A House, MD and Sherlock Holmes Special: Predicting House Season Five Based On the Sherlock Holmes Canon

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Folks, we are in need of serious House oracles here.

As of this writing, season 4 of House, M.D. has ended on a couple of tear-jerker, heart-stopper episodes—and the fallout in season 5 is going to be ugly.

But as I’m a Holmesian as well as a House fan, I look at the events of the last four episodes of season 4 as a darker mirror of The Sign of Four—and the analysis of the differences and similarities between the two may yield some answers to the future of season 5. (I also extend my analysis into events beyond Sign of Four.)

And since we’ve got some months ahead before Season 5 lands, and maybe an actor’s strike on the way, let’s have a good go at it.

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A House, MD and Sherlock Holmes Primer

For Holmesians unfamiliar with House, and House-ians unfamiliar with Holmes, here’s what you need to know:

  • Gregory House is the even more bitter, far scruffier, and just as dark analog of Sherlock Holmes.

  • James Wilson is the less hero-worshipping, non-biographer, and just as oddly obsessed analog of Dr. John H. Watson.

    House is just as dependent on Wilson for friendship as Holmes was on Watson.

    Wilson has multiple ex-wives, a la some theories on Watson’s very odd marital life.

  • The show features strange medical mysteries rather than strange crime mysteries, but it’s mysteries all the same.

  • House has a tendency towards self-destruction, popping Vicodin (“poor man’s cocaine”) as much as Holmes self-injected his 7% solution.

    Both typically don’t need their drugs when hot on a case. But towards their respective ends, both end up taking drugs while hot on a case—implied in the case of Holmes (“The Devil’s Foot”), and directly shown in the case of House (season 3)—and to their serious detriment in both cases.

  • There are arguments that Lisa Cuddy is the analog of Inspector Lestrade. Just add more brains and a little dash of sexual tension.

For more comparisons, there’s “House/Homes/Holmes” at House MD Guide.

There Be Spoilers Beyond This Point.
You Have Been Warned.

And Now for the Really Important Stuff

  • As of Season 4, a rather assertive and very House-like female character showed up: Amber Volakis (aka “Cutthroat Bitch”).

    She is the bitchier analog of Mary Morstan, as she becomes romantically involved with Wilson and takes him away from House.

    Contrary to popular belief for most of season 4, Amber actually has a human side, and is probably the first person to really and sanely care about Wilson without, let’s face it, extremely neurotic price tags attached.

  • Amber becomes the center of one of House’s cases in “Wilson’s Heart”, just as Mary Morstan is the center of The Sign of Four.

    The difference is that Amber dies.

Just think of the implications.

Let’s explore them in more detail.

There Really Be Spoilers Beyond This Point.
You Have Been Double-Warned.

The Three Big Questions

After the solar plexus punch and roundhouse kick to the head of “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart”, the two ending episodes of House season 4, there are three big questions left over:

  • Will House and Wilson mend their friendship when House solved the case—but still lost Amber?

  • Why was House drinking himself into oblivion at five in the afternoon?

  • What will happen to the relationship between House and Cuddy?

We’ll do our best to answer these in the next three sections.

The Cracking of the Friendship

“I thought I’d met all your friend.”

“Who could come tonight? Some friend of yours, perhaps?”
“Except yourself I have none. I do not encourage visitors.”

There Are Friends, and Then There Are Friends

Both Holmes and House are highly dependent on their respective Watson or Wilson, and, as Cuddy once mentioned to House, “I thought I’d met all your friend.”

Unfortunately, this did not mean that either of them appreciated the only friend they cared to accumulate over the years; indeed, both take their W-companion for granted.

This is not a good base for a friendship to survive getting as earth-shaken as House’s did—or as Holmes’ did with Watson when he decided to fake his death at Reichenbach, but more on that later. Even for the patient Watson, this always-present rift eventually resulted in a parting that would not be resolved for over a decade.

For something as traumatic as Amber’s death, and House’s incidental involvement in the cause as well as the failed rescue, and the fact that Wilson is not the hero-worshipper that Watson was, this probably means a permanent break may occur much sooner. Say, before season 6.

Pushing Things to the Breaking Point

The next point of comparison is the level of commitment that Watson had with Mary, and that Wilson had with Amber. How much does Wilson hate House, or would Watson hate Holmes, when/if their respective loves died?

It’s been noted that Watson may have grown bored of Mary, leaving her alone many times for adventures with Holmes—as was the case for Wilson and all his ex-wives. But let’s think about the moment—when Amber’s and Mary’s cases were active, and when both men were guaranteed to care deeply. Suppose that Mary had died during The Sign of Four?

And let’s suppose that Holmes was also incidentally involved with Mary’s death, as House was with Amber’s.

I think this would have brought the Holmes-Watson relationship to the breaking point, as even before Reichenbach there were signs of arguments (as when Watson took temporary lodgings away from Baker Street) and bitter disappointment (as when Holmes screwed with Watson’s sympathies by pretending to be dying from a horrible disease, just for the sake of a case in “The Dying Detective”).

