A Different House
This week’s premise – “A Different House,” in which we see House caring for a patient as he never has before – is a bit oversold. Pretty much, House stands up for a teenage runaway’s right to hate her pill-popping mother and make a life without her. Though, to the writers’ credit, the parallels with House’s own father issues aren’t pushed too hard. An enjoyable episode, but no new ground is broken.
We start with House seeing a teenage girl who’s been having trouble breathing. House figures out fairly quickly that she and her “dad” are in no way related, and are both homeless. He sends “Dad” on his way, but not before the girl hands “Dad” two beers as payment for his services. Her cover blown, she just wants to get out of there, but the blood leaking from her ear says otherwise. (Hmm – second hemorrhagic patient-of-the-week reveal in as many episodes. As I said, no new ground.)
The Scoobies discuss the case in a restaurant across town from the hospital. Why are they meeting here? Because Foreman’s about to walk in with Yaya (his married lover) on his arm. “Hi, Dean Foreman!” House yells across the room as he snaps photos of the two.
We get three subplots this week, one in the clinic, one involving Taub, and one involving Foreman and his fling. In the clinic, House sees two men dressed as Confederate officers. They’re re-enactors, but “the General” has “the green-apple two step” — dysentery, which until fairly recently killed more soldiers than bullets did. House provides medication, commenting that he can add some mercury if they’re really concerned with authenticity. Ah, nineteenth-century medicine. Did you know that when Florence Nightingale brought her own nurses to the Crimean War, one of the changes she insisted on was using a fresh cloth for each soldier’s wounds, instead of just using the same sponge dipped into the same bucket, patient after patient?
Back on topic. Combining two subplots, the doctors are discussing Foreman’s situation and Taub comes out in favor of cheating, as it brought him his daughters. But then a confession – they’re coming over this weekend, and part of his baby-proofing routine is to remove all magazines from his apartment. It’s not a porn thing, as Chase believes, it’s just that – he knows he needs to pay attention to them but “they’re just so … boring.” Nice job on Peter Jacobson’s part of seeming genuinely ashamed and conflicted.
Park and Adams visit the derelict house the patient lives in. One guess as to who likes the girl’s independence, and who wants to heal a broken life. Sigh. Did I mention that I have to look up Adams’s name every week, that’s how little of an impression she makes on me?
It doesn’t quite count as a subplot on its own, but one of this week’s themes is House doing things he couldn’t do while he had the ankle bracelet on (like stalking his boss). One patient conference takes place at a skeet-shooting range, and another at a tortoise race. Adams gets to call social services, because she can shoot better than House, but when the “social worker” shows up, her heels are suspiciously high. It’s one of House’s hookers.
We see Taub doing his best to entertain his babies with animal puppets, making the requisite quacking and mooing noises, but his heart isn’t in it, and it only lasts until he sees a magazine he missed in his pre-baby sweep. Later, we see Adams telling him that he just needs to “log more hours” and he’ll find himself bonding, “kind of like Stockholm syndrome.” Which is a great line, but it doesn’t sound much like Adams, and almost any other character on the show could have given it more of a twist.
The real social worker and the patient’s mom show up just in time for her to begin coughing blood. House thinks it’s an aneurysm, Adams thinks it’s secret alcoholism. It’s now the mom’s choice whether to operate on the patient or just start her on rehab. I, personally, would be inclined to explore and eliminate the truly life-threatening possibility put forward by the doctor in charge, before going with the option presented by a junior colleague on circumstantial evidence, but Mom goes with rehab.
House tries to use photos of Foreman and Yaya to blackmail his way out of punishment for getting a hooker to pose as a social worker (does anyone besides me find House’s regular patronage of hookers kind of gross?). So Foreman decides to break it off. But Yaya explains this isn’t necessary – she told her husband about him, after he commented on how happy she’s been lately. He’s not thrilled, but neither of them wants to give up on the marriage just yet. In the meantime… Foreman looks less than happy about his demotion from forbidden love to unpaid marriage counselor.
The non-diarrhea-stricken Confederate returns, to explain that “the General” is a “progressive.” “Compared to Rupert Murdoch?” asks House. No, it just means he won’t break character while in uniform. The two are brothers, and this guy is just along for the ride because it saved their relationship after a nasty fight. He makes a passing reference to numbness in his hands he attributes to the rigors of re-enactment.
Foreman talks over his relationship issues with Taub and Chase, which may not be the best idea. Chase keeps the babies expertly entertained, punctuating his comments about commitment-free sex with coos and gasps. Taub asks in desperation how Chase manages it. “First, you have to be a decent and empathetic human being,” says Chase. Now that’s how to deliver a line.
Speaking of which, Wilson hasn’t been around this week, until Taub corners him in his office, demanding empathy lessons. Surely boring people get cancer too? Wilson says the secret is finding common ground, shared loves or hates. “John Woo movies, romance novels, kale.” Surely at least a couple of those are hates. Next time a magazine catches Taub’s eye as he’s playing with the babies, he starts showing them pictures of NFL players, with appropriate growls, whines, or hisses. Bonding accomplished.
Not so much in our other storylines. Just as mom and daughter are bonding over muffins, the daughter collapses. House was right! No, he wasn’t — no sign of an aneurysm. But he figures out she picked up a parasitic worm swimming in a polluted canal on a trip to Florida (her one pleasant memory). House: “Family vacations kill.” As always with worm storylines, some pills and she’ll be fine, but worms freak me out. I almost never watched the show again after they found a tapeworm in Robin Tunney’s brain way back in the pilot. Things go, um, swimmingly (sorry), until the daughter gets well enough to disappear again. Adams is crushed, House is still furious with her for interfering – please let this be the beginning of her getting fired.
Foreman tells Yaya he’d like her to tell her husband they broke up, so they can start sneaking around again. This doesn’t go over so well. House tells Foreman he’ll seek the same adrenaline fix elsewhere, until he gets bored and escalates.
Our two Confederate soldiers return, vomiting profusely into House’s wastebasket. Turns out General Authenticity cheaped out and got them polyester uniforms so low-quality they’re permeated with antimony used in processing the fabric. By wearing them around the clock in authentic unwashed squalor, they’ve managed to give themselves antimony poisoning, cause of all their symptoms. And that’s it for another week. Again, enjoyable if not exactly fresh – but looks like something heavy is going down next week.