The Wife:

The final four episodes of this season of House almost made up for Kutner’s random-ass suicide in their inventiveness. Almost. I thoroughly enjoyed the return of Amber as House’s ghostly hallucination and his three-episode quest to discern exactly what’s wrong with him, either way knowing that if he’s crazy, he can’t practice medicine, and if he’s experiencing side effects from his Vicodin addiction, he can’t practice medicine because once he’s clean he’ll be in too much pain. Anne Dudek was delightful has his subconscious manifestation throughout this arc, especially the moment in which she reappears after House thinks he has staved her off by OD’ing on insulin, singing old jazz standards over the microphone at his bar, echoing her first appearance beside his piano. But nothing, really, was more chilling than the final episode, when House realizes he’d hallucinated the entire night he spend kicking Vicodin with Cuddy, ending in the two of them sleeping together. Reliving all of the moments we saw of him flipping coins or examining a tube of lipstick are replayed with Vicodin bottles replacing those objects, suggesting a very powerful drug addiction that has completely taken over House’s life, was pretty brilliant. Frankly, I’d prefer more arcs like this, rather than so many one-off episodes. But what else are you going to do with a 24-episode season? So while everyone else attends Cameron and Chase’s wedding (they spent these past few episodes almost not getting married because a. Cameron kind of got cold feet b. House nearly killed Chase with a stripper covered in strawberry body butter . . . that apparently was made with actual strawberry extract and c. Chase was being a dick to Cameron about keeping her dead husband’s sperm on ice because he took it to mean that she thought they weren’t going to work out, rather than, you know, being the last thing she has to hold on to of her fucking husband), House checks himself in to a mental institution . . . which he will inevitably check himself out of at the beginning of next season because you can do that kind of thing with you are voluntarily committed.

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

As far as the patients were concerned, I’m often irritated by how precious the conceits are in which every patient is a metaphor for someone on the team, etc. So I totally get why the guy with split brain whose hand was not his hand was necessary for the metaphor of the finale, it was also perhaps added just a tad too much levity, despite how much Thirteen et all tried to tell me it was creepy. The only patient that really got to me out of this bunch was the ballerina who lost her skin. A lot of my research deals with holes in the surface of the body, mitigations of that surface or the abjecta beneath the surface, but I found her skinlessness to actually be quite frightening. Perhaps its because I’ve had skin cancer that I find the idea of losing that much skin so terrifying (which, for the record, makes no sense, because the removal of skin cancers just leaves some awesome scars), but its more likely the fact that, without the mitigation of the surface, the inside is all that much more frightening. We forget that our skin is the largest organ on our bodies, and so it is vital that we take care of it. Losing a little bit when you scrape your elbow or knee is fine, and hardly horrifying, but losing so much that we are exposed so wholly to the world is truly unsettling. And deadly. I shuddered for that poor girl. She’s just damn lucky that Princeton-Plainsboro has so many fresh cadavers from which to harvest grafts. I know the episode wanted us to sympathize more with the possibility that she, a dancer, would have to have her gangrenous hands and feet removed in order to live (Taub managed to revive the tissue, somehow), but the loss of her flesh was something I couldn’t get out of my head. And I doubt I will.

So, damn you, House, you actually got me. Good for you.

Considering how poorly I did at keeping up with House this year, I don’t think I’ll write about it next year. I’ll still be watching, though, storing up dozens of episodes on my DVR to marathon whenever I get a break from my book learnin’.

The Husband:

And so the month of season finales involving hallucinations continue, and between this, Bones, and Grey’s Anatomy, I wonder what else have I not come across? I know how the US version of Life on Mars ends (but since neither my wife nor I have finished watching the second half of the season, I’ll refrain from saying what it is), but what about the shows I’m behind on?

Smallville, of course, always has at least a couple hallucination episodes a season – and more now that they’ve been struggling to find stories in Metropolis, a task that doesn’t actually sound very hard – but will Prison Break get all wonky during its final five-episode run that’s sitting on my DVR? (Michael does have major brain shenanigans last time I checked, so this has potential.)

Does Lie to Me, which we’ve DVRed but haven’t touched yet, turn everything on its head by revealing that Tim Roth is just a figment of our imagination? (Considering he’s been both a futuristic ape and Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, this could be a possibility.)

Is Reaper going to turn out to be an extremely vivid dream concocted by Sock during a very long nap at the Work Bench? Will that explain Andi losing her personality this season?

Is that missing episode of Sit Down, Shut Up an apology to the idiots who didn’t find it funny and complained about the intentionally awkward animation-on-top-of-real-backgrounds?

Motherfucker! Ugly Betty ended in a hallucination, too! What happened here? Is this a veiled backlash against Obama? Did all the showrunners stop taking their medication?

The only time I can remember even the slightest bit of consistency across certain shows during season finales was May, 1996 (I had to check Wikipedia for the year, but remember everything else about the following without any aid.) For some reason, three major shows in my life decided to kind of lose their minds and go way too dark for my young teenage brain. With Seinfeld, it was Susan, George’s fiancée, dying as a result of toxic envelope glue, and when the main cast stopped by the hospital, they pretty much felt nothing and went to go get some coffee. On Roseanne, Dan breaks his diet and he and Roseanne get into one of the foulest shouting matches I’ve ever seen on a family sitcom, devolving into back-and-forth screams of “Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!” (Let’s not even mention the final season, which was all a dream.) And, finally, Mad About You challenged Paul and Jamie’s marriage when she kissed the man she was campaigning for and Paul lusted after another woman but didn’t do anything, leading to a quiet, disturbing fight.

It just seemed like, for no discernable reason, sitcoms ended that year wanting us to feel like absolute shit. So I ask, does anybody have an explanation for this madness in dear old 2009?

Don’t get me wrong, I thought everything with Dudek was some of the most compelling minutes House has ever had, and even without her, the final mindfuck, while hard to avoid in the press after the fact, was still eerily effective, thanks in no small part to Hugh Laurie’s continued brilliance on this show. Does he still not have an Emmy? (Now that Boston Legal is gone, Spader’s absence in the category will help considerably. That is, if Jon Hamm’s John Ham doesn’t take it, which would not be a bad thing per se.)

On another note, do any of you out there seriously care about Chase and Cameron? At all? Boooooooring. How about hiring another intern. I’m fine with that. Anything to get away from the dour blondes.

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The Wife:

So, apparently, Kal Penn asked to leave House because he’s taking a position in the Obama administration.

Okay.

That’s cool.

