House


The Wife:

The final four episodes of this season of House almost made up for Kutner’s random-ass suicide in their inventiveness. Almost. I thoroughly enjoyed the return of Amber as House’s ghostly hallucination and his three-episode quest to discern exactly what’s wrong with him, either way knowing that if he’s crazy, he can’t practice medicine, and if he’s experiencing side effects from his Vicodin addiction, he can’t practice medicine because once he’s clean he’ll be in too much pain. Anne Dudek was delightful has his subconscious manifestation throughout this arc, especially the moment in which she reappears after House thinks he has staved her off by OD’ing on insulin, singing old jazz standards over the microphone at his bar, echoing her first appearance beside his piano. But nothing, really, was more chilling than the final episode, when House realizes he’d hallucinated the entire night he spend kicking Vicodin with Cuddy, ending in the two of them sleeping together. Reliving all of the moments we saw of him flipping coins or examining a tube of lipstick are replayed with Vicodin bottles replacing those objects, suggesting a very powerful drug addiction that has completely taken over House’s life, was pretty brilliant. Frankly, I’d prefer more arcs like this, rather than so many one-off episodes. But what else are you going to do with a 24-episode season? So while everyone else attends Cameron and Chase’s wedding (they spent these past few episodes almost not getting married because a. Cameron kind of got cold feet b. House nearly killed Chase with a stripper covered in strawberry body butter . . . that apparently was made with actual strawberry extract and c. Chase was being a dick to Cameron about keeping her dead husband’s sperm on ice because he took it to mean that she thought they weren’t going to work out, rather than, you know, being the last thing she has to hold on to of her fucking husband), House checks himself in to a mental institution . . . which he will inevitably check himself out of at the beginning of next season because you can do that kind of thing with you are voluntarily committed.

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

I should have known this was too good to be true . . .

As far as the patients were concerned, I’m often irritated by how precious the conceits are in which every patient is a metaphor for someone on the team, etc. So I totally get why the guy with split brain whose hand was not his hand was necessary for the metaphor of the finale, it was also perhaps added just a tad too much levity, despite how much Thirteen et all tried to tell me it was creepy. The only patient that really got to me out of this bunch was the ballerina who lost her skin. A lot of my research deals with holes in the surface of the body, mitigations of that surface or the abjecta beneath the surface, but I found her skinlessness to actually be quite frightening. Perhaps its because I’ve had skin cancer that I find the idea of losing that much skin so terrifying (which, for the record, makes no sense, because the removal of skin cancers just leaves some awesome scars), but its more likely the fact that, without the mitigation of the surface, the inside is all that much more frightening. We forget that our skin is the largest organ on our bodies, and so it is vital that we take care of it. Losing a little bit when you scrape your elbow or knee is fine, and hardly horrifying, but losing so much that we are exposed so wholly to the world is truly unsettling. And deadly. I shuddered for that poor girl. She’s just damn lucky that Princeton-Plainsboro has so many fresh cadavers from which to harvest grafts. I know the episode wanted us to sympathize more with the possibility that she, a dancer, would have to have her gangrenous hands and feet removed in order to live (Taub managed to revive the tissue, somehow), but the loss of her flesh was something I couldn’t get out of my head. And I doubt I will.

So, damn you, House, you actually got me. Good for you.

Considering how poorly I did at keeping up with House this year, I don’t think I’ll write about it next year. I’ll still be watching, though, storing up dozens of episodes on my DVR to marathon whenever I get a break from my book learnin’.

The Husband:

And so the month of season finales involving hallucinations continue, and between this, Bones, and Grey’s Anatomy, I wonder what else have I not come across? I know how the US version of Life on Mars ends (but since neither my wife nor I have finished watching the second half of the season, I’ll refrain from saying what it is), but what about the shows I’m behind on?

Smallville, of course, always has at least a couple hallucination episodes a season – and more now that they’ve been struggling to find stories in Metropolis, a task that doesn’t actually sound very hard – but will Prison Break get all wonky during its final five-episode run that’s sitting on my DVR? (Michael does have major brain shenanigans last time I checked, so this has potential.)

Does Lie to Me, which we’ve DVRed but haven’t touched yet, turn everything on its head by revealing that Tim Roth is just a figment of our imagination? (Considering he’s been both a futuristic ape and Abomination in The Incredible Hulk, this could be a possibility.)

Is Reaper going to turn out to be an extremely vivid dream concocted by Sock during a very long nap at the Work Bench? Will that explain Andi losing her personality this season?

Is that missing episode of Sit Down, Shut Up an apology to the idiots who didn’t find it funny and complained about the intentionally awkward animation-on-top-of-real-backgrounds?

Motherfucker! Ugly Betty ended in a hallucination, too! What happened here? Is this a veiled backlash against Obama? Did all the showrunners stop taking their medication?

The only time I can remember even the slightest bit of consistency across certain shows during season finales was May, 1996 (I had to check Wikipedia for the year, but remember everything else about the following without any aid.) For some reason, three major shows in my life decided to kind of lose their minds and go way too dark for my young teenage brain. With Seinfeld, it was Susan, George’s fiancée, dying as a result of toxic envelope glue, and when the main cast stopped by the hospital, they pretty much felt nothing and went to go get some coffee. On Roseanne, Dan breaks his diet and he and Roseanne get into one of the foulest shouting matches I’ve ever seen on a family sitcom, devolving into back-and-forth screams of “Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!” (Let’s not even mention the final season, which was all a dream.) And, finally, Mad About You challenged Paul and Jamie’s marriage when she kissed the man she was campaigning for and Paul lusted after another woman but didn’t do anything, leading to a quiet, disturbing fight.

It just seemed like, for no discernable reason, sitcoms ended that year wanting us to feel like absolute shit. So I ask, does anybody have an explanation for this madness in dear old 2009?

Don’t get me wrong, I thought everything with Dudek was some of the most compelling minutes House has ever had, and even without her, the final mindfuck, while hard to avoid in the press after the fact, was still eerily effective, thanks in no small part to Hugh Laurie’s continued brilliance on this show. Does he still not have an Emmy? (Now that Boston Legal is gone, Spader’s absence in the category will help considerably. That is, if Jon Hamm’s John Ham doesn’t take it, which would not be a bad thing per se.)

On another note, do any of you out there seriously care about Chase and Cameron? At all? Boooooooring. How about hiring another intern. I’m fine with that. Anything to get away from the dour blondes.

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The Wife:

So, apparently, Kal Penn asked to leave House because he’s taking a position in the Obama administration.

Okay.

That’s cool.

