'House': Brave heart, weak stomach

jessespencer_house_s5_240.jpgI admit, at the end of the last season of " House" I was beginning to lose faith. I thought maybe the show had wandered off course too far. But I still carried a spark of hope (and a crush on Hugh Laurie) and tonight it was fanned into a fire.

Our POTW is a cop who puts his life in danger each day in the line of the duty -- not because he thinks it's a higher calling as much as he is certain he will die shortly after his 40th birthday just like his father and grandfather. So, he takes insane risks, like trying to jump across rooftops after ninja-like criminals. The hereditary issue is enough to catch Cameron's eye and she brings the case to the team. Despite House's objection that there is no case, Foreman takes it on anyway.

And so begins one of the more gruesome episodes we've seen in quite some time, as bodies are exhumed, random putrefied liquids and all, in an attempt to find what genetic clues are to be had to unlock the mystery of impending death in an asymptomatic patient. Which is the only moment the show falters.

In the course of this search, it is revealed that the POTW has a son he never knew about. Which gives them a chance to get more viable genetic material as well as introduce a kid to his dad before he kicks the bucket. Which might be nice, if that dad wasn't such a jerk about it. Even still, all the tests show naught and finally House and Chase trick the POTW into discharge with a week of placebos in his pocket.

And then four hours later he drops dead. House struggles with the fact that he missed that there was something to miss and Chase struggles with that fact that he killed a patient a couple weeks back and he can't deal with it as well as he thought he could. So instead he throws himself into mundane tasks, like driving two hours to tell the mother of the POTW's son that he passed away. House, on the other hand, throws himself into the autopsy. It's been a couple of years since an episode of House made me jump. But I am pretty sure that before conducting an autopsy, the patient should be dead. Not screaming.

The team gets to work on a differential diagnosis for resurrection. The patient is less thrilled to be back form the dead and more concerned with his toothache. Which leads us to gross out number two, as he pulls his own tooth out with a pair of forceps. The kicker is, the tooth was perfectly healthy. They flounder around a bit more, but eventually house gets his epiphany, explaining that a hereditary intracranial berry aneurysm pressing on nerves in his brain was causing the random pain. And in the end, it would cause his heart to stop beating. Some brain surgery later and he's right as rain and somewhat more willing to be less of a jerk to his kid.

There was not a single moment of Foreteen, blessedly. Instead, we got lots of House and Wilson. Tired of House on the couch, Wilson fixed up the study as a bedroom for him. But he leaves all the pictures of Amber, and House starts to think he's hallucinating again as each night he lies awake listening to whispering that doesn't seem to have a source. Except, it does have a source. It's Wilson, whispering aloud to Amber and telling her about his days and how much he misses her. But it is interesting to watch House's anxiety when he thinks he may be having a psychotic break, sans Vicodin.

We also get a good deal of Chase and Cameron. Specifically, about his anxiety and guilt over having essentially committed murder and how he's pulling away from her despite all her attempts to get him to talk about what is bothering him. Even more surprising, House - once an outspoken critic of psychology - urges him to get help and talk to someone.

As recent episodes reminded us, before becoming a doctor, Chase went to seminary. Thus, when he does finally decide to talk to someone, it's a priest. But not because he wants to talk. Rather, he wants absolution. Unfortunately for him, he gets Fr. Michael O'Pragmatism who tells him that he can only gain absolution by taking responsibility for his actions and turning himself into the police. Instead, he gets drunk.

The end scenes are some of the best, though. House is happy. Still sarcastic, but with a sense of playfulness instead of denigration. And the final scene, of him laying in bed and whispering to his dad, feel like the start of a new arc for the character while not seeming out of character as he finishes the moment by yelling through the wall to Wilson that it's a stupid idea. Wilson's response to Amber; "See? He really is getting better", is the perfect summation. And the show is getting better too.

The best Housisms:

House: It's a coincidence.
Cameron: You hate coincidence.
House: We reconciled.

House: He's only agreeing with you because he wants to have sex with you. In which case, I agree with you too, especially in those pants.

House: I wouldn't want to be the duty nurse on his floor. Get it? "Doodie" nurse?

House: When he doesn't get better, come back quickly so we can at least get one more shot at it.

How did you feel about this episode? Are you glad to see a glimmer of House's wit return without the dangerous dysfunction attached? Or do you think this is a brief reprieve before relapse or another addiction comes in to play?