“Do you think I can fix myself?”  House asks, eyes wide, vulnerable posture.  “I don’t know,” Cuddy answers.  One year after “Help Me,” we’re still not sure, but House has taken it into his own hands.  There are no easy fixes. If anyone should know this, House should. But perhaps House feels that, after exploring all the difficult ways to fix his leg and his pain, he’s opting for a drug trial that seems relatively simple. And after all, if it works on rats, it should clearly work on humans. (Note the sarcasm.) What interests me here is why House, one of the most intelligent characters in prime time television, would do something that is clearly not a medically sound idea. 

The reason is the same reason House has always had for doing something that lacks logic. Any slim chance it has to fix House’s pain makes even the most experimental and dangerous of drugs, treatment, and/or therapy worthwhile. But will fixing House’s leg pain cure his emotional strife? Wilson doesn’t think so, but I’m a little less sure. Let’s start with the dual patients. 

Patients of the Week

There were really three patients this week, one being our own Dr. House. But for now, let’s stick to the first two. With the boxer, House is clearly wanting to get a diagnosis. There has to be a logical reason for the boxer losing his match other than a fair loss.  And of course, House will be the one who absolutely has to find it. As usual, House gives a rather lame ulterior motive (a $50 bet and being wrong) in order to conduct his medical research on the boxer, but we know it’s about more than that.

House confides in the boxer, telling him that there’s got to be a physical reason why he’s losing so much, why he’s so unhappy. If he can just fix the boxer and prove that healing the physical problem fixes the mental one, then can’t he do the same for himself?

Then we have the actual patient, the one House didn’t seek out. This one makes bombs for a living. I thought that was especially interesting, considering that such a significant earlier episode of House this season was entitled “Bombshells” and included a patient that blew up bombs.

The one thing the patient said that really caught my interest was about bombs just being another tool. She said, “You can use them to make things better or make things worse.” One could argue the same thing about drugs and more so about the idea of hope, which was explored in last week’s episode. Too much hope can only lead to disappointment, but just the right amount of hope could potentially lead to a much happier and healthier existence. 

Drug Trial

House is on heroin. Right? Nope, we were misled. Instead, House is injecting himself with some kind of muscle regenerator that only has been used on rats. I’ll buy it, but only because we’ve seen House do many a desperate thing to stop his leg pain. Do I feel a future list coming on? Anyway, Thirteen finds out about the drugs, tells Wilson, and House has to face his friend who always provides dead-on unwanted analysis of any situation.

Wilson tells House, “You think all your problems are your leg?  You want unhappiness to have a cure.” Well, of course Wilson. And House has tried so desperately to be happy. He’s gone to therapy, he became vulnerable to Cuddy, he had surgery with ketamine, he used methadone. I’ve barely scratched the surface with all the ways House has tried to dull his leg pain. 

This is simply a case of what came first: the chicken or the egg? Is his mental anguish over the breakup with Cuddy causing the majority of his leg pain? When he was happy and in love, we certainly didn’t see him in the pain we are now. Or is his leg pain the source of the way he deals with his personal problems? 

I’m almost siding with House on this one. Not that I believe these drugs are necessarily the answer to all of his problems, but because he knows what he is like without pain. In season 3, when he was pain-free, he was still House, but a much happier version. However, this isn’t to say that the way he deals with mental pain and his relationships don’t need to change. If anything, tonight’s episode indicated that he has learned from his therapy in the past, but could use a lot more just like it. Bring back Nolan!

The Circle Game

This episode wasn’t one of my favorites. Some of the scenes weren’t too riveting. But what made this episode work for me were the issues the episode covered and House’s motivations. What does he want? A pain-free, happy existence? Yes, but is it even possible? This episode reminded me of numerous past House episodes, and it’s not just because Hugh Laurie shared top billing with a very important rat, who reminded me of season 2’s Steve McQueen, the rat that House found in Stacy’s house. 

In addition to season 2, last night’s episode reminded me of what Nolan said in “Baggage,” the episode that aired at this time last year. When he noticed House’s bar fight injury, he asked House why he was punishing himself. House knows how to provoke, so Nolan naturally wonders in “Baggage” why he feels the need to punish himself by getting into an unnecessary brawl. As he told the bartender, the reason he is drinking is to live briefly without pain and in a fantasy world. Perhaps a physical fight in that state allows him to be in pain without being in as much pain. In other words, wallowing, but with less physical hurt.

House managed to secure two fixes in this episode. He solved the boxers’ medical puzzle and he continued to fix his leg by using shooting up the rat drug-trial powder. The question is, will the boxer’s outlook change now that his medical condition i fixed? It’s interesting that in the end, we find out that the boxer’s medical problem can be cured, but he won’t be able to box anymore. I have to wonder if this is foreshadowing for House to have to make the choice he has avoided for so long: practice medicine in pain or live pain-free without puzzles?   

In the end, House lets us know that “compromise is never the answer.”  His all-in attitude with the drug trial appears to support that statement.  It makes sense at this point. House has been dealing with his physical pain in exchange for his job for a long time now and he wants both without compromise from here on out. Unfortunately, the dead rat at the end of the episode will throw a kink in House’s plans, which could partly explain next week’s insanely intense looking preview of House performing surgery on himself. Over the top? Yes. Will I watch? Hell, yes.


  • Why did we get such an elaborate teaser? I am starting to understand why the show may need some budgetary restraints.
  • I like how the people over at House continue to put off any extended version of a confrontation between these two. And by like, I mean loathe. 
  • The team was unexciting tonight, to say the least! And why were they so contentious with each other? It seemed to be for no reason at all!
  • The boxer sounded like Foreman when he told House, “You’re an ass.”
  • Liked Cuddy’s manishtana reference.
  • House destroying Wilson’s stuff was a bit intense. Makes me wonder what’s coming. 
  • So, self-surgery next week. I’m skeptical but extremely excited for another scene of House and Cuddy in House’s bathroom. Lots of memories in that little space. 

Two episodes left and the show is looking good to be renewed.  Keep watching!

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Lisa Palmer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV