House marked its milestone 150th episode with the return of the divisive Thirteen, back from a surprise stint in
Cowboys & Aliens prison. Like a lot of people, I've long been a vocal Thirteen detractor, but though I had a whole mess of issues with last night's episode, there were some surprisingly really effective things about it -- and it's not like the show had gotten great again during Thirteen's absence. Far from it, actually. As it stands now, it's clear that the real problems with the show's writing have little to do with a rampant crush on Thirteen and everything to do with a beleaguered staff phoning it in every week. The following are the ten most tiresome things about last night's episode (and the show as a whole), followed by five things House can learn from this semi-departure episode.
10. That's Not How You Get Out of Prison
This isn't a frequent problem on the show, but it still should be noted that Thirteen got out of a six-month prison stint and demanded a shopping spree before a shower and a decent meal. Also, she apparently got quite the stylish haircut in the joint. That's... unusual.
9.Martha M. Masters, Overachiever
I know Amber Tamblyn is leaving the show soon, but this by-the-book character was brought on to challenge House, and yet, she hardly ever interacts with him. At this point, her chipper "I love homework!!!!" shtick has made her the most punchable character on this show, and for those counting, yes, Foreman is still on this thing.
8. Martha M. Masters, The Flash
Anyone else amazed by her ability to go through each and every item in that hoarder's house in one afternoon and carbon date all of it to determine the oldest item in the trash heap? That is some ludicrously efficient extra credit. Not that this show has ever been about solving medical mysteries realistically, but they used to at least try to obfuscate these things.
7. Another Patient-of-the-Week That Teaches Them All About the Meaning of Loyalty
That guy stayed with his gross hoarder wife because he took an oath, people. Remember that! Until you all forget it next week and start lying and backstabbing each other all over again, of course.
6. The Writers Still Hate Peter Jacobsen
Foreman was so incredulous that Taub could get a date with an attractive woman last night that he sought her out and very nearly flat-out told her she was out of Taub's league. Aside from the fact that no one -- not even someone as shitty as Foreman -- would do something like that, why the constant Peter-Jacobsen-is-short-and-so-gross jokes and storylines all the time? It feels like an inside joke that isn't funny outside the House writers' room.
5.That Being Said, Enough of Taub and His Wife
Oh good, they're having tawdry sex on Foreman's couch now. Has anyone ever cared about the ups and downs of their relationship in the slightest? Just end it for good already.
4. Why Is Thirteen a Spud Gun Expert?
I mean, honestly, what a coincidence. Do you know how few people on this planet are spud gun experts? We know so little about Thirteen but the fact that she looks hot holding a giant gun is apparently enough of reason to come up with that tidbit about her past.
3. The Stupid Obsession With Each Other's Romantic Lives
Foreman broke into Taub's locker to read his text messages because he simply could not live without knowing why Taub broke off his date with the aforementioned attractive woman. These kinds of antics have become tedious even when House does them; why would we want to watch the lesser characters behaving this way?
2. House Would Never Just Drop Anything
Thirteen made House drive out of his way so she could mysteriously kick a stranger in the balls. Then, she politely asked him to forget it ever happened, and actually believed he would. Characters, please stop having this argument with House. He harps on everything that everyone does, no matter what it is. How do you not know this yet?
1. House Didn't See a Patient All Episode
This has become endemic this season. I understand that there's a desire to shake up the formula seven seasons in, but House torturing and judging his patients is the core of the show's appeal. I'm tired of watching the PPTH team solve cases while House is gallivanting around with Cuddy or shooting hookers in hotel rooms instead of doing his job every damn week.
And Now, The Good:
5. Who Is Thirteen? "She's the Boot in Your Ass"
As I said before, Thirteen being a spud gun genius was pretty risible, but overall, that tournament, and House's rivalry with a child prodigy, was the kind of fun that this show has been missing lately. House holing up and immaturely abusing a series of hookers: Bad. House playing hooky to immaturely beat a teenager at vegetable hurling: Hilarious. It's a fine line, I know.
4. No Cuddy, No Wilson
I have nothing against the actors, but it's astonishing how much more tolerable House is without his sniveling enablers whining at him.
3. "Who Was That?" "It's a Thirteen Tribute Band"
It's nice when the writers put a little effort into House's sarcasm, isn't it? That line alone transported me way back to this show's better years.
2. Thirteen Went to Jail for a Believable Reason
I was terrified her original story about a one-night-stand going horribly awry with drugs and overdoses would end up being true, perpetuating the writers' obsession with Thirteen being "sexy" and "edgy" at the cost of making her human. I was shocked when her going to jail for helping her Huntington's-suffering brother commit suicide not only made sense, but was also effectively poignant. I don't often care about the usually thinly written Thirteen, so well done, folks.
1. House Agrees to Assist Thirteen's Suicide
Not one, but two character moments rife with genuine pathos and capable acting that also made complete sense? In the same episode? Lately we have to wait for a cumulative season for that kind of jackpot. If this is what the return of Thirteen is going to bring, I'm almost... happy... to have her back. But as with all things that initially show promise on this show now, I can't wait to find out how quickly they manage to screw it up.
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