However, how does that explain why the writers never figured out how to use Kutner at all in any episode this season? There were several opportunities where they could have explored his background (chiefly, an episode with an adopted patient, like himself), but they chose not to. Thirteen got a beefy story about her Huntington’s and her relationship with Foreman and the drug trials and all that. Taub’s divorce and the reasons he left plastic surgery are constantly brought up, but all we really know of Lawrence Kutner is that his parents were shot to death in front of him, he’s kind of a manchild and is now dead. I’m sorry, House writers, but even knowing that Kal Penn wanted out, this doesn’t excuse your laziness. I mean, shit, at least the folks on Grey’s are giving Katherine Heigl a worthwhile exit.

I guess, at the very least, I no longer have to gripe about how the show has neglected to find ways in which to use Kutner well. I like Kal Penn a lot, and I hope the Obama administration can make better use of him than the folks on House ever did.

I just thought I’d get that out of the way first so you all don’t have to wait for my reaction.

Three random POW storylines lead up to Kutner’s exit: a patient who lacks a social-appropriateness filter that makes him say all kind of things normal humans wouldn’t, a ripped-from-the-headlines story about Judy Greer and that cat that predicts death, and Mos Def starring in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

I have the least to say about the funniest of the three, “The Social Contract,” because other than presenting us with a person who is like House because he says what other people won’t, which is inherently amusing, the episode doesn’t have much substance to it other than that, save to set up a Taub arc for the next episode. It seems that the POW’s constant harping on Taub’s giant schnoz is enough to remind Taub of his insecurities and failures, including those in his stock portfolio, which lead him to get swindled by a guy who pretends to be a high school classmate, currently under investigation for defrauding doctors of investment money in new surgical tools. (I mean, really, it was a very well put together scheme.) Thinking he’d reclaim some of the former glory he had in his days as a plastic surgeon, Taub goes full-in on the investment and quits his job with House.

For the last time, I refuse to audition for bloody Cats!

For the last time, I refuse to audition for bloody Cats!

Other than that, the DeathCat episode wasn’t all that awesome, either, probing further into House Hates God territory by pitting him against a patient who at first fakes her symptoms because the DeathCat sat next to her, just as it does to old folks who are headed off to the great beyond in the nursing home where she works. On DeathCat’s advice, though, it’s good that Judy Greer came in because she did actually have a cancer in her appendix. By fearing the DeathCat, she managed to thwart her demise. But, of course, having faith in a cat that “predicts” death simply by following up on its natural instincts is absurd to House. When people are about to die, they’re either cold because their bodies are slowing down, thus they are covered in blankets, or are feverish. Either way, they’re warm. And cats like things that are warm. Maybe there’s something to House’s chastising Kutner in this episode for giving the DeathCat the benefit of the doubt that might have lead to Kutner’s demise. But, then again, you’d think peeing on a chair would be enough to cure a guy of any ill feelings toward mean things their boss has said.

I do like cats, though, so one great thing about the DeathCat episode was how pretty that cat was. She’s way more attractive than the real DeathCat, Oscar. How very Hollywood. (Oscar is cute in his own fluffy buttkins kind of way, though.)

As for “Locked In,” I found this episode to be rather excruciating. I think they chose an appropriate way to tell the story, i.e. the Mos Def voiceover and the Mos Def eye camera, however, that doesn’t mean I liked it. The episode got significantly better for me when Taub, trying to earn a spot on the team again, hooked Mos Def’s brain up to a computer after he loses the ability to blink so that he could move a cursor with his mind to answer yes/no questions. That stuff was way awesome, but the rest of it I just couldn’t get into. Not the voiceover, not the eye camera, not the mindscapes where House, Mos Def and Mos Def’s children all chat together. I did like the shot where the team goes over the place Mos Def had been hiding from his wife when he said he was out of town, though, and the scene transfers all Michel Gondry-like to the factory where he took work as a janitor to make ends meet. That was pretty cool. I will, however, try to avoid getting rat-urine-infected paper cuts, though, because I would prefer to not experience this episode in actuality.

Stupid . . . fucking . . . rat pee . . .

Stupid . . . fucking . . . rat pee . . .

And then there’s Kutner’s suicide, which totally overshadowed the POW and shouldn’t have, because the POW is fucking MEAT LOAF! First of all, I loved that Mr. Aday’s character in this episode was Eddie. Although, sadly, my favorite (s)ex-delivery boy was not riding Harleys and wondering whatever happened to Saturday night, but bed-ridden and dying of a weakened heart. Only, when his wife suddenly falls ill, he starts getting better. Taub is in change of tending to the couple, as House and the others are busy grieving/trying to find answers as to why Kutner would kill himself. While at first Eddie’s wife was faking her illness so that she could hang on to her husband for just a few more days, it turns out that she’s actually sicker than he is and needs a new liver. Because he’s only got a few days left, House asks Cameron to convince Eddie to give his wife his liver and die on the table. Even when Cameron discovers that Eddie can be saved (he has a lung infection that weakened his heart, not cancer, as doctor’s previously surmised), Eddie is ready to die; he’s already grown accustomed to the idea and would rather that his wife survive. I mean, it’s Meat Loaf, all. That dude would do anything for love. But Taub instead reveals the plan to Eddie’s wife, who won’t let her husband die for her, even though he wants to. And it’s for the best, really, because when he got sick, he couldn’t take her to Rio like he’d always promised he would, so she went with another man and developed the tropical infection that’s now killing her because it went undiagnosed for too long. Still, I am a little haunted by the imagine of Eddie, reaching out his left hand to hold his wife as she dies, knowing that he loves her enough to forgive her for seeking comfort when he couldn’t give her any.

I completely understand the decision to pair this set of POWs with Kutner’s death, coloring the entire episode in a very particular noirish shade of grey, and presenting two different ways of dealing with death (Eddie’s acceptance vs. House’s need for answers), but I wish the loveliness of Meat Loaf’s story could have been allowed to stand on its own. It reminded me very much of Baccus and Philemon, a myth about a couple who strove so hard to please the gods that Zeus allowed them to remain together forever, entwined as trees. As Mary Zimmerman summarizes it in her breathtaking theatre piece Metamorphoses, as the two began to change, you could hear them say, “Let me die at the moment my love dies. Let me not outlive my own capacity to love.”

It wouldn’t wholly surprise me if Eddie, after his wife died, willed himself to stop living, too. It would be a fitting end to their conjoined-twin like symbiosis, and woefully romantic.

Like I said, that Meat Loaf, dude will do anything for love.

But I won't do that.

But I won't do that.

The Husband:

Curses, woman! I had to correct your reference to Meat Loaf at least five times! His name isn’t “Meatloaf,” it’s “Meat Loaf,” a nickname (origins debatable) he got because of his first and middle name, “Marvin Lee” (which he randomly changed to “Michael Lee” for no discernable reason.) And she’s not the only one. He just happens to be one of the highest-grossing rock and roll artists of all time!