Actually leading to the death of a client he loved would break Watson’s hero-worship of Holmes as superman of the law; it would be too much.

And if it would break Holmes and Watson, it will surely break House and Wilson.

Doom and Gloom, O Noes?

Nothing lasts forever—not friendship, but also not the breaking of friendships. Well, no, actually that’s a lie. But not in the case of Holmes and Watson, and probably not in the case of House and Wilson.

Oblivion in the Tender Mercy of Drugs

“Why’d you get so drunk at 5 in the afternoon alone?”
“I need a reason?”
“What are you running away from?”
“When I’m drinking without you, what am I running away from? Hmm. One of those imponderables.”

… Holmes, who loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul, remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature.

The Downhill Slope

Why did House drink himself into oblivion at five in the afternoon?

Why did Holmes increase his cocaine usage after Watson left?

Did they need any particular reason?

Probably not. It’s more a case of House and Holmes being high maintenance—and once their W-companions no longer have time to maintain them, their inherently self-destructive natures take hold. It’s a matter of gravity, not a matter of what pushes them down the hill.

Their self-destruction may arguably also be attempts to get attention, likely conscious ones since both House and Holmes are master manipulators of other people’s emotions. House tried to dial up Wilson when he was drunk for a ride home, and instead got Amber (thus leading to her death), while Holmes could probably draw the connection between extreme self-neglect and Watson showing up (a la “The Reigate Squires” and “The Devil’s Foot”).

It’s Darkest Before the Dawn

For Holmes, eventually obsession with Moriarty came along, and then “The Final Solution”. By the end of the story, he’d dragged Watson into Switzerland while running from an arch enemy, and it ended with Watson believing Holmes had been killed while fighting Moriarty, both of them plunging into the deadly depths of the raging waters of the Reichenbach Falls. That took a lot out of Watson.

Then, three years later, Holmes returns and surprises Watson in his study, causing the doctor to faint dead away for the first and only time in his life. Quite a re-entrance.

It’s never shown in the canon, but that readjustment between friends must have taken a while to work through, and happens to be the subject of many a pastiche and exploratory essay on “The Final Solution” and “The Empty House”.

But despite all that, Holmes did return a changed man. At first this resulted in a certain gentling of his character into someone who Watson could reconcile with, however terrible and cruel was Holmes’s three-year deception.

Will something similar happen to House, or rather, will House do something comparable? He almost certainly has to in order to change himself. Some things you can only do by yourself—and some things must be done utterly alone.

“People Don’t Change.”

The reunion between Holmes and Watson, as good as it was for a few years, did not last. Holmesian scholars will recognize the time when the last “normal” Holmes story was written, when Holmes’ unstable nature re-asserted itself, and when the final bitterness of Watson came to the forefront.

Eventually Holmes and Watson split up, and would not reunite once more until “His Last Bow”, over a decade later.

Which means that whatever change House does manage to effect, it will not last. As is commonly said on the show, “People don’t change.”

Relationships: Other People

“Nothing matters. We’re all just cockroaches. Wildebeasts dying on the river bank. Nothing we do has any lasting meaning…. So you give up on something real, so that you can hold on to hope. The thing is, hope is for sissies.”

“Exactly, Watson. Pathetic and futile. But is not all life pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole? We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.”

Letting the Center Not Hold

In many ways, House and Holmes share similar outlooks on life—i.e., it’s hopeless.

Then their Wing-men leave them. There might be a reunion. There might even be change. But nothing lasts forever, and friendships are unfortunately things.

Human beings are social animals. Loneliness gets to even those of us who don’t seek companionship. For people like House and Holmes, the dichotomy of needing a close friend, yet a prickliness that denies people getting close in the first place, is not a healthy thing. Something needs to give.

Whatever needs to give, however, it can’t give while they’re supported by their respective Wilson or Watson. For them to truly change—or to decide to seek an ultimate solution—they must not have enablers. It’s cruel, and sometimes results in suicide or something close to it.

But somehow, House and Holmes are both too damn stubborn to die—as Moriarty in either the show or the books would tell you.

Reaching Out

The final breakup with Watson was followed up just a few years later by Holmes’ early retirement and retreat—nay, perhaps even flight—to the countryside. Away from London, where he had always been at home; and away from cases, which he had always devoured rapaciously.

But something even stranger happened, out there on the Sussex Downs, near the coast. Holmes made a friend in Harold Stackhurst—the day he came out there, in fact. It was quite an achievement for the man who had but one friend in University, and that only after he had spent most of a year moping alone; or for the man who made no friends except for Watson for most of his life.

Additionally, this was a friend with whom he was on such terms that not only could he drop by Stackhurst’s in the evenings without announcement, but Stackhurst could do the same. For Holmes, this is practically sheer instant intimacy.

In fact, given his familiarity with multiple people in “The Lion’s Mane”, he may have made multiple friends. Which is just downright weird. (Indeed, the concept weirds Watson out in Bert Coules’ radio play adaptation of the same story.)

