Tag Archives: finale

Hope you like the new look

  • I’ve changed the look of my blog to work with my new website, which is being relaunched next week at http://barbarabarnett.com. Things are beginning to gear up for the release of Chasing Zebras: the Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. I’ve seen the interior design of the book, and it is beautiful! I can’t wait to actually see the whole thing–and then, of course, actually hold it in my hands.


  • I will try to post every day as the summer goes on. Next week is Book Expo North America (BEA). I won’t be there, but my publisher ECW Press will be, and for the first time Chasing Zebras will be trotted out in public. The book is complete and and edited and at the typesetters except for the updates for the season six finale. On the other hand, so much has changed as a result of the finale, there are little updates all over the place to make the book current to the start of the seventh season!


  • The whole team at ECW Press has been a dream to work with on this. It’s my first book, and I’ve heard so many nightmare stories about authors (especially new authors) and their trials and tribulations with their publishers. My agent, likewise, has also been a dream. An author could not have asked for a more pleasant first-time experience than I have had thus far.


  • The launch date is still more than 3 months away and we have a long publicity road ahead, with interviews, signings, etc. So it will be a busy, busy summer and fall. Once the site is launched next week, there will be a calendar of radio appearances, and any other upcoming events, including a launch party in September.


  • In the meantime, there is still time to bid on an autographed copy of Chasing Zebras (and an hour of online chat about the show with me) at brenda novak’s auction to support diabetes research. It’s an amazing auction and lots of great stuff for writers, readers and everyone else. Here’s the link to the auction itself and to my item

I’ve also been very busy over at Blogcritics the past week or two, with two new interviews:

House producer/writer Doris Egan

Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and Peter Blake, who wrote the season finale

Several other new pieces, including my review of the season finale

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Should someone have seen House’s collapse coming?

New article up on Blogcritics exploring season five and the run – up to House’s emotional collapse…

Full Review (not linking to Blogcritics) of Both Sides Now: House, MD

I apologize to all who have tried unscuccessfuly to get into the Blogcritics site the last couple of days. There are some outstanding issues with re-design that are being fixed, but still not perfect. For that reason, I’ve decided to reprint my review of the House season finale here and will do the same with the Doris Egan interview to appear later this week. 

 

Tears and fears and feeling proud
to say I love you

 Right out loud

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

                Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”

 Dr. Gregory House wakes up in bed after making love to Dr. Lisa Cuddy after the “cut” in last week’s House episode “Under My Skin.” Cuddy is gone, but not the memory, as House finds her lipstick sitting on his bathroom sink. He smiles, noting the lipstick smear on his face, the happy recollection of their ardent lovemaking. He pockets the lipstick, noting its color, with clearly a fondness for it: a talisman and a symbol of what lies ahead for the clean and sober House and love finally kindled after seasons of sparring and sparking.

House’s cruel mocking of Cuddy’s motherhood last week transformed into a cry a cry for help, stopping her in her tracks as she stalks angry from his presence. His tearful confession that he is hallucinating stuns her as much as his plea that desperate plea that he needs her. Ever House’s guardian angel, Cuddy ignores House’s hurtful words, and,  anger forgotten, she takes him home, sits with him as he goes through the unrelenting agony of Vicodin detox, holds his hand, caresses his sweaty brow and calms his nerves and stomach with ginger tea. And in the morning she gives him an even greater gift. A 20-year old secret; an inkling that she’s loved him for all these years; that he’s not simply the Buraku of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Not just a hospital asset. She has always liked that “interesting lunatic—for who he is; not for what he does for the hospital. And then asks him: do you want to kiss me? And in his heart of hearts, he is honest: “I always want to kiss you.” A gentle brushing of the lips deepens into passion for them.

Singing as he enters his office the next day, still holding onto Cuddy’s lipstick, House is in a spectacular mood. Not just for having sex, but for having won Cuddy. “Zing, zing, zing went my heart strings…the moment I saw her, I fell,” the sappy lyrics of a 1940s Irving Berlin tune tells us that he’s in love, much as in season two, House’s night with Stacy in “Need to Know,” inspired him to sing a sappily romantic aria from the Romberg operetta The Student Prince.