Nehhhhhh…

As far as the other episodes are concerned (I have nothing to say about Kal Penn’s exit other than it was pretty hasty), I only really had the following thoughts in mind over the run of these middle-of-the-road episodes:

1. It’s good that The Shield veteran Jay Karnes (who played the POW without the politeness filter) wasn’t in the DeathCat episode, or he would have strangled the DeathCat just to get inside the mind of a serial killer.

2. During “Locked In,” my mind wandered for a bit, only to come back into focus minutes later, prompting me to mutter one of the stranger things I’ve said in a good long while: “I’m sorry. What just happened? I was thinking about Sam Shepard.” I have a valid explanation for this train of thought, though, but it would take too long to explain and I have work to do here in the office. But it comes down to the relationship between the Mos Def mindscapes and the second act of Shepard’s play The Late Henry Moss.

3. I wonder what Olivia Wilde is going to look like with her Light Suit on in the upcoming sequel to Tron called Tr2n. (Or as I pronounce it, “Tra-too-en.”)

The Wife:

I’ve been saving up these House posts for a number of reasons, primarily because there’s so much awesomeness on Monday nights now that House falls by the wayside for us, so there’s no sense posting something within a few days of a new episode. I know this will greatly disappoint Mary, our friend and massive Hugh Laurie lover, but on Mondays, I’ve got Chuck, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother. I can’t even watch all five of those shows on a good day, so House gets pushed back, resulting in this clusterfuck of a post.

House aired its 100th episode with “The Greater Good,” in which a formerly brilliant cancer researcher (she’s still brilliant, just not researching the ol’ cancer anymore) falls ill during a cooking class. As she lays dying under House and his team’s care, they all wonder why she would give up cancer research – especially when she was so close to finding a cure for a certain cancer I can no longer remember – to live a selfish and self-fulfilling life. Shouldn’t she, as a doctor on the forefront of research in her field, be working towards the greater good? Meanwhile, Thirteen starts to get really sick because irresponsible asshole Foreman switched her onto the trial drug from the placebo. Bad shit goes down, like, losing her vision and developing small brain tumors. Side effects are fun, kids!

Ultimately, when the patient gets a final diagnosis of ectopic endometriosis (which she developed after some of her endometrial cells escaped into her body during her hysterectomy a few years back), everybody realizes that they probably shouldn’t do things for wholly selfish reasons, especially Foreman, who risked his girlfriend’s life because he wanted to keep her around. House and Thirteen, however, don’t get that upset at Foreman and won’t let him “torch his career” because he’ll do a lot more good for other people if he’s still a doctor, he just has to quit the clinical trial and throw out Thirteen’s study results. I get that this ending to the clinical trial mishap fits with the theme. Yes, one more doctor in the world saves the lives of however many people (and Foreman, though an idiot, is a good doctor), but it also doesn’t fairly punishing him for endangering Thirteen’s life, and the fate of that Huntington’s study. Because its TV, that study gets to continue and Tank Girl might have a chance of living for a few more years than she would have, but I think that in the real world, compromised results has a strong chance of removing that particular study from Princeton-Plainsboro altogether, and possibly put on hiatus for a long time, which isn’t helping anyone with Huntington’s.

Frankly, I wasn’t that into “The Greater Good,” especially because the two episodes that followed “Unfaithful” and “The Softer Side” were so much better (although I find the latter to be a little problematic). In “Unfaithful,” House takes a case from Cameron involving a drunken priest who hallucinated a stigmatic Christ. House takes this, hoping to prove that anyone who would put their faith in something unseen has something wrong with them, but as the case continues and the ailing priest and House have a few bedside conversations about the nature of believe and what it’s like to lose one’s faith, House starts to think that the vision of Christ has nothing to do with the rest of the symptoms which, during the priest’s stay, involve loss of gangrenous digits, blindness and numbness to pain.

Where the hell is Meryl Streep when you need her?

Where the hell is Meryl Streep when you need her?

While House has never had any faith at all in a higher power, the priest began to lose his joy in the priesthood after an accusation of molestation moved him from parish to parish, making him a black sheep amongst the members of his various flocks. Though he denies molesting the child, Taub feels he should believe the claim of the victim, especially when the team diagnoses the priest with AIDS, and sets out to find the boy the priest allegedly molested. The boy, Ryan, visits the priest on his deathbed and asks him for forgiveness, which to me says that the allegations made against the priest were false. But that’s just me. Much like Doubt, it’s a situation where you aren’t given the whole truth and should decide for yourself. (In Doubt, by the way, I’ve decided that since we know the little boy had some homosexual tendencies, Father Flynn, who joined the priesthood because he also has homosexual tendencies, merely befriended the boy, without any other ulterior motive.)

Once House rules out the hallucinations, he realizes that the priest doesn’t have AIDS at all, but Wuska-Aldridge, an auto-immune deficiency that acts a lot like AIDS, but his hereditary, non-communicable and non-life threatening.

This episode also added a third element to the theme with the organization of Cuddy’s daughter’s naming ceremony, which House refuses to attend based on the principle that anyone who doesn’t practice their religion to the letter is a hypocrite. Thus, because Cuddy doesn’t keep the Sabbath, pretending she’s more religious than she actually is by having a naming ceremony for Rachael is hypocritical. Cuddy doesn’t really want House to go, though, but Wilson fucks it all up by convincing House to at least put in an appearance. In the end, everyone attends the service but House, who stays at home, playing traditional Jewish music on his piano instead. (Know what I love? Hugh Laurie playing piano.)

And then there’s “The Softer Side,” the patient of which my husband noted is like an alternate version of last week’s Private Practice, but fast forwarded 13 years. Much like Anyanka and Sgt. Scream’s baby, the patient of the week is a 13-year-old “boy” with genetic mosaicism. “He” has both male and female DNA, but his parents chose to raise him as boy even though we learned on Private Practice that 70% of genetic mosaics end up identifying as female. Jacksons parents have lied to him for years, socializing him as a boy and pushing him to do masculine things like playing hockey and basketball, even though, like one Billy Elliot, all he’s ever really wanted to do is to dance. He collapses at one of his basketball games with pelvic pain, and his parents immediately demand that House and his team give Jackson an MRI to look for a blind uterus. Strangely, House concedes to this procedure, even though when Thirteen suggests it, Foreman (continuing the lie they established in the last episode that they had broken up) mocks her for the suggestion, because surely every single one of the kids previous doctors had thought of that.

Consenting to the MRI, as well as asking to eat his bagel before doing so, alerts Wilson that something is wrong with House. He thinks maybe Cuddy slept with him, which Cuddy denies, but when both of them go to check up on House, they find him sleeping in his office . . .  and not breathing. Foreman gives House a bitching titty twister to wake him up, and House insists that he just passed out because he took one too many Vicodan.

Shhhh! He's sleeping!

Shhhh! He's sleeping!