Will House do the same—reach out to someone? Perhaps even reach out to Cuddy, or to any of the other doctors on his old staff or his new one? He’s done this before when Wilson wasn’t available, albeit rarely; and despite its rareness, he does it more often than Holmes did at the same points in their lives.

My Final Predictions

To sum up:

  1. House and Wilson will break up.

  2. House will get to a dark place.

  3. There may, or there may not be, a reunion, which either breaks up again or is never as intimate as it was before Amber’s death.

  4. House will reach out to someone, probably Cuddy, or perhaps any of the old “ducklings”, or even the new ones.

Things will be hard. This is okay. Sometimes things have to be hard. But whether House will truly, truly, for reals change is still up in the air.

As an additional bonus, here’s my prediction of how the House, M.D. series will ultimately end: with his retirement, in homage to Holmes’ retirement to his bees in the Sussex countryside.

Or, you know, not.

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33 responses to “A House, MD and Sherlock Holmes Special: Predicting House Season Five Based On the Sherlock Holmes Canon

  1. I’ve read all your article, I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes, that kind of books aren’t my favourite.
    About your final predictions, I agree with you about point 1 and 4, I hope that point 2 won’t last very long. I also hope that in the last season House will retire in a place that nobody knows except Wilson.

  2. Arachne Jericho

    Hello mellory! I like the idea of House retiring somewhere only Wilson knows (or Wilson somehow discovering it, through an ability to read House like a book, something that Watson has in less capacity).

    By the way, if the books aren’t your thing, you may want to watch the Granada TV adaptation, staring Jeremy Brett. The Brettish Empire has done much to revive Holmesian interest, oh yes. :)

  3. Hi! Remember me from before? I commented on your Holmes’ iPod thing post =]

    It turns out that I was also thinking about the parallels between House and Holmes during the last season’s finale. There were several points to your post that I was not aware, such as: a “gentling” of Holmes’ character, or even of a bitterness of Watson’s. But I will put these aside for now. Perhaps I need to reread the Canon a few more times before I see.

    I had initially compared Amber’s death to Mary Morstan’s death during the Hiatus; Holmes was not with Watson when Mary died, and House was unconscious. House had his own brush with death, just as Holmes did, and then came back. However, I don’t recall Watson being angry with Holmes at all. I’m hoping that this means that on the show, Wilson will forgive House and their friendship will (possibly) be all the stronger for it. So, you see, I seem to have a much more optimistic view than you do =]

    That’s all I can think of for now – Thank you for your thoughts and such, I enjoyed reading them!

    Purple

  4. Arachne Jericho

    Hi, Purple! I remember you. :)

    I’ll have to write up something about the trend at some point, but re-read “The Creeping Man”, “The Red Circle”, and compare them to the earlier cases. Actually, just “The Creeping Man” will do it, although the trend carries on through other stories near it in time.

    The parallel with Mary dying during the Hiatus don’t apply here, because that’s almost entirely different from the House situation—e.g., Amber became a case of his through an action he caused in the first place, and she still died.

    The equivalent in the Holmes world is speculative: with the same parameters, e.g., during Mary’s case in The Sign of Four, she died and her death was through some action of Holmes.

    Under those circumstances, forgiveness from Watson for Mary’s death is something to consider (unlike her death during the hiatus, in which she and Holmes barely connected or even saw one another at all, much less had the sparks and fire that House and Amber had, and of course Holmes had no involvement in whatsoever) and also not easily given, if at all.

  5. Thank you for your quick reply Arachne Jericho =]

    I am starting to regret lending my friend my copy of the Sherlock Holmes stories, as now I will have to hunt the stories up online. But I daresay if she becomes a fellow Sherlockian it will all be worth it.

    I do think, though, in The Sign of Four, if Holmes was indirectly the cause of Mary’s death, Watson would surely forgive him for it. For one, Watson is infinitely more forgiving than Wilson. Also, Watson seems to have a fairly optimistic worldview, which means he would understand that Holmes had done his best. In fact, I think Watson would be more likely to blame himself than to blame Holmes. Wilson, on the other hand, is made of slightly different stuff. He’s slower to forgive. (If he does at all. Wasn’t House’s and Wilson’s relationship still strained from that Tritter affair?)

    That actually brings up a different point: Has Watson ever gotten mad at Holmes in the Canon? As in angry mad? I don’t think so – even at times where Watson is irked with Holmes, Watson understands that this is who Holmes is, and accepts it.

    So, what is my conclusion? I think all I’ve said is that Watson and Wilson are different characters (sadly). So I suppose we can’t garner what’s going to happen in the fifth season by looking to the Sherlock Holmes stories. =

    (A bit more off-topic, my thoughts on the fifth season without any Holmesian deductions: Wilson will say he forgives House and does not blame House, but deep down he holds a grudge that House survived and Amber did not, House will try to get himself into Wilson’s good graces again, and perhaps the Cuddy/House relationship will develop?)

