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House: 512 - Painless

House Episode 5-12 - "Painless"

Airdate: Monday January 19, 2009

The Hook:

A man writes what is obviously a suicide note, signing it "Jeff". He removes his wedding ring, placing it next to the note, and takes his car keys. Cut to a car where a woman, Lynne, is driving her young son, Zack, to hockey practice. However the boy has forgotten his stick and they must return home to get it. When they arrive in the driveway and open the garage door, there is a car idling in the closed garage. Mom instantly sensing what is happening, cautions her son to stay in the car, and calls for an ambulance. She drags her husband from the car. "Dammit Jeff, don't do this." "I couldn't take the pain any more."


Act 1

House sits in his tub, wincing from the pain in his leg. Later, he hobbles in to work, late as always, but surprised to find Cuddy coming in late as well. He chides her for taking so long with her new baby, Rachel. He asks for more time to prepare his budget figures. She brushes him off telling him Cameron has already done them for him. "Why?" he wonders. "So you'll owe her a favor."

In the diagnostic office, Cameron calls in that favor, briefing the team on a "32 year old man with chronic pain." "It's like treating myself," House quips, although I don't think anyone really thinks Hugh Laurie or his character is that young. "Fibromyalgia?" ventures Hadley. Cameron chides her for a diagnosis that explains nothing and suggests no treatment. "Not according to the American College of Rheumatology," Foreman says, hinting at a controversy that will get no further explication in this episode. Doctors' guesses are all over the map, including psychosomatic pain, though I wonder if psychosomatic pain really drives sufferers to suicide. Taub is unsympathetic with would-be suicides.

So naturally Taub is tapped to conduct psych interviews of Jeff, Lynne, and Zack, a thankless task and one not welcomed either by any of the interviewees or the interviewer, and one that finds no hint of imagined pain.

Foreman and Hadley search the patient's house for clues. They find the house spic and span, the pain meds numerous and well organized, and the patient apparently very med-compliant. Finding the suicide car to be a well restored and painted classic they wonder if there could be a chemical cause from inhaling paint fumes. However the patient owns a body shop and has all the proper protective breathing gear. Finding wild quail in the garage freezer, they theorize possible food poisoning. As they search, Foreman asks Hadley why, after their shared kiss during the Christmas party, she has been stand-offish to him. Hadley says her Huntington's treatment seems to be going well and she doesn't need the additional stress of a relationship right now. "I'm not giving up on life, I'm just giving up on you."

Back at the hospital, House directs the team to do a biopsy to detect food poisoning, and leaves work early.

As the biopsy takes place, the patient arrests due to blood clots and the team calls House after midnight. He correctly deduces that the food poisoning theory didn't work out, and suggests possible cancer. House is distracted by the sound of water. He looks outside, but it's not raining. Poking the ceiling with his cane, he's deluged by a flood of water and soggy plaster.

Act 2

Taub and Kutner view the patient's MRI in progress. As they watch, Kutner questions why he responded so strongly to the subject of suicide, viewing it as the coward's way out. Kutner theorizes Taub's life has been touched by suicide in some way, which Taub denies. They find something in the patient's diaphragm - but it's not cancer - it's a blocked artery. Foreman orders an angioplasty to clear the blockage.

House meets with an inspector to file an insurance claim for the water leak. The inspector says the leak is not covered since it's the result of negligence - someone has been hanging something from the shower pipe, pulling the pipes apart and creating the leak. House indignantly claims he's done no such thing, but the inspector won't budge.

Hadley and Foreman talk some more about their relationship. Hadley doesn't feel it's fair to put anyone else through what she's going through.

The team is about to conduct the angioplasty. House stops the test, saying there are two possible reasons for air bubbles in the blood "arterial blockage, and, well, air ." He shows them teeth marks on Jeff's IV line. Jeff blew air into it in another suicide attempt. "Please just let me die!" House: "No."

Act 3

Cuddy calls a meeting at her house - in the nursery in fact. House and Cuddy carp at each other some more over the baby. Foreman suggests a "glycogen storage" issue may be a possible cause of Jeff's pain. House calls him "14" in suggesting he test for that.

Arriving for her Huntington's treatment, Hadley meets Janice, the severely affected Huntington's patient we've seen before. Janice is chipper and seems to be doing much better. Hadley is happy for her, but later jumps on Foreman for changing Janice's schedule to cause their 'bumping in to each other' as a way of manipulating Hadley. Foreman denies every count of her accusation: he didn't change the schedule, didn't even know Janice was doing better. So he says.

In glycogen treatment, Jeff's pain suddenly jumps to his legs, something new and severe.

