SPOILERS AHEAD. If you’re intending to watch House MD for the first time, read at your own risk.
Relationships are messy and feelings get hurt. Who needs that?
Time and time again, I am reminded of the fact that relationships are messy. Such a time is this, as I have just watched Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) divorce in House MD 6×16 “Lockdown”. Alright, it’s just a show, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen in real life. And what I just saw in this episode felt very real.
Their story is simple. They are colleagues so they spend much time together, and eventually, they become good friends. Chase is this goody two-shoes who quietly chews on a pen or stirrer during differential diagnosis while Cameron is this headstrong woman who makes wonderful coffee, or at least, House says so.
Cameron begins to like House. House, being himself, diagnoses Cameron as a person who gravitates towards flawed people; she needs them. Before she was hired by House, she married a dying man. Years later, she falls for a cripple—her boss, Gregory House. In this aspect, Cameron is misunderstood. She tends to be with flawed people because she wants to help them, fix them. Not because it will make her feel good or happy, but because she thinks it’s right. She stands up for what she believes in. If anything, she’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever known in television.
She quits because she realized her feelings for House will go nowhere. House, however, tries to get her to come back to the team. She agrees, with the condition that House should take her on a date. The date happens and it isn’t followed.
Then comes a patient who claims sex and drugs make him happy. Cameron, perhaps having realized the depth of her sadness, takes some of the drugs and basically jumps on Chase: “Come on, Chase. Don’t turn into a good guy on me now.” And they sleep together, for the first time.
Of course it is awkward. They see each other every day. They work with each other. Chase is nice to Cameron, as always. But in some little moments, he tries to save her, to support her, like when he gives her something for the drugs to come off. And then he comes up with a response to what happened between them such as this:
When two people have had sex, unless it sucks, if they can do it again, they’re gonna do it again. And that’s when things get complicated. And it didn’t suck.
But then this day comes up:
Chase: Happy Valentine’s Day.
Cameron: A holiday that only applies to people who are already paired up. For everyone else, it’s Wednesday.
Chase: Wow. Thank you for that dash of cold water.
Cameron: So I’m thinking we should have sex.
Chase: That makes sense.
Cameron: Despite the wisdom of pop songs there’s no point in putting our lives on hold until love comes along. We’re both healthy and busy people, and we work together so it’s convenient.
Chase: Like microwave pizza?
Cameron: And of all the people I work with you’re the one I’m least likely to fall in love with.
Chase: Like microwave pizza.
Cameron: The point here is to make things simpler, not more complicated. Some day there’ll be a time to get serious about someone. Meanwhile, we’ve already had sex once and didn’t get weird about it, so…
Chase: I get it, I get it. So, what if I’m offended by your judgment?
Cameron: Then you’re not the man I’m looking for.
Hence, a friends with benefits setup. No strings attached. It goes on for a time. They sleep together a lot, even during work. Foreman vehemently expresses his disapproval: “Oh, anything else you two guys won’t agree on?! ” Because they’ve been agreeing a lot ever since they began the relationship.
The turning point is when feelings finally get involved. And they always do. In this case, Chase’s finally surfaces. I prefer to think those feelings have always been there, that his casual relationship with Cameron is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Chase: [Sees picture of Cameron on top of a pile] When did you take this?
Emma: Oh. She did the second bladder tap. You should keep it.
Chase: Oh, I see her all day at work. I don’t need it.
Emma: Maybe you want to see her after work. I’m right, right? I saw the way you look at her. [Chase picks up picture and smiles, looking at it, as Emma takes pictures of him.]
Chase: [taking the picture and leaving] Thanks.
Eventually, a confession comes from Chase, revoking the golden rule of their relationship: No feelings allowed. I can’t imagine how hard it must be. You can’t be involved with someone for a long time without feeling anything. Otherwise, you are with them for other reasons and it’s not your metaphorical heart talking.
Chase: I want more.
Cameron: I thought you were getting a little worn out, but..
Chase: That’s not what I meant.
Cameron: I know. I was just hoping you’d take the hint and pretend you never said that.
Chase: I want this to be more than it is.
Cameron: I thought we were clear.
Chase: In the beginning, but you can’t tell me you don’t…
Cameron: Yes, I can. And I don’t. It was… fun. That’s it. And now it’s over.
I have to admit, I got frustrated at Cameron for doing that. Mad, even. She can’t expect for the whole setup to work out without one of them falling for the other eventually. But she stuck to her words. The thing here is, Cameron has commitment issues plaguing her even if she won’t admit it to herself.
Foreman’s words of wisdom to Cameron:
The sacrifices you made were huge. But they were at the height of your love for him [her dead husband]. Commitment is only commitment because it has no expiration date. You stand next to someone and watch them floss for 30 years like my parents have then ask for sacrifices. That’s how you know the real thing. Cameron, I wasn’t criticizing you. People who avoid commitment are people who know what a big thing it is.
Chase tries to ask Cameron out a couple of times but she never agrees. He then resorts to a new strategy: Remind her that he likes her every Tuesday. I love this part completely. Chase is so vulnerable; he’s giving it all. If what she needs is more time, he’s willing to wait. If she doesn’t like him now, maybe she will in the future. He just needs her to know it, to get it out there, to give her an offer for her to take whenever she’s ready.
