HOUSE Recap: The Dig - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE Recap: The Dig

April 12, 2011 by  

Even the most unsatisfying meal can be salvaged with one standout course. A well-seasoned steak or scrumptious dessert is a chef’s secret weapon against the lingering aftertaste of an unsalted soup or the vegetable medley from hell. It would be nice to enjoy every morsel of food that touches our lips, but most of us err on the side of happy taste buds.

This week’s HOUSE, featuring Olivia Wilde’s return as Thirteen, stands out from its overcooked and flavorless companions in Season 7. In an hour filled with genuine mystery, superb writing, and overdue character development, Ms. Wilde reminded me why so many viewers make reservations each Monday night on FOX.

The cold open was more than enough to cleanse the pallet, with House delivering a “Get Out of Jail” martini. Thirteen was hardly shocked to see her welcome wagon. Though the two characters did not exchange words, a closer look revealed the thought bubble that was floating above both their heads…

“What have you been up to?”

House has experienced a number of upside downs in this fictional year, but Thirteen’s journey trumped his relationship dramas and addiction relapse. Answering House’s version of the question posed above, Thirteen’s reply did more than simply silence her loquacious boss. In four words, Remy Hadley also served up the season’s most engaging mystery:

“I killed a man.”

Though I have heaped praise on Amber Tamblyn for injecting the show with new life as Martha M. Masters, Ph.D., I now believe that Olivia Wilde’s leave of absence (in fictional and non-fictional form) has been the missing ingredient of the season. The Huddy saga threw a wrench into the worldview of longtime viewers, who understood House to be a man who could not exist within the confines of a romantic relationship. Thirteen, by virtue of her condition and her point of view, is the female character who allows us to see House more fully.

Need proof? This episode provided the most telling evidence that Cuddy’s break up is, indeed, impacting House on an emotional level. Yet, Lisa Edelstein was nowhere to be found! House’s toughest moment, when he blurted, “Today would have been our one year anniversary” was an important confession. Despite his irreverent behavior, House was willing to make good on the promise of Cuddy’s companionship.

The commonality of Thirteen’s daunting battle with Huntington’s and House’s dependency on Vicodin bonds them in a manner that is distinct from the other team members. Both of them have loved and lost. Rather than turn to the arms of a new flame, they find real strength in the other’s understanding. It is a dynamic that has become one of the show’s pivotal subplots, one that I did not realize I had missed until this week.

Thirteen’s dirty little secret, one that easily could have spiraled into soap opera territory, added gravitas to her return. With no cure for him in sight and ravaged by the pain of living with Huntington’s, Thirteen’s brother sought her assistance in ending his life. I commend writers Sara Hess and David Hoselton for allowing Olivia Wilde to work through her confession without a mouthful of unnecessary dialogue. The creative team trusted their actors to add meaning to their words, and Wilde’s performance was Emmy-worthy.

Olivia Wilde is becoming quite the “It Girl” in Hollywood, and the film roles she has landed in the past two years have been a blessing and a curse. Though her star is on the rise, I would be shocked if audiences for TRON: LEGACY or COWBOYS & ALIENS recognize the real talent that lies beneath her (virtually non-existent) pores. “The Dig” was an ideal showcase for actress Olivia Wilde over celebrity pinup Olivia Wilde, an opportunity to show that her onscreen impact extends far beyond the talents of HOUSE’s hair & makeup teams.

From the quiet sobs illuminated by a motor lodge “Vacancy” sign to the playful spirit exhibited while building the perfect potato weapon, this episode was Olivia Wilde’s finest performance to date. If you choose to pick her apart for her attractiveness or for the sloppy handling of the Foreteen romance, you may be missing out on a special talent.

Not every moment was somber in, “The Dig.” Damon Lindelof tweeted “If you want to see me in pain, watch HOUSE tonight.” Yes, that was the co-Executive Producer of LOST taking a knee to the groin on Thirteen’s “private” pit stop on the Potato Spud Gun road show. Though Lindelof’s unnamed character was a villain in Thirteen’s story, his assault was part of a number of laugh out loud scenes to counter the melancholy.

House’s irrational one-upmanship has never been on better display than during his quest to take the Potato Spud Gun crown. Returning champion Harold, a teenager who is as impressed with Thirteen’s curves as he is unimpressed with House’s fashion sense, was an ideal foil for a reunited team that channeled their sadness into competitive fire. Harold pushed House’s buttons, taunted him like a schoolyard bully, and paid the price due to a spud fired at close range! The potato arms race was an inspired idea, and never felt like an obligatory C-plot.

There is so much else to cover, including Taub’s surprising reunion with his estranged wife, an interesting patient of the week story, and Masters’ hints that psychology may be part of her future, but I cannot wait any longer to read your thoughts!

Are you happy to see Thirteen return to the show? Did you figure out the secret behind her incarceration? What is it about her that allows House to be more transparent? Were you surprised by the hoarding storyline? How did it help shape the episode’s focus on love and loyalty? Last but not least, do you think Mr. & Mrs. Taub have a better chance of staying together as exes? Your opinions are always valued, so it’s your turn to lead the discussion!

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5 Responses to “HOUSE Recap: The Dig”

  1. John on April 12th, 2011 3:37 pm

    This was an excellent episode. I am not one of the 13 haters. I have always liked the character, but this was much better material than the actress is often given on the show. I look forward to a full season of “House” and 13 next year.

    Given the seriousness of the overall episode, the humor was very well done and did provide a nice change of pace.

    I did not recognize the guy 13 kneed, but that and the exchange back in the car were great.

    PS: There is a sort of typo in the review. At one point you have 13 suffering from Parkinson’s instead of Huntington’s. You have it correct later.

  2. Erik Wilkinson on April 12th, 2011 5:02 pm

    John: Thanks for pointing out the typo! I wish that I could claim to have a condition that would make that mistake forgivable, but insomnia is no excuse 🙂

    I hope that House viewers who were quick to dismiss Olivia Wilde as “just another pretty face” will realize that she is an integral part of the show’s strength moving forward. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts in such a persuasive manner!

  3. Hmmm on April 12th, 2011 7:55 pm

    Wow, really? Perhaps because I only watch intermittently now, I thought this episode was representative of, not the exception to, the ridiculous soap opera the show has become.

    I certainly didn’t miss Cuddy as romantic interest or House enabler.

    I really miss the days of yore when House was the iconoclast medical genius. I wasn’t tired of the formulaic structure, and stopped watching when they abandoned the quality of the medical mysteries in favor of personal dramas. I thought 150th might have shown a bigger effort, so I tuned in.

  4. Jeff on April 13th, 2011 2:26 am

    Did anybody else catch the sly “Tron” reference in the episode?

    When House tells Thirteen she’s got “the best game face I know… also the best game body.”


  5. gbbg on April 14th, 2011 7:20 pm

    and the Cowboys style match-up was a reference too 😉 🙂

    It was funny and glad to see no hate spewed here. However, I was wondering if anyone would come up with a “wrong-way-to-show-Huntington-sufferers” for the way her (13)’s brother ended his life.