House, “Small Sacrifices”

Last week, I praised House for avoiding some of the melodramatic nonsense this season that made the last two sometimes excruciating to watch. So of course, this week’s episode, “Small Sacrifices” brings back the melodrama in full force! Stupid column.

Anyway, “Small Sacrifices” is definitely the worst episode of the season, even if it does feature a few great moments — mot noticeably Chase’s general horndoggery and the James Bond bit with House and Wilson — and for the most part, it’s because the series returns to its terrible writing for relationships. Like I’ve said in every review, House and Cuddy have been well sketched at as a couple this season (at least in the minds of people who like them together, like me), but here, they become the relationship I assumed they would be from the start: overly dramatic, morose, scheming, etc.

I don’t expect things to always be great, but earlier episodes in the season had them deal with their issues in a fairly mature way — at least for them — and it made sense. Last season was presumably all about getting House in the right frame of mind to date Cuddy, and though I don’t expect him to be a completely different person, at some point, he just needs to be honest with her. He’s been honest with her at other points this season, but it feels like he continues to push for no apology here because that’s what the writers need him to do to create drama. It’s unfortunate. Also unfortunate? The fact that they were arguing and fighting for so long. I kind of see where Cuddy was coming from, but not enough that she was holding on to this grudge about the separation of personal and work lives, even though she’s making a work issue affect their personal lives. So there’s that.

Unfortunately, the House and Cuddy nonsense is nowhere near the worst part or second worst part of the episode. Those glorious distinctions go to the personal dramas of Taub and Wilson, both of which are handled miserably and boringly throughout the episode. The issues between Taub and his wife are still some of the worst beats the series has ever explored, mostly because the writers keep hammering home the same exact points. We know Taub cheated, apologized and tries to keep his wife around, even though he doesn’t seem too interested in her and would rather cheat some more. Now, she’s talking with a guy online and Taub is irate, and I’m bored. There’s really no reason for these two people to be together, they have never once seemed to like each other and it basically serves as an example of what happens when people stay married because they don’t know what else to do. Maybe that’s the point? I don’t think so, though. So awful.

As for Wilson and Sam, well, I don’t know what to say. The season has done a nice job of making Sam feel more like a person instead of just a foil for House, particularly last week’s episode where the two seemed particularly close in having a mature discussion about children. So of course she leaves him this week. House story plotting everyone! I get that the series likes to show us that Wilson is often just as screwed up as House in his inability to see nothing but good in people, but at some point, he should have just shut his mouth and let the proposal go forward. Again, that feels like the writers finding a reason to break up a fairly stable couple for an unknown reason. The series doesn’t tend to focus on Wilson enough to make his loss of Sam seem that important but also doesn’t seem worth it either. If he’s still only going to be in 8 minutes of an episode, why make him unhappy? Just because? Oh, okay.

The case? It was fine, I guess. House versus religious people is always a good time, particularly when House screws with them in hopes of getting them to disobey what they believe like he does here. Also, has anyone else noticed that the series has made the teasers progressively insane? Is their way of apologizing for mediocre cases? It’s hilarious.

Sorry if I’m being too sarcastic, but I’m just annoyed. I thought House had turned a little bit of a corner and then this ridiculous episode comes along and makes me feel like a fool for writing 1,800 words about how good the season has been. Don’t make a fool of me, House. Please.

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