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.

The Wife:

I have a lot of catching up to do on Criminal Minds, I know. I got so caught up with all the other great stuff on TV before the holidays that I just let all these deliciously fucked up things sit on my DVR for weeks. There are a couple I watched while doing something else, holiday related, so I’m afraid my five-episodes-in-one catch-up won’t be as detailed as my usual writing about this show.

4.7 “Memoriam”

This episode was a great conclusion to “The Instincts,” with Reid staying in Vegas to continue his personal investigation into the murder of Riley Jenkins. During the course of his investigation, he reconnects with his father, whom he hasn’t seen in 17 years and with whom he is still incredibly angry. Based on information from his mother and a dream he relives through hypnosis, Reid begins to suspect that his father may have killed Riley and others, which would explain why he so suddenly left his family and why Reid remembers seeing his father burn bloody clothes in the backyard. As the investigation progresses, however, Reid learns from his mother and father the terrible truth about Riley’s murder and the murder of another boy around the same time, Gary Michaels: Riley’s father, Lou, had definitely killed young Gary, and Diana Reid walked in on the event, slipping in Michaels’ blood and covering her clothes in it. Realizing that she looked like an accessory to murder, Spencer’s father helped his wife burn the bloody clothes so that she could not be implicated in a crime she didn’t commit. Through this investigation, Reid puts his demons to rest and learns to forgive his father for being absent from his life for so many years.

As a nice coda to a two-episode arc about dead children, JJ gives birth to her son and the whole team is there to welcome the newest member of their family. Reid and Garcia are named as the baby’s godparents, with Reid promising to get baby Henry into CalTech with one phone call (because Yale was Reid’s safety school, and no godson of his will go to such a lowly place as Yale).

4.8 “Masterpiece”

And then that great episode was followed by something truly puzzling and bizarre, featuring Jason Alexander in a long white creepy wig with a mild soft-spoken Southern accent as a killer playing mind-games with Agent Rossi, who had previously convicted Alexander’s character’s brother of a violent crime. Alexander saw the elaborate torture and kidnapping scheme as a way to get back at Rossi for . . . doing his job? Alexander’s character also was obsessed with DaVinci and ancient Pythagorean geometry, devising his entire scheme around the golden ratio, which he knew would be very easy for Reid to solve, because Reid knows everything about everything. I have serious issues with the ideas presented by Alexander’s character, who claims to be a follower of DaVinci, but believes in killing humans simply because humans are a blight, an idea that is antithetical to DaVinci’s humanist principles. This episode was just freaking bizarre, and the casting of George Costanza in the role didn’t help. I just look at Jason Alexander’s face and all I see is a man who was once nicknamed Coco by his boss because he acted like a whiny monkey.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? I will personally punch the casting director and the wardrobe stylist in the face for this episode.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY? I will personally punch the casting director and the wardrobe stylist in the face for this episode.

Although, I now know that Reid holds three doctorates (in chemistry, engineering and mathematics) and two bachelor’s in psychology and sociology. I’m totally intimidated and in awe of this character. I want to be like him when I grow up. And for the record, I laughed at his existentialist joke.

4.9 “52 Pickup”

I really liked this episode about a serial killer learning tricks of the trade from a pick-up artist for a variety of reasons.

1. The pick-up artist was clearly based on Mystery, star of that lame VH1 show that teaches losers how to get ladies and key player in the book The Game. You can tell Viper is supposed to be Mystery because he wears a large, fuzzy stovepipe pimp hat. Constantly.

2. Jordan really got initiated into this case, working side by side with Prentiss to catch Viper off-guard and demonstrate that none of those mind games work on the kind of women you’d actually want to have real relationships with. (Smart girls, for one.)

3. Reid got a girlfriend! He picked up a hot bartender by asking her for information on skeezy patrons with a magic trick. The Barney Stinson method works, my friends. Chicks dig magic.

It was also just a good case that involved everyone on the team using their skills well — and it was pretty funny, as far as Criminal Minds episodes go.

Wow, youre right. That hat really does make him look like a tool.

Wow, you're right. That hat really does make him look like a tool.

4.10 “Brothers in Arms”

I was doing something else entirely while I watched this episode, so I don’t remember any of it.

4.11 “Normal”

A crazy, unsettling episode in which The X-Files‘ Mitch Pileggi drives around batshit crazy straight up SHOOTING PEOPLE IN THE FUCKING FACE ON THE FREEWAY! Specifically, blonde women who drive luxury vehicles just like his wife, Faith Ford, who I realized during the course of this episode that I know way better as Corky Sherwood from Murphy Brown. Californians already have enough trouble merging; they don’t need Mitch Pileggi forcing them into confrontations at alternate merge sites in numerous construction zones just so he can shoot them in the face. It was interesting to see Mitch Pileggi play something other than a nose-to-the-grindstone hard-ass, and I actually found his foray into crazy-as-batshit to be quite terrifying, especially when we were shown scenes in “wacky Mitch Pileggi vision.” Also horrifying: the revelation that when he takes his family hostage and drives them at insane speeds through L.A. before crashing into a cop car on the freeway that his family wasn’t in the car with him at all because he’d already shot each of the blonde women in his home to death in their beds.

Yeah, I know, these write-ups are half-assed. I’m sorry. I also decided to go to sleep last night instead of watching Top Chef, so, for the five of you who care what I have to say about Top Chef, I’m sorry about that, too.

The Husband:

That episode, 4.10, that my wife doesn’t remember, it wasn’t worth remembering. Morgan got all hissy about cops dying in Arizona, Guillermo the drug dealer from Weeds shows up, and that’s about it.

As for 4.11 (“Normal”), Criminal Minds has redeemed a season full of missed opportunities and meh stories (except for the season premiere, half of the cult one and two-thirds of the Pick-Up Artist). Without question, this joins the premiere, plus episodes s1’s “LDSK,” s2’s “Sex, Birth, Death” (which re-airs on A&E this week), s2’s “Open Season” and all the Frankie Muniz stuff in s3’s “True Night” as one of my favorite episodes of this positively screwy and violent CBS procedural. Sure, the final twist was cheap, but it was also extremely effective. Mitch “The Shocker” Pileggi strikes again.