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    Wilson: You two are like dogs circling each other in the park. And I say that with all the love in the world. You need to sniff each other’s butts, bare your teeth, and arrive at some strange detente. Otherwise, you’ll end up biting each other’s eyes out. Again, with all the love in the world.

House and Amber decide to have “joint custody” of Wilson and formally hammer out an arrangement. The show runner referred to the storyline as “a triangle of affection.” Hugh Laurie (House) called it a ménage à trois.

How could I not ship it?


    House: I don’t want to be in pain. I don’t want to be miserable. And I don’t want him to hate me.

House is a pessimistic misanthrope of a genius who uses Vicodin to deal with the chronic pain in his leg—perhaps in excess. He also has a secret morphine stash, drinks heavily, and constantly risks his life by experimenting on himself. He frequents prostitutes and insults everyone around him.

    Cate: You are responsible, nice, human, and yet you’re House’s best friend.
    Wilson: Makes you think he’s secretly nicer than he seems?
    Cate: Makes me think that you’re secretly a lot less nice than you seem.

The seemingly polar opposite of House, Wilson is a meticulously well-groomed, caring oncologist who prefers not to rock the boat. House calls him a functional vampire. Wilson has been married three times, compulsively cheats, had an affair with a dying patient, and is an expert liar.

    Amber: Real rebellion has a point. It’s not just juvenile and purposeless.

Amber is one of House's fellowship applicants, quickly dubbed "Cut-Throat Bitch" for her House-like methods. She lies, cheats, steals, manipulates, and snitches on other fellowship applicants all to win the game. Which she doesn't. Nearly the entirety of Princeston-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital hates her.


    Wilson: House, you’re right. Why not? Why not date you? It’s brilliant. We’ve known each other for years, we’ve put up with all kinds of crap from each other, and we keep coming back. We’re a couple!

House and Wilson are practically attached at the hip. A little unhealthy? Maybe. They met at a medical conference nearly two decades ago where House picked Wilson out of a crowd and decided yes, that one. It’s easy to see why House is friends with Wilson—Wilson has risked his job for House more than once, and is a seemingly endless dispenser of support, free food, and cash. But what does Wilson get out of it? The only time Wilson takes off his mask and is truly himself, is around House.

They’re a codependent pair—House needs Wilson, and as a result pushes himself in ways he doesn’t bother with anyone else, and Wilson is the only one consistently able to lie to him. Wilson needs House’s neediness, and sticks with House no matter what insanity he gets involved in (the craziest including a random gunman, an obsessive and vindictive cop, and drug overdoses). While they aren’t much for hugs, they sure do to lack the concept of “personal space” when it comes to each other, from walking shoulder-to-shoulder (and in-sync!), to living together.

House is quite posessive of Wilson, always trying to run off any woman Wilson dares to even look at. Naturally, he’s displeased to find Wilson is dating Amber, and he goes through his usual bag of tricks, but ultimately—to Wilson’s surprise—giving his blessing:

    Wilson: My world could expand. I could form a long-term connection that isn’t with you. And since you put the darkest possible construction on everything, you could end up losing a friend. You’ve thought of all this. And yet you’re going along with it. Are you being…self-sacrificing?

House’s affection for Wilson is recognized by the other characters, and House never bothers to hide it. (“Why are we on this case? Because Wilson asked?” “Is there a better reason?”) Even when House is called out by Foreman (something House wants him to do) for playing it safe while diagnosing Amber after a bus accident, House continues to adamantly follow Wilson’s wishes. House and Wilson are not sentimental with each other, but they don’t need to be; House very casually says in one episode, “Wilson has combined his two worst qualities—his love for me and his love for need.”

And they’re Holmes and Watson! This is just skimming the surface, but I'm trying to keep it short.


    Amber: All my life I thought I had to choose between love and respect. And I chose respect. And with Wilson, I know what it’s like to have both.

Well, they’re canonically in a relationship! That was easy.

