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'House' recap: Die, Masters, die!

February 7, 2011 | 11:14 pm

Kaufman Honesty not only isn’t the best policy, in some cases, it needs to be taken out and maimed. Nowhere is that more evident than when Dr. Martha M. Masters (3M) is confronted with an “ethical dilemma.” (I use the quotes  because in 3M’s world, there is no such thing.) 

Patient presents with atrial fibrillation. That the patient is Cuddy’s mom, Arlene (Candice Bergen), which sends House and his team scurrying into the safety of the morgue,  because he doesn’t want to be assigned the case. But hey, it’s his girlfriend’s mom, and hey, he’s the best doctor in the history of mankind. Dang reputation! 

House sends 3M and Taub to Arlene’s house. No mold. No radon. But some racy photos of mom and “the help,” a contractor named Jesus, doing the dirty deed. (As far as I can tell, this detail is merely to flesh out –- ha ha -– Bergen’s character, or perhaps add a red herring as to what might be ailing her.) 

Speaking of Taub, he’s moved into a hotel as he and Rachel get their divorce ducks in a row. Rachel, perhaps as a sign of good faith, arranges for Taub to take a 15-hour-a-week job as a medical expert in her brother’s law firm ($50K a year for 15 hours a week! Man, I knew I should have gone to med school. Of course, there was my GPA issue, but…) 

Anyway, House accuses Arlene of being a hypochondriac, so she fires him. Dr. Kaufman is assigned to the case, although Cuddy wants House to still treat her (what’s Latin for “on a behind-the-scenes basis”?) House bugs Arlene’s room. Could be leukemia, Chase says. Kaufman has already ordered a marrow biopsy, House says, then House sends 3M (the Truth Fairy) on a snipe hunt so he can bounce his theory off his “real” team: Arlene has a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency as a result of alcoholism. (Note to Cuddy: Don’t send House out to buy your Mother’s Day card this year.)

Cuddy gives Arlene the vitamins, telling her they’re antacid, but Arlene spikes a fever of 102, proving it’s not alcoholism, and marrow tests are negative for cancer. 

House’s next snipe hunt for 3M: An addict who is in a vegetative state who was found next to an empty bottle of phenobarb. Could be glutethimide, says 3M, and sets up a blood test. While 3M is off wasting her time, the team spitballs on Arlene. Autoimmune, says Taub, possibly systemic lupus erythematosus. Foreman says endocartitis. But if Kaufman puts her on a prednisone drip, as he is planning, that will suppress her immune system. What has to be done is a bag of broad-spectrum antibiotics has to be labeled prednisone and administered. (Even by House’s standards — the breaking and entering, the bear-baiting of patients—this is a dark alley even he’s never limped down before. But if he ever loses his license, he'll make a great three-card monte shark near the New York Port Authority.) 

This deception freaks out Foreman, who feels as if they’re caught, they’ll all go to jail (and he is the team’s expert on the penal code). Chase volunteers to hang the falsified bag, but as he goes to the room, Cuddy’s sister Julia recognizes him from having met at a hospital gala. 

Masters squeals to Cuddy, who confronts House. He tells her endocarditis best explains the symptoms. So Cuddy hangs the bag of Icy Cool Gatorade or whatever it is, but Arlene has an allergic reaction. Cuddy puts Arlene back on prednisone. Her breathing improves, but her a-fib and fever return. It must be fungal endocartitis, so House suggests Amphotericin B, which is a poison. If they’re wrong, bad things can happen. 

3M insists they tell Arlene. House threatens to have 3M thrown out of med school if she spills the beans. He even blackmails her.

And we finally arrive at the reason 3M must die: 3M tells Dr. Kaufman the entire story. He flips out, threatening to report House and Cuddy to the state board. Arlene’s had enough. She requests a transfer to Princeton General. House convinces Cuddy that Arlene doesn’t stand a chance at Princeton General, but most of all, when she dies, he’s afraid  Cuddy will decide it was House’s fault. 

So Cuddy runs to stop the transfer, threatening to slash the tires of every ambulance in the bay to keep her mom at PPTH. When House says something sarcastic to Arlene, she doesn’t recognize he isn’t serious. A sign of heavy metal toxicity. 

House cuts into her muscle—it’s nearly black. Metallosis would explain the rashes, dizziness and stomach woes Arlene has been having. Her cobalt artificial hip has worn down and is poisoning her from the inside out. 

Curing the GF’s mom has got to be worth some points in the boudoir, so all’s well that ends well, eh? Well, no. Because House re-hires 3M. She puts the “A” in annoying, but isn’t that Taub’s job? (He gets his nose busted again. By his soon to-be ex-brother-in-law. Again. He actually tried to do the right thing. But hey, he isTaub.) 

As far as Masters, I’ll be happy only if House can make a dishonest woman out of her. 

-- Linda Whitmore 

Photo: Arlene (Candice Bergen) is treated by Dr. Kaufman (Ben Bode). Credit: Ray Mickshaw / Fox