However, how does that explain why the writers never figured out how to use Kutner at all in any episode this season? There were several opportunities where they could have explored his background (chiefly, an episode with an adopted patient, like himself), but they chose not to. Thirteen got a beefy story about her Huntington’s and her relationship with Foreman and the drug trials and all that. Taub’s divorce and the reasons he left plastic surgery are constantly brought up, but all we really know of Lawrence Kutner is that his parents were shot to death in front of him, he’s kind of a manchild and is now dead. I’m sorry, House writers, but even knowing that Kal Penn wanted out, this doesn’t excuse your laziness. I mean, shit, at least the folks on Grey’s are giving Katherine Heigl a worthwhile exit.

I guess, at the very least, I no longer have to gripe about how the show has neglected to find ways in which to use Kutner well. I like Kal Penn a lot, and I hope the Obama administration can make better use of him than the folks on House ever did.

I just thought I’d get that out of the way first so you all don’t have to wait for my reaction.

Three random POW storylines lead up to Kutner’s exit: a patient who lacks a social-appropriateness filter that makes him say all kind of things normal humans wouldn’t, a ripped-from-the-headlines story about Judy Greer and that cat that predicts death, and Mos Def starring in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

I have the least to say about the funniest of the three, “The Social Contract,” because other than presenting us with a person who is like House because he says what other people won’t, which is inherently amusing, the episode doesn’t have much substance to it other than that, save to set up a Taub arc for the next episode. It seems that the POW’s constant harping on Taub’s giant schnoz is enough to remind Taub of his insecurities and failures, including those in his stock portfolio, which lead him to get swindled by a guy who pretends to be a high school classmate, currently under investigation for defrauding doctors of investment money in new surgical tools. (I mean, really, it was a very well put together scheme.) Thinking he’d reclaim some of the former glory he had in his days as a plastic surgeon, Taub goes full-in on the investment and quits his job with House.

For the last time, I refuse to audition for bloody Cats!

For the last time, I refuse to audition for bloody Cats!

Other than that, the DeathCat episode wasn’t all that awesome, either, probing further into House Hates God territory by pitting him against a patient who at first fakes her symptoms because the DeathCat sat next to her, just as it does to old folks who are headed off to the great beyond in the nursing home where she works. On DeathCat’s advice, though, it’s good that Judy Greer came in because she did actually have a cancer in her appendix. By fearing the DeathCat, she managed to thwart her demise. But, of course, having faith in a cat that “predicts” death simply by following up on its natural instincts is absurd to House. When people are about to die, they’re either cold because their bodies are slowing down, thus they are covered in blankets, or are feverish. Either way, they’re warm. And cats like things that are warm. Maybe there’s something to House’s chastising Kutner in this episode for giving the DeathCat the benefit of the doubt that might have lead to Kutner’s demise. But, then again, you’d think peeing on a chair would be enough to cure a guy of any ill feelings toward mean things their boss has said.

I do like cats, though, so one great thing about the DeathCat episode was how pretty that cat was. She’s way more attractive than the real DeathCat, Oscar. How very Hollywood. (Oscar is cute in his own fluffy buttkins kind of way, though.)

As for “Locked In,” I found this episode to be rather excruciating. I think they chose an appropriate way to tell the story, i.e. the Mos Def voiceover and the Mos Def eye camera, however, that doesn’t mean I liked it. The episode got significantly better for me when Taub, trying to earn a spot on the team again, hooked Mos Def’s brain up to a computer after he loses the ability to blink so that he could move a cursor with his mind to answer yes/no questions. That stuff was way awesome, but the rest of it I just couldn’t get into. Not the voiceover, not the eye camera, not the mindscapes where House, Mos Def and Mos Def’s children all chat together. I did like the shot where the team goes over the place Mos Def had been hiding from his wife when he said he was out of town, though, and the scene transfers all Michel Gondry-like to the factory where he took work as a janitor to make ends meet. That was pretty cool. I will, however, try to avoid getting rat-urine-infected paper cuts, though, because I would prefer to not experience this episode in actuality.

Stupid . . . fucking . . . rat pee . . .

Stupid . . . fucking . . . rat pee . . .

And then there’s Kutner’s suicide, which totally overshadowed the POW and shouldn’t have, because the POW is fucking MEAT LOAF! First of all, I loved that Mr. Aday’s character in this episode was Eddie. Although, sadly, my favorite (s)ex-delivery boy was not riding Harleys and wondering whatever happened to Saturday night, but bed-ridden and dying of a weakened heart. Only, when his wife suddenly falls ill, he starts getting better. Taub is in change of tending to the couple, as House and the others are busy grieving/trying to find answers as to why Kutner would kill himself. While at first Eddie’s wife was faking her illness so that she could hang on to her husband for just a few more days, it turns out that she’s actually sicker than he is and needs a new liver. Because he’s only got a few days left, House asks Cameron to convince Eddie to give his wife his liver and die on the table. Even when Cameron discovers that Eddie can be saved (he has a lung infection that weakened his heart, not cancer, as doctor’s previously surmised), Eddie is ready to die; he’s already grown accustomed to the idea and would rather that his wife survive. I mean, it’s Meat Loaf, all. That dude would do anything for love. But Taub instead reveals the plan to Eddie’s wife, who won’t let her husband die for her, even though he wants to. And it’s for the best, really, because when he got sick, he couldn’t take her to Rio like he’d always promised he would, so she went with another man and developed the tropical infection that’s now killing her because it went undiagnosed for too long. Still, I am a little haunted by the imagine of Eddie, reaching out his left hand to hold his wife as she dies, knowing that he loves her enough to forgive her for seeking comfort when he couldn’t give her any.

I completely understand the decision to pair this set of POWs with Kutner’s death, coloring the entire episode in a very particular noirish shade of grey, and presenting two different ways of dealing with death (Eddie’s acceptance vs. House’s need for answers), but I wish the loveliness of Meat Loaf’s story could have been allowed to stand on its own. It reminded me very much of Baccus and Philemon, a myth about a couple who strove so hard to please the gods that Zeus allowed them to remain together forever, entwined as trees. As Mary Zimmerman summarizes it in her breathtaking theatre piece Metamorphoses, as the two began to change, you could hear them say, “Let me die at the moment my love dies. Let me not outlive my own capacity to love.”

It wouldn’t wholly surprise me if Eddie, after his wife died, willed himself to stop living, too. It would be a fitting end to their conjoined-twin like symbiosis, and woefully romantic.

Like I said, that Meat Loaf, dude will do anything for love.

But I won't do that.

