House – The Tyrant (S06E04) – Episode review

The fourth episode of [[House (TV Series)|House]] Season 6 balances the diagnostic team having an ethical quandary over a genocidal African leader while House causes mayhem for Wilson by falling out with another tenant in his building. In other news, Taub has seemingly vanished while 13 is still reeling from having been fired by her boyfriend, Foreman.

This could have been quite a heavy episode: James Earl Jones is Dibala, the ‘Tyrant’ of the episode’s title, and arrives at Princeton Plainsboro Hospital flanked by military bodyguards. The themes of genocide against his countrymen – perhaps an echo of Saddam Hussein’s regime – are quickly revealed and both Chase and Cameron are drawn into the ethical dilemma of saving the life of a dictator who will continue killing innocent people.

As Chase says to Foreman at the end of the episode – all the good they’ve done, all the lives they’ve saved at the hospital – by saving this man, they undo everything that they’ve worked for over the years. So, should the doctors (who strive to save lives) save the human rights abuser who kills thousands? Or should they take the darker route and kill Dibala, ending his reign of terror?

Well, ethical issues about in this episode with Cameron being the vocal opponent of treating Dibala at all, while Chase is exposed to the victims of Dibala’s regime. Initially, Dibala seems to convince Chase that his intentions are honourable but that some regrettable things have happened that he wouldn’t wish to repeat. However, after Dibala challenges Cameron to kill him, Dibala reveals his true blood lust to Chase and his distaste for the diplomatic route his generals want him to take. This leads Chase down a particularly dark path, which will undoubtedly play out over the rest of the series. But it really was compelling stuff. Kudos especially to Omar Epps for Foreman’s reaction to the situation.

Elsewhere, House makes a brief reappearance at Princeton Plainsboro, much to Foreman’s annoyance. Hugh Laurie pulls off some hilarious comedy faces as he attempts to communicate his diagnosis to the team through the medium of mime. It’s a biting reminder, especially to Foreman, that House can command the team even without using his voice!

House’s own storyline centered around a nasty neighbour who lives in the apartment below Wilson. Annoyed by the sound of House’s cane and the scents from his cooking obsession, the neighbour complained to Wilson. It didn’t take House long to notice that Wilson was acting strangely and so he made an attempt to patch things up with the neighbour – a most un-House-like strategy.

Of course, when the neighbour is rude to House, all bets are off and you can see House itching for revenge. Wilson persuades House to write an apology, which he actually does and this leads to more disaster – House discovers that the man is Canadian and couldn’t be a Vietnam veteran as he claims.

Anyway, this leads to more confrontation and eventually House breaks into the man’s apartment, lies in wait for him and drugs him when he returns. Risking jail isn’t normally what you’d expect from House, but as he explains to the tied up and gagged neighbour, “I’m going through some things right now. This is a bit of a setback.” After a brilliant trick with a box and mirror, he cures the man’s ‘ghost hand’ problem, ending years of pain and – helpfully – making the man so grateful that he overlooks the breaking and entering, drugging and kidnapping. Phew.

Finally, I loved the reference to True Blood when Wilson said to House “No shoes, no garlic? I am vampire, Sookie!” and you have to admit, when House injected the neighbour, it had creepy shades of Dexter, didn’t it?

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