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An excellent installment of House, M.D. capped by the stunning news that Wilson has cancer!

TV Review: House, M.D. – “Body and Soul”

Anything medical to do with last night’s House, M.D. episode “Body and Soul” was eclipsed by the episode’s final revelation—and the promo for next week’s show. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) has cancer. And the big question is: how will House (Hugh Laurie) handle the news? The revelation sets the stage for the final few episodes of the award-winning FOX series.

The medical case this week was interesting with the series’ patented House vs. God theme dusted off to explore whether a young boy’s illness is the result of his internal demons (like, real demons—the kind that need exorcism) or some bizarre medical condition. It’s medicine man vs. Medicine Man, and the winner is indeterminate by the episode’s end. (But the kid is cured, so it’s all good). And, yikes, Wilson has the C-word! So, who cares about a kid who levitates and speaks a language he couldn’t possibly know? Wilson has cancer!

The story between Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Park (Charlyne Yi) is funny—and ultimately sweet. I like the idea of the quirky, nerdy Park getting together with Chase, but takes, as it must, a back seat to what will be the conclusion of House’s journey as the series takes its final bows on a great eight-season run.

I was really beginning to like Dominka, but House’s farewell to her (or rather, her farewell to him) is more of the same sort of lesson that House has been learning for years. He certainly does have a knack for sabotaging his relationships with women. I had actually been rooting for them; House’s Green Card wife has been good for him in a different way than Stacy, Cameron, or Cuddy. Her innocence is been fueled by earthiness and street smarts; she’s not snarky, and although their banter hadn’t the snap of either of House’s other serious relationships, it had about it a lovely comfort. It had been something House had been really beginning to cherish.

There is something about her that disarms House as he learns more about her: she’s a great shot; she devours quantum physics. Although she tells him she’d been with a police unit back home in the Ukraine, you have to wonder what sort of police unit that was.

Personally, I think she’s a spy in knish entrepreneur’s clothing. And if the series had another year, I’d love to see the show explore her background. Is she some sort of espionage sleeper-agent who’d marked House to get entry into U.S., get legal, and then do bad things (oh, oops, wrong series)? Sorry, I got carried away, although I do love a good espionage/love story.

Anyway, until last week, their relationship had been fueled by forthrightness—each knowing where the other stands. There had been there a mutual trust—and friendship. But then House has to go and conceal Dominka’s immigrant status.

The man who understands everything about everyone (but himself) cannot imagine that Dominika might stay with him knowing that she was finally free to go. So he pathetically lies about her immigration status. Not wanting her to leave (ah, shades of the Wilson-lives-with-House story arc of season two!), House had torn up her notice at the end of last week’s episode. And this week, of course, she finds out. And leaves. Frankly, I don’t blame her for leaving House in the dust.

Speaking of Dominika’s status, I thought House’s Ukrainian friend has been going for a Green Card, and that House has been helping her maintain a legal status in the U.S. All of a sudden this week, she’s a citizen? Huh? Very, very sloppy writing, not to mention the lack of continuity. Unless I’m missing something.

But as I said at the top of this commentary, all of this is overshadowed by the dire news that Wilson has a Stage 2 Thymoma. The revelation is a stunning blow to House, especially on the heels of Dominkia’s hasty, tearful departure, just as the two had begun to connect.

Wilson has cancer. As sad as this news is (note to self: remember, these are fictional characters!), it provides a huge, emotional dramatic landscape with which the series writers can paint the final scenes of this great television series.

The news hits House the way we would hope it would—he is speechless, and the look on his face could not have been more stunned. He looks like he’d been punched in the gut once he realizes that Wilson is telling him the truth; that this is no elaborate game Wilson is playing.

More than anything, Wilson’s illness offers House a second chance of sorts; the chance to demonstrate to himself (most of all) that not all love is conditional. And for once the unconditional nature of love must be proven by House—not by Wilson, not by Cuddy, not by Stacy. Wilson has no one else to turn to, and although House has tried before to be there when he’s been needed for support, it’s always been a terrible struggle for him. But House has no choice; he must be there for Wilson, as monumentally difficult for him as it will be. He can’t run; he can’t hide. He can’t drown himself in a bottle of Maker’s Mark-dipped Vicodin and watch from the sidelines.

I’m going to say again something I’ve said a few times since I began writing this column. It’s not that House doesn’t feel enough—he feels too much.

Fearing the loss of Wilson a couple of seasons ago, when he contributes a piece of his liver to a patient, House shrinks back, at first not able to bring himself to be with his friend during surgery. In the last moment, House summons within himself the courage to be there in the surgery gallery just as Wilson goes under anesthesia. And during Wilson’s recovery, House is there for him. This isn’t easy for House—and it’s not because he doesn’t care.

And then in season seven when Cuddy has her cancer scare, again, House is consumed with the fear of losing her—so much so that being emotionally available for her requires a relapse to Vicodin. And for that sacrifice, Cuddy unceremoniously dumps him once the scare has passed, sending House reeling out of control. I am not saying that House hadn’t been there for Cuddy. In my opinion he is there for her; in Cuddy’s opinion—and even in House’s own psyche, he had fallen short.

So how will House respond to Wilson’s cancer? That is the stuff of excellent drama, and I think we get a glimpse of that in the preview for next week’s episode. I won’t say more, lest the spoiler-averse be inadvertently spoiled.  So I will leave it at that for now.

I apologize that the remaining Quest for the Best House polls have not yet appeared. I’m having problems with the poll platform, and hope to put up a season four through eight poll by week’s end, so we can get to the finals.

A new House episode airs next Monday night at 9:00 ET on FOX.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

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