TV Review: House 8.9, ‘Better Half’

It has been almost two months since we last heard from America’s favorite doctor. Has it been worth the wait?

Chris Swanson


It has been almost two months since we last heard from America’s favorite doctor. Has it been worth the wait?

We begin with a Brazilian man who is suffering from early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. This is the same thing as what my favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett, is suffering from, so it caught my attention right off. Further attention was attracted when the man began vomiting blood.

He is, of course, brought to Princeton Plainsboro so that House (Hugh Laurie) can treat him. He does so while dealing with Foreman (Omar Epps), who is considering recommending that House’s ankle bracelet (he’s still on probation, remember), be removed. House, being House, doesn’t make it that simple for Foreman and peppers the hospital with various index cards predicting Foreman’s reactions to House’s antics.

Meantime, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is dealing with a patient who appears to have no sex drive. This is known as asexuality, and is viewed by some as a legitimate sexual orientation. House is convinced that this woman is not, in fact, asexual or if she is, it’s because of some medical problem. The two place a bet.

Back at the Alzheimer’s patient, we find out that he had been on meds to stop him from vomiting. At House’s request, the medication is stopped, and he begins vomiting again, then appears to go berserk and punch his wife. As he’s calming down from that, everyone notices that he appears to be urinating blood. This is not what you’d call a satisfactory medical situation.
We also learn that the patient’s wife is seeing another man. They haven’t gone all the way yet, but are clearly quite fond of each other. The wife has been caring for her husband for the last four years and feels understandably neglected This engenders a lively discussion among the diagnostic team as they discuss the ethics of someone in this situation having an affair and whether such a thing is acceptable. For the record, I certainly believe it is.

Things reach a crisis point when the patient’s wife goes home for the night and while she’s gone, he escapes from the hospital. They eventually find him lying on the ground on a snowy soccer field with no pulse and no breathing. He’s not quite dead, but he’s certainly not really alive, and House still has no idea what’s wrong with him.

This was another pedestrian, by-the-numbers episode for the series, but that’s not always a bad thing. I like the show’s basic premise and the characters and not every episode needs to really push boundaries. This one does not, and I’m ok with that.

I found myself really getting into, and enjoying, the ethical discussion about fidelity when someone’s spouse is basically gone, and I found a later discussion about committing suicide vs being a burden to ones loved ones to be especially interesting. I even found the sparring between House and Foreman to be interesting and was especially fascinated by the outcome of the bet (and a final scene that owed more than a little to one of my favorite long-since-gone shows, Boston Legal).

What didn’t I like? Well, Adams (Odette Annable) and Park (Charlyne Yi) were both under used, though we did learn quite a bit about Park’s love life (hint: she’s partial to the kosher sausage). These two characters haven’t really been developed as much as I’d like and given that this is likely the show’s last season, I don’t expect them to be developed now. But it would be nice.
Either way, this was a good return to the series, and it’s nice to have it back after two months of being gone.