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Taking my little notes: House S2

House acts like much more of a jerk in S2, starting with Andie the 9-yr-old cancer victim, although I can still believe that his behavior is generally either a protective mechanism to hide his own deep feelings or torture in pursuit of truths that could save his patient. We see that his physical pain is exacerbated after Stacy leaves again (and this is also when he is first shown employing a prostitute). By the end of the season, he’s pacing relentlessly and taking morphine, and the self-loathing hallucinations he experiences during his ketamine reboot suggest that psychological anguish could be playing a big role. We also see the first evidence for House’s troubled history with his father when his parents drop by.


Stacy appears to be a female version of House in many ways: smart, witty, blunt, forceful, occasionally cruel. And yet, since she does not see things in the same black and white terms that he does, I don’t think they could have made it even if the infarction had not occurred. She both loves and hates him, and she finds concealing their regained intimacy from Mark to spare him pain an acceptable option, which House never could. She claims that she walked away because she was lonely with him, while with Mark, there’s room for her, and that being with House was like eating curry vindaloo – you might crave it, but a steady diet is impossible. I don’t believe her, except in the sense that it would be impossible for her to continually live up to the expectations of such an uncompromising man.

The House/Wilson relationship takes on new dimensions, including much more blatant sexual subtext/banter. House tests its limits by borrowing money and stealing Wilson’s food, while Wilson warns Stacy away from House just like he did with Cameron. However, House sincerely appears to be trying to help Wilson repair his marriage. Wilson finally leaves his wife, ironically after she cheats on him. However, he doesn’t crash on House’s couch for long before moving in with his own patient and then to a hotel room (and the speed with which this sequence occurs must be hell on his change-loathing best friend). House diagnoses Wilson with a pattern of falling for people who need him – until they don’t anymore. Lucky for House, at least as long as his suffering lasts.

With all of the Stacy and Wilson subplots, Cuddy doesn’t really get that much to do this season until she starts fertility treatments and her doomed search for a sperm donor. House is a friend here – he helps her with the treatments and keeps her secrets, and although he jokes about when their “dinner” will be, he doesn’t seem to believe that she likes him enough to choose him. However, we do learn that they knew each other when she was an undergraduate at Michigan, and there is a strong suggestion that Vogler was right to suspect that they were once sexually involved.

Interesting developments for the Cottages this season. Perhaps in payback for his disloyalty during Vogler’s reign of terror, House treats Chase extra badly, starting in “Acceptance” when he sends him to search the prison (and Chase takes it and keeps coming back for more). And yet, he stands by Chase after his negligence following the news of his father’s death results in a patient’s misdiagnosis and eventual demise. Cameron gets a bunch of life lessons this season from patients and Foreman that ought to shatter her rose-colored glasses permanently concerning human nature. She freaks out enough at the prospect of HIV infection to get high on meth and have sex with Chase that doesn’t suck (although, contrary to his expectations, it’s not repeated for a good year afterwards). She also develops more of a spine, sassing House and her coworkers (“Safe”) and successfully breaking bad news to patients’ loved ones (“All In”). And Foreman, who used to seem like a decent guy, reveals just how ambitious and directed by self-interest he is, whether he’s angling to supplant House or scooping Cameron’s article and trying to infect her so that she’ll be more motivated to diagnose his own disease.

A final thought on season finales: the series that I’ve liked most have taken very different approaches to the conundrum of attracting new, naïve viewers while retaining old ones. Some, like The X-Files, generally end with a cliff-hanger to draw current viewers back the following year. Others, like Buffy, tend to resolve carefully constructed season arcs, more or less providing a fresh slate at the start of the next season. The House MD writing team has chosen an effective middle path: end each season with a twist that changes House’s circumstances/relationships and opens up new avenues to explore in the following year. Season 1 ended with Stacy’s reentry into his life, while Season 2 ended with his ketamine treatment so that we could see what his life would be like without chronic pain.

