'House' Season 7, Episode 10 Recap
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 25th 2011 10:30AM
['House': "Carrot or Stick"]
Episodes of 'House' boil down to two types of shows: ones with big shocking endings that threaten to rip relationships apart, and ones that fill the gaps between those episodes.
The ones wedged in the middle like Oreo cream filling feel just like that -- filler. The stories and cases aren't as clever as the tail-end cliffhangers and range from mildly interesting to downright boring. Who know that stories about blocked bladder function could detract from the show's zestiness?
This week's foray into the mysterious world of liver damage and hallucinogenic psychosis had that usual mix of high and low points in the three to five stories crammed together until something more exciting came along. At least we empathized with Chase.
The episode ran basically by meeting its weekly quota of ambiguous-but-clever opening, strange maladies sprinkled throughout, and a sledgehammer twist ending that seeks to reach some kind of common ground on whatever tragedy House is having with his team that week. If I was playing 'House' road bingo, I would have scored a "blackout" by the time last night's show hit the halfway mark.
It opened with a scene at one of those "scared-straight" boot camps that Sally Jesse Raphael used to send spoiled brats to when simple reasoning and national humiliation failed to cure them. It featured Tyler James Williams, the kid who played the title character on the genius 'Everybody Hates Chris,' and even though it's not fair to pigeonhole an actor to one role, it was hard not to root for him as the drill instructor berated him to finish the obstacle course only to collapse at his feet as he left him to wallow in pain and mud. I couldn't help but cheer inside and remark to myself, "Finally, Chris won one, even if he had to go to juvenile hall to do it."
Then it segued into what be the most abrupt story change in the history of the medium -- the team discovered a doctored, naked photo of Chase, obviously taken by some former fling (possibly from the wedding reception where he ditched Foreman to score a bridesmaid hat-trick). The whole series of events that led Chase to the mystery Facebook poster felt so hollow and uninteresting because the characters didn't react the way real people would to a naked picture of an oversexed colleague with Photoshopped shrinkage. The big giveaway was the fact that nobody, not one of them, even laughed at the photo. They just sounded the way doctors sound in my head: bland and clinical.
Even Amber Tamblyn, the unusually bright star in the cast that's about to fade away soon, didn't have much to work with in her weekly battle with House. The drill sergeant patient inspired her to confront House on his demeaning tough love ways by proving that being respectful and courteous can get better results than berating someone into a depressive episode. It was a clever way to parallel the team's personal problems, but it still felt like such a television cliché -- especially the big twist between the drill sergeant and the troubled kid in his squadron who both mysteriously develop the same symptoms. If that wasn't enough a spoiler for you, then you're probably dumb enough to be surprised by this episode.
The only bright moments in the show were House's attempts to re-educate Cuddy's kid for the big fancy preschool because House is, well, House. He's notoriously anti-kid (that would make a good rap battle name) but he did feel affection for the child, even if he tried to suppress those feelings with a hydraulic press. His solutions for teaching her had a nice touch of cruel humor without crossing over into breaking child endangerment laws and it actually had a sweet ending with House that didn't come off as syrupy. It was, if you will, the spoonful of sugar that helped the rest of the bad-tasting medicine go down.