House Review: Fault Lines
Above all else, House values being right. He is confident that his methods work. He knows that breeding conflict fosters ideas. And his methods have an extremely high success rate.
However, in "Nobody's Fault," his methodology is placed under scrutiny and, to the observer, it's deeply flawed. How can House be both right about his patients but wrong in the way he solves each diagnostic mystery?
The episode opens to a red hand print on a hospital room wall, a bloody spattered patient chart and hospital equipment turned upside down. In a format similar to season six's "Baggage", we're shown the patient's story through House's interviews with Dr. Cofield, Foreman's former mentor. Let me pause and ruminate on this character's name: Cofield. Co-field. He shares Foreman and House's expertise, but practices medicine in a much more conventional way. I digress.
This isn't the first time that House has been criticized for his practices, but it is the first time House's actions and leadership could cost him his job and his parole. In last week's episode, we watched House enjoying his freedom at various locations. He is finally untethered to his mistakes of the past and just as he is beginning to enjoy himself, disaster strikes.
So what happened exactly, Dr. Cofield wants to know. Whose fault is it? We watch as everyone recounts the case. As usual, House is unwilling to take any of the blame for the events leading up to Chase's stabbing. As we begin to hear details of the case, we find out that House slipped orange dye into Dr. Adams' shampoo to confirm that Chase and Adams are in fact sleeping with one another. Of course, he doesn't reveal this to Chase until much later. As usual, the pranks escalated and throughout the differentials, Chase attempts to get House back for his joke.
Some of this episode really worked for me. All of House evaluating his actions and his methods was fun to watch. Any time House is forced to turn his genius back onto himself, I know I am in for a strong episode. House rarely lets anyone in on his true thoughts; he's far too closed off emotionally, which is why his actions confuse those around him, with the exception of those he's worked with for years and years, like Chase, Foreman and Wilson.
So when Cofield comes in and asks questions regarding House and his bedside manner, I roll my eyes. I've been watching House for a long time now and I don't need to be debriefed on just how much of an ass House can be and how strange it is. House is a man who should only be analyzed by his motives, not by his actions.
Why did he push to find out Chase's personal business? He wanted to be let in to his life. Why does he push his team to the point of breaking down? He knows he can get their best ideas. House has always been emotionally stunted in some ways. He's risked letting those around him in on his vulnerabilities and look what happened. He felt connected to a number of people throughout the series. Cuddy, Cameron, Stacy, Amber, Thirteen, Kutner and Lydia all come to mind. He let them all in and they all left. The only people House has left to confide in and lean on are Wilson, Foreman and Chase.
The rest of his team is too new. Or too short.
In order not to lose Chase, House clings to the idea that they're friends, so he pushes Chase to confide in him in a completely backwards way, which indirectly(?) led to Chase's stabbing. So whose fault is it? Chase's for disagreeing with House about a diagnosis and going around him by bringing a scalpel into the patient's room? Or House's for breeding the type of environment that respects those on his team who disobey him?
Cofield assesses this type of environment as dysfunctional. House's team is aware of this, of course. But why would they work for someone like House if they didn't believe in his methodology? In truth, they enable House's behavior and while Cofield may agree that the environment House has created is completely destructive at times, he can't ignore the end results, such as an unhappy family member who thanks House in the end because House was, above all else, right. And the end result saved the patient. And also saved House's freedom, despite House throwing Cofield's hypocritical decision in his face.
But what about Chase? Doesn't Chase want to blame House for nearly paralyzing him? Chase knows that he enables House to act like he does. He may even remember that House indirectly played a part in the demise of his relationship to Cameron. Perhaps he remembers House's allegiance to him during the Diabola debacle. The relationship between Chase and House may not be as prominent in the series, but their relationship is arguably the most interesting. As a character, Chase has grown more than anyone else on the series.
He started off as a spoiled rich kid who was only out for himself, someone who betrayed House. He's matured considerably since then and he's learned to make his own decisions. Which is why he tells Cofield that it's nobody's fault and that House not being there for him really means that he can't handle being there for him. I wonder how much longer House can show he cares without showing he cares without being fully rejected by those around him in the end. Remember how difficult it was for him to show up for Cuddy's surgery? Remember when he told Wilson he wouldn't be there after his surgery because he didn't want to face dying alone?
House is nothing if not selfishly emotional when the life of someone close to him is threatened.
But when Chase is finally facing House at the end of the episode, he wonders to House, why couldn't House have just asked him what was going on? Why the tricks to tell Chase to stop being late to work when a straight forward conversation could have occurred? And this is how House works. He does talk to Wilson in a more straightforward way, but their relationship is one of escalating pranks, immaturity, and neediness.
What, Chase wonders, is the need to inject the indirectness of House's actions to get to the real question. For House, it was about fun. Chase quickly points out, "None of this is fun." Finally, we see House take ownership for his actions to the one person he needs to.
"They decided that you being stabbed was nobody's fault. They're wrong. I'm sorry."
After an intense look between them, Chases asks if there's anything else. And House, holding his gaze, says no, that was it. Between Chase's physical pain and House's guilt, I am hopeful that the next couple of episodes could move the series forward in a positive way. I'm uninterested in people's shock over House's bedside manner. What I am interested is what this episode began digging into: House's style of interactions with those close to him and the consequences of these interactions. Him accepting responsibility for Chase's stabbing was a step forward for House, but as House preaches, "People don't change."
But perhaps House can show some growth. And even though Chase is not fully receptive to House's admission right now, it could be enough to open a line of communication in the future and enough to make House more cognizant of the consequences of his actions, even indirectly.
I'm reminded of Amber's death here and how it was indirectly House's fault that she died, even though Wilson admitted after awhile it wasn't. But it is the type of relationship that House and Wilson have that enabled House to make that call and expect a rescue from Wilson.
But back to "Nobody's Fault." My main concern about this episode is that the series will drop the themes and forget about them. I know there's an upcoming episode featuring House's green card wife who I couldn't care less about.
I'm quite curious to see where the ideas presented in this episode go. Don't let me down, House!