'House' recap: You only hurt the one you spud
Yes, yes, in real life she was busy with her movie career ("Tron: Legacy," "Cowboys & Aliens,") but when this week’s episode opens, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) is being picked up by House outside a women’s state prison. Something tells me she fared much better in the Big House than Foreman, Taub and Chase did earlier this season during their one night in county lockup. I can see her now: trading cigarettes for a contraband cellphone, breaking up catfights by weeding hanks of hair out of unfortunate scalps, fashioning a shiv.
House has an ulterior motive for driving Miss Hadley. He’s en route to an annual spud gun contest and needs her help. What is a spud gun contest? Just like it sounds: A contest in which participants fashion homemade guns to shoot potatoes at targets for accuracy, speed and hang time … evidently, it’s what the great minds of this country channel their intellect into. I guess it was either that or ending our dependence on petroleum-based fuels.
Oh, the B story, our patient of the week: schoolteacher, mid-30s, chest pains, coughing up blood. Taub and Foreman visit the teacher’s home and discover he’s a 33rd Degree Hoarder, complete with a dead cat in the freezer. Think grandma’s attic. Now take that attic and turn it upside down and shake it like a Polaroid picture. With all the rotting food in the house, the team pitches aspergillosis, which is a lung ailment caused by inhaling mold spores.
Despite drugs, the POTW soon requires oxygen. Masters and Chase visit the house to check for carbon monoxide leakage. What they find instead is POTW’s wife, who’s cowering under a tarp. She’s also sick, so she’s admitted to PPTH. The couple might have Q fever, spread in this case by animal feces. The team prescribes Doxycycline.
Meanwhile, House has two goals: to beat his nemesis at the spud gun contest and to unearth the real reason Thirteen did hard time. She tires of his Gatling gun of theories.
“I killed a man,” she confesses. Immediately, I flash on those Frisbee disc thingies from “Tron.” But no, she has euthanized her brother, also afflicted with Huntington’s. He had lost control of his body and could not depress the plunger himself. She wore gloves, so they wouldn’t be able to tell who pushed it, but the lawyers nailed her for supplying Dr. Kervorkian’s Sleepy-Time Cocktail.
Now Thirteen awaits a review to reinstate her medical license (she's been in the hoosegow so long, she thinks Cuddy is still dating Lucas!). But worse, she fears that when her time comes, no one will be there to do the same for her. House volunteers. (He loves her, so he must kill her. It’s, I dunno … downright French.)
The team wonders why the teacher put up with living in a pig sty. Simple: He loves his wife. She's the hoarder.
As the teacher’s lungs are clearing up, his wife has a heart attack in the adjoining bed. Masters returns to the patients’ home. There, she unearths a onesie for an infant. As the team pitches the evidence via cellphone to House: infertility, another symptom? But Thirteen can’t keep quiet. No, she says, it could be something else.
Not infertility, but recurring miscarriages caused by Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Losing three pregnancies in nine years of marriage -– unbeknownst to her husband -– triggered her desire to hoard –- to preserve things she saw as unique, beautiful even. The Ehlers-Danlos can be managed. The hoarding, well, as Masters explains, that’s for different kinds of doctors.
The team is shocked to hear Thirteen has returned. And now perhaps Masters can take notes on how it’s done.
In keeping with this week's theme of love and commitment is our C story: Taub is seeing someone in secret. Foreman discovers it’s not a 22-year-old from the third floor. It’s Rachel, Taub's estranged wife. Yay. Mature Women 1, Justin Bieber Brigade 0.
-- Linda Whitmore
Photo: Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) asks the eternal question, "Are you talking to me?" as House (Hugh Laurie) looks on in admiration. Credit: Jordin Althaus / Fox