Emmy winner Greg Yaitanes has been directing episodes of House since 2004 and has worked as an executive producer on the series since 2009. This year he will be departing the show (although he will still be listed as a consulting producer), which may or may not go on to a ninth season, to take on production duties of Banshee, a forthcoming Cinemax series.
“It’s bittersweet to leave House,” Yaitanes told me in a recent phone interview. “But it’s very exciting to start at the very beginning and try to build something from the ground up and take all the amazing life lessons I’ve learned in the last three years of producing and take them to my next thing.”
He is proud of the February 6 episode of House, “Nobody’s Fault,” which is his directorial grand finale for the show. Out of the 30 episodes he’s directed he calls this one his favorite.
“Nobody’s Fault” is a game-changer. It has taken everything we know about the character and the series and brought them to a place we never thought we’d see them go (although we may have had our suspicions they'd get there one day). During our conversation, Yaitanes discussed the episode and why he feels it commands such a special place in the House universe.
Through the years, House has been in prison, rehab, and a mental institution and come out essentially the same guy who went in. But in “Nobody’s Fault” he is, for the first time, faced with the fact he just might have to give up his unconventional methods and change his ways. This time did he finally take things too far even by Houseian standards?
The impact of this episode will affect House going forward forever.
You’ve said out of the 30 episodes you’ve directed this is your favorite. That’s a strong statement considering how you’ve directed brilliant episodes like "House’s Head" and "Help Me." What is it about “Nobody’s Fault” you feel makes it superior to anything else you’ve done in the House universe?
The other episodes stood alone in their own scope. It’s really an example of every episode of the show being critical to why this episode is so important. So it’s needed every episode before it to be relevant. I think it really vents an issue that we can relate to in any environment. Who is responsible for recklessness — the person who’s being reckless or the person who creates an environment in which it’s okay to be reckless?
It’s really an episode so rare in television to get the viewer as involved as anybody. We’re just as responsible for what happened because we’ve cheered and laughed and thought House was outrageous. And now someone’s gotten hurt. So I don’t know what show really turns the mirror on the audience the way this episode does.
It’s my favorite because it’s been my dream to do a piece like this. To have two people across the table with such talent as Jeffrey and Hugh, and just examine. Internal scope. "Help Me" was a huge epic in size. This is epic in its smallness. The internal nature. Internally epic.
"Baggage" was a similar type of episode.
Yeah, but that I didn’t get to indulge. There’s a nugget of that that I got to explore and with this. It’s like if I got a bite of ice cream, now I get to have the whole gallon.
What challenges did you face in filming "Nobody's Fault"?
The challenge in the episode was there’s so many moving parts to it; there’s so many levers and complicated elements to the story. I think the biggest challenge was getting it all done in the time that we had available. We combined a lot of scenes in order to get through the day’s work and to also give the actors the most out of it.
When I first read the script I thought it was a great piece of theater and I didn’t want to get in the actors’ way. So to pull it off I wanted the actors to be able to go through as many pages of script as possible. So sometimes we’re doing those scenes five scenes in and yet I still want to make sure we don’t feel repetitive visually. It was tricky.
There was deceptively a lot of work in the interrogation scenes. It was complicated and as detailed as any action scene I’ve ever directed. The tipping bus in "House’s Head" was easier in some ways than the choreography behind the interrogation scenes in “Nobody’s Fault.”
Dr. Walter Cofield (Jeffrey Wright, Casino Royale, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is a formidable opponent for House. Has House finally met his match?
I agree that Cofield is a formidable opponent and the reason I reached out to Jeffrey to do this was I needed someone across that table that was House’s match. I do feel that House has met his match with Dr. Cofield. It’s very important that you have to have someone on the other side of that table who can also be Hugh’s match. Hugh is such a phenomenal talent that you have to put a phenomenal talent across the table. There was nobody who came to mind except for Jeffrey the second I heard about the story.
Will the repercussions from this episode resonate for the rest of the season?
One hundred percent.
Any hints of what’s to come for the remainder of season 8?
I would imagine the rest of the season will be influenced by if there’s another season to follow. That’s a question on all our minds. It’s not my decision to make and I have no insight into if the show is coming back or not but I think it's an amazing show that can keep telling stories for years.
The House episode "Nobody's Fault" airs on Monday, February 6 at 8 PM on FOX.