long goodbye, and, in my personal opinion, I’m glad Ms. Edelstein chose to leave, whatever the reason. I know that I am moving on from this show definitively. I’ll always respect and love the great episodes of the past, but the show has just become too unbelievable for any sort of justification or reason to watch anymore.

    Wishing everyone the best.

    MHM

  • musicandhouse

    I honestly don’t understand why people can’t find House redeemable now…even at the moment he drove into the House, I could understand why. I thought him seeing Cuddy with the other man, after saying she hadn’t seen anyone, the straw that broke the camels back. I never interprited the scenario as him trying to kill anyone (if I remember correctly, he saw the group stand up and start clearing the table and walk out). I think he just needed to let out all the anger he had built up towards Cuddy since Bombshells, and he hurt her in a way that was extrene, but I really didn’t see it as too out of character. It was a new level of extreme, but I still saw him as the House we knew. The ending on the beach was very ambiguous but it was intreaguing. I want to know where he went and how he will be able to come back to PPTH or even come back in the counrty as there is now a warrant out for his arrest. I definately see the potential for new stories here and a way to make the final season about House actually making a change he sticks to (the fact that he looked happy was a start).
    That being said, this was not my favorite House finale by any means. In terms of what we have come to expect from episodes like House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart, Both Sides Now, Help Me, and No Reason this fell a little bit short. Perhaps it would not have felt that way had so many people not built it up. IMO After Hours was a much better episode and would have worked just as well as a finale (although Moving On did conveniently leave Cuddy a way out).
    In a way this episode kind of reminded me of “Honeymoon” from season one and “Human Error” from season 3. Both those episodes, like Moving On were fairly “run of the mill” typical House episodes up until the last scene or two, but like Moving On, none of them had really definative endings (compared to season 4 where Amber died and we knew the House/Wilson relatinship would change or of course the end of Help Me). Both the season one and three finales, like Moving On, had VERY open endings that would serve as game changers, but unlike season enders like HH/WH or Help Me, you can not even begin to infer what the changes are going to be (other than of course Cuddy leaving, but that was never inended).
    I am honestly looking foward to season 8 to see what the writer will do with what will likely be the final season, as they had never let me down before. Honestly, even if I wasn’t excited for next season I would stick it out, because I could never abandon a show after seven years in its final season. Not knowing how it ends would kill me.
    Looking foward to season 8 and perhaps even a few spoilers as to what is to come. (and sorry for the really long post)

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    musicandhouse – You sum up my thoughts so well! Thank you for that insightful comment.

  • musicandhouse

    @Jerome Wetzel
    Thanks!

  • musicandhouse

    ONe more thing to add while rewatching Three Stories: When Stacey brought the file to House to diagnose her husband, his first response was “I’m not sure I want him to live”. He wanted to take away something she loved because of how she hurt him and because she had moved on and found happiness without him. Of course in the end House treated Mark, but now we are seven years later, and House has been through a lot more. This is now the second woman who has left him, and based on House’s view through the window, began to find happiness without him. This time he couldn’t hold back and he took something away from Cuddy. IMO the THree Stories/Honeymoon combo really closely mirrors and resembles the After Hours/Moving On combo.

  • margaret

    Every week in the news, there is a story of some woman who was murdered by a male partner or ex-partner. Often these male ex-partners will take out other innocent bystanders. With this episode, David Shore has rendered House no different from these garden-variety psychos.

    I don’t care what House was going through. I don’t care what the showrunners were trying to do. All the attempts to rationalize House’s near-murder of Cuddy and her family members is just a demonstration that society still holds profoundly screwed-up attitudes toward women. It prioritizes male emotional pain over a woman’s right not to be violently attacked.

  • vicpei

    [info]vicpei
    2011-05-26 05:50 pm UTC (link) DeleteTrack This
    Quoting David Shore : “They were standing up and she put his hand on [the new boyfriend’s] arm, which was part of the whole thing that set him off. The car was aimed at the house, not at the individuals inside.”
    See, this is creeping me out, because I have read comments on the Net excusing House behavior because Cuddy did not talk of her possible new date, and “kind of deserved it”. That is what rape victims hear. And no, domestic violence is not a repeated thing, domestic violence starts at the first attempt, let them go with running a car and why wouldn’t they roll over someone, next time? Shore explaining it by Cuddy “putting her hand on the guy’s arm” leaves me with an horrified feeling. You don’t justify this. Period.

  • Lincoln

    The finale was a dissapointment.

    Agree with vicpei that the final act cannot be justified. My only thought is that the intent was to provide an act that could not be justified, and that in effect produced a new kind of “bottom” for House, one that finally produced the sort of response in the viewers that a family feels in instances of a family member in the grip of addiction.

    I’m not sure I’ll tune in, but Season 8 should be a very different House. House should be in jail, but I could see Wilson blackmailing him into rehab. Will he be remorseful for his actions (assuming what we saw was not a Vicodin-induced lucid dream)? Will House finally pay a price for his behavior, or get the help that is essential to save his life (and apparently now, the lives of others)?

    Regarding Taub, I have enjoyed the character somewhat, but I feel that there is too much emphasis despite the enjoyable comic relief. Other than taking some pleasure in his discomfort I’m not sure what I am supposed to feel about this ridiculous double pregnancy.

    Chase and 13 seem to be heading toward one another. Given it is the last season I see a buildup toward 13’s final act, perhaps involving House fulfilling his promise to her to be there in the end.

    What I always liked about House was the sense – regardless of the external juvenile behavior, overt meanness and questionable medical practice – that the character had a good core. This core was tested by his own lack of faith in humanity and in anything other than his own mind and reason, but it still seemed to be there, usually hinted at in small ways. But perhaps that was a delusion. We see revealed in this final act that this drug addled shell is no longer the House we though we knew. He has made a transition.

    He has finally found bottom.

  • ronnie42

    I have to agree since in the real world nobody would be forgived for what he has done.

    Sorry but house is now a bad person, with Cuddy leaving the show it makes me think season 8 may be a bad one since everyone has to take him down.

  • Carotid artery

    For those who think House isn’t capable of violence, remember the Tritter episode where he punches Chase in the face for contradicting his diagnosis? Chase’s diagnosis turned out to be right or partially right. If he ends up in jail then so be it. It will give the writers more room to breathe. I was very disappointed with the season finale, it wasn’t up to standard, I want to compare all the episodes with their respective writers and see who produced the best ones.

  • musicandhouse

    @Carotid artery
    What I find interesting is that Petet Blake, who wrote this episode, also wrote the season 4 finale House’s Head. I liked Moving On as an episode, but as a finale I agree that it was disappointing. It just did not live up to what we have come to expect from a House finale. IMO After Hours was better, as I said in an earlier post.

  • Simon

    Dang it , thought it was Barbara’s review lol..

  • Emilio

    Um, it’s a story. Let the storywriters tell it. I can’t believe how many people are treating this as some great moral failing against society. It’s just a story. Let it wind up where it will, that’s the point of following the story, to see what happens next. Let the creators create, and if you don’t like it, then quit watching. I’m interested in following the characters to wherever they go and enjoy the ride there, not in having the characters being molded to my personal attitudes, prejudices, and opinions.