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'House M.D.': James Earl Jones' tyrant brings the tension

House-Ep604_Sc26_1008

Like most viewers, I had my doubts as to whether a "healed" House would be as entertaining as the old House. After all, his misery was what made him so fun to watch.  Luckily, House's stint in the mental institution made him more self-aware and less self-destructive... but didn't strip him of his sarcasm -- or of his tendency to delight in making other people squirm.


Monday night's episode, "The Tyrant," brought House back to diagnostics for the first time since his mental breakdown. He's ready to work but missing one key ingredient: his medical license. Until House's license is restored, Cuddy puts him to work "unofficially." Because Taub has quit his job and Foreman fired Thirteen, the team House returns to consists of Foreman, Chase and Cameron, a familiar crowd to those who have been following the show since the beginning. As House says, "It's three years ago! Does that mean I'm still crazy?"

Without his license, House is reporting to Foreman instead of the other way around. This isn't the first time hospital politics have set House and Foreman up for a power struggle; the role reversal has been explored several times before. Predictably, House doesn't respond well to authority and spends plenty of time making Foreman's life difficult.

I did enjoy a few of House's tricks -- writing the diagnosis on the blinds before the meeting, just to reveal it later, was a pretty clever way of saying, "I'm still smarter than you." However, with a man's life on the line, House's silent game of diagnostic charades somehow seemed more childish than usual.

The patient in question was President Dibala, a tyrannical African dictator played by the iconic James Earl Jones, visiting his son at Princeton while on a trip to address the U.N. Even weakened and coughing blood, Dibala was an intimidating force (maybe it's that Darth Vader thing) and garnered no sympathy when he tried to explain away his horrific war crimes by insisting he had his country's best interests at heart.

House-Ep604_Sc15_3022 Dibala's influence on Chase and Cameron was particularly interesting, and I was pleased to see their stories explored, since they've been on the back burner for two seasons now. When Dibala revealed plans to incite genocide in his war-torn nation after his release from the hospital, Cameron all but suggested that the team let him die. Chase called her behavior borderline sociopathic, but he changed his mind after an encounter with a young guerrilla soldier whom Dibala had forced to torture an innocent woman. 

Ultimately, Chase faked Dibala's test results, which led Foreman to treat Dibala for the wrong disorder and ultimately killed the president. "All the good we've done, every life we've saved, it would've meant nothing if we'd just sent him off to kill hundreds of thousands of people," Chase said when Foreman confronted him.

"House" tackles ethical issues almost weekly, but I loved the way this particular episode pushed the limits. I think one of the reasons that medical dramas are so successful is that doctors have the ability to "play God" on a regular basis, something with which regular folks are unfamiliar. Ethically, the team was expected to save Dibala's life, without evaluating the merit of the life in their hands. But can a human being really be free of judgment when faced not only with a moral dilemma, but with the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of innocents?

When given the opportunity, Cameron couldn't bring herself actually to kill Dibala -- but Chase could.  Foreman had the opportunity to turn Chase in for his actions, but ultimately he helped Chase out by burning the evidence. This episode really showcases how the dynamic of the "original" team enhances the show.  Since Cameron, Foreman and Chase have history together, they're more compelling than the new team ever was. I'm interested to see how working together again -- at least for now -- changes their relationships with one another and with House.

Speaking of House -- his character development took a backseat to the patient of the week in this episode. I was disappointed that House and Dibala didn't share any scenes together.  Cuddy forbade House from having any patient contact, and for once, House actually listened. It's too bad, because Hugh Laurie and James Earl Jones would've made a formidable pair.

House's side plot with Wilson's pesky neighbor wasn't particularly enthralling, but it did make for some great moments -- in particular, House's Dexter impression as he plunged a syringe into the neighbor's neck. The pop-culture references were abundant in this episode. I loved Wilson's deadpanned, "I am vampire, Sookie!" and Foreman's allusion to "Say Anything" -- though I'm less than thrilled that I've had a Peter Gabriel song stuck in my head for a good three hours now.

My favorite House-ism in this episode was when House gave Foreman a hard time for his relationship troubles with Thirteen. "My condolences. Although, it's not like she's the hottest woman in the world," he teased, a clever nod to Olivia Wilde's place at No. 1 on Maxim's "100 Hottest Women of 2009" list.

What do you think? Is House as compelling now as he was when he was "crazy"? Did you miss Taub, or, like me, did you barely notice his absence? Are you glad to have the original team back together? Do you think Foreman will ever get over his constant desire to one-up House? What do you think of House and Wilson as roommates?

Sound off in the comments below and check back after next week's episode to compare notes!

-- Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)

Photos: At top, House (Hugh Laurie) plays a game of charades with Foreman (Omar Epps) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison). At bottom, Jesse Spencer, as Chase,  and James Earl Jones, as President Dibala.  Credit: Fox

 
Comments () | Archives (79)

So far I love the new Season...Its intresting and doesnt bore you with all the medical lingo that you have to try to hard to understand...Lmao

I think they should bring 13 back on the show. Because she is too hot to not be on there. But i am happy to see the old team back together!
And i think that before we know it House will be right back to all of his old ways!!!

