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At first I wasn’t all that happy with this episode of House. It had a clipped pace to it that wasn’t very appealing, all the interesting action happened in the first half-hour, and some of the subplots were pretty strained. They tried to get all earnest with Serious Issues, like race dynamics. House is not a show built for Serious Issues, unless it’s taking the piss out of them and letting Hugh Laurie be a sarcastic, nasty man. But then I rethought it and yes, while the show stumbled over itself trying to be progressive, we got a few steps closer to what we all want out of this show: Cuddy and House knockin’ boots! So I guess it was a pretty good episode, after all. Go Cuddy, go Cuddy, kickin’ ass, stayin’ fit – OH! You’ve got a pain! But youuuuu’re still going! Yay Cuddy! Of course, she ruins it all for me by being a raging classist bitch to her handyman. She won’t let him go, even though his asthma is acting up. She doesn’t want to be embarrassed at her dinner party tonight by a leaky roof. The poor guy agrees to stay and finish, and Cuddy goes inside, where she has another pain. It just looks like PMS to me, since she’s indicating pain at her right ovary. (Look at me, talking like a doctor.) Then she starts choking and coughing. Yeah right. Who do you think you are, Six Feet Under? Obviously she’s fine, just a little taken aback when Alfredo falls off the roof.
Cuddy accompanies Alfredo in the ambulance, and figures out he’s not paralyzed, at least. However, his fingers are turning purple. Alfredo asks if that’s bad, and Cuddy responds by staring, terrified, at the EMT. Terrified staring is TV-speak for ‘yes.’
When they get to the hospital, House, Cuddy, and Wilson talk about the case and use lots of complicated medical speak that I don’t understand, but that’s OK. What’s important to know is that House sexually harasses the bejeezus out of Cuddy here (she’s still wearing her workout clothes).
Chase is trying to treat Alfredo, but the guy does not want to be in the hospital. His mom and little brother are there, and Alfredo is explaining that he has to work, as he’s the breadwinner for the family. Chase doesn’t understand this language of the poor people and gets all huffy. Later, Cuddy gets all frantic and orders the most extreme course of action for Alfredo – drugs that help with blood clotting that she thinks is causing his dying fingers. Of course, she second-guesses herself later as she talks with Stacy. Meanwhile, House is discussing Alfredo with Wilson. I really like Wilson as House’s sounding board, and it looks like the Cuddy-Stacy relationship might be paralleling that. This is good, because this show needs more sympathetic female characters. And by “more,” I mean “one, just one, oh please oh please before Cameron turns me into a complete misogynist.”
B-story time, and this time it stars Foreman. His issue: racism. He has a clinic patient, an older African-American man who refuses to take medication that’s specifically targeted to African-Americans. He’s sick of whitey propagating lies to the black man. Actually, his argument is a little tenuous, but it’s just a setup for Foreman to get in a fight with House later.
Back to Alfredo now. He can’t feel his right arm, and Chase determines that he’s got a bleed in his brain. Immediate surgery ensues. Gosh, this show is all about drilling into people’s heads. Wow, this one got graphic, with blood spurting out of Alfredo’s skull everywhere. Good thing I’m prepared, with my Tuesday Night Puke Bucket right here by my bed.
And I’m gonna need it. After the surgery Cameron checks up on Alfredo, and the magic stethoscope-camera shows us some nasty pustules on his lungs. Cuddy thinks it’s from stress brought on by his fall from her roof. House mocks her (and I think he kind of has a point) for making Alfredo’s illness all about her. I know Cuddy’s only doing it out of guilt, but still. Get over, be a doctor now. Foreman proposes that Alfredo has pneumonia, since that can cause purple fingers. Oooh! Oooh! That happened to me once! I was 17 and thought I had a cold, but I was really tired too and had to lie down in the hall every time I tried to leave my room, and my mom thought I was just lazy, but finally when my hands turned purple she took me to the doctor’s office and they were all like, “uh, she has advanced pneumonia, maybe you should take your first-born to the ER now,” and man, the therapy bills since then have been astonishing.
Um, where were we? Oh yeah, Cuddy agrees that it’s pneumonia since Alfredo’s asthma was acting up before he fell. House has her and Cameron go to Alfedo’s house to see if there are any guilty bacteria there. More interestingly, House, Chase and Foreman head over to Cuddy’s house, on the rather dubious theory that Alfredo is there a lot and may have become infected there. They pass by Stacy and Wilson on their way out. Wilson tells Stacy what’s up, and Stacy first seems surprised, then suspicious of House’s interest in Cuddy. Wilson basically tells her that she doesn’t get to care about House and Cuddy, at least not that way. Again, I love the interactions between the older characters – you can see the shared history and affection between them. That’s some good acting.
In Alfredo’s apartment, Cameron is pretending to be nonchalant as she interrogates Cameron about House. She’s like a preschooler with the questions. She asks why Cuddy hasn’t fired House, she asks if Cuddy hates House, she asks if they knew each other in college. “Yeah, I knew him. He was already a legend,” replies Cuddy. “So, you just knew him as a legend,” says Cameron. “My god, you’re subtle!” barks Cuddy. All is right with the world. I love Cuddy again.
Over at Cuddy’s house, House is being gross and going through her underwear drawer. He also stares so lustfully at her bed that I’m surprised he doesn’t just start jerking it right there. Hm. They should definitely have sex. You know that if House and Cuddy do get around to it, it’s going to be shot tastefully and be all meaningful and spiritually fulfilling. But I think it should be graphic and degrading. It would be truer to the characters.
