'House': Orlando Jones guest stars as Foreman's brother

hugh-laurie-orlando-jones-house-moving-the-chains-320.jpgAfter years of vague references on "House" about Foreman's family and criminal past, we finally have some details - and I'm still trying to work out how they affect my perception of Foreman. I'm also trying to get that image of a hissing opossum in Wilson's bathtub out of my head before bedtime, because I'd rather not have nightmares about what I can only assume are giant prehistoric rats (left over from the time when there were 8-foot beavers and whatnot) taking over my bathroom. 

Patient of the Week: A very, very big (6'7", 310 lbs.) college football player has a crazy rage attack, but no memory of it. Unsurprisingly he's chock full of growth hormone (got any to spare, buddy?), though it appears to be a symptom. Rather than the usual "our patient is going to die in 36 hours if we don't figure this out" pressure, we're presented with a slightly less intense "our patient is going to miss his big chance to get scouted by the pros if he doesn't play this weekend" motivation. Also, he might die.

After a number of false starts and new symptoms, the patient is diagnosed with cryoglobulins, which take two or three weeks to cure, and could kill him if he plays in the game. He chooses to play anyway, for his mom's future, but goes blind before he makes it out on the field. And can I just say that I love that the show has gotten to the ethical point where a doctor can basically poison a patient (Foreman spiked his water to cause the temporary blindness) in order to keep him from making a life-threatening decision, and the morals of it are barely discussed.

In the end, though, it's melanoma for the win, hidden by the patient's dark skin and football cuts and bruises. His life has been saved, but he doesn't even care now that he's missed his shot. Bummer, you guys. Is this really how football works? There's just one big game with scouts, and if you miss it you'll never get drafted? Even the next year? Seems like you could miss some great players with that system, no?

Foreman: Foreman's older brother, Marcus (played by Orlando Jones), is out of prison. As soon as House determines that Foreman wants nothing to do with him, he hires Marcus as his assistant, infuriating Foreman. And this may just be because I love Orlando Jones, but it's kind of awesome. He tells House embarrassing stories about Foreman (some true), throws out helpful suggestions in the differential diagnosis, and spies - in "enemy territory" - on Foreman's interactions with the patient.

Though House claims to be in it for Machiavellian purposes, Wilson suggests that perhaps he's nicely trying to keep Foreman from doing the same thing House did with his own family. I'll admit, I was skeptical. Foreman reminds House that Marcus has blown every chance he's ever been given, while Marcus says that after Foreman got arrested (and he was with Marcus at the time) he devoted the rest of his life to never disappointing his mother. But after House announces in front of everyone that Foreman's mom died recently and he didn't even speak at the funeral or tell anyone, Marcus steps up to defend his little brother, and quits on the spot.

And hey, whaddya know, after a little prompting from our PotW about family and sacrifice, Foreman not only tells Marcus he'll try to get him a new job, but invites him to move in. It's almost as if House intentionally cast himself as a common enemy in order to bring them back together. Wilson: "You are the diabolical, but benevolent, puppet master." House denies it, but color me convinced.

Prank war!: Man, do I love me a good prank war. We begin with House using Wilson's bathtub, and an angrily hissing and  possibly probably murderous opossum subsequently appearing in said tub after Wilson denies House access. Let's all take a moment to shudder. ...... Moving on, House continues to use the tub, falling and cutting his cheek when his hand rail mysteriously comes loose from the wall. Man, that seems pretty dangerous.

At first they blame each other for the incidents, but House suggests that neither of them is responsible; "The opossum [dramatic pause] was meant for me," using as his evidence the fact that Wilson couldn't have sabotaged the hand rail. Wilson: "Maybe you self-pranked." House: "I don't master prank." Ah, House and Wilson at their best. During their stakeout that night, the fire sprinklers in the condo go off, damaging their TV. Do many apartments have those? How do they work? Because my smoke detector goes off every time I bake cookies (and no, wise guys, not because I'm burning the cookies).

After House amusingly interrogates his hospital cohorts, Lucas reveals himself as the prankster! He agrees to "cease offensive operations," but threatens to tell Cuddy that they took her dream condo if they try to retaliate. "See, she's under this odd impression that you guys are her friends." Oooouch. Turns out she already knew, and still asked Lucas to back off on the pranks - Lucas suggests that she feels guilty about hurting House, even though he stole her condo. And in my opinion he'd be right, much as Cuddy refuses to confirm it.

Side case: A soldier who's a father-to-be facing stop-loss redeployment tries to fake an infirmity, and in the process suggests that an unsympathetic House is "Vietnam age." Things take a turn for the less humorous when he takes House's hopefully facetious suggestion to shoot himself in the foot seriously, which House then claims will only buy him a five-day vacation and a Band-Aid. A lost toe won't do it, either. And so the soldier winds up listening to House again and taking antibiotics that result in a foot amputation. Wow.

Liability issues aside, it's disturbing to me that House would wield his influence over a patient in such a massive way. He could've just refused to fake the infirmity and sent the man elsewhere, or agreed to fake it since he's never been one to follow the rules, anyway. Or emphasized his "escape to Canada" suggestion rather than putting amputation on the table. It's also disturbing that the soldier wouldn't even get a "second opinion" from a doctor who might be more likely to exaggerate the nature of his injuries before giving up his foot.

I think House realized the extent to which his actions have consequences when he saw the soldier's wife wheel him away - I'm just not sure where that realization will lead, or if it will carry over to the people in his life every day (unlike his apologies last week).

What did you think about the soldier sideplot and its significance? How did you feel about getting more background on Foreman? 

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