Is House, at the end of last week’s “Bombshells” back to “square one” as David Shore is quoted as having said in response to a question about the House-Cuddy breakup? I’m not convinced. On the other hand we don’t know to which “square one” Shore referred in the comment. Is he acting as he did after Stacy left him? Is this why Wilson is so worried about him? Is that “square one?” That all remains to be seen, but Wilson is there as he was after Stacy to “pick up the pieces.” He sees House falling apart, and even if House doesn’t see it (yet), he is falling apart. But the collateral damage of House’s crash may be spectacular (hey, we still have seven episodes to go!).
There has always been the suggestion that perhaps House doesn’t have it in him to care about anyone but himself. And, although that is an incredibly harsh assessment, House is grieving about his loss, in an insanely destructive manner, with little or no thought to anything but his own pain. House is self-absorbed; he’s selfish.
The writers call him a jerk. David Shore and Hugh Laurie have also talked about House in those terms. And he is. A jerk. There are lots of House fans who see House as nothing but a genius jerk who can say the things they only wish they could. (I actually sat on a panel with two professors the other night who would argue that House’s humanity is the minutest aspect of his character—and yes, they are both fans—and one was a physician!)
But I don’t believe that’s all he is, because if that’s all there is to him, we wouldn’t give a flying frack about him after one year, much less seven! (At least I would not!) Underlying the self-centeredness, the narcissism and the neediness is a person of deep humanity and not an insignificant romantic streak.
It is clear from the many conversations I’ve had with the series writers over the past three years that there are differences among them in how they perceive the character. That difference of opinion helps to texture the character, keeping him from getting to be either too much of an ass—or too nice.
There are, of course, basics they all seem to agree on: he’s brilliant, he’s emotionally damaged, he has an addictive personality, he is self-absorbed and he suffers from depression and narcissism. But I believe that where they differ is in the question of House’s humanity. Is it, as House says to Daniel the priest in “Unfaithful” that the good he does is “collateral damage?” Or that “people can do good things even if their intentions are not good?” Or is it that House responds to Hugh Laurie’s suggestion that “House has seen a great deal of human suffering in his lifetime?” Do we believe what House says, or what we see when no one else can?