California Literary Review

House Recap: ‘Gut Check’ (Season 8, Episode 16)

by

April 10th, 2012 at 10:16 am

  • Print Print

Still: House: Gut Check

House performs a test on his patient, an ice hockey enforcer (guest star Greg Finley).
©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jordin Althaus/FOX

A much livelier episode, and while I’m still not sure what make to of it all, it’s in more of a good way. As you may have noticed, all the promotional clips for this week focused on Wilson’s discovery that he has an eleven-year-old son. Remember how last week they were all about House being terminally ill? Remember how that turned out? Keep that in mind. Meanwhile, Park has to find somewhere else to live after fighting with her parents about how much she’s expected to do for Popo (her grandmother) and Chase takes her in. Taub bonds with the patient of the week, a hockey player he initially dismissed as a bully. Wilson and his newfound son make goat cheese and prosciutto pizzas together until it turns out he’s another one of House’s mind games. The real revelation is that Chase actually enjoys playing cribbage with Popo.

As I noted above, the patient of the week is a hockey player, and this episode involved a certain amount of hockey, hockey language, and hockey metaphors, none of which are familiar territory for me, so I may have missed some of the nuances. One of the advantages, though, is that we open at a hockey game, where the camera lingers on a player wearing a jersey that identifies him as “HATCHER.” So I am quite confident that Hatcher is our patient of the week, even though when he gets in fist fight, it’s not-Hatcher who goes down and stays down. I am proved right as Hatcher begins coughing blood. Everyone this season is coughing blood. Remember when Laura Palmer’s kid was seemingly abducted by aliens? Those were the days.

House knows more about hockey than I do, as he’s playing with a toy hockey game and providing narration as the team gather to discuss the patient. Taub doesn’t like the patient because he started the fight. Chase says hockey without fights is the Ice Capades, just as basketball without cheerleaders is … basketball. Adams thinks the patient may have caught psittacosis from a duck (he’s a hunter).

Meanwhile, Wilson is moping in his office with the lights off because his neighbors’ baby is keeping him awake. House claims that he’s really being kept awake by his own fear that he’s missed out on fatherhood and, furthermore, he’s lactating (ew). House then brings up an old girlfriend of Wilson’s named Beth Falconer. He says that while Wilson was passed out drunk on his (House’s) sofa in the wake of their breakup, she called and told House she was pregnant. House says he broached the subject with Wilson the next morning in a hypothetical way, and Wilson was panicked and horrified, so he’s kept quiet – until now. Wilson: “And….scene.” Wilson should really pay more attention to his initial hunches.

Park is venting to Chase about how she wants to kill her mother as they supervise Hatcher’s MRI. Grandma “Popo” is living with them, and Park is expected to take Popo wherever she wants to go, whether it’s the store or Atlantic City. Chase wonders aloud if there are any places in the world to live that aren’t Park’s parents’ house.

The next day, Wilson is dealing with the news, straight from Beth, that he has an eleven-year-old son, who was told his father was a dead war hero. Park has the imprint of a seat buckle on her face from sleeping in her car, after a blowup with her mother. As Park and Chase search the hockey team’s locker room, he offers her his spare room. They find medication for mononucleosis in another player’s locker, which is a clue. Park hesitantly accepts Chase’s offer.

Chase returns home to find a poker-faced Asian woman knitting in his living room. After reviewing the concept of “getting away” from people, and how it usually doesn’t involve bringing them with you, he comments to Park that Popo seems very quiet. Park: “You haven’t seen her drunk.”

That night, Taub finds the patient curled up in a corner, sobbing uncontrollably. The next day, Adams argues that aside from the crying, he’s doing well. Taub retorts that, apart from the guy in the book depository, the Kennedys had a lovely trip to Dallas. He insists the patient is suffering chronic traumatic encephalopathy brought on by repeated blows to the head. Park breaks the news of her new living arrangement in the most awkward way possible, ending with the revelation that she and Chase are not currently sleeping together, but she can’t speak for the future.

