In the second season episode of House, “Hunting”, Cameron has an HIV-positive patient Kalvin cough blood into her mouth and eyes. Understandably, she’s upset. Chase asks her if she wants to go for a drink and she snaps at him that a drink is not going to make the threat of HIV go away.
Later, she invites Chase over and he comes, thinking she’s decided on that drink after all. Except in the meantime, Kalvin has told her to ‘lighten up’ by way of his secret stash of ecstasy, so on top of her original distress over the throat of HIV, she’s now high as a kite.
What does Chase do when she comes onto him aggressively? Initially calls her on the fact she’s high and suggests they don’t do this. She continues to come onto him, telling him not to be so uptight, to let loose and experiment. Apparently this is all Chase needs to eliminate his moral objections because they then sleep together.
I can’t have been the only person to find that creepy. OK, I get that Cameron wasn’t exactly thinking straight. Even without being high on ecstasy – a drug which is known to lower inhibitions and increase the likelihood of risky sexual behaviour – the woman was distressed after being exposed to HIV-positive blood. Simply from an ethical perspective, Chase had an obligation as a friend, colleague and human being to not sleep with someone who wasn’t exactly in a clear state of mind.
And even if we forget the ethical attitude towards her distress, I don’t see how you can overlook the fact that while perfectly sober himself, Chase had sex with someone he knew was high. I would have given him leeway if they had gotten high together, but what kind of person who is meant to be a decent human being goes ahead and sleeps with someone knowing they’re high?
I realise Chase isn’t exactly in the same category as men who deliberate drug their victims to make them more pliable, but neither does he get off scot-free just because she took the ecstacy and he originally told her no. If rape can be defined as having sex with someone who doesn’t consent or isn’t in a position to consent, then Chase definitely crossed that line, even if Cameron took the drugs and instigated it. And even if the fact that it’s often hinted to that he has feelings for her doesn’t excuse his actions; what, he was so in love with her that he just couldn’t help himself?
And how come Cameron – or House, when he works it out – never calls Chase on the fact that what he did was wrong? It’s all nicely resolved by the end of the episode with them agreeing that it was nice but getting involved is too complicated. And the sad thing is, I actually liked the camaraderie Chase and Cameron settled into by season four and five – Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer have a good chemistry, IMHO – but watching “Hunting” left me with the feeling that no relationship which starts on such a foundation can ever be a stable, trusting one.