”House”: An airplane epidemic and romantic risks
Ah, viewer discretion warning, my old friend. Although constant nausea — in a spectrum of primary colors — is hardly the most stomach-churning ailment to rear its head on the show, after an hour of seeing airline passengers retch, I was about ready to fall prey to my own bout of conversion disorder. (The similarities to the Richard Preston book The Hot Zone — and remembering Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in hazmat suits in Outbreak — didn’t exactly help, either.) My psychosomatic pangs, however, were the only pains I felt about last night’s show, which was pleasantly witty, well balanced, and character forwarding.
After the hubbub about House going on vacation last episode, I half expected from the promos that we’d find him returning from a work-free tropical jaunt (even though he ripped up the tickets that Cuddy gave him). Turns out I was half right; any conference where you only have to deliver a three-minute speech — and consequently run up an expense bill so high you can legitimately demote your boss to coach from first class (”expense problem solved…genius!”) — pretty much counts as vacay in my book. Cuddy got doubly screwed thanks to the collapsed scuba-diving Korean with the bends, though her succumbing to the sickly symptoms of mass hysteria was counterpointed by the priceless image of House with yellow earplugs up his nostrils (to match his canary Hawaiian shirt, I presume?) and the hilarious scenes with the makeshift whiteboard and mini-faux-Australian Chase, non-English-speaking Foreman, and whiny Cameron (no difference there) as his duckling substitutes. My favorite (incorrect) diagnosis also came courtesy of Cuddy: ”You think he’s a mule?” ”I think he’s a jackass.”
Since House episodes take place so rarely outside the hospital, the airplane setup was a welcome change, as was the nice narrative paralleling between House’s patient and the Old Lady Gone Wild charged to the ducklings and Wilson in his absence (bald man/bald woman, LP on the plane/LP in the hospital, nearly operating wrongly for internal cocaine exposure/nearly operating wrongly for a brain disorder). With their boss airborne, we got to witness Chase, Foreman, and Cameron (with Wilson supervising) diagnose a case on their own without House on speed-dial to offer advice; having Chase save the day was a good change of pace. Too bad whatever ego boost he got for cracking the case was burst by Cameron’s blunt rejection of his desire to have their relationship ”be more than it is.” It’s a rejection that anyone watching the show could have seen coming a mile away, but I really wanted to hug Chase and slap Cameron. And sex on the surely cat-hair-covered bed of your dying patient? Um, to quote airplane-surrogate Cameron, ”Ew?”
And kudos to hospital-POTW Fran for forgoing Duluth to do shooters, snort cocaine from a homosexual man’s stomach, and have sex with a large man named El Gordo! Okay, well, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but taking stupid risks from time to time and getting out of your house filled with cat memorabilia? That’s a do. Enjoy your life. Go to Caracas. Just don’t eat the salads (washed with unpurified water, ya know?). Also, do not hook up with hookers who are about to find themselves embroiled in a situation with Dr. Wilson — you know it’s going to happen. And end badly. For unless your guest star is Julia Roberts, ladies of the night tend not to work out well in the long run.
But what do you think, TV Watchers? Did you enjoy the change of scenery? Are Cameron and Chase really broken up? And are you Team Lifeguard Cuddy or Team Mother Superior Cuddy?