It’s a nice story, filled with the promise of love and redemption. Hope and happiness. “This is the story you made up about who you are. It’s a nice story,” House hears Amber say in his ear. But as Kutner’s grave image tells House at the end of last night’s season finale “Both Sides Now,” “too bad it isn’t real.”

What will stay with me the entire summer will House’s horrified and then shell-shocked face with the dawning recognition that the entire experience with Cuddy has been a delusion. Everybody lies, goes House’s mantra. But the lie his own brain constructed is the cruelest of all.

No longer able to distinguish reality from illusion, House has confabulated a fantasy that did not leave him isolated and alone in his apartment, his life falling apart. What line was crossed in House’s mind that caused it to snap? Had he reached the same level of despair that Kutner had weeks before? That moment where the line between living and dying in misery blur? House’s mind made a choice, and he could just as easily have committed suicide, as Kutner had in “Simple Explanation.” But, instead, his mind chose the comfort of Cuddy’s healing sensuality; the warmth of her body and the belief that he could be happy.

 The heartbreaking revelation that it was all a delusional fantasy is as heartbreaking as it gets. No, Cuddy never went home with him, instead leaving, angry at his cruelty. He never tells her he’s hallucinating; she never looks back.

 Instead he goes home, spending the night alone, in despair knowing he’s hallucinating but unable to stop himself from the continued downward spiral. His support systems gone, House sinks further, his mind creating the fantasy that he is loved and is redeemable, two things that have always been beyond his belief. The final scene between House and Cuddy parallels his fantasy night of detox as Cuddy forgets her anger, replacing it with concern and love as House begins to realize that he is no longer simply suffering hallucinations, but full-blown delusions.

House’s halting “No, I’m not alright,” finally realizing the cruel trick played on him by his own mind, has been months coming. House has been headed for emotional collapse since the end of last season. As guarded as House is, neither Cuddy nor Wilson saw it coming. Were there clues they might have picked up on? Things they might have done to mitigate House’s deteriorating mental state? Was it drugs, or something else? What did they miss?

What a way to end the season. The man who has stood on a ledge for five years has suddenly, tragically (and metaphorically) finally jumped and right down into the rabbit hole. “Both Sides Now,” takes the year of unrelenting emotional and physical trauma endured by its central character to its logical conclusion. A very, very bleak ending to an intense, downbeat season. Hugh Laurie gave yet another raw, brave and gut-wrenching performance. If he does not win the Emmy this year (and I mean it!) there is no justice. At all. Really.

 Doris Egan’s complex script plays with the concept of self-perception. Who we are? What makes us, us? How much of it is wishful thinking, a slightly deluded perception of who we might be; and how much is the reality. Our emotional well-being relies on us being able to tell the difference between the two.

This week’s patient, Scott has undergone surgery on his corpus collosum that stopped his seizures, but destroyed communication between the left (rational) and right (aesthetic) parts of his brain. In his case his left brain doesn’t like what his right brain is doing. And the miscommunication between them leads to something called alien hand syndrome, causing his left hand to do what it wants, when it wants, consequences be damned.

House calls the right brain the brain irrelevant, yet (as Foreman points out) House’s insights and intuition likely stem from that half of his brain (not to mention at least half of his musical gift). The left brain does the math, analyzes the parts. It’s the logician: rational, analytical. It is the most obvious part of House’s personality. The right brain is intuitive, holistic, random and subjective. And without it, House would never be able to synthesize or imagine. He dismisses it because it’s his most fragile part: his creativity, his romanticism, his love of music and art. It reveals him, therefore it must be suppressed.