Jackson only gets sicker after the team takes him off his “vitamins,” which are testosterone shots, fearing the T might be causing some of his problems, so House sends Foreman and Thirteen to investigate the kid’s house for environmental factors. In his room, which has posters for So You Think You Can Dance, Godspell, Rent, A Chorus Line and The Wizard of Oz, Thirteen finds a poem that she believes is a confession of Jackson’s state of mind, potentially indicating suicide. She brings it to his parents, suggesting that he knows he’s different than other kids and may have developed some suicidal feelings because of it. She tells Jackson that his vitamins aren’t vitamins, and that he should ask his parents about them. This causes the parents to finally tell their son that he’s intersex, and Jackson gets so upset with his parents lies that he refuses to talk to them. Jackson’s mom is furious at Thirteen and wants her off Jackson’s case, but Cuddy intervenes and tells Thirteen that she has to be the person Jackson trusts now.

The bisexual doctor and the intersex boy have a nice heart-to-heart about Jackson’s feelings about his gender identity, wondering if his homosexual feelings towards a friend on his basketball team and his predilection toward dance exist simply because he was meant to be a girl. And that’s where I find this episode to be a little bit problematic. Granted, this is an hour-long show that’s barely skimming the surface of the complexities of gender identity, especially for intersex children, but Jackson’s words here and Thirteen’s lack of correction lead me to question the rigid construction of gender that seems to frame this argument. Knowing what I know about genetic mosaicism, I would argue that Jackson’s parents made the wrong choice in aggressively gendering him as male, but other than not liking basketball, Jackson doesn’t seem to exhibit any other issues with having a male gender identity. No one ever scolded him for wearing his mother’s clothing often because he didn’t do it. He doesn’t express feeling as though he should be developing breasts or otherwise show any signs of a gender identity disorder He feels male and constructs his identity as male. How much of that feeling comes from the fact that his parents aggressively gendered him as such, I don’t know, but he does seem to like being male. He just doesn’t like to play sports. And there’s nothing un-masculine about dance at all, and the fact that his parents assert otherwise just tells me that they’ve a.) never watched So You Think You Can Dance with their son and b.) they need to be punched in the face, repeatedly.

What I’m getting at here is that this entire argument constructs gender identity based on very antiquated terms, and I think Thirteen kind of points to this when she tells Jackson that she was a point guard on her basketball team. No one in their right mind would think their daughter wanted to be a man if she started playing sports, so why on earth would someone think their son wanted to be a girl if he wanted to dance? Baryshnikov gets all the bitches, that’s what I’m saying. The boy, though, is confused at this point, and who can blame him, as he wonders if he actually should have been a girl or if, perhaps, he is meant to be a gay man. (I vote gay man.)

So maybe, Jackson might be alright with the gender identity his parents chose for him, but should they have chosen at all? People have very different feelings about gender identity, and I’m really not for aggressively gendering children. I find that when children begin to socialize with other children, they pick out a gender identity for themselves and the degree to which they want to express that. I have a friend with a two-year-old daughter. My friend tried really hard not to engender her child in anyway, but this little girl, at only two, has expressed a great interest in wearing dresses and trying on mommy’s make-up and dance clothes. Without even encouraging her to do so, her daughter has begun to express a very feminine version of a female gender identity. This example points to the fact that society – the images about our gender that we receive from our peers and from the culture at large – will gender us unconsciously, so that even if we are not aggressively gendered by our parents, we may still choose to exhibit a more normalized gender identity. Of course, we may not. But isn’t it better to let a child choose than to saddle them with something they might not feel suits them, forcing a child to be like Tireseas, first one thing and then the other?

Just . . . I dunno . . . read Middlesex. It’s great. It won the Pulitzer. And it’s far more eloquent about these thoughts than I am, as well as a far better examination of an intersex individual than this episode of House does.

Private Practice-style lesson: You can't lie to your kid about giving him testosterone injections.

Private Practice-style lesson: You can't lie to your kid about giving him testosterone injections.

Back to House, the strangely complacent doctor begins to do more strange things, and now both Wilson and Foreman suspect him of being on heroin, so Wilson invites House to dinner and offers him a shot, knowing full well that if House drinks it, he could stop breathing again. House knows what Wilson’s up to, and defiantly takes the shot and walks out, only to vomit in the parking lot and bark at Wilson for knowingly nearly killing him. Wilson rails at his friend for being on heroin, and House admits that he’s actually on prescription methadone, which makes him feel no pain at all, but could kill him at any moment. Cuddy refuses to let House practice at her hospital under methadone, so he quits, choosing a pain-free existence over his job, only to return when Cuddy agrees to let him come back as long as she can supervise his methadone use.

When he does, he realizes that Jackson is sick because of the MRI contrast dye, which never got filtered out of his system when they took him off his T (something Thirteen figured out in his absence, after another fight with the boy’s mother when she realized his “suicide poem” was just a classroom assignment to write in the style of Sylvia Plath – what the fuck kind of English teacher assigns Plath to 8th graders?). When he first came into House’s care, he was just dehydrated, but House’s allowance of the MRI only made Jackson worse because he kindly gave in to the requests of Jackson’s family. Realizing that being pain-free clouds his judgment, House refuses to accept methadone treatment and returns to being the curmudgeonly Vicodin addict we’ve come to know and love, an end to the softer side of House.

I really liked “The Softer Side,” but I really dislike the implication that exhibiting a female gender identity is somehow soft.

The Husband:

Just as with the end of s2 – at least, I think it was s2 when House started feeling no pain and started skateboarding – I wish that Dr. Gregory House hadn’t been so willing to drop the methadone and go back onto the Vicodin, continuing to live in pain but being a “better doctor.” It was an interesting examination of his personality, and I could have used at least three more episodes on this subject. It’s what made the last episode so great – me, the one who hasn’t really been into any of the personal stories this season, thinks this to be so – and gave me the second episode in a row to actually captivate me and not just spark a small amount of medical curiosity.

But man, did I like “Unfaithful” like crazy. Not only was the priest played by the always-cast-as-a-creep Jimmi Simpson (Liam McPoyle on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), who I think is pretty underrated as an actor, but I was actually invested in the mystery for once, eager to reach the conclusion of the episode just to know what the hell was going on with his disease and his past. Yes, it was like Doubt 2.0, and I was itching for some answers. The fact that we didn’t get all of them is fine, because for once the P.O.W. was a fully fleshed character and not just a pin cushion with a mouth and an attitude problem.

The Wife:

How often is it that you get two House episodes in a row that deal with an identical medical conundrum? Sure, in “Painless,” Martin Henderson is suicidal because he’s in constant pain and in “Big Baby” special ed teacher Sarah has a whole host of issues, but the thing that links the two is this: in neither case can the team agree on whether the problems stem from the patient’s brain or from the patient’s body?