Back to the hospital and Alfredo’s treatment, which is turning out to be the most boring part of this episode. Though Alfredo’s 12-year-old brother does call Cuddy a bitch, which is mildly cool. Later, Stacy interrupts House right in the middle of General Hospital, so she checks to make sure it’s on commercial before she talks to him. See? There’s familiarity, and the writers aren’t forgetting about it. I love it. However, Sela Ward’s waxer needs to lay off the caffeine – those eyebrows probably need to register as weapons.
Back in Alfredo’s room, Cameron is doodling around with various tubes and needles. Poor Alfredo has to translate everything for his mom and Cameron. Wouldn’t a hospital have a translator on staff? It seems really insensitive of everyone to make the dying guy translate medical terms.
After discussing the case some more with everyone, House goes into Alfredo’s room, where he and his brother are talking in Spanish. So are we not supposed to be able to understand this conversation? It becomes a plot point later that House secretly knows Spanish, which makes me think that we’re meant to be surprised to learn that the little brother is taking some of Alfredo’s shifts somewhere. But don’t most people have a passing understanding of Spanish? Anyway, in any language, Alfredo’s hand has gone seriously nasty. I do believe that’s gangrene. Mmmm, moldy.
House wants to amputate the hand, which is not going over well with Cuddy. She figures that without his hand, Alfredo won’t be able to work. “Can’t work as a cripple?” asks House sarcastically. Oh, snap. Maestro, cue the Piano of Sorrow and Recrimination.
Cuddy explains to Alfredo why he needs to have his hand amputated even though it won’t cure him. He agrees to it, and his mom sings a lullaby which for some reason, and I still can’t figure out why, annoys the living crap out of me. But it’s over soon enough, as Foreman barges into House’s office to yell at him for prescribing a different drug to his patient. The man had come back after deciding against Foreman’s recommended drug, and House prescribed him one that wasn’t specifically for black people. Except House did prescribe that drug, he just told the patient it was a different drug. This pisses off Foreman, who finds it condescendingly racist. And, curtain. That’s it? That’s Foreman’s whole racism subplot? Are we supposed to think that House has really learned his lesson this time? That was a waste of time. I actually think they should devote more time to this in another episode, because I think they could do it intelligently, but this subplot was silly.
Oh man, it’s gross amputation surgery time. Every episode is nastier than the last – can you imagine what’s going to happen during March sweeps? Maybe a Special Live Event with the doctors reattaching someone’s intestines to their kidneys. Or maybe the separation of conjoined twins? Seriously, this is getting out of hand. Hey Oh! See what I did there? Cuz they’re amputating a HAND…sorry, I’m just trying to avoid what happening on screen. The doctors cut away Alfredo’s skin and muscle, then saw through the bones. I’ll be needing a second Puke Bucket.
As Stacy and Cuddy watch the surgery from the balcony, Cuddy gives us a brief biography. She finished med school at age 25, and was second in her class; she became Chief Resident when she was 32, which made her the second youngest ever and the first woman. She feels like those accomplishments are worthless, though, because she wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong with Alfredo. She feels bad now, but when Chase comes in and reports that Alfredo’s other hand is purple, Cuddy looks about ready to throw herself off a cliff.
Everyone gathers in Cuddy’s office to develop some new theories about Alfredo. House decides that Alfredo has an infection on his heart that is breaking off into his bloodstream. We get to see a graphic of this that is surprisingly pretty. Does Pixar do the graphics on this show? This looks like Finding Nemo.
House thinks Alfredo got this infection from handling live poultry. It’s not bird flu, but the dusty nasties that birds can get. House goes momentarily insane and tries to give Alfredo a shot of adrenaline to get him out of recovery quicker. It’s weird, but luckily Cuddy intervenes, and House decides to just ask Alfredo’s mom where he works in the evenings. See, House speaks Spanish now, and heard the little brother tell Alfredo he’d take his shift tonight.
So, Cuddy and Foreman go out on the town to find Alfredo’s secret job, which turns out to be…wrangling birds at a cockfight. So, earlier in the show we had a conversation between House and Foreman that was supposed to show us that the writers were all hip to race relations…and now, without irony, they’re telling us that the Mexican kid got sick because he works at an illegal cockfight run by Mexicans who drink Mexican beer and listen to loud Mexican music and are Mexican? Is that really the best they could do? Or do they figure they’re off the hook for Latin sensitivity because earlier they gave Omar Epps some Black Power-esque dialog? Stupid yuppie writers.
Well, whatever, the show’s almost over so I’m gonna stop caring now. They figure out that Alfredo did get sick from the chickens – he was more susceptible because of his asthma. He thanks Cuddy for saving his life, and I’m sure he truly means it, but still, he’s gonna have to go ahead and sue the hospital. Cuddy doesn’t seem to mind too much.
Later, House tries to be nice to Cuddy, in his own special way. He tells her she’s a very good boss and also a delusional narcissist. Aw, the softer side of House! Then he asks rhetorically why everyone thinks they’ve slept together. Ha! The look on Stacy’s face is AWESOME. Cuddy can’t even look her in the eye. After Cuddy and House have graphic sex, I think Cuddy and Stacy should mud wrestle. MILF Battle Royale 2005.
So, the Cuddy-House backstory is still a mystery, but we’re getting close to something titillating, I can just feel it. Of course, we have a while to wait, because baseball is preempting House until fricking November. That is crazy talk. But hey, Ron Livingston will be a guest star, so there’s something to look forward to. Also, I didn’t get to try out the suggestions for doctor nicknames, since this episode was so Cuddy-centric. But my two favorites were Outhouses (thanks Scott!) and Housemates (thanks Tom!). Tell me what you think – you’ve got five weeks!