So there you have it! Thirteen, Cutner and Taub. I read the article confirming their selection however many weeks ago, but that didn’t totally ruin this episode for me, for two reasons: one, I was never 100% sure if that information was accurate, and two, ‘Games’ is strong enough even outside of House’s final team selection.
Personally, I’m happy with the team we’ve ended up with. We certainly lost some interesting faces along the way – Bosley (the old one) was great, and I hope he returns – but I’m not too bothered to see most of them go. Cole and Travis were potentially interesting characters, but the actors playing them were bland. Cutthroat Bitch started out plain annoying, though she did grow on me and during ‘Games’ I found myself feeling really sorry for her. However, not even she had long-term mileage. Once she'd found her way on the team, there’d be no reason for her to be cutthroat anymore, so then she’d just be a bitch. Her vulnerability this week made her sympathetic, but that sympathy wouldn’t necessarily have held over time.
That leaves only three, and maybe I’m just saying this because of the advanced knowledge, but the selection seems obvious. Thirteen has developed a great chemistry with House, and Olivia Wilde is great in the role. The reveal of her possible genetic disorder was a slight misstep, as it felt like a heavy-handed attempt at a tragic backstory that didn’t quite ring true. Still, I’m all for (very) gradually discovering more about Thirteen’s past, and appreciate the writer’s attempts to make sure she doesn’t become annoying like Cameron did.
Taub and Kutner are still blank slates to an extent, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. We did learn a bit about Tuab’s situation in 'Ugly' – if you remember, he had an affair with a nurse at his practice and then left so his partners would keep quiet about it – and it felt a lot more buyable than Thirteen’s secret. Not quite so buyable is that House would really care about Taub’s willingness to challenge him - surely that role is already filled by Foreman? Not that extra conflict is ever a bad thing. Kutner, meanwhile, remains a mystery, but full credit to Kal Penn for keeping him interesting even when scripts gave neither character nor actor anything to do. Personally I hope that since the other two have some heavy drama surrounding them, the writers avoid this with Kutner and instead just let him be ‘the normal one’.
Boring, perfunctory feeling case this week – if not for it being decision time for House, ‘Games’ might have been a bit boring. As it was, the episode still lagged around the middle, but picked up momentum again at the end. I loved that there was plenty of Wilson and Cuddy, although I could still use a bit more; that final scene between House and Cuddy showed that their whole mind games dynamic somehow never gets old.
So from next week onwards, it’s something of a new era! I don’t know how much we’ll get of this team before the new episodes run out, but I hope that we'll at least get some sense of how they are going to work. Also, can we please have a lot more Cameron and Chase? Now that the contest is over, there’s really no reason to keep them as sidelined as they have been.