House asks the team for the name of a lawyer. The one that defended the hospital in a recent lawsuit will do. The problem with the patient is determining if the pain is in his head or his body. Kutner facetiously suggests cutting off his head to find out. House thinks this is a good idea.

House asks Cuddy for permission to use Lidocaine on the patient to shut down the central nervous system and determine if the pain is coming from he CNS or elsewhere. This is a risky procedure to the patient and Cuddy resists but is under time pressure since she needs to get home for an inspection of her house by the DYFS to determine her fitness as a foster parent. Finally she tell House to "Do whatever it is you think is right" and rushes off. House seems unhappy at her easy give-in.

Act 4

Cuddy frantically calls her maid, wondering where she is, with DYFS on the way and the place is a mess. Too late! There's a knock on the door.

House joins Jeff in the treatment room where the Lidocaine injection is about to take place. They discuss pain. Jeff says House sees his future in himself.

The DYFS inspector sees Cuddy at her most disorganized, yet passes her, telling her she has adequate financial resources, a well developed sense of responsibility, and enough sensitivity to be aware of the mess, which puts her way up on most of his clients.

As the Lidocaine takes hold, Jeff says his pain has abated. Not gone but lessened. House says that shouldn't be, it should be all there or all gone, and wonders if there is something to the psychosomatic suggestion.

Lawyer Chris Carrick strides into House's office and demands to know which one is House. "The big black guy," House says, pointing at Foreman. Carrick is not fooled and hands House a bill, saying next time it will be a lawsuit if his name is used in a threatening letter. To Foreman's baleful look, House says "Can you blame me? Last guy that asked that shot me."

In the hallway, Zack collapses in pain, screaming loudly, bringing doctors from all over. Everyone gathers around to sympathize or seek the cause, except House who says "I think he's faking." Lynne and most of the doctors are horrified at House's callousness, but House strides back into Jeff's room demanding "Where is it?" Searching Jeff's bed he finds an empty bottle of isopropyl alcohol and orders Jeff's stomach pumped to prevent his death. House chides Zack for acting as a distraction for his dad to swipe the bottle. A tearful Zack pleads "Just let him die."

Act 5

The team strides the hallway. "Nothing explains all this" someone says. "Something must," Foreman says. "Unless nothing explains it." House says cryptically. Maybe the original cause of the pain is gone, House says, and now the pain meds are generating sensations of pain. There's actually a term for this. He proposes removing Jeff from all pain meds, to see if, once they clear his body, the pain leaves. Ouch.

Wilson brings Rachel a huge yellow stuffed ducky to celebrate Cuddy's passing grade. Cuddy laments that she only passed due to DYFS's low standards. Wilson wonders why women always hold themselves to such high standards. He suggests a man in her position would have multiple assistants on the job, and a wife and nannies helping at home as well, and she should get some help and stop trying to be superwoman.

Jeff is horrified at the prospect of doing without meds for even a short time and begs for some other option, but House has none to offer.

As they monitor Jeff's painful ordeal, Taub and Kutner discuss suicide further. Taub at last admits he had a colleague who nearly committed suicide because he couldn't live up to his God-complex and that man was a selfish ass with a family to support, like Jeff.

Foreman and House stand outside the room. Foreman accuses House of 'torturing this guy on a hunch." "It's the only hunch we've got." House responds, and goes on to discuss Foreman altering Janice's schedule because he wants in Hadley's pants. House has been observing.

House has an 'accidental fire' in his kitchen, which he tells the same inspector is covered and will require fixing the pipes as well. The inspector agrees that it will require fixing his neighbor's pipe, but "luckily yours weren't touched." Ouch.

Lynne tells House the trial isn't working House agrees, and says he's already ordered Jeff back on pain meds. Lynne says she's come to see that they can't help Jeff, and she's accepting Jeff's decision. She begs House to just stabilize him so the can take him home and let him find the relief he's been seeking. "OK," say House in a quiet voice.

Act 6

Hadley rages against House's decision but Taub and Kutner seem to have accepted it.

House has water in his shower! The inspector says he could have fixed the pipe for less that the bribe House just paid to have the inspector say the repair was covered under his insurance. House doesn't mind - it's the principal - the insurance company will have to pay, too, because he knows he didn't damage the pipes. As he packs to leave the inspector idly scratches in an area known to men but not women. It's epiphany time!

House steps off he hospital elevator with the one word "Testicles!" What does it men to the doctors? Taub gives a snide answer. House says "So close. The correct answer is 'epilepsy'." Epilepsy can present as pain all over if it goes to the brain and can't be detected in a scan because it's so deep.

