House: “Instant Karma”

The funny thing is, I enjoyed this episode way more than the large-scale, James-Earl-Jones-featuring epicness of last week.

A little bit of “Tyrant” did carry over into this week as Foreman and Chase prepared for the M&M seminar, trying very hard to come up with a believable lie to cover up Chase’s murder of Dibala. I’m suprised that the emotional fallout wasn’t dragged out at least another episode. I was expecting Chase’s actions and Foreman’s knowledge thereof to build for a short while before coming to a head. Oh well. The good news is, the whole situation was well paced and well scripted. And it ended like every other great House episode – with Gregory House sneakily saving the day.

Actually, House was doing quite a bit of day-saving in this episode. In addition to bailing out Foreman and Chase, he had his classic epiphany moment in the extra-mysterious case. This week’s medical dilemma was considerably lacking in the gruesomeness department (which we all know is my favorite). But it went into overtime as far as emotional depth. There’s always a crisis on House. There’s always a patient with baggage beyond medicine. The story is always pretty sad. But this one got awfully close to making me cry…and not just because it was a kid. Over-the-top-gross cases involving children, such as “All In” of Season Two, don’t evoke all that much emotion in me. The image of this child silently dying for no apparent reason really got to me, though. I’m chalking it up to a moving performance by the father, Roy (Lee Tergesen), and also to the unwavering tone of morose seriousness that spread out over the entire episode.

The other main event of “Instant Karma” was, of course, the final exit of one Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley. The semi-catastrophic and yet non-climactic end to Thirteen and Foreman’s relationship had a construction and elegance to it that everything that happened between them previously was lacking. Finally seeing the new team/new drama turn into a wonderful piece of storytelling transformed my view of all the elements I didn’t enjoy last season. Instead of finding the failure to match up aggravating, I’m seeing it as more tragic than anything else. It is truly a shame that the quality of this final episode for Foreman and Thirteen was an outlier over the course of all the episodes dealing with their relationship. With Thirteen off on a plane to Thailand, the “new team” is officially and completely disbanded. I bitched a whole lot, but now they’re gone, I do think I might miss them. Just a little bit.

Another revelation from Thirteen’s exit: the changes in Greg House’s character. They are happening. His manipulation of Thirteen (cancelling her plane ticket, lying, trying to meander her back to work) is maybe not that much of a departure from House Of The Past. But as Wilson, in his constant role as analyzer and explicator, pointed out, the motivations for this deception was much…purer than most. House no longer screws with people to screws with them. He thinks about what he really wants/needs and does what he can to get it, using the only tools he knows how. This is the only plausible way for House to undergo a true transformation without violating the believability and continuity of the show, and I think it is going successfully.

Old House isn’t gone, though. He still does what he does best: remind us of human folly. In the face of blind, baseless faith, an eyeroll is always the best response.

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