But, seriously, they're a very happy couple and move in together after only a month of dating. Wilson's previous relationships all went through a pattern: rescue needy woman, she gets less needy, he cheats (or spends all his time with House). Though they do start dating right after Amber is fired by House, it's also likely they had talked on many occasions after "97 Seconds" (403) when she crawls through Wilson's office and then later saves House's life. And she can go toe-to-toe with House.

The similarities between Amber and House’s personalities are apparent early on, and made more explicit as the season progresses. Like House, Amber believes she needs to be right so that people will listen to her, even if she’s not liked (and that happens a lot). Wilson sincerely likes Amber for who she is, and Amber has someone in her life she does not feel the need to prove her worth to.

But Amber isn’t simply House in a skirt; she’s not needy and dependent like House, taking the pressure off Wilson and allowing her to take a firm stance with him when it’s desperately needed. She wants the relationship to last and she forces Wilson to take a hard look at himself to achieve this.

    Amber: You did it because that’s what you do. With all your ex-wives you did whatever they wanted because it was easier and you ended up resenting them. Don’t you dare do that to me.
    Wilson: What? Take care of you?
    Amber: Have you
    met me? I can take care of me. I need you to take care of you.

Amber’s generally freer and more conventional with her forms of affection, though she does have unique ways of expressing it as well—such as bullying her and Wilson's way out of a long wait at a restaurant. She seems to be just the right mix of the expected and the unexpected for Wilson, comforting him yet also shaking things up.

Perhaps most of all, they stuck together when everyone around them tried to break them up, expecting Amber to be nothing more than the selfish “cut-throat bitch” caricature they imagined her to be. Instead, she turned out to be the person most in-tune with and capable of fulfilling Wilson’s needs, including Wilson himself.


    Wilson: You want to see everyone naked. Why would you hide that? […] Why would I be upset that you’re treating my girlfriend like you treat every other woman on the planet, unless…you’re not? Unless it’s deeper than that. You weren’t objectifying her. […] You have feelings for her.

These two are neither canonically involved, nor have a legion of shippers, but there is so much going on between them. Early on, Amber is portrayed as someone as manipulative and scheming as House, and later to have the same insecurity as him; they are the only two characters ever shown smoking, they are both drug users, and in the bus accident, Amber is injured in the same place House had his infarction. They are alike in many ways, yet different enough that there’s an element of intrigue on House's part: “Can we trust your answers?” “You’ve got to trust someone, don’t you?” “No.” (402) “I’d like to be on the men’s team.” “Do your sex organs dangle…Cut-Throat Bitch?” “Not yet.” (403)

They are also different enough that they have something to teach each other and they challenge each other. During the games arc, House is the teacher and Amber the student, quite literally—she’s there to learn from him. Amber is the only fellow who takes the time to talk to House’s former fellows to figure out how his mind works. House determines that Amber is too concerned with winning, and fires her. When they talk in “Don’t Ever Change” (412), he says, “You’ve changed.” She responds with a smile and replies, “I hope so.”

The roles are reversed when House finds out Amber is dating Wilson. As essentially a more well-adjusted House, Amber highlights the ways House has been neglectful of his friendship with Wilson. After Amber gives her “love and respect” speech to House, he changes his methods and gives Wilson his blessing to be with Amber rather than try to break them up.

The most overt evidence is in “House’s Head” (415) and “Wilson’s Heart” (416). House tries to figure out what happened the previous night during a bus crash, having no memory of the event, but the clues are in his subconscious. When he figures out that he and Amber were on the bus together, he’s pretty horrified to recall she was in the accident. It’s still a mystery to him why they were on the bus together. Taub plants the idea they were having an affair; House rejects the idea but his subconscious doesn’t seem to find it too far-fetched and runs with it:

    Dream!Amber: What did we do last night?
    House: Was I meeting you for a drink?
    Dream!Amber: Is that all it was? A man thinks a woman is beautiful, admires her intelligence, admires the way she has to get whatever she wants…the things he likes about himself. Maybe she always had a thing for him. His mind, his blue eyes. But someone gets between them. So, they decide to meet one night at an out-of-the-way little bar. Does that sound familiar? Do I feel familiar? What do you feel? Electricity.


