Season 5 Episode 16

The Softer Side

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 23, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
536 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A patient with both male and female DNA has the team stumped. Meanwhile, House starts acting nicely, raising Cuddy's and Wilson's suspicions that something is terribly wrong.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • A really good episode

    In this episode of House, the following happens. We open with a couple being told that their baby has both male and female parts and they have to decide the sex of the baby. We then jump forward 13 years, to a little boy playing a basketball game. The game ends, and the little boy, Jackson collapses. We soon learn that the parents haven't told Jackson about his condition and so the team have to keep hiding his true condition from him. Also House is n a very good mood, which is worrying for both Cuddy and Wilson. When they got to question House, they find him "a sleep". Only he isn't a sleep, but in fact he's not breathing. Luckily, Foreman manages to get him breathing again. Everyone starts to think that House is on Heroin, but he soon admits that he's on methadone. And since he has been taking it, all of his pain has gone away. When Cuddy tells him that he either has to stop the methadone or quit, he chooses to quit. Also 13 lets slip to Jackson about his condition and so his parents have to tell him the truth. After running some more tests, the team believe that Jackson has a condition, which is going to lead to his death. Cuddy caves in and offers House his job back, as long as he follows a list of requirements, which includes either Cuddy or one of the nurses giving him his methadone. But soon they realise that, it can't be the case with Jackson and his improving condition, and so the team come up with another diagnoses. We soon learn that he is ill due to having too many energy drinks. The parents are told that after a few weeks of dialysis, Jackson will be ok. House soon realises that Jackson may be died, due to his happy mood, and him not following his instincts and so he stops taking methadone.moreless
  • Two thumbs up!

    This episode was so FFFRESH! Fresh in the sense that House was pain-free! We all know how much it affects him, poppin Vicodin like Skittles is the norm. So NOT seeing it, made this episode that much more interesting..

    It was good to see everyones reaction to this 'new' House. I knew it wouldnt last (I mean cmon! really) so I enjoyed it while it lasted. Good to see a glimpse of that 'softer side.' Overall, the case was very meh. But as I've made clear, the fact House was kind and softer in this episode, made it so sexytime! One of Season 5's finest for sure.moreless
  • Much more like it.

    The last two episodes have been absolutely superb, and a much needed return to form after a shaky fifth Season. The patient is once again interesting, and it was wonderfully written and acted as the family faced a dilemna. I emphasised with the patient and the families choices. Thirteen's behaviour was very human, and it was much more classic House how the situation was dealt with.

    House is also tryin to alliviate his pain, which made for some interesting moments, especially the part where he almost died. Wilson and House's relationship was as amusing as always, and I have to admit I thought he was going to leave and find a new job at St Sebastians! It would have made an interesting plot twist!

    Nevertheless, House gives up on the methodone at the end- I thought that was disappointing. He obviously wanted to change, but failed to do so.

    Overall, this was a brilliantly well written and acted episode. The humour and drama were spot on- classic House.moreless
  • House tries out a dangerous but effective method to alleviate his pain, and we get to observe the results.

    Another episode orientated on House's character more than anything else, which is what we had missed and what mostly makes this series so special. With Hugh Laurie's amazing acting and the great chemistry between him and Cuddy or Wilson, you can't miss! And not only that but we got a very special patient case as a treat, that was unsolvable until the very end, when House came in to the rescue and figured out what noone else could.

    In more detail, House quits Vicodin and goes on Methadone because he discovered it is the only drug that leaves him completely pain-free. The repercussions for his health are so severe that he nearly dies, and is in danger of dying any minute. Wilson and Cuddy find out and at first try to make him quit, but then change their mind when they notice the amazing change that has come over him. He shaves, wears a costume, tries to take care of his health, is in a good mood and looks happy. So Cuddy settles for regulating his dosage and letting him get on with it. The glitch in all this is that House's good mood makes him succumb to the demands of the patient's parents, doing an unecessary exam and thus causing him to be severely ill when at first there was nothing really wrong with him. That makes House question his judgement under the Methadone, so in the end he goes back to his old routine. "This is the only me you get", he tells a baffled and genuinely concerned Cuddy.

