House is back with a vengeance this season, jumping right in and tackling race relations, the death penalty, and the ethics of withholding medical care. Also, there is some flirting with the randy lady administrators. The focus of this episode is on LL Cool J as a condemned man who is dying before the state gets a chance to kill him, which they never like. By the way, the title of this post is taken from House’s whiteboard o’ symptoms.
The show opens on a depressing note, with a death-row inmate outlining what he wants his last meal to be. I can tell this episode will just be absolute giggles. Anyway, the guy talking about his last wishes is in the cell next to LL, who is really not looking so good, all sweaty with a red nose. At first I thought he was just crying, but…yeah, this is a doctor show. Probably not just a case of the DeathRow-days.
LL is taken to a big empty room for exercise, which seems completely sadistic to me. He pretends to play basketball for a while, but then the ghosts of his victims start appearing and yelling at him. It looks like he killed his girlfriend then moved on to two fellow inmates and a prison guard. These appararitions seem to upset him just a wee bit, and as he passes out we zoom into his bloodstream and up to his heart, where a valve is pumping irregularly. Or whatever. I took Anatomy P/F.Back at the hospital, House is trying to stride rudely into Cuddy’s office, as is his custom. This time, though, he’s stopped by Cuddy’s new assistant. There is verbal abuse. Mr. Assistant had better get used to it. “Why’d you hire a male secretary?” House asks Cuddy. “J-Date not working out?” Stacey, who is in the office, mentions that the new assistant is rather cute, and then she and Cuddy make eyes at each other. Then we hear that Stacey and House met in a strip club, and there are more significant looks. Oh my goodness these three are about two minutes away from an orgy. In fact, I bet the assistant was hired to take care of the Pleasure Gurney. He’s in charge of handing out whipped cream and feathers.
House learns all about the new assistant’s talents
Oh yeah, there was a real reason for House bothering Cuddy. He wants the death row patient case, but it’s been assigned to a heart surgeon (LL’s heart was beating so fast it spewed out oxygen rather than blood). House offers to do two extra clinic hours in exchange for the case. Cuddy gives in easily, but warns House not to bend over for the soap. I’m going to IMDb the writers on this show and see who used to work for Cinemax.
Naturally, House unloads the extra hours onto Cameron. It must be rad to have an assistant who would do anything for just one loving look from you. Bet she would even settle for a lustful look. House also unloads a little ethics discussion on his way out to the prison: do people deserve different levels of medical care based on their perceived worth as humans? The doctors are all “….yeah, actually.” Well, that’s a comfort.
The prison warden is leading House to LL and listing all the ways LL has injured other people in the jail, which is why they have him cuffed a bed which is stuck in a tiny cell that seems to normally be used as an office supply closet. House determines that LL needs to go to the hospital immediately, as he is dying. Fast. The warden assures House that there is no way any of his inmates leave through the front door…so of course we next see LL being rolled into the hospital. Come on, Emmy-nominated show. Try a little harder.
Moving on to this episode’s b-story, Cameron has a patient who came in for a routine physical exam, but it looks like she actually has terminal lung cancer. Cameron basically does not want to tell her patient she’s dying, and wants to run a bunch of tests. House is incredibly dismissive of Cameron, reminds her of the five stages of death (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), and moves onto his own patient, who is more interesting to House because he is a bad person, and therefore presents an ethical quandary. Also, House is an asshole.
House asks Foreman to stick up for LL when Cameron protests to treating him. Good thing Foreman isn’t uptight about casual racism. In fact, Foreman has nothing but disdain for LL, and assumes it was an overdose of heroin that put him into cardiac arrest. Chase wonders aloud how a prison inmate could possibly get access to drugs. Everyone makes fun of him, but he’s too busy making dried flower wreaths to send to grandma to notice. They all run off to run tests on LL, but he wakes up and breaks the bed and has to be restrained, which is the scene you’ve all been seeing in the commercials for the past month.
Noah Wyle could teach these pansies a thing or two.
As long as we’ve seen one scene from the promos, we might as well get the other. This is the one where Stacey declares “I need to know, can I trust you.” House basically tells Stacey that she can trust that he will lie to her. After all, that’s how he got her to get the deposition to allow LL out of prison for treatment.
