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House: It's a Wonderful Lie

House Episode 4-10F : It's a Wonderful Lie

Airdate: Tuesday January 29, 2008

The Hook:

A climbing wall, with Christmas decorations. A young girl nears the top, as her mother belays and calls encouragement. The girl is in a tricky stretch, and violates some climbing tenets by releasing all but one hold to reach (or lunge) for another. She says her legs are cramping (and we can see they are) but mom pushes her to go just a little further. But the muscles finally fail and she drops off, to be caught by her mom. Mom is still positive and congratulates the girl for reaching her highest point yet. The girl says she doesn't feel so good and begins to rappel down as mom slacks the belay. Mom gasps and stares at her hands as the rope begins to slip though her slack fingers. We "see" electricity flashing in muscles as the rope slips faster and faster. Finally the end slips though mom's fingers as the girl is still twenty feet in the air and begins to plummet to the padded floor. Bystanders and trainers rush to the fallen girl, who says she thinks she broke her arm. She asks her mom if the rope broke and mom says no, something's wrong with her hands : she can't move them. [Reality check : If the end of the rope slips though mom's hands when the daughter is still twenty feet up, how was she supposed to belay/lower her daughter all the way to the ground?]

Act 1

The Hice/Mark II discuss the mother's case in a Christmas-decorated room... that is Drs. Foreman, Taub, Kuttner, and 13. Will we finally learn 13's name in this episode, the first since they ‘won' the dubious pleasure of working for House? Kuttner stirs his coffee with a peppermint stick, and wonders if House is going to keep all four of them. Guess the competition anxiety dies hard. You're safe, Kuttner! Foreman says House said he would keep them, but Kuttner worries that House lies. Just then the liar walks in and begins his Grinch imitation, ripping down the "superficial decorations of a hypocritical season" and asking Kuttner why he put them up, which Kuttner denies doing. ‘Liar' House accuses, "Homey knows better, Hymie doesn't care, and Huntingdon's would have done a better job." "I don't have Huntingdon's." 13 pipes up. But it's the alliteration, you see. Now all we need is an "H" for Kuttner and we're all set. And dang, we still don't know 13's name.

13 comes up with an excellent syllogism "The point of the game was to scare us. Telling us it's over isn't scary, therefore you have no reason to say that unless it's true." House gives a rueful nod, and Kuttner's day is made "Good, then can we do a Secret Santa?" he pipes up. "I liked you better fifteen seconds ago when you were afraid for your job," the Grinch replies. Kuttner deflates a little, and the team goes on to discuss the mom's case. Taub presents the dry facts, and asks if there's any history of drug use, to which 13 quickly replies "No." House demurs that "She says there's no history." But 13 insists "She's not a liar," and the basic theme of tonight's episode is off and running. House says he can't treat aliens, and 13 acknowledges "everyone lies", except this particular person, who's and exception to the rule, which House insists doesn't have exceptions : that's what makes it a rule.

13 explains the patient's mother died of breast cancer without telling her daughter she was even sick, so the daughter (who is now the mother, are we following this?) has sworn an everlasting vow never to lie to her daughter. Taub adds that the patient inherited the cancerous tendency from her mom and had a prophylactic double mastectomy ten years ago. House says then she lied about that. 13 says she told her co-workers and her kid. House says she lied to the world : in having reconstructive surgery. Aha, but Taub adds she didn't have reconstructive surgery. Now House is interested : can his world view be crumbling? Kuttner thinks thIs rules out breast cancer, but Taub, former plastic surgeon, says even the best can't remove every speck of breast tissue, so House sends them off to MRI what's left of her chest. House will redo the patient history : searching for a lie, no doubt.

House sits with the daughter, sharing a lollipop with her (no, one each, you nasty minded folks). Daughter has a sling, but not, as far as I can tell, a cast, so maybe the arm was only sprained. He brings out that the patient has no secrets from her daughter, nor vice versa. Drugs, alcohol, and sex, no lies in either direction. House is stunned and his strawberry lollypop loses its savor.