  6. Arachne Jericho

    Hunting down stories is what Sherlockian.net’s Canon Index is for. :)

    Watson is indeed more forgiving for quite some time. That eventually did fall apart around the time of his comment along the lines of that Holmes just thought of him as another item to have around, like his pipe and violin (whether that’s bitter or just foolishly worshipful is up to the audience to decide, but general context and consensus is that it’s bitter).

    As for “The Dying Detective”, there’s never any resolution indicated there as to Watson and Holmes at the end, cutting off at Holmes’ request to go visit Simpson’s for something to eat. We never get to see Watson’s reaction, nor do we get to see Watson say something like a shadow lifted from his soul, as he does comment upon in Hound of the Baskervilles when he and Holmes meet on the moor. This does not lead to terribly good conclusions, since Holmes’ act was very, very cruel—nor does Watson comment himself that he believed the act was necessary; only Holmes does that.

    Angry mad; we rarely see it, and the occasions where it might occur are all off the records, with strangely cut-off scenes. Hound of the Baskervilles comes to mind:

    “Then you use me, and yet do not trust me!” I cried with some bitterness. “I think that I have deserved better at your hands, Holmes.”

    Holmes does do some quick-footed reassurance and emotional manipulation at that point, eventually soothing Watson, and then quickly changing the subject before anything can be undone.

    The oddity with the Sherlock Holmes canon, as opposed to a show like House is that Watson filters our view, much more so than Wilson does for House; and the way Watson was written, his first concern would be to portray Holmes well for the public. That this concern dropped off sharply, starting with “The Dying Detective” and progressing into the doldrums of “The Red Circle” and worse, is a bit worrying.

    And while Wilson and Watson are different characters, they share a relationship with House and Holmes, who are nearly the same in the counts that matter. Thus predictions can be made—precisely because the writers of House have played off Sherlock Holmes multiple times in the past.

    The parallels I’ve outlined here are also simply the stuff of story and character development; ultimately, Holmes or House is the driver of what happens next. Reconciliation is possible, but they need to change, or it won’t happen. (And Holmes did, for a little while.)

    Thus I do stand by my predictions and I don’t think they’re quite so worthless. :) Perhaps they will not come to be, but that’s the risk of just about any prediction you could make.

    The House stuff you mention is not at all off-topic, since this article is a joint House/Holmes affair, and focused on Season 5 to boot. :) I did predict upstream that House will reach out to someone, most likely Cuddy; and whether it’s a grudge or just a change in the relationship, the end result is the same: something under the surface. A grudge, though, is a good bet, I think.

  7. Your reply is very enlightening. Thank you! =]

    Although everything you have just said really does make me quite sad – I suppose I will now reread over the latter parts of the Canon in a different light. I had always assumed that the Holmes/Watson friendship was steady and strong, but I will go back and look at it with a more critical eye.

    Everything you say is fascinating – I will leave off by saying that I do wish you would post more instead of just around three posts a month – you would probably have a lot of interesting things to say about each individual story.

  8. Arachne Jericho

    I didn’t see the unhappiness either when I first read through the canon (I was also in high school at the time), although sometimes things didn’t jar well—”The Dying Detective”, for instance. I assumed they made up; I didn’t think about the impact that thinking a friend was dying, really dying, and you thought he was going mad at the same time, would do to you—especially if you were a caring sort of person. The kind of person who would rescue baby birds and itinerant detectives.

    Anyways, I don’t like the post-Reichenbach adventures, except, well, maybe the ones just after Reichenbach, during the once-again honeymoon period. And it all makes “His Last Bow” more heartening (time apparently heals all wounds).

    There’s plenty of Sherlockian ponderations available around and abouts—some harder to find than others. I am slightly obsessive, but not as much as others.

    Also, I tend to write pillar articles—long and thought-out. Not something one can do very often, and I like to leave people wanting more rather than getting tired of my prattling. ;)

  9. I know nothing about Sherlock Holmes. I was wondering if there was a parallel between House and Holmes, and Wilson and Watson in this scenario:

    House volunteered to undergo deep brain stimulation to help Amber. Then, when Wilson asked House to actually do it, House posed a question to Wilson that I felt was a test of how important House is to Wilson. House asked Wilson if he wanted him to risk his life to save Amber’s. Since House had already volunteered to do it, he did not have to ask this question. House’s reaction, the sigh, was so telling. In all of Wilson’s prior relationships, House found a way to be more important to Wilson than the women. With Amber, he actually had to compete for Wilson’s attention. I think that is why he was out drinking. Now, he was competing for life with Amber, and House lost. That is one of the reasons why he didn’t want to get off the bus.

    Was there ever at time with Holmes and Watson where their relationship was put to this kind of test? I refer more to how Watson felt about Holmes.

  10. Arachne Jericho

    Hello Sue!

    It definitely has. The discussion that Watson and Holmes have at the end of The Sign of Four (where Mary didn’t die) tells some of it.

    Watson writes:

    “Well, and there is the end of our little drama,” I remarked after we had sat some time smoking in silence. “I fear that it may be the last investigation in which I shall have the chance of studying your methods. Miss Morstan has done me the honour to accept me as a husband in prospective.”