    I loved the scenes between Cuddy and House, they were so intense and emotional and we can clearly see, there is something much more than mere friendship or professionalism there. They clearly care about eachother, and very much so. Also, the tension of whether Forman and 13 are going to get fired or not is finally relieved in this episode, House calls their bluff but he doesn't seem inclined to do anything about it. They prove with their performance that their relationship isn't an obstacle in their working efficiently together. And then there was the issue of sexual and social identity, and how over-protectiveness of parents can sometimes be destructive. Though the opposite side, that of coming clean and telling the truth, is also blown when 13 makes the mistake of thinking the kid is depressive. So the truth lies somewhere in the middle. In the cruel but honest line House delivers (one of his best so far in my opinion): "You gave birth to a freak of nature, doesn't mean it's a good idea to treat him like one". The abnormality is there and you can't overlook it, but there's no need to overreact to it and turn it to an unsolvable problem. I wonder if House will follow the same principle for himself, and stop abusing himself like he usually does because it hurts him to not fit in.moreless
  • A painless House worries everyone and paranoid parents with a secret almost kill their child using the nice House.

    First of all, the medical case was another labyrinth of interwoven conditions. I really enjoyed the way that the mixture of parental protectionism ("He's not ready") and the mother trying to reinforce their own choice ("Basketball or Hockey"!), resulted in the unfolding of their secret (and nearly poisoning the herma-child to death).

    I agree that nice House was so jarring, it was almost scary. We were scared of losing the House that we know. Which was exactly how Cuddy & Wilson felt. Wilson helps Cuddy see the silver lining in this, and she eventually finds out that this could potentially end both their misery.

    Which personally think what scares House away from Methadone. He realizes that connecting to other people will erode his intellect in the end. Although I think Cuddy put it nicely: "You're afraid of change."

    If the writers decide to use this episode as a pivotal point in the House/Cuddy relationship, I would be seriously impressed.moreless
Dominic Scott Kay

Dominic Scott Kay


Guest Star

Julia Campbell

Julia Campbell


Guest Star

Ben Reed

Ben Reed


Guest Star

Kal Penn

Kal Penn

Dr. Lawrence Kutner

Recurring Role

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde


Recurring Role

Bobbin Bergstrom

Bobbin Bergstrom


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • After House asks Wilson which tie he should wear, Hugh Laurie makes an English slip: he pronounces "St. Sebastian" as "Seb-ast-I-an," rather than the American pronunciation of "Se-BAS-chen."

  • QUOTES (10)

    • House: You gonna eat that?
      Dr. Wilson: Have at it... You just asked my permission before you took my food?
      House: Yes we can.

    • House: (to Jackson's parents) You gave birth to a freak of nature. Doesn't mean it's a good idea to treat him like one.

    • Dr. Cuddy: The parents haven't told their son that he could have been their daughter. They want assurance that we won't either.
      House: Less fun, but still.

    • House: Our new patient. Part girl. Part boy. All Thirteen's dream date.

    • Taub: Here's my impression of Foreman on the happiest day of his life. (stares) Now the saddest day of his life. (stares)

    • Kutner: House decided to humor these parents.
      Dr. Wilson: Maybe he had a great cup of coffee, or a tremendous bowel movement.

    • Kutner: Assuming a coincidence like that would usually torture you but you're completely unfazed.
      House: Completely unfazed? You think I'm totally lacking in any fazing? The idea that I'm anything less than half-fazed I actually find offensive. It greatly fazes me.

    • Dr. Wilson: He's in a good mood.
      Dr. Cuddy: Sex with me would explain that. But it doesn't explain why I'm not curled up in a ball weeping in shame. I did not have sex with House.

    • House: I think my penis stopped breathing. Do you know CPR?
      Dr. Cuddy: Looks like your brain is okay.

    • Melanie: He won't let us in the room.
      Dr. Cuddy: He's a teenager. You're his mother. This is not the time to start listening to him.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Australia: March 18, 2009 on Channel Ten
      Latin America: March 26, 2009 on Universal Channel
      Portugal: May 11, 2009 on TVI
      Denmark: July 18, 2009 on Kanal 4
      The Netherlands: October 1, 2009 on SBS6
      Germany: October 20, 2009 on RTL
      Poland: October 22, 2009 on TVP2
      Slovakia: November 19, 2009 on STV1
      Czech Republic: March 3, 2010 on TV Nova
      Sweden: March 16, 2010 on TV4

    • Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer are credited but don't appear.

    • Music: $300 by Soul Coughing, Bobski 2000 by Galactic


    • Taub: If by professional you mean he's a T-1000 built by Cyberdyne Systems.
      Referencing the liquid-metal cyborg played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Despite Taub's description here, the AI programming of the T-1000 allows it to at least mimic human emotions even if it doesn't actually feel them. A T-1001 liquid-metal cyborg has been introduced on Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles the same season this episode premiered.

    • Jackson: We were supposed to write a poem in the style of Sylvia Plath.
      Referencing the American writer (1932-1963) famed for such works as The Bell Jar, Letters Home, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, and several collections of poetry. She killed herself using gas, and was known for her use of metaphor just like House.