Great review!
i am really glad to see the old team back together, and even though the new wasn't as good, you can't deny that now the show has the potential to go even further with the old team as they have been on hiatus for 2 seasons. best episode so far!

I am so relieved to see the 'team' together. I've spent the last two seasons watching re-runs. The new team was a bit interesting at first. That is where it stopped for me. Amber's relationship with House and Wilson was amuzing, but cut short through death.

I'm a Huddy fan. Not sure why the relationship between Cuddy and House has gone unmentioned even through Housisms. I realize that he fell for the German woman in the institution. (Only House could pull that off). But... What ever came or didn't come of the one night of Huddy love?

Great review on a fantastic episode. I am LOVING the new House and mainly because he's not so different than the old House just less miserable. I love his scenes with Wilson and am looking forward to hopefully more scenes with Cuddy! Hugh, Lisa and RSL are my favorite part of the show. The old team being back was really nice, it brought back that old feeling of seasons 1-3, which was great. I agree with one of the above posters though, there should be way more Cuddy, hopefully we will see more of her in upcoming episodes. Can't wait for more of this season, it's starting off in a great direction!

I am SOOO happy Taub is gone. Hopefully for good. Not that the actor playing him did a poor job, on the contrary. The writers made Taub terribly annoying. Good riddance.

Some story arcs that shouldn't be forgotten: 13's illness. Cuddy and her baby? (Where did that entire situation go?)

Bottom Line? House ROCKS!

Really nice review!
I thought this was an excellent episode!
I also didn't notice Taub's absence, as I've never been much of a Taub fan, but I did miss having 13 being part of the team.
The ethics in this episode were great, and I loved that we got to experience a new side of Chase!

All I could think when I head James Earle Jones was Mufasa. Mufasa Mufasa Mufasssssssaaaaa.

Yeah, I'm five years old again. But I thought this episode was amazing, since Chase actually had a huge dilemma to face for once. I loved the mini-twist of him killing Dibala instead of Cameron doing it (since Cameron is usually the colder one while Chase is the caring one). And they actually used her first name for once, yay!

Also, next week's episode is going to deal with the issue of his death; it was in the preview. Cuddy brings it to Foreman's attention: the UN is a tad upset over Dibala's death, it seems.

I don't like Taub, at all, he never seemed to do anything so no i dont miss him, but house seems the same, just not whining about his leg and saying he had sex with cutty :) I also do not think olivia Wilde is attractive, she has a HUGE forhead.

I have a new found hope for "House" this season. It seemed to start off a bit rushed though. Even with the two hour premiere, I figured they'd continue with the scenario of him being enclosed in a hospital for longer. And then his revelation in the next episode - his transformation from wanting to quit to wanting to work again was like a snap of the fingers. Perhaps it was all necessary, but I thought it might make for a few interesting episodes.

This last episode with James Earl Jones however was impressive and I really did like to see the old team back together. Foreman's role as leader though is bugging me. I can see why it would happen but I don't like how his character is handling it, it's a bit melodramatic. Admittedly the absence of Taub and sporadic appearance of Thirteen is not a big deal. Taub never was an especially strong character, and certainly cannot compete with the original three, but perhaps had he been able to grow more, his absence would be more noticeable.

Thirteen's story was an interesting but perhaps unnecessary attempt to shed a more personal and sympathetic light on a character other than House. I think her story being a victim of Huntington's and her love story with Foreman has been focused more than on any other characters' side stories. But again, it's hard to really want to sympathize or concentrate on her after following the original "House Girl", Cameron.

I just hope this season will breathe life back into the show. I've loved this show for a while, having watched the first 3 seasons and loved them, then at best was slightly intrigued, then tolerated the last two. I think they should focus a lot more again on very interesting medical cases, with House's story and a few minor side stories for support. House's transformation can go either way, but I think if he can still maintain his original appeal, while still growing, he will once again reign over all other Prime Time TV lead characters.

I don't care so much for 13, but I kind of wish Taub would come back. Even though I didn't agree with him on many things, he did have some fun moments and was always interesting to watch.

As for this episode itself, it was excellent, and I was really surprised by Chase's move at the end.

I thought the new team was ultimately doomed with the untimely death of Dr Kutner. He was, in my opinion, the most interesting new character on the show. I can appreciate Kal Penn's desire to make a difference in the world and to take a job with the Obama administration. However, the loss of that character changed the dynamic within the team too much, making the new team look and feel ineffectual. Kutner was becoming the perfect foil to compete with House. Its too bad the dynamics of that relationship were never fully explored. At times, Taub seemed like little more than a representative of another ethnicity for House to poke fun at. If it would not have been for the Huntington's storyline, 13 would have been little more than the show's eye candy.

The old team is a stronger group of characters than the new team. I am very glad to have Cameron and Chase back into full-time duty.