    He gave a most dismal groan.

    The analog of House’s sigh in the 21st century.

    “I feared as much,” said he. “I really cannot congratulate you.”

    I was a little hurt.

    Watson has the Victorian tendency towards understatement.

    “Have you any reason to be dissatisfied with my choice?” I asked.

    “Not at all. I think she is one of the most charming young ladies I ever met and might have been most useful in such work as we have been doing. She had a decided genius that way witness the way in which she preserved that Agra plan from all the other papers of her father. But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgment.”

    Sherlock Holmes doesn’t really answer the question here, but deflects. Doubtless Gregory House would be as deflective, and far more snarky (although Holmes approaches snarky here, especially in the Victorian era).

    “I trust,” said I, laughing, “that my judgment may survive the ordeal. But you look weary.”

    “Yes, the reaction is already upon me. I shall be as limp as a rag for a week.”

    Holmes passes off his weariness as the depression that descends on him when a case has ended and the thrill of its chase concluded. And it may be that, but in the larger context (the police left perhaps an hour ago) it may still be too soon even for Holmes.

    Still, the groan tells all.

    The conversation ends on a rather unhappy note:

    The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?”

    “For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

    And that’s the last words of The Sign of Four.

    Watson did indeed go with Holmes for adventures at the drop of a hat, but he actually spent far less time with Holmes after his marriage to Mary than Wilson does with House even when Wilson was married thrice-over. There’s a distinct advantage to having your Wing-man as a co-worker in the same building.

    Indeed, at the beginning of “The Final Problem”, the story where Sherlock Holmes manages to fake his death and get away (though nobody would know of this until “The Empty House”, least of all Watson), Watson writes:

    It may be remembered that after my marriage, and my subsequent start in private practice, the very intimate relations which had existed between Holmes and myself became to some extent modified. He still came to me from time to time when he desired a companion in his investigation, but these occasions grew more and more seldom, until I find that in the year 1890 there were only three cases of which I retain any record.

    In a way, Wilson’s relationship with House pre-Amber was the “honeymoon” period when Watson and House solved many cases together, and Watson abandoned Mary. And Wilson’s relationship with House post-Amber is the tail end of Watson’s marriage, when such cases started to dry up.

    There are reasons why I dislike The Sign of Four, for all that it is a very good adventure. But life happens. Even in the fictional world….

  11. I am a House fan. I’ve watched the whole show from season 1 till now
    Your predictions are really interesting and I had been thinking about Wilson and House’s breakup since season 3. You know, when House is indulging in his vicodins. It’s really hard to believe they will no longer be friends but Amber’s death really hurts. I am still looking forward to season 5 and starting to get used to his new team. BTW, I kind of like Kutlar ^^

  12. Arachne Jericho

    Hi Betty!

    You mean Kutner? :) He’s very cute. A little House but happy, I think.

  13. I enjoyed the article. I actually took the train and peddaled down to Sussex with a book that supposedly had mapped out where Holmes had lived or stayed. The author felt that the cottage in Sussex was in Wellbourne overlooking the ocean. I went to the cottage and found that it is a little nature museum. While I was there, several Oxford Students, doing nature studies, were sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. When I showed them the book and the photo of the cottage they were staying in, on a page, they were excited! It was quite funny.

    My comment is this, your article brings up some interesting points. However, I sincerely believe that people do change, but according to Hugh Laurie, no one really wants House to change because everyone loves him for the character he is now. Nonetheless, I think change is inevitable for everyone. I am not the same person I was in my youth. My friends are not the same people they were in their twenties. So, I do believe that people do change. But, we shall see what happens next season. and whether House is allowed to learn from his experiences. I hope that we see a new side of House, just so we can keep the pot stirred and continue to be engaged by the story of the characters.

    However, I am also posting to say one thing, Vicodin is not the poor man’s cocaine. Having had some experience with both (another thing I’ve changed) they result in two incredibly different sensory sensations. Unfortunately, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had it wrong, cocaine does not product lethargy or an opiate-like trance, although Vicodin does. Plus, it depends on the level of pain, what risidual effect the Vicodin produces. The more pain, the less likely the Vicodin is producing lethargy or an opiate well-being feelin. With a lot of pain, Vicodin is “absorbed” by the pain.

    So, while Vicodin makes you sleep, cocaine makes you believe that you are on a roll, at the peak of your game, energetic. The two drugs produce opposite feelings. Now, Oxycodone may be the poor man’s heroin, but not Cocaine!

    Again, thanks for your article, quite interesting.

    Thanks for an interesting article. I’ve been a Sherlockian for forty-four years and a Housian for four!

    Gorblimey2

  14. Arachne Jericho

    Hello Gorblimey! Always great to see another Sherlockian/Housian. Your Sussex story is quite charming and made me smile.

    I think one of the tenets of “People don’t change” is that surface changes can happen, but you can’t change the very core of your soul. Everyone learns and matures, of course, and in that way there is change; but the very basics of who you are—ah, they are much harder to change. Most people don’t change in that way.