I’ll be taking a bit of a break from House watching while I catch up on Bones S5. Looking forward to Season 3, though, since my knowledge of the ketamine period and Tritter arc are currently more informed by fanfiction than my actual memories of the show.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 28th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
This is an interesting read - it's always fascinating to get a glimpse into how other people read House. I've never been able to pinpoint his personality exactly - because many of the subtler traits change so frequently. (whether by design or inconsistent writing, I don't know - but maybe that's one of the advantages of writing such a layered character) For example, he tells Wilson that he cannot care the way other people can, that he's not pretending, or hiding anything - he really just doesn't care. And then we see that he does care. The whole show is littered with these personality inconsistencies - showing that House doesn't really know himself as well as he thinks he does.

And yes, I agree. He is crueler in season two...apart from the ones you've mentioned, I remember when he blackmails the surgeon (in the one where Stacy is defending Chase - rubbish at titles) and even though he gets what he wants, he still destroys the surgeon's marriage - just because he could.

I liked Stacy - and I never thought about whether their relationship would last prior to the infarction - I always assumed that they were happy. But when she makes the vindaloo comment and the 'room for me', maybe she did mean that their relationship was always like this. Deelaundry wrote a great story about how Wilson copes with the exhaustion from being in a relationship with House.

As for Wilson, when I watched this some years ago - with no slashy feelers at all - it was the same scene you mentioned that made me think there was something between them. That House would listen to Wilson when he said he looked good unshaven, and that Wilson would think to make such a comment...well, it was certainly bromantic. But it was actually when House asks Wilson to have dinner with him, because unlike Bonnie, he (House) could make it worth his while. Now, of all the ways this could be interpreted (and there were several) - the one that rang out for me was 'these guys have a sexual history/present'.

Cameron kinda bored me, and I didn't like Chase until the last season, but I've always loved Foreman, even when he was being a dick - and I actually think he's even more complex than House.

And I think it was House's father who did him the most damage - the moral compass indicates that he found fault with everything his son did, and this had to have hurt House, or else he just wouldn't have cared enough to hate him.

I also really enjoy reading how writers portray House, and I like to read them all - no matter how unlikely they seem, no matter how ooc he is, although I do prefer when he is more like we see him in the show...still other people's interpretations are always interesting, and of course, when some people write a H/W romance, they are influenced by their own views of romance, and so change the characters to fit this.

(Although - Wilson being turned into the a 'wench' amuses me, think pre-1990s Mill&Boon.

I agree that Wilson is the more submissive/passive, and the nicer, more emotive one of the pair - but he's still a man!

There is a story in my mems by Rosie, it's one of her fantasy series, and it starts with an arguement between House and Wilson, and one of the reasons I memmed it was because it was one of the first stories I read that featured Wilson actually standing his ground with an unreasonable House.)

When I write House, I always think of two things.
1) House is romantic - I've always thought this - the heart prescription for Stacy, the corsage for Cameron and the gentleness with which he kisses all three women...and I could actually see him being romantic with Wilson - not candles and flowers romantic maybe, but still capable of expressing feelings, in his own way.

2) House would fight to have everything on his own terms, and it is in his nature to push - but it is he more that Wilson who is afraid of losing people - and when people push back at him, he questions his own behaviour, and is more likely to compromise.

But that's just the way I read him...

Wow, this was long...eek!
Aug. 28th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your comments!

Yes, blackmailing the surgeon and then ratting him out anyway was one of the other things I was thinking of, as was that H/W-inspiring scene in which House tells Wilson that he'll make it worth his while (although there are so many!).

We're meant to believe, I think, that House's father was guilty of psychological and even physical abuse - perhaps because of the insane moral compass and perhaps in part because he suspected or knew that Greg was not his son.

I totally agree that House is a romantic, UNLIKE Wilson. That scene in which Wilson cynically advises him to ask Cameron about her hopes, dreams, and aspirations as a panty-peeler and then House busts out the "lame" corsage is awesome. The cheesy heart prescription is another great example. Oh, and Cuddy's desk and the book by her (great-?)grandfather, so sweet.

I totally agree that it's in House's nature to push, but that he respects people who push back and force him to question himself - it's exactly what he demands of his team. On the other hand, Wilson doesn't like direct confrontations and wants to accommodate, and ironically, I think that strategy can only hurt their relationship. House tries to get him to fight back and express himself every time they live together, and it isn't until S6 with Sam that Wilson seems to start getting the hang of this.

I also think that House is extremely loyal and is more afraid of losing a particular person in his life, whereas Wilson is afraid of being alone but has few qualms about moving from one partner to the next.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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