House: Brotherly Love

House treats an NFL-bound offensive lineman named Daryl who has a serious case of some biological rage thingy that leads to all kinds of frantic doctor-speak and cliffhanger act (commercial) breaks. There are three engaging subplots this week, the real interest being the unexpected arrival of Foreman’s older brother Marcus, just recently released from prison for the umpteenth time. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually began to want to learn more about Foreman and his backstory. It only took six seasons.

House is on cloud nine, as he finds himself up to his cane in human puzzles. Like me, he finds Foreman’s issues the most fascinating. How is he privy to close-lipped Foreman’s personal details? Because Marcus calls House when he can’t get a hold of Foreman. Foreman doesn’t care that his brother is getting out; he doesn’t even go to pick him up and guide Marcus through his first steps as a free man. Probably because Foreman has already done that routine before.

But this is new territory for House. So what does he do? He gives Marcus a job at Princeton Plainsboro as his personal assistant. Why? It might be just to yank Foreman’s chain and drive him nuts as a form of personal entertainment and enrichment. That would be a big incentive for me. Wilson—a.k.a. House’s human Jiminy Cricket—thinks House is, amazingly enough, secretly trying to be nice. He thinks that House regrets having no relationship with his family and doesn’t want to see Foreman—who is like House minus the devil-may-care charisma—go down the same road to nowhere.

Regardless of his true motivation, House makes sure to milk the opportunity for all that it is worth. After Foreman balks at Marcus working at the hospital and implores Marcus to quit and then Cuddy to fire Marcus, House pumps Marcus for everything he can. The greatest tidbit he gleans is that our buddy Mr. Foreman used to be a bed-wetter. Of course, House being House, he wastes no time sharing this with the rest of the class. Seeing the look on Thirteen’s face was pretty damn priceless. Things take a turn for the dramatic when issues relating to the death of Foreman’s mother are put on the table.

Meanwhile, in addition to treating Daryl, House has to tend to a young soldier claiming to see spots. House immediately recognizes the guy’s symptoms as bullshit. House says something like “Let me guess…you signed up, got the clothes, got the haircut but decided to call it off when you saw that your plane ticket to the Middle East was coach.” Actually, the soldier says that he has already been over there…and three times no less. He finished his contract and got his wife pregnant, but then the Army stop-lossed him and now he’s facing a fourth term. He says that before, he was just a guy, but now if he goes back, there’s a chance his kid will grow up without a father. “You’re still just a guy. All you did was get your wife pregnant.”

It’s a little hard to be on House’s side for this one. This guy more than did his duty and managed to make it back three times. He should be done with the thanks of a grateful nation. Hell I’d go in the guy’s place if it meant he could stay home with his wife and baby to be. But then again, that wouldn’t be an option for House, so maybe he was just trying to not give a crap because there was nothing he could do. The guy lost major points when he says that he waited all day to see House because of his cane. He thought House was a Vietnam vet. House is incredulous. “How old do you think I am?” Ouch. House then gives him three choices: tell his wife to get a babysitter, move to Canada or shoot himself in the foot. He wasn’t serious about the last one, but guess which one the guy chooses? Things get more complicated from there. This was a nice, fairly understated way for House to get some social commentary into the episode.

The last subplot involves pranks being pulled in Wilson and House’s condo. Initially they each think the other one is the culprit, but it soon becomes apparent that somebody else is messing with them. If you think about it, it’s pretty easy to know who’s behind it. But it’s still fun to watch and the confrontation is quite memorable.

The episode has an affecting message about family, and the fact that the writers got me to finally feel a smidgen of sympathy or at least regard for Foreman is pretty incredible. The cast also remains top-notch. House is still working like a well-oiled machine.

For another take on this week’s episode, check out Family is Family by Stephanie Jaar.

Season 6, Episode 12: Moving the Chains (originally aired February 1, 2010)

For more on House, click here.

Tuesdays 8/7c on FOX

Photographs courtesy of NBC Universal and IMDbPro.

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