HOUSE “After Hours” Review

HOUSE (FOX) After Hours

HOUSE “After Hours” Season 7 Episode 23 – HOUSE is officially off the rails with the graphic, intense, and scattered “After Hours” episode that follows one long, bat guano crazy night involving a whole lot of off-the-books medicine and Taub being, sigh, Taub.

Having to watch part of the episode through my fingers makes it a little harder to review, but it’s certainly nowhere near as hard as excising tumors from your own leg. “I thought it would be like removing a wart.” Oo-kay. First off, huge kudos to Hugh Laurie for playing the bejeezus out of every scene. His grim intensity as his breath heaves and his bloodied hands shake during the self-surgery is stunning and his agonized roars still echo through me. As always, Laurie’s performance remains the best reason to watch House. He truly is mesmerizing. Oh, and the actual bathtub scenes, as horrifyingly graphic as they are, are incredibly well shot, right down to the jarring discordant score.

The self-surgery makes more sense than one might think. House is that arrogant, that desperate, and, yes, that crazy from pain, drugs, and the burden of being House. Still, this doesn’t quite work for me–in large part because there isn’t enough build-up to it. The stealing and injecting medicine from the trial should have been spread out over more episodes, House’s pain been more pronounced throughout the season. It’s too rushed. As for the actual surgery, so much tension is wasted by not having a slower build-up to it. It happened too early in the episode and the phone calls are anticlimactic because you had to know Cuddy would be the only one to help. Not to mention the fact that all air is let out of the episode whenever Taub comes on the screen. “After Hours” doesn’t need three separate stories. It barely (if at all) needs two and House should have remained the focus. Nothing on this show can ever pack the punch of a suffering, desperate Dr. House, and when you have something as gripping as him cutting himself open, you don’t shortchange it.

As for what this means going forward-I have no idea what to take away from this episode. House wants to be happy, but House doesn’t even know what that means and Cuddy seems certain that–deep down–it has nothing to do with her, but she wants them to be friends. This is not new. Neither is House’s grudging admission to Wilson that he needs a change. Such a vague word, change, don’t you think? It rings hollow to me. Don’t get me wrong–I’m sure there will be some huge event next week that seems to change everything, but at this point, I have to wonder how long the effects will reverberate. Of course, I’m also assuming that House will face no repercussions for, you know, stealing the trial drug, injecting it into himself, using all kinds of other medical equipment, and operating on himself. Why would he?

Chase and Thirteen have the nominal patient of the week, though Darrien is really just a plot device to force the two doctors to bond over their guilt over killing someone, not to mention have one hell of a brawl. I like that the writers haven’t forgotten Chase killed Dibala and this is an interesting way to revisit it. It’s also probably going to be a slap in the face for Chase-Cameron fans that what drove those two apart will bring him closer to Remy. As far as Darrien goes, if all the action had taken place in the hospital, she would have been a very basic patient of the week. I mean a post (and pre)-operative House lapsing into shock was able to give Chase and Thirteen the clues they needed to figure out a parasite is causing all the trouble. Some of the dialogue is heavy-handed and too on the nose, but I have to say, if the House writers feel they must screw up another romantic story, they could do worse than to choose Chase and Remy. He is remarkably accepting of her and their fight is surprisingly intense with them duking it out like equals–which they are, but that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Still, I would like to avoid new romantic complications on this show right now. It also probably doesn’t need to be said, but once again, there are seemingly no consequences for Thirteen’s decision to treat a fleeing criminal off the books.

Anyone else rooting for the stripper to pull the trigger and put us out of Taub’s misery? I used to like him so much with his pithy snark, but the overwhelming weight of his marital, emotional, and dullness issues has rendered him virtually unwatchable. Now he’s going to have a kid because he had a revelation in a strip club parking lot? I’m sure that won’t make him any more insufferable at all. Foreman’s right-he will make a crappy dad. Oh, and did anyone else wish the club had at least been named the Bada Bing?

While I like the idea and intent behind much of this House episode (not Taub’s bit), I still find it frustrating. So much of this season meandered and buckled under the weight of the writers’ fumbling of Huddy that it makes it even more glaring when they shortchange a potentially powerful arc. Instead of drawing out tension by building both House’s desperate attempt to fix his life by fixing his leg and Thirteen’s torment over her brother (whom she so cherished we never even knew he existed), this episode clumsily packs in too much of that for it to be emotionally effective. Like I said–it’s frustrating.

What did you think of “After Hours? Was it crazy good or just plain crazy? What do you think the big change will be next week and why does Cuddy want House arrested if he comes near her? Let’s talk in the comments.