For the last several weeks, the writers at House have upped the ante with his relationship with Wilson falling apart and coming back together, his father dying, 13 going off the rails, Taub admitting to his wife he had an affair, Cuddy getting and then losing a baby, and Cuddy and House kissing. This week, I think they held. Or maybe folded. I’m not sure.
The POTW is a 16 year old girl whose parents were killed. To avoid going into foster care, she got her GED and was emancipated. Then she got a job as a factory worker, where she collapsed onto a conveyor belt and nearly went into whatever horrifying crushy thing conveyor belts in factories always seem to have. She arrives to House with fluid in her lungs, no previous trauma, lung or cardiac issues, no bacteria and no pneumonia.
Taub shows a little bit of his true colors when he suggests that working in proximity with recent immigrants is a probable cause, but the rest of team jumps to sex and drugs. Except for Kutner, who believes she’s a remarkably mature 16 year old who is sex and drug free. House, in no mood for a differential, tells them to shut up, check her home and work for toxins and drugs, run pregnancy and drug tests, and perform an echocardiogram to check for heart damage which might be caused by drug use. The team scatters, except for Foreman, who asks House if he can run a clinical study. House is in no mood for that either, and refuses, much to Foreman’s dismay.
Kutner tries to connect to the POTW, admitting he lost his parents when he was 6 and the pain never goes away, but does get easier. She admits that she still gets nervous when there’s a knock at the door, expecting a state trooper with more bad news. He tells her she’s already survived the worst, and her heart is healthy. And so is her home, as Taub and 13 find out. But, while searching, 13 makes time to bash Kutner for immaturity and poke Taub by telling him she wouldn’t ask him for relationship advice. Because going out, getting messed up on drugs and sleeping with random women is the height of both maturity and relationship health. On the upside, she finds a bong, so at least she accomplished something constructive while judging her peers.
The team gets back together and though Kutner thinks she needs steroids, the rest of the team opts for beta-blockers on the basis that steroids can kill drug users with irregular heart beats. House specifically asks Foreman to start the meds, but Foreman passes it off to the team and goes to the clinic. Cuddy finds him there and talks him out of needless clinic hours and into taking on a case of his own to prove to House he can handle more than he’s currently doing. I kinda miss the clinic patients. They were always good for a laugh and something tells me the 4 year old vomiting blood Foreman gets isn’t going to offer many chances for humor. During all this, Kutner talks to the POTW who swears she never did drugs, so he opts to forgo the beta-blockers in favor of the steroids. This will all end in tears, I just know it.
The next time we see the POTW, she’s screaming at the staff to leave her alone and has to be given a sedative and put in restraints. Since beta-blockers don’t cause psychotic breaks, Kutner admits he changed treatments. But House blames Foreman for not managing the POTW’s care himself, thus allowing her to fall victim to "empathetic orphan syndrome". On the upside, the fact that her heart didn’t fail on the steroids rules out vasculitis and arrhythmia. Foreman theorizes that prinzmetal angina could cause an artery in her head to spasm and House orders him to perform an fMRI. Foreman tell the team to prep her and call him when she’s ready.
He returns to his 4 year old and gets assistance from the kid’s older brother in talking the boy into swallowing a camera pill which looked like it would barely fit in his mouth much less down his throat. Seriously, that thing looked terrible. But instead of choking, the kids gets a fit of giggles for no good reason. We have another symptom! Foreman goes to Chase and Cameron for a differential. Competing teams? Interesting! They agree to help just in time for Foreman’s beeper to go off, allowing him to leave his patient in their hands. Returning to the POTW, he finds Kutner asking her questions about how she found out her parents were dead. She repeats that a state trooper came to the house and they nab her for lying since the limbic system – which controls imagination – lit up. She admits that her parents aren’t dead, but her dad raped her. Cue the uncomfortable silence.