Suicidal Martin Henderson was intended to bring us back from the break by introducing us to a character who is, more or less, in the same situation as House. In case we forgot, the writers decided to remind us just how much pain House is in by showing us Hugh Laurie in a bath, struggling to fully bend his knee. That, or they’ve apparently been reading Hugh Laurie fan sites. But the difference between Suicidal Martin Henderson and House is much more significant than their similar states of pain: House manages his pain through his painkiller addiction; for Martin Henderson, the painkillers aren’t working anymore, driving him to suck on a tailpipe and try to commit suicide at least twice more during his hospital stay.

At first, House suspects that some air may have leaked into Suicidal Martin Henderson’s body, causing him to be in chronic pain and suffer sporadic cramps, making the pain not psychosomatic, as Taub continually suggests. Because Taub had a “colleague” who tried to commit suicide (but failed), he immediately hates the patient and finds him incredibly selfish, refusing to accept any possibilities that Suicidal Martin Henderson is depressed because he’s in pain, not the other way around. (Kutner suspects that Taub’s “colleague” was actually Taub himself. Though Taub denies this, I think his story about his colleague is a way to mask the guilt he feels for doing something he finds so despicable.) Taub ends up being kind of right in this instance, because Suicidal Martin Henderson brought on the air-induced cramps by chewing a hole in his IV so air would get in, presumably trying to achieve one of the quickest ways to die – shooting an air bubble directly into the bloodstream.

House wants to solve the brain vs. body conundrum in this case by injecting lydocane into the patient’s brainstem to essentially paralyze the body, thus getting them closer to a solution. In doing so, he realizes that the answer lies in both places. After healing from the injury that initially caused Suicidal Martin Henderson’s pain, his addiction to painkillers rewired his brain chemistry so that it reads painkillers themselves as causal pain agents. But taking him off painkillers doesn’t solve anything. House then begins to think about the initial source of Suicidal Martin Henderson’s pain, which he would describe as an abdominal pain, similar to being kicked in the balls. He realizes that the POW has epilepsy in the region of his brain that controls testosterone production, causing the abdominal pain. The numerous small, untreated seizures caused the brain rewiring House had suspected, making Suicidal Martin Henderson’s nervous system constantly feel pain. Thanks to epilepsy treatments, Martin Henderson goes home to his wife and son, suicidal no more.

This area of the brain shows that you like me.

This area of the brain shows that you like me.

Suicidal Martin Henderson’s struggle for death is reiterated in Thirteen’s story this week. After their kiss, she tells Foreman she’s not interested in a relationship with him. He assumes this is because she’s once again resigning from life, but she assures him that:

“I’m not giving up on life. I’m giving up on you.”

After some deliberation and further participating in the Huntington’s trials, Thirteen decides that, since Foreman and the new medications have been such a good influence on her, she will give their relationship a try. And then Foreman finds out that Thirteen isn’t on the actual medication at all but is actually taking a placebo, filling him with all kinds of doubt.

Meanwhile, Cuddy makes the decision to spend a little more time at home bonding with baby Rachael, appointing Cameron to assist as Dean of Medicine in her absence. Cameron’s first trial is in “Big Baby,” when House gets Sarah the special ed teacher who suddenly collapsed and started vomiting blood in the middle of class. House wants to perform a radiation treatment on the woman, which might help diagnose her, but is also ridiculous and risky. He wants Cameron to say no, and she knows it, so she approves it, forcing the team to do some quick thinking about how to “radiate” without radiating. Thirteen decides that they should keep up the ruse by going through with the procedure, but not flipping the switch. Foreman agrees, something he does a lot of during this episode, which House immediately assumes is because he wants to be in harmony with his partner, Thirteen, rather than the possibility that she’s actually right.

While Taub and Thirteen administer the “radiation” procedure, the patient asks if she can get up to pee, and then immediately collapses. Thirteen and Taub get her heart working again, the team runs another test that puts the patient in an ice bath, hoping to slow down her heart again to confirm a diagnosis. After three minutes in the ice, the test fails. But the patient’s discussion of how she wound up teaching special ed (transposing the numbers of the classroom she was supposed to go to) makes House think that she might have early stage MS. The number confusion and forgetting to do preemptive tasks like peeing before a medical test point to a problem, he claims, in her left hemisphere. If she does have it, the next problem will occur in the lungs. To confirm, House wants to open up the patient’s skull and poke around. Cameron knows this is the fastest way to heal the patient because she knows House, but she insists on asking him to do an MRI first to confirm the need for the test. The MRI turns up negative, but then the patient’s lungs start to fail and Kutner realizes that House might be right, even though he is loath to allow House to cut into the patient’s skull.

I have head explodey!

I have head explodey!

At home with baby Rachael, Cuddy is barely keeping it together. In “Painless,” she was frazzled by an upcoming review from child protective services who were dropping by to evaluate her abilities to be a foster mother. While Cuddy thought her messy home would reflect poorly upon her, the social worker assured her that caring what her home looked like was the surest sign that she was the right person to foster baby Rachael. (A bad parent, I guess, wouldn’t be phased at all by the mess?) He tells her that he’ll see her in a year, if Cuddy hasn’t adopted Rachael by then. But after a week at home alone with the baby, Cuddy’s no longer sure she’s cut out for this whole mom thing. She’s worried that she hasn’t bonded with Rachael, exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, except without that whole “partum” bit. She drags herself out of the house with Rachael to yell at House and Cameron about the radiation treatment that wasn’t, and House hits the nail on the head by honing into Cuddy’s fears that she might not be a good enough mother and might be better off giving Rachael back. Cuddy goes crying to Wilson about this, and I really wanted to shake her and tell her that no one else should define her experience of motherhood. Wilson tries to reassure her of this by pretending to get a photo of Rachael enhanced to age 18 (when really it’s just the girl who came with the frame) and he begs Cuddy to remember that while she can’t communicate with Rachael now, its not worth giving up reading her bedtime stories and teaching her to ride a bike and giving her advice and consoling her future broken hearts and seeing her off to college.

Kutner interrupts Cuddy’s tearful brooding to tell her that Cameron has signed off on House testing the patient’s brain function by slicing her head open and placing electrodes on it. She calls in the middle of the test, in which the patient was demonstrating increased function in the left hemisphere, and demands over a screaming Rachael that they stop immediately. Cuddy’s yelling plus baby screaming make the patient react, for the first time in this episode, with any sign of strain or annoyance. Prior to this, she had simply gone to her “happy place,” prompting Kutner and Thirteen to remark, “We cannot let this woman anywhere near House.” I was glad to see Kutner featured so prominently as a contrarian force in this episode, as I’ve often remarked that the writers don’t quite know how to make use of Kal Penn. We might finally be getting somewhere with that.