And it’s just the day I’d remind you I like you and we should be together. Robert Chase
Cameron: They’re beautiful. I thought about what you said, and…I really don’t want a relationship with you.
Chase: I know. I also know you like flowers.
But then one Monday, Cameron appears by Chase’s door and tells him: “It’s Tuesday.” A puzzled look takes his face: “Uh…no. It’s Monday.” She takes a step up to face him. “I know, it’s just…I didn’t feel like waiting.”
Even though they are already dating, finally, with feelings allowed, Cameron is still yet to face so many issues of her own. But Chase is with her every step of the way, an unfaltering presence. Nevertheless, times also come when Chase, so uncharacteristic of him, almost gives up.
Chase: You know why we spend nights at my house? Because when we spend them at yours I could tell you didn’t want me there.
Cameron: Why would I keep inviting you over if I didn’t want you there?
Chase: You always kicked me out every morning. You never offered me a drawer, you never cleared out your closet for me, I was just a visitor.
Cameron: How long have you felt like this?
Chase: From the start. I know its hard for you because you lost your husband, but I can’t keep chasing you forever.
They make it through this and that, fortunately. And it seems that all doors are finally leading to marriage. At a sad timing, however, Lawrence Kutner, one of the new team hired by House, commits suicide. Cameron then thinks that Chase’s proposal will only be a knee-jerk reaction to his death. This made me sad because Cameron should by now feel the love Chase has for her, but instead is skeptical of it. But it’s serious, and real. What really drives her to question his would-be proposal is her preparedness for such a long-term commitment. In the end, she chooses to adjust for Chase, and they get married. Finally.
When things finally seem to be working out between the two, Foreman, currently an authority in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine, takes them back to form a temporary team. House is present but he doesn’t have his medical license back yet, so he can only pitch in his genius ideas.
They then encounter Dibala’s case. Dibala is an African dictator who is said to be allowing heinous crimes to perpetrate in his country. Cameron, prejudiced, nearly won’t treat him. An African man sneaks in the hospital to talk to Dibala’s attending physicians, and Chase happens to be the one present. He pleads for Dibala not to be treated for if he survives, the dictator will be unleashing a genocide in Africa. Chase flees. This man, however, comes back wearing a scrub suit and pushing a crash cart into Dibala’s room, apparently intending to kill him. Chase sees this and calls out to stop him. The man is then beaten by Dibala’s bodyguards.
The whole sight shakes Chase up severely. He fakes a test result so that Dibala would be diagnosed incorrectly. This results in the dictator’s fatality.
After this case, Chase is completely affected and the only person who knows what he’s done is Foreman. He couldn’t find the courage to tell Cameron. But he does, eventually. Cameron forgives him and suggests that they leave House and go somewhere else, start over. However, Chase realizes he still wants to work for House.
Cameron then talks to House and tells him how he’s changed Chase irreversibly, how he has distorted his view of right and wrong.
She says goodbye and leaves both House and Chase.
Chase is paged. He finds Cameron waiting for him, holding their divorce papers. The hospital goes on lockdown because of a lost baby and they find themselves stuck with each other in an exam room.
Then Chase asks the most crucial question, the one upon which their whole relationship has been based on: “Did you ever love me?
Chase: Maybe if I was dying when you married me, it would have been a bit different.
Cameron: That’s not fair!
Chase: It’s not only fair, it’s exactly the point. He was dying when you met him, and he was gone just a year into the marriage. So it was all a honeymoon with him. And I could never match up to that. The first time reality intruded..
Cameron: Stop this.
Chase: Just tell me the truth!
Cameron: About what?
Chase: Did you ever love me?
Cameron: I don’t know!
Chase: Thank you for finally telling me. [He then signs the divorce papers]
Cameron: I did love you. Just…not in a way that would have ever worked.
And then they talk about what their favorite parts in their relationship are:
I liked how I would wake up in the middle of the night, you’d put your arm around me, and you wouldn’t even wake up. I liked watching you stand up to your dad at Christmas when he yelled at your mom. How you didn’t even know you were strong. But you were. Robert Chase
I miss a lot. But when I think about missing you, I think about that dance class, that we took, for the wedding. It’s weird. I think, he’s never gonna hold me like that again. Allison Cameron
Then Chase gets his cell phone and plays a song. He asks Cameron for a dance and says, “I going to miss this, too.” Then they kiss, and sleep together one last time.
I can’t believe how peaceful their breakup transpired. Relationships are messy, especially their breakups. We’re used to seeing tears and hearing screams and throwing things. But this, it almost felt like they were making up, like they could still be together. And yet, they parted ways. How can it go that way? When so much truth is already present. When they have finally shown each other that they have another choice, but it’s one that they won’t take. It breaks my heart.
Choosing to stay is never an easy decision. Maybe they’re better off this way. All I know is that they “beat some very long odds,” as Chase once said to Cameron.
They happened. And that’s what really counts in the end.
I love them together, and I can still love them apart. I’ve grown with their relationship, learned from it maybe, but if I were to choose, I’d also take the choice they took. No matter how much I love them together, some choices have to be done, even if that means letting go. I have to accept that even the best things in life can’t last.
But I believe in a love worth saving. Not now, but maybe in the future.
I will miss them so much.