Monday, October 16, 2006

Twofer -- Episode 221, "Euphoria, Part 2"

Clinic patient:
Young girl who has been "seizing" every time she gets in the car seat. Mom thinks it's epilepsy; House knows it's something far better.

The connection:
House: "You mix rocking, grunting, sweating and dystonia with concerned parents, and you get an amateur diagnosis of epilepsy. In actuality, all your little girl is doing is saying 'yoo-hoo to the hoo-hoo.' "
Mom: "She's what?"
House: "Marching the penguin. Ya-ya-ing the sisterhood. Finding Nemo."
Girl: (giggling) "That was funny."
House: "It's called gratification disorder. Sort of a misnomer. If one was unable to gratify oneself, that would be a disorder."

The name of this episode is Euphoria, and from what the mom says, the girl does seem to be enjoying herself. (I say good for her.) And because the first symptom of the cop and Foreman's disease was euphoria, there's our connection.

But really, the thematic link is just a bonus -- it's only important that there was some sort of clinic patient. This is the second episode of a two-parter: Things are getting dicey, the stakes are higher, time is running out. As House says later in the episode, "Only thing I can do is think. You can pretty much do that anywhere."

How do we know he's thinking? In the scene leading up to the clinic, Wilson walks in on House watching Steve McQueen through a web cam. "So this is your plan?" he says. "Just sit here and watch your rat all day?" Well, yes. The clinic scene opens with the web cam image of Steve, himself euphorically playing on his water bottle, and House watching for any signs that will help him cure Foreman. Even in the next scene, when Cuddy berates House for ignoring Foreman, we get the sense that House is doing anything but.

Cuddy: "One afternoon and you're on pace to set the record for most patients seen in a month."
House: "You're upset that I'm doing clinic hours? Wow, that is so like rain on your wedding day."
Cuddy: "For the past three hours, I have been on the phone with the CDC while you are --"
House: "How's that going, by the way?"
Cuddy: "They promised to expedite --"
House: "Tough to do an autopsy when they haven't even picked up the body."
Cuddy: "It's tough to treat your patient when you're not even on the same floor. Go. Clinic is covered."
House: "I go watch the meds drip into his IV, you think that'll make the treatment work faster?"
Cuddy: "Go to your office, play with your ball, write on your white board and insult your team. Do whatever it is that you do to figure things out."
House: Feeling guilty? It's not too late to change your mind. Go call the CDC. Tell them you were just joshing."
Cuddy: "Keep avoiding Foreman's case until he dies. Then I'll drown in guilt."

House's point is that Cuddy, who is arguably focusing all her efforts on Foreman's case, has gotten just as close to figuring things out as House, who by all appearances is focusing on other things. But he's not: History has taught us that clinic patients are easily fixable, no-brainers. And because House was keeping track of Steve, we know that he's thinking about Foreman while being productive elsewhere. In fact, that might be why he's in the clinic in the first place -- to feel productive. He's not getting anywhere with Foreman, but it's important to note that the clinic patient comes at the beginning of the episode. House shouldn't be getting anywhere with Foreman anyway.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Poor Darwin -- Episode 209, "Deception"

With the World Series cutting into our quality House time and my life finally at a resting point, I'm going to try to wrap up season 2's loose ends. First up is this episode, which I missed in summer reruns. Still to come: "Euphoria, Part 2" for sure, "Who's Your Daddy?" and "No Reason" possibly (depending on relevance). So without further ado ...

Clinic patient:
Girl using jelly-jelly for birth control jelly

The connection:
By now I think it's safe to say that House has a problem with authority. And with Foreman now in charge, it's meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Which is why I saw flashes of season 1's "Occam's Razor" -- when House continually called Cuddy into the clinic for consults to get back at her for giving him more clinic hours. His philosophy: You make me miserable, I'll make you miserable. This time it's Foreman who gets the short end of the stick. House walks into the clinic, sees whatever nastiness results from using strawberry jelly for birth control, and immediately reaches for the phone.

The game, however, is short-lived. Foreman does drop by, but he brushes off House's attempt to annoy with a joke ("I'll make sure to put a gold star by your name") and tells him the main patient's biopsy came back negative. Really, House seems to have lost the power play struggle. Not only was his diagnosis about pancreatic cancer wrong, he was also in the clinic to begin with -- in the previous scene, Cuddy told Foreman that everything was running smoothly with him in charge.

