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'House M.D.': The scheming is contagious

NUP_134278_1109 After a five-week hiatus, "House" returned Monday night with some slightly more lighthearted fare than we've become accustomed to this season.

In the first half of the series' sixth season, fans were treated to heaps of angst. House battled his mental illness and addiction and saw the painful side of his feelings for Cuddy.  Wilson continued to struggle with the death of his girlfriend Amber, while battling several gut-wrenching ethical dilemmas at work. And, speaking of ethical dilemmas, we saw the final demise of House's original team when Chase took a war criminal's life and his marriage to Cameron ended.

Despite a gloomy and tragic "patient of the week" story, Monday's episode, titled "The Down Low," served as a reminder that through it all, the Princeton Plainsboro doctors haven't lost their collective sense of humor.

Fans of House and Wilson's odd-couple shtick got a real treat this week.  The BFFs have gotten comfortable in their new apartment -- despite the fact that they don't have any window treatments, and their furniture collection begins and ends with bar stools.  When Wilson meets their neighbor Nora (Sasha Alexander), he's instantly intrigued -- but she sidesteps his dinner invitation because she assumes that he and House are boyfriends.

House finds this hilarious, and sees a golden opportunity for a sleazeball move that could've been pulled straight from Barney Stinson's "Playbook."  Though he does Wilson the favor of telling Nora that they're straight, his actions speak louder than words when he subsequently tears the wrapping off of a huge framed poster of "A Chorus Line" and coos over Nora's Louboutins.  When it comes to stereotyping, House has never been the most politically correct.

"I started doing this to mess with you. Now, I'm honestly trying to hit that," House tells Wilson happily of his plan to play gay.  "I got it all figured out. Nora and I spend the next few weeks hanging out, become best girlfriends, I confide in her about our issues, and then one night we get drunk. Back-rub turns into a front-rub, and the next morning.... I've never felt this way about a woman before! I'd like to date her, in the sense that I'd like to jump her repeatedly."

Though House likes to think otherwise, Wilson is always one step ahead of him. When Wilson interrupts House and Nora's dinner... only to get down on one knee and propose to House in front of the entire restaurant ... House's bluff has officially been called. It doesn't take long for Nora to catch on and decide that both House and Wilson are "mendacious dirt bags." 

Elsewhere, the kids aren't exactly playing nice.  Chase, Thirteen, and Taub do some scheming of their own when they decide that Foreman needs to be "taken down a few notches."  With a few forged pay stubs and a fancy watch borrowed from one of Thirteen's friends, they convince Foreman that he's significantly underpaid compared to the rest of his team.

As the team leader, Foreman is understandably peeved, but Cuddy isn't interested in raising his pay until his review in August.  Feeling underappreciated, Foreman tells the team that he's decided to leave his job, despite his lack of prospects elsewhere.

Chase, Thirteen, and Taub decide they've pushed it a bit too far.  Feeling guilty, they approach Cuddy and offer to take pay cuts in order to boost Foreman's salary. "Foreman is a good team leader," Chase says. "He deserves it."  It's only after Cuddy has sealed the deal that the team realizes that their bluff has been called as well!  Foreman had no intention of leaving. 

"The phrase, 'Who's your daddy?' comes to mind," Foreman says.  I loved this storyline.  It was good to see the team joking around together, and bonding.  Foreman often appears humorless and uptight -- does he ever have any fun? -- so watching him give his friends a taste of their own medicine was incredibly satisfying.NUP_134278_0179

Of course, it wasn't all hijinks and musical theater.  Ethan Embry gave a strong performance as the patient of the week, Mickey, a drug dealer who turns out to be an undercover cop.  Even when House needs to investigate environmental factors, Mickey is unwilling to sacrifice his extensive sting operation even for his own health.  In a heartwarming moment, another one of the drug dealers, Eddie -- a real dealer this time -- puts his own freedom on the line to help Mickey ... who is, in turn, working to get Eddie arrested.  It's a vicious circle in which the "bad guy" turns out to be courageous, whereas the "good guy" is mostly just stubborn.

Ultimately, however, it's all in vain.  Mickey's abuse of beta blockers has triggered an incurable autoimmune disorder, and he's barely got days to live. Finally, he gives up his cover and asks for his wife, so that he's not alone in his dying days.  As he holds his loved one, the sting operation brings Eddie and his crew down.