Talking to Wilson later, he says that this much truth is "child abuse". "Honesty?" asks Wilson. Wilson examines MRIs of the patient as the philosophical debate goes on. House struggles to analogize the need for dishonesty. Wilson is confused "Am I taking the ‘truth is good' side? Isn't that usually your argument?" "Lies are a tool..." House begins, then abandons that analogy for a better one. "Lies are like children. Hard wortk, but worth it because the future depends on them." "You are so full of.... love, or something" Wilson opines. This whole debate/conversation/consultation is taking place in the service line of the cafeteria. Wilson's conclusion: No cancer in the MRI.

House goes back to the Hice for a new theory. House, 13 and Kuttner trade analyses of the patient (whose name we learn is Maggie) in the hallways, and comment on her sex life (STD's are ruled out, 13 says). [My pharmacy has a pick up phone in the drive up window just so the person in the car behind us can't overhear any conversations with the pharmacist but the doctors in this hospital discuss case histories and sex lives in the hallway? Does HIPAA not exist in this universe?] House says sex with strangers can have other problems than STDs. Kuttner says they'll follow up with any recent sex partners. House says send Foreman and Taub, they lie better.

Foreman and Taub sit (in their stocking feet) in the home of one of those sex partners. He's a bit A-R about his recently refinished floor (and about using coasters, though he doesn't seem to have provided any). He's also drinking from a large water bottle as he denies drugging Maggie : she jumped him, he says. The doctors use a little creative iatrogenic hypochondria to elicit the admission that he slipped Maggie a little "E" just to enhance the experience.

House examines a good looking clinic patient with swollen glands. She's wearing a St. Nicholas medal. "Patron saint of children," she says. "Also seamen, merchants, archers, prostitutes and prisoners" House adds. House tells her she has strep, and to take a day off. When she says she can't, he says he'll give her a note for her pimp, having eliminated seaman, merchant, archer, and prisoner on various grounds, just leaving one role left. "Two actually," she replies with a mischievous grin, "but I'm not a child, am I?"

In the hallway, Cuddy hits House up for fifty bucks for the "nurses' holiday bonus." House says he wants to hire forty more fellows. "You already fired the ones you hired?" Cuddy asks. "They work better when they're scared." Taub walks up to report the Ecstasy and what they're doing about it.

Kuttner talks to Maggie. They're scrubbing her blood through the dialysis machine to remove the drug. Maggie asks "What just happened?" "Nothing" Kuttner replies. "What do you mean, the lights just went out," Maggie says in the brightly lit room.

Uh oh.

Act 2

The team reports. No adulterants in the "E". Nothing that would cause blindness. House examines a scrap of paper and asks if you spell "Homey" with a "Y". (Well obviously, I do.) Kuttner brightens at the idea they're actually going to do a Secret Santa. House throws a bunch of papers in a red fireplace stocking and holds it out to Taub. "Pick a name." After a little debate and a few more ethnic slurs, House tells them to spend twenty five dollars and "Learn to love." They discuss theories and House analyzes each person's reaction to the name they draw. Long-time House viewers are under no illusions as to exactly where this is going, are we folks? House sends them to go look though Maggie's house for other drugs, or anything else useful in diagnosis. The team members each try to suggest alternate theories and House goes along with a bunch of tests but still insists they check her house : and he wants their computers, too.

Foreman and Taub are administering blood dye to blind-Maggie for another test. Her daughter is present, as she has been constantly. No secrets, remember? Maggie presses up to a machine to allow them to examine the blood vessels in the back of her eye. "Your boss is weird," the girl says. Perceptive girl. They agree, adding that his manner often gets "information you may not have been telling us by..." "...being a jerk?" Maggie completes. "You'd be amazed how often it works," Taub says. The dye reveals no leakage. The good news is the blindness is not a vascular problem. The bad news it that a vascular problem would have been fixable.

House plays a little solo foosball in the doctors' lounge as Wilson comes in to inquire about the Secret Santa. House says it's a built in conflict situation : gifts are inherently divisive and subversive, he says.

13 and Kuttner stroll through the lobby, Kuttner saying he might like to exceed the $25 limit a little. Which would be a bad idea, 13 says. Kuttner asks about House's Huntingdon's reference, but 13 doesn't want to talk about it.

