Down to the final three, and things aren’t looking so good. The episode ends with House performing the scan to check Wilson’s tumor, and he doesn’t look happy. Chase decides he needs to step out of House’s shadow and leave. It’s a dark, death-haunted episode all around, with as many corpses as live bodies. As least Thirteen will be back next week.
Did I mention all the death? We open with the final moments of a female patient elsewhere in the hospital, and watch the transition from person to corpse boxed up and wheeled down to the morgue. There, pathologist Peter Treiber slices into her with gusto. Sorry, it’s the only way to describe it; we get quite a nasty side view (CGI, I think) of what was once her torso. Treiber’s a somewhat OCD type obsessed with catching all the other doctors’ mistakes, converting their performances into statistics with the thoroughness of a baseball aficionado. Who roots for people to lose. Not that Treiber is having the best day himself, as mid-autopsy he goes into some kind of fugue state and slices his own scalp open.
House rides into the parking garage on his motorcycle, and is immediately outshone by Wilson, who drives up in his shiny new red Corvette and pulls into a handicapped spot. He informs House that after a lifetime of caring and searching for meaning, he’s decided to embrace selfishness, shallowness, and indifference. He’s planning a road trip to Cleveland to get the autograph of his boyhood crush. “The years have not been kind to David Cassidy,” opines House. No, it was Julie Christie. (For most of the episode I just thought Wilson had really good taste; then it turns out his real crush was a girl in his class who looked like Julie Christie, and who liked Wilson enough to ask him if it was OK for her to go to prom with the hot guy who asked her – Wilson, of course, said it was.)
The team is discussing why Dr. Treiber might have wanted to cut his head open. They’re also talking about the fact that he really seems to hate Chase. They go to examine him and boy, he really does hate Chase. Also, he won’t allow any procedure not directly ordered by House.
Taub and Park go to check out the morgue – these two haven’t had much to do lately; I hope we see more of them in the final two weeks. Park is impressed by Treiber’s scorekeeping; Taub is creeped out, first calling it Orwellian, then evoking the meticulous number crunchers who attended the Wannsee conference. Even Taub’s asides are morbid tonight.
House and Wilson drive out of town, into that countryside that never looks like New Jersey, or anywhere else in the Mid Atlantic region, leaving the team to pretend to the patient that he’s still in town. Wilson announces that his new devil-may-care persona has a name, Kyle Calloway. Sure enough, when they stop at a roadside diner, and Wilson decides to order the 80-oz steak (eat it within an hour and it’s free, plus you get your name on the Wall of Pain), he’s soon surrounded by patrons chanting “KYLE! KYLE!” I won’t say what happens, but soon after earning his place on the Wall of Pain, Wilson finds he has room for dessert after all.
Meanwhile, back at PPTH, the patient needs (demands?) surgery to look for a bowel obstruction, and he wants Chase to do it because, statistically, Chase is the best surgeon in the hospital. It turns out that at the root of Treiber’s resentment is the fact that he was up for the position on House’s team all those years ago, when Chase’s dad picked up the phone and jumped Chase to the head of the line. He lists the great things he would have accomplished by now if he had Chase’s talent and opportunities.
Out on the road, Wilson wants a threesome – not with House, with two women. House carefully fits him with a prosthetic shaved scalp (Wilson won’t actually shave) to improve his chances of cancer-patient pity-sex. It works with the waitress, and House treats Wilson to a hooker to make three. Next morning, House wakes up in the car as Wilson leaves the motel, chunks of hair sticking out of his torn prosthetic scalp. It was, he says, confusing, perfunctory, sad, and somehow just what he needed. Also, one of them stole his wallet. After they’ve hit the road again, House explains the drill – hide your wallet in the mini bar; if there’s no mini bar, hide it in the toilet.
Meanwhile, the patient’s had a crisis and the team’s had to admit they don’t actually know where House is. Foreman says they’re lucky if he doesn’t press charges. Chase, who’s arguing for brain biopsy to look for prion disease, is not allowed to interact with the patient any more, but he’s not off the case. We next see him down in the morgue, “borrowing” one of the brains Treiber has stored in jars.
Wilson and House are on the home stretch into Cleveland, when their route is suddenly blocked by a highly symbolic but nevertheless unsettling funeral cortege, black hearse in the lead. It’s a little much for Wilson to take, and after a few long moments, Wilson guns the Corvette’s engines and proceeds to outrace the funeral. This would work better if Wilson actually knew how to drive a stick shift – he loses control of the car, crashes through a fence, and the two end up stranded in the middle of a field in rural Ohio.
Park finds Chase slicing the brain into neat pieces, the better to test for prion disease. Hearses, sliced brains – I said there were a lot of corpses in this episode. Chase announces he’s quitting after this case.
Wilson and House have found a country bus stop, where an elderly woman named Enid is patiently awaiting the bus. Based on the way the scene unfolds, I’d say that Wilson hasn’t seen Ghost World, but that House and the writers have. The bus stops there every fifteen minutes, insists Enid. On its way to Naples, Florida, where her husband is waiting for her to cook him dinner. Miraculously, a cab comes along, but Wilson can’t leave Enid. “Goodbye, Kyle,” says House.
Chase is holed up in the morgue, scribbling away on his very own big-boy whiteboard (Sorry, was that mean? It’s his week for Oedipal conflict, though). Park and Taub announce that the patient has slipped into coma, and Chase is about to wash his hands of the whole thing – literally – when he has his own House moment. It’s the soap. He soon has the rare pleasure of bending over his nemesis as he awakes from the coma, and announcing that Treiber’s the one who screwed up this time. The anti-microbial agent in his industrial-strength liquid soap triggered his symptoms.
On the bus back to Princeton, Wilson tells House that Julie Christie — whom they missed – was just a stand-in for his real crush. Kyle Calloway was the guy she went to prom with. Kyle had a car, a band, and a mustache. Wilson does not want to be the guy heading home to the brain scan that will tell him whether he lives or dies. He just wants to be Kyle. House notes that Kyle would probably have ditched him (House) as easily as he would have ditched Enid. He can live without Kyle. It’s small and subtle, but that’s possibly the sanest and nicest moment we’ve ever had from House.
Foreman can’t persuade Chase to stay, and the two share a manly hug. Then we end on that ominous brain scan.
So is House achieving emotional balance, just in time to lose his best (only) friend? Is leaving the only way for Chase to become his own man? Why is it so hard to watch them leave when they’ll be disappearing from our screens anyway? When House says he hides his wallet in the toilet, does he mean in the tank? If so, how does he keep it from getting ruined?