But I won't do that.

The Husband:

Curses, woman! I had to correct your reference to Meat Loaf at least five times! His name isn’t “Meatloaf,” it’s “Meat Loaf,” a nickname (origins debatable) he got because of his first and middle name, “Marvin Lee” (which he randomly changed to “Michael Lee” for no discernable reason.) And she’s not the only one. He just happens to be one of the highest-grossing rock and roll artists of all time!

Nehhhhhh…

As far as the other episodes are concerned (I have nothing to say about Kal Penn’s exit other than it was pretty hasty), I only really had the following thoughts in mind over the run of these middle-of-the-road episodes:

1. It’s good that The Shield veteran Jay Karnes (who played the POW without the politeness filter) wasn’t in the DeathCat episode, or he would have strangled the DeathCat just to get inside the mind of a serial killer.

2. During “Locked In,” my mind wandered for a bit, only to come back into focus minutes later, prompting me to mutter one of the stranger things I’ve said in a good long while: “I’m sorry. What just happened? I was thinking about Sam Shepard.” I have a valid explanation for this train of thought, though, but it would take too long to explain and I have work to do here in the office. But it comes down to the relationship between the Mos Def mindscapes and the second act of Shepard’s play The Late Henry Moss.

3. I wonder what Olivia Wilde is going to look like with her Light Suit on in the upcoming sequel to Tron called Tr2n. (Or as I pronounce it, “Tra-too-en.”)

The Wife:

How often is it that you get two House episodes in a row that deal with an identical medical conundrum? Sure, in “Painless,” Martin Henderson is suicidal because he’s in constant pain and in “Big Baby” special ed teacher Sarah has a whole host of issues, but the thing that links the two is this: in neither case can the team agree on whether the problems stem from the patient’s brain or from the patient’s body?

Suicidal Martin Henderson was intended to bring us back from the break by introducing us to a character who is, more or less, in the same situation as House. In case we forgot, the writers decided to remind us just how much pain House is in by showing us Hugh Laurie in a bath, struggling to fully bend his knee. That, or they’ve apparently been reading Hugh Laurie fan sites. But the difference between Suicidal Martin Henderson and House is much more significant than their similar states of pain: House manages his pain through his painkiller addiction; for Martin Henderson, the painkillers aren’t working anymore, driving him to suck on a tailpipe and try to commit suicide at least twice more during his hospital stay.

At first, House suspects that some air may have leaked into Suicidal Martin Henderson’s body, causing him to be in chronic pain and suffer sporadic cramps, making the pain not psychosomatic, as Taub continually suggests. Because Taub had a “colleague” who tried to commit suicide (but failed), he immediately hates the patient and finds him incredibly selfish, refusing to accept any possibilities that Suicidal Martin Henderson is depressed because he’s in pain, not the other way around. (Kutner suspects that Taub’s “colleague” was actually Taub himself. Though Taub denies this, I think his story about his colleague is a way to mask the guilt he feels for doing something he finds so despicable.) Taub ends up being kind of right in this instance, because Suicidal Martin Henderson brought on the air-induced cramps by chewing a hole in his IV so air would get in, presumably trying to achieve one of the quickest ways to die – shooting an air bubble directly into the bloodstream.

House wants to solve the brain vs. body conundrum in this case by injecting lydocane into the patient’s brainstem to essentially paralyze the body, thus getting them closer to a solution. In doing so, he realizes that the answer lies in both places. After healing from the injury that initially caused Suicidal Martin Henderson’s pain, his addiction to painkillers rewired his brain chemistry so that it reads painkillers themselves as causal pain agents. But taking him off painkillers doesn’t solve anything. House then begins to think about the initial source of Suicidal Martin Henderson’s pain, which he would describe as an abdominal pain, similar to being kicked in the balls. He realizes that the POW has epilepsy in the region of his brain that controls testosterone production, causing the abdominal pain. The numerous small, untreated seizures caused the brain rewiring House had suspected, making Suicidal Martin Henderson’s nervous system constantly feel pain. Thanks to epilepsy treatments, Martin Henderson goes home to his wife and son, suicidal no more.

This area of the brain shows that you like me.

This area of the brain shows that you like me.

Suicidal Martin Henderson’s struggle for death is reiterated in Thirteen’s story this week. After their kiss, she tells Foreman she’s not interested in a relationship with him. He assumes this is because she’s once again resigning from life, but she assures him that:

“I’m not giving up on life. I’m giving up on you.”

After some deliberation and further participating in the Huntington’s trials, Thirteen decides that, since Foreman and the new medications have been such a good influence on her, she will give their relationship a try. And then Foreman finds out that Thirteen isn’t on the actual medication at all but is actually taking a placebo, filling him with all kinds of doubt.

Meanwhile, Cuddy makes the decision to spend a little more time at home bonding with baby Rachael, appointing Cameron to assist as Dean of Medicine in her absence. Cameron’s first trial is in “Big Baby,” when House gets Sarah the special ed teacher who suddenly collapsed and started vomiting blood in the middle of class. House wants to perform a radiation treatment on the woman, which might help diagnose her, but is also ridiculous and risky. He wants Cameron to say no, and she knows it, so she approves it, forcing the team to do some quick thinking about how to “radiate” without radiating. Thirteen decides that they should keep up the ruse by going through with the procedure, but not flipping the switch. Foreman agrees, something he does a lot of during this episode, which House immediately assumes is because he wants to be in harmony with his partner, Thirteen, rather than the possibility that she’s actually right.

While Taub and Thirteen administer the “radiation” procedure, the patient asks if she can get up to pee, and then immediately collapses. Thirteen and Taub get her heart working again, the team runs another test that puts the patient in an ice bath, hoping to slow down her heart again to confirm a diagnosis. After three minutes in the ice, the test fails. But the patient’s discussion of how she wound up teaching special ed (transposing the numbers of the classroom she was supposed to go to) makes House think that she might have early stage MS. The number confusion and forgetting to do preemptive tasks like peeing before a medical test point to a problem, he claims, in her left hemisphere. If she does have it, the next problem will occur in the lungs. To confirm, House wants to open up the patient’s skull and poke around. Cameron knows this is the fastest way to heal the patient because she knows House, but she insists on asking him to do an MRI first to confirm the need for the test. The MRI turns up negative, but then the patient’s lungs start to fail and Kutner realizes that House might be right, even though he is loath to allow House to cut into the patient’s skull.

I have head explodey!

I have head explodey!

