Over the last few episodes of House M.D. I had noted a distinct lack of oomph. I chalked it up to the writer’s strike and had pretty much given up on having any more terrific episodes after the brilliance of the Superbowl special. Oh me of little faith. I should have known better. It’s the two part season finale! And since the show tossed their formula aside, I am tossing our regularly formatted recap out the window as well. Mainly because it is not easy to identify the patient this week.
The episode began with House coming to in a strip club with no idea how he got there or why he is so confused. A quick differential diagnosis on himself leads him to believe he’s suffered a traumatic event. Well, that and the bleeding head wound. A brief series of flashes of memory and House is convinced someone will die. He announces this, making the dancer a tad nervous, before manages to limp outdoors and we are greeted by the scene of a major accident with a bus on it’s side.
House charges around the ER as if looking for a patient that fits his brief flash of recall and when he comes up empty, he declares that one of them has meningitis and they will have to enforce a quarantine. It’s a ploy that provides him some time to figure out what he can’t remember, but his team is less interested in helping him and more interested in tending to the wounded. Who also now require meningitis shots. But Foreman does mention hypnosis as a way for House to unlock his memory and soon enough he’s sitting in front of Chase. Why an intensivist would take a course in hypnotism, I don’t know but we’re used to them shoe horning the former proteges in however they can, so I overlook it.
Under hypnosis, we find House at a bar. Which causes Wilson to intrude on the session to ask why he was getting drunk at 5:30 and what he is running away from. They establish that House can’t lie under hypnosis but he can deflect the question just as expertly as he could if he were completely conscious. He is more irritated when Amber shows up to defend Wilson. House requests that she leave, only she isn’t there. Not outside his own head, anyway. Which begs he question, what is she doing in his thoughts? Wilson wants to make sure she’s clothed and House mutters "unfortunately" before apologizing for saying that out loud. Only he didn’t say it out loud. Confused yet?
Chase tells House to ignore Wilson and Amber and they instantly disappear, leaving House to comment "That’s some program down in Melbourne". Indeed. House looks around the bar, but all the patrons are missing faces. It looks as disconcerting as it sounds in a very Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sort of way. But the bartender has a face because he took away House’s keys for being drunk, which is why he was on the bus in the first place. Upon coming out of hypnosis, House begins working with the team again and continues to attempt to trigger his memory, while popping ever more Vicodin until eventually he begins to hallucinate.
He argues with his hallucinatory bus driver about whether or not a brain tumor is possible and I don’t know if they mean the bus drive or House himself. Which is when we first notice the sultry woman. House doesn’t remember her from the real bus ride and surmises that with $500 shoes, she wasn’t there. Which leads her to whisper that there must be some other reason she is there now, but Wilson is less interested in that when he snaps House out of it and tells him he needs an MRI. During which they discuss why House brought up Amber while under hypnosis and Wilson realizes what it was that truly disturbed him about the incident: House didn’t objectify her. Which he figures must mean House has feelings for her. When he says "This is bad", I decide to nominate him for understatement of the year. Oh, and House has fractured the temporal bone of his skull. I believe that could also fall under the heading of "bad".
The bus driver is the only part of the episode following the usual script, as he appeared to get better and then lost the ability to walk. In an attempt to figure out what the hell is going on, House continues to work himself and his possibly hemorrhaging brain to the limit by going into a sensory deprivation tank. When he makes it back to the bus illusion, Cuddy is with him, which leads to a steamy pole dance and strip tease from her as he attempts to complete his diagnosis. Yes. Strip tease. Until she realizes that she is distracting him. He protests but it’s no use, which makes it all the more apparent that he would rather be solving a diagnostic problem then indulging in a sexual fantasy, since it is an argument he loses to his own subconscious. As Cuddy remarks, "how sick is that?"
They bat around a few possibilities until the sultry woman returns. House asks who she is and she responds "The Answer", before telling him to "look". Which is when he notices the dream bus driver has a shuffling gait which could mean Parkinson’s. An answer he manages to pass on to the entire team before collapsing in the deprivation tank. He comes to in his apartment with a nurse watching over him and a security guard at the door. He quickly deduces this means that Parkinson’s was not the answer, otherwise they would know he would be content to stay home as long as they would allow it. So, he calls in and finds that the patient has developed severe stomach problems. He calls for "the bagel test" before the nurse swipes his phone. When the patient collapses under the strain of high carbs and exercise, Cuddy calls House back to the hospital before the rest of them kill the patient.
The patient begins crashing due to a pulmonary embolism, but as the entire team are wheeling him away, House closes the door, jams it with his cane and demands that 13 stab the patient in the chest. You see, House noticed the patient had shiny new caps on his teeth, which implies recent dental surgery, which could mean that a dental air bubble was introduced to his gums and has been hanging about his body tissues for sometime, until the crash knocked it lose and allowed it to travel to his heart where it is currently killing him unless 13 stabs him in the heart with a syringe. Cuddy and the rest of the team are on the other side of the glass, banging and yelling for her not to do it – but she is the one locked in a room with House, so of course she stabs away. And saves the patient’s life.
