Is there ever a gift too large? And is it really selfless to give a gift if it makes the giver feel good? In tonight's episode, "Charity Case," House assumes that one man willing to give away almost everything he has for the betterment of others can't be benevolent. He must be sick.
This installment reminds me of a number of other House episodes, including season 4's "No More Mr. Nice Guy," where a patient's generally great attitude about everything was a symptom, and the season 6 episode "Instant Karma," where a billionaire who thought that bad things were happening to his child because everything else in his life was so great. In that one, the billionaire gave everything away to try and strike a universal balance.
I'm not mentioning these past episodes to point fingers at the series and say, look, we've been here before.
What this series does well, and has always done well, is explore issues repeatedly and thoroughly to come at every ethical issue at every angle. Shock of all shocks, I liked the ideas that tonight's hour explored. And that's not because some commenters bullied me into it. I didn't love the episode on the whole, but it did make me think, which I can appreciate.
House is a man who consistently believes that people should get what they deserve. Should, being the operative word. On at least one occasion, House has snapped and said, "People get what they get." To him, this is most accurate, especially after everything that has happened to House. Then again, maybe House, in some ways, is getting what he deserves. He has one friend. I can't see him ever having a successful romantic relationship, and a number of people that House has loved have either died or left. I digress.
My point is that House has done a thorough job of exploring what people deserve and if karma exists. This episode fits into that theme nicely, testing the idea of if the gift-giver has the upper hand and if they are deserving of good karma.
I liked this week's patient because he didn't have everything. He gave away to such an extreme that even his family didn't understand his selflessness. Is this what he deserves? The problem with Benjamin, and this is what his wife sensed, is that it wasn't all selflessness. At a certain point, when charity provides the giver with immense pleasure, it is no longer selfless, but selfish. Staying with the theme of charity, Dr. Adams returned in this episode as House's new admirer and loyal follower.
As a Housian scholar, she's already pulling pranks on Dr. Park, gifting her to the point of discomfort from Dr. Park's perspective. House sniffs out her motives quickly, seeing that she's just trying to understand/mess with Dr. Park's discomfort with charity.
Regardless, Dr. Park won that round as the messer became the messee and inadvertently gave over the money to repair House's car. And, by the way, shouldn't House's car be totaled considering the last time we saw it, it was driving through a home? Back to the patient. nd Thirteen, who is also kind of like the patient.
Thirteen has the gift of raising the dead! Well, not really, but she made it sound that way. She's an excellent physician and now she wants to (selfishly?) give it up for happiness with her girlfriend, (not boyfriend - who won the poll?). So is she being selfish in not imparting her gift of diagnostic medicine to the tens of tens that come through House's door? Or is it acceptable for her to just want to be happy and healthy (relationship-wise)?
Throughout the episode, House is attempting to get money out of the generous patient. After two minutes, Benjamin is ready to give House a million bucks. But does House want it if it's not really true giving? He needs to make sure that Benjamin is actually as truly altruistic as he seems. House was completely baffled by the patient's lack of hypocrisy.
Three years ago when Cuddy wanted House to come to Rachel's Simchat Bat (Jewish naming ceremony), House bristled at the idea of attending an event riddled with so much religious hypocrisy. Cuddy didn't go all in with her religion, and House doesn't believe someone should be able to pick and choose. So when he comes across a patient who gives above all else, even family, and is true to his altruism, House questions it because it seems so unnatural. In the last few minutes of the episode, after his medical issue was fixed, House asked, once again, for the money. Benjamin chose his family over House, and was applauded by House, who called that "healthy."
Upon reflection, House released Thirteen from her doctoring duties as well, demonstrating to us viewers that House can recognize a healthy relationship, but couldn't be in one to save his life. Literally. After all the work the series did to bring Thirteen and House together as friends, I was disappointed to see her leave, but satisfied to see her leave on a happy note, unlike everyone else who has exited the series in a dramatic fashion.
I know it may seem like I'm hung up on the past, but it's because I am. I loved the show at its height, which for me happened in peaks throughout a few different seasons (3 and 5 in particular), and I miss the chemistry among those that used to be on the show. Sue me. I'm not at all in love with Foreman, Adams (who still seems bland to me), or Park, who elicited exactly one laugh from me this evening. But, as House said at the beginning of the episode, "New life, new look." This show has a new look, which means it's going to be different from the show it once was.
Finally, bring back Chase. Seriously. Please.