While the interruption from Cuddy causes House and Cameron to puzzle over exactly what it means to their patient that the one thing she doesn’t handle calmly is the sound of a mother trying to calm down her child, Cuddy realizes, finally, that talking to Rachael like a human (because, you know, she is a tiny hooman) makes the baby calm down. After getting so caught up with putting on the appearance of a good mother, Cuddy forgot that the one thing that’s most important in any human relationship is communication. Babies like to hear voices. They want a verbal response to their verbal cries for attention. It’s as simple as that.

In discussing the fact that the baby/Cuddy interruption upset the POW, House realizes that the patient’s symptoms are all caused by a ductus in the heart, something all humans have in utero, but are supposed to heal over shortly after birth. When the patient gets stressed, the ductus causes her body to act as though it is unstressed, increasing left brain activity. This blissful, zen-like calm made her able to deal well with high stress situations like working with special needs children, especially a non-verbal autist that blossomed into verbal expression under her care. Her heart ductus can be closed, but I think the hug between her and her favorite special needs kid at the end of this episode indicates that she won’t be doing that, sacrificing her health in order to help take care of her children. I admit that in the cold open, I found this kid, this non-verbal autistic kid, really creepy, especially with his pointed elvin ears, but he became less creepy with each of her appearances in this episode. I guess it was just the horror-movie filter they put over the classroom that made it so . . . The Omen-y.

Cuddy also makes the decision to remain with her baby, but Cameron complicates things by quitting the Assistant Dean post because she knows she will always say yes to House, due to the respect she garnered for the man while studying under him for three years. So Cuddy goes back to doing what most women do these days, struggling with making a living and raising a child. It’s got to be hard to leave your child to go to work each day, and though I don’t have children, I recognize that painful wince on Cuddy’s face as she hesitates to walk out the door with Rachael crying for her. I’m sure I did that to my mom enough when I was little, before she, like Cuddy, went off to the hospital to save lives.

As for Fourteen, a visit to the classroom to collect potential environmental evidence leads Thirteen to declare that she’d like to have children. Now that she’s on the Huntington’s treatments and she’s feeling better, she realizes that she does, indeed, have the option to lead a full life. I hope that this is the motivation for Foreman deciding to switch Thirteen’s off of the placebo and onto the trial drug, because any motivation he might have because he “loves her” or whatever is not worth risking his license over. And even then, as heartbreaking as it might be to see someone experiencing the placebo effect thinking that she’s getting better (when, although her test results show improvement, she’s still uncontrollably knocking over cups), I still believe that Foreman had no right to abuse his position in these trials to give Thirteen a “chance at life.” This is probably the stupidest decision I’ve ever seen on House, and I hope Foreman pays dearly for it. Like, I hope he loses his license and has to leave the show because he can’t practice medicine anymore. That’s how dearly I hope he pays for it. I don’t know much about how long clinical trials take, but I’m sure that if their study showed significant promise with few side effects, they would get a Huntington’s drug on the market within five years, perhaps sooner. It would be a lot less dumb and career damaging to keep her on the placebo through the conclusion of this particular study, and then manipulate the program to be sure she’s not on a placebo for the next study. That would still be wrong, but it would certainly ensure that the study would move into a second phase. With the data compromised thanks to Foreman, I doubt this study will even get a second phase. What he’s done, then, is basically ruined hope for every Huntington’s patient on this study. Thanks to Foreman, there is a very large chance that none of them will ever find a treatment for their disease because he’s ruined Princeton-Plainsboro’s chance of continuing this progressive research. You’re an idiot, Foreman. Have fun never practicing medicine again!

The Wife:

It might just be me, but I think this week’s patient of the week is actually the saddest, most depressing patient of the week I’ve seen on House in awhile. Poor Natalie. Overweight and mocked by her peers, Natalie spent up until six months ago downing two or three bottles of vodka per week. Cuddy, helping with the diagnostic while Foreman continues his clinical trials, takes a shine to the sixteen-year-old, seeing something of herself in her. Despite her low self-esteem and alcoholism, Natalie is a model student. School is the only thing she’s good at. She tells Cuddy that even though she bought a lot of liquor, she didn’t really drink all of it. She was just buying it because a popular boy that she liked and was once very good friends with happened to be selling it. Poor Natalie’s liver and heart are failing, and Cuddy is desperate to save her, which House thinks is some kind of misplaced maternal feeling that Cuddy has been harboring since she lost her chance to be a mother. Unable to find a solution, Cuddy and House start to think that the girl may have very advanced leukemia. Cuddy wants to start her on treatment immediately, but House warns her that if she can’t get a new heart and a new liver, there’s no point in treating her for the disease. Bewildered at the fact that House seems like he just doesn’t want to try to save this patient and is content to let her die, Wilson reminds Cuddy that House is actually being kinder to Natalie by not forcing her to go through chemotherapy if something else that they can’t fix is going to kill her anyway.

You think the bangs are too much, dont you?

You think the bangs are too much, don't you?

On advice from Wilson, House tries actually not being an asshole for a change, agreeing to even take on clinic duty when he isn’t scheduled to do so. In clinic, House has to try very, very hard to not be his usual curmudgeonly self. He meets a patient that he pronounces pregnant, despite her protestations that she and her fiancé are both virgins. Not wanting to admit what House assumes was some pre-marital infidelity, House tells the woman that perhaps it is possible for her to have gotten pregnant from skin-to-sperm contact when she admits that she and her fiancé do “other stuff” in bed. He then meets a woman who claims her inhaler isn’t helping her asthma. When House asks her to demonstrate how to use her inhaler, she proclaims that she isn’t an idiot and proceeds to spritz the inhaler over her through like a perfume atomizer. We then see her storm out of the clinic in a huff. (I guess House briefly reneged on his promise to be nice, and that woman indeed deserved it.) The pregnant girl returns to House with her fiancé in tow, who demands a paternity test. Hours later, House presents them with evidence that the girl conceived immaculately and that, in seven months, the couple would have a daughter with only maternal DNA. House tells Cuddy about faking the paternity test to save the woman’s marriage, which makes Cuddy realize that her patient, Natalie, doesn’t have leukemia at all. She has eclampsya, a complication from pregnancy.

When Cuddy presents this information to Natalie, her parents are stunned to hear that their daughter concealed a pregnancy. Cuddy points out that they likely didn’t notice because Natalie is a heavier girl and her body and boxy school uniform did most of the work of concealing her growing child. Like any father, Natalie’s dad’s first reaction is “who did this to you?” Natalie says that her one remaining friend, the jock boy she bought booze from, is the father of her baby. She had quit drinking when she realized she was pregnant in the hopes that she could have the child and give it up for adoption. Tearfully, Natalie recounts the story of the birth, bearing her child in an alley behind the soup kitchen she volunteered at, realizing that the child wasn’t breathing and leaving the baby in the alley, gently covered with Natalie’s coat. Even with the news about her child, one of the contributing factors to her low self-esteem and depression, out in the open, Cuddy has to tell the poor girl that if she doesn’t get a new heart and liver, she will be dead within days.

