Overall Rating: 9.4
Another outstanding episode featuring a version of House that is both still the House we know...and not.
PotW: Ripped from the headlines - sort of - the minimally showcased unlucky soul this week reports to the ER with a lung infection that doesn't respond to antibiotics and that can't really be seen on CT scans and chest X-Rays. While trying to figure out what this guy has, House's team gets the fun of observing as he literally coughs up a lung (!). The patient's plot isn't all that important to the show as a whole, but it does turn out (and House realizes this after seeing a picture on the wall of the office of the Headmaster of a private academy into which Cuddy would like to get Rachel) that the man has a tiny piece of food stuck in his lungs that has taken root and caused most of the tissue to die. Reads should note that this story almost actually happened. A man in late 2009 did in fact report to the ER with a mysterious severe cough that wouldn't go away and it was eventually discovered after his lung collapsed and cancer biopsies were attempted that he had a small pea plant growing into his lung tissue. Of course, coughing up a lung is much sexier on the boob tube than simply suffering spontaneous pneumothorax. :)
Young Love: Meanwhile, two students at the same private academy are caught as they nearly kiss behind the playground and hauled into the Principal's office for questioning...where they encounter House and...seriously kick his ass at the sort of gamesmanship in conversation that he usually plays so well! The girl is a bossy, domineering, high-maintenance pain in the ass from moment one and the boy seems to enjoy it...LOL The two of them working together get the whole story out of House as to how his day went so awry, but at the same time, their own story of tentative young attraction is told...and it's a very cute little number at that. The boy has been pursuing this girl for some time but she's been resisting because she's embarrassed to admit that she likes him too and have it be known amongst her friends. Seeing this, he decides to trick her into a dare...a game of tag-team jump-rope that he's had rigged (paid another student off to trip her up on purpose). He knows all she needs is a bit of a push and they can get past the early awkwardness and it very nearly worked...but he realizes that this isn't how he wants to kiss her and tells her all of this right before the crucial moment we observe at the start of the episode. With all the game playing out of the way and his affections declared, she seems very impressed with him. The way they interact is well worth the viewing, believe you me.
The Huddy Hits Career Day: You know someone on the film crew saw "Three Stories" and said in the preseason pitch session, "You know...as great as that first season classic was...think how much more fun it would be if House were in that room with twenty fourth graders!" All that was needed was to come up with a series of events improbable and hilarious enough that they could possible pull that off and have us believe it. We know House hates to teach, and, despite his usually good rapport with kids, hates dealing with them on the surface, since they don't play games with him and are harder to predict. :) BUT...if Cuddy were mad enough at him to call things off (at least for a while), and if the reason for the anger was something that House couldn't easily fix, and if the way to fix it involved Rachel...well...now we've got an episode!
In a nutshell, after a night at Cuddy's place, House uses her toothbrush despite her frequent requests that he not do this and then refuses to take out the garbage, claiming leg pain (riiiight). Cuddy, seeing all of the little signs that House struggles to "put down the toilet seat" (metaphorically and probably actually too) for her, she decides that although he loves her and needs her, he doesn't respect her own needs enough. Of course, the viewer has spent the last several episodes watching House go to INCREDIBLE lengths to keep Cuddy happy - even to the point of realizing that he needs to subjugate his own ego and mend his ways to keep Cuddy from having to choose between her job and him. We've seen him begin to actually bond with Rachel. We've seen him prove that he cares about Cuddy's well being by giving her the push she needs to finally stand up to her mother. What we haven't seen is him mustering up the courage to do something that Cuddy can actually see to prove how much her cares for her.
Indeed, as the story is told throughout the episode, we see House try to fix things secretly again by stealing Cuddy's laptop to find out why she is mad at him (and then ditching it in a trashcan so the custodians will find it and not know it was him), determining that to win her back, he must get Rachel into Brightwood Academy, and then trying to pull some strings to make it happen without her knowing how much work he had to do. He's hoping a simple gesture will convince her, rather than having to declare how he feels face to face. Instead, he rear-ends a lawyer on his way into a talk with the headmaster, tries to avoid getting sued for it by claiming to be Dr. Hironi, and thus gets stuck showing up at career day and talking about his job with a bunch of fourth graders.
The kids being the curious little buggers they are get to learn all about vibrators (LOL!!), his high stakes job, and a patient who coughs up a lung and eventually out him as Dr. House, thus landing him in the doghouse with the Headmaster. At which point, he admits to her that he's doing all of this to help Rachel get into this private school because he needs Cuddy in his life and he has to do something to prove that to her. The Headmaster seems convinced, despite her annoyance about his career day fiasco. Finally, he comes to Cuddy and apologizes - SINCERELY - for not trying hard enough to be the man she needs. He tells her that he needs her in his life, that he does care about her needs and Rachel's needs and that he can do better, and he produces a new toothbrush to prove it. Cuddy invites him over and all is well.
The key to this episode is sincerity. In contrast to many early House episodes where he plays games with people and gets his way by being dishonest, in this one, he has apparently decided that all the games are what often get him into trouble in the first place. When he hears that the boy in the young love plot decided to be honest with his crush and tell her how he felt, he nods approvingly and says "well done!" After his own games land him in some serious trouble (and that trouble seems to get more troublesome with each passing hour), he decides to be straight with the Headmaster and then with Cuddy. Masters, his relationship with Cuddy, and a little bit of hope (the hope borne of need...he says "Do you know what it's like to need someone in your life?" and the hint of a smile appears when she confirms that she does) have begun to convince House that, although everybody lies, sometimes honesty is the better approach.
There's a lot of great humor in this one as well, I must say. The bit where House takes the teacher's suggestion that he talk about a normal day on the job and perverts it just to prove a point ("so I gather your relationship with your husband isn't going well...how many times a day do you use your vibrator?" - LOL!!)...the awesome repartee between House and the young lovers in the Principal's waiting room...the link he makes between the girl in that plot and Wilson, this stuff is hilarious. It was very nice to see House bringing the funny full time this week...we haven't really seen that side of him much in quite some time.
The way the two stories work together and the back and forth between House and the kids (although stretching the bounds of believability at times with how witty and precocious these kids are!) is classic stuff.
Most of the child actors were a little sub-par if we're being objective and not giving charity for their youth...the regulars do well enough to keep the story flowing nicely though.
You can't trick someone into loving you, nor can you lie your way out of trouble when things are serious enough in a relationship...it will eventually bite you in the ass. House seems to have decided that, where he and Cuddy are concerned, sincerity really is the key.