By Margaret Lyons
February 02, 2010 at 05:30 AM EST
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Last night’s House had some outstanding dialogue, a fun running gag between House and Wilson, and a patient who was actually kind of interesting. So “Moving the Chain” could have been a pantheon episode; instead, it fell flat, especially when it overrelied on the show’s weaknesses. Are we almost done with Lucas? Isn’t Foreman more interesting when he actually slides towards his fear of being like House, rather than nobly doing the “right” thing at the end? Why can’t we have more of Taub’s jokes?

Our patient of the week: Gigantic Football Guy –6’7, 310 lbs — who forced me to break my rule of only caring about football insofar as it relates to Friday Night Lights or betting squares. GFG had an on-field rage episode, completely melting down and warranting his admission to the hospital. Hulk smash! It wasn’t steroids, or lymphoma, or viral hepatitis, or paraneoplastic syndrome — wait, yes, it was that last one. House’s Brilliant Diagnosis TM was skin cancer, but it came too late for GFG to make the football game he apparently had to play in to be eligible for the NFL draft. The good news for GFG, though, was that he’d survive, and also that he’d get to have one of the night’s best lines:

House: You know why you’re black?

GFG: Because God loves me more than he loves you.

Wilson walked into his bathroom, only to discover House soaking in the bathtub — he says because his leg hurts, though that hardly explains why he wouldn’t lock or at least close the door. Wilson acted grumpy about it, so when he found an angry possum in the tub later, he assumed House had initiated some kind of prank war. Oh, it was on! (Except not really.)

It was a special day not just because House and Wilson had an interaction where one of them was nude, but also because Foreman’s brother was being released from jail. You know, Foreman’s older brother, who we all care so, so much about. Remember him from Foreman’s conversation with Tritter? (Blast! From! The paaaaaast!) Yeah, neither did I. Anyway, House knew all about him and wanted Foreman to go pick him up from jail. Foreman resisted, Fore-cefully, but eventually House brought Marcus (Orlando Jones) to Princeton Plainsboro, just to get under the underling’s skin. Or… something? House hired Marcus to be his assistant, because hospitals so frequently employ the recent prisoners, and used the stories Marcus told him to humiliate and dominate Foreman.

I just could not get with this subplot at all: Yes, Foreman has had a rough go of things, and man, aren’t families complicated? If I wanted emotional “I am going to find the strength within!” stories, though, I could watch Grey’s Anatomy. House wanted Marcus around so he could get information about Foreman, but did he even need it? Doesn’t Foreman do his bidding anyway, even if it’s reluctantly? Wilson claimed House was secretly doing a mitzvah, being the shared enemy both Foreman brothers could hate and thus bond over, but if that’s the message we’re supposed to take away from this episode, it didn’t come through very clearly.

Splish splash, House was taking another bath, but when he tried to get out, he ripped the gripbar right out of the wall — and fell, hard, back into the tub. The score was even! (Except not really.) House eventually realized that Wilson wasn’t pranking him, and Wilson’s suspicions about House were dismissed when the next “prank” involved their apartment’s sprinklers going off and destroying their flat screen.Who could the prank culprit be? Neighbor Nora? Cuddy? Foreman? No, it was everyone’s least favorite PI Lucas, who soaked all of House and Wilson’s possessions to punish them for buying the apartment Cuddy wanted. Ugh, Lucas.

On the clinic front, House treated a soldier trying to avoid redeployment — which House was remarkably unsympathetic to. Soldier Dude had already done three tours and was about to be a father; couldn’t House help him out? “I waited an extra hour just to make sure I got you,” the soldier pleaded, before launching the best back-and-forth of the episode:

Soldier Dude: I saw you limping out there. Vietnam?

House: Viet–?! How old do you think I am?

Soldier Dude: I don’t know, Vietnam age?

House then more or less told the kid to shoot himself in the foot, which he then did. The gunshot wound wasn’t serious, but it led to an infection, and the soldier wound up having part of his leg amputated. That’s certainly one way to get out of going back to the Middle East….

Other awesome lines and moments:

House’s French accent? Amazing.

Taub: Requesting permission to share my idea without being belittled in front of your new assistant?

House: Permission denied.

Wilson, talking about House’s late-night visit to Neighbor Nora’s: Braless? Under like… a sweater?

I don’t know, PopWatchers, “Moving the Chain” just didn’t come together for me, not because it was horrible or anything — it definitely had its strength — but because the stories didn’t overlap with each other enough. Any one subplot could have been cut out of this episode and seamlessly dropped into another, and usually House is better than that. Does Wilson really think House is being nice? Is House really being nice? Is he the “benevolent puppetmaster” Wilson says, or is he the insensitive, if hilarious and commanding, jerk we already know?

What’d you think? We’re at about the half-way point of the season: How is House doing so far?

Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein star in the hit medical mystery series
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