They need to definitely bring the original team back!! I didn't miss Taub at all and honestly it would not bother me a bit if Thirteen didn't stay on the show either! I loved that Cameron and Chase finally had a big part on the show again. I hate that they have been on the back burner for the last 2 seasons! This was by far the best episode I have seen in a long time! I really hope they keep the original team together!

Great review, for a great show, i am among the large numbers of devoted House followers, the characters are geniuously built, and in considering the inspiration the show takes from Sherlock Holmes, it's hard to watch any episode in just one way, as in there are messages and clever writing thrown in even beyond the ones that we notice right away. I am always entertained to see the negative reviews too, the people who you can't please no matter what you write or say, one guy seemed furious that you seemed to "gloss" over the fact that chase killed a patient, when one of most interesting things about the episode was how it made anyone watching consider what they would have done in that same situation, i thought it was a bold move to have Chase be the one to do such a drastic thing in the third episode, and i am positive that this will play out in a crazy way for the whole season. One of my favorite things about the episode was House's fight to be better and stay better, so the writer's geniuously wrote in a conflict that allowed him to confront someone who was also miserable and abrasive, it was really interesting to see House attempt to hold his tongue in the face of someone who would have been so easy to deal with in his pre-rehabilitated state, great acting, because even without HD you could see the strings pulling at his nerves as he fought to resist the urge, you almost hoped that he would go extreme, but they wrapped it up nicely, making the statement that House was not only committed to being bettr, but also committed to preserving his relationship with Wilson, the only real and meaningful relationship he has.

I have to admit, Taub's character was never the most interesting character, and if you're watched House faithfully, you've seen the many ways his character almost made an exit, i guess we all saw it coming for so long that once it happened, it was less interesting, and the producers must have known this because it wasn't necessarily a going away party for Taub. Someone wrote that they wouldn't watch the rest of the season, i have no idea what show that person was watching, but i hope they can realize that the praises are held by the majority. I've watched alot of shows from the beginning to the later seasons, and i can say that this show in no way strays away from it's basis or focus, i was concerned as to where it would go post-institution, but you can literally see the strings being pulled back into place to make sure the show still possesses the normal character conflicts, quality, and puzzles that has kept us all as watchers for all these years.

I have never understood why someone as kind and gentle as Wilson would EVER be friends with someone as dark, manipulating, rude, unethical, etc, etc, etc.....as HOUSE. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Hugh Lauire's character of Gregory House, it is just that as a human being, he is so horrible!

No, I don't think Foreman will ever stop being in competition with House. I hurt for Foreman in the 2nd episode when he took over this much sought after position. He fell to pieces. In the end, the only one that stuck by him was 13, and he wasn't even able to keep himself in check with her!

I have little patience with Cuddy's spineless personality, and it seems that any man that even glances in her direction, is someone she could "fall" for. She needs to develop her own personality and become a stronger more self confident woman. For Pete's sake, she is hospital administrator, so she must be doing something right. She just seems so pathetic as a woman.

I loved Chase and Cameron as a couple, so I am not thrilled that she has been written out of the show;( I hate it that Chase put his career on the line last week, b/c I am scared it will come back to haunt him. I think he was spot on with his evaluation of what a monster his patient was, it was just not his decision to make to kill him....sympathy goes to him, b/c knowing all the upcoming harm he was planning for his own ppl.....why would you want to save his life to turn him loose to kill millions who had done nothing wrong?

This show , in my opinion, is the best on television. The scripts are excellent, week after week! The cast is wonderful, and Hugh Laurie is FABULOUS in this role. It's a little scary how GOOD he is at being spoiled, obnoxious and downright EVIL!!!!

Taub - you mean "the one with the nose"? :)))

John Bard, the MD came from the name of the show. Watch the theme again and you'll see the MD beside the line under House. And there is no need to be so cynical. Just saying...

I'm definitely glad that the original team is back together. I really did not like the intern plot-line, or the new team. I think that this season is going to be better than I expected it would be. [:

Why couldn't someone have been REALLY creative and put House at the mental institution as a doctor who WORKS there? He would still be solving medical problems, since plenty of mental health/psychiatric disorders, etc. are caused by medical conditions! Writers are supposed to be clever. Couldn't they make a case somehow for his "recovery" showing him that helping mental patients is his true calling? And couldn't they be creative enough to keep the "old" team together anyway? Or am I the one who's crazy?

I didn't soo much miss Taub although when he was around he played a good part in the show. I didn't think House was missing anything from his old self and I was thrilled that the old team was back together! If it had of continued with the "new team" this year they would have been there as long as the originals. I always wondered what was going to happen since the original cast still was headlined in the opening credits. Lets just hope it wasn't short lived with Chase potentially going to prison for Murder. Also lets hop Olivia Wilde sticks around as well. Her character really adds something to the show. I especially with this being the first full season without Kal Penn's Kutner. If all three member of the new team left it would kind of make the last two seasons pointless.

 
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