At home with baby Rachael, Cuddy is barely keeping it together. In “Painless,” she was frazzled by an upcoming review from child protective services who were dropping by to evaluate her abilities to be a foster mother. While Cuddy thought her messy home would reflect poorly upon her, the social worker assured her that caring what her home looked like was the surest sign that she was the right person to foster baby Rachael. (A bad parent, I guess, wouldn’t be phased at all by the mess?) He tells her that he’ll see her in a year, if Cuddy hasn’t adopted Rachael by then. But after a week at home alone with the baby, Cuddy’s no longer sure she’s cut out for this whole mom thing. She’s worried that she hasn’t bonded with Rachael, exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, except without that whole “partum” bit. She drags herself out of the house with Rachael to yell at House and Cameron about the radiation treatment that wasn’t, and House hits the nail on the head by honing into Cuddy’s fears that she might not be a good enough mother and might be better off giving Rachael back. Cuddy goes crying to Wilson about this, and I really wanted to shake her and tell her that no one else should define her experience of motherhood. Wilson tries to reassure her of this by pretending to get a photo of Rachael enhanced to age 18 (when really it’s just the girl who came with the frame) and he begs Cuddy to remember that while she can’t communicate with Rachael now, its not worth giving up reading her bedtime stories and teaching her to ride a bike and giving her advice and consoling her future broken hearts and seeing her off to college.

Kutner interrupts Cuddy’s tearful brooding to tell her that Cameron has signed off on House testing the patient’s brain function by slicing her head open and placing electrodes on it. She calls in the middle of the test, in which the patient was demonstrating increased function in the left hemisphere, and demands over a screaming Rachael that they stop immediately. Cuddy’s yelling plus baby screaming make the patient react, for the first time in this episode, with any sign of strain or annoyance. Prior to this, she had simply gone to her “happy place,” prompting Kutner and Thirteen to remark, “We cannot let this woman anywhere near House.” I was glad to see Kutner featured so prominently as a contrarian force in this episode, as I’ve often remarked that the writers don’t quite know how to make use of Kal Penn. We might finally be getting somewhere with that.

While the interruption from Cuddy causes House and Cameron to puzzle over exactly what it means to their patient that the one thing she doesn’t handle calmly is the sound of a mother trying to calm down her child, Cuddy realizes, finally, that talking to Rachael like a human (because, you know, she is a tiny hooman) makes the baby calm down. After getting so caught up with putting on the appearance of a good mother, Cuddy forgot that the one thing that’s most important in any human relationship is communication. Babies like to hear voices. They want a verbal response to their verbal cries for attention. It’s as simple as that.

In discussing the fact that the baby/Cuddy interruption upset the POW, House realizes that the patient’s symptoms are all caused by a ductus in the heart, something all humans have in utero, but are supposed to heal over shortly after birth. When the patient gets stressed, the ductus causes her body to act as though it is unstressed, increasing left brain activity. This blissful, zen-like calm made her able to deal well with high stress situations like working with special needs children, especially a non-verbal autist that blossomed into verbal expression under her care. Her heart ductus can be closed, but I think the hug between her and her favorite special needs kid at the end of this episode indicates that she won’t be doing that, sacrificing her health in order to help take care of her children. I admit that in the cold open, I found this kid, this non-verbal autistic kid, really creepy, especially with his pointed elvin ears, but he became less creepy with each of her appearances in this episode. I guess it was just the horror-movie filter they put over the classroom that made it so . . . The Omen-y.

Cuddy also makes the decision to remain with her baby, but Cameron complicates things by quitting the Assistant Dean post because she knows she will always say yes to House, due to the respect she garnered for the man while studying under him for three years. So Cuddy goes back to doing what most women do these days, struggling with making a living and raising a child. It’s got to be hard to leave your child to go to work each day, and though I don’t have children, I recognize that painful wince on Cuddy’s face as she hesitates to walk out the door with Rachael crying for her. I’m sure I did that to my mom enough when I was little, before she, like Cuddy, went off to the hospital to save lives.

As for Fourteen, a visit to the classroom to collect potential environmental evidence leads Thirteen to declare that she’d like to have children. Now that she’s on the Huntington’s treatments and she’s feeling better, she realizes that she does, indeed, have the option to lead a full life. I hope that this is the motivation for Foreman deciding to switch Thirteen’s off of the placebo and onto the trial drug, because any motivation he might have because he “loves her” or whatever is not worth risking his license over. And even then, as heartbreaking as it might be to see someone experiencing the placebo effect thinking that she’s getting better (when, although her test results show improvement, she’s still uncontrollably knocking over cups), I still believe that Foreman had no right to abuse his position in these trials to give Thirteen a “chance at life.” This is probably the stupidest decision I’ve ever seen on House, and I hope Foreman pays dearly for it. Like, I hope he loses his license and has to leave the show because he can’t practice medicine anymore. That’s how dearly I hope he pays for it. I don’t know much about how long clinical trials take, but I’m sure that if their study showed significant promise with few side effects, they would get a Huntington’s drug on the market within five years, perhaps sooner. It would be a lot less dumb and career damaging to keep her on the placebo through the conclusion of this particular study, and then manipulate the program to be sure she’s not on a placebo for the next study. That would still be wrong, but it would certainly ensure that the study would move into a second phase. With the data compromised thanks to Foreman, I doubt this study will even get a second phase. What he’s done, then, is basically ruined hope for every Huntington’s patient on this study. Thanks to Foreman, there is a very large chance that none of them will ever find a treatment for their disease because he’s ruined Princeton-Plainsboro’s chance of continuing this progressive research. You’re an idiot, Foreman. Have fun never practicing medicine again!

The Wife:

Happy Holidays, ya’ll! As I sit at home enjoying my well-preserved end-of-year vacation (watching A Muppet Christmas Carol), I started to look back on the year in TV. Even though the writer’s strike stalled a lot of shows, I think we still got a pretty good year of television in. Sure, there weren’t many pilots appearing this fall and, certainly, a number of good shows fell victim to low-post strike ratings and will soon be leaving us for good, but I’d like to take this time to praise some of my favorite moments of scripted television from 2008.

