I realize we're well into January, but it's only right I mention one of my House New Year's resolutions: I must be kinder to the series with which I was once very much in love.
Instead of writing reviews in hopes the episodes I watch will be like the old ones I treasured, I will try and view the drama as though the past doesn't exist. I will not compare the new characters to former ones who I believe have more depth. And, lastly, I will attempt serenity when the series may not measure up to my expectations. Ah, deep breath...
After a two-month hiatus, House returned with "Better Half," an episode dealing with a theme the series has delved into a number of times: sacrifice. Luckily, it's a theme House almost always manages to explore well, and the show got off on the right foot. Let's start with the patient of the week: a man in his forties who has Alzheimer's and a wife (Natalie) willing to stick by him through the most debilitating part of his disease: the forgetfulness, the mood swings, all of it.
So what if she's giving up rest, her sex life, and her career. Or is she?
Enter Alzheimer's hot best friend, who Natalie is clearly sleeping with. The show didn't try to make it much of a mystery, which felt appropriate. Rather than attempting to trick us with a predictable outcome, we basically knew from the get-go that Natalie was doing the guy. But the real question is if she's in the wrong for such an action. Adams is offended, confirming that she is as straight-laced as she seems, but also clearly scarred from her husband's infidelity. Chase appears more realistic, or cynical - take your pick - about Natalie's situation. She's sacrificing enough, says the Chase school of thought. But Adams believes that "Commitment is not conditional."
I'd like to believe that Adams is right, but I believe more in what Chase has to say. I doubt Natalie's husband would want her to give up everything that makes her happy. Her relationship with Josh (?) could be what allows her to focus on her husband's condition and care. Why deprive her of a reward for her loyalty? Even if the reward is cheating?
Meanwhile, in Hilson territory, another bet on a clinic patient is made. House is unwilling to believe Wilson's clinic patients are asexual and he (of course) unearths proof that the husband has a medical condition that hinders the libido. The best part about this unsurprising twist is that it parallels the A storyline so beautifully. Natalie is willing to give up her flower shop and the majority of her days to care for her ill husband. But, and this is a big but, she can't let go of her sexual drive.
Pretty blonde clinic patient claims to be asexual and we discover she's lied to her husband about her sacrifice because she knew she wanted to be with him with or without sex. Does either lie to either husband mean more than the other? Yes, Natalie has been unfaithful to her husband. If she told him the truth, it may devastate him, albeit momentarily. As for the blonde clinic patient, her lie kept her husband with her. Would he have stayed if he knew that sex was something that she wanted? Is it fair game to lie in either case? And who is really giving something up? The wives or the husbands?
Close up on Foreman, House's boss who predictably is ready to interfere in a case and show off his manly dark muscles. House is ready for him and does what he does best: takes the least direct route to getting what he wants; in this case, he wants his ankle monitor (training wheels) removal approved and he fights an un-winable fight to stroke "Cuddy Dark's" ego. Although Foreman becomes hip to House's methods of getting what he wants, he realizes that House does move better without training wheels and agrees to unshackle him. I liken this unshackling to Chekhov's gun. House is bound to "go off" and do something horrible before season's (series?) end because Foreman approved the unshackling. Although I'm sure he could do something terrible with or without an ankle monitor present.
Finally, we're introduced, albeit over a phone call, to Chase's sister, someone he's resented for a number of years because of her dependance on alcohol and because she has served as a constant reminder of the pain Chase went through over the loss of his mother.
Viewers are reminded of Chase's past wounds, which I'm surprised he shared so willingly with Adams. Remember before they went on hiatus and Park asked Chase out? I have a strange curiosity of how that went, especially in light of Park's admission of her magic number. Thirty plus? Please say that wasn't a joke. I'm all over it. And, yes, I'm sure the two pretties (Chase and Park) will be bumping uglies sooner or later, but I would love it if the show went in a totally different direction with Chase's love life. Even just temporarily.
Good start, House. Let's keep it up. New episode next week. Same time, same place.