It's always a bummer when the team loses a patient, but in this case, there was never anything they could have done. The episode still went out on an amusing note, as Wilson good-naturedly tortured House with some show tunes, singing, "You know you'll never be lonely with you-know-who!"


Were you satisfied after five weeks of waiting? What'd you think of Chase's new clean-cut big-boy haircut? Did you get a kick out of House and the team getting their just deserts? What do you hope to see from the second half of the season?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and don't forget to come back next week!

--Carina MacKenzie (chat with me on Twitter @cadlymack)

Photos: From top, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and House (Hugh Laurie) argue over their neighbor; Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) and House discuss their patient Mickey (Ethan Embry). Credit: Fox
Comments () | Archives (13)

No Huddy and a lots of House/Wilson interaction was a good start, now all I need is the old team (including Cameron, and not as in Chameron) and I'd be a happy fan again.

Great episode. The "Proposal" scene was CLASSIC House/Wilson. I was still laughing when I thought of it this morning on the way to work!

Every detail of this episode was pure gold, well worth the five week wait. Hugh and Robert are easily the best comedy team on the telly, and Ethan Embry's heart wrenching performance reminded me how terrific he was on Showtime's "Brotherhood."

Actually, the big news WAS Chase's new haircut, although its a mixed blessing. Yes, it does make him look more grown up and all manly and so on, but it also accentuates the fact he is tiny, no two shots with him and House coming along, unless the director is totally PO'd at him.
Taub on the other hand continues to be under rated for some reason. He does have a real life, and a former practice, paycheck, etc, unlike the others (can you imagine that Foreman can't find a job, someplace). I keep wondering just what does he want from this time in Greg world (and PS to writers, no more calling him Greg, Jeez, try to humanize the guy, its House or nothing). Taub has maybe fifteen or twenty years of medicine left, where does he see this time going, how is it supposed to pay off? Why is he still married? America wants to know.
Chase also has some karma coming down for killing Darth Vader earlier, although, as often happens, the girl who thought the whole idea up skates off on a cloud of moral superiority and self righteous twitness. Just an observation. Its likely Chase has to pay more for his crime, perhaps some secret past from his surfer days in Ozzie will come back to haunt him.
Wilson and House a roomies offers a whole new Odd Couple vibe, although those guys had friends, which does not seem to be the case here - I'm predicting Wilson will want to adopt - maybe some cancer victim's bald baby. And we need to get House a hobby (as his therapist suggested) so like maybe he could volunteer, at a free clinic, and actually...heal people, right there, especially those with no insurance who cannot afford the Beverly Hills ICU.

Loved this episode. The look on House's face when Wilson proposed was pricless...stunned, angry and just a little proud.

It's good to see Sasha Alexander again and I hope it's a recurring role. She would make a good girlfriend for Wilson.

olivia is stunning. the over played mix of "friends" versus "nypd blue" did not get far. the elements are there but -- this episode showed gangsters like keystone cops. there is monster talent here. report back with the monster episodes that boris karloff is worthy of.

Outstanding episode. This was House at its finest.

I was so glad to see some light heartedness be brought back in. THIS is the show I tune in for. I've loved Ethan Embry since Dutch so it was great to see a familiar face for the patient of the week. The only thing missing was Cameron. I'm still sad over her departure.

You got it wrong. The abuse of the Beta Blockers didn't "trigger" anything. The POTW was unknowingly treating his disease(as stated by House in the episode). The Beta Blockers controlled his symptoms until his conditioned worsened.

Good review otherwise, and it was a very good episode.

Thanks for the correction, Andy! I guess I was a bit too focused on the Mickey-Eddie drama, so I missed some of the medical explanations.

Carolyn, I agree! The proposal scene was one of my favorites ever. It's not often House is left speechless!

DGrant, I think Chase's haircut makes him look like a third grader on his way to his first day of school with a brand new big-kid hair cut. That said, I've met Jesse before - he's not really that small!

What's with the 'no furniture' bit? House isn't giving up his piano and books, is he? where are the guitars??

I was saddened by the Death of Nick Papageorgio, from Uma Arizona, who is into software. (For those who don't know, Ethan Embry was in National Lampoons Vegas Vacation)

I loved this episode! It was definitely great that the team bonded again, and it was hilarious seeing House pretending to be gay. We got to see their sense of humor, House's deviousness, and the questionable moral world we live in.

Mondays episode (s6e11 Remorse) was pretty good too. Did you see it already?


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