Omarepps_house_s4_240The problem: How to introduce a half-dozen new characters on House, a show that rarely has time to slow down for exposition and personal shadings? The solution? Tuesday (Oct. 30) night’s clumsy, yet informative episode.

[I’m never sure what could be spoiled in a recap of a procedural, but if you don’t want to run the risk, don’t.]

Titled "Mirror, Mirror," the episode’s Patient o’ the Week was played by the always welcome Frank Whaley. In addition to a dramatically reduced body temperature, weird honey-combed patterns under his skin and sludgy blood, the patient suffered from, well, being psychic.

In reality, the guy had something The Good Doctor called Mirror Syndrome, an empathetic mimicry condition that gave him the magical ability to impersonate the most authoritative person in any room. Basic Googling hasn’t helped me uncover an iota of information on the condition, but it was mostly a magical writers’ device. With only the most minimal of sample sizes, the patient was able to tap into the innermost thoughts (or body language, at least) of the adjacent Alpha doc.

Despite the contrivance, we only learned little bits about the aspiring cottages that we didn’t know before. Cutthroat B**** (Amber, if you prefer) knows that people don’t like her, so she has to always be right to compensate. Peter Jacobson’s Taub is married, but finds himself attracted to the domineering Amber. Andy Comeau’s amazingly dull Brennan is bored with this job and wants to go back to his altruistic humanitarian medicine. Doctor Kumar (errr… Kutner) is a new experience junkie and a bit of masochist. The big secret was supposed to involve Olivia Wilde’s No. 13, a secret so intriguing that House voluntarily saw a patient just to tag along with her. Instead, the patient only mirrored House and we discovered that House thinks No. 13 is hot, which was every bit as shocking as the final domination showdown between House and Cuddy, decided when the patient channeled House and complimented Cuddy’s breasts (we also learned No. 13 is scared, which doesn’t get to the root of her sure-to-be  shocking secret).

Frankwhaley_house_240There was a lesson to be learned from the Mirror Syndrome Guy (whose other symptoms had something to do with pig poop): Every one of the cottages had a truth or weakness exposed, but none could do anything about it.

"People don’t learn," he said. "They don’t change. You did. You’re a freak."

He was talking to Foreman, who returned in a mostly unspecified advisory capacity, working as part of House’s team, but under Cuddy’s jurisdiction. Although he initially professed to misery, Foreman realized that he really liked working under House’s watch.

Duh. We’re glad to have him back.

There was lots of good stuff around the edges this week.

Some favorite moments:

  • House making tonight a non-elimination leg to help The House (oddsmaker Chase) win in the hospital termination pool, all to collect a 50 percent cut. I still would have liked to see the House-Chase scene setting that up.
  • Wilson realizing the implications of the Mirror Syndrome patient impersonating him and not House in an O.R. room, declaring "I am in charge of our relationship." That’s the second time this season that the writers have throw a bone directly to the House-Wilson ‘shippers.
  • Kutner performing a pelvic example on a psychosomatic food poisoning patient and justifying himself with, "She said her hoo-hoo burned." Is this the end of Shonda Rhimes’ "vajayjay" tyranny?
  • Cuddy switching House’s pain pills for laxatives, leading to a long and somewhat gross bathroom scene ("Smell that? Not gonna get sweeter.") and House’s response,  "I know when my Vicodin isn’t vicodin. Do you know when your birth control pills aren’t birth control?"
  • And more Mormon baiting. House wouldn’t let Big Love near the mirroring patient predicting, "He’s going to wind up singing Osmonds songs and proposing to five nurses at once."

    Any thoughts on this week’s episode?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg