Episode 8x03, “Charity Case,” is aptly named. It sits on the street, legs crossed, begging bowl in lap, looking toward the viewers. “Please help me! Please, give me my demographic! Look, I gave you back the Magicam! The whiteboard! Clinic duty!”
This episode reminded your faithful correspondent of a rickety beach house. Boards slapped on haphazardly to keep the wind out. Poles keep the walls from collapsing. Years ago, this was a lovely house, but time, the elements, and spectacularly bad judgment have brought it to this sorry state. Very well, I’ll stop the metaphor there and leave out the part about the bad wiring.
In the open, as soon as the POTW (Wentworth Miller) talked to the woman at the shelter, I knew after his exit she would find a mysterious check for ONE MEEILLION dollars! (Pinky at mouth.) As soon as Mr. Handsome leaves, he collapses and we go to:
The utter lack of credits. What foolery is this? If you’re going to go “back to basics,” why not restore the song? Is NBC too cheap to pony up the money for the rights? Is it because Odette Annable might jump to the other show when it’s renewed and they’ve have to remove her credit? Just a sort of orangey picture and a huffing noise. Only “Supernatural” can pull this off.
Mr. Handsome is a gazillionaire who gives all of his money away and lives in poverty. Naturally, this does not sit well with his wife, who probably wants a decent three-bedroom apartment with a view. Like the environmentalist in S5 "Saviours," the POTW feels that other people are equally deserving--if not more so--than his own offspring.
House is sure Mr. Handsome’s extreme altruism is a symptom, that nobody is that generous.
S2: “Autopsy” – House believes courage is a symptom (no)
S4: “No More Mr. Nice Guy” – niceness is a symptom (yes)
S5 “Brave Heart” – bravery is a symptom (sorta)
S6: “Instant Karma” – millionaire gives up money to save his son (it didn’t make any sense at the time, either)
S7: Some guy jumps in front of a train to save a little girl – heroism is a symptom (can't remember)
13 puts in an appearance, telling House she has found the right girl and doesn’t want to be a doctor any more. Since we already know this is Olivia Wilde’s last episode, listening to her argue with House is tiresome. But—and this is bizarre—the most colorless character on the show suddenly seems like a STAR because she’s in the same room with House’s two new little girls.
These two actresses…I mean, why? Charlene Yi can’t act and has the most annoying voice since Cuddles, the Downy Soft bear. Odette Annabel can’t act either, but she is excellent at wearing her hair in a fetching cascade down one side. The reason why they have been hired might be that Laurie, Shore and Yaitanes are all having mid-life crises and nothing eases the pain like a barely pubescent female. In fact, this may be why Hugh Laurie is using Just For Men on his hair and beard, rather than the foxy silver it is in real life. From the front he looks like he’s wearing three reddish brown pom-poms on his head.
Getting “back to basics” means bringing back the Magicam (a welcome addition); a repeat of the scene where House pitches small objects (peanut shells) from the balcony toward the back of a janitor; clinic duty, which manages to be unfunny AND derivative. A kid is masturbating. Wow. Back to the fun, indeed.
Wilson puts in an appearance as House’s conscience and provides the epiphany, I forget how.
Foreman gets to break House’s balls over deliberately dosing Mr. Handsome to create symptoms before Mr. Handsome can be discharged. “You’re off the case.” I like this Foreman. But then, I’ve always loved Foreman.
Still, the void created by the lack of Cuddy is unmistakable. No mature female on the show, no interesting sexual politics, no one for a woman over the age of 18 to identify with. No woman who can act. Yi and Annable enact a subplot about Yi’s inability to accept charity (OW! That anvil hurt when it hit my foot!). Chase is going to appear ridiculously old when he shows up; House already looks like their horny grandfather.
To cut to the chase (God, I miss Chase), House and his two little girls/new team solve the case. Mr. Handsome’s altruism is a symptom of a nodule on his thyroid. Before he diagnoses Mr. Handsome, House tries to get a ONE MEEEILLION DOLLAR donation to get his team back. And presumably the office next door, now being used for orthopedics. He diagnoses Mr. Handsome, and no ONE MEEILLION DOLLARS for poor House. Oops.
Then it’s time for a last dose of altruism, as House selflessly sends Thirteen away to a life of Sapphic pleasure in Greece. And Ms. Wilde to a multi-million dollar movie career.
So perhaps it’s not altruism, it’s sour grapes.