Taub reports the vascular test while House tried to break the security on the patient's and daughter's computers. It's not hard, since there isn't any : no passwords. And both computers were sitting right next to each other in an open area : a little hard to visit naughty web-sites that way. I think I can see TV-Fodder right up their near the top of both their "favorites" lists.

The other doctors report a complete round of negative tests. Only the patient can't see or move her hands. "Or so she says." House adds. "You can't lie about that," 13 responds. "What if she's not lying : what if her brain is? What if it's a conversion disorder?" Foreman puts in. Conversion disorder : a topic we were introduced to in "Airborne" last year in one of my all-time favorite House eps. Fancy doctor talk for what we lay folk call ‘hysterical' blindness, or paralysis. Sounds like a perfect psych case, House opines. "I'll set up a psych consult," Kuttner says and strides out to do so. House countermands the order, and says "We need to trick her mind. Or better yet..."

House and 13 walk down the hall. 13 is agin' it. whatever ‘it' is. [Starting to sound Clintonish here]. They have a philosophical discussion on truth, and 13 refuses to lie to Maggie. House says "OK, but I still need you."

House goes in to Maggie's room to talk to "Jane" (finally we learn the daughter's name.) In the lounge, he explains his plan : to administer a placebo to Maggie with Jane going along with the lie : or else the placebo won't (can't) work. They can't, he says, just give her antidepressives and wait because the drugs take too long and there's a chance they're wrong. But "Mom's not depressed", Jane protests. "She's hiding it from you, like any good mom would," House counters. House says Jane's never lied, so she can't recognize it in her mom. Jane say she knows how, but just won't do it to her mom. Plan B time. 13 takes Jane to the doctor's lounge to play foosball so House can lie unchecked.

Taub spins some doctor bafflegab to Maggie about an infectious condition keeping Jane out of the room (he's already been inoculated, he says) but not to worry, his magic somethingium treatment (an IV saline drip, apparently) is amazingly effective and she should be better in a few minutes. While the ‘treatment' drips into her veins he asks her if maybe it might be better to lie to Jane occasionally. Nope, is mom's opinion.

In the lounge it's team foosball, Kuttner and Jane against 13 and Foreman. The doctors chatter about the Secret Santa. Kuttner talks about exceeding his spending limit. 13 says he must really like who he got. "Or really dislike," Jane says, "Mom always gives the best presents to the teachers I get along with the worst." This enlightened parenting stuns the three adults in the room. Jane uses the moment to score. Deeeevious child. In the moment of enlightenment that follows, they all realize what we all knew all along : they all have House's name.

Elsewhere House and Wilson chat about this very thing. House says he's sowing a little dissension and getting a few ties and sweaters. Ties, maybe, but try and find a $25 sweater these days outside of Goodwill. Wilson wonders what they'll do when they find out. All part of House's evil plan.

The finder-outera discuss just that. Jane thinks it's sad that a grown man would do that to get presents. 13 says it's pathetic. Kuttner is still buying him a present. "No, you're not," 13 says. "Fine!" says Kuttner.

Maggie takes a turn for the worse : her lymph nodes are swelling and cutting off her airway. Crash time. Watch those placebos, boys.

Act 3

Foreman and 13 treat the intubated Maggie while 13 and Kuttner talk to House. Not psychological, House concludes. There's a nicely wrapped present on his desk. ‘From Santa' House says. House is going though thousands of the patient's emails, without finding any incriminating lies. House comments on several commonplace emails until 13 slams the laptop closed (on his fist) telling him to "Stop obsessing." But House says his obsession has led him to the conclusion she has sarcoidosis. Evidence: sold her Stairmaster, cancelled a hiking trip. The team debates this as House unwraps his present.- an iPhone. Somebody's way over the limits.

Taub, 13, and Kuttner administer a probe scope down Maggie's throat and into her lungs as they debate who gave him the present. 13 thinks House gave it to himself.

In the cafeteria, House returns the phone to Wilson and gloats over the arguments he's generated.

The team speculates. 13 firmly holds "It's House". Maggie coughs to assist in removing the probe, which has found nothing. But as Taub asks her to open her eyes, we see she's bleeding from the corner of her right eye.