    House: Joint custody.
    Amber: Of Wilson? […] Deal with him.
    Wilson: I don’t know how to deal with him when he’s being reasonable.
    Amber: This is reasonable? This is crazy. You’re not a child, you can make your own plans.
    Wilson: No, crazy is what House would normally do in this situation—swap your lubricant with superglue.
    House: The man knows me.
    Wilson: This is his way of accepting us.

There’s a point in the season when it’s damn near impossible to break the relationship down into different combinations of pairs—is House doing this because Wilson loves Amber, or because he himself likes her? Is Wilson attracted to Amber for herself, or because she’s like House? And the question is repeatedly raised, is Amber in this for Wilson, or for House? By the end of the season, the three are very much wrapped up in each other.

The three are rather stealthily the focus of an episode early in the season, in “97 Seconds” (403). House, in one of his many self-destructive experiments, electrocutes himself. He pages Amber beforehand, and she resuscitates him. The other fellowship applicants speculate why he chose her, and Amber goes to see House after he wakes up. They have the following conversation:

    Amber: Why’d you call me?
    House: Because if I pooped myself in front of Wilson, I’d never hear the end of it.
    Amber: But why not one of the others?
    House: You always had that phone in your hand.
    Amber: We all have cell phones. That’s not the reason. What is?
    House: If I died, you’d never get the job. I knew you wouldn’t let that happen.
    Amber: You don’t think anybody else has any reason to care?

So much happens just in this brief scene. First, the body language: Amber’s without her Cut-Throat Bitch bravado for the first time, a little disturbed by House’s behavior and confused why she was chosen. When House gets up to leave the room, he leans on Amber as a crutch (with a weak attempt at ~sexual tension~ from the writers)—something that’s seen again in “Wilson’s Heart” (416).

House’s initial deflection of Amber’s question contains some truth—he didn’t want Wilson to be the one to find him and have to resuscitate him. If Amber was not yet aware of House and Wilson’s close relationship, she is now. Notably, she screws with Chase, Cameron, and Cuddy, but keeps a distance from Wilson. Again, is this because she knows he’s House’s friend, or because she already likes him?

When Amber specifies her question, House makes up a reason that Amber promptly pokes holes into, and House just makes up another. Either he’s simply deflecting, or House himself doesn’t know why he was drawn to Amber in particular. In the brief conversation, Amber asks a pointed question that hits right at House’s insecurity—which is the same as hers.

Meanwhile, House’s little experiment results in confirming for him there’s nothing after death, and he tells Wilson he loves him, disguised as a joke. And though there is no scene between Amber and Wilson, one-on-one, they surely must have had a conversation after these events. So, looking back, "97 Seconds" sows the seeds of the storyline for the latter part of the season.

In “Mirror, Mirror” (405), the plot device mirror syndrome patient confirms that Wilson does, in fact, have the power in his relationship with House. Why is this good? House has the upper-hand in every other area of his life, including over his boss, so that means Wilson is the one person he can depend on for a challenge. Likewise, House comes to see Amber as an equal, if not someone with power over him; once she’s no longer working for him, House has absolutely no control over her. He dreams and hallucinates her a lot in seasons 4 and 5, and as often he jokes and demands it, she never takes her clothes off. (And the one sexy dream? The most he got was her sitting on his lap!) This dovetails nicely into “Ugly” (407), with a subplot that revolves around House acting stupid around a very attractive, but very dumb woman. Wilson and Amber? Are both attractive and smart. His equals.

    House: This isn’t just about the sex. You like her personality. You like that she’s conniving. You like that she has no regard for consequences. You like that she can humiliate someone if it serves…oh my god. You’re sleeping with me.