    I do know that deep change requires such an effort that if you’ve done it you’d know, to the depths of your soul, what a hard thing that is to do, as well as wondering if you’ve even done it at all. It’s that difficult.

    Most of us don’t have the time or, frankly, the need to really change.

    Vicodin is doubtless medicinal for House, although in Season 3 he really gets in over his head. There are strong arguments that cocaine was also a way of self-medication for Holmes, and if he had a certain type of ADD that strikes the geniuses—not the kind you often hear about kids suffering from, but the mental oddity that hit folks from Newton to Einstein—then cocaine has a clarifying effect instead, and not so much the normal stimulant reaction.

    For more details on this, see A Matter of Attention: Holmes and ADD in The Sign of Four by Greg Stoddard. One particular quote he quotes (heh):

    Cocaine is in the class of drugs we call stimulants.Most people feel a rush of unfocused energy when they take cocaine. However, people with ADD feel focused when they use cocaine.Rather than getting high, they suddenly feel clearheaded and able to pay attention. When those who don’t know they have ADD stumble upon cocaine, the drug seems like a cure that temporarily alleviates their ADD symptoms, and so they become chronic users. Interestingly enough, in the literature about cocaine, approximately 15 percent of addicts report feeling focused by the cocaine, rather than feeling high. This 15 percent probably have adult ADD and are self-medicating, albeit unwittingly, with cocaine.

    The full article is quite an interesting read.

    Whether or not Gregory House suffers from the same is up in the air. The leg pain is serious business.

  15. Having been diagnosed with ADD myself (went to find out if I had early Alzheimers, found out I had ADD!!??), .I am aware of the effect the two drugs have on someone with the affliction. In the early seventies I liked white crosses and realized that if I bought them, I’d be hooked. So I only took them on very, very rare occasion. Now it makes sense because of my diagnosis as to why they appealed to me despite the fact that everyone thought I had way too much energy already to like stimulants. They thought I’d probably prefera ‘downer’, but I didn’t.

    Same occurred in the eighties with cocaine. In law school, cocaine was the drug of choice of many of the students to get through exams. It did make you (those of us with ADD) feel focused and on top of your game. Again, I knew if I bought it, I’d be hooked. So, I was the party user. If someone offered at a party, I lined up. (Ah youth.) However, I have now learned, like House, that the best drugs are the legitimate ones you get by prescription so readily from your doctor.

    I”m not so sure Holmes had ADD because of his prediliction for being able to sit and ponder for so long. I would be more likely to believe he had Bipolar Disorder, because he could go from being incredibly depressed and gloomy to manic.

    Who knows, but it sure is fun guessing!

  16. I hate to bore you with Sherlockian stories, but I owe my marriage to my love for Sherlock Holmes. I was in law school and enjoying the Brett series (new then) and realized that I had only partially traced Sherlock’s footsteps through England and wanted to go back to do some more. So, I looked around and found that my law school was sending students to Cambridge to complete courses. I tried to get in, but I was too late. Before the program started, I received a last minute call that someone had backed out and I could go because my grades were good enough (thank God.) So I started attending Downing College in Cambridge, England. I met my husband in Cambridge, married him, move to Cambridge, and practiced law in London. When I moved back to the states, my law firm gave me a set of Sherlock HOlmes books owned by Adrian Doyle. Sadly, I missed Hugh Laurie’s time at Cambridge by two years. However, I’ve met him twice (once again last night) and I did have the opportunity to shop side by side with Stephen Hawkings. So, life is good!!!!

  17. Arachne Jericho

    Hi Gorblimey,

    No worries, you’re not boring me. :) Shopping with Stephen Hawkings is cool!

    Me, I’ve never been outside of America. Though America is rather big. And I’ve never had the chance to try drugs (of course, America is kind of paranoid. But still), and probably won’t.

    I have a touch of bipolar. Well. Arguably a bit more than a touch, my friends will tell you. Although nowhere near as bad as Jeremy Brett had it. And a touch of bipolar is more than enough. I’m not sure why it’s so, but the down stroke, as it were, leads to many a grievance with friends. It can vary through your life, and unfortunately tends to get exacerbated by external events (big changes, like a wife dying, or other such).

    And of course, you’re so occupied with your downbeats and upbeats that things like the feelings of friends sometimes just don’t exist. You’re blessed if you’ve got a very understanding friend, and those are the only types of people who can really be your friend close up, but in large part if you aren’t aware of what’s driving you, even those friends lose patience.

    I’ve been through a couple rounds of that. Lone wolf is safe, but also not safe at the same time.

    I tend to think of Holmes as being bipolar. To me, who’s a little bit too close to it, that explains so much. Or, y’know, I may just be projecting.

    They say many artists are bipolar. There’s something about the deep introspection and perversion of the downbeats and the manic energy and flight of the upbeats that drives art. And since Holmes considers himself an artist (art in the blood, indeed), bipolar would be an amusing fit in that sense as well.

