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House: Airborne

House Episode 3-18 - Airborne

This is a capsule review : it will be replaced soon by a full review.

The Hook:

A dowdy middle-aged woman in a white cable-knit sweater fusses about her house. It's crammed with knick-knacks, mainly featuring Hummel figures and cats, and one live cat. She straightens things that don't need straightening, then there's a knock at the door. A young, good looking brunette, in conservative business dress, with a slightly oriental look to her, is at the door. "Fran, I'm Robin," she introduces herself. They move into the house and Robin comments on Fran's furnishings, as if to put her at ease, and they sit. Fran is nervous. "You've never used our agency before have you?" Robin asks. "Is it that obvious?" Robin slides closer to Fran and produces a brochure "As you can see, we offer a full range of services." "Round the world?" "Our deluxe package. It offers all the services A, B, and C." Aha, I see, we're supposed to think this is, like, a hooker, when it's really a travel service. Ha!

"How much?" "A thousand dollars." Hmm, sounds a little cheap for a round-the-world tour. "And satisfaction is guaranteed. Twice." ? "I'll get the money." "I'll get ready." ?? Fran goes to the bedroom and retrieves a wad of cash from a drawer. No, no, Fran always pay for travel services with a credit card. It gives you more consumer rights. On the way back to the living room, she notices the empty cat-bed. Looking around she finds her cat, Carrington, perched atop a high dresser. She tells him to not take this personally but he's going to have to… We're interrupted by Robin, entering the bedroom and HOLY COW! She's wearing a breathtakingly cut dress with cleavage down to… well, way down there, and strappy, sexy high heels, "Is this all right?" Fran reels a bit at the vision, and we see though her eyes as she extends a fist full of cash and her vision grows blurry at the sight. No, No, Mr. Director, we very much want clear vision at this sight!

Fran reels and collapses, the bills falling to the floor. "Oh, God," Robin says in more a weary than excited voice. She kneels and tries to awaken Fran, to no avail. Then spotting the bills, she scrambles over to them and gathers them up. She stuffs them into her dress, though I don't see how anything bigger than a postage stamp is supposed to stay hidden in there, and finds herself staring eye to eye with Carrington. Either the cat jogs her conscience, or she works for an ethical out-call service, for she goes to the phone, dials 911, and asks for an ambulance because her "friend" collapsed. If they play this back on the nightly news, you can hear those quotation marks in that sentence.

Cut to commercial, and I swear the Victoria's Secret Extreme Push-Up bares less than Robin's dress.

Act 1

Fran is being examined : by Wilson? She seems to be recovered, but just as he's about to cut her loose, she collapses again in convulsions. "Where's House?", Wilson asks as he rushes to her aid.

On an airplane coming back from Singapore, that's where. Let me tell you now, the whole of this story is a continuous cutting back and forth between the two locations : airplane/PPTH/airplane/PPTH. So fast it'll give you whip lash if I try to tell it this way. What's effective visually is hard to follow in print, so I'm just going to tell you each part separately act by act, and you can just imagine seeing scenes as short as 2 seconds whipping back and forth from one to the other.

In the air:

House and Cuddy board the airplane for a flight back from Singapore where they've been attending a conference on epidemics. They settle in for a long flight back home House in first class, Cuddy in coach. But the flight is barely begun before a Korean man seated near House begins trembling and throwing up. House and Cuddy try to diagnose his problems. Cuddy fears meningococcus, which would be really bad, but House pushes for more mundane diagnoses, as it seems he's more interested in completing the flight on time than treating the patient, Mr. Peng : which doesn't sound particularly Korean to me. Another passenger begins to display symptoms similar to Peng's.

On the ground:

Back at PPTH, Wilson plays House this week and interviews Fran about her recent travel, which turns out to have been a middle aged fling to Caracas, where she did it all : drank the water, ate salads and raw foods, not to mention drinking mescal shooters and "snorted cocaine from a homosexual man's stomach" and "had sex with El Gordo : he was a large man." Wilson attempts to ride herd on the Hice as they bicker and diagnose, and begins to feel some sympathy for House. Chase and Cameron, sent to examine Fran's house for toxins, have sex on Fran's bed, at Cameron's insistence.

