Tuesday, May 5, 2009

“Under My Skin” House Loses Vicodin Monkey, Cuddy His Prize

Photo from Fox

In last night’s episode of House(Fox) “Under My Skin” we find House (Hugh Laurie) in a major tailspin. He is still hallucinating and seeing Amber (Anne Dudek), who despite being dead looks very much alive to him. That’s just his drug-addled brain talking.

But first, before we talk about House, let’s get the Patient Of The Week out of the way. After all, the show is called “House M.D.”, not “Patient Of The Week.” The case involves a ballerina who, during practice, is dropped from a lift by her partner and finds that she is unable to breathe afterwards. When House, clearly distracted by his inner brain in the form of Amber giving him possible diagnoses, he incorrectly treats her for am infection. This causes a huge side effect that Taub (Peter Jacobson) finds by accident – her skin is falling off. (Ick.) But as House continues to become more preoccupied with his hallucinations and unsure of his diagnostic skills in this state, he gets Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) involved, and Wilson eventually pulls House off the case. This leaves his staff to solve her problem, and they do – to a point. They had discovered an abscess on her heart, and thanks to input from House, realize it was caused by gonorrhea. The side effect from their treatment to resolve the abscess was gangrene. (I found myself wondering if gangrene can really happen as fast as they made it look.) Lucky for them, Taub finds a way to restore circulation to the tissue in the ballerina’s hands and feet, and she is cured.

But the real patient in this episode is Greg House himself. It seems that his hallucinations of Amber are only getting stronger and more demanding. He is concerned that his hallucination almost caused Chase’s death (in last week’s episode ”House Divided”). He tries hard to ignore her presence and she says he’s not being rational. When Foreman (Omar Epps) comes to House’s home and tells him Cuddy is ordering him into work or else he’ll be fired, he first tells Foreman he’s talking a personal day, but has second thoughts and decides to go to work.

At Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, they review the patient with House but he is clearly distracted by comments from the imagined Amber. He later barges in to Wilson’s office, interrupting Wilson giving a own patient news about cancer, and House tells Wilson he is hallucinating. He tells him he is seeing Kutner, and doesn’t let on to Wilson who he really is seeing. House wants Wilson to sit in on his differentials. He also undergoes a sleep test, but still sees Amber afterwards.

Another back story to all this is a rather uninteresting problem that develops between Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer) where Cameron tells Chase that she still has her dead husband’s sperm and she can’t bring herself to get rid of it. Chase takes this to mean that she wants a pre-nup, in liquid form. Toward the end of the episode, Chase tells Cameron he doesn't have any doubts about them and she thinks that's naive. She wants to spend the rest of her life with him, but doesn't know for sure. He says he'll wait until she does. And that’s the last I hope we hear on the subject as I find I no longer have any interest in these two.

Problems ensue when House diagnosis of an infection isn’t correct and the treatment causes the patient's skin to fall off while she is undergoing yet another test. Later, he tells Wilson he feels guilty for prescribing the antibiotics that apparently caused such a bad reaction, and he suspects guilt is a symptom of MS – and the MS is causing his hallucinations. House seems unwilling to admit that it is his Vicodin addiction because he knows that getting off the drug means pain. House does something very uncharacteristic for him – he apologizes to the patient for the wrong treatment which caused her skin to fall off. The ballerina and her danseur boyfriend seem surprised. But House realizes since he felt nothing during the apology, it rules out MS as the cause of his hallucinations.

Foreman, meanwhile, is having some serious doubts about House, as Wilson is sitting in on the differentials, as if Cuddy is making him do so, or as if House doubts himself. When he calls House on this, House orders Wilson to leave, despite the fact that Amber continues to harp at him incessantly. Her pushiness gets so bad that she sits down at the table and slices her arm open, blood pouring out. House is beginning to realize that his problem is either mental illness or Vicodin, the former meaning he could not practice medicine, without the latter, he would be in pain. But the arm slicing signals to House that Amber is trying to tell him to kill the patient – that is, to stop her heart long enough to do an MRI.

When he goes back to discuss the latest with Wilson, he slips and refers to his hallucination as a “her,” and when Wilson calls him on it, he admits he is really seeing Amber. Wilson is stunned, asking, "Your subconscious picked my dead girlfriend?" Wilson calls House’s heart stopping suggestion as being on the upper end of his normal radical scale. Wilson also tells House he had his blood level checked for Vicodin use and it's too high. House wants his problem to be schizophrenia that he can treat with electroshock. But Wilson reminds him of the possible side effects, including the one that would matter to House the most - losing his rational mind.