    Bipolar isn’t doom, of course. I imagine it lessens the older you get. Not that I can tell at the moment. There’s reasons I’m fond of my (prescribed) drugs. *g*

  18. I respect your self awareness. My girlfriend refused to believe anything was wrong until she ended up locked in a hotel room with her young daughter sure that someone was after her. She ended up in a hospital, finally diagnose with bipolar disorder. A year later, she went off her drugs and ended up back in the hospital. If she stays on the drugs, she does really well, but i imagine they must make her feel strange or she’d stay on them..

  19. Arachne Jericho

    Some very smart people I know tend to say that the drugs make them feel duller and not so sharp. It worries them, and they tend to stop sooner. None of them are as bad off as your friend, though.

    Myself, I was fairly glad to for once be on an even keel. And then I just readjusted. I’m still creative and still over-think. The difference is that I’m not being effing bipolar.

    To tell the truth, I tend to want more of my prescription because the settling calm during the first half-hour is so enjoyable, and I get less of it as time wears on; these days it’s barely there because there is precious little mania to descend from or depression to ascend from. Unfortunately the dose is already pretty high and my doctor says NO, and unlike Holmes, I follow my doctor’s advice.

    Of course, unlike Holmes’ time, doctors know more about psychology these days. Like, for instance, there are actually psychologists and psychiatrists.

    But that’s another post and another day. ^.^

    By the way, Subcutaneously, My Dear Watson is an interesting book. I managed to grab a paperback copy on Amazon.com.

  20. Wow!! I would like to first and foremost congratulate you on writing such a good article, it really captured my attention and the references were really good. It is great to see that you don’t just finish with the article you actually provide more information to answer comments.
    I havn’t read any of the Sherlock Holmes books but I was just wondering if there may be a connection between Holmes faking his death and House faking cancer. It just appeared to me that these events may have been connected but correct me if I am wrong.

  21. Arachne Jericho

    Thank you, Beave! I tend to expound mightily on certain subjects from time to time, Sherlock Holmes being just one of them. Any opportunity is nice to have, so I usually don’t mind answering questions (or at least offering my thoughts on them—a definite answer is not in the works for some of these questions).

    The situations of Holmes faking death and House faking cancer have many differences, not the least of which is that Holmes succeeded for much longer. Three years trumps 24 hours every time. Though I have always been amused at the thought of what might have happened had House been able to succeed at getting into the study—which would also have whisked him away from Princeton-Plainsboro just as Holmes got away from everybody after Reichenbach. What might have happened then? Who knows.

    House also put far more preparation into his faking than Holmes, for whom it is usually regarded as the decision of an instant once Moriarty had fallen off the cliff (although there are plenty of essays and pastiches where that isn’t the case).

  22. Jericho, Perhaps the better comparison is “The Case of the Dying Detective,” not Richenbacher Falls, to the brain cancer scare.

  23. Arachne Jericho

    Yes, those two are mirrors of each other and are even mentioned as such in the main article.

  24. I like your comparison. I actually have read all of the Sherlock Holme’s stories and believe that your reasoning is pretty spot on. Now that House doesn’t have Wilson, he probably will get to a point where he realizes that he really does need someone. He will probably try to get Wilson to reconcile with him, but will most likely have to settle with someone else. I really would like for him and Cuddy to have a relationship, but anyone from the old team would make me satisfied. I hope that him and Wilson get over their problem and realize that they miss each other. It wasn’t entirely House’s fault. But I don’t think that their relationship can ever be exactly the same. I would love to know the rest of the things that House forgot over the last two episodes. I want to know why he went to the bar in the first place and what happened between the crash and him realizing something was wrong. House may try to change, but he can’t become a completely nice person (because let’s face it, that’s just not House). I don’t think a huge change will happen, but maybe a little one. Again, like your speculation and can’t wait to see what actually happens.

  25. Well, I think that at the very end of House, MD we will see House fading towards the horizon riding his motorcycle and we’ll never know where he has gone.
    Alternatively, I’d personally like much more to see House and Cuddy together strolling their baby in the hospital’s park (where House once talked with the girl in the 3rd series).
    You may say I’m a dreamer…
    but I’m not the only one!
    Greetings from italy (where House always arrives late, unfortunately)

  26. when will season five start? can’t wait to see whats next……

  27. House only seems to take Wilson’s friendship for granted, but we do see signs that he appreciates it. During their brief stint as roommates, House constantly plays pranks on him. This seems like he’s poking the bear, but we find out that he’s trying to get him to poke back because he thinks it would be good for him. Good to get some vindictiveness out of his system in such a way that would yield no negative consequences. He even smiles when Wilson sabotages his cane, and he collapses in the hall. On top of that, in the episode where they wake up Vegetative State Guy, House admits in a rare emotional moment that he doesn’t want to push their friendship to the breaking point.
    His approach to looking out for him or helping him are often backhanded, but he does have good intentions. (Case in point: The false positive cancer patient. Wilson tries to pay him $6000, but House has told him he’s in a position to sue the hospital. This will be a strike on Wilson’s oncology practice, but the point was to teach him that he can’t take personal responsibility for everyone’s problems.)

