Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House “A Pox on Our House” Recap & Review

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“A Pox on Our House” is a fitting title for this episode of "House". There were a lot of things going on in this episode, but the main story involved two patients who seemed to be infected with smallpox – and as usual, House puts himself in the middle of it.

The episode starts off far away from Princeton Plainsboro Teaching hospital, not just in location but in time. A slave ship is sunk because it is believed the slaves are all infected with smallpox. Years later, when a scuba-diving family finds a glass jar at the shipwreck location and the jar breaks, it a young girl gets infected with a mystery disease. House’s (Hugh Laurie’s) team of doctors – Foreman (Omar Epps), Chase (Jesse Spencer), Taub (Peter Jacobsen), and the new addition with an unfortunate wardrobe, Masters (Amber Tamblyn) go through their usual routine trying to figure out just exactly what they are dealing with. Things get complicated when the girl’s father comes down with symptoms as well. When they seem more certain that it’s smallpox, the CDC is called and the hospital is put on lockdown.

Before I get too deep into this story, this may be a good place to get the side story out of the way. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is treating a very young cancer patient – Eve (Devon Woods) - who will only go through her treatment if her little stuffed animal, a lamb, is with her. When her mother heads home to get it, the hospital goes on lockdown and she can’t get back in. As a result, Eve refuses to go ahead with the treatment. Wilson’s girlfriend Sam (Cynthia Watros) tries to convince Eve to go ahead with the treatment without it, but Sam's communication skills with children leaves something to be desired. Wilson and Sam try getting another stuffed lamb from the hospital gift shop but Eve is on to the ruse. When Sam eventually finds the right words to convince Eve to go ahead, Wilson watches how Sam interacts with her and later decides maybe Sam should have a baby. That’s exactly what that relationship – and this show – doesn’t need.

Cuddy is also being unusually nice to House, and he’s worried that she’s on to his lie from the previous episode of House, “Office Politics,” where he faked a blood test. House gets the nerve to fess up to Cuddy, and it’s clear she was aware of the lie and not too happy with House. So what else is new? It surprises me that Cuddy would think that their relationship would suddenly make House tow the ethical line; it’s like asking rain not to be wet.

Back to the smallpox case. It seems that newbie Dr. Masters is the only one who to come up with any concrete ideas on this case, and seems to have more drive than the other doctors – except for House – to figure it out. House may think her honesty and ethics are a big flaw, but her taking the high road seems to get her access to the patients where House and his team could not. The team tries to use the ship's original logs to get help on what other illnesses this could be, and because the log is in Dutch, House does what every person would do – contact a Dutch on-line stripper and has the document emailed to her so she can translate. It’s things like this that cheapen this show and ruin whatever drama or suspense had been building. I also found it odd that after all these years someone didn’t already have the log translated to English.
Things get dicey when Doctor Broda (Dylan Baker) from the CDC becomes a real roadblock to House. When Broda refuses to allow House to treat the father with interferon to help the man fight what House thinks is a recurrence of cancer on top of his illness, House barges into the man’s room without a protective suit. He treats the man but it doesn’t seem to do any good. I’m a little confused here as to why Broda wouldn’t have just had someone suit up and give it to the man, seeing that the man was likely not going to live if the disease truly was smallpox - what would be the harm? I also don’t understand why, if House was exposed to the illness once he went into the room unprotected, why he later put on a protective suit. Was it to prevent him getting smallpox if he hadn’t already been exposed by that brief contact? There was something clumsy about this whole sequence of events, but it is highly possible that I just missed some dialog that would have helped this make more sense.

House isn’t getting any symptoms, but the father also isn’t getting any better despite the interferon, and he dies. Broda won’t let House into another isolation area so he’s stuck in the room with dead dad.

Later, when House’s team reviews their options, Masters goes back to the Dutch stripper for more translation. She hones into the fact that the captain’s cat lost its fur and then died. Masters realized that animals carry rickettsialpox and the team realizes that this is really what they are dealing with – and it’s treatable. But Broda is planning to bleach the body and won’t let the team in to look closely for evidence of rickettsialpox. Masters yells to House to do the examination himself, and House feels that he has to take off his gloves in order to do a proper exam. This is another segment that made no sense to me. If Broda had to send in men to bleach the body, why couldn’t they have preformed a routine look for the evidence of rickettsialpox – or at least handled the body so House cold look? Why did House have to take off his gloves when once he turned the body on its side he easily saw the evidence of rickettsialpox? I am sure it was all for dramatic effect, but in my mind, the way they handled this seemed illogical.

As rickettsialpox is treatable with antibiotics, everything comes out OK. We knew it would, since it was unlikely they would have the show’s star be exposed to smallpox.

The episode closes with Cuddy walking away from House, clearly in an unforgiving mood. The only person Cuddy should be angry at is herself – for her own stupidity in thinking that just because she and House are now intimate that this will change him. Each week, I find that I have less and less respect for Cuddy. She should know House by now and shouldn’t be surprised that her magical sexual powers can’t make House change who he is. Hopefully this will serve as the beginning of the end of their relationship.

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Anonymous said...

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, ...

Hey, at least they kept their clothes on this week.

Not all historical documents get translated - it's assumed that historians will learn the relevant languages for their work. (One of my roommates in grad school spent a semester learning to decipher handwritten medieval documents from some small European entity.) How lucky for House that it was a Dutch slave ship. I kind of liked the idea that he went to an obviously well-educated hooker for the translation, actually. New fact of the day: the first Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619 on a Dutch slaver.

rashid1891 said...

House isn’t getting any symptoms, but the father also isn’t getting any better despite the interferon, and he dies. Broda won’t let House into another isolation area so he’s stuck in the room with dead dad.