I don’t know if others will agree, but I really, really liked this one. Funny, fast-paced, and unashamedly weird (as opposed to just “quirky”), it got at one of the show’s more intriguing core issues – the way the main characters are united by their failure at relationships – while also addressing one of the things that’s creeped me out in the past – House’s fondness for paid female companionship.
The opening is short and sweet – a man wins a teddy bear at a carnival midway shooting gallery, but it’s not for the pretty redhead at his side – it’s for his absent girlfriend. Who, it’s revealed a few scenes later, is a customized, life-sized plastic doll named Amy, purchased for $7000 from a website specializing in these things. (Yes, yes, there was an indie film with a similar theme) Meanwhile, House’s favorite hooker has announced her impending retirement. He’s interviewing replacements while discussing the case with his team. Among other questions, he wants them (the hookers, not the team) to name their favorite Woody Allen movie – and that’s where the Annie Hall reference comes in.
At this point, the team doesn’t know Amy is made of plastic. They only know that, when the redhead offered to call her, the patient put her off by saying Amy avoided cellphones because of fears about radiation. They’re grappling instead with House’s taste for hookers. Park asks Taub if he’s ever paid for sex, to which Taub responds that “Every man who’s ever seen a Merchant-Ivory film has paid for sex.” But other than that, no. They’re interrupted by a young guy selling a guitar who’s clearly flirting with Park. That guitar’s sold, but would she like to listen to his band rehearse?
Adams and Chase find Amy in the patient’s apartment – Adam’s theory was that the mysterious “girlfriend” he had to get home to was a drug habit. They bring her to the hospital, and Chase assures the patient that “We’re not here to judge anyone’s fetish”, which might have been more tactfully put. The patient defends his choice, saying she’s always there for him. Adams: “So’s a toaster.”
Now the team must debate whether or not the doll should be considered a symptom. Adams, says yes; Chase says no, the guy’s just weird. House says that, in having an imaginary friend, the patient is “no crazier than millions of churchgoers.” He then announces portentously that everyone in the room has a sex doll – something they use to avoid relationships. Taub: “Oooh, a metaphor!” I’m really going to miss Peter Jacobson.
According to House, Taub has his kids, Park has her parents, Adams has her charity work, and Chase has his one-night stands. Problem solved, says Taub, he’ll give his kids to Park’s parents. He then points out the irony of a man currently interviewing prostitutes turning the sex-doll metaphor on others. But apparently House isn’t too happy about having to find a replacement for Emily, his regular. “You’re the only hooker I know who can tune a piano,” he tells her. She tells him she’s getting married, and that’s that.
Meanwhile, Chase and Adams flirt awkwardly while performing a pelvic exam on Amy – the working theory is that she’s become a breeding ground for infection. And apparently this requires them to put the doll in the same position, with the same drapes, etc., as a live patient. No infection – the patient is good about washing her – but Chase finds an unexplained mass, so they put her in the MRI. (It could be pocket of gas from an infection). Eventually, they get permission from the patient to cut her open. Adams is ready to do it in front of the patient, until Chase suggests that may be a bit distressing for him. (Did I mention the patient brings flowers home for Amy?)
About the only thing this episode has lacked so far is Wilson, and here he is. House wants his help in breaking up Emily and her fiancé. There’s a great shot of Robert Sean Leonard’s reaction as House asks why anyone would consider marriage better than hooking. Wilson points out that there’s now a beautiful woman living in House’s apartment, who’s actually married to House. House recognizes the wisdom of this – Dominika will be much more useful than Wilson in preventing Emily’s marriage.
Later, Taub is in grocery store with one of the Sophies when they catch the eye of an attractive woman. When she asks about Sophie’s mother, Taub says she died in childbirth.
Adams, who’s gained sympathy for the patient, has patched and stitched the Amy, and she wheels her back to the patient’s room to the familiar strains “Never My Love”. It’s quite nicely filmed, actually. Unfortunately, the grateful patient collapses. The team discusses this in a conference call with House, who’s with Dominika in her knish truck, spying on Emily. (Am I right that her food truck is called Knish on a Star?). House brings up the team’s own relationship difficulties. Park’s date with the guitar guy fell through – she had to drive Popo to the doctor. House says she’s hesitating because of past relationship traumas, and Taub says of course – in a past incarnation Park was Anne Boleyn. House correctly diagnoses this as the confidence of a man who had his own date with the lady from the supermarket. Sadly, their next date doesn’t go so well. She watches happily as Taub settles his daughter in her crib, but then he confesses that he lied about his wife dying in childbirth. It’s something else that’s bothering his date, though. “Was that a … different baby?” she asks. “…no…,” says Taub evasively.
The patient begins hallucinating that the doll has come to life and climbed into bed with him, but seductive visions of Amy in black bra and panties alternate with glimpses of her drenched in blood. His liver’s failing, causing the hallucinations. Taub points out that the patient says he paid $7000 for the doll, when the standard model only costs $5000 (he refuses to believe nobody else checked out the website). What kind of customizations did that $2000 dollars cover? Dead Ringers popped into mind at this point, but I’m relieved to say that the customization consisted only of making her look like a yoga instructor the patient dated for a while. This turns out to be a clue, though not before the patient is diagnosed with meningitis. It seems that among the alternative healing practices he picked up from the yoga instructor was the use of a neti pot, and he became infected with an amoeba after using tap water instead of distilled.
House’s plan – to have Dominika seduce Emily’s fiancé and then denounce him as a cheater – goes awry when the man they’ve been following turns out to be Emily’s brother (who’s nevertheless happy to take up Dominika on her offer). Emily admits she’s not getting married – she’s just dropping House as a client. She doesn’t like visiting him while Dominika is there – Dominika clearly likes him, and House seems to have feelings for her, too. “It’s mean,” she says.
The recovering patient asks Adams for her email address, but she rather ungraciously suggests he pursue the redhead instead, even though the redhead took off after being introduced to Amy. She then asks Chase out, but he turns her down. Everyone is striking out except for Park. Taub encourages her to pursue the guitar guy even though she says she has “stuffy clothes” and hates her hair. The two get together for a duet, “I Got You, Babe,” which accompanies tonight’s closing montage. The patient’s back home with Amy. House finds a letter for Dominika from immigration, approving her green card application, but can’t bring himself to tell her about it. She’s fixed the blender, and when she flirtatiously offers House a sip of pistachio milkshake, he backs off, looking pained and bewildered. The letter from immigration ends up hidden in the trash.
I liked this one. I liked the self-aware parallels – in Taub’s words, “ooh, a metaphor!”. And a lot of the dialogue was brilliant. The medical mystery served the more character-driven plots nicely. More subtly than the last two episodes, this one hinted that whatever closure we can expect is more likely to come in the form of self-awareness than dramatic change. Any other reactions?