What did I learn about House in "Dead & Buried?" It's a question I ask myself after each episode, and, this season, there hasn't been a huge rush of new information on a character we've all been watching for eight years.
However, this installment did demonstrate that House is a compassionate man, which is the reason I continue watching the series. challenge the writers, producers and actors to make me like House. Show me his humanity. We all know he can be an entertaining jerk, but the real accomplishment of the drama is showing us that his joy in puzzles is not always just about puzzles; helping people come to terms with their own problems is where the blunter-than-thou House often succeeds.
Here, House sets out to solve two mysteries: one he is deeply invested in, and the other is his team's case, the one he is required to take. House wanting to solve the mystery of a four-year old's death seems like typical House. Solve the case and release the tension of House's obsession. But the circumstances of House's particular obsession are different this week; it's more than clear he wants to help his anger management friend overcome the mysterious death of his son.
So while House's explicit goal was to diagnose the dead, his implicit goal was to help a man in the most concrete way he knows.
House has done this a number of times. He'll go to the ends of the earth for a patient who he feels needs to see the truth, he'll lie to the transplant board if it fits into his definition of what's right, and, this week, he'll break his parole in order to diagnose the deceased Drew and his living older brother and mother. As for the 14-year old patient, I found her condition interesting mostly because of the traumatic experience she had when she was young: witnessing her father's death and blaming herself for the accident in which his death occurred.
Maybe it's because she was talking to Chase that I found this interesting, but when Chase said that it was because of an early trauma - she exhibits multiple personalities and can become one person without realizing it - I immediately thought of the obvious connection with Chase and his Aussie/Steve Irwin-esque persona on television. House is correct; we understand whey Chase is so well groomed, but why does he want to be on television? Was there something traumatic that happened to Chase that he's reacting to?
In a less direct connection to the patient, we have House, so clearly showing his compassion to the man in his A.M. group. House typically goes as far out of his way as possible to let anyone know he is actually being benevolent, so it seemed odd to me that he wasn't coming up with some excuse to help this man. It was simple. People need answers. And we do!
Typically we don't get them, so a show like House where difficult diagnostic questions have answers is a relief to viewers. Sometimes complicated problems have simple solutions. Albeit, they always have complicated consequences. Regardless, the point I'm trying to make is that House seems to be helping someone here in a much cleaner way than usual. He handled each interaction as respectfully as he could muster, even telling Drew's father that his son looked "peaceful" in his grave.
So what happened to traumatize House and insight his own version of "Multiple Personalities?" Jail? The break-up? Being confined to work and his apartment? Granted, this change is subtle, but I see a marked difference in the way he helped his group mate this week. It reminds me more of season sic House, the one who was coming off therapy and truly trying to face himself and become better. Granted, last week House was trying to break off his ankle monitor for a good boxing match, but this week he proved he was willing to go to bat for a person who he could concretely heal, even at the risk of prison.
I enjoyed seeing House solve someone's puzzle even after the patient died. The risk was all House's and he took it all on to help someone. It certainly makes me wish someone would go to bat for House and help him, even after all the fruitless efforts from teams and friend (one) past and present. House can't be the only genius in the Jersey tri-state area. Bring back the therapist!
Finally, I enjoyed seeing Foreman struggle with managing/controlling House. Wilson put it perfectly when he clarified Foreman's job description by invoking Cuddy's name. Foreman's position is to manage House, not control him. As such, Foreman gave House three times the amount of clinic hours Cuddy would have, making him the tougher of the two, at least in that moment.
Next week doesn't promise the same insane drama, but it looks like we'll get some fun bromance scenes between House and Wilson. I'll take it.