1. Mad Men 2.7: “The Gold Violin”

The other best of ’08 lists I’ve been reading have been heaping their praise on “Flight 1” and “Meditations on an Emergency,” season two’s opening and closing episodes, respectively, but “The Gold Violin” is definitely my favorite episode from season two. This episode was the most magical, literary hour of television all year, utilizing the surprisingly talented Ken Cosgrove’s unpublished short story “The Gold Violin” as a framing device for all of the characters. The violin itself is “perfect in every way, except it can’t make music,” and I think that’s an apt metaphor for many of the things that happen in this episode. Kitty and Sal’s marriage is perfect in every way. They’re best friends. They get along grand, but Sal doesn’t love her romantically and he never will. (Because he is a gay man with a beard, in case you were confused.) Don Draper’s marriage appears perfect in every way, only it is absolutely not working. And every symbol of power and status he achieves somehow becomes imperfect, like the brand new Caddy Betty Draper throws up in when she finds out that Don had been cheating on her with Bobby Barrett. There’s Joan, who is beautiful, curvy, smart and powerful – the perfect woman for a rapidly changing world, except she doesn’t have love and sees the new model of the secretary as a threat to her power and status, especially when that girl endears herself to Joan’s ex.

This is one of Dyna Moes Mad Men illustrations, spawned from a Christmas card she created for cast member Rich Somner. Click through this to visit her Flicker page where you can buy this and other nifty Mad Men prints.

This is one of Dyna Moe's Mad Men illustrations, spawned from a Christmas card she created for cast member Rich Somner. Click through this to visit her Flicker page where you can buy this and other nifty Mad Men prints.

Ken Cosgrove, to me, seems to be the opposite of this. He’s so imperfect. So unthinking, and yet, he’s the only person at Sterling Cooper who’s actually accepted for his artistic endeavors outside of S-C. (Sal’s not making any money as an artist. Paul Kinsey can’t get published and he’s actually a real writer, constantly being shown up by the office sales buffoon whose main job seems to be to get women for clients.) Ken gets what he wants by not actually wanting anything or being powerful at all. I love this episode; it’s about shattering the image of the American dream, and it shows us those shattered dreams beautifully. The writing here reminds me a bit of O. Henry and Fitzgerald, and I could watch it for its subtlety and intellect more than any other Mad Men episode. Watch it again and I think you’ll start to appreciate the perfection that is this episode.

2. Lost 4.5: “The Constant”

Best episode of Lost. Ever. Further playing off the show’s intense mythology built upon pre-existing literary and philosophical texts, this episode takes Desmond David Hume and turns him into Billy Pilgrim, making him unstuck in time. And what’s the only thing we have to hold onto when we come unstuck in time? Love. There is no greater Lost moment than when Des makes his call to Penny at the end of this episode, realizing that it is she who is his constant, the one thing that kept him alive on his Odyssean journey to find her that got him trapped on Lost island with the other castaways. That moment is revelatory, breathtaking and heartbreaking all at once.

3. How I Met Your Mother 4.7: “Not a Father’s Day”

Drunk Baby Lily. That’s all I have to say. This is Alyson Hannigan’s finest comedic work on this show to date in an episode that proves the almighty power of a tiny baby sock.

4. Gossip Girl 2.3: “The Dark Night”

I had to pick this one, because it’s the episode that turned me into a Gossip Girl fan. It’s rare to see a teen soap have such beautiful production design and so many well composed shots, but I have to give complete artistic props to the Gossip Girl team for creating the gorgeous lighting in Blair’s bedroom for the scene in which Chuck seduces her in the dark. The image of him kissing her neck in her yellow Phillip Lim dress reminds me of early 19th century portraiture, but I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than the way it’s achieved on GG. Blair and Chuck forevah.

To quote Paris Hilton, thats hot.

To quote Paris Hilton, that's hot.

5. Pushing Daisies 2.3: “Bad Habits”

This episode certainly doesn’t have the whimsy and color and fun that so many episodes have. And Chuck was in a nun’s outfit the whole time, so there weren’t any fun costumes. But, this was the first episode where Olive got to be a part of the mystery and the location of the mystery forced alive again Chuck to have a small existential crisis about her post-existence. When she sits in the church next to Ned and quietly utters, “I am a person with no past and no future because of what I am,” my heart broke a little bit. Sometimes, Pushing Daisies makes me cry for sweetness, like how I can’t get through the popcorn tossing scene in Tim Burton’s Big Fish (or even think about it) without welling up in tears, but this episode, Pushing Daises made me cry because I realized how sad life must be to be alive again just at the moment Chuck did. This was a beautiful, thematic episode that belongs right next to the better episodes of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me in the Bryan Fuller canon.

6. Lipstick Jungle 2.8: “Chapter 15: Sisterhood of the Traveling Prada”

Unlike Sex & the City, the ladies of LJ are best when they’re taken out of their element. At Christine Ebersole’s health spa in upstate New York, Wendy takes time to contemplate her recent devastating firing from Parador Pictures and figure out just how to get back in the movie-making saddle, Victory finds out the hard way about Joe’s almost-proposal and finally stands up to her friends about their overprotective nature before deciding that she needs to make amends with Joe and Nico wonders what it would be like to buy the spa and retire from big city publishing altogether. Being outside the city allows each of the ladies to realize something about themselves: Wendy finds her drive again; Victory realizes that she loves Joe, exclaiming to the stars the rallying cry that she would have said yes; and Nico realizes that she and Kirby really are at different places in their lives. For all the joy and self-discovery and female friendship, there is no better moment on this episode or the series as a whole as when Victory, hoping to make amends with Joe and ride home with him to Manhattan, gets handed an envelope with the papers to return her business to her and is left on the side of the road to watch Joe’s limo pull away without her. Thank God, Nico and Wendy stole Joe’s scotch. Free, expensive scotch is necessary after a moment like that.

7. Fringe 1.8: “The Equation”

This was the first in a string of truly great episodes leading up to the winter break, and I chose it for this list because I found it to be not only important story-wise, but also very atmospheric in its storytelling. I loved everything with Joanne Ostler and her underground music lair full of VR equipment, all of which lent a very X-Filesish atmosphere to the episode. But the best part of this episode, hands down, is Walter’s voluntary trip back to the loony bin to get information out of Dashell Kim. Walter risks his life and his mental health to help the cause, and you can see him die a little bit inside, radiating fear, when he enters the doors of St. Claire’s. John Noble’s best performance to date is this episode, showing that the odd root-beer loving mad scientist is all too human inside.

8. House 4.14/4.15: “House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart”

Not only were these episode’s cool from an aesthetic point of view, they were also a great two-part arc in which an amnesia-stricken House must try to figure out the missing person he was riding the bus with when it crashed. When that person turns out to be Amber, Wilson’s girlfriend, the new team races to save her, only to find that she had been taking too many painkillers and cold medications prior to the crash which weakened her to the point where she couldn’t be saved. For a minor character, Amber a.k.a. Cutthroat Bitch was a major force on house. Anne Dudek imbued this role with so much power that the loss of her from the House universe was devastating. I cried, and House is not a show that demands any emotional attention from me. (Damn your puppy dog face, Bobby Sean, for forcing tears out of me!)

