It is a very rare thing indeed for an episode to contain three - THREE - plots that are all excellent.
FOX.com has a recap here.
I'm going to tackle this episode one plot at a time, A through C:
- Thirteen & Chase. As I remarked in a recent chat with SABR Matt, I thought this match-up was absolutely inspired. Of course they would be able to commiserate over their shared experience of killing a fellow human being. I do have to ding the writers a little bit on the message for drawing equivalencies between Thirteen's euthanizing her brother and the Patient of the Week's killing an armed criminal in self-defense, but it is a giant step in the right direction to allow Thirteen to have doubts despite her comfortable rationalizations.
- House. Jesus Christ, House! House's attempt to perform surgery on himself was definitely a move tailored to May Sweeps, but I can roll with it. First of all, Polite Dissent doesn't really complain about it from a medical standpoint, so the writers must've done a pretty good job with House's prep (i.e., scrubbing the bathroom down, using real medical instruments, administering a butt ton of injections, etc.). Secondly, Hugh Laurie once again proves why he shouldn't be the Susan Lucci of prime time television. (In other words, give him the Emmy already!) Thirdly - and most importantly - it makes sense for the character. House knows he's screwed up, but because of his pride (and also the fact that he's a bit psychotic at the moment), he refuses to let anyone know about it until the very last possible second.
- More on House. True -- it's an old Hollywood trope to put a small child (or a baby animal) beside a character to inspire sympathy for that character. But House's connection to Rachel also makes a lot of sense -- and it's sweet besides. House has always had a curious ability to connect with kids -- probably because he's essentially a big kid himself. At any rate, let me be the first to admit that my eyes misted over a bit when Rachel told her mother that she wanted House to come over and play again. Awwwwwwwwww. And the letter! That was so cute -- you bloody scallywag. :)
- Taub. OMGWTFPROLIFEPLOT?!?! Color me pleasantly surprised that someone in Hollywood would have the stones to admit that the abortion industry essentially gives knockers-up carte blanche to be self-centered assholes. Taub's speech at the end in particular is definitely one for the highlights reel. I don't have kids of my own, but as a teacher, I do know a little of what it's like to raise children. And yes -- working with kids has given my life more meaning.
As I stated at the start, it is very difficult to juggle three plots and yet maintain a high quality throughout. Bravo!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the acting. Not a single thing. Even the guest stars hit the right notes. And the Academy seriously needs to give Hugh his due this year.
Aside from the small ding I noted above, this was a very morally centered episode.