Cuddy takes House home and sends him to bed under her own watchful supervision. When he awakes in the night and walks down the hall, the fact that he’s not limping makes it clear he’s not in reality. Cuddy is not sleeping in his living room, but The Answer is. She points to her necklace and asks him what is in it. He answers a mosquito but she says it’s a fly. In the ointment. House realizes his diagnosis is incorrect, but he’s not done with this dream. He’s holding a red silk ribbon and The Answer tells him to tie it around her. For most men it would mean the dream is about to become more appropriate for late night cable television, but we already saw House end a perfectly good burlesque act tonight so it seems unlikely. Instead, The Answer tells him that she’s cold and he automatically responds "Stay with me" before pausing and asking "Why did I say that?" He glances down as if to ponder the issue and notices the red ribbon he tied around her thigh is slowly soaking in blood. I hate dreams like that! He limps out into the hall in reality and wakes Cuddy, announcing that he saved the wrong person.
Back at the hospital House points out that the crash caused the bubble to move, the bubble didn’t cause the crash. Therefore, he must have noticed something else about someone else on the bus that is causing his full blown obsessive compulsion on the matter. Since getting all the crash victims back seems unlikely, they gather up the team and several other hospital employees, have them wear signs and stage a recreation on a city bus. Which makes me wonder about why the employees aren’t too busy and how one gets to borrow a city bus, but I’m so intrigued I let it slide.
House looks round at the assembled people and begins popping pills again. Only this time it is not Vicodin – it’s a more dangerous drug used to treat Alzheimer’s. It’s only a matter of time before he’s in another drug induced hallucination, trying to figure out the truth about The Answer. Of course, she’s less then forthcoming. She tells him that he knows who she is and then asks him what her necklace is made of. It’s about this moment I realize that when she pointed out her necklace and I identified it as a bug trapped in amber resin just like in Jurassic Park that there was more significance than I put together. I might have suddenly gasped and slapped a hand over my mouth. Or possibly screamed at my TV. Or both.
House identifies her necklace as resin and she asks him "Who am I?" He tells her he doesn’t know and asks her why she is playing a guessing game with him. She pouts and tells him that he does know who she is. He states that she is not the clue and she responds she knows and again asks him what her necklace is made out of. I’m jumping up and down as he says it’s a bug in resin. More specific! She points out that this is his subconscious that is blocking his understanding and again asks what her necklace is made of and who she is. Which is when House whispers "no".
And The Answer disappears, replaced by Amber, sitting across from him on the bus and smiling, right as headlights of the garbage truck that t-boned them glare behind her, smash into the bus, throwing her forward in sickening slow motion. The bus rolls to its side as they are all tossed around like rag dolls, House reaching for Amber’s hand, grasping it before they are wrenched apart by the force of the second impact. When they finally come to a stop, he crawls to her side and notices her thigh impaled by a pole. He takes the red scarf from around her neck, telling her he has to tie it around her. She says "I’m cold". He answers "Stay with me".
His next memory is coming to again, EMTs carrying an unconscious Amber from the wreckage as he tries to follow. He encounters another EMT who asks if he is alright and he can’t answer, only looks at the blood on his hands, which is not his own. This is inter-cut with black and white close up shots of a woman performing mouth to mouth on a man. It’s reality, where the team tearfully watches as Cuddy and Wilson work to resuscitate House, her breathing as he pounds his chest.
House opens his eyes and whispers "Where’s Amber?" They are all confused until House explains that she was on the bus. Wilson denies it’s even possible and House challenges him by asking when he last spoke to her. Wilson tries to explain that she’s on call and he tried to contact her a few hours ago. But she never called back. House asks for a description of Jane Doe #2 – a female in her late 20’s suffering kidney damage with a birthmark on her right shoulder blade. Which is enough confirmation for Wilson. Made all the more horrible when House announces that she is the one who is dying.
They managed a lot of funny this week, but dear god people….Cuddy did a strip tease! House nearly died! Amber may be dying! All the same, here’s a few of my favorite lines:
13: You can’t remember my name?
House: You’re 13. I just wanted to call you "Lesbian".
13: I’m not a lesbian.
House: I know, I was rounding up from 50%.
Cameron: We should monitor your brain for swelling.
House: How much bigger could it get?
Cuddy: Why were you on a bus?
House: I used to drive home drunk, but some mothers got MADD.
Cuddy: I’ll be on the couch. With a shotgun in my lap.
House: Awww. You’re worried about me.
Cuddy: I’m making sure you don’t limp for the border.
What were your favorite moments? Did you scream at your TV? Do you think House and Amber are having an affair, which he now can’t recall thanks to the retrograde amnesia he is suffering from due to the cracked skull he now sports? They are really going to make us wait a week aren’t they?