House, “Changes”

There’s a weird thing going on. I think I’m the biggest critical supporter of House left. I’m not really sure how this happening, especially when I spent a good portion of the last two seasons thinking that the series should be cancelled. I’d like to think I have mostly high standards. Maybe I do, maybe I do not. But nevertheless, I have really enjoyed the second half of House this season, and despite some obvious faults, I really enjoyed last night’s “Changes” as well.

It’s a proven fact that Hugh Laurie makes House watchable and the team members are significantly less interesting at best and horribly, terribly pointless at worst. But as I wrote way back in the fall, I’ve been charmed with the ways in which certain members of the team, especially Chase, have been used this season. Obviously, the story with Taub and his (ex) wife has been awful, the Masters experiment was a bit misguided and aimless and Foreman is Foreman. This is a particularly strong ensemble of supporting characters, but the writers have figured out how to consistently integrate their most enjoyable quirks into the B- and C-plots each week. Which basically just means having Chase, Foreman and Taub rag on one another and attempt to figure out who is the more miserable and more awful person. I’m okay with this, especially if the alternate choice would be having stories like Taub and his wife.

I say all that to set up the fact that the runners in “Changes” were kind of wonderful. Of all the little underlings, Foreman has had the least amount to do this season. That’s really for the best since he’s an awful person in a cast of awful people. But with only a few episodes left, the writers finally decided that maybe it was time to actually give the character something of a story, at least for an episode. Again, the story that is presented here, that Foreman has a pent-up ball of rage, is completely trivial and typical for the character. We’ve heard about and seen Foreman’s anger issues manifest throughout House‘s seven year run on the air. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else except for maybe House, and he only puts up with House’s crap because he knows that he cannot really find a better job. So having Chase taunt Foreman and his rage issues isn’t really new, but I did like that the episode fully committed to it without even remotely pretending that the story matter. Foreman is who he is, he’s never going to change. He might manipulate his blood pressure or bribe a nurse in hopes of proving otherwise, but it’s not just not the case.

As the episode’s title suggests, there was a lot of discussion about change this week, especially with the underlings. Foreman’s issues were directly related to Chase’s assertions that he’s also a changed man who no longer wants to have copious amounts of sex with any moderately attractive woman. Chase claims to see the error in that kind of thinking, which of course Foreman tries to subvert with a bet. Foreman’s rage versus Chase’s chastity. Clearly, they’re both fraudulent liars. Foreman can’t stop himself from being incredulous when Taub suggests dumb things during differentials and Chase can’t help himself from sleeping with the cute nurse who is after him. Again, we already knew that Chase and Foreman (and Taub) are terrible and miserable individuals, but it’s sort of nice to have the series just let them get smacked down even when they try to convince themselves otherwise. It’s a horrible way to look at life, but I think it fits into this series’ dynamics.

Meanwhile, House sort of tries to force some change on Thirteen. She’s back at work, but that of course means she’s mostly miserable. She still euthanized her brother and still has Huntington’s, so of all people on the team, she has the right to be so down on the possibility of change. House knows this and pushes her to figure out a way to be moderately content until her time is up, which I found pretty interesting. I think I’ve totally convinced myself that House sees so much of himself in Thirteen and is subsequently trying to “fix” her because he doesn’t see any way that he can fix himself. There’s no hope for him, but there still might be some for her. House has to deal with Cuddy and her mother throughout this episode and I think those circumstances force House to recognize some of the errors in judgment he’s made recently. He apparently can’t make it right with Cuddy, but he project his desire to actually do so by bringing Thirteen’s high school boyfriend to the hospital for a little reunion. Ultimately though, Thirteen’s just as miserable and misanthropic as House is, as she constantly tells him that “We are who we are.” I don’t think this series is stupid enough to try a House-Thirteen romantic pairing, but I’ve really enjoyed their interactions in the last three episodes. I’m glad they are sticking with it in a compelling way.

And speaking of House’s issues with the Cuddys, I have less to say. We all knew that the season would have to eventually swing back to the issues between House and Cuddy and I’m totally fine with that. However, bringing back Candice Bergen just reminded me of how melodramatic and hyperbolic her previous guest stints were that I couldn’t even get invested in the story. Mama Cuddy’s ploy to bring the two of them together through the threat of a possible suit is completely ridiculous, but House-ian in its logic so I sort of enjoyed the end result, even if the steps taken to get there were plodding and slow. Interestingly though, House was popping a lot more pills than usual this week. I’m confident that this is an important little nugget that will play out over the final three episodes, but I was trying to figure if there were any other clues that went along with his increased drug use. If you noticed anything, let me know.

It’s pretty wild that it took me this long to mention it, but Terriers’ Donal Logue was this week’s patient! Yeah, he was fine. It was a fairly rote, typical House case, complete with the horrible “inside the body” CGI that they randomly pull out once a month these days. WHY DID TERRIERS HAVE TO BE CANCELED?

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