House: "Don't Ever Change"
B-

House: "Don't Ever Change"

B-

House

"Don't Ever Change"

Season 4, Episode 12


I'm not sure I understand Fox's plan of burning off its last three Season Four Houses in the space of a week, but at least the close succession of Sunday's "Frozen" and tonight's "Don't Ever Change" allows House fans to meditate on the show's eternal theme, as stated plainly in the titles of both episodes.

The POTW (patient of the week) is a Hasidic Jew, played by Laura Silverman, who collapses on her wedding day, demonstrating a rash of SUSs (seemingly unrelated symptoms) that involve a lot of blood in bodily fluids where blood shouldn't be. The kink in her circumstances is that she's only been deeply religious for a short time; prior to converting, she was a fast-living music producer, hooked on the heroin and the sex. So naturally, House assumes that the person she presents herself as now is pure put-on, and that her illness is part of her true self's attempt to kill the devout phony she's become.

Meanwhile, following up on the surprise ending of "Frozen," House thrusts himself into the middle of the romance between his long-suffering pal Wilson and his ex-applicant Cutthroat Bitch, because, as he puts it, "I don't see that I have any choice." Determined to prove that CB is only cozying up to Wilson so that she can get back on the diagnostic team, House grills her and baits her, waiting for her to crack.

But no dice. And in the A-story, Silverman also fails to crack. She adheres to her faith even when it means refusing surgery before sundown, because her faith has given her life meaning, and she doesn't want to die having rejected it. Final result? House's own devout faith–that "people don't change"–has been tested. Yet again.

Look, this was a decent episode in terms of its mystery–which had a neat, and touching, resolution–and it was great to see Silverman in a dramatic role. But none of the conflict between House's skepticism and Silverman's belief really came to much, and in the end, the philosophical questions weighed by the episode felt a little stale…nothing this show hasn't covered before.

Maybe it's for the best that House is now on hiatus until the strike is officially resolved. I have to believe that even if a deal gets signed this week--just before the rumored drop-dead date of February 15th for shows to "finish" their seasons--the House producers would still just as soon take a breather until fall. Ever since the job search ended, this series has been in a rut, repeating themes and conflicts and generally failing to come up with ideas as inspired as the ones that dominated the first part of the season. House seems to be trying to figure out where to go next, and whether it needs another big switcheroo, or more of the proven formula.

So here's the question: Can this show change? And ultimately, do we want it to?

Grade: B-

Stray observations:

-At first I liked Kal Penn's wide-eyed happy-go-lucky character, but he's really starting to get on my nerves. Despite his one useful suggestion in "Frozen," he seems so far out of his league here that it's hard to believe House would tolerate him. His two cohorts aren't much better either. When Chase was called in for a consultation this week, I realized how much I missed the old team. If another switcheroo is coming in Season Five (or the mythical second half of Season Four), I know what I'm pulling for.

-Great House/CB exchange: "Why do you have to believe I have an ulterior motive?" … "For the same reason I believe a crack whore is going to have sex for crack."

-House on why Wilson's new girlfriend is all wrong for him: "She's a cutthroat bitch. You cry at Dark Victory."

-For a time back in Season Two, the perverse House-Wilson relationship became the centerpiece of the show–right around the time they moved in together–and that element has always been a major part of House's appeal. So the idea that Wilson loves CB because she reminds him of his friend…yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out.