The team tries to come to terms with this bit of information and how it affects the differential. House opts for extreme stress interrupting the heart-brain connection and tells them to put her on anti-psychotics. 13 goes to treat the POTW, while advising her to press charges to reach closure and reduce her stress. The POTW shows more insight than one might expect when she points out that pressing charges will just label her, as they have labeled her and thus are now treating her with tranquilizers. Except that she never gets that treatment as they notice her urine bag is reddish brown. Meanwhile, Chase and Cameron let Foreman know all their tests were negative just in time for the 4 year to go into cardiac arrest and need to be brought around by paddles. They urge him to talk to House about the kid.
House is worried about his own patient, whom he figures has arsenic poisoning based on the finish the wood furniture she built in her apartment had. They remove the poison from her blood, which causes her to go into seizures. A new MRI reveals that she’s developed lesions on her brain in the last 3 days. House tells them to put the arsenic back. Arsenic used to be a treatment for Leukemia. Now we use bone marrow transplants, but she’s not going to want her parents to donate to save her life. And he’s right, as usual. He seems less right when Foreman asks him for help with the 4 year old and he refuses.
13 is equally stubborn when it comes to respecting the POTW’s decision to not contact her parents. Taub pulls an interesting card, telling the POTW he’s dying of Huntington’s and would do anything to prevent it, but she reminds him her dad raped her and it’s quite a bit different. 13 gets indignant about Taub using her life to lie to the POTW and then she turns around and ignores the POTW’s wishes by finding her parents herself. Which is when she discovers the POTW has stolen someone else’s identity and therefore likely forged her emancipation documents. She tells her that they will need her parent’s consent to treat her and POTW reminds her when she gets sick enough it will be an emergency and they will have to treat her.
Foreman meets with Chase and Cameron again and they wonder if the mother isn’t making her son sick out of desperation, or the older brother out of jealousy. Just like House, Foreman gets hit with a sudden insight and figures out the older brother was giving the boy too many vitamins, causing too much iron to build up in his system and nearly kill him. The POTW has a less easy time of things. Or perhaps, too easy a time. 13 tells House that the POTW’s first impulse was not wanting to give her parents the satisfaction of saving her life. He recognizes it as a rational response and not an emotional one, and therefore she’s lying. Again.
He confronts the POTW himself, and in short order, gets her to admit that her father didn’t rape her. Rather, she can’t face them and feels like she deserves to die, because she killed her younger brother by not watching him when she was supposed to. House points out that by not calling them, she’ll be killing their other child and hands her his phone. She makes the call and her parents arrive for a tearful reunion, while the little boys leave hand in hand.
During the course of the episode, there were a few moments between House and Wilson, where they talked about Cuddy by not talking about Cuddy. House accused Wilson of trying to manipulate him by not telling him what he thought he should do, but for the most part I found their interactions lacked the usual oomph. That aside, there was a moment when Wilson seemed almost pleased that House hadn’t talked to Cuddy like he told him to. Perhaps because he doesn’t want them together after all?
The evening ends with Foreman returning to tell House that he’s going to do the clinical trials. House says OK, pointing out that before, Foreman asked if he could and this time he told House that he was. He can’t say ‘no’ if it’s not a question. Wilson tells House it was a nice thing he did for Foreman, not stepping in and letting him figure it out on his own. It draws a nice parallel with how Wilson had not stepped in and is letting House figure things out on his own. Yet, to me…it feels a little too clean.
There wasn’t a whole lot of funny this week, but here’s my favorites:
House: Steroids could cause an irregular heartbeat, making her current one Irregular-er-er.
House: Foreman, start her on beta-blockers. The rest of you, do anything that isn’t starting her on beta-blockers.
Cuddy: House did something out of self interest? Freaky.
Cameron: Don’t you work with 3 other doctors and a grouchy gimp?
So, did this week feel like filler before the writers pull out all the stops with their apparently "extended episode" next week? Do you think Wilson is really stepping back from pushing House and Cuddy together because he thinks House can manage on his own, or because he doesn’t really want them together?