9. 30 Rock 2.14: “Sandwich Day”

This episode set up Jack Donaghey’s downfall, establishing a great character arc of him in the coming episodes, as well as lots of Will Arnett. Also, nobody cheats Liz Lemon out of a teamster sandwich. Nobody.

10. Chuck 2.7: “Chuck vs. the Fat Lady”

Lots of fun puzzles, lots of fun bonding between Chuck and Jill and lots of disappointment at the episode’s end when we realize that Jill has been playing Chuck all along and that the poor dude will never get to be happy. Chuck’s such a likable guy, and it’s a shame that he will seemingly never be able to have a normal life again. Also, Casey can hit a high C. That’s just a good fact to know.

The Wife:

This week’s installment of House felt like an actual House episode and finally did something I’ve been asking for all season by giving Kutner something to do! For once, this show balanced the work on the main POW case with a Thirteen story, a Cuddy and House cat-and-mouse story and a story for Taub and Kutner.

All I want in this world is my job and a piece of fucking cake.

All I want in this world is my job and a piece of fucking cake.

The POW this week was a fitness trainer who actually got thin by having gastric bypass and sells the hope of a healthy lifestyle to morbidly obese people through her DVD series. As it happens, her gastric bypass and new found “healthy” lifestyle was actually making her sick because she has coproporphyria, a hereditary condition that could easily be managed by eating a high carb and high sugar diet . . . like she used to when she was a fat person. When House and Taub recommend that she reverse her gastric bypass surgery in order to eat a diet that would correct the effects of her condition, she refuses and instead opts for drug treatment, proving what is true of many people in our image-obsessed society: she would rather be “pretty than healthy.” (More accurately, because she would have been pretty whether she was fat or not, she would rather be skinny than healthy.)

Thirteen has started to undergo her clinical trials for Huntington’s, but feels uncomfortable around other people in advanced stages of the disease. She tries to get Foreman to give her spot to someone else. Foreman tells Thirteen that she her muscle response times are already slower than they should be for her age, which means her nerves are already starting to degenerate. She starts showing up later and later and missing appointments altogether after she sees a woman in the waiting room who reminds her not of her imminent demise, but of her mother, whom she resented for her sickness. Thirteen later tells Foreman about her mother, a story that we were lucky enough to see unfold through young Remy Hadley’s eyes every time she looked at the woman in the waiting room. Eventually, Thirteen learns to befriend this woman, to make up for neglecting her mother in her time of need, and helps the other patient take her coat off over her shaking, jerky arms.

In the Cuddy and House plot, Cuddy has taken up residence in House’s office while hers is under renovations. She goes out of her way to annoy him just as he has done to her all these years, until Wilson points out that she chose House’s office because she wanted to be near to him, as she could have very well chosen to take over anyone’s office since she is the Dean of medicine at PP. She literally (and figuratively) takes his balls from him just to piss him off and interferes with his diagnoses. She and House almost kiss again when he confronts her about taking his furniture, but House, unable to admit his love for Cuddy, resorts to copping a feel. He then proves himself to her by ordering her desk from medical school for her new office without her knowledge. Cuddy is ready to admit her own feelings to him after this, until she arrives at his office and catches him in the arms of another woman.

Oh, shit. I think I killed a hooker.

Oh, shit. I think I killed a hooker.

That other woman, by the way, was the actress House hired to foil Kutner’s moneymaking scheme. Kutner had put up a second opinion clinic online under House’s name. Everything was going fine until one patient became too persistent about “House” not being able to help her and threatened to sue. Taub agrees to keep Kutner’s secret from House if Kutner will give him 30 percent of the profits. Kutner reluctantly agrees, and all is going well, until the patient shows up at the hospital demanding to see House. Kutner takes her to the ER to see Cameron and leaves her in Cameron’s care. Later, Cameron pages Taub and Kutner to tell them that the patient is singing “Lime in the Coconut” like a lunatic and bleeding out the ear. The next time they check on her, she’s dead, which scares the crap out of them. They visit the body in the morgue, and House comes in to berate them for lying to him about the case and using his name. He insists that the patient was sick with something so simple that she could have easily been saved. House scares the crap out of Taub and Kutner again when he tries to revive the corpse . . . and succeeds. Kutner tells House that he’ll take the website down right away, but House insists that he’d prefer 50 percent of the profits, especially because he owes the actress three grand for her work.

So the House and Cuddy sexual tension will continue, Kutner actually got a story (and a funny one, at that),Thirteen resolved yet another issue she had in coming to terms with her disease and the POW story provided mild social commentary. This is what a House episode is supposed to feel like, and I’m happy to see a Kutner story for once. Although next time, can we give him and Taub as much story-telling time as we do Thirteen?

The Wife:

I’m writing a House twofer this week because last week I realized that I don’t really like writing about House. I don’t dislike watching it by any means, but it’s probably the most formulaic of all the procedurals I watch and that makes it a lot less interesting to write about. Nonetheless, last week’s “The Itch” and this week’s “Emancipation” both did something really interesting: they listened to the fans and came up with ways to fully utilize House’s old team, as well as the new team. As crowded as the cast is now, using both teams is actually kind of working out, so I hope the Season 4 detractors are happy now.

“The Itch”

The title refers to a bug bite on House’s hand that he just can’t stop scratching, creating a large, gross wound that he can deal with, as opposed to the large, gross wound in his heart from his unresolved kiss with Cuddy. Wilson believes that the fact that these two won’t talk about their feelings is causing them both to act differently, which neither party will admit, ultimately leading to spineless Wilson growing some balls and calling House out on his inability to have relationships with anyone, especially with someone he really loves, like Cuddy.

Well, everyone, it looks like the leg bone is, in fact, connected to the hip bone.

Well, everyone, it looks like the leg bone is, in fact, connected to the hip bone.

