"Adverse Events" S5 / E3
Hey, remember last week how cool that private detective character was? How he brought an interesting new dynamic to the show, and made a nice Wilson surrogate for our troubled hero? That really was swell.
I want him gone now, please. If he's destined for spin-off land, get him hence, or if not, well, consign him to the character graveyard. Maybe have him fall out of a balloon and die. That would seem to fit.
"Adverse Events" is an anomaly; for once the patient-of-the-week plot is the most compelling element of the whole show. Brandon (Breckin Meyer) is a mediocre painter suffering from visual agnosia. Unsurprisingly, it turns out this is in some way related to the multiple experimental drugs he's been taking. As House notes, he has a hot girlfriend, and in order to disguise his failures as an artist and keep her love, he's been selling himself as a guinea pig to various testing groups in order to earn money and maintain the façade that he's making a living through his art.
Nothing earth shattering, especially since once the whole "three drugs at once" truth comes to light there's not much mystery to solve; the team just spends the remainder of the hour trying to get the drugs out of his system, and figure out what's still giving him problems. (Spoiler alert: it's a bezoar, a clump of undigested material that grew in Brandon's stomach due to low stomach acids from an experimental antacid he'd been on. Which is kind of cool, especially since the last time I heard a bezoar mentioned was in an issue of Sandman.) But at least there's that familiar structure to fall back on. At least with the patient I can look forward to the usual beats.
Not so much with the B and C stories this week. The B story had some promise; House has been using his private detective to ferret out information on the members of his team, and in the process, discovers Taub's wife has a secret bank account. This leads to all sorts of hand-wringing on Taub's part, from assurances of contentment in his marriage to confrontations with House over privacy issues. When he finally talks to his wife about the account, she tells him she's been saving up to buy him a car. Which is very nice, but as House points out, Taub knows it's a present he doesn't deserve. So there are the trust issues again, and the question of whether or not he'll swallow the problem or meet it head on.
Bear with me for a moment, but–isn't it funny how the opening credits haven't changed since the first season? We still get Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer listed as main characters, despite Cameron being AWOL this episode and Chase relegated to his usual single scene cameo. Heck, the last dramatic shot has House and his team striding determinedly towards, well, some kind of medical problem I'm presuming; but it's the old team. Kutner, Taub, and Thirteen are nowhere to be found.
That's going to be a problem, I think. I like the actors for the new group all right, but I'm not invested in any of their characters enough to get caught up in side-dilemmas like "Is Taub's marriage a lie?" Thirteen has the most potential with the Huntington's diagnosis, but even that doesn't really register. Right now, the various psychological confusions and debating that have long been a series staple have become too much like going through the motions; routine is what procedurals are all about (I know every episode that House is eventually going to get his epiphany face, but that doesn't mean I enjoy the moment any less), but the trick is to at least keep the illusion of freshness. If Taub doesn't like House's games, he should refuse to play them. We've already seen underlings pretend to not care but ultimately fold beneath the Cane-man's cynicism. Give us something at least a little new.
Really, though, the worst part of "Events" were the continuing adventures of Lucas PI. This is the first time since the Tritter story arc in season three that I can remember cringing so much during an episode, and at least there you were supposed to feel uncomfortable. Having Lucas first flirt with Cuddy, invade her privacy, and then apparently actually earn her romantic interest was creepy as hell. The character's cleverness and charm has rapidly become like something you'd find in House fan-fic: "There's this guy, and he's named, um, Jack, and he's–right, he's totally a private detective! And he's really cool and smart, and he and House become bestest buddies forever. And he totally bones that hot hospital administrator, and then he goes and scores with Cameron and Thirteen. At the same time."
The idea here, though, is not about personal wish fulfillment; every scene with Lucas is setting the stage for his own series down the road, and in order to make him as compelling as possible, he has to win the admiration of the characters we already like so that we'll think he's something special. It's a fairly sketchy advertisement angle, and the scenes with Cuddy brought out the worst in that. Cuddy's treatment as a whole over the series has always been an uncomfortable spot with me (she's either a hard-ass or sloppily sentimental as the needs of the moment dictate), and here it's just embarrassing. The PI breaks into her office, goes through her things, and hits on her in a supposedly self-deprecating but honestly pretty intrusive way. She's, apparently, really into that. Whee.
Plus, there's the fact that Wilson isn't even mentioned once in the ep; I don't expect the show to obsess over his absence, but the touch was too light this week. House needs a bit of darkness to really shine. Get rid of Lucas, he's served his purpose and I'm sure we're all super excited for when he gets his own place in TV Land. Oh, and please decide once and for all if we're committing to Taub, Kutner, and 13 (the B-Squad), or if this is still some long con before the A-Team returns. We spent all last season building up to a new paradigm; wouldn't it be refreshing if somebody actually did something with it?
--The power dynamic between House and Foreman is still shifting; I liked how the team looked to Foreman for final confirmation of House's instructions. Also liked how Foreman treated House's games: "That's enough."
--Kutner's in the Guinness Book of World Records for crawling 20 miles. Why wasn't that the story?
--Nice bit–House asks if Brandon's girlfriend is hot, 13 says, Sure, "And if he dies, it's good news for all of us, but-"
--Ah, wonderful, they're bringing back the "House is secretly in love with Cuddy" thread.