Another clever episode, "Don't Ever Change" combined the usual "everybody lies" theme with a somewhat new one: "nobody changes." Of course, this is patently untrue, but it's interesting to see how House clings to it anyway.

In any case, this episode had something for everyone, with lots of hilarious dialogue, an interesting POTW, at least one good scene for every character, and an fascinating (if ambiguous) ending. If the writers' strike means this is the season finale, it's not a bad way to end.

For starters, it was nice to see a depiction of Orthodox (in this case, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic) Jews that seemed to actually have a grasp of what they do and how they think.Okay, it wasn't a perfect depiction--for example, her hair shouldn't have been visible at all and marriage after six months of study as a ba'al teshuva is rather hasty--but it was a heck of a lot better than one normally sees.

The wedding scene certainly reminded me of a number of Orthodox weddings I've attended. Heck, even the choice of song for the Shabbat scene was excellent (although it doesn't happen to be my favorite). But certainly, "Eishet Chayil" ("A Woman of Valor") was exactly the right choice to highlight how both Jonathan (Yonatan) and Roz were thinking.

Also accurate was Taub's reaction to them. Just about every secular Jew watching could probably recognize themselves in some part of (or all of) his responses. I cracked up at Taub's ""We pray, scarf down some challah, and we can do this?" Nice try, but no cigar.

I was very glad to see acknowledgement of Judaism's emphasis on life, when Jonathan says to Roz, "The Torah commands us to preserve life." Of course, as was pointed out to me, that doesn't keep your average Orthodox woman from stubbornly refusing to do the medical things the doctor is ordering. (Hey, if Jews didn't know how to be stubborn...there wouldn't be any more Jews, if you know what I mean.)

But I was happy to see that House still got to be his same old adorable ass about religion. ("You drank the Manischewitz-flavored Kool-Aid.") Nice continuity and funny to boot. But it was also interesting to see just how much House knew about Judaism. (I mean, knowing the translation for "Eishet Chayil"? And the mikvah reference was perfect and hilarious.)

I winced when House compared himself to a god in the first scene with Jonathan. Seriously, I wouldn't have been shocked if the guy hauled off and hit him! Even for House, that was pretty impressively offensive.

All of which brings us around to the man himself and my big question...yo, wassup? Seriously, I strongly suspect I'm going to die of curiosity before we get the answer to where the writers were going with House's very strange behavior in this episode and "Frozen."

Now, House is still the not-particularly-lovable ass, as proven many times in this episode, but when it comes to certain things, he does seem to be changing.
First, in "Frozen" we have House pushing a woman he's obviously attracted to toward the man who loves her, without making a single snarky comment about them.

And now we have House's closing scene with Wilson, in which he essentially gives Wilson's relationship with Amber his blessing. He says he's not being self-sacrificing, and the House we know certainly doesn't, but what is going on?

Not to mention the way Wilson really does seem to be coming to terms with his dysfunctional friendship with House. Whether that means pushing him away or just letting it go on, I can't be sure. But his relationship with Amber definitely seems to be a turning point of some kind.

Speaking of Amber, I wasn't thrilled to see her return, but I have to admit that her return was interesting and made her a more well-rounded character in just a few minutes of screen time than she was for most of the season. (I'm not especially impressed by the message that she was a cut-throat bitch because she only needed the love of a good man...but I'll let that go for the moment.)

However, considering what Amber was like all season, you certainly can't blame House and Cuddy for their reactions. And Cuddy's scene was hilarious. After giving House a hard time, she confronts Wilson with "are you sure she doesn't just want to take you back to her lair, hang you upside down, and deposit her eggs in you?" And Wilson's response of "Excellent disguise, House" was exactly right.

Of course, the scene in which House stares at Wilson and says, "My god, you're sleeping with me!" was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. (Slash fans by the thousands stared at their TV and said, "Of course you are!") The look of shock and horror on both of their faces was absolutely perfect, as was the later scene in which Wilson justifies his relationship with Amber. ("We're a couple." "Are we still speaking metaphorically?")

In any case, I thought this episode's question of whether people can really change (e.g., Roz and Amber) was more interesting than the eightieth repetition of "everybody lies" in "It's a Wonderful Lie". (Yes yes, the show has done "nobody changes" before, but not as often and not with as many hammers of non-subtlety.)

Cuddy really pegged part of House's problem when she said he was bugged that Wilson wanted to change, because he might lose his friend. Not to mention the obvious fact that House doesn't want Roz or Amber to have successfully changed because that begs the question of why he's still a depressed and obnoxious ass.

Is that what the writers meant with the ending of this episode? Were we supposed to see an attempt at a kinder and gentler House in subsequent weeks? Or was he just resigned to waiting for Amber to change back? Let's all hope for the writers' strike to end soon so we can find out.

Thanks to Npkedit for commenting on the Orthodox content of this episode, and pointing out some things I hadn't noticed and others I simply didn't know, apikoros that I am.