If there's a connection between the clinic patient and the main case -- a woman who makes herself sick for attention (Munchausen's disease) -- it's tenuous. The girl could be seen as another example of what people do to themselves, but there's a big difference between stupidity and craziness.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Episode 218, "Sleeping Dogs Lie"

Clinic patient:
Chinese girl looking for birth control, and her sick mother

The connection:

With the girl's mom in the clinic, House faces the same sort of situation that he's in with the main patient's girlfriend: He knows something they should know, but does he tell?

Obviously the stakes with the girlfriend are much higher. If House tells her the woman she's about to save doesn't love her anymore, she might rescind on the liver transplant, thus killing his patient. On the flip side, if he tells the mom about the birth control, the girl will just be grounded for a few weeks.

Which is probably part of the reason he does tell the mom in the end. But why didn't he say anything the first time? He just gave the girl the prescription and sent her on her way. My guess is, like with the girlfriend, it was in the best interest of the patient. When the girl came back after accidentally giving her mom the birth control, House probably figured that if she's too dumb to mix up the pills, she shouldn't be having sex.

It's refreshing to be reminded of how quick on the uptake House is. The girl just had to say one thing before he figured out her motives. Her lying attempt fits in nicely with the episode's overall theme of deception ... as does the revelation that House speaks Mandarin, which he cleverly hid by doing and saying nothing while the girl translated. At any rate, after learning in "Distractions" that House speaks Hindi (or at least is trying to), he's proving quite the linguist.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Ignorance is bliss -- Episode 215, "Clueless"

Clinic patient:
Mr. Lambert, who has herpes, and his wife, who is suspect

"You're pleased. You think you've proved every marriage is a mistake."

The Lamberts' story unfolds in four parts:
1) Mr. Lambert is told he has herpes. House suspects the wife and a surrogate Mr. Miyagi (may he rest in peace).
2) The wife disputes the accusation.
3) House finds out the wife has herpes.
4) House finds out the husband gave it to the wife.

During the first two, the Lamberts appear to be the opposite of "the Nymphos" (the main patient and his wife) -- The Lamberts: bad marriage; the Nymphos: good marriage. Come the third time, when the Lamberts' plot thickens and nothing is as it seems, House starts to question the greatness of the Nymphos' marriage. By the fourth, it's clear the Nymphos' marriage is just as bad -- even if they were having more sex than the Lamberts. Guess that's not such a good gauge.

The Lamberts' last two appearances (seen and unseen) are also interesting in that they are a slight variant in the clinic-patient-solving-main-case theme. Normally, clinic patients give House one revelation -- the Lamberts give him two. When he finds out Mrs. Lambert has herpes, he bats around the idea that maybe she gave it to her husband in order to switch the blame. That led House to suspect some sort of foul play with Mrs. Nympho -- he just doesn't know the specifics yet. He figures that out in the Lamberts' last scene, when he tricks Mr. Lambert into giving himself away and after Mrs. Lambert tosses her gold ring to the floor -- the ultimate symbol of marriage discarded.

That symbol was also briefly shown in the teaser, when we find out the "sexual assault" is just a role-playing game for the Nymphos. It's fitting that the ring -- like their marriage -- is not as it seems.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Moo -- Episode 214, "Sex Kills"

Clinic patient:
Guy who loves "cows" (i.e. his step-mom)

Wilson: "It's not all about sex, House."
House: "Really? When did that change?"

Believe it or not, the guy lusting after his step-mom is the only one in the episode with any restraint. He knows it's not really right, and he's doing something about it -- albeit a little extreme, looking for the next best thing to chemical castration. But Wilson's wife (and Wilson too, for that matter) gave in to impulse -- killed their marriage. The husband of the woman in the car accident gave in -- killed her. Or maybe she did that to herself, when she gave in. And the main patient gave in to his ex-wife, which almost killed him.

And each in his or her own way is denying it or running away. The clinic patient says he's in love with cows. Wilson and his wife stay in a crappy marriage. The husband doesn't admit to the one night stand and gonorrhea until after the heart transplant. The wife hid pictures in her desk. The dad was tight-lipped for a while about going back to his wife, but really, he's the most forthcoming of the bunch.

So cow guy can fight lust, and the dad can eventually admit when he can't. They'd make a hell of a team.


The fluidity of gender -- Episode 213, "Skin Deep"

Clinic patient:
"Pregnant" husband

In the sex vs. gender debate, if you can call it that, I side with the idea that you're born with a sex; your gender is socially constructed. This episode takes the fluidity of gender to the extreme, where the perfect man is a woman (the clinic patient/husband) and the perfect woman is a man (the main patient/model).

