HOUSE: "Last Resort" - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: “Last Resort”

November 26, 2008 by  


When Fox rolled out the first set of teasers, trailers, and promotional photos for this week’s House, I had involuntary flashbacks to the array of “special” episodes that have become commonplace for hit network dramas. In fact, were it not for my faith in the House creative stable, I would have spent all sixty-eight minutes waiting for a falling helicopter, a burning ferry boat, or a knife wielding psychopath to bring heaps of destruction to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Instead of relying on exaggerated antics and high-priced digital effects, the House team invigorated viewers by allowing their eclectic writers and talented cast to navigate through an emotional minefield.

Zeljko Ivanek is a TV addict’s best friend, a working actor who is immediately recognizable when he hits the screen, yet utterly anonymous when you rack your brain searching for his real name or when you last saw his work. Ivanek’s IMDB page is longer than my college transcript, and his recent stints on Damages and True Blood crystallized his standing as Hollywood’s go to antagonist. Those of us with long memories and abundant free time remember him best as Andre Drazen on 24 or Governor Devlin on Oz. After playing so many distasteful and unethical characters, I was intrigued at how Ivanek played the gun-wielding Jason, whose desperate search for treatment has life threatening consequences.

Instead of drawing a clear distinction between an evil gunman and his innocent hostages, writers Matthew V. Lewis and Eli Attie offer an alternative view of Jason as a victim of an uncaring health care system that fails to provide firm answers to the ill. As a result, Ivanek was given room to project both frantic anger and heartbreaking frailty. A character with this type of range is a tough sell to many audiences. For every person who enjoys the nuance of evaluating such a tortured soul, there are ten people who just want to scream “Shoot him, already!” and get on with the show. Ivanek’s performance may not be universally praised, precisely because of that distinction between the subtle and the visceral. Count me in with the snobs, for I found myself pondering the questions raised in this episode long after the credits rolled.

How did the good doctor perform under pressure? Test results came back inconclusive, as I found myself a bit stumped over Hugh Laurie’s approach to the scenes in Cuddy’s office. House’s behavior towards Jason did not fluctuate from his initial rebuke of the patient’s inquiry about Cuddy’s whereabouts to the first gunshot entering the thigh of an innocent bystander. I had trouble digesting that stubborn self-assurance, even if House had accurately diagnosed Jason’s motivation for taking such drastic action. As the standoff played itself out, I found Laurie’s performance more believable, especially as it related to Thirteen’s willingness to put herself in jeopardy. The emotional climax of the episode, when House returned Jason’s gun in order to buy more time to solve his symptomatic puzzle, provided a window into House’s identity that he tends not to reveal while mentoring his underlings or flirting with Cuddy.

For someone who is often left in the background for weeks on end, Olivia Wilde has brought Thirteen’s struggle to find a justification to live full circle. Though we were given a nod to the impact of the hostage crisis on the potential Huddy pairing, Thirteen was the character for whom the events of this episode were most consequential. After serving as a guinea pig for Jason’s drug cocktails, the physical and emotional consequences for Thirteen were hard to watch. Kudos to both Wilde and the makeup team for painting a powerful picture of what a young woman staring death in the face would look and sound like. The moment that Thirteen exclaimed, “I don’t want to die,” accompanied by the blast of the laboratory wall, was the epiphany that Wilde has been reaching for all season, brick by brick. Where Thirteen goes from here, and who she brings along for the ride, will continue to be a storyline worth keeping an eye on.

All in all, I was pleased with the results of this week’s episode. The misadventures of House and Cuddy remained silent and unresolved. The full rosters of Team House, versions 1.0 and 2.0, worked together in a more organic manner. The Thirteen arc served to bring out a rarely seen protective side of House. Even for an extended installment, that is a solid week’s work. All that, and no one needed to turn Coach Taylor into a pink mist. Mission accomplished!

I have a feeling that this week was a Love/Hate kind of episode. Did it feel like a “special” event to you? Do longtime fans enjoy seeing Thirteen take such a prominent role in the show? What did you think of Jason’s situation? Was the portrayal of the police response to the crisis believable? Were you expecting more from the House/Cuddy scenes? I am looking forward to your comments!

— posted by Erik

How does Erik stay grounded from his luxurious life as a substitute teacher? He keeps it real with ALF DVDs & Fantasy Football. On weekends, the GMMR HOUSE & SURVIVOR guru spends quiet time imploring the TV gods to bring back Sports Night & Ed. Erik resides in South Florida and spends his summers following Dave Matthews Band.

Filed under House, House Recap


17 Responses to “HOUSE: “Last Resort””

  1. Emily on November 26th, 2008 9:23 am

    I love these episodes that break the formula. This week was no different. I was glued to the screen for all 68 minutes. House approached Jason in such an anaylitical way. His caring side with Thirteen, and Thirteen’s willingness (at first) to be a guinea pig. I even liked the kid who stayed because he was curious.

    Just this past week, my friends were complaining this show was too formulatic (ooh, new word), which I agree, most episodes do follow a formula, and so does each season overall. But episodes like this (and the antartic episode, and last season finale) are what makes it great. They seem just as natural as any other episode, but are sheer brilliance.

  2. too much dumplings on November 26th, 2008 10:30 am

    there are too much dumplings (there are more dumplings than ducklings in the world) on any given house episode.
    there are not enough lines in a 50 min “special” for all characters, see “Chase, Robert”.

    the house-formula worked well for quite some time, season 1-3 i used to be glued in front of the tvscreen, nowadays i am getting bored before the first break. i cannot care for characters who pop up once every few episodes, and excuse me for saying, i do not care for house’s lovelife, he is simply to antagonistic for a lead for me to care about his personal life. and do not think i could not care for an antagonistic heroe, i care deeply for dexter.

    maybe the house writers should find a way to end this mess and set an end date, if not ithe show will become more and more soaplike with every passing episode.

  3. Jen on November 26th, 2008 3:21 pm

    I was very happy with this episode. The writers kept the action in the hospital and didn’t use anything crazy to sweep us off our feet. House giving the gun back was necessary. He’s just to arrogant to not solve a case. I do like both House teams working together, but what’s up with Chase? He feels like dead weight to me. And are we supposed to gear up for a Thirteen and Foreman pairing? Will they find love or a cure for Huntington’s?

  4. Kat on November 26th, 2008 7:33 pm

    It needs to be said – the episode was shot beautifully. I normally don’t notice stuff like that, but I couldn’t help but notice it in this episode.

  5. Missy on November 27th, 2008 11:52 pm

    I really enjoyed this episode! I was kind of worried after watching the previews. I was not a fan of similar ER episodes. I loved every moment though! Him acting like an A-hole to the guy in the beginning was believable, and giving the gun back was horrible and totally believable. It made me smile when he actually showed a protective side over Thirteen. As always, I can’t wait for next weeks show to come!

  6. Erik on November 28th, 2008 1:09 am

    Emily: I agree with your point that House is able to stick to a core formula, but allow for enough twists and turns to keep us enthralled and entertained. I also loved the curious slacker kid, who was completely believable in an unfathomable situation.

    Too Much Dumplings: Your opinion is shared by a large group of fans who have watched House from the beginning. I was new to the show when I started these recaps, but I sympathize with your core concerns. The tension between old/new characters was a MAJOR stumbling block in Season 3 of The Office. Keep your eyes peeled for more of Dr. Chase soon, though it may not be enough for your tastes.

    Jen: The return of the gun fit House’s narcissism, especially after the patient opened up emotionally. The moment when Jason said he, “can’t handle not knowing,” and House replied with a knowing nod and a simple, “Yeah,” was a Hugh Laurie Acting School moment. As for Foreman and Thirteen, they have significant screen time ahead due to the clinical trials. I am curious to know where that leads, aren’t you?

    Kat: You make a great point about the presentation of the episode. I have no artistic ability, but I noticed a number of unusual camera angles in Cuddy’s office, the main lobby, and the Radiology lab. Did you get the feeling it was shot in a more guerrilla style than regular episodes? Despite watching in HD, there were scenes I thought were almost security camera angles.

    Missy: The House/Thirteen dynamic is so easy to miss, because both Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde do such a nice job with the more subtle parts of their performances. I agree with you that House does feel protective and/or responsible for Thirteen, particularly because of her illness. His body language towards her in this episode was almost paternal. Why do you think he behaves toward Thirteen this way?

  7. bertas on November 28th, 2008 3:54 am

    My favorite moment was at the very end – when House looked over at Jason being handcuffed, tapped his tummy and breathed in. And when Jason breathed in… 2 obsessives united. Puzzle solved, man cured (although that to House me thinks is little less relevant).

    As you say classic Hugh Laurie’s Acting School moment.

    I think they sort of strayed from that this season and maybe thats why I don’t care for it much. Because in the end it is these kinds of puzzles that make House tick.

    As for romance factor, well and this is just my opinion, anyone who would even consider being with House would either a) have to be slightly masochistic in nature (like Cameron) b) have access to some very good drugs or c) be strong enough to put him in his place and keep him interested.
    The only person that just might fit the bill is Wilson 🙂

  8. Geebs on November 29th, 2008 12:54 am

    Was it 68min long??? I didn’t even notice!!

    Yes, calling House predictable is very easy. Every episode follows more or less the same road. But the way they travel the road is what makes it tick.

