Monday, November 23, 2009

House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon

"Flowers for Algernon," correctly thought by many to be one of the best novelettes ever written, turned into a novel and movies and soon a movie starring Will Smith, tells the story of mentally disadvantaged Charley, given an operation that turns him into a genius, only to slip excruciatingly back to his lower intelligence, when he and we learn that the treatment doesn't last. Daniel Keyes's 1959 masterpiece tugs at every heart string known to humanity, and leaves you gasping for air at the end. There's not a better depiction of what it feels like to understand something very important one day, one minute, and just lose it the next, at first knowing that you lost it, and then forgeting that too.

House the television show, never shy about taking on a profound or dangerous subject, in effect told the reverse of "Flowers for Algernon" in tonight's episode 6.8. A genius is discovered in a state far less intelligent. Turns out he's been drugging himself to be that way - he wants to be stupid, so he can relate to his wife, who is no genius (though she didn't seem that stupid to me).

Gregory House is of course a genius, too. But he's someone who exults in his lofty intellect and wields it to stay on top of the world, and get the things he wants. He's so bright, that sometimes he even talks himself into believing, somewhat, that he wanted for things to work out not the way he originally wanted.

What he wants most this season is Cuddy. But she's not cooperating one bit. Can he get her to allow herself to love him by acting less intelligent, or less like House? I don't think so. Should he forget her and move on to someone else? Not likely. Will he get her just by doing what he's doing? I can't quite see that, either.

But moving back to a lesser state is something House would never do. It will be fun seeing how he manages to get what he wants this season - or convinces himself that he never really wanted that, either. Nah, I can't see that, either.

No flowers for Algernon (the name of the mouse who's first given Charley's treatment, and then slides downhill right in front of Charley's eyes, and gives him the first indication that his own treatment won't last). No flowers for House. I expect we'll see him brilliantly brandishing his brain for a long time...

5-min podcast review of House

See also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7

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