THIS POST CONTAINS A MAJOR SPOILER FOR LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE, INFORMED CONSENT.
I give up. I know I said last week I kinda liked Cameron for one episode, but this week it was back to the same old. However, she did cough up another symtom that aided me in my differential diagnosis for why she sucks so much more than Foreman and Chase.
It’s because the writers just won’t tell me her motive for anything. It’s none of my business, apparently. I guess the writers just want me to assume that’s how women are, ya know: inconsistent, confused, not sure what they stand for.
In this episode, Cameron euthanizes a patient. This is a pretty freakin’ big deal for a doctor – and illegal in her state. But not, according to her statements early in the episode, immoral. She believes people have the right to “die with dignity”, but says she could never be the one to administer the fatal dose. And yeah, I guess it’s cool that by the end, she actually does what she said she believed in. So why am I complaining?
While she spends the entire episode waffling, Foreman clearly opposes assisted suicide while Chase openly endorses it. When House leads the team to think he’s going to euthanize the patient, Chase sticks around according to his beliefs, while Foreman leaves according to his. But Cameron also leaves with Foreman, even though she agrees with Chase.
Later House manipulates her by letting her know the patient – a famous medical researcher – did experiments on babies without parental consent, sacrificing a few kids to save a lot more (and he’s proud of it). And then House puts the patient in a coma, against his wishes, and Cameron spends most of the second act refusing to do any, you know, doctoring on the basis that the guy didn’t want anymore. She thinks he should be allowed to die, and in lieu of that to refuse further tests, but she doesn’t want to be construed as actually, like, having anything to do with either choice. So she sulks, which helps no one. And once again, reminds us of a fourteen-year-old girl who didn’t get the pony she asked for.
There are so many twists and turns, so many red herrings, and so many inconsistencies in her behavior, that in the end I’m left with the worrying prospect that Cameron took the guy out because she was avenging the babies the patient had radiated years ago. All I needed was one line of dialog from her in the scene where we find out she was the one who euthanized him – maybe something about how she had to do what she believed in, or she had no right to believe it. Then I’d have been clear on her motive, and clear on what the writers were putting across.
Contrast this with the episode where Foreman has no sympathy for a death row inmate they’re treating, and disregards any arguments about how the guy grew up in urban slums among violence – but then decides to testify in the guy’s appeal when they learn he had a biological disorder that caused rage attacks, which may or may not have contributed to his violent crimes. Whether I agree with Foreman or not, I totally get his reasoning, and why he changed his mind. And this is nowhere near as big a choice as the one Cameron made.
It’s just like the trope we were discussing under a recent SBG article on Nip/Tuck, in which a woman turns a man down for sex, then we cut to some other scene entirely, then we cut back to them having sex. Why is the woman’s motivation left out? Because it doesn’t matter, so long as she does her duty as a plot device or purveyor of titillation.
Another House motif that’s starting to concern me is the young girl who stalks and manipulates older men. We’ve never yet had a sexually molested child on House even though the US Department of Justice (under both Clinton and Bush, if you’re worried about partisanship) estimates 1 in 4 girls are molested by the age of 16, and 1 in 7 boys; but we’ve had a few close calls that always magically turn out to be just the opposite. There was the teenage model they thought was molested, only it turned out she actually seduced her poor father; there was the nine-year-old cancer patient who manipulated Chase into kissing her, but the rape kit came up clean, so that little story detour closed down as mysteriously as it opened in the first place; and now House has a teenage stalker who is going to be recurring, judging from next week’s previews. Because, you know, young girls are frightening manipulators, never the innocent victims they pretend to be (and yes, I’ve known people who believe that in real life). No wonder we still have judges and juries who think how a rape victim dresses or how much boo-hooing she does on the stand are valid indicators of consent: prime time TV is reinforcing the idea.