    About the direction.. the way the episode started, I actually had to check twice to make sure I was indeed watching House. And this kind of direction repeats again during the episode.

    Didn’t somebody say Foreman was boring in one of the previous episodes? And then 13 as wild?? *wink*

  9. Carolyn on November 29th, 2008 12:50 pm

    I am new to “House,” having only seen 3 episodes. I’m already addicted, of course. Being a newbie, I didn’t realize the show would last over an hour. I taped it, and, last night, when the whole ending was cut out, I realized my mistake. Could someone tell me what happened? I’ve tried and tried to find a download, but I guess it’s too soon. The episode was cut off when Thirteen and House were all that were left in the room with the “patient.” Please save a girl from lunacy, and fill me in, if you’d be so kind.

  10. Erik on November 29th, 2008 2:28 pm

    Carolyn: Fox posts detailed point-by-point recaps at this site: The piece of the episode that was not recorded is covered in the last three paragraphs, if memory serves correctly.

  11. Erik on November 29th, 2008 2:44 pm

    Bertas: The moment you enjoyed at episode’s end is a solid example of how you can do a lot by doing very little. In an earlier recap, I compared Hugh Laurie’s penchant for conveying subtle emotion with Steve Carell’s hilarious long pauses on The Office. This was a clear example of why those little moments work. As for House and Wilson being the true soulmates on the program, I agree that is the true romantic arc of the show. Though it fits in the “bromance” category, the dynamic between the two best friends is the only long term storyline that seems necessary to the show. The House/Cuddy thing is just not up my alley, for exactly the reasons you noted. These folks are too talented to follow the David/Maddie mistakes from Moonlighting.

    Geebs: The extended format was helpful in providing a “special” platform for Fox to produce interesting promos. In fact, the second half of the episode was far more dependent on the actors’ talents than any SWAT team bells and whistles. Your memory is strong, as Foreman was called, “boring,” by most of the staff when he was upset that Lucas Douglas had not been investigating him. A little planning in the writers’ room goes a long way, don’t you think?

  12. Carolyn on November 29th, 2008 10:15 pm

    Erik–thanks so much for the link to the recap. Does the show often go long (as in, 68 minutes, this last time)? Will have to pay more attention to the listings.

    You all are having quite the interesting discussion. Do you do this after every show?

    Thanks again for helping me out,

  13. Erik on November 29th, 2008 11:13 pm

    Carolyn: This was the first “extended edition” of House that I can remember, though networks do use this type of gimmick from time to time. I think Fox was hoping to get more viewers to stay tuned to Fringe at 9:08, and used their bigger hit (in this case, House) as a promotional tool.

    As for the discussion threads, we have a good time each week talking about each episode’s hits and misses. A quick tour through the GMMR site will give you the chance to share your opinions about any of the programs we discuss. I have discovered a number of new favorites by reading these threads, including Chuck and Californication.

    Welcome to the fun, and I look forward to more discussions like this with you soon!

  14. bob3k on November 30th, 2008 9:11 am

    I dont know, is it only me, who thinks that House did not have to take the gun back, in order to find out the illness that Jason had? In fact, he could take responsibility on himself and act like Jason was still armed and he would not endanger Thirteens life (she was a guinea pig already). He sacrificed 13, asking later, how come she is alive. Yeah, maybe he showed a bit of humanity to 13 during the episode but he burried her in the end…
    anyway, great episode, i did not miss the old squad, actually, 13s storyline really gets to me.

  15. Duh on November 30th, 2008 4:25 pm

    Could someone give me light on an issue: I watched the episode (I love the analysis wrote here btw) over the internet, and it was a regular 50-min one, while I keep reading it’s supposed to longs 68min… though it “worked”, I didn’t feel like there were missing parts… Does anyone have an explanation, and better, a way to find the complete episode if it does exist?

  16. Kat on November 30th, 2008 7:29 pm

    A normal 60 minute show is about 42 minutes without ads; so I’m assuming a 68 minute show would be about 50 if you take out commercials (like you’d get by watching it online). Hope this explains it!

  17. Erik on November 30th, 2008 11:40 pm

    bob3k: Your thoughts about House’s return of the gun to Jason led to replay that sequence of scenes. I got the impression that House was genuinely surprised that Jason continued to coerce Thirteen into using the additional drugs. You are absolutely correct that there were safer ways to reach the medical solution. I can only guess that House had some degree of understanding with Jason’s level of frustration.

    Olivia Wilde has been the breakout star of Season 5, and I do hope that other longtime viewers will come around to your view that her increased profile has been to the show’s benefit.

    Thanks for offering your thoughts on the episode. As you can tell, GMMR is one of the places where opinions are welcome and civility rules!