House, “Recession Proof”

I know I’ve been one of the only supporters of this season of House. And I can see why a lot of people are frustrated with the series at this point. The version of House that we all fell in love with in those earlier seasons has been completely deconstructed in such a way that he doesn’t really exist anymore. He still tries to uphold the same kind of code he had in those earlier years, but ultimately, he’s been giving up on that so that he can live somewhat happily with Cuddy. And again, I know people don’t like Cuddy and that’s fine. Unfortunately, my response to those ready to jump off of the House train would be that it’s just a different program now and it has to be evaluated differently. I’m not sure that makes any diehard fans of those first few seasons feel better and it’s mostly a byproduct of staying on the air a season or two longer than it probably should have, but as I’ve discussed in previous pieces, I like this version of the series and the character. I don’t think House or House as a person is in a more interesting space than he was in seasons 1-4, but this is what had to happen if the series was going to continue. He had to change at a certain point.

But by the end of “Recession Proof” I could see some of the obvious frustrations others have with the series and the character. House had to change at a certain point, but I think the final scene of this episode brought me to my breaking point with that change. With House suddenly realizing that he is now longer a capital-G GREAT doctor because of his love for Cuddy and actually deciding to let that not bother him, I think the character — and thus perhaps this relationship — has gone too far. I know he’s drunk when he makes this decree to Cuddy and she’s clearly annoyed or confused enough with his statement that she’s considering dumping him anyway, but the moment still happened and now House is completely toothless. Or at least feels like it. I actually liked how House came to this realization and how the episode included some continuity from cases earlier in the season so as to remind us that it wasn’t coming totally out of thin air, but after you have House make this call, where does he go? Doesn’t the series just drift completely into romantic dramedy territory with an occasional medical/ethical debate thrown in for posterity? That is not a good premise for a series.

And really, this is all unfortunate both in the macro levels of the series’ future and long-term prospects, but also on the micro level because “Recession Proof” was a pretty darn good old school-ish episode of the series. This was an episode that focused fairly heavily on the patient and his family, which is always nice in this era of the series. As I always say, if I can remember elements of the case once I write my review the next day, that episode of House probably did something right. The case itself wasn’t especially interesting or full of any great ethical debates that the series’ best ones offer, but I appreciated the dedication the script had to pulling through the patient’s circumstances and his possible lies he told to his wife. The procedural elements don’t have to be fantastic for an episode of House to work, they just have to be present.

Similarly, the case provided a nice little story for Masters and Chase that felt like a traditional House-ian story. Masters was given a lot to do in her first few episodes, but per usual, it felt as if the writers became bored with her and her quirks with the snap of their fingers. There was an episode a few weeks ago where she was about to quit and asked House why she would ever want to stay and I wondered the exact same thing as I watched. But here, she’s actually given some water to carry when House decides to take off the training wheels by forcing her to push for the patient’s honesty, which of course backfires for the patient’s personal life. Chase isn’t the best person to be giving Masters advice but I mean at this point, he’s the best the team has to offer. Taub and Foreman are neck and neck in their horrible outlooks towards life, so even if he’s a horndog, I can recall the bright moments Chase has had over the years. You know, when he wasn’t killing people. Of course, the episode had to moderately ruin his mentorship of Masters by suggesting that the two of them are going to hook up, but that’s just how House rolls, unfortunately.

Despite the ending and what it means for the future, I still think this was one of the better episodes of the season. It’s been worse in House season seven. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be EVEN worse in the future.

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