Besides the above obvious scene in “Don’t Ever Change” (412), there’s House’s initial confrontation of Amber in her apartment, where he doesn’t seem too pleased to find her wearing Wilson’s McGill sweatshirt. Despite them fighting over Wilson at that moment, there’s some interesting tension between them, and Amber asks, “So…which is it, House? Am I in this for you? Or am I in this for him?” By the end of the episode, they come to some kind of understanding after Amber gives her “love and respect” speech; it’s clear she’s not playing at being Cut-Throat Bitch and trying to take Wilson away from House, and she’s letting him know—and with that, an unspoken acknowledgment of House’s feelings for Wilson.

And other times, the subtext is more like text:

    Wilson: What were you going to tell me?
    House: Nothing.
    Wilson: You’re punishing me?
    House: I needed to tell you something…privately.
    Wilson: I’m not going to tell her.
    House: You’ll tell her. She’s your girlfriend. You should tell her.
    Wilson: You’re my friend.
    House: It’s not the same.
    Wilson: Don’t sulk.
    House: Where am I wrong?

In “Living the Dream” (414), House and Amber do not interact at all, and yet they unknowingly work towards the same ends—getting Wilson to after what he wants, even if he doesn’t have the slightest clue what that is. It all starts with Amber telling Wilson to pick whichever mattress he wants, and when he gets the one he thinks she wants, Amber tells him he needs to focus on taking care of himself for a change. Wilson returns to the store, this time with House; he admits he always wanted a water bed, and as he wavers on the decision, House tells him to just get it. Wilson says Amber will think it’s stupid, to which House replies, “It is stupid. Live the dream, Wilson.” The episode is a fantastic display of how Amber and House are alike and both care for Wilson, but also how they differ and go about reaching the same goal in their own ways, and how Wilson benefits from having both in his life.

    Love, love is a verb
    Love is a doing word

The show’s theme, “Teardrop,” is played for the first and only time during “Wilson’s Heart” (416), and it’s the only time the lyrics are heard. And it’s never more appropriate than here. House suggests doing deep-brain stimulation in order to bring up the memories of the night of the bus crash, but Wilson rules it out as too risky. When the infection in Amber spreads, Wilson goes to House and asks him to try the procedure. And House does. But, ultimately, is he doing it for Wilson? Is he doing it for himself? Is he doing it for Amber?

House remembers the events—he’s at a bar, drinking, and calls Wilson, but gets Amber insead. She shows up to give him a ride home. House winds up running out of the bar to avoid paying and catches the bus, and Amber follows him to return his cane. Even more so than before, the two seem to be at ease with each other. House brings up the recurring question: “You doing this for me or for Wilson?”

Once House has regained his memories of the night, he’s able to determine what’s wrong with Amber, and that there’s nothing that can be done to keep her alive. Aware he is partially responsible for her death, he cries—the first non-hallucinatory tears we get from him the series. Is he crying for Amber, for Wilson, for himself?

The procedure causes House to seize and he goes into a coma. Once again, his subconscious takes the form of Amber:

    House: Am I dead?
    Dream!Amber: Not yet.
    House: Should be.
    Dream!Amber: Why?
    House: Because life shouldn’t be random. Because lonely, misanthropic drug addicts should die in bus crashes, and young do-gooders in love, who get dragged out of their apartments in the middle of the night, should walk away clean.

The following season, House and Wilson's relationship goes on the rocks, but they inevitably patch things up. There is a lot of emphasis on how Wilson hasn’t recovered from Amber’s death, but House doesn’t fare much better than him—he carries the guilt of "killing" her, winds up hallucinating her for a few episodes, and eventually checks into a psychiatric hospital.

Yes, unfortunately, a third of this grouping is dead in canon. But there's an upside: had Amber not been in their lives, House and Wilson would not have begun to finally make more drastic, positive changes in their lives.

[ Cross-posted to [community profile] shareandsharealike and [ profile] jointcustody ]


soophelia: hilson (Default)
[personal profile] soophelia wrote:
Mar. 30th, 2010 09:05 am (UTC)
You should submit this to ship_manifesto at LJ.

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