This week, we watched House dissociate from his own emotions. Well, he dissociated even further from them than he usually does, which is quite a feat when you really think about. He’s an exceptionally talented guy.
The patient of the week is an American woman in China, trying to find her biological parents with the help of a translator. She’s tracked a couple down to a temple, but when she approaches them we don’t need any translation to know they want nothing to do with her. I don’t know of any culture in which spitting is a sign of welcome. The translator tries telling the woman that she wasted a trip, but she is convinced the couple are her biological parents. She asks the man to explain the prayer custom to her and he tells her to make a wish and lift the statue of Buddha, then repeat the wish and lift again. If she cannot lift Buddha the second time, her wish will be granted. That’s better odds than the lottery! Of course, as she attempts to lift the statue the second time, she can’t and then she collapses, spitting up blood. Which I don’t think is part of the prayer ritual.
The POTW gets to House because he went looking for her. Well, not her specifically, but he went through Cameron’s charts in the ER to find one that struck his fancy. He did this to avoid his mother’s repeated phone calls. When Kutner tells him her message sounded urgent, House replies "That’s how women sound when their spouse of 50 years dies". He insists that he is fine with the news of his father’s death while the team continues to insist he call his mom. Guess who wins?
Instead of calling his mom, House goes to see the POTW, where he also meets her adoptive parents and finds out that she has a problem with alcohol. They also went to her apartment to bring all her prescriptions in, including the licorice root the Chinese doctors were using to treat her. House concludes that she has SARS and starts her on treatment. Cuddy gives him a shot since the patient coughed all over him and tells him to go to his father’s funeral and deliver the eulogy that his mother requested, but House isn’t budging. Meanwhile, the POTW tries to downplay the seriousness of SARS until Kutner explains to her that everyone she has been in contact with will also need treatment. She asks if the doctor she coughed on is OK just in time for us to see House collapse in his office.
Meanwhile, the POTW is going into tachycardic arrest so Kutner calls for a crash cart. However, one look at her abdomen and he knows her liver is failing, which means it’s not SARS. Which is good news for House. The bad news is that he is in a car heading for his father’s funeral because Cuddy drugged him. Better news is that Wilson is driving, even though he claims to only be doing so for House’s mom. In an effort to keep House under control, Wilson has taken control of his Vicodin, his cane and his phone. When the team’s ring (Mmm Bop? Really?) goes off, Wilson puts it on speaker phone.
They inform House that the POTW got a blood clot, but they figure their own course of action and charge ahead. House doesn’t want to charge ahead, so he asks Wilson to make a rest stop. Wilson reluctantly agrees after House threatens to pee on the floor and only gives House his cane when he promises to attend the funeral. Or maybe it was because House began talking about the summer his father didn’t talk to him for 2 months and he felt sorry for him. Either way, Wilson should know better than to take him at his word and House soundly reminds him of that by whacking Wilson’s hand with his cane, causing him to drop the car keys down a storm grate.
Back at the hospital, Kutner goes to the POTW’s room, but she isn’t there. She’s outside, smoking. Kutner tries to talk her into going back inside, but she’s adamant in her addiction, so he sits on the bench beside her to administer his tests. While doing so, he admits that he was adopted by white parents at age 9, but he doesn’t get far in his story before the patient starts bleeding profusely. Which is a bad sign in a person who earlier was clotting too much. The team discusses the new symptoms, deciding to look for a GI tumor by CT Scan.
At the rest stop, House continues to try to confound his former friend at every turn, but Wilson prevails and soon they are on the road again. Which is when House tells Wilson that he figured out at age 12 that his father was not actually his father. He states that his dad was deployed in Okinawa around the time he should have been conceived, his father’s second toe was longer than his big toe, a trait he didn’t share, and that he had a red birthmark similar to that a ‘friend of the family‘ had. Wilson refutes all this evidence by pointing out that if House really believed his father was not biologically related to him, he would have done DNA testing by now. At least, that is what he would have said if House hadn’t used his cane to push down on the gas pedal, causing him to speed past a police cruiser.
The team calls just in time to hear Wilson get arrested for an outstanding warrant in Louisiana. House listens to the POTW’s developments and is about to launch into one of his famously cryptic analogies when the cop hangs up his phone and puts him in handcuffs too. I am not sure why and that is never clarified, but it leaves the team to try to figure out where he was going with his construction site and steamroller story. In the interim, Wilson and House are taken to the station while the cop awaits word from Louisiana on whether they want to pick up Wilson for vandalism, destruction of property and assault. Yes, I’m serious. It seems that years ago at a medical convention, Wilson was at a bar and got rather irritated when another patron played the same Billy Joel song over and over on the jukebox. So, he threw a bottle, which broke a mirror and incited a fight. House, a total stranger, bailed him out because he seemed like the only non-boring person at the convention. Based on the story and the fact that Louisiana doesn’t want them, they are free to go.
