Michelle Kung
January 10, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

”House”: The placebo effect

Cheers, House-watchers. After a four-week hiatus, we finally have a new episode to inaugurate the new year… only to be immediately episode-blocked for another three weeks. Wha? Now, I love American Idol as much as the next reality TV addict, but only one opportunity to bask in Hugh Laurie’s caustic charm in a month and a half? That’s pretty weak. Between AI and baseball in the fall, House seems to get pretty short shrift at Fox — although if the show hadn’t (finally!) resolved the Tritter story arc this week, I wouldn’t have minded the writers taking a holiday to figure out exactly how the heck they were going to escort out David Morse.

Not that the exit that aired was particularly noteworthy. After months (or weeks, in TV time) of intimidation, hostility, and quasi-stalkerish behavior, Morse’s belligerent cop finally let a nattily dressed House (power ties!) go with a fairly calm, ”Good luck. I’m hope I’m wrong about you.” Tritter’s parting words were rather sedated and wimpy, considering how he refused the doc’s earnest apology earlier in the episode… not to mention how he’d tortured House and generally been his evil nemesis for so long. I guess being verbally spanked by a judge in court and realizing House has ”better friends than he deserves” will do that to you? Whatever the reason: Adios, Tritter. And good riddance.

The one positive outcome of Tritter’s rebuff of House’s apology was that the good doctor checked himself into rehab as a grand gesture to the court. The result was a pop culture bounty in terms of references to Harry Potter (Voldemort! Now someone just needs to explain ”Deathly Hallows” to me) and André the Giant, paper fortune tellers, and art therapy/clay-fondling — not to mention House lighting up beneath a No Smoking sign. Classic.

The final reveal in House’s jail cell, however, while suitably surprising, was rather disappointing for me. I realize House is a Vicodin-addicted miser, but nothing’s changed? Nothing at all? I prefer my fictional characters to demonstrate at least a smidgeon of development — especially after a multi-episode buildup — which House’s constant stream of painkillers, courtesy of the Orderly Who Cannot Be Named, negated. I’m not asking for NiceHouse; I just think there should be more of an emotional payoff to such a long story line. The only bone thrown to us was the vagary of House’s apology to Wilson, which suggests a strengthened House-Wilson bond to come. By the way, Cuddy? Screaming about how you perjured yourself in court while standing in a jail doesn’t seem like the smartest move.

As for the Patient of the Week, the entire electroshock therapy treatment to cure the (seemingly) lovesick firefighter was very Eternal Sunshine to me. Want to escape your romantic problems? Let’s zap your brain, 1940s style. With House pulling a fast one in rehab, it was refreshing to see the ducklings take charge, and in Chase’s case, use the ”everyone lies” standby to help the diagnosis process out.

Speaking of Chase and love, mazel tov to crazy kids Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison, who got engaged in Paris over the holiday. Does this mean another Chase and Cameron hookup is in the near future? That hug Cameron gave House was pretty awkward…

But what about you, dear watchers? Are you glad Tritter’s gone? How genuine was House’s apology to Wilson? Are you looking forward to House pulling double clinic duty?

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