The Wife:

I’m writing a House twofer this week because last week I realized that I don’t really like writing about House. I don’t dislike watching it by any means, but it’s probably the most formulaic of all the procedurals I watch and that makes it a lot less interesting to write about. Nonetheless, last week’s “The Itch” and this week’s “Emancipation” both did something really interesting: they listened to the fans and came up with ways to fully utilize House’s old team, as well as the new team. As crowded as the cast is now, using both teams is actually kind of working out, so I hope the Season 4 detractors are happy now.

“The Itch”

The title refers to a bug bite on House’s hand that he just can’t stop scratching, creating a large, gross wound that he can deal with, as opposed to the large, gross wound in his heart from his unresolved kiss with Cuddy. Wilson believes that the fact that these two won’t talk about their feelings is causing them both to act differently, which neither party will admit, ultimately leading to spineless Wilson growing some balls and calling House out on his inability to have relationships with anyone, especially with someone he really loves, like Cuddy.

Well, everyone, it looks like the leg bone is, in fact, connected to the hip bone.

Well, everyone, it looks like the leg bone is, in fact, connected to the hip bone.

The POW in “The Itch” is an agoraphobic man who refuses to be taken out of his home by EMTs, thus making him Cameron’s case. Because of the highly unusual case (good to see everyone out of PPH), Cameron consults with House and his team. They can’t use any of the traditional hospital machinery, so Cameron and Co. start by looking for indicator markers in the blood via EEG testing to try and find out what’s wrong. Knowing that the patient had a seizure when he was first “brought to the ER,” Cameron tries to induce seizures any way possible, to no avail. House decides to bring in outsiders to test the patient’s agoraphobic response, but the patient only experiences intense stomach pain, not seizures, which they assume is an obstructed bowel. House tricks the patient into having in-home surgery, but secretly brings him into the hospital once he’s under sedation. Cuddy intervenes and keeps the patient from going back to his home, for fear of post-surgical infection. Obviously, the patient is none too pleased that he has woken up in the hospital and threatens to sue. Cuddy, in return, tosses Cameron and Chase off the case.

Cameron tries again to get the patient to agree to in-home surgery, but promises to only do it in-home this time. No tricks. Taub operates, and they discover afterward that the POW’s toes have gone numb, which House thinks is an indicator of Celiac’s Disease, so they start force-feeding him gluten to see if they can progress his condition. When that doesn’t work, House wonders if the patient hasn’t been accidentally poisoning himself with household chemicals that have built up in his bloodstream and weakened his heart from constant exposure. He then realizes that its actually lead poisoning from shrapnel left in the patient’s side from a gun shot wound years prior. The shrapnel has been acting like a time-release poison that finally let loose. The gun shot occurred several years earlier when he and his girlfriend were mugged. She died from her wound, while he survived and became completely introverted and increasingly afraid of the world.

The writers made the connection between House’s misanthropy and the POW’s agoraphobia pretty explicit in a lovely end sequence to this episode, wherein House rides over to Cuddy’s house and approaches her door, but can’t quite ring the bell, and the POW finally, for the first time in seven years, leaves his house and touches his feet to his front steps.

I appreciated the use of Cameron and Chase in this episode, even though it was at the expense of (mostly) Kutner, and I loved that end sequence.

[Husband Note: It seems a lot of people have been searching online for who played the agoraphobic, or, more importantly, what they know him from. His name is Todd Louiso, and I will always know him as Dick from High Fidelity.]

“Emancipation”

I dont need you to be smarmy, I need you to be my conscience.

I don't need you to be smarmy, I need you to be my conscience.

In this episode, an emancipated minor is the POW and Foreman tries his damndest to emancipate himself from House by working on clinical trials. Without House’s consent, he takes a pediatrics diagnostics case from Cuddy in order to help him prove that he can work two cases at once. Foreman’s case actually broke my heart a little bit because I really don’t like the idea of children being deathly ill. I think the worst part of this story for me was when the little boy crashed and the nurses had to bring out the tiny children’s defibrillator paddles. Tiny paddles shouldn’t have to exist. I know that they do, because every human body is weak and fallible, but I’d prefer to not think that they do. They make me really, really sad. Almost as sad as stories about animal abuse. But, Foreman’s case did come with the upside of utilizing Cameron and Chase as “his team” while House worked on the main POW with his fellows.

House’s POW also gave me something I’ve been fucking whining about all season: a Kutner arc! Well, it sort of did. Kutner identified with the POW, a 16-year-old factory employee and emancipated minor. She tells him that she was emancipated after her parents’ death because she didn’t want to go into foster care. Because of his emotional connection to her (his parents died when he was 6), he’s willing to believe her and stand up for her, until the minute he realizes that she’d been lying to him all along when he asks her about her dead parents in the MRI machine and sees her limbic system light up – the part of the brain that utilizes the imagination. She then admits that she got emancipated from her parents, not because they’re dead, but because her father raped her and her mother covered it up. Here, Kutner is done with her and its time for Thirteen to try her hand at the case.

Where the team had previously thought vasculitis, they now move on to a diagnosis of arsenic poisoning from the homemade furniture that may have been produced using chemically treated woods. Sofia starts convulsing when Thirteen gives her the treatment for the arsenic poisoning, which leads the team to realize that lesions have formed in her brain. The arsenic in her bloodstream was actually treating those legions: she has leukemia and will need a marrow transplant. Thirteen tries to convince the girl to call her parents as they will give her the best match, despite what they may have done to her in the past. Taub steals Thirteen’s Huntington’s diagnosis to try to rationalize with the girl about taking the marrow transplant to save her life, as people like Thirteen have no chance at surviving their diseases. Still, the girl refuses.

Thirteen goes to find the girls parents and tell them that she’s dying, but instead she finds that Sofia has stolen the identity of a perfectly healthy girl and as been living as her. Angry, Thirteen (whose real name we find out is Remy Hadley, to which I say, who the fuck are your parents?), confronts the girl about her stolen identity, which she claims is because she didn’t want her parents to find her. House knows that she’s lying. She covered up her rape with dead parents, so House believes that the rape story may also be a lie to cover up something worse, a notion which led me to this question: what the fuck could be worse than being raped? The answer, clearly, is being murdered. But since Sofia is alive, there really isn’t much worse than being raped. For her, it’s accidentally killing her younger brother. More accurately, letting him die when she wasn’t watching him. That’s sad, but that’s not worse than being raped. I think we can call agree that this POW doesn’t quite have the same scale of awfulness as everyone else has. I’m sure she feels very guilty about this accident, but it was an accident. Being raped? That’s not an accident. That’s an actual crime. Anyway, House reunites her with her parents who will presumably forgive her and save her life with precious bone marrow.

Meanwhile, with Cameron and Chase’s help, Foreman manages to solve his case of a four year-old boy who seemingly has nothing wrong with his stomach but is getting sicker and sicker, and eventually crashes. Cameron and Chase beg Foreman to cave to House when the boy crashes, but House refuses to help because it isn’t his case. Eventually, Foreman realizes that the boy’s older brother was unintentionally making him sick by giving him too many vitamins, causing the boy to overdose on iron. This was a pretty sad realization as well, because the older brother really thought he was helping his brother grow stronger by eating more vitamins. He laments that his brother will hate him forever, but Foreman assures the older boy that his brother knows how much he loves him and cares about him and that he won’t be mad because it was a simple mistake, some advice I’m sure Sofia would have loved to hear the day her brother died.

In the end, House allows Foreman to do clinical trials, this time because he told House he would be doing them, like an adult, where as the last time, he asked for permission – a distinction which makes all the difference for House.

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