And in the midst of all this sadness, Cameron and Chase marry in a beautiful ceremony intercut with House’s journey toward his own uncertain future. It’s poignantly ironic that House, understanding Cameron’s fears and advising her to take a chance on happiness, saves her relationship with Chase, as his own possibility for happiness evaporates like a mirage in the desert. The beautiful and haunting melody of the Rolling Stones “As Tears Go By” (and probably my favorite Stones song ever) gives the illusion of a love song. But the lyrics are starkly evocative of where House’s life now stands as he travels the long road to the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. “It is the evening of the day/I sit and watch the children play/smiling faces I can see/but not for me/I sit and watch as tears go by.” No wonder I wept at the end of this stunning finale to a great season.

What does the future hold for House? We’ll have to wait till September to find out.

And I cannot finish this review without saying something about Carl Reiner. He’s 86 years old and still brilliant and funny as hell.

Thanks David Shore, Katie Jacobs, all the writers and directors, cast, and especially the magnificent Hugh Laurie for making this season as powerful as it gets. Thank you to all my loyal readers who have made this column such an enjoyable experience and a great success. I will continue writing through the summer and as promised, later in the week, please look for my exlcusive one-on-one interview with the finale’s writer, House co-executive producer Doris Egan. I’ll be speaking with her later today about the finale and the future. Look for my interview with her later this week, with much more on the finale. So please stay tuned.

House, M.D. Full Review of “House Divided”

I know some of you have had trouble accessing the new Blogcritics site to read and comment. While they’re getting the bugs out, I’ve decided to re-run the review in full here. BC should be working much better in the next several hours to a day from now, but here ’tis…..

Be sure to visit the FOX official site (if you’re not a spoilerphobe) for a very excititng video.

SpoilerTV.com has three clips from Monday’s episode! Wow’s all I can say!

I will be participating in a conference call with Lisa Edelstein on Friday.  As some of you know, I did a one-on-one with her earlier in the year, and a CC with her last spring. She’s always a great interview, either one-on-one or in a (virtual) room full of writers. So stay tuned.

Also–I’ll be having a conversation with Doris Egan after the finale airs. Since she is the writer of the episode, it should be very, very interesting.

That’s all for now!

 

“I haven’t slept through the night since Kutner died.” House’s  (the ever-amazing Hugh Laurie) grave admission  to Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) towards the end of “House Divided” tells us how worried House is about his own sanity. In that confession, the normally very guarded House finally articulates the depth to which he has been affected by Kutner’s death.

What a fantastic episode. The best House, M.D. episodes combine humor, drama, tension and fun; darkness and light. This one had all of that and more. A pivotal episode in this very dark character arc for House (perhaps the darkest yet – and that’s saying something).

As this week’s wild ride of an episode, “House Divided” progresses, Amber’s (Anne Dudek in a phenomenal performance) constant and increasingly aggressive presence becomes more and more difficult for House to cover, as all around him begin to wonder what’s wrong. Sleep deprived and exhausted, House knows she is simply a hallucination, his overworked and sleepless brain playing visual and auditory tricks on him. Taunting him, she asks why she is the one to plague him; why she has become the avatar for his subconscious mind.

With strong resonances to last season’s finale episodes “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart,” Amber reveals what many of us have known all along. House carries with him an awful lot of guilt—the weight of the world, in some ways. Deny and deflect as he does and has, He still feels responsibility for Amber, and more recently for Kutner. “Maybe your guilt over Kutner’s suicide reminds you of how guilty you felt about me,” she needles.

Refusing to engage with a figment of his imagination, House insists to her that she is “the product of my exhausted brain.” But whatever has brought her to House, she sticks to him like “white on rice.” But in an almost creepy progression, Amber morphs from simple annoyance to constant muse to something more sinister.By the episode’s end, House sees her for what she is: his worst inclinations unbound and at play in his conscious, troubled mind. “House Divided” indeed.

We often see House struggling alone in the dark of his office or apartment with his thoughts about a patient, an ethical decision—or even his own life. What are the thoughts that float through that “rat maze of a brain” (as Wilson has put it) that provide House his genius and his biggest problems? With Amber the external embodiment of House’s thoughts, we see how his thought process works. But he’s playing with fire. (So what else is new?)