Act 2

In the air:

House recruits a set of substitute Hice to listen and comment as he tries out diagnoses. House and Cuddy consider a wide range of causes but none fit the symptoms until House come up with food poisoning from seafood, and orders the passengers who ate it to go to the restrooms and vomit, which many rush to do. Cuddy still thinks meningococcus. House forces the ill Peng to stand to look for ataxia : a symptom of meningococcus. As they care for him House notes a thin leg :cast? Possibility of radiation sickness from x-rays? But before House can theorize further, Cuddy comes down with similar symptoms, beginning with the popular vomitus. And rash. And photophobia.

On the ground:

Chase and Cameron report no toxins at the house, while Foreman, who's been doing blood, also comes up negative. But Fran continues to have seizures. Suddenly Wilson comes up with a breast cancer diagnosis, and rushes off to set up a mammogram. He finds Robin about to leave, for "work : important client". He persuades her to stay because Fran "really needs a friend, right now." Robin chats with Fran as Cameron sets her up in the ‘boob vise' (well, that's why my wife calls it). But as the procedure continues, Fran discovers her right eye is going blind.

Act 3

In the air:

Cuddy grouses that they should have turned back as House tells the stew to tell everyone there's nothing to worry about, even though, as he tells her privately, there really is. House sends his substitute Hice to canvass the passengers for drugs, and he'll see what he can find to treat the ailing ones. The passengers are slow to turn over their prescriptions, but House performs a little diagnostic legerdemain that persuades them to cough them up, so to speak. House's trick or treat bag o‘ drugs is full now and he dumps it out in the improvised infirmary in First Class. Only three antibiotic capsules for : six patients they're up to now. House and Cuddy bicker over who to give one to. Cuddy tells House to ‘do an LP' - what we laymen call a "spinal tap" I believe - no. not the group - (Symmetry, see below) to determine if Peng really has meningococcus, and therefore should get the antibiotics. House will have to improvise an OR. A jury-rigged OR is laid out in First Class with all the equipment being a first aid kit and razors and such from toiletry kits. (Late add - yup, I looked it up, LP stands for "Lumbar Puncture".)

House make the tap, but won't show it to Cuddy : cloudy means meningitis, clear means not meningitis. House take up the public address system and announces that there's a case of meningitis on the plane, and the passenger probably won't make it, and some of the others may have been infected as well, and as soon as they observe any of a list of symptoms he gives them, they should move forward to be isolated in First Class. Immediately, the majority of the passengers begin to self diagnose those very symptoms. Fear and trembling (especially the left hand) spread over the plane. House then goes back on the PA and announces that they DON'T have meningitis, they have ‘conversion disorder', or mass hysteria. Ha, ha, fooled you. The fluid was clear, so Cuddy and the other four passengers are just suggestible, but there's still Peng to diagnose.

On the ground:

Wilson is telling Robin that the blindness rules out breast cancer (how?), she tells him that she only met Fran today. He tells her she can go but she gives him her number and asks him to call her and tell him how Fran made out.

Cameron and Chase bicker, as Fran slips into a coma. Wilson and the Hice bicker over the possible reasons for this. Wilson tells them to "do an LP", which I think is what we laymen call a spinal tap (Symmetry, see above). All literalists are now caught in a loop, dashing back and forth between the two paragraphs.

Commercial: Ooh, the Air Force is forming a new reserve unit here in North Carolina, and by golly those C-17's look so cool I'm tempted to sign up. Reckon they'd take a 61 year old overweight grandfather who's 31 years out of the service?


Act 3

In the air:

It's back to the makeshift white board o' symptoms and House's substitute panel of Hice. Cuddy wonders : syphilis? House doubts that, speaking only Korean, Peng could have made out much in Singapore. Cuddy says with a credit card and a condom you can get anything in Singapore. This gives House an idea : Peng is a drug mule who's swallowed condoms full of coke, and one has burst in his intestines. The only solution is to operate. "Cool." Says the 12 year old boy, one of House's minions.

House has improvised an operating table. He's sedating Peng with liquor, but will still need the ersatz Hice to hold Peng down while House cuts into the patient's abdomen. He approaches Peng with an exacto-knife scalpel, instructing his assistants to hold the trembling patient tighter. No, even tighter. As the boy bears down on the shoulder of the quivering Peng, a funny thing happens : his tremors stop. House tells him to ‘do that again.' Pressure : no trembling. No pressure : trembling. A look goes over House's face, and he tries pressing on Peng's knee. Again the pressure seems to bring him relief. "Wrong again," House concludes. He asks to see Peng's wallet. Really, House, you worry about your fee at a time like this?