Interestingly, back at the hospital, Foreman is working with Cameron and Chase on the differential and it’s almost like old times. Even more interesting is that apparently the new team is also still working, separately. And they all come to the same conclusion at almost the same time. It’s gallstones. At least, that’s what they think until they find out the POTW’s urine has turned brown, which means her kidneys are struggling. They call House again and he tells them of course it isn’t gallstones. It’s cysts. Or rather, what caused the cysts. 13 recommends they inject bubbles into the cysts and run an ultrasound to see what direction they drift to further their diagnosis and House agrees. It’s a test that is made more difficult because the POTW is detoxing from alcohol and has the shakes, leaving the team to induce a coma.
It’s obvious House would rather be in a coma himself as they arrive at the funeral, where his mother has held up the ceremony to wait for him. She tells House that he’ll be speaking, leaving little room for him to maneuver and despite Wilson’s obvious misgivings. As they wait, House points out the man he believes to be his actual father, a claim Wilson finds even more ridiculous given that he resembles Sean Connery. Clearly, it would be every 12 year old boy’s dream to believe his real dad was James Bond, but House went further and told his dad his belief. Which is what led to the summer he didn’t speak to his son.
During the eulogy, House mentions that the members of the Marine Corps that are present are all either his father’s rank or higher. He claims this is no surprise, adding that if the test of a man is how he treats those he has power over, his dad failed. He goes on to say that his father could never see any point of view other than his own, punished failure and didn’t accept anything less than…but he stops suddenly and changes tracks. Softening his approach, he talks about how his father loved what he did and saw it as a sacred calling that was more important than anything else. His final words are "If he had been a better father, maybe I would be a better son. But I am what I am because of him, for better or worse. I just wish…" which is when he almost seems to break down.
Instead, he stops, drops his head and walks to the casket, leaning over to kiss his father on the forehead. Wilson looks stunned, then suspicious, as he goes to join his friend beside his the coffin. Where he sees House take a slice of his father’s ear lobe with a pair of nail clippers. He whispers for him to put it back, but when House threatens to cause a scene, they each walk away from the casket and the ceremony itself. An argument erupts in another room of the funeral home as they each point out the other’s flawed manner of dealing with relationships and loss. It’s an argument that comes to an abrupt end when House tries to get Wilson to admit that he is terrified of losing him by repeating "Admit it!" over and over again. Until Wilson throws a bottle through a window. Not boring!
At a diner not long after, House admits that he had done some investigating about Wilson at the convention based on the fact that the oncologist was carrying around a package that he didn’t seem to want to open. Divorce papers. Wilson believes this means House did something genuinely nice for a stranger who was in pain, but House avoids answering to the idea when the team calls. They claim the ultrasound images are grainy, but House disputes this, saying an iron overload would make them appear grainy so they need to run an MRI instead. He then instructs them to call him back when they are embarrassed by the fact that his eyesight is better than theirs from 50 miles away.
He also decides to make a few calls of his own, namely to the POTW’s translator. He asks if the couple she confronted were tan or had bad teeth, but the translator isn’t able to provide any useful information beyond his own belief that the couple were not her parents because the man was adamant and the woman confused and scared. House relays the information to Wilson and they begin to theorize why the couple would react that way. Based on the fact that the couple were peasants and the POTW was born in 1983, after China enacted it’s 1 child per family policy, they decide that the man probably tried to kill her with a fat soluble toxin. When they arrive back at the hospital they find that the team has yet to run the MRI because the POTW vomits when they try. House says that’s what nurses are for and tells them to get the MRI anyway. He then goes on to explain his attempted murder theory and they all try to figure out why it was triggered when she tried to lift the statue the second time. Which is when House gets an epiphany and calls Taub to stop the MRI and avoid killing her.
It’s a disturbing tale that begins with the POTW’s biological father pushing metal pins through the soft spot of her infant skull. When that failed to kill her, he panicked and abandoned her at an orphanage. When she came to China as an adult, she found them at an unscrupulous temple that periodically used magnets to secure their statue to its pedestal periodically. When the magnets were activated after the first lift, they caused one of the pins in her brain to move, setting off the illness. Her adoptive parents ask that she not be told her biological parents wanted her dead, an idea Kutner argues against. He points out that one of the pins was pressing on her addiction center, so she is not who they think she is.
The evening ends with Wilson dropping by House’s office to find him drinking over the DNA results from his father’s ear, which prove they were not related. House intones that it is the fact that the information makes no difference at all which depresses him. Perhaps it is an attempt to cheer him up that Wilson reveals he is coming back to the hospital, admitting that the "strange, annoying trip" they just took was the most fun he’d had since Amber’s death.
My favorite moments of the night:
House: Four parents and not one of them taught you to cover your mouth.
Cuddy: Drop your pants.
House: You know I usually pay tens of dollars to hear that.
House: Eulogy; Greek for ‘good word’. Now if she asked me to deliver a bastardogy…
House: He was my father and I have the right to avoid his funeral if I want to.
Cop: Not if your mother is alive, you don’t.
How great was it to see the original team working together? Do you think Wilson accepts that sometimes you can’t pick your friends? Does it mean he forgives House? Do you think he should or should their relationship change?