The POW in “The Itch” is an agoraphobic man who refuses to be taken out of his home by EMTs, thus making him Cameron’s case. Because of the highly unusual case (good to see everyone out of PPH), Cameron consults with House and his team. They can’t use any of the traditional hospital machinery, so Cameron and Co. start by looking for indicator markers in the blood via EEG testing to try and find out what’s wrong. Knowing that the patient had a seizure when he was first “brought to the ER,” Cameron tries to induce seizures any way possible, to no avail. House decides to bring in outsiders to test the patient’s agoraphobic response, but the patient only experiences intense stomach pain, not seizures, which they assume is an obstructed bowel. House tricks the patient into having in-home surgery, but secretly brings him into the hospital once he’s under sedation. Cuddy intervenes and keeps the patient from going back to his home, for fear of post-surgical infection. Obviously, the patient is none too pleased that he has woken up in the hospital and threatens to sue. Cuddy, in return, tosses Cameron and Chase off the case.

Cameron tries again to get the patient to agree to in-home surgery, but promises to only do it in-home this time. No tricks. Taub operates, and they discover afterward that the POW’s toes have gone numb, which House thinks is an indicator of Celiac’s Disease, so they start force-feeding him gluten to see if they can progress his condition. When that doesn’t work, House wonders if the patient hasn’t been accidentally poisoning himself with household chemicals that have built up in his bloodstream and weakened his heart from constant exposure. He then realizes that its actually lead poisoning from shrapnel left in the patient’s side from a gun shot wound years prior. The shrapnel has been acting like a time-release poison that finally let loose. The gun shot occurred several years earlier when he and his girlfriend were mugged. She died from her wound, while he survived and became completely introverted and increasingly afraid of the world.

The writers made the connection between House’s misanthropy and the POW’s agoraphobia pretty explicit in a lovely end sequence to this episode, wherein House rides over to Cuddy’s house and approaches her door, but can’t quite ring the bell, and the POW finally, for the first time in seven years, leaves his house and touches his feet to his front steps.

I appreciated the use of Cameron and Chase in this episode, even though it was at the expense of (mostly) Kutner, and I loved that end sequence.

[Husband Note: It seems a lot of people have been searching online for who played the agoraphobic, or, more importantly, what they know him from. His name is Todd Louiso, and I will always know him as Dick from High Fidelity.]

“Emancipation”

I dont need you to be smarmy, I need you to be my conscience.

I don't need you to be smarmy, I need you to be my conscience.

In this episode, an emancipated minor is the POW and Foreman tries his damndest to emancipate himself from House by working on clinical trials. Without House’s consent, he takes a pediatrics diagnostics case from Cuddy in order to help him prove that he can work two cases at once. Foreman’s case actually broke my heart a little bit because I really don’t like the idea of children being deathly ill. I think the worst part of this story for me was when the little boy crashed and the nurses had to bring out the tiny children’s defibrillator paddles. Tiny paddles shouldn’t have to exist. I know that they do, because every human body is weak and fallible, but I’d prefer to not think that they do. They make me really, really sad. Almost as sad as stories about animal abuse. But, Foreman’s case did come with the upside of utilizing Cameron and Chase as “his team” while House worked on the main POW with his fellows.

House’s POW also gave me something I’ve been fucking whining about all season: a Kutner arc! Well, it sort of did. Kutner identified with the POW, a 16-year-old factory employee and emancipated minor. She tells him that she was emancipated after her parents’ death because she didn’t want to go into foster care. Because of his emotional connection to her (his parents died when he was 6), he’s willing to believe her and stand up for her, until the minute he realizes that she’d been lying to him all along when he asks her about her dead parents in the MRI machine and sees her limbic system light up – the part of the brain that utilizes the imagination. She then admits that she got emancipated from her parents, not because they’re dead, but because her father raped her and her mother covered it up. Here, Kutner is done with her and its time for Thirteen to try her hand at the case.

Where the team had previously thought vasculitis, they now move on to a diagnosis of arsenic poisoning from the homemade furniture that may have been produced using chemically treated woods. Sofia starts convulsing when Thirteen gives her the treatment for the arsenic poisoning, which leads the team to realize that lesions have formed in her brain. The arsenic in her bloodstream was actually treating those legions: she has leukemia and will need a marrow transplant. Thirteen tries to convince the girl to call her parents as they will give her the best match, despite what they may have done to her in the past. Taub steals Thirteen’s Huntington’s diagnosis to try to rationalize with the girl about taking the marrow transplant to save her life, as people like Thirteen have no chance at surviving their diseases. Still, the girl refuses.

Thirteen goes to find the girls parents and tell them that she’s dying, but instead she finds that Sofia has stolen the identity of a perfectly healthy girl and as been living as her. Angry, Thirteen (whose real name we find out is Remy Hadley, to which I say, who the fuck are your parents?), confronts the girl about her stolen identity, which she claims is because she didn’t want her parents to find her. House knows that she’s lying. She covered up her rape with dead parents, so House believes that the rape story may also be a lie to cover up something worse, a notion which led me to this question: what the fuck could be worse than being raped? The answer, clearly, is being murdered. But since Sofia is alive, there really isn’t much worse than being raped. For her, it’s accidentally killing her younger brother. More accurately, letting him die when she wasn’t watching him. That’s sad, but that’s not worse than being raped. I think we can call agree that this POW doesn’t quite have the same scale of awfulness as everyone else has. I’m sure she feels very guilty about this accident, but it was an accident. Being raped? That’s not an accident. That’s an actual crime. Anyway, House reunites her with her parents who will presumably forgive her and save her life with precious bone marrow.

Meanwhile, with Cameron and Chase’s help, Foreman manages to solve his case of a four year-old boy who seemingly has nothing wrong with his stomach but is getting sicker and sicker, and eventually crashes. Cameron and Chase beg Foreman to cave to House when the boy crashes, but House refuses to help because it isn’t his case. Eventually, Foreman realizes that the boy’s older brother was unintentionally making him sick by giving him too many vitamins, causing the boy to overdose on iron. This was a pretty sad realization as well, because the older brother really thought he was helping his brother grow stronger by eating more vitamins. He laments that his brother will hate him forever, but Foreman assures the older boy that his brother knows how much he loves him and cares about him and that he won’t be mad because it was a simple mistake, some advice I’m sure Sofia would have loved to hear the day her brother died.

In the end, House allows Foreman to do clinical trials, this time because he told House he would be doing them, like an adult, where as the last time, he asked for permission – a distinction which makes all the difference for House.

The Wife:

I found this week’s House to be strangely unsettling and the more I think about it, it’s probably one of the finer pieces of writing the House team has produced this year. This week we got two POWs: a 37-year-old man who lives in a pristine, undecorated household with his young, apathetic daughter, both of whom seem to be sleepwalking through life and the biological mother of the baby Cuddy has been approved to adopt, Becca, who ultimately must make the choice between saving her own life and the life of her baby.

