I’ve always watched House, M.D. to follow the journey of its central character, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie). Of course, I’ve been moved by a patient of the week plot (especially when House becomes involved, which has happened less and less frequently over the past couple of years) or by the story of one of the other regular characters. I’ve enjoyed Chase’s growth, been moved by Amber’s arc, particularly as it intersected with Wilson, and Kutner’s tragedy. But fundamentally, the series is House’s story and since season one, I’ve been pulled along through the seasons as he’s moved a step or two forwards and then fallen back—only to pull himself up again. And again.
To me, House has always been a wounded healer, a man so emotionally and physically damaged that his only healing comes vicariously, as he saves the lives of those that would otherwise be forfeit. He desires happiness, but can’t find it; he values friendship while he pushes it away, often preferring the safety of loneliness. As we move closer and closer to the series finale (May 21), I want to focus these last nine episode commentaries on the final journey of House, the man—House, the doctor—one of the most interesting characters created for the small screen. So, forgive me if I ignore the patients (if I do).
This week’s episode (which originally was supposed to air two weeks ago, but was pre-empted) is called “Love is Blind.” I was thrilled to see House’s mom Blythe (Diane Baker) pay a visit; we’ve not seen her since early in season five (“Birthmarks”) at John House’s funeral.
We know that House has believed since the age of 12 that John is not his father. His biological father is a man who looks like Sean Connery, and a friend of the family—a colleague of John’s. House had proven his theory to himself in “Birthmarks,” performing a DNA paternity test on a sample taken from John’s ear. Since that time, House has read the writings of the man he’s believed to be his biological father, a minister who’s written a self-help book, something Wilson notes this week House has read several times.
So Blythe pays a visit to her son to introduce him to the new man in her life—the very man House believes is his biological father Thomas Bell (Billy Connolly).
We also learn that House’s mother isn’t quite the passive military wife he’d always thought, never liking to make waves, standing idly by as House was brutalized by the tough Marine who raised him. While John was flying missions (presumably in Vietnam), Blythe and Bell, a Navy Chaplain vigorously protested the war, lived by another ‘60s credo: sex, drugs (LSD) and (perhaps) a little rock and roll.
This time it is Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) who crosses the lines of legality and plucks a DNA sample from Bell’s fork. His test results show House that Bell is not his biological father after all. Hmm.
Now, very interestingly, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s medical professor was Dr. Joseph Bell, and Conan Doyle largely based Sherlock Holmes on him. Like House, Bell is tall, and like Hugh Laurie, Connolly is of Scottish descent for whatever that’s worth. There is a strong resemblance between the two men, including a couple of birthmarks—one in a unique place. Personally, I think Bell is House’s father—the surname Bell is a dead giveaway to me. So, I would suggest, dear readers, that Wilson has falsified a certain DNA test!
But why would Wilson lie? Thanks for playing! Wilson would have several reasons to lie to House. Blythe is happy, married to an old friend with whom she has shared a lot, going back 50 years. Although House hates John for his brutality as a father, as he says, he does respect the man. Bell, argues House, could not possibly have respected his supposedly close friend John while at the same time cuckolding him. This bothers House a lot. He can have no relationship with a man who would do that to his father, no matter how much House hates him. Wilson also cares a lot for Blythe—and presumably her happiness; having her son and her husband at such odds would only be destructive to all three of them.
So, Wilson concocts a false test, which, while not disproving House’s DNA analysis, does suggest that his mother had been involved with yet another man back in the day—not Thomas, nor John, but a third guy. The lie, if House buys it, would go a long way to soften his attitude towards his mother’s relationship with Bell—and perhaps make House open to forging a relationship with the kinder, gentler father he’d never known. That completely fits Wilson’s usual manipulative M.O.
It appears to have worked. The thought that Mom was a lot hipper than he’d thought impresses House; maybe mom’s not so passively boring as he’d thought. And it does open the door for a relationship with Thomas.
House’s own marital situation has become more interesting since the immigration folks are keeping watch on the House household. I like Dominika (please don’t throw virtual tomatoes at me); I think she loves House, and she not only makes a great playmate for him, but she’s straightforward, smart and attentive. Maybe that’s just what House has needed all along. I’m looking forward to seeing what part she’ll play in the weeks ahead.
Random Notes: Loved tripped out Park (Charlyne Yi)! I loved even more the way that Bell and Blythe know exactly how to deal with a bad LSD trip and how much that surprises House. And what is it about Scottish actors? I seem to just gravitate towards them for some reason (my first screen crushes were Sean Connery and David McCallum, and my current TV boyfriends are Hugh, who, although English, is of Scottish parentage, and Once Upon a Time‘s Robert Carlyle). Case in point: Billy Connolly, who completely charmed me playing Thomas Bell. Playing him broadly, Connolly inserting so much warmth and charm. It’s easy to see Blythe fall in love with him after the dour, militaristic John House!
House returns in April and then proceeds to the series finale without interruption. I have some exciting plans for the final five episodes, and I will also host a series finale live chat extravaganza, which will immediately follow the East Coast airing on May 21. More details as we get closer!