Double uh-oh.

The team reports to House, and speculate more causes. House orders a bone marrow aspiration.

Kuttner privately reports to House that he's House's Secret Santa, so how did House get a present already? Maybe somebody else wants to make me happy, House says. "Merry Christmas," Kuttner says and hands him a present as 13 and Taub burn in the distance. Kuttner is taken aback when he turns and sees their look. House grins as his plans work to perfection

Same patient is back in clinic. Now she's got pustules on her throat. "Clap on" House sings. But there's "no rash on my labia", the patient responds, "do you need to take a look?" For some reason House declines the opportunity. House examines her lips (not those, you dirty minded person, you), then asks "Do you do a ‘donkey show'?" Now who's got the dirty mind? In New Jersey? (I'm asking? I thought such things were limited to back street bars in TJ.) She admits to it. Euuuw. "Contagious exima," House concludes. Not sure of the spelling here, guys, and not sure I want to look it up. He prescribes an antibiotic cream and she invites him to come see the show for which she's apparently carrying around fliers! Which I can't read. House declines : but keeps the flier.

Foreman and Chase have Maggie on an operating table with a drill. I guess this is the bone marrow aspiration House ordered. But as they start to drill (inside an incision with the bone exposed) the drill bit begins to smoke. The bone is harder than the steel drill?!?

Act 4

House, Foreman, 13, Taub, and Kuttner pore over the x-rays, wondering how Kuttner missed a "hot spot" causing them to drill in the wrong place. Kuttner insists he didn't miss anything and the bone density is consistent throughout her body. Bad news if true, Foreman says, cause she's turning to stone. Kuttner shows he's learned the House method, saying they should treat one of the causes of osteo-petrosis, "CA2", because it's the only cause that's treatable. House concurs.

House sees Wilson in the hall and tells him his evil plan is working and the others were now turning on Kuttner. Wilson starts walking, fast. House asks where they're going. Wilson says "Nowhere, I just know it hurts you." Evil tit for evil tat. House can respect that.

Taub describes the treatment for CA2 deficiency - a bone marrow transplant : to Maggie. They're going to test Jane for a match, he says. Maggie objects to that. Adamantly. She won't give her permission for the test, let alone a transplant. Taub tries to guilt her into it. Jane is hearing all this and begs her mother to let her have the test. Maggie won't budge.

Taub reports to House that a "5 of 6" match has been found in Cleveland. House wants to know why Jane hasn't been tested. Taub speculates on Maggie's reasons, but House isn't buying it. His little House BS antennae are quivering. Taub gives him a present. 13 walks in and says there was no CA2 deficiency : dum da dum dum. "The best we can do is make her comfortable." She asks if the present is from Taub. "Yes it is," House responds. She pulls one of her own out and hands it to House. "Who;'s going to tell the patient she's dying?" "I will," House says, "but nobody leaves here until we find out what killed her." And a very merry Christmas to all.

The four Hice work on their dreary task on Christmas Eve in the lab. Kuttner asks if they're mad a him for going ahead and giving House a present which more or less forced them to as well. 13 says nope, she's not going to get mad, because not getting made will drive House nuts. "And you think that will make your life better or worse?" Foreman asks. Jane walks in and says she wants her marrow tested no matter what her mom thinks.

House talks to Maggie. Maggie says she can't be dying, they don't even know what she has. House says she's got one last Christmas with her daughter, one last chance to give her a present of the truth. Maggie asks what he's talking about. As most us figured out several script pages back, House reasons that a mother about to die doesn't refuse a donor test because it will hurt, she refuses because she knows it won't match. The one big lie revealed at last. Maggie admits she never wanted kids : she loved them but didn't want to pass on her faulty genes. But when a drug-addict acquaintance got pregnant and didn't want to have an abortion, she adopted Jane, promising never to tell.

Jane walks in and tells Maggie ‘the doctors have told me what's happening'. Time for big lie number two. "It's going to be OK, sweetheart. Doctors can be wrong. There's still a chance..." But Maggie knows the truth (the dying part, anyway). The doctors leave them together.