Amber represents the far reaches: the “glimmers” and glimpses of memory. The fleeting stuff that whooshes by barely considered; barely acknowledged. Those thoughts are always there, but expressed aloud, they have more prominence, and House has easier access. In his current state, Amber may represent a gift, not a curse or irritant.

Properly channeled, maybe Amber’s insights can help restore House’s diagnostic super powers, which he believes he’s losing (as he expressed last episode).

 It’s a seductive idea, especially because House thinks he’s losing his medical mojo. No longer is an annoyance, Amber has become his muse and his ally in solving the current case. Plenty of time to sleep after the patient is diagnosed. Never mind the sleeping pills Wilson has provided; Amber has given House a new lease on his mojo.

But why is she really there? Is she the manifestation of House’s guilt? People who watch the series carefully know that House’s refusal to acknowledge his indirect responsibility for Amber’s death is simply a “river in Egypt.”

Amber’s death hit House very hard, harder than he would have had his colleagues believe. And the subsequent loss of Wilson’s friendship; of his father’s death and Cuddy’s new baby all have taken their toll on House fragile psyche. I have always said that House’s problem is not that he feels nothing or too little, but that he feels too much. And he’s faced an awful lot in the past year.

And then Kutner’s suicide, seemingly random and with no note, no hint, no sign. That was the proverbial last straw. As Wilson told House in “Saviors,” it would be insane if he wasn’t a little out of whack. But House has been sleepless for weeks, haunted by Kutner, probably unable to turn off his mind as it processes every bit of information about him: his life, his work, his family and his death. Long after everyone else has begun to move on, House cannot let go of it. Remember how long he held on to Esther’s death  (“All In,” season two). House is not a “little” out of whack.

And so House acquires Amber as an increasingly dominant presence in his thoughts. But Amber loses her muse’s luster as she dominates House’s process. She becomes more and more real to him, as the story progresses. And as Amber becomes a more and more dominant element to House’s thought process, House begins to  accept Amber’s thoughts and ideas to the exclusion of all else—even his own conscious thought.

Has House really lost that much confidence in his own medical judgment and second guess himself (literally)? Those little glimmers and flashes are in the back reaches of memory for a reason. They’re great to access in small bits: a memory there; an idea here. But as House retreats more and more into himself, he begins conflate those flickers of ideas for something more substantial. Although Amber holds the key to some correct diagnostic turns and some that are very wrong. House loses his ability to distinguish between them, relying on Amber rather than his conscious and filtered thought processes.

Eventually even House’s team fades into a surreal vision, seeming far less tangible than Amber, as House retreats further and becomes more isolated from reality. House’s mind wanders through memories of medical school (which may be helpful to the diagnosis) to strippers, as Amber helps him remember the stripper used at one of Wilson’s bachelor parties as he prepares to hold one for Chase.

When House’s Amber-inspired diagnosis turns out to be wrong—and he forgets that Chase is allergic to strawberries—House begins to realize that his insomnia-induced hallucination may not be the gift it appears to be. When called back into the unfinished case, House tells Cuddy that he can’t do it, no longer trusting either his instincts or his skills. Locking himself away in his apartment,  where he can do no more damage to the patient, he turns the case over to his team. Despite Amber’s urging, House begins to understand the terrible trouble he’s in. And that Amber must go.

Finally going to Cuddy to get a new prescription for sleep meds, Cuddy asks him what’s wrong. “Talk to me,” she pleads. Seeing Amber standing there as real as Cuddy, and looking deep into his own heart, the seriously freaked-out House is able to admit to not having slept since Kutner died. But not even a good night’s sleep can rid House of his hallucination.

Impaired as he is, House treats Seth, a deaf 14-year old wrestler. Suddenly when in a meet, he “hears” explosions. Exploding head syndrome in kid who lost his hearing at the age of four.  Wondering why he hasn’t had cochlear implants, which would allow him to regain his hearing, House learns that Seth is unwilling to leave the comfort of the disability and culture to which he’s adapted. His mother is being his prime enabler.