Back in LL’s room, Foreman is running more tests on him, as he will continue to do for the rest of the episode so that we can get a study in nature vs. nurture (remember, Foreman used to be in juvie for stealing cars). They have given LL terrifying fake teeth for this episode, by the way. House wheels cart into LL’s room with enough doses of wild turkey for the both of them. He gets LL (and himself) really drunk, and get him to admit that he tried to kill himself by ingesting copier toner (which Chase found on his search of LL’s cell). The alcohol is actually the cure for the poison in LL’s system. He tells House jail life: they tell him when to eat, when, to exercise, when to go to the bathroom. Sounds like elementary school. LL also talks about how hot Cameron is. They had him say this to remind us the character is crazy.
Speak of the devil! Cameron is pissed that House is concentrating exclusively on LL, when she has a dying patient, too. House still refuses to approve further tests on her patient, and Cameron goes off on him for only caring about the morally ambiguous patients, plus treating her differently than the rest. “I’m over you. I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. I hate you, OK?” Hey, I could learn to like this sassy new Cameron. So of course she craps all over my new love for her by immediately changing her tune and begging House to just treat her patient the same as LL. Now I hate her even more for toying with my emotions. I thought it would be different this time, but I should have listened to everyone who warned me she was no good.
Cuddy has also had enough of House. She’s going to discharge LL, since the court order doesn’t specify which doctor has to declare him healthy. Unfortunately, LL is screaming in pain on his hospital bed, and we get to see into his organs. Oh, sick. The one time I understand what I’m seeing on this organ-cam. That is definitely fecal matter seeping into his abdomen through a puncture in his bowel. Why on earth do I know that? I think I need to do some soul-searching. Sure enough, we pan back out to see LL sitting in a puddle of blood. I’m still more concerned about myself, though.
Every scene in every episode of House is just corollary to the wacky theories House develops about the patient du jour. Here, House is forgiving Stacey for telling Cuddy the patient was ready to be discharged. She thought it was the right thing to do. “It’s the only reason anybody does anything,” replies House. This gives him that faraway look that says he’s got a new idea about LL. It also says he hasn’t had a good burrito lately, and is seriously considering ordering some El Coyote takeout right about now.
He asks LL to describe why he thought he had to kill his last victim, another inmate. LL describes feeling really nervous and thinking this guy was staring at him and plotting against his. He got all sweaty and panicky and just felt a primal urge to kill. House figures that LL has a tumor on his adrenal gland, and orders a surgery.
Back at the clinic, Wilson is not pleased with Cameron. She knows her patient is going to die, but still hasn’t told her. As far as the patient knows, she just had a few tests to rule out anemia and pneumonia. Basically, Cameron wants to be this woman’s friend, because Cameron knows she has no family. Wilson does not care; he is a professional and knows that as a doctor you have to take a step back from your patients. Cameron tells Wilson that she met her husband right after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. She thinks she was his only comfort as he died. I tell you what, Cameron is one sick puppy. How do you think her husband felt? He had to have known it was a pity marriage, right? And she thinks she was some sort of angel to him. I’m not alone in thinking she’s nutso, right?
Cameron likes to pretend she’s a capable adult
Back to the highly-paid guest star. LL needs an MRI to determine the location of the tumor, but it’s not going to be easy. All his prison tattoos have a lot of metal in them, and an MRI is a magnet. The tattoos are going to try to rip out of his body. Sure enough, he’s screaming in pain in the MRI. I don’t really have much sympathy for the guy, though. He is a murderer. I know the whole point of him having an adrenaline-producing tumor is that this is an ambiguous case, like maybe he truly couldn’t overcome what his body was telling him to do. I don’t care. The first time he hit his girlfriend he should have taken himself straight into therapy. House and Chase are having this debate, too. House mentions that other people live with this tumor without turning into murderers. Foreman, on the other hand, has done a 180 and wants to testify at LL’s appeal. He thinks the tumor should overturn the death penalty.
For the closing montage, we get Cameron finally telling her patient the truth, and Foreman looking upset as LL is led away in cuffs, presumably after losing his appeal. House, back in his office, erases the five stages of death list, but only after carefully considering “acceptance.”
I think this was a pretty good season opener. Lots of light comedy in the beginning to remind us why we like the show, then moving on to serious issues, so the writers can prove what they’ve got. It was well done, and LL Cool J is a really good actor, so that was inspired stunt casting. Are you guys excited for the new season? Did this episode hook any new fans?