In the opening hook for the House fall finale on FOX, “Perils of Paranoia,” a lawyer (Vincent Spano) collapses. Upon searching the patient’s dwelling, Park (Charlyne Yi) and Adams (Odette Annable) discover a secret closet arsenal that the man’s wife (Amanda Foreman, Parenthood, Private Practice) knows nothing about. This gets everyone thinking about paranoia, especially after the lawyer insists his collection is just a safety net for the very real possibility of the U.S. government collapsing. It also spurs House (Hugh Laurie) to play on Park’s own manifestation of that titular emotion in how she is treated by her co-workers.
How can one judge paranoia? Everyone is afraid of something, and everyone has a different justification into how much fear they allow into their lives, or in how they choose to cope with that fear. Is it silly to plan for the worst, when the chance of the worst happening seems remote to most people? Should the government actually collapse, this man will be hailed as a hero for having the foresight to predict and prepare. Maybe he is more aware than most. It’s hard to decide where the line between paranoia and caution exists sometimes, and “Perils of Paranoia” plays up a threat that many Americans today feel is very real. Which just makes the definition of paranoia all the more elusive.
House, of course, does not feel confused. He loves to poke fun at inferior people, and he considers everyone inferior. This patient provides an excellent opportunity for House, though he is too busy messing with his employees to take much advantage of it. In fact, House has been letting much slide lately. Did prison change him forever? Certainly not, as he still engages in plenty of shenanigans, including a delightful contest of wills with Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) in this week’s episode. But House is more mellow, and doesn’t use every single weapon in his cruel arsenal anymore, and there might be something more there than meets the eye.
An important clue to what House is going through this season on House might be the subject of the game he plays with Wilson. Wilson insists that House is exactly the type of person to own a gun, but House denies possessing one. Wilson doesn’t believe him, and both lay traps for each other. In the end, Wilson does find a weapon in House’s closet, though House is able to lie and claim it’s only a prop. Instead, viewers see that it belonged to John House, House’s deceased adopted father, and is a keepsake, not a source of protection. Might House be dwelling on his parentage, and thus, not have time to needle everyone quite as much as usual? And how can Wilson be so off base, because even though a gun is in House’s apartment, he is totally wrong about his theory?
The other victim of House’s half-hearted torment this week is Park, whom House tries to make feel alienated on the team. He is successful, though it doesn’t take much. Adams clearly doesn’t like her, nor do Taub (Peter Jacobson) or Chase (Jesse Spencer) take a particular interest. Adams suggests that maybe they just don’t know her, and her offer of a date towards Chase, as well as shooting down his initial excuses, intrigues him enough to accept. Through Chase, viewers now stand a chance of learning a little more about Park. Though when Chase inevitably dumps Park for Adams, as obvious sparks fly between the good looking docs, it could be a source of yet more tension on the team.
Taub acts a little like House, and also a little like a mother, in trying to find Foreman (Omar Epps) a date. Foreman is bored and frustrated in his job, and isn’t taking time to pursue a personal life. Perhaps there is still some lingering bond from living together, so Taub feels like he can, and should, interfere. Unfortunately, instead of accepting Taub’s offer of available women, which might benefit him, Foreman falls for a girl who is already married named Anita (Yaya DaCosta, Ugly Betty, All My Children). This cannot and will not end well, so why does Foreman get involved? Especially after being so judgmental about Taub cheating on his wife. Thus, “Perils in Paranoia” features the return of Foreman the Hypocrite.
Lastly, Blake Anderson (Workaholics) guest stars as a loser clinic patient who is stealing from his employer in “Perils of Paranoia.” One expects better guest stars on this series, such as Amanda Foreman, and it baffles why Anderson appears. He basically is the same seemingly stoner persona he uses in his terribly unfunny Comedy Central series, so why even pop up if no range will be shown? Instead, it’s a head scratcher, especially as the scene feels slightly out of place in the overall episode.
Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time House treats someone in the clinic that is not connected to the bigger story. In fact, earlier in “Perils of Paranoia,” House searches for a beautiful, big-breasted girl (Rachel Sterling, The Man Show) to treat in a throwaway that may only be intended as a joke punch line. Could both the woman and the young man be another symptom of a changing House? Or could the series just be making a couple of bad decisions, as neither is memorable nor necessary?
House will return in January to finish what may very well be its final season.