House is leaving through the general Christmas merriment in the hospital lobby. Wilson commiserates over his dying patient and his bundle of gifts. In the cold outside, House marvels over having seen the cold hard truth told, stripping the patient of all hope. Wilson boggles at this, since House tells the cold hard truth all the time : "You get off on it." Because I don't care, House says, but she cared, and did it anyway : because she cared.

Wilson is wearing a hat with long red ears. House tells him to take it off. "It's Christmas", Wilson says, "it's a reindeer". "It's a moose... on a Jew." "Who cares?" Wilson asks, and somehow makes the ears flutter at House and I break out laughing even in the midst of this tragic moment. "Things have their place," House says, "You wouldn't hang dreidels from a Christmas tree." "You could," Wilson says, waxing philosophical, "things don't care." House gets that burning look in his eye : "No they don't," he says, and dashes back into the hospital as "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" breaks out on nearby church bells.

House comes into the lab singing the same song, irritating and baffling the Hice at the same time. "Give the patient resperidone." "An anti-psychotic?" Taub questions. "I am going to perform a Christmas miracle" House announces.

"But you told me all the causes of osteo-petrosis are incurable." The Maggie says. "All but the one we discounted early because it was impossible." House says. Seems developing fetuses have breast tissue all over but as they develop it concentrates in the fun places and wastes away everywhere else. Except sometimes a little hangs around in out of the way place.

Risperadone will make breast tissue swell and easier to locate, he says, as he palpitates all over her body. He finds a swelling behind her knee and jabs a needle into the mass, drawing a milky fluid into the syringe. Risperidone, he says, also cause lactorehea. "What's that?" Jane asks. "Open you mouth," he tells her, and when she does squirts the fluid into her mouth. "Relax, you've had it before."

The fluid is milky because it's, well, milk . "We'll cut out your mom's tumor, start her on chemo, and all the rest of her symptoms should go away." Smiles and expressions of love. House tells them to "Have a wonderful life," and slinks off. All the love just too much for him.

The camera pans over the Hice, Chase, and Cameron enjoying an eggnog in the lobby. House limps by without acknowledgement as "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" tinkles on a piano. House walks off into the snow. Alone on the dark streets.

But wait. This is not the end. A long shadow enters a church., followed by a limping man. It's a midnight mass, crowded but not completely full. House slips into a pew near the front. A Christmas pageant is just beginning. An actual donkey, led by a berobed Joseph, carries a very pregnant Mary into the front of the altar, and a Jazzy version of "Who Took the Mary Out of Christmas" plays. (Actually, it's "Merry").

But wait! We know this Mary. It's House's clinic patient. Her ‘donkey show' contact was not what we thought all along : it was rehearsal. And she's been titillating House for evangelical purposes. At least that's how I interpret all this, and it's my blog.

Merry Christmas, everyone, even if it is more than a month late.

- Cecil


Next Week:
"House has to treat a patient from a long way away. She's in an Artic (Antarctic?) station."

Last Episode: 11/27/07 4-09 Games
Next Episode: 02/03/08 4-11 Frozen


House Episode 4-10 : It's a Wonderful Lie

Cast and Crew

Writer:..................................Pamela Davis

Director:................................Matt Shakman

Hugh Laurie Dr. Gregory House
Omar Epps Dr. Eric Foreman
Jesse Spencer Dr. Robert Chase
Jennifer Morrison Dr. Allison Cameron
Lisa Edelstein Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Robert Sean Leonard Dr. James Wilson

Also Staring:

Kal Penn Dr. Kutner
Peter Jacobson Dr. Taub
Olivia Wilde Thirteen/Huntingdon's

Recurring Roles:
Bobbin Bergstrom Nurse

Guest Stars:

Janel Moloney Maggie
Liana Liberato Jane
Cheyenne Wilbur Minister
Scotty Maguire Bystander
Jennifer Hall Melanie
Anthony Starke Roger


Hark the Heralds Angels Sing by Frank Sinatra
Trim Your Tree by Jimmy Butler
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Frederic Austin
The Little Drummer Boy by The Fab Four
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen by Roy Hargrove
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Ramsey Lewis Trio
Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas? by Staples Singers

Posted by Cecil on February 8, 2008 11:19 PM
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