When I reviewed the last episode of House way back in February, I suggested that the creative team was starting to repeat itself, and that rather than trying to whip up a few more episodes after the strike, they should take a long rest and come back in the fall with a few game-changing ideas like the ones that started this season. Tonight's episode proves that I was
Right? Wrong? What do you think? Me, I thought "No More Mr. Nice Guy" was mostly middling, with another theme that felt like a retread, and several squandered opportunities. And that includes the big non-twist but more on that in a moment.
First, our POW (patient of the week): A roly-poly carpet cleaner whose SUS (seemingly unrelated symptoms) include fainting spells, a lemony taste in his mouth, and strokin'. (Yeah, that's what he be doin'.) Oh, and persistent niceness. That's right: niceness. The dilemma for House and his team: Is the fact that this guy is never bothered by anything indicative of some kind of brain malfunction, and if so, is this the sort of thing that needs to be treated?
In other words, here's yet another patient whose behavior is so un-House-like that it makes House suspicious. When House chalks the problem up to syphilis, Kutner finds a vial of House's blood, and when he tests it, he discovers that House too has syphilis, and that some routine pharmaceutical treatment might modify his behavior and make him less irascible. But will a kinder House be a less effective House? And haven't we chewed over this paradox about a thousand times before on this show?
Well, luckily we don't chew it over long, because it's all a big fake-out. House duped Kutner by leaving some tainted blood in the lab because he knew that Kutner wouldn't be able to resist testing him (for reasons I don't completely buy, but whatever). And while I'm glad we're not going to have to go through another mini-arc about whether a "cured" House can still be a brilliant House, I'm also not sure we needed to pad out this episode with 5 minutes of the team standing around pontificating about the nature of their boss. This show has become very yack-y lately, which wouldn't be a problem, except that it keeps saying the same thing over and over.
What could it be saying instead? Well, you may have noticed that this episode marked the emergence–at last–of Kutner as an actually respectable diagnostician. And given Kutner's general happy-go-lucky nature, I was hoping for more of a compare and contrast between who Kutner is and who the POW is. No dice. Barring that, I was hoping for a little more juice from our C-story, which involved Foreman giving performance reviews to the team (because he's worried that House isn't taking the responsibility seriously enough). When this season began, Foreman was rapidly becoming the most interesting character on the show, but tonight, the relative lameness of his mission (and his largely indifferent reaction when he realized that House was manipulating him) only showed that the writers were trying to find any way to shoehorn him into the episode.
Instead, the writers were more wrapped up in the admittedly entertaining B-story, which was about House and Cutthroat Bitch negotiating over who gets to monopolize Wilson's time. I'm not yet tired of that three-way dynamic (that "devil's threesome," if you will), in part because it's nice to see Wilson in a good mood for a change, and in part because it's fascinating to try to figure out, once again, why Wilson would want to spend so much time with House in the first place. (Especially when he now essentially has a House with female sex organs available to him.)
So there were flashes of humor and reasonably enjoyable character moments in "No More Mr. Nice Guy," but at the end of the episode, when our still-seemingly-upbeat POW realized that he didn't like ketchup any more, I caught a glimpse of the kind of poignant scene that the best episodes of House build to unexpectedly. Tonight, that scene felt like it had been knocked out as an afterthought–like something left on the big whiteboard in the writers' room before the strike, and returned to after the inspiration for it had long gone.
-What was up with the weird House-eye-view camera angles after the opening credits?
-I liked that when House went bowling with Chase, the alley looked very lowdown and real, with properly scuffed-up pins.
-House on our ever-nice POW: "Is he Canadian?"