Each patient is the opposite of him/herself and each other -- that last in more ways than one. It's funny (and rewarding, really) to see the husband go through sympathy pregnancy, with his big belly and breasts. It's temporary for him. But when the model finds out she's genetically a boy, it's tragic -- her entire concept of herself and her life is destroyed.

We viewers get to sit with the hermaphrodite idea for a while. House has his main-case breakthrough while the husband is in sympathy labor ("He's got more estrogen coursing through his veins ..."), then we get a discovery and explanation period before we watch House tastelessly break the bad news. So it's shocking how the model reacts getting the news for the first time, suddenly popping up from the bed and baring all. Whether it would have had more effect if it were closer to the comedic situation of the husband, to have a more sudden change in tone, I don't know.

As a side note: With all this gender confusion going around, it's a little interesting that the husband would feel more comfortable with House (read: a male doctor) than with Cuddy -- especially when he's concerned about his breasts. But Cuddy's giving away House's pager number is a nice little volley in their continual game of getting under each other's skin.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Of mice and men -- Episodes 207 and 208, "Hunting" and "The Mistake"

Clinic patients:
Steve McQueen ("Hunting")
Guy without health insurance ("The Mistake")

I'm combining these because I don't have much to say and they're both Stacy-centric.

Steve -- not in the clinic. But he is a secondary patient of sorts, so I'm counting him. It says a lot about House's obsession with curing what ails ya that he even diagnoses mice. (Although how he thought something was wrong with a head tilt is beyond me -- my dog does that anytime I ask him to do anything.) Anyway, Steve obviously exists to help House and Stacy bond. Call it a precursor to Baltimore.

The guy without health insurance is much like the flight attendant in "Spin" -- he allows for another clinic confrontation between House and Stacy. House is just being House when he tricks "Buck" into (most likely) getting insurance, but this time it also applies more directly to the main case, where someone's hiding something about why Chase screwed up. As Stacy says: "Such a hero. Always righting wrongs. Who cares if you have to manipulate?" She's a quick study, that one.

One aside: Kayla, the main patient in "The Mistake," is another one who technically started out in the clinic, this time with Chase as her doctor -- which means all of the underlings have now officially been on clinic duty.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Unfriendly skies -- Episode 206, "Spin"

Clinic patient:
Flight attendant with the runs

This patient is all about setting. Normally, I'd say it's more dramatic to have Stacy yell at House if she can burst in on him. But it ends up being a pretty funny scene because the patient's complaint is embarrassing enough without having to talk about it during a domestic dispute. So what the clinic setting does is give House fuel for his obsession with Stacy -- she's been hunting him down, even to the clinic while he's with a patient (and even if it is just to yell at him), so she must still have feelings for him.

It's also a testament to how good House is. Even with distractions, it's no effort to determine it's the gum that's causing the steward's diarrhea.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Selfish jerks -- Episode 204, "TB or Not TB"

Clinic patients:
Woman with cat allergy
Cecilia "That's Mrs. Carter, to you" Carter, who has lump in breast

Cecilia's purpose in the episode is neatly laid out with her last scene and the exchange between House and Cameron that leads up to it.

House: "We are who people think we are. People think he's a great doctor, so they give him stuff."
Cameron: "He is a great doctor."
House: "The reality is irrelevant. [He spots Cecilia in the clinic.] I'll prove it. People who know me, see me as an ass, treat me as an ass. People who don't know me, see a cripple, treat me like a cripple. What kind of selfish jerk wouldn't take advantage of that fact?"

Then he goes into the clinic, crushes her foot with his cane, looks apologetic and makes her feel bad, thus proving his point. Then again, his point was already made earlier in the cafeteria, when Cuddy first asked him to apologize to Cecilia for how he treated her, "he" of course being Foreman.

Cuddy: "She was just in my office, crying, because of the way you treated her."
Wilson: [sarcastically] "That doesn't sound like you."
House: "Then it probably wasn't"
Cuddy: "I get that you like to shock people, stun them out of complacency, out of stupidity. But this woman thought she had cancer. She had a lump in her breast. What were you trying to accomplish?"
House: "Let me ask you something. If this were another doctor. If the patient were complaining about ... let's see, I don't know ... Foreman. You'd just dismiss this as the paranoid bitching of a paranoid bitch ..."