In House’s case, Taub and Thirteen discover that the patient literally is sleepwalking through life. His brain is producing motor function when he should be sleeping. He can even drive a car out to get cheap cocaine while he sleeps. The cocaine he buys is cut with milk powder (probably one of the better things you could cut coke with), which leads the team to think he might be lactose intolerant. This bit of evidence, combined with a display of jaundice from kidney failure and sweating blood, finally leads House to the epiphany that this man has Familial Mediterranean Fever (even though he has a Whitey McWhiteman name, he’s actually Persian and changed his name after 9/11), a condition that causes lactose intolerance, sleepwalking and anhedonia, the inability to experience and display emotions, especially joy. His daughter, who offered emotionlessly to give up her kidney to save her father, also had the disease. When their treatments finally begin to kick in, the two share a wide smile together for what must be the first time in a number of lonely gray years.

It doesn't seem like she's feeling . . . feelings.

It doesn't seem like she's feeling . . . feelings.

In Cuddy’s case, she brings in the biological mother of her adoptive child because she notices a lace-patterned rash on Becca’s arm. This leads to the discovery that Becca’s baby’s lungs are underdeveloped and Becca’s placenta is bleeding. If Becca delivers early, she will survive but risk the baby’s life. If she delivers in two weeks when the baby’s lungs are more developed, she might die, even if Cuddy and Cameron keep her on plasma and bedrest for the duration of that time. Cuddy goes to House to help her make a decision as the lead doctor on the case. House considers this yet another test in his plot to torture Cuddy/see if she’s ready to adopt a child with her busy hospital administrator lifestyle. Cuddy wants to deliver Becca later to ensure that her baby, tentatively named Joy, will survive, thus giving her the thing she so desperately wants. House warns her that this is not the most medically sound decision, as it is worse to risk the mother’s life than that of the child, especially if that child might not live anyway. (Cuddy only admitted Becca after becoming slightly paranoid from House’s numerous warnings that adopted babies are not the cream of the crop, so to speak.)

Cuddy tries to encourage Becca to deliver later, but Becca insists that she simply can’t do that, and that she feels really awful about potentially taking Joy away from Cuddy if the baby were to die. Becca chose Cuddy from numerous profiles at the adoption website specifically because she wanted her baby to have a mother who wasn’t “a loser” former meth addict, but someone who was successful and powerful and well-off, like Cuddy – someone entirely unlike Becca and her mother and her mother’s mother. I admire Becca’s sentiments about wanting to give her child the best life possible, as I think that’s really want any parent wants for their child. Becca chooses to deliver early and save her own life. Naturally Chase, the only surgeon at Princeton-Plainsboro, performs the Caesarian section. This scene was one of the most intense I’ve ever seen on this show, with Cuddy calling out to her weak-lunged child to “Cry, Joy! Cry!” – a desperate plea from a would-be mother to will her dream to life. After cleaning her lungs of amniotic fluid and, I assume, a butt-slap, Joy cries out loud and clear, filling her lungs with air and life and filling Cuddy’s nearly-broken heart with, well, joy.

House immediately pulls Cuddy away from her baby to help him deal with the kidney transplant consent for his case, urging her to get used to saying the words that she will inevitably saying for the rest of little Joy’s life: “Mommy has to go to work now.” (True, hospital administrators do work a lot, but in the real world, each department also has an administrator, so that people like Cuddy don’t have to work 24 hours a day, save for being constantly on-call.) When Cuddy later returns to check on Becca, Becca informs her that she no longer wants to give up Joy and that she’s really sorry about filling a wonderful person like Cuddy with such hope and then knocking her down a peg. Cuddy responds to this politely, but then returns home to pack up all of the baby things she had bought and to wallow in the grief of a parent who has lost a child. House, contrite, comes to check on Cuddy, where she informs him that this was her only chance to become a mother, and that she can’t put herself through a loss like this again. He assures her that she would have been a wonderful parent, which she balks at because he spent this entire episode showing her how shitty and selfish of a parent she could be. House cannot respond, save only to lean in, almost in a trance-like state, and kiss her.

The saddest kiss in the world.

The saddest kiss in the world.

While the “finding happiness” theme in both plots was a little more obvious, I liked that the subtext of Cuddy and House finally kissing in that trancelike state connected to the fact that House’s patients this week were also sleepwalking through life, just as Cuddy and House seem to sleepwalk through their obvious attraction to one another. Both of the cases in this episode were unfathomable to me: I cannot imagine quite what it would be like to spend years of your life sleepwalking, utterly joyless and never notice, nor can I imagine what its like to give up a child, or worse, to take a child away from someone. These are all horrible things, but none were as horrible as the tense moments after Joy’s birth where no one was sure if she would live or die.

I reiterate: pregnancy is scary. And yet seeing those moments where Cuddy was so happy to hold that child make all the terror worth it. Even a few moments of joy seem to be worth all of the horror in the world, especially the horror of never knowing happiness at all.

The Husband:

At this point in the world of movies and TV, I would be more surprised if, in a story that involved a surrogate mother and her relationship to the receiving person/family, the surrogate actually goes through and gives up her baby. Every single fucking movie and show does the exact same thing, the surrogate mother seeing her child and suddenly changing her mind, crying and apologizing to the recipient, and we as an audience are supposed to feel sad, but it’s hard to do that anymore.

(Juno, of course, did a nice job breaking this trend, but my favorite variation on the story is Christopher McQuarrie’s shoot-‘em-up The Way of the Gun, which is just so over-the-top violent and complicated that the surrogacy catalyst involving a very woozy Juliette Lewis is pretty much just a MacGuffin and not an actual point of emotion.)

Thank God it worked here on House, though, because we have been following Cuddy’s issues with being a mother for years now, and it really did do a great job of leading us to believe that Cuddy would, in fact, receive the baby. However, once the baby takes its first breath and cries, I just sat and waited for the inevitable. Props to Lisa Edelstein for doing such an incredible job with the scene in which the inevitable happens, because otherwise I’d just roll my eyes. (Hey, surrogate mother, are you willing to pay for all the medical bills that Cuddy would have 100% eaten had you given up your baby? I didn’t think so.)

After a fairly haphazard first few episodes this year, I think House is probably as good as it’s ever been, and if they can keep the quality up for the rest of the season, the Emmy-winning “House’s Head” won’t be the only episode that is truly considered a classic.

And the kiss was fantastic. Much better than Izzy and Karev last week on Grey’s Anatomy as far as long-gestating hospital-based show kisses go.

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