House: Birthmarks

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

When House refuses to go to his father's funeral, Wilson kidnaps him and takes him on a roadtrip. Meanwhile the Team tries to help an Asian woman whose search to find her birth parents nearly kills her.

The Patient

This week's patient is Nicole, an alcoholic Asian-American woman who is on a quest to find her birth parents in China. Unfortunately, they don't seem to want anything to do with her. Equally unfortunate is that when she goes to pray and lift a Buddha statute to make them want to know her, she collapses and starts vomiting blood.

The doctors in China removed a foot of Nicole's intestines, leaving her with a gigantic gash down her stomach, but it doesn't seem to have helped her out any. They were also apparently treating her for SARS, which House finds out because her parents bring in a box full of pills that they found at Nicole's apartment containing licorice root. Apparently if you get SARS you should just slam back a lot of Twizzlers and you'll be fine. The team straps on some surgical masks and starts treating the patient for SARS, but during treatment she starts having a massive pain in her side and creepy vein things popping out on her back. The good news is she doesn't have SARS, but the bad news is that her liver is failing.

It turns out Nicole had a blood clot in her liver, which caused the massive pains and liver failure. Chase removes the clot, but the team is back to square one in their differential. The team figures that she probably has some kind of genetic disorder, that combined with her smoking and alcohol abuse is giving her blood clots. Speaking of smoking, Nicole decides to step out for a little smoke break just when Kumar needs to draw a blood sample. He decides to draw her blood outside while she smokes and they have a nice little bonding moment on the park bench. We learn that Kumar was also adopted by a white family when he was nine, and that he actually kind of likes being different. I think this might be the first bit of personal information we learn about Kumar. After he takes her blood, Kumar cannot get Nicole to stop bleeding. So she has some kind of blood disorder that both creates blood clots and keeps her blood from clotting at the same time. Mysterious! The team does a CT scan and finds a fluid filled mass on her pancreas, some kind of large cyst.

During this whole process House is away from the hospital (more on that later), so Foreman is pretty much running the show. At this point in the diagnosis, he gets frustrated because the new members of the team are not generating any good theories about what could be killing the patient. And they are simply not as clever or creative or witty or fun or charming or helpful or wonderful as Chase and Cameron (I'm totally with you Foreman). So he heads down to the ER to do some brainstorming with the good Drs. Chase and Cameron, and all the House faithful out there get to remember the good times when it was just the original three and we didn't have to have storylines about cheating Taub and dying Thirteen who we don't care about. Foreman, Cameron and Chase deduce that Nicole has gallstones, about 30 seconds before Kumar comes running down to the ER that he's reached the same conclusion. Snooze you lose Kumar.

Chase comes in to do a consult on Nicole to see if he should surgically remove the gallstones, but as he is leaving he notices that her urine is soy-sauce brown. Yuck. This is why we need Chase & Cameron back on the team, Chase would never miss brown urine! But he needs a haircut.

So Nicole does not actually have gallstones, what she has are cysts in her gall bladder. But the Brown Urine points to an even bigger problem, there is something up with her kidneys. House (via speakerphone) think that the cysts the team found on her pancreas are the main problem, that they are floating around to her other organs and causing all kinds of problems. Foreman points out that the problem with this theory is that they can't prove it, the cysts won't show up on a scan, and Chase can't go groping around her entire body looking for evidence of them. Thirteen comes up with a brilliant plan to inject bubbles into the cysts and see where they float to. I don't get it either, but House thinks it's a brilliant plan.

The only problem is that Nicole cannot seem to hold still while they are trying to inject the bubbles into her because she's detoxing from alcohol or whatever other drugs she's addicted to. The team needs to paralyze her to do the procedure because apparently addicts will still twitch even under sedation. On the plus side, Kumar tells Nicole's parents that if they put her in a coma she will wake up and be totally drug free with no withdrawal.

The team does the procedure, but they determine that the cysts aren't the problem. Taub informs us that Nicole has advanced dilated cardio-myopathy (the muscle fibers in her heart don't work properly and this results in muscular weakness- thanks Wikipedia!). Kumar tells House that they can't be totally sure because the ultrasound images look 'a little grainy' so it's hard for them to be certain. And here comes the epiphany...

House deduces, over the phone that the ultrasound images are not actually grainy, they just look grainy because Nicole has an iron overload in her heart that is causing the images to look grainy. While the team heads off to check the Nicole out for iron deposits, House calls China from his cell phone. After talking to Nicole's interpreter, he learns that her birth parents looked shocked to see her. Shocked in the we-thought-our-daughter-was-dead kind of way. House and Wilson figure out that Nicole's birthparents didn't want a girl and tried to kill her when she was an infant, by shoving pins in her head. Yuck. The pins didn't kill her, but have been lodged in her brain for 25 years, pushing on her addiction centers in her brain and causing all kinds of damaged to her vital organs. Case closed, now all Nicole needs is lots and lots of therapy.

