'House' recap: The elephant in the room
Lisa Cuddy hears ya, girlfriend.
This week’s season finale opens on a chaotic accident scene, cherry tops ripping this holy night like a Bruce Springsteen song (well, it is New Jersey) and Cuddy and Wilson being interviewed by the cops.
Two women will test and tax House this week: ex-GF Cuddy and performance artist Afsoun Hamidi (played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, known for her gargles-with-gin voice and star turns in “House of Sand and Fog,” “House of Saddam” and now, “House.”)
We meet Afsoun during one of her pieces. She’s dressed in a wedding gown in a blinding-white gallery in which weapons of personal destruction –- an ax, scissors, restaurant-grade barbecue spatula, paint thinner -- are hanging from the ceiling. The public is invited to do whatever they want to her. One overly eager participant douses her in the paint thinner, then lights a match. That’s when her trusty assistant, Luca (James Hiroyuki Liao) staves off disaster. Afsoun collapses anyway.
At PPTH, she presents with arrhythmia and high hematocrit (high red blood cell count). Foreman thinks she’s nuts, but Thirteen believes her work “explores gender politics and self image.” I’m with Foreman on this one: She witnessed her mother commit suicide and in turn was abused by her stepfather. That’s got Last Train to Crazyville written all over it.
The team this week convenes around House’s hospital bed, because he’s still recovering from last week’s bathtub self-surgery. Thirteen thinks the paint thinner could have set off an allergic reaction. There was a space heater in the gallery, Taub observes, perhaps it was carbon monoxide poisoning.
The team sticks her in a hyperbaric chamber. Where she promptly vomits.
Thirteen calls for Luca to grab an oxygen mask, but he’s trained not to interfere with her “work.” In fact, he wasn’t even supposed to stop the guy with the lit match. But it turns out, he’s her ex-boyfriend and hasn’t gotten over her. I sense a theme here.
Taub is busy doing an ultrasound on his 22-year-old pregnant skirt-on-the-side, Ruby. His phone rings: It’s Rachel. “It’s House,” he tells Ruby. There’s a saying Maria Shriver’s friends have: Didn’t she know what she was getting?
House wants to know what Afsoun’s assistant has been doing since she was admitted. He’s brought her a stuffed elephant, which upon inspection is a nanny-cam. The performance artist’s current work involves playing House and his team. How do we even know she’s sick?, Foreman asks.
House pitches Coxsackie B viral infection. The team runs a CT on Afsoun, who starts to feel dizzy. She’s pale, tachycardic, her blood pressure drops and she may be bleeding internally.
Hacking into her computer, the team learns she has researched blood doping. And she’s also researched House. Now he suspects he’s being played for her “art.” “I thought you would understand someone who uses their work to deal with pain,” she reasons. She may already know what she has. The team won’t know which symptoms are fake and which she isn’t telling them about. A game, she calls it.
This is enough to hook House. Check her blood for parasites and bacteria, he says. During the blood draw, she complains of back pain. Chase and Thirteen roll her over to see discoloration: her pancreas is releasing cooties into the bloodstream.
House researches Afsoun’s performances: Four months before, she’s shaved off all her hair in public. It was more than art, he concludes. She knew she was going to lose the hair because of radiation. House tells her: You have primary CNS lymphoma with paraneoplastic syndrome. Yes, she admits, there’s a tumor in her brain, diagnosed at New York Mercy. Too close to the brain stem to excise, so they did a few rounds of radiation. And that’s when she broke up with Luca, so he had no idea.
Wilson confronts House, who has been forging his name on prescriptions and popping them like candy. Wilson has notified all local pharmacies to confirm all scrips verbally through him. You’re miserable and angry. Deal with it, he tells House, “don’t medicate the issue away.”
As House is discharging himself against his doctor’s orders, he sees Afsoun still in her room. He asks her why she’s still there. When the nurse brings something for her eczema, she’ll leave.
House looks at her skin: It’s not eczema, and it’s not cancer, he tells her. It’s granulomatosis. The recommended treatment is radiation, but she opts for less-effective steroids. Luca loses it and tries to talk some sense into her.
Cuddy and House have lunch to discuss the elephant in their room: They’ve never had a discussion about the breakup. He still hurts, he admits. She’s sorry, she concedes. But there is no reconciliation. And one isn’t likely, as Lisa Edelstein will take her formidable talents elsewhere next season.
Thirteen persuades Afsoun to have the radiation. Luca will be there for her. Wilson invites House out for a drink, and House figures he’ll return Cuddy’s hairbrush to her on the way to the bar. When he gets to her house, she’s hosting a meal with Sis and her hubby, and a nice young banker whom Sis has tried to set Cuddy up with (they’ve bumped into each other at a coffee shop).
House returns to his Buick La Sabre, kicks Wilson to the curb, speeds to the end of the street (professional driver on a closed course, do not try this on your ex-GF’s block!), then floors it right into Cuddy’s dining room. (GM really built those — hardly a scratch!)
Cuddy later tells the cops she wants him arrested if he comes near her. But House isn’t near her. He’s getting drunk in a little dive bar on an exotic, white sand beach … somewhere.
Oh, and Rachel Taub shows up at PPTH: “Chris, I’m pregnant,” she tells her ex-husband. Taub can now put together an exploratory committee to gauge a run for governor of California...
And so the pump is primed for Season 8.
-- Linda Whitmore
Photo: A performance artist (Shohreh Aghdashloo) messes with House’s (Hugh Laurie’s) head. Credit: Adam Taylor / Fox