Cuddy goes off to do some detective work on her own and somehow tracks down the couple of crack addicts who found Natalie’s baby and convince them to give the little girl to her so that Natalie can hold her child before she dies. Kutner is so upset by the fact that school bullying caused Natalie so much pain and decides, with the additional blow that the girl has been refused a spot on the donor list because of her advanced condition, to track down some former classmates of his. He apologizes to them for bullying them in high school, officially making Kutner the exact opposite of what we all thought he’d be. Taub was so certain that Kutner identified with the case because he, too, was bullied as the adopted Indian orphan of murdered parents. Meanwhile, Natalie’s parents refuse to care for the granddaughter, finding the entire situation to be too painful and House, still trying to be a good person, asks Cuddy if she plans to adopt the little girl. Cuddy tells him that she’s already spoken to a lawyer and that she’ll get to be the child’s foster parent first and then, after a certain amount of time in foster care, Cuddy can apply to adopt.

Meanwhile, in a story that is almost completely unrelated, Janice, Thirteen’s new friend from clinical trials, has dropped out. Thirteen tracks her down to find out why, and she says it’s because Foreman didn’t take her nausea seriously enough. She found him to be too cold and didn’t want to deal with the trials anymore if he was going to be on it. Thirteen asks Foreman to apologize to Janice and try to get her back on the trial. When he refuses, Thirteen tells him he’s become Dr. House. After Foreman’s partner on the trials tells him that being part of House’s team and thus being able to see the trial patients only as numbers, not as people, is why she picked him for the job, he realizes that he doesn’t want to be like House, and goes to find Janice to ask her to join a lower-dose trial of the same drug, hoping it will ease her nausea. Thirteen thanks him for that Christmas miracle and they make out instead of going to the PP holiday party.

All in all, a holiday episode filled with miracle births and acts of kindness – those things being the true spirit of the season. I don’t really understand the Foreman-Thirteen hook-up or why that happened at all, and I can’t help but think that part of Cuddy’s act of kindness – though indeed kind – was actually more selfish than it was altruistic. And as moved to pathos as I was by the truly tragic character of Natalie, the more Housian part of me couldn’t help but think that both Natalie and the other pregnant woman deserved to be on our friend Geoff’s show on Discovery Health, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. Apparently, not knowing that you’re pregnant is an epidemic in this country. Discovery Health has dedicated an entire series to it.

And, writers, thank you for naming the POW Natalie. It’s a nice play on the Italian word for “Christmas,” natale, which comes from the Latinate nascere meaning “to be born.” A very good, subtle and clever choice for this episode.

The Husband:

Man, Tank Girl has really fallen on hard times, hasn’t she?

The Wife:

This week’s installment of House felt like an actual House episode and finally did something I’ve been asking for all season by giving Kutner something to do! For once, this show balanced the work on the main POW case with a Thirteen story, a Cuddy and House cat-and-mouse story and a story for Taub and Kutner.

All I want in this world is my job and a piece of fucking cake.

All I want in this world is my job and a piece of fucking cake.

The POW this week was a fitness trainer who actually got thin by having gastric bypass and sells the hope of a healthy lifestyle to morbidly obese people through her DVD series. As it happens, her gastric bypass and new found “healthy” lifestyle was actually making her sick because she has coproporphyria, a hereditary condition that could easily be managed by eating a high carb and high sugar diet . . . like she used to when she was a fat person. When House and Taub recommend that she reverse her gastric bypass surgery in order to eat a diet that would correct the effects of her condition, she refuses and instead opts for drug treatment, proving what is true of many people in our image-obsessed society: she would rather be “pretty than healthy.” (More accurately, because she would have been pretty whether she was fat or not, she would rather be skinny than healthy.)

Thirteen has started to undergo her clinical trials for Huntington’s, but feels uncomfortable around other people in advanced stages of the disease. She tries to get Foreman to give her spot to someone else. Foreman tells Thirteen that she her muscle response times are already slower than they should be for her age, which means her nerves are already starting to degenerate. She starts showing up later and later and missing appointments altogether after she sees a woman in the waiting room who reminds her not of her imminent demise, but of her mother, whom she resented for her sickness. Thirteen later tells Foreman about her mother, a story that we were lucky enough to see unfold through young Remy Hadley’s eyes every time she looked at the woman in the waiting room. Eventually, Thirteen learns to befriend this woman, to make up for neglecting her mother in her time of need, and helps the other patient take her coat off over her shaking, jerky arms.

In the Cuddy and House plot, Cuddy has taken up residence in House’s office while hers is under renovations. She goes out of her way to annoy him just as he has done to her all these years, until Wilson points out that she chose House’s office because she wanted to be near to him, as she could have very well chosen to take over anyone’s office since she is the Dean of medicine at PP. She literally (and figuratively) takes his balls from him just to piss him off and interferes with his diagnoses. She and House almost kiss again when he confronts her about taking his furniture, but House, unable to admit his love for Cuddy, resorts to copping a feel. He then proves himself to her by ordering her desk from medical school for her new office without her knowledge. Cuddy is ready to admit her own feelings to him after this, until she arrives at his office and catches him in the arms of another woman.

Oh, shit. I think I killed a hooker.

Oh, shit. I think I killed a hooker.

That other woman, by the way, was the actress House hired to foil Kutner’s moneymaking scheme. Kutner had put up a second opinion clinic online under House’s name. Everything was going fine until one patient became too persistent about “House” not being able to help her and threatened to sue. Taub agrees to keep Kutner’s secret from House if Kutner will give him 30 percent of the profits. Kutner reluctantly agrees, and all is going well, until the patient shows up at the hospital demanding to see House. Kutner takes her to the ER to see Cameron and leaves her in Cameron’s care. Later, Cameron pages Taub and Kutner to tell them that the patient is singing “Lime in the Coconut” like a lunatic and bleeding out the ear. The next time they check on her, she’s dead, which scares the crap out of them. They visit the body in the morgue, and House comes in to berate them for lying to him about the case and using his name. He insists that the patient was sick with something so simple that she could have easily been saved. House scares the crap out of Taub and Kutner again when he tries to revive the corpse . . . and succeeds. Kutner tells House that he’ll take the website down right away, but House insists that he’d prefer 50 percent of the profits, especially because he owes the actress three grand for her work.

So the House and Cuddy sexual tension will continue, Kutner actually got a story (and a funny one, at that),Thirteen resolved yet another issue she had in coming to terms with her disease and the POW story provided mild social commentary. This is what a House episode is supposed to feel like, and I’m happy to see a Kutner story for once. Although next time, can we give him and Taub as much story-telling time as we do Thirteen?

