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I am not sure that words can adequately express my joy at the return of House this evening. The fast paced and quick witted dialog was a welcome respite from the inanity of the average reality show. But I worry those hours of low budget programming may have damaged some part of my brain, like a long term drug abuser. Can I get a functional MRI?

The Patient:
We start off on the strike lines. Not the writers strike (though the design of the signs gave me a nice chuckle), but the nurses. They attempt to halt a delivery man for their allotted 15 seconds, which he is particularly nasty about by not only being rude but by also ramming his hand truck into a woman’s shin. The man beside her never breaks his sweet and smiling demeanor during all this. At least, not until he eyeballs shake and he collapses.

We learn his name is Jeff and he is extremely pleasant. Which, oddly enough is what attracts House. He notices Jeff sitting in the over crowded E.R. with two plates of food, which he says is because he was there through two meals and has not yet been seen to. The fact that Jeff is still content and smiling rather than complaining and angry seems unnatural to someone like House. When he slams his cane on the Jeff’s toe and his wife gets angry but he just grins and tells her "I’m sure it was an accident" is about when House begins to think it pathological.

He argues quite a bit with his team, who are reluctant to believe his case is more than "the flu and good parenting" at first, but House points out evolution as the backbone of his argument against a mere good mood in favor of a genetic defect. Kutner points out that if they are to accept extreme jerkiness as valid personality trait, then they must also accept extreme niceness, but House uses his extreme jerkiness to over rule what anyone else thinks in favor of testing Jeff for whatever he wants.

They decide Jeff has Williams Disease, while conveniently ignoring several symptoms that he decidedly does not have, such as an elfish appearance and perfect pitch. But the treatment for that gives him a stroke, so it’s back to the drawing board (literally). Eventually, Jeff tests positive for Neurosyphilis, which leads the team to put him on Prednisone. When he begins berating his wife for things like moving his book, 13’s suspicious about a heart defect seems to come into focus as he has a heart attack. But it is Kutner who shines this episode, and figures out that what Jeff actually has is Chagas’ disease (which he got while working in Costa Rica with the Peace Corps, of course), which is easily treatable and doesn’t necessarily mean his demeanor was a symptom. Of course, it doesn’t explicitly mean that it wasn’t either. As House explains it could have caused brain swelling which could affect personality, but no one seems bothered by this possibility – including House, who just doesn’t care.

The Side Story:
There was no clinic patients tonight, but there was plenty  of other stuff going on! Cuddy wanted House to give his team their performance reviews. A task he wanted no part of, but decided to use it to simultaneously undermine and build Foreman’s authority with the team through a disjointed pattern of logic that I think may have given me an aneurysm. And I am not sure how effective it was tonight, but it did reveal that House wants Foreman to be someone else the underlings fear. Or maybe he wants to use it to turn Foreman into someone more like himself, just because he knows how much Foreman would hate that.

Additionally, House and Amber continue to bicker. In fact, they take it so far as to petition Cuddy to be their King Solomon as they attempt to arrange for joint custody of Wilson, who remains neutral. I didn’t think that House’s blessings from the last episode were going to be the end of this triangle and I am glad to see that’s the case. He and Amber fighting is a lot of fun to watch, as he tries to manipulate her and she does everything she can to live up to her nick name. Making poor Wilson their pawn, really – but he seems to be enjoying it. Or enjoying being fought over, perhaps. Like a fairy tale princess with two suitors!

Lastly, there is a very amusing side story that has House tricking the team into thinking that he has syphilis himself. It makes sense, using his "extreme jerkiness" and a counterpoint to Jeff’s extreme niceness. In fact, I would have liked to see it last until the very end of the episode, with there being a big reveal at the end that the penicillin treatment they all thought was curing House of his pathological nastiness was actually just another dirty trick on his part. Also playing into this is Chase wanting to know if Cameron slept with House, newly believed to have an STD. But she is skirts the issue several times. Alas, they cut the plot line short, with Amber revealing to truth to the team as a bid to tick House off. And then we don’t even see him really ticked off or plotting much in the way of revenge on her! Seems like a few wasted opportunities there to me. But it was the first episode after the strike and they are possibly trying to cram a lot of plot points into these four episodes, so I can be forgiving. Plus, there was LOTS of funny tonight, so lets get to some of the best lines!

The Funny:

House: Is he Canadian?
Cameron: He’s a low priority.
House: Is that a ‘yes’?
Cameron: He’s just…
House:…happy. I have to stop this before it spreads.

House: I wish the best for them and their tragically deformed children (on Amber and Wilson’s relationship).

Cuddy: You are overtly contemptuous of hospital hierarchy
House: And covertly. But I suppose you didn’t know about that.
Cuddy: Your attitude towards supervisory personnel is disrespectful and a disturbingly large portion of your comments are either racist of sexist.
House: That top makes you look like an Afghani prostitute … would be an example of that.

Foreman: You don’t want to do the paper work.
House: I am concerned about the rain forest.

House: Oh, you are selling religion. Sorry, I bought some Islam yesterday (to random door-to-door evangelist)

Amber: Have fun on your play-date. You’ve got mommy’s numbers, right?
House: Daddy needs a drink.

House: Syphilis prevents domestic violence? I’m even more attractive to the ladies!

House: My team thinks that I have Syphilis.
Wilson: Do you?
House: Not yet.

Cuddy:  (reading House’s performance review of her) "Your treatment of patients is non-existent because you are not a doctor you are an administrator."
House: Foreman convinced me these could be helpful.
Cuddy: "Your management of employees is…well, let’s face it, they’re outside carrying signs". The strike ended. The nurses have been back for two shifts already.
House: You would think I would have noticed. What exactly do they do around here?