House has had such dilemma with patients before, where questions of quality of life lead House to propose dangerous procedures or to mock family members who would prevent him from taking a risk that could bring the patient back to “normal.” “Merry Little Christmas,” “Half-Wit” and this season’s “Painless,” (although that patient simply wants to die) all get to that very sensitive spot in House.  

House can never understand why people would choose to be disabled when they can be normal. He can’t process why anyone could be comfortable in their disability to the point that they refuse to undergo even a simple procedure to become “normal.” House convinces Chase to insert cochlear implants without the family’s consent. He, with Amber’s urging, is convinced that once the kid has the implants, he’ll adjust and be fine with it; as will the mom.

But how different is Seth than House? Is House too comfortable, wearing his disability (and the drug use) like a badge, afraid to try to “fit.” Does he need someone to push him off the edge to get him to save himself? Yes, House has tried (and has been at least half-heartedly trying) all sorts of things to end his pain. But he’ll try (like the methadone) and stop when the risk of losing his gift becomes too great for him to continue to risk it. But is Amber’s real role to be a genuine scare in House’s life? A dramatic enough scare to cause him to change?

The only thing House values in himself is his intellect and his medical gift. If he can’t trust his own skills (as he could not by the end of the episode) what does he have left? What would be the one thing to drive House to seek help? It would be the loss of his skill—or the loss of his rational thought. I don’t think he’s at that point yet, but there are still two episodes to go.

Lightening up the very dark journey into House’s subconscious is the planning of Chase’s bachelor party. House planning the Caligula-esque fete is hysterically funny–he’s like a kid in a candy store. Sending Foreman and 13 out to scout strippers is an inspired move, and the fiery  cocktails are pretty amazing. Not to mention the alcohol drenched ice cream. Inspired. That Gregory House sure can plan a party when he wants to. And kidnapping Chase: priceless. Is he just into parties, or is doing something nice for Chase? Is he trying to ruin Chase’s happiness with Cameron, or simply wishing Chase well in the best “guy”-way he can?

It’s not the party, but the planning that seems to make House happy. House has never really shown himself to be a party person. (Although he talks a good game.)

Having seen a couple of the party clips before the episode aired, I could not quite understand how House, the reclusive, guarded, private man he is could be partying like that. Turns out that he didn’t. He set it up, he got it going and then distances himself completely. Very, very House-like.

I am growing to like “Foreteen.” I loved the fact that Foreman paid money to see 13 have fun with the stripper. And Wilson? What a cheap drunk he is, isn’t he? Chase was adorable, and Cameron was resigned by willing to go along with the whole thing—sort of.

But the party, a delirious, dizzy affair, turns dark when Chase licks the strawberry butter from the stripper’s stomach and goes into anaphylactic shock. House blames himself, cursing his subconscious (in the guise of Amber) for possibly killing Chase. Obviously, either House forgot or didn’t know, or was too tired to remember. Hit hard with the notion that he could have caused another death of someone close to him. More guilt. “I knew about the body butter; I knew about Chase’s allergy: I tried to kill Chase. Why would I do that?” That one line, House taking the blame on himself for Chase’s allergic reaction is almost the scariest moment of the evening. What would make him take on yet more guilt? Undeserved guilt.

And then this week’s sucker punch. House looking much better after a good night’s sleep and not seeing Amber is also feeling better thinking he’s rid of her. Until there she is. Right with him. Major freak out for House. Whew!

And next week. All I can say is take the “Huddy” poll (if you haven’t already). More than 1100 people have already voted. “Under My Skin” airs Monday night at 8:00 p.m. (ET) and the season finale, “Both Sides Now,” will air on May 11. Just as a note, I will be interviewing “Both Sides Now” writer (and House co-executive producer) Doris Egan the day after the finale airs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Divided on House, MD

Poor House. Sheesh. He’s in a very bad way and not even a good night’s sleep can cure him of his hallucinations. Don’t know what’s coming next, but here’s my review of this week’s episode.

