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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

House: "Unfaithful"

Illustration for article titled House: "Unfaithful"
Illustration for article titled House: "Unfaithful"

This isn't the first religious patient House has treated; you have to wonder at this point if he isn't collecting them. I'd say he's trying to kill the faith one believer at a time, but if he is, it hasn't been going very well (before tonight he was, what, 0 for 3?). But "Unfaithful" might be a new one—a priest whose already stopped following God even before he walks in the door. Our PoTW, Father Danny, was accused of molesting a teenager a few years back, and while he claims he's innocent, the church has shuttled him from town to town ever since. So he doesn't have much goodwill left towards Jesus, which makes things especially awkward when Jesus comes by to say hello.

Danny checks himself into the ER, and House grabs the case; not because he thinks it's worthy (although surprise, surprise—it is), but because he's looking for a way to screw around with Foreman and Thirteen. While the priest chokes down hospital food and earns the contempt of Taub (has there been a patient this season he's liked?), House lays down an ultimatum: either Foreteen splits up, one of them quits, or he's gonna start a'firin'. Then there's the usual rigmarole that happens whenever House starts playing games. Foreteen debates the nature of the game, decide to bluff him out, he calls their bluff by firing Foreman, and then Thirteen and Foreman's relationship collapse into a bitter heap of acrimony, with both of them still on the job, but neither exactly happy about it.

Actually, they are happy—turns out it was all a con to get House off their backs, and the two are still very much in spit-swapping mode. It's too bad, really. I initially dug the chemistry between Epps and Wilde, because it served as a distraction for the painfully misguided House/Cuddy foolishness, and because I thought it might develop into something interesting. I was hella wrong, no two ways about it; whatever the faults in the writing, Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein are old pros, and I still like them even when I don't like the direction they're headed. With Foreman and Thirteen, things aren't so bright. The most entertaining parts with them in "Unfaithful" were when they appeared to be fighting; given the clunky, too-fast development of their supposed love, it was nice to see that love crash and burn in a sensible way. Knowing it was all a trick means that we'll be treated to more of them next week, and I'm not happy about that.

Also not hugely happy about the brief re-emergence of Chuddy, but at least it was fairly low-key. Cuddy's having a Jewish naming ceremony for her baby, she invites House along, and the games begin—House questions her motives for inviting him, then he questions Wilson, Wilson gives up the game so House realizes that Cuddy's just doing it to keep him away, but it turns out she actually wants him there, and so on. All very rote. House has been fairly well defanged at this point; even Laurie seemed bored kvetching over his boss's supposed "hypocrisy" (has Cuddy's Jewishness been mentioned before?). It did all lead to a nice montage at the end, with House noodling on the piano while Cuddy had her party and Foreteen gave in to their jungle fever. I don't think for a minute that seeing the grumpy doctor sweep the frazzled administrator in his arms would be anything but terrible, but so long as they keep dangling just out of each other's reach, I don't mind quite so much.

So far, we've got two parts passable for this week's ep; but how about that possibly-pedophiliac PotW? While it doesn't reach the heights of the show at its best—heights I'm sadly beginning to suspect are long behind us—Danny's problem is easily the best part of "Unfaithful," as it gives us a nasty medical issue that gets worse in memorable ways (I think this is the first dead toe we've had?). It also gives Kutner and Taub a chance to debate philosophy; apart from House, these two are fast becoming the best part of the show. Sure, it's a little ridiculous how quickly they both latch onto moral positions every week, and how those moral positions are always completely divergent from each other, but that's been a part of the series since the first season. Taub is the realist, Kutner the romantic, and fortunately, neither of them are schmucks.

We get some upbeat resolution on the molestation issue—the team becomes convinced that Danny has AIDS, and Taub, convinced the priest is lying, tracks down the former teenager who accused Danny of molesting him to tell him to get tested. This gives the teen, now a young man, the chance to come to the hospital and apologize for lying; that, combined with the realization that the "hallucination" of Jesus that opened the episode wasn't a symptom of his disease (Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome) at all, seems to put Danny back on the road to belief. It's a little more uplifting than we're used to, but it was clever enough that I'm willing to overlook that. I wish I could overlook everything else.

Grade: B-

Stray Observations:

—“You’re a wuss. Part wimp, part puss.”

—I did like that Cuddy flat out told Foreman that House was right to fire him. Finally, some (sort of) consequences!