Monday, October 22, 2007

Cheating -- Episode 107, "Fidelity"

Clinic patient:
Woman with breast implants complaining of shortness of breath; or, as Cuddy calls her, "the preschool teacher with the heart of silicon."

The connection:
"They were a present for my husband's 40th. I figured he'd enjoy them more than a sweater."

The patient's basic story is this: She got implants, she claims, for her husband. The breasts are the cause of her shortness of breath. But as it turns out, her husband also had been mixing his blood pressure medication into her oatmeal so her sex drive would be diminished -- an unfortunate side effect of the drug. (Says House: "I’m guessing he figured if you're both frigid, no harm no foul.")

Here's how it plays out: We see her twice in the clinic. The first time is setup for House's main patient revelation; the second time is the revelation.

First time: House is being surprisingly professional, asking all of his doctorly questions without sarcasm or sass. But then she lowers her gown, House gets a gander at her breasts ("Good, Lord. Are those real?") and he calls Wilson in on a "consult."

After the consult -- and already armed with a diagnosis for the shortness of breath -- House starts in, as he often does, on motive.

House: She did not do that for her husband. She did that for herself. She thinks if she looks different, she'll be different.
Wilson: No. She thinks if she looks different she'll be more attractive, which I have to say --
House: Not to her husband. Cosmetic surgery is so everyone else will look at us differently.

Cuddy eventually shows up to call them on the needless consult, and House orders tests to, as Cuddy puts it, cover his lechery.

It would seem that's the end of it. Oh, but no. A couple days later, Cuddy walks into House's office with clinic lady's test results. (Both he and Wilson forgot about it, and because it's quite a bit later in the episode, perhaps we did, too.) House notices something interesting in her EKG ("I was right"), which leads us to ...

Second time: House asks her about her husband's blood pressure medication, she confirms, he tells her about the oatmeal. Then she asks what she should do. House basically tells her that she should look elsewhere for sex: "Well, if you care about your husband at all, I'd do the responsible thing: Buy yourself some condoms, go to a bar, find ..." He trails off, gets that look in his eye, mutters "huh" and in the next scene comes to his team with the possibility that the main patient cheated on her husband. Which she did, contracting African Sleeping Sickness. Clinic patient saves the day again.

But her role in the episode doesn't stop with the main patient (although there was a brief moment shortly after the consult when the team is tossing about possible diagnoses, and Wilson asks, "Did you check her breasts?"). She also provides the impetus for subplot C -- Wilson's possibly cheating ways. The conversation in orange up there segues into House accusing Wilson of cheating on his wife because he's wearing a snazzy new green tie, probably to impress some young lady in the hospital (turns out to be a nurse). This storyline is threaded throughout the episode, and might even be the first mention on the show of Wilson's womanizing and marital track record (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). In fact, House and Wilson were talking about the nurse when Cuddy came in with the test results.

The episode got a lot of mileage out of this clinic patient.



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