House finds a SCUBA certification card in Peng's wallet and a receipt for SCUBA gear rented yesterday. Peng has the bends. House instructs the stew to tell the pilot to dive the plane (which is currently over polar regions) until he can club baby seals out the window, and to get some oxygen for Peng.

After the plane lands, a tired House takes a hit on Peng's oxygen, then nods to the paramedics to take him away. House and Cuddy quibble over whether she ‘owes him' for ‘saving her life'. "I don't owe you," She says. "You're mean," he says. "It's how I compensate for being weak and soft," Cuddy responds. House gets a wheel chair ride to the gate from the smiling stew who tells him "I'm in New York every Monday." "Are you handicap accessible?" he asks, as Cuddy gives a little sigh of exasperation.


On the ground:

Fran is rolled into a PPTH operating room. It's head-drilling time (Foreman's proposal), as Cameron and Chase discuss the wrongness of their diagnoses and their sexual practices in the observation area. No, the sex is not in the observation area, the discussion is - the sex was in the patient's house. Chase says they've behaved unprofessionally, having sex in a patient's bed when they were supposed to be looking for toxins. OK, no more sex with cats watching, Cameron says. This triggers a thought for Chase, and he suddenly asks if Fran has eaten since she's been in the hospital. No she's been sick, Cameron says. "The bowl", he says, "That was a symptom. It was full." We realize he's talking about the cat's bowl. The cat isn't eating either. He dashes out.

As Fran is administered anesthesia, Chase enters her house again, this time wearing a really impressive mask, with honkin' filters on either side (No oxygen tank, though, as we saw last season when Cameron and Foreman investigated the cop's apartment.) The cat's bowl is still full, Carrington, still atop the cabinet, is dead. I'm not sure I'd go any further without a full hazmat suit. But Chase presses on into the basement. He finds an open pipe leading into a basement wall, even as Fran's shaved-bald head is steadied for the drill.

As Wilson assists and Cameron watches from outside, Foreman opens a flap of skin on Fran's scalp, and prepares his drill, even as Chase makes his way to the house next door to Fran's, tracing that pipe. The pipe goes under the neighbor's foundation. Racing to the front door, Chase finds an exterminator's sign: "DANGER PREMISE HAVE BEEN FUMIGATED WITH METHYL BROMIDE". He whips out his cell phone and calls Cameron, who bangs on the observation window of the OR even as Foreman's drill approaches Fran's skull.

Out of the OR and conscious again, Fran listens to Chase explain that the two homes used to share an electrical system and the pipe connected them. Now it just delivers poison gas from the exterminators. Sorry about your cat, Chase says. And your hair, Wilson adds. Well at least she avoided having a hole in her head, guys. After all that time as a homebody, Fran philosophizes, "I thought I was being punished for going away. Really, I was being punished for coming home."

Wilson calls Robin to tell her Fran came through OK. (Q: Shouldn't Robin be feeling some ill effects?) He hesitatingly asks her if she might be coming by for a visit. Watch out, Wilson, she's an expensive date. Cameron and Chase leave the building patting themselves on the back. (But I wonder if you'd spent more time looking over the rest of the house and less in the bedroom, you might have saved Fran a bad time and a head of hair?) Cameron coyly asks if Chase has any idea how he'd like to celebrate. Chase indicates he'd like to take the relationship to another level, but Cameron shoots him down : "It was fun. That's it. And now it's over" Ouch. Who, I ask again, is going to get hurt here, Cuddy? (see last week)

-----------------------------------------
Next Week: We see a small girl screaming "It hurts!". A voice says "She's having a stroke." The voiceover says "A six year old with the ailments of a sixty year old." No, she doesn't look like one of those premature aging kids. MRI's. "A solid tumor." "The only thing more mystifying than what's happening to her… is what she's hiding."

- Cecil


Prev Episode: 317 Fetal Position
Next Episode:

==========================
Episode 3-18 "Airborne"

aired Tuesday, April 10

Guest Cast:

Fran_____________Jenny O'Hara
Robin____________Meta Golding
Keo______________Tess Lina
Peng_____________Jamison Yang
Joy______________Krista Kalmus
Sour Faced Girl____Melissa Kite
Foreign Man_______Pej Vahdat
12-year-old Boy____Connor Webb
Businesswoman____Gayla Goehl
Businessman_______Ben Carroll
Mother____________Karla Droege
Crying Child_______Savannah Argenti
Passenger #1______Victor Buno
Passenger #2______Donna Silverberg
Nurse_____________Bobbin Bergstrom


Posted by Cecil on April 11, 2007 3:21 AM
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