Tonight, House was introduced to a new way to approach health care reform: armed and dangerously.
The slow-motion opening montage is proof positive that this is sure to be a dramatic evening. Or perhaps melodramatic. 13 is performing clinic hours and is accosted by a man insisting all he needs is a refill for his migraine meds, but she’s only interested in seeing emergency patients. The guy rightly points out that she’s not in the ER and she warns him not to piss her off. Her bedside manner is as warm and fuzzy as House himself – who is at that same moment, rifling through Cuddy’s desk. Foreman approaches 13 and offers her a place in his Huntington’s drug trial, but she passes, admitting she’s not doing any treatment at all.
A patient comes in from the waiting room and asks if Cuddy is in and House promptly tells the man to get lost. He does, but he’s back a moment later, with a gun in hand and about a dozen hostages – including 13 and migraine man. He demands to see the best doctor in the hospital, otherwise he’s going to start killing people. The man has seen 16 doctors and had countless tests in the last two years and still no one can identify what his shortness of breath, random rashes, heart palpitations, stomach pains and insomnia are related to. And he’s willing to go to jail to get a diagnosis. It’s the perfect patient for House!
The hospital is evacuated and House gets to work on the POTW. And by ‘get to work’, I mean ‘try to figure out why he’s come in with a gun to get a diagnosis’. He insinuates that the man’s wife left him, only to find out he’s never been married. Stymied, he asks one of the hostages for a lighter. One of them makes a move towards Cuddy’s desk and he warns them all not to touch it. Interesting. A lighter is passed over and when the POTW can’t blow it out from arm’s length, we get the first possible diagnosis: pulmonary scleroderma. House says "Case solved, see you on visitor’s day", but we all know that was way too easy.
The phone rings and House answers it with a merry "Crime scene!" to hear Cuddy asking if everyone is OK. The POTW wants a test to confirm the diagnosis and House gamely orders up a shot, to be delivered by Cuddy. She’s clearly nervous about House’s involvement, but it’s less clear if she’s nervous because she cares or just because…well, it’s House. When the shot arrives, the POTW balks and wants it to be given to a hostage first. House points out that the hostages are all either sick, pregnant or on painkillers themselves and the POTW points out that migraine main is pain med free, since that’s why he was there in the first place. Migraine man tells them to give it to 13 instead and House calls him a creep before giving him the shot.
House then approaches the POTW to administer the same shot, but before he can, migraine main falls to the floor. The POTW points the gun at House, but has to agree when House illustrates the err in logic behind shooting the doctor who’s working on his diagnosis. So he shoots a hostage in the leg instead, just to prove he’s not to be messed with. The phone is ringing again but the POTW is not in the mood to talk, so he simply picks up and hangs up, as outside, SWAT moves in. The head of SWAT asks Cuddy if she has a loved one inside and she denies it, but the look on her face speaks differently.
House gets the old and new teams on a conference call and lists the POTW’s symptoms. Chase storms out in protest of giving the guy what he wants and the rest of them get their assignments, as far as test running and house snooping. Back in Cuddy’s office, the POTW suddenly freaks out, hearing people at the window. He peeks through the blinds into the barrel of a weapon and points his gun at the nearest hostage, telling SWAT to back away. House notices a small bug on the window, but is more interested in the new symptom that emerged, since the POTW heard them at the window when no one else did. He and 13 theorize on what could cause amped hearing as well as a general weakness on the left side of the face. And I thought crooked grins were charming.
They come up with another diagnostic theory, only the test for this one (a form of herpes) is incredibly painful if the person does not have the illness. When House orders up 200 micrograms of capsaicin, it makes sense why it would hurt. Capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers. If the herpes infection is present in the nerves, apparently the person will remain pain free. A few hostages are released in exchange for the drug, the one he shot and the migraine man, and 13 is the next lucky hostage to get the treatment before the POTW. This garners House’s disgust as he accuses her of waving the white flag at life because of her Huntington’s. She doubles over in pain, leaving House to muse "I would have laid money that you had herpes."
House prepares the next dose for the POTW and theorizes that he was defined by his work but all his illness made him sloppy and got him fired. The POTW asserts that he just wants to know what’s wrong with him. Well, we know it’s not the herpes diagnosis, because he falls to the floor in pain when he gets the shot. Not long after, the POTW’s heart begins racing and 13 suggests they get the paddles. House points out the the muscle contraction the electricity causes will fire the gun, so they wisely opt for a chemical intervention instead. Again, the POTW insists that 13 take it first, regardless of the fact that her heart is not racing. She collapses as her heart rate drops and he agrees to take the shot, bringing his back to normal.
