Saturday, September 6, 2008

House: Heartbreak and Hope for the Future

Considering that the new season of House is about to begin, I thought it only proper that I finally get around to discussing my feelings with regard to this coming season and last. To be fair, there's not much for me to say about last season as a whole - I rarely took the time to actually watch it; never really did get over the frustration I felt toward the new ducklings and the seemingly blatant disregard for the old favorites. But, in the end, it wasn't all bad... and I truly am excited about what's to come this year.

Over the summer I've unintentionally caught up on all of the episodes that I did intentionally miss last season - even as I write this, I'm watching the House marathon on USA that's been going on since yesterday - and have grown much more comfortable with every change as a whole. I actually like Thirteen, but then again I always did -- Olivia Wilde is someone with spunk whom I've enjoyed since her stint on The O.C. -- and I like the character depth and importance that they've brought to her through her issue with Huntington's Disease and her constant need to excel in order to hide her vulnerability. Taub and Kutner still don't do much of anything for me, but I do find them entertaining when they share scenes. They make me laugh more than Foreman and Chase ever could together, and honestly the new trio of ducklings meshes just as well (if not, dare I say, better) as a team than the originals did.

Still, that doesn't mean that I'm placated by them now and capable of forgetting my bitterness. Foreman is back practically full-time, sure, but what of Chase and Cameron? Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison hardly got any screen time over the entire span of last season, despite still being included in the main opening credits -- an honor that the new ducklings still hadn't had bestowed upon them even by the season finale. Basically, I'd be pretty pissed off if I were either of them.

And, frankly, as a Chase/Cam 'shipper, I can't help but remain bitter and hateful over the fact that the entire first year of their on-screen romantic relationship was spent... well, off-screen. I can count on less than one hand how many times any mention was made of their couplehood - much less how often they were shown interacting in such a way, which was basically never. After how precious they were in the Season 3 finale (and several episodes preceding - "It's Tuesday. I like you."), I was livid when Season 4 began and it quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to get a chance to actually enjoy the 'ship I had been waiting to see become a reality.

I stayed livid about it all season. I'm still livid about it. I'm also still trying desperately not to think this whole thing is the fault of Jesse and Jennifer's broken engagement. And by "whole thing" I simply mean the lack of any Chase/Cam togetherness - not David Shore's overall decision to replace the old ducklings with new ones.

As a slight aside, I find it interesting that both David Shore and Hart Hanson made game-changing decisions in the finales of their respective third seasons; decisions that caused uproar in the fandoms and spread fear that nothing would ever be the same again. I refused to give Shore much of a chance last season mainly because I was a 'shipper scorned, but in the end it was a pretty damn good season. Hopefully the Bones fans who are still calling for Hart's head on a platter will be less stubborn than I was and just give it a fair chance.

Because what Shore managed to pull together by the end of last season? I mean, wow.

I was already becoming more interested and entertained once Wilson started dating Cut-throat Bitch (Amber), and thus made a general effort to remember to watch every week from then on. The battle for Wilson's time and attention that raged between House and Amber was something close to brilliance that got my mind off of the lack of Chase/Cam and onto the sweetness of Wilson/Amber. I wasn't 'shipping them by any means, but they were cute enough. And I like seeing Wilson happy.

So when the time came for the season finale all those months ago, I was once again invested enough to be intrigued at what Shore was going to pull out of his hat this time. And if I thought Season 3's finale of losing the original ducklings was shocking as hell, well... I had no idea what I was in for.

The two-hour production of House's Head/Wilson's Heart is - by far - some of the best television that I have ever seen. Granted, the second hour is much more effective than the first... but you can't really have one without the other. I spent the first hour in complete, "What the hell is going on!?!?" confusion - quite akin to what I feel every single week with Lost - and finished off that same hour with my jaw on the floor, filled with a feeling of complete excitement over how fabulously angsty and dramatic the second hour would surely prove to be.

It did not disappoint. I haven't cried that hard (or for that long) over an episode of TV in a very, very long time. Wilson's desperation, Thirteen finally facing her own mortality, House's burden of guilt... Amber waking up only to be told that she was doomed and needed to say goodbye. I wept like a pathetic child as Wilson held her in her final moments, crying as he told her he wasn't ready to let go yet. What was worse, though - at least in my opinion - was the experience that House had whilst bordering life and death; sitting on the death bus with a newly-dead Amber as he finally broke down, expressing to her that he couldn't handle the thought of Wilson hating him - that he'd rather stay there in the "afterlife" with Amber because "it doesn't hurt here." Seeing House with tears streaming down his face as he opened up about all of his hidden fears and emotions... I was totally gone.

That finale reinvigorated my dedication to this show, because it set up a lot of exciting aspects for the new season that is about to begin.

Cuddy never left House's bedside, holding his hand the entire time and crying tears of comfort and relief when he finally did open his eyes again for the first time. It's obvious that Shore is preparing to finally cross that line between these two bickering and insufferable flirts, and I'm incredibly excited to finally find out whether or not it's a coupling that can even work romantically. I spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out whether or not I could 'ship House with anyone (Stacey was the only one I ever liked; I hate the idea of him with Cameron, find it squicky) and concluded at some point in Season 3 that Cuddy was the most appropriate match. They entertain me and that tension is pretty hot. I'll settle for David Shore crossing the invisible line until someone finally convinces Hart Hanson to do the same.

Thirteen finally tested herself for the Huntington's gene, and it came back positive. This promises plenty of great exposition and angst for the character, which is really what I need in order to invest more care into the new ducklings. They've made a solid attempt at making the audience care about Thirteen (although it would be nice to find out her actual name...) and delving more into her childhood, her medical history, how the Huntington's of her family has truly shaped her personality... I'm definitely psyched for the exploration.

Wilson is now grieving the one woman we've seen him really connect and fall in love with over the years, and House is indirectly to blame for the death. It's a fabulous foundation for friendshipper angst that I'm sure is going to be incredible to watch. House is riddled with guilt - not because he thinks he killed Amber, but because he knows Wilson now hates him. The only real friend House has ever had and trusted in can now hardly even look him in the eye. David Shore changed the game yet again, kids, and it looks like it's going to be this angst-lover's dream come true.

If only I could get some new precious moments out of Cam and Chase, I'd be set. Which leads me to my final point:

Near the very end of last season, there were some slight hints that both Cameron and Chase miss working on House's team. Cam admitted outright that she misses the work; misses the cases, but does not miss House. Whether or not anything comes from the tiny hint-drops is yet to be seen, but they definitely opened the door to the slight possibility of the original ducklings returning to work with House full-time... in whatever aspect they may choose. Foreman works with the team full-time again, yet he's not a duckling -- I'd like to see Cameron and Chase more involved with the team, too. Somehow.

Really, I'd just like this to happen because I want to see more of those two in any way possible. Truth is, I think Cameron is excelling in the ER and Chase has found a great stride in surgery, so it's not as if I think they're working below their abilities -- I just hate that the ER and surgery are keeping me from seeing them interact. With anyone. Ever.

Despite my "Hell hath no fury like a 'shipper scorned" mentality, I truly am thrilled for the new season to start so that we can see what tricks are up Shore's sleeve this time.

After surviving last season's disliked game change, I now have total faith in his ability to keep things fascinating and fun no matter how shocking it gets.

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