What these two scenes also do is create links between House and Sebastian and Foreman. In the first scene, House's point that "we are who people think we are" applies to him and Sebastian. And House was mocking him when he said the selfish jerk line, which Sebastian had said earlier in the episode (a line, by the way, that I still don't get). The second scene continues a running theme about how Foreman is like House (or as Paul says in his House blog, "Evolution is real!").

And all of it comes together in the scene in the coma patient's room where House and Wilson are watching Sebastian's press conference. Foreman comes in and tries to explain himself to House, who teases him in his House way about how he insulted a woman with breast cancer but is "years away from mad skills like that" -- insinuating, of course, that House already possesses such mad skills. Then:

House: "I need you to apologize."
Foreman: "Cuddy's only doing this because she thinks it's you."
House: "Welcome to the world. Everyone's different, everyone gets treated different. You try fighting that, you end up dying of TB."

So Cecilia was busy. Cat allergy woman? I don't know. Space filler.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Clueless -- Episode 203, "Humpty Dumpty"

Clinic patient:
Old black man with high blood pressure

"Every slave master thought they were doing the black man a favor. Negro can't take care of himself, so we'll put him to work. Give him four walls, a bed. We'll civilize the heathen. Tell you what. Stop doing us favors. If you're right, and we end up back in the jungle with lousy blood pressure medication, it won't be on your head."

As he tends to do, House lies, this time to a black man who refuses to take "racist" blood pressure medication that's more beneficial to black people. Because it's more beneficial, House gives it to him but tells him it's the white stuff -- "the same medicine we give Republicans" (ha!). Medically, House is right. And if it were a white patient, his lying would be no big deal. But with the above speech, Foreman points out the social impact of House's actions: He's affirming the patient's view of a racist world, one where white people have been lying to him for 60 years.

Cut, literally, to the main patient, Alfredo, in the middle of surgery to remove his hand. Again, the right medical decision. And again, a disregard for the deeper impact of that decision. Cuddy understands. Alfredo's "not like us," she tells House as they're trying to decide whether the surgery is necessary. They cut off his hand, they cut off his livelihood.

Both patients are minorities, and both decisions House makes are for their good. But because of the second layers, the episode becomes a sort of commentary on how one half has no idea how the other half lives. It's not racism, per se; it's cluelessness.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ouch -- Episode 202, "Autopsy"

Clinic patient:
Guy who tried to circumcise himself with box cutters

Three words to describe this guy: Funny. Painful. Pointless. The scene was too early in the episode to act as a breather to the cancer kid storyline, but it wouldn't really have fit anywhere else, either. Really, they should have just kept it out.

But the clinic patient from "Acceptance" makes a roundabout appearance, when House tells Cameron she can't see the the cancer kid because she'll just get "all warm and cuddly ... end up in a custody battle." Nice reference.


The Cameron Show -- Episode 201, "Acceptance"

Clinic patient:
Cindy, a chipper young woman about to die from lung cancer

Look at those crazy writers, mixing things up for the first episode of the season. It's Cameron on clinic duty, which automatically makes it a different ball game.

As soon as Cindy mentions that she "had a husband once" and we see Cameron's reaction -- she thinks death before divorce, as do we, courtesy "Fidelity" -- it's clear this storyline is going to be all about Cameron. So much so, in fact, that it becomes a much bigger plot point than any previous clinic patient. There's more talk of Cindy than there are shots of her. Cameron's complete denial about Cindy's diagnosis -- the first stage of dying and a throwback to her awkwardness in "Maternity" -- even bleeds into discussion of the main case, as Cameron pushes for a closer look at Cindy and questions the priority given to the inmate.

The final scene between the two is kind of a handoff of the five stages of dying. Cameron has finally worked her way to acceptance, but when she tells Cindy she's dying and then hugs her, Cindy doesn't hug back. It's a small detail, but a telling one: It reinforces how affected Cameron was by the whole deal and shows Cindy in shock, perhaps on her way to the denial phase. Another small detail is also rare, as far as the clinic patients go -- Cindy has a name. Without a name we don't get close to her, and if we don't get close to her we can't identify with Cameron's plight.

Season openers usually set up a theme or two for the year, and though my memory of Season 2 is a bit fuzzy (it's a little different watching from week to week as opposed to DVD), it seems to me Cameron had a bit of an emotional ride.

The good news is House is still trying to avoid clinic duty.