House – Massage Therapy (S07E04) – Episode review

I don’t like to criticise an episode of House, because even an off-episode of House is usually far superior to most other shows on TV. But Massage Therapy didn’t have much heart, despite juggling several storylines.

The massage therapist of the title refers to a prostitute House used to see called Brandy, who is now his masseuse. Cuddy, for strange ‘woman’ reasons, has a problem with House being massaged by someone he had a sexual relationship with. House sees no problem with this and decides to continue. And to balance things off, he orders Cuddy a male prostitute/masseuse for herself.

It doesn’t take long for House to get down to the brutal truth of the situation, and soon he’s worked out that Cuddy wants to keep him at arms length to avoid him destabilising her daughter’s life. Can you imagine the sort of mental trauma House would inflict on a child? This takes House into territory that we were going to see eventually – him and Cuddy coming together as a ‘proper’ couple.

And once again, House doesn’t disappoint. In keeping with his arc this season, the cranky diagnostician makes a real effort to be grown up and ends up having a meal with Cuddy and her daughter. Interestingly, I’m noticing parallels with Chuck and Sarah’s fledgling relationship troubles on [[Chuck (TV Series)|Chuck]]. Except, the challenges House and Cuddy face are real. They don’t feel forced, and knowing the characters, they were issues they should have anticipated from the start. If anything, I almost think House is throwing up the issues himself, but when he resolves them, he seems committed to keeping them resolved.

I don’t know if it’s as a result of this, but his merciless mocking of his staff this week comes across as slightly half-hearted. As mean as ever, but the snark’s missing. First on his radar is new team member Kelly, hired because she looks like Chase’s mother…and Chase wants to have sex with her. Fittingly, given the previous sentence, she’s a psychologist.

What impressed me much more was Chase’s (Jesse Spencer) attack on Foreman (Omar Epps). Finally, someone points out to Foreman exactly how useless he is. There’s a delicious irony in this, because outside of power struggles with House – like when Cuddy made him House’s boss – foreman has no real role to play on the show anymore. House can barely even be bothered insulting him, and that’s when you know things are bad! I’m just not sure if the writers are being knowing about the fact that Foreman just isn’t interesting anymore.

Patient of the week is the embodiment of the “Everybody Lies” ethos that the show keeps throwing up. She’s a formerly abused wife who’s stolen someone’s identity in order to hide from her brutal ex. But she’s fabricated her entire life and her new husband doesn’t know anything about her history.

It should have been more interesting – it’s the reversal of the more common “my partner’s personality has changed as a result of their illness/treatment, so how do I cope with this?” In this case, the person that husband thought he knew was almost a complete fabrication, and now he has to deal with her being schizophrenic. The outcome remains the same though – do you stay with someone regardless, even if your entire perception of them has been flawed since the start?

Sadly, while there were great ideas brimming inside this episode, nothing really came to fruition, and it felt a little sub-par for an episode of House. Here’s hoping for something a little more exciting next week.

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