HOUSE: Under My Skin - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Under My Skin

May 5, 2009 by  

The game of expectations has a long history of leaving its contestants defeated and deflated. Who among us has escaped the trap that opens when we put our emotional eggs in a tenuous basket? Examples of this phenomenon are as plentiful as the broken dreams that suffer the consequences. A father brings his son to the ballpark, hoping that this generation’s team will rectify the offenses committed by his childhood heroes. A young couple meets in person, testing the chemistry that was hatched during months of marathon phone calls. A lifelong salesman meets with his boss in private, confident that his experience will be rewarded with an exciting new opportunity to compete in these difficult times. Most people are hard pressed to recall when they emerge victorious from these contests, but the losers always remember. The sting of disappointment is often immune to any ointment, fading only when enough time has passed.

Tonight’s House produced both winners and losers in this game. If you were anticipating a torrid start to the Huddy love affair, you may have been let down by the episode’s climax, which served as more of a teaser for the season finale than as a satisfying release for fans who have waited patiently for the two doctors to become one. If, on the other hand, you were searching for answers to the questions posed by Amber’s reappearance, and the impact of House’s hallucinations on the people around him, this was an hour of television that surpassed your most elaborate hopes.

Though House’s journey led him to Cuddy in the final act, it was Wilson who helped his best friend confront the real life consequences of his hallucinations. Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard bring out the best in each other, and their body language was more compelling than any of the lines in Pamela Davis and Lawrence Kaplow’s thoughtful script. House’s over the top affectations feed the ego he needs to maintain, so the quiet moments are when he reveals himself. House’s confession that he was uncertain of what was ailing him and frightened of the impact on his career were readily apparent in Hugh Laurie’s eyes. In return, Wilson accepted the responsibility to care for his friend through gestures, not pep talks. When House decided to inject himself with insulin, Wilson’s abrupt sprint from the cafeteria told us everything we need to know about the care and concern he had for his friend. Though these two actors are brilliant at delivering dialogue, I am surprised by how often they do their job without it.

Amber has officially left the building, this time to take her place alongside Dead Denny and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Hollywood’s Museum of Fallen Spirits. Since I delayed judgment on the return of the Cutthroat Bitch, in order to see how the pieces of her appearance would be put together to solve House’s puzzling illness, I feel confident in stating that Anne Dudek made the best of her screen time, without wearing out her “Welcome Back” mat. The darker impulses of House’s brain, as described by Amber, fit her old nickname perfectly. Season Five’s overarching storyline has been the battle for House’s conscience. He has been tested by Wilson’s resignation, threatened by Cuddy’s decision to adopt, and shell shocked by Kutner’s suicide. Amber represented the ruthless narcissism that has guided House to the pinnacle of his profession. Her disappearance, fueled by a desire to please the woman who has stood by him, indicates that Gregory House wants to exist as a person, independent of his role as a physician.

Lisa Edelstein was absent for much of this episode, but her contributions in the final act were significant. Cuddy has been emotionally toyed with by House for years, but when he reached out for help in conquering his dependency on Vicodin, she was his champion. House and Cuddy are not equipped to be a couple that builds a white picket fence and reads the Sunday paper together. However, I was struck tonight by how poignantly they exchanged loving gestures. House gave her the roadmap to the hiding places for pills that sustain him. Cuddy offered him a long overdue explanation about why their worlds first collided. It is far from a textbook romance, but the Huddy thing is starting to grow on me.

This chapter in House’s story was the perfect complement to its two predecessors, which had emphasized playfulness while foreshadowing a serious crisis. I know that Chase & Cameron’s story was paid short thrift in this recap, particularly his reaction to her frozen mementos. I would love to explore that topic further in the comments thread. Are you ready for the season finale? I certainly am, though I will do my best to control my expectations.

Huddy fans, what did you think of their long-awaited hookup? Was anyone bothered by the “bait and switch” approach from the promos? Were you glued to the screen by House’s attempts to drive Amber out of his head? Did Chase make the most of his first extended time with the rest of the team in months? What are you looking forward to in the Season Finale? Discuss…

How does Erik combat writer’s block? He indulges in Adam Carolla’s new daily podcast at and reads Bill Simmons’ columns on The GMMR House and Parks & Recreation dude is an active participant in the economic recession, and is looking forward to watching all seventy-three episodes of ALF on Hulu.


