HOUSE: Open and Shut - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Open and Shut

April 28, 2010 by  

Though stand-up comedy has fallen from its peak of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Chris Rock has defied convention and continued to sell out theaters around the country. What does his brand of humor have to do with this week’s House, you ask? In 1999, Rock made an assertion about infidelity in his HBO “Bigger & Blacker” special that launched a million uncomfortable conversations:

“A man is basically as faithful as his options.”

Whether you agree with Rock’s premise or not, Dr. Christopher Taub could easily be Exhibit A for any attorney looking to prosecute men for being guilty of that foible. Taub’s betrayal of his adoring wife Rachel was hardly a shocking twist. It was sad, however, to see a person who could easily be seen as a good guy exposed as simply bad people. More on Taub later…

Since reentering Wilson’s world, Sam Carr has thrown House’s world into disarray. Last week, House appeared moved by Sam’s request to allow two grownups to see if they could move past their past mistakes. This week, Hugh Laurie showed us that meddling is still what House enjoys most. But is it what he does best? By injecting more tension into Wilson & Sam’s relationship, House brought them closer together. If James and Sam become Mr. & Mrs. Wilson for a second time, will House be happy for his friend, or angry that he helped ignite the spark? Unlike his ridiculous arc with Cuddy, for which I have never found any type of truth, House’s bond with Wilson is unique. Despite his protests in “Lockdown,” about being better off alone, the look on Laurie’s face as Wilson & Sam played cards says otherwise. I hope the writers tell this story face-to-face, rather than using House’s interactions with staff or patients to paint the picture.

With two hours to appreciate her performance, I can declare myself solidly pro-Sam. Cynthia Watros is a beautiful woman, but she wears the scars of her character’s imperfections in a captivating manner. Sam is doing her best to make a fresh start with Wilson, while maintaining a sense of self. She does not suffer from the need to please or the penchant for backing down that her former husband does. The chemistry between Watros and Robert Sean Leonard works because it is human. It wouldn’t take me long to think of past relationships that I ruined over absurd issues. Mundane details have ruined countless couples, and launched the prime time juggernaut of “Seinfeld.” The moments of joy that Sam & James experience with one another are symbols of maturity. For a doctor with four failed marriages on his resume, this is a huge step. If we can be trusted to forgive, then we can create new memories that we will not want to forget.

Forgiveness is not what I would recommend for Rachel Taub. At the risk of sounding addicted to social networking, producer (and co-writer of this episode) Sara Hess tweeted “After you see tonight’s HOUSE you will probably be signing up for the Jenny Foley fan club I started. I’m sergeant-at-arms. Bring snacks.” Jennifer Foley, the actress tasked with shaping the character of Rachel, knocked me out with a performance that brimmed with vulnerability, compromise, and restraint. When Foley & Peter Jacobsen have dealt with their onscreen marriage previously, Rachel was presented as a one-note character, angry over her husband’s transgressions and unable to move forward. Hess and co-writer Liz Friedman offered Ms. Foley the chance to round out Rachel’s view of marriage and fidelity in this story. Rachel’s pained attempt to allow Chris to find the 10% spoken of by patient Julia, in the hopes of keeping her husband, was a profound sacrifice. You could literally feel the despair in Foley’s voice as she set the ground rules for Thursday night, then as she changed her mind in the parking garage. Rachel wants to be enough for her husband. Isn’t that what we all want from our spouse?

Peter Jacobsen made one brave choice in this episode. By showing only slight hesitation before accepting the Thursday night plan, then moving so quickly to sabotage the commitment he had made to Taub’s wife, Jacobsen made Taub the bad guy. Lesser actors may have attempted to humanize that kind of betrayal, in a sympathetic nod that their alter egos were still redeemable. There is no question now who has been wronged, and that Taub has passed the point of atonement.

There is much more to talk about, including “Prison Break” star Sarah Wayne Callies return to TV as Julia, the compelling advocate for open marriage. However, I want to know what you think, so let’s get the conversation started!

Were you moved by Taub’s betrayal? How did you feel about Julia & Tom’s version of open marriage? Is there anything to the 90/10 formula she offered? What would you like to see House do to handle Wilson & Sam’s relationship? Should the producers send him down the Vicodin road, or in a new direction?


6 Responses to “HOUSE: Open and Shut”

  1. GMMR on April 28th, 2010 10:57 am

    Great review as always.

    I am fascinated by the relationship and co-dependency of Wilson and House. I personally think it’s one of the single best relationships on all of television. Their connection is so deep and so flawed, it’s borderline destructive.

    This week I kept wondering what House truly felt about Sam. More than anything he seems threatened by her. On some level I think House thinks a true reconciliation between Wilson and his former wife is realistic, otherwise he wouldn’t be so adamant to put a wedge in between them. It’s not always for sport with him. He’s worried that without Wilson, he may cease to exist on some level.

    I might be in the minority here, but I wish Wilson would man up. Without trying to make light of the subject matter, he so often acts like a woman stuck in an abusive relationship. For the sake of the show I want him to stick around, but in the fictional world of [H]ouse I want him to pick up his bags, move away and never look back on the man that has brought him so much grief.

    BTW, Cynthis Watros is fabulous!

  2. Melia on April 28th, 2010 12:30 pm

    seriously! do you need to be this aggressive towards House’s relationship with Cuddy?
    you dont find any truth to them at all? in all these 6 years we’ve ssen them?
    I agree that his relationship with Wilson is very much central but to be the show has always proved us that his connection with Cuddy was very significant as well. they handled that storyline very poorly this season but that doesnt diminish their bond.
    to me, and many, it’s the importance they give to Lydia that doesnt make sense.
    I should really stop reading your reviews…
    are you a supporter of anything else beside House & Wilson? or Cameron according to previous posts?

  3. Erik on April 28th, 2010 12:46 pm

    Melia: I appreciate your point of view. There are legions of fans who have kept watching House in the hopes that he and Cuddy would find a happy ending together. If you read my reviews of “Broken” and “5 to 9,” you already know my appreciation for Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein’s immense talents. In my opinion, the writers have backed those two into a corner, by providing mixed messages about the genuineness of their characters’ commitment to one another. It’s nothing personal, and simply one person’s opinion.

    Writing about a show week-to-week demands that I discuss the stories being shown onscreen. This season, House & Wilson’s new living arrangement has led to more time to watch Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard perform together. I enjoy that dynamic, and the quantity of House/Wilson scenes in Season Six has led to a larger % of column space devoted to them. Sam’s introduction is another chapter in their story, so it may continue until the season finale.

    I do hope you keep reading, and calling attention to oversights that I’ve made in my writing. Thanks for taking the time to visit GMMR and allowing me to share my two cents!

  4. John on April 28th, 2010 1:16 pm

    I agree Taub is beyond redemption as a person, but so is House.

    With all due respect to the Huddy fans, why would you wish House on anyone you don’t actively hate?

    House’s two closes relationships in the world are with Wilson and Cuddy and he treats them both like crap.

    House is a fascinating character to watch, but he is toxic. His time in the psychiatric hospital got him off drugs, but didn’t improve his treatment of those he supposedly loves a bit.

    Abusers normally claim they love the person they are abusing, and they can even have moments when they treat them okay, but in the long run they will destroy their victims.

  5. Melia on April 28th, 2010 1:51 pm

    @Erik: I have absolutely not pb with the rest of your review. I actually like Sam & Wilson because this way when he asks House to move out and we see him back on Vicodin at the end of the season (yes, *spoiler alert* but I said that’s what would happen the minute he closed the doors or Mayfiled last season) at least people wont be blaming just Cuddy for hurting house and leaving him all alone with no more hope.
    like I said, I kinda agree that the writting for House & Cuddy this season has been horrendous despite a good start from a few episodes at the beginning (epic fail, braveheart, known/unknows…) but I actually appreciate a nice ‘huddy’ scene like the coffee one or the one we had last week because we need them. we miss them, they banter and just seeing them in a room. I loved Wilson’s episode and ‘5to9’ but Lockdown had so much potential that was just wasted! truth&dare? really? that’s just for fanfiction and if only we had learn something but at least OW & RSL made it fun. the getting stoned part was fun except that once again we didnt learn any secret contrary to the misleading promo. Cam&Chase doing it after signing the papers: so realistic…! Cuddy had an opportunity to talk with the mother, show some doubt about Lucas, anything but we got nothing. LE made a fine job with those scenes at least. also I was expecting to be blown away by the patient/House stuff but it fell flat and dont even get me started on Lydia. if you read the writters comment from Barbara’s interview after Broken, they call her a summer fling not a pivotal life changing connection! they are rewritting as they please.
    sorry to vent about all of this for this review but I may as well since this is an open discussion.
    bottom line to reply to you, I didnt say I wanted you to talk more about Cuddy coz dur to the very little screen time she’s etting, not much to say except that she’s making the most of her scenes as always since she’s great but what I meant was, at least dont be so harsh about their relationship. not only we dont see them, but coming to read reviews with such comments makes it even worse.
    I will keep reading and hope we can argue some more in the future.

  6. Anna on April 30th, 2010 11:07 pm

    Melia, while I respect your love for Cuddy and your desire for a House/Cuddy hook-up, I have to agree with Erik that this whole arc has been ridiculous, and I’ll add that it’s rediculous to the point that it defies the show’s canon at times. It seems that now the writers want us to see House and Cuddy as some kind of star-crossed lovers who have pined for each other since their college days, an unbelievable revision of history that completely negates the importance of Stacy in House’s life, as well as adding another notch on the Incredible Changing Timeline of Hastily Written Backstory. That wonderful, snarky relationship has given way to pranks and forced angst.

    It seems that whenever someone posts something negative about the House/Cuddy relationship, those ardent fans immediately question the author’s intent. Does he or she dislike it because they have their own favorite pairings? Why can’t it be because we simply dislike what this dragged-on arc has done to both the House and Cuddy characters and the show? I barely recognize either of them these days, and the show itself has taken a wrong turn down a plot-holed road which is fraught with over-the-top relationship melodrama. It makes me want to tear my hair out!