Later, while the patient is undergoing the heart stopping MRI, House calls Wilson and tells him he is going to try putting himself in insulin shock rather than go to rehab. When Wilson indicates this is crazy, and tells House he’ll be up to talk to him in a few minutes, House tells him to make it two minutes because he is about to inject himself now. He does so, and Amber seems to fade off as House collapses. Wilson comes in just in time to order glucose, stat. Later, when Wilson paces next to a recovering House, House comes to and doesn’t see Amber. He seems OK and goes back to work. Later, he has the gonorrhea epiphany as it relates to an abcess on her heart. Afterwards goes out for a beer and some onion rings. His celebrating is short lived as he sees Amber singing and she is looking a little too happy, almost crazy herself. House calls Wilson to come get him.

Wilson, at House’s place, tells him he knows of a good place for rehab, and when Foreman calls on House’s cell phone, Wilson answers and tells Foreman that House is off the case. House wonders why he is not scared; if this doesn’t work he doesn’t know what other options he has. House returns to the hospital and enters Cuddy’s office, and tells her he is quitting. She thinks it is just another one of his bluffs, and continues to ready herself to leave for the day. When House tells her to go "suckle your bastard child if it makes you feel better” she gets very angry and begins to leave. He tells her he's hallucinating, and this stops her. Amber counters; telling him Cuddy is not his keeper. He tells Cuddy he needs her. She calls her babysitter and makes plans to help House.

Back at House’s place, he is vomiting and Cuddy is there to support him. She has gone through his place looking for his stash and has taken care of removing all of it. When she asks where the rest of it is, he tells her of his super secret place, and Amber says, "It's like I don't even know who you are anymore." Later in the bathroom as the vomiting and pain continues, Cuddy is there to support him, and brings him some ginger ale. But House sees one lone pill on the bathroom floor, and finds an excuse to get Cuddy out of the room so he can grab it. Luckily she returns in time and flushes it, as House claws, unsucessfully, at the inside of the toilet bowl to catch it.

The next morning, House seems much better, and he asks Cuddy why she is there, assuming it’s because she protecting the hospital’s biggest asset. But she says no, and she wants to make a confession. She tells him she wasn't IN his endocrinology class; she AUDITED it, as she thought he was "an interesting lunatic, even then." She's not there protecting hospital property. House looks around and announces they're alone – it seems that Amber is really gone. When Cuddy readies to leave, he thanks her, moving in close. "You want to kiss me, don't you?" she asks, and he answers, "I always want to kiss you." They have a very passionate and heated kiss, and he removes her coat. Things get very hot and heated…and we hear in the preview for next week’s episode that yes, they did go “all the way.”

I found this episode to be surprisingly good. Based on the previews, I was expecting another episode where I was going to be moaning and groaning about Cuddy throwing herself at House. I found that this was the first time in a long time that I felt that Cuddy was actually more than tolerable. She showed her devotion to House not by her too tight clothes or her constant batting of her eyelashes at him. This time she was a good friend who helped him through a very painful detox process. I thought the lead up to their big kiss was done very well, although I found myself hoping that House wiped all the vomit off of himself and washed his face and brushed his teeth before they shared a kiss. Still, I found myself wondering if House could have detoxed so easily considering the amount of Vicodin he had been taking? I would have suspected that he would have become quickly dehydrated and would have likely required IV fluids. Something about his detox just seemed a little too tame.

As I mentioned earlier, the whole sperm discussion with Cameron and Chase really added nothing. Personally, I almost wish that those two characters were just gone from the show as I don’t think they add much to the story any more and I have completely lost interest in them. Foreman seems to be the only one of House’s original team who continues to be interesting, and I am very glad in this episode that we got no relationship drama with him and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde). Taub seems to be excelling now that Kutner is dead, not that Kutner held him back, I just think that Taub is becoming more confident of himself.

While the patient was in there somewhere, she was only needed to further House’s hallucinations and to highlight his need to kick his addiction. She served her purpose well.

All in all “Under My Skin” was a great episode, and makes me even more interested to see what happens in the season finale next week!

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