'House': Cuddy takes center stage

lisa-edelstein-house-s6-320.jpgIt's a day in the life of Lisa Cuddy on "House," and I can't decide if I've found a new role model or if it was a cautionary tale. Because seriously, you guys, she must have superhuman powers to put up with everything that's thrown at her every day. Which makes me think you'd have to be a crazy person to take that job, and an even crazier person to take on a baby at the same time. Crazy and incredibly strong.

It was great to see Lisa Edelstein in the spotlight, and she really did shine. The multiple plot lines were a lot to follow, especially only getting bits and pieces of some, but I think it worked for this episode. And I'd like to note here that Cuddy clearly needs a deputy, and I nominate Wilson for the job.

Cuddy's day starts out with a little yoga, and goes downhill from there. Sick baby, thieving employee, giant negotiation, fights between surgeons -- and that's only the major stuff. Looking at it from her perspective, first I couldn't believe she hadn't fired House yet based on all her time his shenanigans occupy. But by the end of the episode, I understood why she wants to keep him around aside from his diagnostic skill: He served as a useful (if rather abrasive) sounding board as she worked through her dilemmas. It seemed like even when he disagreed or just made fun of her, it helped to have someone to challenge her so she could shore up her arguments for when it counted. 

Cuddy plays hardball: PPH's contract with AtlanticNet Insurance is up, and Cuddy threatens to terminate it by 3 p.m. if they don't agree to her terms. Everyone -- the company, the board, House, and the rest of the staff -- thinks she's taking crazy pills for issuing an ultimatum, especially one that demands so much. If the contract were terminated, PPH would lose 80% of its patients -- and Cuddy maintains that she isn't bluffing. AtlanticNet is offering 4% reimbursement, but Cuddy demands 12% based on the fact that although PPH is small, its excellence allows AtlanticNet to brag about the quality of their care. Which makes sense to me.

Cuddy channels House and tracks down the CEO at lunch, which scores an 8% offer, but Cuddy, showing an incredible amount of confidence, doesn't cave. I am seriously so impressed with her. I'm the worst bluffer ever -- if I were in charge of the negotiation I'd probably manage to get the offer knocked down to 2% somehow, between my bright red face and nervous smiling. 

Apparently failing in her game of health insurance chicken, when 3 p.m. rolls around with no word from AtlanticNet Cuddy is ready to hand in her resignation. But before she can, she runs into the AtlanticNet negotiator, who calls her a b*tch with a smile on his face, says he didn't think she'd actually do it, and gives her the 12%. Commence very loud "YEEEESSSSS!!!!" and applause from the board and staff when she shares the good news. And a quiet, slight smile from House. Aww.   

Cuddy gets sneaky: When she discovers that one of her pharmacists has been stealing ephedrine to lose weight, Cuddy fires Gail but doesn't report the theft to the DEA. Gail still cries a lot. I'd like to mention here that when they first said ephedrine was the stolen drug, I put in my notes that one of the pharmacists was cooking meth, and so I really surprised when the motive turned out to be weight loss. But all of us who initially suspected meth get a big fat "called it!," because Gail's stolen $50,000 in pills in the past three years -- enough that she must be supplying a meth lab.

Gail, it turns out, is a total psychopath in addition to being a thief, and in a complete transformation from the earlier scene threatens to tell the DEA that House forced her to steal the pills, and "the hospital administrator he's having sex with" helped to cover it up. Aaand she calls Cuddy a b*tch. Cuddy tries to play nice in their next meeting, but Gail calls her an idiot and brags that she started stealing six months after being hired. In an answer to all our prayers, Cuddy recorded the entire conversation to give to the DEA. Awesome. I'm not Lucas's biggest fan, but it's pretty cool to have a boyfriend who has a secret tape recorder disguised as a flower.  

Cuddy wrangles the diagnostics department:  Our patient of the week apparently has cancer -- and is covered in boils. Ugh. Cuddy shoots down House's plan to treat him with malaria, and along with it his chance to win a $50 bet. I'm sure they would have just injected it, but for a horrible second I pictured the patient in a tank full of mosquitoes. Why, brain, why?

House has apparently dedicated his day to fighting with the surgery department, starting with using the A/C to freeze a surgeon into speeding up. Dr. Thomas, the Chief of Surgery, accuses Cuddy of always caving to House, and is apparently both angry that she foisted Chase on him in the first place, and that she later sent him back to House's team. Pick one, dude. House rubs it in by insisting that Chase perform the patient's liver transplant to emphasize the fact that he's got the best surgeon. The conflict devolves into a physical fight between Chase, Foreman, and Thirteen (hey, there she is!) and the surgery department -- over an operating room, though they kind of blew past it.

Cuddy is also forced to take over House's clinic duty when he skips it to take a nap. Seriously, they don't have any other doctors who could fill in and see a patient? Especially a patient looking for a prescription for breast milk? Yes, that's right -- apparently it cures cancer. And people will pay good money for it, so take note, new mothers. When she refuses (since it's bordering on insurance fraud), he calls her a b*tch. That's right, folks: three times in one day. Not cool! And as House informs Cuddy, the patient found another doctor willing to write the prescription, anyway.  

Cuddy tries to explain the value of a thumb: Chase, it seems, made the grievous error of sewing someone's thumb back on after it was cut off. What a jerk. The patient is suing him because he'd been instructed to just sew up the stump -- a much cheaper procedure. Wow. I mean, in principle it's really not okay to switch treatment plans after a patient goes under, but it's a thumb! Thumbs set us apart from the other animals! (Well, most of them, anyway.)  

Cuddy isn't having it, and offers to pay half his deductible but emphasizes that a) thumbs are important, b) because of Chase he still has a thumb, and c) surgery is expensive for everyone ($16,000 worth of expensive for the patient). Again, I get the dude's point -- the non-consensual thumb is bankrupting him. But again...it's a thumb! The most important digit of all! Cuddy's in a hardball mood today, and doesn't back down. I think she might be drunk on the negotiating adrenaline.

The patient drops off a check for $850 at the end of the episode, but Cuddy rips it up and throws it away. I feel like I missed something there, so please fill me in if you got more out of that than the patient paying only a tiny percentage and Cuddy refusing it - presumably because she's holding out for more? Seems it was the first installment of his many payments to the hospital, but Cuddy decided to let him off the hook.

Cuddy deals with the rest:

  • Rachel, her baby, is sick and Cuddy can't get hold of the babysitter all day. Did anyone else think something was going on when Lucas accidentally took the babysitter's cell phone and turned the ringer off the home phone? Not anything between Lucas and the babysitter, necessarily, but that he was trying to hide something about Rachel from Cuddy? It just seemed like a big coincidence. Rachel's fine in the end, though.
  • Lucas peer pressures Cuddy into an unsatisfying quickie when she's already running late for work -- during which she ignores an emergency page from House. Seems House and Lucas bet on whether House could "stop the miscegenation" with an emergency page after Lucas told him he and Cuddy had sex every morning. Geez, Lucas. Real classy. But he's clearly forgiven by bedtime. Also...really? Every morning? 
  • House gets a massage in his office, complete with candles to set the mood, while the surgery madness is going on. I'm beginning to wonder what he couldn't get away with.

How did you like Cuddy's chance at stardom? Did you miss the patient of the week, and the team?

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