House broaches the subject to the patient and family. Did his pains start in his scrotum? No, Jeff says, in his stomach. "Stomach like bad has or stomach like your balls being pulled out through your kidneys?" House wants to know. "Why?" Jeff wonders but you can tell he's engaged. "Because epilepsy is treatable," House says.

Cue musical montage (I Still Care For You by Ray LaMontagne) of treatment and gradual improvement, doctors' quiet satisfaction, family in smiles, ending in Jeff walking out with his arm over Zack as Lynne watches, smiling.

Kutner asks Taub is the 'selfish ass' was not a colleague but Taub himself. "Nope", says Taub with a grin, "see you tomorrow."

Foreman sees Hadley receiving an I/V treatment in his drug trial. She's looking and feeling much better. They make a date. Foreman notices a leak in her I/V and goes to get a nurse to fix it. "Smell's bad, doesn't it?" the nurse comments. Foreman hasn't smelled anything. "Oh, then she must be getting the placebo," comments the nurse.

Cuddy thanks Cameron for steering the patient to House, and asks why she did. Cameron thought it would do House some good if he could make a similar case to his own feel better. "How'd you like my job?" Cuddy asks.

House is lowering himself into his bathtub. He discovers he's using the shower pipe as grab bar, shaking it in the process. So House did cause the leak after all. He sinks into his tub with a grin.

- Cecil
Next Week:

Cameron announces she's taking over some of Cuddy's duties, particularly baby-sitting... House. "A fight for power" the announcer intones. We see House being ordered away from an operating table. He wants to cut a young woman's skull off? "Do you expect me to say 'yes' just because you're House?" Cuddy asks. "That would be great." House says.

Last Episode: 12/13/08 5-11 Joy to the World
Next Episode: 01/26/09 5-13 Big Baby

Cast Ep. 5-12, "Painless" Aired 01/19/2009

Cast and Crew

Director:......Andrew Bernstein
Writers:.......Thomas L. Moran
....................Eli Attie


Hugh Laurie................Dr. Gregory House
Lisa Edelstein..............Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Robert Sean Leonard...Dr. James Wilson
Omar Epps...................Dr. Eric Foreman
Jesse Spencer...............Dr. Robert Chase
Jennifer Morrison........Dr. Allison Cameron
Olivia Wilde................Dr. Remy Hadley (Thirteen)
Peter Jacobson.............Dr. Peter Taub
Kal Penn......................Dr. Lawrence Kutner

Recurring role:

Bobbin Bergstrom........Nurse

Guest Stars:

Martin Henderson..............Jeff
Jake Cherry........................Zack
Sarah Danielle Madison.....Lynne
Alex Fernandez..................Fernando (the plumber)
Anthony Montgomery.......James Carlton (DYFS inspector)
Lori Petty...........................Janice Burke (Huntington's patient)
James Ingersoll..................Chris Carrick (the blood sucking lawyer)
Aisha Kabia.......................Nurse Rita (of the careless I/V)


I Still Care For You..........Ray LaMontagne

Coming Episodes:

01/26/09 5-13 Big Baby
02/02/09 5-14 The Greater Good

Posted by Cecil on January 20, 2009 10:43 PM
Permalink |

Great recap Cecil Rose! I really enjoyed this episode, it was not only an interesting case (with a diagnostic at the end I never would have dreamed of), but it gave us a lot of insights into pretty much everyone. In general I have liked House less since Cameron and Chase have taken a back seat to the ever-expanding cast, but this was a definite reversal of that. The 13/Foreman/placebo storyline looks especially promising!

-- 1. Posted by: FenwayBen at January 25, 2009 2:58 PM

Promising in the sense that Hadley dies of her untreated Huntinton's?

It's an interesting ethical question - if there's a double blind trial going on that shows the drug tested to have some beneficial effect in treating an inevitably fatal disease, at what point does ethics require that you blow open the blind and start treating the former placebo recipients with the experimental drug?

On the one hand you can't let people die if you have a chance to save them.

On the other hand, you can never complete the trial of any seemingly effective drug.

-- 2. Posted by: Cecil Rose at January 26, 2009 3:08 PM

I didn't mean promising in a Happily Ever After sense, more promising in that it's an interesting storyline.

PS Did you see last night's episode? Some one needs to remind Jesse Spencer how shampoo works!

-- 3. Posted by: FenwayBen at January 27, 2009 5:13 PM

So-so. Something was not impressed.

-- 4. Posted by: Carlos at January 30, 2013 6:29 PM

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