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TV Review: House Season Finale – “No Reason”

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House has completed its successful second season. This is a series that just keeps getting better. Like any show, not every episode is A list, but that has to be expected. More often than not, the show adds another layer to its deceptive complexity. At first glance, it looks like just another medical show. Take some obscure disease, throw it at a team of doctors, and see what shakes loose. What is different about this series is the lead, Dr. Gregory House. This guy is abrupt, curt, risk-taking, and is generally not a very likeable guy, but there is no one else you would want on the case.

Besides delivering some gag-inducing diseases, the show has developed some interesting characters. The writers have added depth to the characters in subtle ways. They have developed relationships, both good and bad, with each other, and little facts come out that may color your way of viewing them; but these never become a distraction to the show. House has struck that excellent balance on its way to making one of the more compelling shows on television.

This second season finale was intriguing, as it had the lead character confronting the very basis of who he is, why he treats himself the way he does, and what price he pays for doing it. It did not go in a direction I was expecting, which is a good thing, and in the end becomes one of the more satisfying finales of the season, not to mention one of the better episodes of the series.

The episode begins with House taking a look at a patient with a curiously swollen tongue. He pesters him with unrelated questions because the large muscular impediment amuses him. He brings his findings back to his team when they are interrupted by a man looking for House. House at first refers him to Cameron, but this guy is too bright for that. Once House identifies himself, the man pulls a gun and unloads a couple of rounds into him. That brings us to the opening credits.

House wakes up in a hospital bed, with Cameron at his side. He takes a guess at how long he’s been there, and then wants to know about the tongue guy. As he gets up to return to work, he discovers that his leg is no longer hurting. This fact has him convinced that his surgery was botched. He confronts Cuddy about it and learns that she had okayed an experimental procedure that could take his leg pain away.

House and his team return to work on the tongue guy. So far all the tests have come back negative — they cannot figure out what his problem is. The problem gets worse as it spreads to the guy’s eyes, forcing an emergency surgery. Further tests still turn up nothing.

It is about this time that House begins to have more problems. He stops by his patient’s room and talks to a woman who claims to be the guy’s wife. House doesn’t believe her, and questions her fidelity. He later learns that there was no wife, and no one saw the pair talking in the hallway.

House remains in the hospital because of his gunshot wounds, and now he is wondering if the experimental procedure that repaired his leg did something to his mind. His suspicions of hallucinations are confirmed when he speaks with his attacker, who happens to be in the next bed over.

Tongue Guy’s problems are getting worse. He goes to use the restroom after a biopsy, and complains of pain. Chase goes to check on him and finds his testicles enlarged, right before an explosion covers him in blood. Still, they cannot find anything wrong, and House’s perceived hallucinations are getting worse. As they are walking down a hall, House wonders how he got there.

They talk to the Tongue Guy again, and House tells him he will need surgery performed by a robot. He is a little skeptical at first, so House takes him to the OR and demonstrates on Cameron, much to Tongue Guy’s delight.

When the surgery starts, House comes in, now fully convinced that he is hallucinating. He struggles with Foreman for control of the robot arms. Once he gains control, he proceeds to slice Tongue Guy right up the middle. It is here that House really believes that he is out of his mind.

The whole situation with the hallucinations and Tongue Guy, and the shooter, all have House arriving at a personal crisis. He defines himself by his pain, and it is the pain that allows him to work his medical miracles, but at a cost of his own happiness — an interesting quandary.

The episode draws to a close as House wakes up. The whole episode from the shooting onward has all taken place in his head. He didn’t kill anyone, he hasn’t had any real hallucinations, and Tongue Guy is still a problem.

It is going to be interesting to see where they take this next season. I can only hope that they keep the same level of quality.

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  • Brent

    I’m sorry that you didn’t make mention of the scene where House uses the robo-surgeon on Cameron as a demonstration for swollen tongue guy. Besides being erotic as hell, it’s a perfect metaphor for House’s inability to become truly intimate with virtually anyone. He can engage in foreplay with Cameron using the robot but not in his real life, and this even applies to his hallucination. A truly great episode.

  • Orchid

    As to Brent’s comment, I didn’t find the robotic arm demonstration with Cameron to be a metaphor for House’s inability to be intimate with anyone. After all, he was intimate with Stacy and this situation was addressed by Cameron when she said, in effect, that it wasn’t that House couldn’t love anyone but rather than he couldn’t love her.

    I think it’s easy to make too much of what was essentially a scene designed to titillate by showing someone in a vulnerable position (and squirming with discomfort at being under knives on robotic arms) who is taken advantage of while in that position (the button cut off her shirt).

    If anything, the scene seemed more about House’s getting off on the power he has over people (usually by force of his intellect). It mirrors the way he dangles answers in front of his team like a bunch of juicy grapes and makes them jump up and down to reach them rather than simply telling them what he thinks.

    As for the whole episode, it was probably a better use of the hackneyed “it was all a dream” concept than any other show has ever done. It was very well written but unfortunately quite gross in too many spots. I found that very distracting from the overall thematic arc. Perhaps that was the intent of the writers.

    The big question at the end isn’t whether House survives but whether or not he can be freed of his pain and what that might mean to the development of the character. The writers did leave themselves a comfortable “out” should they get a poor response to a less miserable House should they choose to cure his pain. It may allow them to take his character in a different direction after two years of Vicodin popping and should be interesting.