Thursday, January 11, 2007

TV Review: House - "Words and Deeds"

I think I may be suffering from broken heart syndrome. My symptoms? A pain in my chest every time I think about the latest episode of House, a reluctance to write about the show I normally can't wait to dissect, and a sore throat. Though that last one might be more related to the cold I'm fighting off, come to think of it.

It breaks my heart to say this, but "Words and Deeds" takes away my ability to say that even a bad episode of House is better than most of the good stuff on television. To look on the bright side, the three weeks until another new episode should allow my heart to heal, since in an extremely unsatisfying plot twist, the reset button was hit on the series as much as on the patient of the week's brain.

Derek, a young and hot firefighter who is very much not an older woman, is disoriented and experiencing extreme body temperatures. Cameron, who's had enough of House's self-created problems, forces him to focus on the case, eventually leading to a diagnosis of menopause. When she tries to administer the hormone treatment, Cameron finds herself throttled by a man who's arm is about as big as her entire body. Last episode I kind of wanted to strangle the sanctimonious woman myself, but it definitely wasn't pretty to watch it literally happen.

When Derek starts having heart attacks, the team discovers his beautiful partner Amy is the trigger, and broken heart syndrome is the new diagnosis. And damn, Scrubs beat them to the punch with that one in last week's tribute episode, "My House," making that particular disease appearing in the very next episode of House more comical than dramatic.

Through all this, the team has to get House's input on location in rehab, where he's checked himself in after an apology to Vogler Jr. - I mean, Detective Tritter - didn't get him to drop the charges of stealing a dead patient's Oxycodone.

Cuddy and Wilson try to suss out if House's rehab decision is real or just a show, so he points out that it wouldn't be much of a show if it wasn't real. Everybody lies.

He even apologizes to Wilson for blaming him for his problems, a fact that makes Cameron thaw her newly icy attitude towards House and give him the most awkward hug in the history of hugs. I wonder if she apologized to Wilson for blaming him for House's problems before getting all sappy over House's apology.

Tritter doesn't buy the rehab move, because nothing House can say or do would ever be good enough. Because Tritter is just another cartoonish big bad wolf with a sketchy motivation that goes no further than having been burned by an addict. His role ended up being solely to further a plot that no one but the most gullible viewer thought would end up with House in jail or losing his medical license.

But instead of the process of getting House off the hook being clever or believable or interesting, we get Cuddy suddenly pulling a rabbit out of her butt and perjuring herself to save House's butt.

The show resets itself with the revelation that House has been taking Vicodin throughout, thanks to a bribable rehab worker. We're promised the same old House, which I hope also means the same old House that doesn't rely on cheap tricks.

I found it hard to care about the ludicrous rehab and trial plot, but the patient case was no better. Derek can't confess his love for Amy because she's engaged to his brother, so he agrees to a radical treatment to give him electroshock treatment to wipe out all his memories. No one objected to frying the patient's brain and eliminating who he is as the first line of treatment, no one on this ethically flexible medical staff thought to talk to Amy, in one of the most ludicrous leaps the episode expects us to take.

Another is that after the brain frying works, when it turns out Derek's memories had been false - Amy is not, in fact, engaged to his brother - the team calls House while he's on trial to let him know they were wrong. He can't trust his highly qualified hand-picked doctors to perform a test by themselves, so he walks out of his trial to swoop in and discover a spinal meningioma that's causing all his problems. They can now cure him, except for that whole erased brain thing. Oops.

"What do I do when I get out?" the memoryless Derek asks Cameron. "Sue the crap out of this hospital" is what she should have answered.

I'd write more about Lisa Edelstein and Hugh Laurie making this episode even remotely watchable; and how his speech about pain affecting his actions rang true despite the fact that he was trying to bullshit Tritter; and how ironic it was to see House rebel against someone applying his own "everybody lies," in words and deeds, philosophy to him; and how amusing it was that when House's biggest supporter, Cameron, has had enough of the man, Foreman and Chase decide to be supportive. But I just can't write anymore about this episode. My heart hurts too much.

In three weeks, I look forward to the same old House, even if I'm heartbroken at how the show went about getting to that point.