The Wife:

First of all, I realize that Zeljko Ivanek’s character in this episode is technically named Jason, but I think we can all agree that Jason is not as cool of a name as Zeljko, so I will only refer to him as such throughout this post. That said, I think this extended episode was a really nice addition to the House canon: it used the formula, but shook it up by making it have to work within a high-stakes hostage situation; it utilized all of House’s fellows (at least a little bit); and it ultimately gave us a new character arc for Thirteen to follow (so maybe now the writers can focus on someone they’ve ignored . . like Kutner).

Zeljko was this week’s POW, who has become so frustrated with the state of healthcare (seeing an endless string of doctors who just don’t know what’s wrong, as well as being financially buried in medical bills) that he believe the only way to get someone to take his pain seriously is to take some doctors and hostages at gunpoint and force them to work on his case. This is just what he does when, hoping to take only hospital administrator Cuddy hostage, he catches House in Cuddy’s office and rounds up ten or so hostages and Thirteen to join him, forcing them to remain in Cuddy’s office with him until someone solves his case. He’s lucky House happened to be the best diagnostician on staff, otherwise he’d have been SOL.



“You really think re-enacting Dog Day Afternoon is gonna get you diagnosed faster?” – House

House does a quickie diagnosis and tells Zeljko that he needs to administer a test drug to prove that he has pulmonary scleroderma. Zeljko will only agree to the test if Dr. Cuddy brings in the medicine, alone. He then demands that the drug be tested on one of the hostages first, all of them except Thirteen and a nurse amounting to nothing but a handful of sick people who, if given the wrong drug, could be getting even sicker. House administers the drug to one of the beefier patients, who passes out. Thinking it’s a trick, Zeljko shoots an investment banker Patrick Bateman-looking patient in the leg as a warning.

This shot of Zeljko reminds me far too much of his guest spot on The Mentalists pilot episode.

This shot of Zeljko reminds me far too much of his guest spot on The Mentalist's pilot episode.

Realizing how serious the situation is, House does a conference call differential with all of his fellows, past and present, to help solve the case. During this process, a SWAT team from the outside lurks outside the windows, which House realizes Zeljko could hear from inside the room. Assuming his hyper-sensitive hearing is a new symptom, House assumes that he has a nerve problem, which Thirteen confirms when she notices that Zeljko has trouble moving the muscles on one side of his face. House convinces Zeljko to trade two hostages for the test to prove neuralgia. He then asks for another drug guinea pig, a position for which ready-to-die Thirteen immediately volunteers. The test is incredibly painful for her, but shouldn’t be for Zeljko if he does indeed have neuralgia. Nerve disorders are ruled out when the injection causes him pain, and in the lab, Foreman and Cameron find out that Zeljko’s white blood cells are normal, thus ruling out an infection. The team is now left with a either a cancer diagnosis or a heart defect.

Zeljko allows Thirteen to leave the room to get the heart-slowing drugs House requires to make the man’s heart return to normal speed, which, when injected into her normal-beating heart slows it down considerably, while Zeljko’s heart reduces to a normal speed. But then he starts sweating only on one side of his face, leading House to believe he has a lung tumor that’s pressing on his sympathetic nerves. Zeljko decides to trade three hostages for a trip to radiology and ties the two doctors, the nurse, and the remaining two civilians to him to journey to radiology. In the CT scan, he refuses to unhand his gun, which causes a sunburst over the image. House convinces him to give up the gun in order to get a proper diagnosis, at which point the nurse and one civilian hostage decide to make a break for it. The youngest hostage stays, just to check out what’s going down. When the CT scan does not reveal a tumor, House returns Zeljko’s gun, an act which prompts House, Zeljko and Thirteen to discuss the nature of cowardice and the need to be right. (For the record, both House and Zeljko have a destructive and violent need to be right, and Zeljko and Thirteen are both cowards about facing their own deaths.)

House now thinks that because of Zeljko’s wonky hearing (he now appears to be deaf in one ear), that he might have Cushing’s Syndrome. The hostage negotiators agree to get the drugs for him if he lets the boy go and stops testing drugs on Thirteen, an agreement upon which Zeljko immediately reneges. Thirteen gets incredibly sick, and Zeljko remains unchanged from the treatment. In a last-ditch discussion with the diagnostics team, all signs point to a tropical illness like Meliodosis, which Zeljko discounts because he’s never been anywhere south of Florida  . . . apparently not realizing that Florida is a tropical climate. Zeljko agrees to let House go for getting the answer, but wants to keep dying Thirteen to test the next rounds of drugs on, despite House’s warning that any additional strain on her body would fully shut down her kidneys and kill her. She agrees to take the last round of drugs, knowing that in eight years, she’ll be dead anyway.



“Who’s the martyr now? Either the drugs kill me or he kills me.” – Thirteen.

But when the time comes, Thirteen is unable to give herself the fatal dose, declaring, “I don’t want to die,” just as Zeljko steals the syringe from her hand and injects himself as the SWAT team blasts through the wall. When the smoke clears, the SWAT team arrests Zeljko, who seems to be at peace, finally, knowing that he’s actually gotten an answer for all his trouble. Jail, it seems, is worth that to him. Thirteen goes on dialysis to flush out her kidneys, and finally consents to some clinical trials for Huntington’s Chorea, her near-death experience giving her a renewed appreciation for life.

The Husband:

I was not looking forward to this episode. Hostage episodes are usually very desperate ploys to get viewers tuned in, story be damned, and usually result in most of the characters not acting like themselves in any capacity. It can be done right, however. I point you to “Bang!” from Desperate Housewives season 3, which is more than the sum of its parts.

Every single hostage situation episode of a TV drama usually gives center stage to the hostage taker and they rarely disappoint, so much like Laurie Metcalf’s wildly successful performance in the aforementioned DH episode, Zeljko was in it to win it.

The result was just okay, a gimmick that thankfully gave us more than one location – man, how big is that x-ray room? – and some resolution with Thirteen’s recent b-story arc (one that many viewers have been complaining about, but not me). My wife’s right, though – it’s time to give Kutner some focus. Nobody underuses Kal Penn and gets away with it. Nobody!

Special shout-outs for several of the guest actors. First, one to Natasha Gregson Wagner for actually blending into the story that I barely noticed her. (I dig on the actress quite a bit, but she has a tendency to overrun any scene she’s in, whether it’s in High Fidelity or Another Day in Paradise.

Another to Evan Peters as the young teenage hostage, who just makes me miss the show Invasion even more.

And one to Wood Harris as the SWAT negotiator, a far cry from playing Avon Barksdale, the king of all drug lords, on HBO’s The Wire. His presence made me realize that whenever I see a talented African-American actor on TV and turn to my wife and say, “Hey, I know that guy,” it’s always somebody from The Wire. That show was apparently filled with every single fairly unknown African-American actor in the country. I didn’t even bother mentioning it last night, because I’m sure the conversation would have been this:

Me: Guess what I know him from.

Wife: The Wire. Shut up. I’m watching Zeljko.

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