House: “Perils Of Paranoia”
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House: “Perils Of Paranoia”

Okay, House, let’s talk deal.

I’m willing to cut you some slack, to ease up on the reflexive sarcasm I’ve developed over the years to protect myself against routine disappointment. I’ve always played fair with you in reviews, but this season, I’ve sensed a certain willingness on your part to relax, embrace absurdity, and not get too wound up in all the drama. I appreciate this, and in return, as mentioned previously, I’m not going to get so bothered if my suspension of disbelief starts having heart problems, or worried that the show isn’t living up to its full dramatic potential. However. Please don’t try another joke like tonight’s wince-inducing, “House keeps checking patient names in the clinic until he finds out who the really hot chick is, and then takes her into a private room and closes the blinds.” You’ve been down this road at least once before (I can’t remember the episode, but House made a bet with Cuddy that he could treat multiple clinic patients without touching them, then voluntarily lost the bet when he gets a shot at an attractive young woman), and it’s not a good idea. I understand House likes to push boundaries, but this is something different; it’s creepy and invasive, and it undermines the core of integrity the character needs for all his other assholish behavior to be tolerable. Yes, it’s probably meant as a harmless goof, but the trust between a doctor and a patient is a sacred one, and if you have your protagonist violating that trust for his own personal interests, it’s unsettling in a way I don’t think you’re prepared to deal with.

That one complaint aside (and it’s minor, only a five minute scene, really), I had a lot of fun with “Perils of Paranoia,” which managed some minor thoughtfulness and solid laughs. The first great joke is probably not supposed to be funny: We meet our patient of the week, a lawyer named Tommy, in what may be the most generic courtroom scene I’ve ever watched outside of parody. Tommy is grilling a key defense witness in a robbery case, and the witness is all like, “Oh, I’m totally covered, here’s this goalie’s name, we were watching the game together, beat that!” And Tommy’s like, “Oh, you wanna read this newspaper for me? Hold on, judge, be cool, it’ll just take a second, and now here, read this other newspaper and BAM, there goes you’re whole freakin’ alibi, man! ROASTED.” And then Tommy has a heart attack.

Or at least, he thinks he has a heart attack. Only he didn’t, and no one knows exactly what’s going on. Cue House and his team, and roughly 25 minutes’ worth of medical jargon and debate over what, exactly, is giving poor Tommy such increasingly complicated woes. It’s not bad; it's not a great PotW, but it's nothing to be embarrassed about. The big twist here is that Park and Adams discover Tommy has a secret bunker full of guns tucked away in his house, which leads to a lot of questions about whether or not his paranoia is a symptom of his condition, and the required marital difficulties when Mrs. Tommy learns she’s sitting on enough weapons to arm a fairly ambitious backwoods militia. My only real complaint here is that, as is so often the case with PotWs these days, there’s no real attempt to get beyond the surface. Tommy’s fears about the end of the world and the way those fears manifest themselves could’ve made for some fascinating character work, but in “Perils,” they’re largely window dressing, an excuse for Park to be forceful and pessimistic, and for her and Adams to spar while House stands on the sidelines egging them on.

But hey, we don’t watch the show for the cases; we watch for what happens around those cases, and in this respect, “Perils” had some entertaining material. Park’s concerns over whether or not the team hated her wasn’t amazingly involving, but it also wasn’t unbearable to watch, and the way it all culminated in her asking Chase out on a date was a clever, interesting way to show how her character responds to possible weak points; deep down, she’s worried she’s unliked, so she’ll force the issue by asking the most attractive male in the room out for drinks, almost like she’s daring him to reject her. That Chase gives in makes it less a joke about Park’s off-putting behavior, and more one about how, as Chase himself mentioned earlier, all doctors are screwed up in some way or another. Why pretend Park is somehow the odd one out? I doubt anything will come out of this (if nothing else, the pretty person chemistry between Chase and Adams is going to have to result in a drunken hook-up sooner or later), but it’s an exchange that works for the episode, and if it helps soften Park (or help her fit better with the team), so much the better.

In other romantic news, Foreman has decided to start an affair with a married woman. This could go one of two ways. If it’s a character moment that gets referenced occasionally for the next few months before it inevitably blows up in Foreman’s face, I’m cool with it; it makes sense for him to make this kind of choice, and it’s good to have Foreman do something that isn’t House-related in any way. However, if this becomes a big focus for the show, ala Foreman and Thirteen, well, we all know how that turned out. I doubt it will, since the big reason Foreman and Thirteen was such a drag was that the relationship involved two primary characters on the show, but I’m trying to keep my hopes reasonable. I don’t mind the occasional background noise of the doctors’ personal lives. It’s only a problem if it starts to drown out the main themes, i.e., House.

Speaking of, the promos last time promised us some sweet, sweet House and Wilson pranking, and while it’s not as big a part of the episode as I was hoping, their sparring is as entertaining as it always is. Wilson decides he has to prove House owns a gun, and chaos ensues. Of course Wilson is right, and just as of course, House manages to bluff his way out of the confrontation in the end, because deep down, Wilson really wants to believe that House wouldn’t be so foolish as to own something that could get him thrown back into prison. It’s a decent little subplot (and it’s telling that House pulls down his father’s sword after putting the gun away; I’m guessing this means the gun was his dad’s, too), and it also clarified something about the show that’s been bothering me for a long time. I’m sure you’ve all realized this ages ago, but I never understood why so much of House was focused on characters constantly trying to solve each other’s problems. But it’s because they’re doctors, and one of the main premises of this series is that great doctors have a hard time functioning in the world because some part of them is always diagnosing everyone they see. All the conversations outside the patient of the week are just endless iterations of the same basic questions: What are the symptoms? What’s the underlying cause? How do we fix this? That’s what drives Taub to interfere with Foreman’s love life; what pushes Wilson to keep nagging at House; and what makes House the ultimate bastard in a building full of invasive jerks.

Stray observations:

  • Apparently, House and Wilson are very, very good at setting traps.
  • If House is driving nurses to quit, why would Foreman insist he do more clinic hours?
  • Man, the number of times I’ve destroyed hospital rooms whilst fighting off bear attacks... it’s a high number, is all I’m saying. (This may be a Maine thing.)
  • I liked how the PotW story ended on an upbeat note. Not completely sure they earned it, but it was a nice change of pace.
  • “Because dangerous people don’t break into your home, they live in it.”
  • “Had a meeting about a new parking validation system.” “...cool.”

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