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'House M.D.': The morality of murdering a murderer

October 13, 2009 |  6:22 am
NUP_136449_0418 For the second week in a row, we got to see House work with his original diagnostics team of Foreman, Cameron and Chase.  The longer these four sit around that table together, the more I sense impending doom.  It's been so nice having the old gang back together -- so I'm sure when they inevitably fall apart, it's going to be explosive.

Monday's episode, "Instant Karma," found Dr. Chase facing the music for his decision to swap out President Dibala's test, intentionally causing a misdiagnosis that killed the genocidal dictator.  As expected, the team can't sweep this one under the rug -- it wasn't Joe the Plumber who died on their table, after all.  Foreman is expected to present President Dibala's case for the morbidity and mortality conference.

Chase seems awfully blas√© about the whole thing at first.  He flippantly tells Foreman that they don't have time for "a lively debate about the morality of murdering murderers."  The blood that he swapped out for Dibala's was not only tested for the disease, but it was also given a full work-up, and the numbers didn't match.  Chase is nonchalant.  "So the numbers were off. It's weird. Who cares?"

Foreman cares.  With House still unlicensed after his brief sojourn in a mental institution, Foreman is the one responsible for the team.  Chase attempts to weave a web of lies, saying he's trying to get Foreman off the hook.  Really, though, he's trying to cover his own butt.  If he were trying to help Foreman, he'd confess.

Look, I like Chase.  I always have.  And I can't say what I would have done if I were in his position because that's just ... not a normal position for a person to find himself in.  Still,  if he really felt like it was worth "murdering the murderer," then he should be willing to face the consequences.

Jesse Spencer's performance this week was once again fantastic. We're only five episodes into the season and he's already shown us his best work yet.  He's been subtle and sincere; you can really feel Chase start to get desperate as he searches for an exit strategy.

The ever-observant Dr. House may have found Chase a way to save face at the academic conference, but I doubt he'll be able to cover for Chase after Cameron puts the pieces together. I can't wait to see how she reacts when she finds out what Chase did, especially after he chastised her last week (calling her sociopathic!) for her disgusted attitude toward Dibala.
This story line is, unfortunately, paving the way for Jennifer Morrison's much-discussed exit from the series.  Like most fans of the show, I'm sad to see her go, but if she absolutely has to leave, I'm glad they're giving her a strong exit with a powerful storyline.  She's been phased out so much over the last few years that the writers probably could've taken a quieter way out and just had Cameron fade away until she disappeared. 

The feeling of trouble brewing was only increased by the serious lack of comedy in the episode.  House, it seemed, was too busy over-analyzing his coworkers to slip in many good House-isms -- though I did enjoy him finding the Virgin Mary in his patient's fluid collection.  I suppose it's hard to find something to joke about when the patient of the week is a child who seems to have an incurable illness.  Nothing kills the funny more than a terminal diagnosis, a desperate parent and an adorable little boy with a tube in his skull.

Speaking of which, I could've done without the close-up on the little hurricane of skull fragments when they drilled into the kid.  Scattered head crumbs: Reason #293,847 I would never, ever want to be a doctor.

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House claims to like Foreman being in charge.  Now that he's in counseling, he seems slightly less power hungry.  Plus, he doesn't mind having "all of the responsibility and none of the liability" -- but let's face it, he never really accepted much liability even when he was in charge.  It was a rare occasion when he actually faced a consequence he couldn't talk his way around or manipulate to suit him.

I liked when Chase finally told House what we've all been thinking.  "Whether you want to be in charge or not, you are. And you always will be."  No matter how many back-and-forth power games House plays -- be they with Foreman, Wilson, or even Cuddy -- when it comes down to it, House is always in charge at Princeton-Plainsboro.

Last but not least ... we have Thirteen.  I know I'm in the minority, but I've always enjoyed her character.  I know, I know -- you all think she's boring and wooden.  I really like seeing her relationship with Foreman play out, though.  She's kind of the wild child, and he's so rigid and focused.  Still, I want her to get back to work, because without the structure of the diagnostics team to back up their relationship drama, it's all starting to feel a bit juvenile.

I will say that I was seriously turned off by her behavior in the taxi.  She's on her way to the airport with a Middle Eastern cab driver, mentions that she's going on vacation ... and is instantly worried that he's going to rob her apartment while she's gone.  I understand that the writers were trying to emphasize her monumental trust issues, but mostly it just made her look like a narrow-minded, elitist snob.

Take it to the comments.  Do you guys think Cameron is going to figure out what Chase did, or will he come clean on his own?  Do you think she'll take the fall for him? Let's discuss Chase's issues with dodging responsibility.  Let me know what you think of Thirteen's possible return to Princeton-Plainsboro.  What did you think of Wilson covering for House when it came to her plane reservation?

Don't forget to check back next week -- the preview promised one of the "most bizarre twists in 'House' history."  Can't wait!

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

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Photos: At top, Chase (Jesse Spencer) searches for a way out of responsibility.  At bottom, House (Hugh Laurie) confers with his original team (Spencer, Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison).  Credit: Fox
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