The Long Ride Home

The real story in this episode is that House's father has died and his mother is trying to get him to come home to give a eulogy at the funeral. Because House not only has daddy issues but is extremely selfish, he decides that he would rather do anything than make the trip. He insists that he is fine just fine to anyone who asks, and throws himself into the diagnosis. He gives all of his attention to his patient (he even performs an ultrasound!), refusing sympathy from his underlings and Cuddy's orders to call his mother back.

In an act of true brilliance, Cuddy drugs House by pretending to give him some kind of vaccination or treatment for SARS (remember when they thought the patient had SARS?). House wakes up in a car with Wilson, on the road to his father's funeral. I actually cheered when this happened because I usually figure this stuff out ahead of time and I did not see this one coming. Way to go Cuddy!

In the car Wilson insists that he is not going on the road trip for House, but for House's mom. Wilson must really like House's mom because he puts up with all kinds of antics from the good doctor. When they stop at a rest stop for a pee break, House knocks Wilson's keys out of his hand and into the sewer. After they are back on the road, he takes his cane and presses it on the accelerator pedal so that Wilson goes speeding past a cop car.

They get pulled over by the state troopers only to find out that Dr. James Edward Wilson has a warrant for his arrest out in Louisiana. The cops take Wilson and House down to the station, and while they are waiting for Louisiana to call them back, we hear the story of how Wilson and House first met. It was at a medical conference in Louisiana a few years ago, and Wilson started a bar fight with some guy who kept playing Billy Joel's 'Leave a Tender Moment Alone' on the jukebox, repeatedly. Wilson threw a bottle through the mirror in the bar, which then started a bar fight among the other patrons. You'd think that House was the guy playing the song on the jukebox, but nope. He came and bailed Wilson out! House went and bailed out a perfect stranger because the convention was boring. It was love at first sight. Or something like that. The cop thinks it's a beautiful story and let's House and Wilson go (actually, Louisiana called and doesn't want them).

So House finally makes it to the funeral, much to his mother's relief. House begs her not to make him give a eulogy, but she asks him to do it for her not for his dad. Wearing jeans and sneakers and no tie, House gets up in front of all of his parents friends and family and his dad's military buddies and gives a eulogy. He tells them that his dad was a bad leader, that he punished failure and that he was not capable of seeing any point of view but his own. At his most honest moment in this whole entire episode, House tells everyone, "I am what I am because of him, for better or for worse." House gets choked up and can't finish his speech, so instead he goes to the coffin to give his dead father a kiss on the head and... takes out his nail clippers to remove a piece of his dad's ear so he can have the DNA tested.

On the road trip House tells Wilson that ever since he is twelve he has suspected that is Dad is not actually his biological father, and that his mother screwed around. For one, he was conceived during a time when his dad was in Japan on some military exercise, and he has a distinct birthmark on the back of his head that matches a close friend of the family. Of course, House gets his DNA test and there is no match, confirming what he figured out by deductive reasoning when he was twelve. Who needs science? We'll never know if House was really choked up about his Dad's death or not.

The good news is that through the whole road trip ordeal, Wilson realizes that he and House are actually friends. Despite all of House's shenanigans, he really does care about Wilson, and Wilson needs him. So at the very end of the episode, Wilson tells house that he's coming back to PPTH!

I just hope this doesn't mean we've seen the last of Sherlock.


House: "Kutner, you're sort of Asian, right?"

(House's cell phone starts ringing 'MMMBop' by Hansen)

House: "It's the's their ringtone!"

Foreman: "I think his metaphors are tough enough to decipher after he said them. We need to be focusing on the medicine...not playing mad libs while our patient's exploding noun destroys her life-sustaining noun."

Tags: House

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Original Comments Posted (2)

Ariana says...

OMG you spelled Hanson wrong. Minus ten points for breaking my heart.

I totally missed the Foreman mad libs quote, so thanks for the help there.

I LOVE SHERLOCK. I want him to stay. Cuddy and he were SO CUTE together. And it is the perfect catalyst to her finally hooking up with House.

I actually really like Kumar and Thirteen, but not Taub. Though I'm probably the only person who cares at all about the Noobs. Foreman's more tolerable when they're around too, because he actually has a reason to indignantly roll his eyes every thirty seconds, instead of just doing it out of spite for Cameron and Chase.

Oct 20, 2008 3:56pm

sarahm says...

I can't believe I spelled Hanson wrong. I even made a point of looking them up on Wikipedia to make sure I got it right because I wasn't sure if it was with an 'e' or an 'o'. I must have spell checked it and changed it or something! My apologies.

I really want to like Thirteen because I do kind of like Olivia Wilde, but I just can't. She gets under my skin and annoys the heck out of me. Get a personality, seriously. So the only one I like is Kumar. But at least the season is a little more interesting with more characters and such.

And I definitely agree about Sherlock. I'll be sad if he leaves.

Oct 21, 2008 8:04pm

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