12 Responses to “HOUSE: Under My Skin”

  1. Peggy on May 5th, 2009 10:54 am

    “It is far from a textbook romance”

    This is exactly why i love them so much. House and Cuddy are unlike any other couple on television and i find it beautiful to see their relationship grow as each new episode passes. I’m looking forward to seeing what the finale brings for them!

  2. Bonnie on May 5th, 2009 12:38 pm

    I guess I don’t know much about House and Cuddy’s past. I just assumed she hired him at Princeton Plainsboro a few years back but didn’t realize they were in medical school together. Erik can you enlighten me on their past? I definitely miss House’s more playful nature, but give the actors a ton of credit for pulling off last night’s episode. The writing was fantastic, but above all the acting was terrific.

    I don’t know about the bait and switch. How did the promos mislead us? I must have missed it….

  3. Kimber on May 5th, 2009 1:35 pm

    As a Huddy fan, I did enjoy last night’s episode. I missed out on the promo for the episode, so I wasn’t aware that it had been misleading, but I can believe it! House and Cuddy’s relationship this year has definitely been moving forward, which is good, and I think the writers timed it perfectly so that it made sense. House “detoxing” would be getting old for me, were it not for the fabulous acting in last night’s episode, and the fact that he had Cuddy there supporting him.

    LOVED the return of Cutthroat Bitch. I was sad when she was killed off, since I loved the character and the actress, so it was really nice to see her return as a “part of House”. Fantastic.

  4. Alison on May 5th, 2009 4:49 pm

    Wow i LOVED with episode!! It was fantastic and I lovedd the Huddy scenes! I’m so excited for next week!!

  5. robertas on May 5th, 2009 5:27 pm

    Well… I’m in two minds really.

    I do agree with you Erik, we have seen some terrific acting. Hugh Laurie was simply superb. And I do agree (yet again) that him and Robert Sean Leonard play so well off each other. Especially when they say nothing at all!
    And Anne Dudek, good god was she creepy or what? The singing, slashing her arm… And since she does represent House’s subconscious mind it did give us an inkling of how much that man actually loathes himself. Which IMHO made it even more sad.

    BUT… I felt the episode was too rushed (like the methadone one we already seen). I am aware we have the season finale to get to but honestly some things just made no sense to me. Detoxing that fast?! I’ve read on TWOP boards Vicodine detox does not take that long, but even if we account for that wouldn’t House be in considerable pain (the type of which cannot be helped by popping ibuprofen or whatever)? I mean didn’t the pain start him on Vicodine to begin with?

    Chase/Cameron saga was also too rushed. I understand it would be too simple for Cameron to just say “yes well Chase you almost died last week and thats why I’m telling you about my dead husband’s sperm I stashed away” but IMHO that particular storyline was written very poorly.

    And the whole Cuddy/House thing. Now I would have bought it all (to an extent) but the end… really? I know we didn’t see any real action, but after detox and still in withdrawal House would be interested in sex? Hm… I love House but he is no spring chicken 🙂 And it would help (considerably!) if Cuddy wouldn’t be given such limpy arsy farsy lines every single time as a prelude. To me at least they have in a way turned her into Cameron of the old. But again thats just my opinion.

    Yes we got some great acting, but it was all too rushed and all too neat. The only thing missing is a big red bow on top of House’s head 🙂 And from what I know of House’s writers they don’t do big red bows 🙂

  6. geebs on May 6th, 2009 10:47 pm

    It was worth the wait. Until now, until robertas comments, I was really on cloud 9 thinking this was probably the best way Huddy could actually form without causing much heart-burn amongst “loyal” House fans who were anti-huddy.
    Honestly, I can’t say much about Vicodine detox immediately but I don’t think the detox thingie is finished yet. Wilson does mention that House has to cope with severe pain for the rest of his life, so I guess, the point of concern was surviving the first day/night without it (with Cuddy).
    Cuddy’s response to House’s brutal barb when he comes to see her and the complete turn-around after hearing House’s confession showed (to me) how much she knew House.
    But more than that, the team trying desperately to emerge from House’s shadow (and Honestly surprising, a complete lackadaisical attitude to House’s illness hasn’t caught many people’s attention), Wilson’s role in the entire episode, the best CTB (she does better in “Ghost” form, remember House’s head and Wilson’s heart?) performance made this a must watch.
    I would be keen though, to see how House manages without Vicodine and if he ever goes back to his old-self.
    Wonder what’s cooking for the finale now…

  7. Erik on May 7th, 2009 12:41 pm

    Peggy: Earlier in the season, I thought we were headed down a very predictable (and consequently, very un-House like) track to romance between House & Cuddy, so I am thrilled with the effort put forth in crafting this story. The scenes between Hugh Laurie & Lisa Edelstein were highly charged and a natural precursor to an intimate encounter.

