B+

House: "Locked In"

B+

House

"Locked In"

Season 5, Episode 19
So, anybody out there seen Dark Passage? I, sadly, have not, but I do know the big gimmick; the first hour of the movie is filmed through the eyes of its lead, Humphrey Bogart. (See, the guy doesn't start off looking like Bogart, he just gets plastic surgery so that he ends up looking like Bogart, which posits a weird world in which looking like Bogart, while the real "Bogart" doesn't actually exist, is a good thing. The whole "subjective camera" gimmick is a nice way of ensuring you don't have to hire two different actors, or one talented make-up artist.) Passage isn't the only movie to have used this trick, but it's probably the most famous for it; it's similar to "Locked In," in the sense that both film and the episode realize you can't spend all your time in first-person. It works in books, but as a visual, it eventually gets old.

It made for a nice change of pace in this week's House, though. Mos Def appeared as our Patient of the Week, and does solid work in a role that's as much about off-screen voice-over as it is about on-screen performance. After crashing his bike into an open car door, the PotW, Lee, wakes up in a hospital where everyone is assuming he's brain dead and ready for organ-harvesting. Luckily, House just checked into the same hospital after a spill on his motorcycle, and happens by Lee just long enough to realize that something's up; his brain waves are too active, and his eyes too responsive, for him to be a vegetable. There's some discussion between House and the Bearded Doctor who actually works at the hospital (I know we're supposed to take into account how annoying House can be, but man was BD an ass), Foreman brings 13 and Kutner over for a consult, and after some manipulation, House manags to get Lee transferred to Plainsboro. And that's when the real fun begins.

Story-wise, having roughly half of the episode take place (literally) through someone else's perspective worked two ways: it gave us an opportunity to get an outsider's take on our lead characters, and it forced us to identify more with Lee's essential helplessness. "Locked" wasn't all that innovative in the comments it made on House, the New Coke players, and the rest, but Lee's various observations (wow, even paralytics think Foreteen is boring!) were funny even when they weren't particularly insightful. Same thing, roughly, with Lee's interactions with his family and his growing despair--it was all fairly predictable, but worked okay. Lee is scared of his kid's seeing him, but can't keep his wife from bringing them into the room; Lee gets caught in a lie, and can't explain himself to his wife because he's stuck in his own head. I wasn't much moved by the content of his angst, or his struggles with the existence of God (really? do we have to trot the God-problem out every episode now?), but the thought of being so frozen that you can only control the most rudimentary aspects of your life was convincingly unsettling.

Basically, what we have here is a typical ep, delivered in an atypical fashion. Which may be a sign of desperation on the part of the writers (and to be honest, it was getting a little too "tech demo"y by the end), but onepositive aspect of spending this much time in the patient's head was that when, say, Foreman and Thirteen's relationship stuff came up, we had the insulation of another person who was just as bored as we were by the whole thing. And y'know, I just like Mos Def. His voice over bits were, by and large, well-done.

There was some continued fall-out from Taub's abrupt departure-arrival last week, with House still pushing on him to make sure he keeps his edge. Taub's one honest moment to shine is when he comes up with using a brain-computer-interface in order to communicate with no-longer-blinking Lee; too bad House won't let him take any credit for using "someone else's idea." Or will he? Kutner's the one who figures out the problem in the end--Lee's been spending a lot of time in a friend's basement working on resumes, and contracted leptospirosis from all the rat urine. (Altogether--ew.) When House comes to ask who figured out the answer, Kutner let's Taub take the credit, a ruse that House immediately sees through; partly because he's clever, and partly because he had a tape recorder under the patient's pillow. It's fine, though, because if Taub cares enough to lie to keep his job, that means he cares enough to keep working.

The biggest mystery of the episode was why House was in Middletown to get in a bike accident and show up at Lee's hospital in the first place. He and Wilson spar about it through the ep, and after a couple of fake outs (Wilson's dating his brother's caregiver? That couldn't possible be weird), we find out that House is seeing a psychiatrist. Or was seeing one, anyway, as he tells Wilson he's done going. In a nice little moment in the end, we get a single shot of Wilson as seen through House's eyes, paralleling Lee's problems; I guess overdosing on rat piss isn't the only way to get locked in.

Grade: B+

Stray Observations:

  • "Jesus, is the last thing I ate gonna be the last thing I ate?"
  • Once again exposing my scientific ignorance, how absurd was Taub's BCI machine? Because it seems like it should be absurd, but I couldn't tell.
  • Lee: "God sent you." House: "Suddenly, you're not so fascinating."
  • Wow, next week's episode is going to change our lives.

More TV Club