    In addition to that, there are some things to consider about Amber’s death at the end of Season 4.

    First of all, there’s the obvious fact that House agreed (and at some points volunteered) to risk both his life and his mental health just to try to put the pieces together in blind hopes of getting a clearer diagnosis. In fact, there’s even the conversation between him and Wilson in which he asks Wilson if he’s asking him to risk his own life to save Amber’s. Wilson nervously nods yes. House pauses, then agrees.

    The other is the actual cause of the death. House did unknowingly put her in the situation which ended up damaging her kidneys, but the kidney damage didn’t kill her. Her body’s newfound inability to process the amantadine in her medicine is what did it. She just happened to be with House when the kidney damage was done, which could just as likely have happened alone or with Wilson. If House insisted on driving both of them home after she came, then he’d be more to blame. In fact, House could just as easily have suffered kidney or liver damage and died of similar causes because of his Vicodin or the unprocessed alcohol in his blood.

    Wilson is a reasonable character, but he isn’t immune to irrational behavior. Through the stages of grief, much of it will be directed at House, his closest compatriot. This includes anger, of course, but it will pass with time. Wilson will realize that House did all he could, more than he had ever done for any other patient, to save her, as well as the fact that his putting her on that bus was done unwittingly.
    House will likely avoid him during cases, unless it somehow suits his approach to a diagnosis. He may even blatantly push him away to avoid lashing out at him, as he did towards the end of the cop-in-the-clinic story arc.

  28. Also, as a sidenote, I think the series will either end with his forced retirement or his death. Other characters are likely to have their story end on a lighter note, but his is best suited to tragedy. His death is more likely, I think.
    Perhaps he becomes his department’s case with a Class 5 complexity of his own. He participates in the differential, but as time passes he becomes less coherent and thus less capable of participating. Shortly thereafter, either his team fails to fill his shoes (quickly enough or at all) or his maintained stubbornness about the differential and the treatment (thinking he’s still coherent) will lead to his mistreating himself and thus his death.
    If he doesn’t die, the damage ends up being too severe for him to continue running the department. Thus he retires and either Forman, or whoever came up with the diagnosis, takes over… if the department remains at all.

  29. Erik, you left me astonished: what a smart, clever, deep analysis you made! I really appreciate it, it seems to me that I’m doing something like literary critics (I’m a student in Humanities here in Italy). It’s a good thing that we can do so with a tv series…One of the few shows that make people think. Rare at these times.

  30. Hi guys,
    As far as this article goes, good job! I’ve been hearing many things about the House/Holmes comparison for awhile. I’ve never read any of the Holmes books, but I can definately see the connection between the two geniuses. For season five, I think that House and Wilson’s friendship with be broken. I think that House is going to look for an alternative person to care for him, and who better for that than Cameron. I think the writers are going to want to bring back the original crew for a bit, and it would be a good way to get her back in the main story. We all know she has a thing for House, and he totally does too. I think he’ll let her take care of him but only for a little bit. I think that House and Wilson will eventually make up, but it will take awhile and it will never be the same as it was before. I think House is going to be a very dark character this season, and the old and new crew are going to have to really be on his toes, and band together because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!!

  31. Stumbled on this site looking for info on season 5, and was blown away by the House/Holmes analysis. It’s been way too long since I ‘visited’ Baker St.!

    Ever since the Tritter arc, I’ve been speculating on how the show/House will ‘end’. I too see a very dark ending to the series, and the character. Anything else would be an unrealistic cheat. I just cant imagine a way they could pull even a semi-’happy ending’ out of this, even to the extent of a Holmesian ‘retirement’ for House.

    Probably not going to happen, but I’d like to see Tritter return for the finale. Not to (further) pursue and persecute House, but perhaps just to bear witness to his end. And, I think House *will* die. Maybe he *should* die – not after being the focus of some medical mystery that afflicts him (with the attendant opportunity for a dying bedside reconcilliation with Wilson, etc.) but alone in some dark alley, of an overdose.

  32. They’ve gone with a subtle extension of the “Baker Street Irregular” concept, it seems; a thoroughly “Lost Boys” sub-plot. I see no Wendys on the horizon, but they had Cuddy light up like Tinker Bell.

    I rather think that the Sela Ward character is the homage to Irene Adler (she runs over House by virtue of her own professional abilities) and goes off with another man, finally. Unless there’s a full-blown Irene character coming up.

    So, what will be House’s Reichenbach Falls? Its season 5, and the Hound has to show up in season 6! [perhaps the patient has developed nocturnal wanderings via something picked up from his dog, likely a small one, and there will be a Baskerville joke.]

    Oh, and what pray tell is on the plaque by the front door under the 221 address.

  33. Well well….I knew many others had noticed the Holmes/House connection. Just had no idea it had been developed in such detail…or that others had noticed the little fact that House’s street number is 221B!

    How I laughed when I glimpsed that little visual tribute.

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