Well, we made it, friends. The drought is about to be over with a deluge of four new House episodes to close out the fourth season. And then nothing until season five commences. In case you do not obsessively watch and re-watch every episode, hanging on every word, nuance, and flash of Hugh Laurie’s eyes, let’s review the season thus far and bring everyone up to speed.
When the season began, House was without a team: Chase had been fired after Foreman resigned (refusing to “become” House). Cameron then quit, upset that House fired Chase (I don’t buy for a minute that she has “learned all she can,” and is ready to move on.) House, now alone, wants to be left that way. Wilson believes that House doesn’t want a new team because it would be too emotionally stressful: that despite his best efforts to the contrary, House would become emotionally attached to his new fellows as he had his old team (and House fears that more than anything, according to Wilson). House, needless to say, disagrees, simply saying that he really doesn’t need a team and is fine on his own.
Like Wilson, Cuddy disagrees with House (well, what else is new?), but her reasoning is slightly different. She believes (and I’ll go along with her on this one) that House functions better professionally with a team with which to brainstorm. Although he appears to abuse and dismiss every idea borne by his fellows, he really doesn’t. Rather, he uses their unique takes on the patients to sift through his own encyclopedic knowledge and form a (usually) correct (albeit eventual) diagnosis. Since Cuddy is House’s boss, she wins, and House has to hire a new team.
Coerced into hiring a team, House goes about it in the only way possible. Convinced that a simple job interview would fail to provide him with an adequate picture of the “mad skillz” required for his department, House constructs an elaborate elimination game. Starting out with 40 candidates, he quickly whittles the pool down to a more manageable group, while treating an astronaut. This group includes an older guy (affectionately known as ROF — ridiculously old fraud) who isn’t really a doctor (but who is very smart); an infectious disease anarchist (wonder if this was House at an earlier age); a cut-throat bitch who no one likes (but is a great foil for House), and an African–American Mormon! It also includes the three he will eventually hire: Taub, Kutner, and the doctor known as “13.”
The game goes on over the weeks (perhaps a few too many for a shortened season) to follow as House whittles away at the pool of fellowship candidates. As he does, it gets more and more difficult for him to let anyone go. (Damn those emotional attachments.) In the mean time, House subjects himself to near-electrocution, trying to prove that nothing lies in the great beyond — in order to prevent a clinic from trying it for a second time as he seeks the ultimate high in the white light (what a guy!). All House manages is to seriously hurt himself (while convincing Wilson that House is seriously self-destructive) and get a nasty burn on his left hand. Alas both of House’s patients die, as well as one patient’s dog.
Foreman’s been rehired by Cuddy because he can’t get a job anywhere. Seems he was trying to be “nice” House, complimenting his staff and all. But he is unable to "play House" and, going against his superior’s express orders, does a dangerous procedure on his patient. The patient lives, but Foreman loses his job. Crawling back to Cuddy, Foreman is placed back on House’s team as her snitch. But he’s happy (and maybe House is, too).
So, House leaves Foreman in charge when he gets whisked away to the CIA, where he loses sight of the task, but still manages to save the day and charm the head CIA doc. Thinking with regions lower than his brain, he offers the pretty but not very bright doctor a job and she surprises him when she turns up on his doorstep to accept. Meantime, Foreman’s authority is ignored and a patient is nearly murdered by the rebellious, and crazy, infectious disease doc. The CIA doctor proves to be less than she appears, and House must, alas, let her go.
House finalizes his team after “Big Love” (our African-American Mormon) colludes with Cuddy (much to House’s disappointment) and gets the axe. House is left with Taub (a slumming plastic surgeon), Kutner ( a cuddly, goofy puppy dog who happens also to be a doctor), and “13” (theoretically mysterious, and who may have Huntington’s). And Foreman, who's still around being, well, Foreman. In other words, a smug, arrogant sanctimonious and self-righteous House wanna-be.
Chase, back at Princeton-Plainsboro, is now a surgeon. Cool. And it does make a certain amount of sense, since as an intensivist, he would have some surgical experience, if I’ve got it right. Cameron, also back in the fold, works the ER, being… Cameron. What an immunologist is doing in an ER, I’m not entirely sure, but I suppose there are plenty of immunology emergencies. Or not.
Anyway, Cameron’s trying to be saucily independent of House, trying to convince everyone that she has no interest in him, and not doing a very good job. Are you convinced? But she and Chase are back together, which is nice, since I’ve always thought that’s a much better pairing than House and Cameron. But neither seem to get much screen time, with the cast now expanded by four.
Four? And, I bet you thought there were only three new docs. And technically, you would be correct. But Cutthroat Bitch, aka Amber Volakis, is hanging around, coyly having set her sights on Wilson. What's her agenda? Revenge on House or love of Wilson? Only time will tell. In any event, House seems (at least for the moment) to have given his blessing to the match. (Again, only time will tell.)
What will the future hold? Well, there are only four more episodes, and the finale sounds like it will be one of those hold-your-breath type two-part episodes! Speculation, you say? I don’t know more than you all do, but I always like to derive clues from the multi-faceted titles. So here goes my take. Feel free to give yours in the comments section.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy” (April 28) — House has given his blessing to Amber and Wilson. And that was nice. Is he reneging on the blessing (or never meant it in the first, second and third place) — hence no more Mr. Nice Guy? Also, We know the patient is “nice” and that House thinks that it’s a symptom. So, clearly the title is a reference to the patient of the week. Who else is “nice” at Princeton-Plainsboro? Cuddy’s usually nice to House; has he crossed a line with her? Will she get tough with the rebellious Dr. House? Hey, and what was the “shocking secret” that Mr. Voiceover mentioned in the episode preview? You know, the one that’s going to affect everyone’s lives? And what does he have to tell Wilson? Speculation anyone?
“Living the Dream” (May 5) — What starstruck television fan doesn't fantasize about getting a role on their favorite television show — a guest spot; a walk on; as an extra? (Okay, some of us more than others, I’ll admit.) What makes us think that House is so different? Will House “live his dream” by treating a character on his favorite show? What happens when fantasy meets reality? Lots of interesting possibilities here (and potential for “meta” humor about television and obsessive fans). But about that title. I wonder if the actor thinks he actually is a doctor — so he’s living out his on-screen persona — living a dream. Or am I reaching a bit far here? Also, I’m thinking that Wilson’s finding himself living his own dream with Amber. Wonder if he’ll get a reality check? Hmmm.
“House’s Head” (May 12) — We know that House suffers head trauma in a bus accident (easily seen on the previews), so that’s the obvious take on the episode’s title. But what is locked inside with House suffering short-term memory loss? And why is it important? We also know that House’s particular sort of cognitive skill is how he defines himself. His self-worth is all wrapped up in what he can do with his brain. What if it fails him, as it appears to do?
And finally, the finale: “Wilson’s Heart” (May 19) — Of course you can connect Wilson’s heart to House’s head and you have the yin and yang that make up a whole person. Are House and Wilson soul mates (in a completely guy sort of way, I mean)? We know that Wilson’s heart is, for the moment, taken by Amber. I would venture to guess that the episode has to do with Wilson’s heart getting trampled upon or affected (maybe even in a good way). On the other hand, maybe Wilson gets really sick. Is there a cardiologist in the "House?"
Lots to think about, and you just know that those four weeks will zip by in a flash, bringing us into summer — and once again into an extended hiatus. Phew!
Note to my readers: As you may know, I will be interviewing House executive producers and writers Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner just before the season finale. Several readers have offered questions to ask the writing team (who are two of the finale’s writers); feel free to add yours in the comment section.