  8. Erik on May 7th, 2009 12:42 pm

    Bonnie: The bait and switch reference was to the TV spots featuring a series of images from House & Cuddy’s love scene, which were conveniently left out of “Under My Skin” in order to tease viewers for next week. It’s nothing unusual from Fox’s promotional wing, but some may have been disappointed.

    As for the House/Cuddy saga, the Wikipedia entry for Huddy is astoundingly comprehensive, updated to include the events of this week’s episode:

  9. Erik on May 7th, 2009 12:46 pm

    Kimber: Were it not for the forward progress on the Huddy front, I would have been disappointed in another pass at a “detox House” angle, which has become as predictable as Brett Favre retiring and returning in the same offseason. This may sound like a simplistic explanation, but there was something very mature about the way in which House & Cuddy connected. His pain and her comfort was the right combination to ignite the Huddy saga. Of course, it may just last seven days, so we’ll have to stay tuned to the finale!

  10. Erik on May 7th, 2009 12:59 pm

    Alison: Thanks for making GMMR your home for House discussion, and I look forward to reading your thoughts about the pivotal season finale!

    robertas: Since we are both members of the House/Wilson bromance fan club, it is no surprise that their interactions were so well received in our households.

    As for CTB, I agree with you & Kimber that Anne Dudek’s return served an important purpose for the show, rather than be reduced to a bit of stunt casting. There is a reason that we trust House’s creative team more than those on other medical dramas (yes, Shonda Rhimes, I’m still talking to you) and they rewarded our loyalty with a satisfying payoff. Your analysis of House’s debilitating self hatred is spot on, and the last few weeks have been a wonderful vehicle for Hugh Laurie to dig in to a meaty piece of character development.

    The Huddy hookup scene didn’t do it for you, and I understand why. Most onscreen couples have strong supporters and unenthusiastic detractors, and I would assume that you fit into the latter category. Your concerns about the medical plausibility of a “full House” at the time of the incident, as well as a lazy bit of writing (“You want to kiss me, don’t you?”), are legitimate. My take is that Cuddy has to be careful not to cross the line into idol worship of House, particularly after Cameron treaded in that pool for years.

  11. robertas on May 7th, 2009 1:37 pm

    geebs – oh yes thank you, I completely forgot about that one – the way House’s team didn’t react AT ALL to his illness. Foreman did realize something was off, but as far as I can remember every time that previously happened he would do something about it. This was odd to say the least. And I’m sorry I didn’t mean to put damper on things, really I am aware I nitpick too much 🙂 But I’m just used to seeing more continuity on House and the attention to small details that have been oddly lacking this season. Given, not in every episode but in a good number of them.

    And Erik totally hear you on House/Wilson 🙂 As far as Cuddy/House goes, I don’t think I am strongly opposed to the relationship as such, it would be interesting to see House change and grow as a character. And it’s not that the potential is not there (we have seen glimpses of it in this episode). But what they did with Cuddy’s character this season is criminal. While before she served a purpose of reeling him in and he respected her for it, now well in my opinion she slip-slided into idol worship more then once. Some really lazy arse writing if you ask me! And borderline soap-operish 🙂
    If this was done right it could be rather brilliant.

  12. Erik on May 7th, 2009 4:12 pm

    robertas: Cuddy’s role has diminished in Season Five, and I was struck by the contrast in style during Cameron’s trial run as Chief of Staff. Jennifer Morrison made her earliest mark on this season by standing up to House in ways that Cuddy used to. I don’t know what led to her reduced stature, but I agree that it has been difficult to watch Lisa Edelstein try to make the best of that material. It’s not enough for House to defer to Cuddy’s judgment for the sake of appeasing her feelings. They used to be peers, and those days were left behind early in the year. I hope that their romantic entanglement will help set that ship on course in Season Six.