And some great news: I’ll be chatting with Doris Egan (who is the writer of this season’s finale) the morning after her episode airs to talk about the finale, the episode and season six!

Also–Blogcritics magazine, the official home of my House musings (and where I’m a TV editor)  has just undergone a major redesign. The new site is here. The newly designed TV/Film Page, which features my House Divided review is here.

And remember–it’s not too late to take the “Huddy Poll.” More than 1100 people have weighed in. Have you?????

Still Lovin’ House, M.D After Five Seasons!

New article for all you House and Hugh Laurie lovers—

 

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2009/04/21/112729.php

House, M.D. wraps up May 11…

After the shock of Lawrence Kutner’s (Kal Penn) suicide in the last episode of House, M.D., it’s hard to think of what might happen in the future. The shock of Kutner’s abrupt departure is the sort of thing usually reserved for season finales. However, there are still four more episodes to go! I can’t even imagine what House brain trust has in store for us in the weeks to come. But I can tell you a one or two things I do know for certain. First, expect to see more of Cameron and Chase in the coming weeks, and look for House to react to Kutner’s death in unexpected ways. And–a television icon makes an appearance in the season finale.

In the aftermath of Kutner’s suicide, House (the brilliant Hugh Laurie) suffers from apparent insomnia. Or could it be something more serious? House, M.D. builds up to its May 11 season finale over the next several weeks, as the folks at Princeton Plainsboro continue to deal with tragedy of Kutner’s death.

The entire staff reacts to the suicide, but none more so than House, himself. In “House Divided” (April 27), Ryan Lane guest stars as Seth, a deaf teenager who “hears” explosions, while House’s insomnia play tricks on his mind.

In “Under My Skin” airing May 4, House and his team treat a ballerina (Jamie Tisdale) whose lungs collapse during a performance. House, still unable to sleep, tries desperate measures to find rest. And in the season five finale “Both Sides Now,” comedy legend Carl Reiner appears as a clinic patient.

House airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. (ET).

Review: House episode 4×15–“House’s Head”

All season, I’ve been waiting for an episode to leave me (at some point) breathless. And this is the first time in a while that I’ve been transfixed by the show (and not breathing — much anyway), cursing the television between commercial interruptions.

Brilliant acting by Hugh Laurie (literally in every single scene — this has to be his Emmy submission!), who conveyed nearly every possible range of emotion, taking us with him on House’s nightmarish journey. Lisa Edelstein was terrific as well, bounding from sensuous to caring and protective to frustrated and angry. In fact the entire cast put all into this hour. A stellar script by Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend, David Foster, and Peter Blake from Doris Egan’s story and exciting direction and editing created an intense and harrowing journey for the series’ hero. These are the things that make House great.

“House’s Head,” season four’s penultimate episode (part one of a two-part season finale), allowed us access to House’s mind as he tries to make sense of fractured bits and pieces of his memory after serious head injury leaves him with retrograde amnesia. “Someone is dying because I can’t remember,” House agonizes at one point.

At the episode’s start, House finds himself in a strip club, dazed and confused. A lap dancer struts her stuff and it barely registers with him; he has no idea how he came to be in the club in the first place. Leaving before he has his lap dance, bleeding and unable to remember, he wanders aimlessly into the street. All around him, people run and lights strobe — a chaotic scene. As the camera pulls back to reveal a serious accident scene we, along with House, realize that he was somehow involved in it.

As he is treated in the Princeton Plainsboro emergency room by Cameron, House insists that he had noticed a serious symptom in one of the passengers. And he is compelled to find out who it is, and what is wrong.

Wilson is doubtful, telling House that he can’t be certain that this person even exists; that the symptom he spotted may simply be a figment of a blurry imagination. But House is insistent, driven to reconstruct his memories to save a dying person, risking his health — and his life — in the process.

Continued here