Wilson meets his son, Duncan, a brainy, precocious kid who’s been told that Wilson has “trouble maintaining relationships with normal people.” But the meeting goes smoothly enough that he asks to see Wilson that night. They make the aforesaid pizza, with a “hint of Dijon.” When Wilson drives him home, Duncan declares “I love you, Dad.”

Meanwhile, House has ruled out CTE, and made a Full House reference I really didn’t get, even after looking it up on Urban Dictionary. Taub bonds with Hatcher, whom he’s addressing as “Bobby.” (He’s changed his mind about him after House tells him Hatcher stood up for Taub, when Taub expected to be taken off the case). They swap life stories over the toy hockey game; apparently, Hatcher’s dad flooded the backyard to make a rink every winter. But then Hatcher’s size outstripped his talent (I think – it had something to do with him growing), coaches starting using him as an enforcer, sent on solely to rough up opposing players. The game ends when Hatcher’s arms become paralyzed.

The next morning we learn that Chase had his own family game night, playing cribbage with Popo, and he thinks she’s fun. Park’s convinced this must all be some elaborate scheme to get into her pants. The others attribute it to guilt on Chase’s part. Park loudly insists to Taub that some people do want to sleep with her, and some of them are even good-looking. “That good-looking?” asks Taub. Ouch.

House warns Wilson that he’s on the verge of taking on a larger responsibility than he’s ever taken on before, and that the only relationship Wilson has ever stuck with is his friendship with House. But Wilson wants to embrace his new role, even when Duncan shows up saying he’s just had a fight with his mom. She wants to start a refuge for birds of prey in Costa Rica, and has already bought the plane tickets, but Duncan doesn’t want to go. “Please don’t send me to the jungle,” he begs. At this point, Wilson really should be suspicious (as should I), but apparently Beth was flakey enough that he buys it.

Taub finally has what he actually calls a “light bulb moment,” while demanding that House take him off the case. It comes as a result of hockey metaphor, or a couple of hockey metaphors, which I don’t quite get (“Playing through the whistle”? Don’t players get carded for that in soccer?). Apparently Hatcher , like his teammate, had Epstein-Barr virus, leading to mono, and then to Miller-Fisher syndrome (whose full, proper name I admit I found in a medically-oriented House critique just now). If both the names are double-barreled, it must be bad. Taub’s light bulb moment comes in the course of a really uncomfortable discussion in which he explains how he’s convinced himself House is not a bully, even as House bullies him.

The revelations come thick and fast now: Hatcher, recovering, tells Taub he’s just gotten an offer from the NHL, even though he’s previously said he’d rather leave the game than continue as an enforcer.

“Duncan” is a child actor hired by House. House found Beth on Facebook, and she was still pissed enough at Wilson to go along with the plan. That’s … a lot to do to someone you consider a friend (and hope to keep as a friend). Make what you will of House’s comments about giving Wilson the experience of being a dad, then providing an out when things got uncomfortable. (I think that’s what he was getting at). I do have to admire how the narrative House invented balances the cliché (absent dad as dead war hero) against the far-fetched yet crazily exact (a refuge for birds of prey in the Costa Rican jungle).

Park tells Chase that she won’t sleep with him (do I need to add the “awkwardly”?). Chase says that’s not it – while Park has too much family, he has too little. He likes having an elderly Asian woman around to play cribbage with. Touched, Park says maybe she’d sleep with him after all. Park goes home to her parents, Chase and Popo settle in for another evening of cribbage, and House and Wilson make pizza together – no prosciutto.

And… that’s quite some bonding exercise on House’s part. I’m skeptical of, if not wholly unconvinced by, Wilson’s speedy forgiveness. The realization on both their parts that their friendship is the true constant in both their lives does seem to be a major theme this season. I like seeing Chase creating his own unconventional family, too. I’m also quite impressed by the writers’ willingness to dangle before us exactly the kind of life-changing plot twists shows often do introduce in their final episodes, then fake us out week after week.

Next up: Lars, his Real Girl, and tears of blood.

Get The Latest California Literary Review Updates Delivered Free To Your Inbox!

Powered by FeedBlitz

Recent Comments