With no signs of tachycardia and sweat coming out of only one side of his face, House moves to a new diagnosis: cancer. Wilson takes the consult call, but the POTW wants more proof. A handful more hostages released and with the remaining 5 tied around him for body shielding, they make their way to radiology. House again tries to psychoanalyze the POTW and finally gets the answer we all knew was there – the POTW can’t handle not having an answer. Just like House.
In a plot point I am confident we could all see a mile away, the POTW must relinquish his gun to get results from the CT scan, since the metal in his hand is interfering with the machine. As the gun is handed over, 2 hostages run out leaving just 13, House and a teenage boy who wants to see how it will all end. Of course, the test shows no cancerous tumor and as the POTW sits devastated with the knowledge that it’s all over, House hands him back the gun and gets back to work on his differential. The entire moment is well acted, but so glaringly obvious that I can’t help but feel disappointed. Outside, the SWAT leader tells Cuddy that he hopes her boyfriend knows what he’s doing, and I barely kept myself from rolling my eyes.
The team gets back on the line, but Foreman announces he agrees with Chase and leaves. A new theory is produced with a new drug needing to be administered. The SWAT leader negotiates the teen’s freedom and tells the POTW that they can’t test anymore drugs on 13, who’s barely able to remain upright at this point. When the drug arrives, the POTW changes the game and demands 13 take it first. Given that it is designed to affect her breathing, House reveals she has Huntington’s and tells the POTW he’s killing her. We can hardly expect the POTW to care, and he doesn’t. 13 takes the drugs and soon after goes into kidney failure. The POTW takes it, to no effect.
The team and House try to figure out what’s protecting the POTW’s kidneys, which somehow works out to House needing to slap the POTW for diagnostic purposes. The new theory that arises from the smack is ameliodosis. With the final drug on delivery, the POTW is down to one more trade. He opts to give up House, since he wants to give 13 the meds first. House assures him the medication will kill 13, but the POTW doesn’t care, he wants his answer. This would have been a great moment to have House stare his own obsession in the face, but nothing of the like happens, alas. 13 points out that she’s dead either way and House simply leaves.
13, now alone with the POTW and the syringe of her doom, suddenly grows a will to live. She cries and admits she doesn’t want to die but the POTW argues that she just doesn’t want to do it herself, she wants it out of her control and now it is, since he has a gun. She continues to cry and Olivia does a very moving portrayal of a person begging for her life. I just found it hard to connect the moment with the nasty, self-centered, destructive 13 we’ve seen all season. But, the POTW is moved and grabs the syringe from her, plunging it into his own arm, as the SWAT team’s charges finally go off and blow a hole in the wall. They rush in to subdue the POTW and House rushes in to get to 13, asking how she’s still alive. She tells him "he didn’t make me take it". Which is one way of putting it, but for someone who was sobbing a moment earlier and was just caught in a bomb blast, she’s remarkably calm all of the sudden.
The show ends with 13 going on dialysis and asking Foreman to be included in the drug study for Huntington’s. Meanwhile, House shows up in Cuddy’s office as she surveys the damage and announces his diagnosis was confirmed. They have a brief confrontation about how House handled the POTW and how she handled the situation because of House’s involvement and how it proves they can’t have a ‘thing’. House points out that if she’s blaming the outcome on their non-relationship, the only answer is to do the opposite. She asks him, in awe, if he wants a relationship now and he denies it, heading for the door. She sits at her desk and opens the drawer, only to have it spill it’s contents on her feet, since House had put it in upside down.
POTW: I’m looking for Dr. Cuddy…
House: Either she’s not here or she’s under the desk. Either way, leave me alone until I’m finished.
POTW: Dr. Cuddy brings in the drugs. Alone.
House: She might be armed. I’d have her deliver it shirtless.
Cameron: Ameliadosis? It fits all the symptoms.
House: It would if he had ever been in a tropical region.
Cameron: Costa Rica? Panama? He’s never been…
POTW: I’ve never been anywhere south of Florida!
House: … YOU IDIOT!
POTW: Florida counts?
So, I think it’s clear I found this episode disappointing and didn’t believe the turn around in 13. Did you think for a moment that they might actually kill off 13 tonight, or did you find the outcome predictable? Is House meandering, or is it just me? It just felt like this episode should have been more.