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Quest for the Best House, M.D. Episode: Season Three

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As a tribute to the eight-season run of House, M.D., Welcome to the End of the Thought Process is running a poll to identify the best House episode in the series history.

For many fans, season three was among the most emotional as House spends the first few episodes dealing with the emotional aftermath of the shooting and his failed ketamine treatment. Following on the heels, or perhaps dovetailing with that first storyline, we have the “Tritter arc,” in which House is arrested for drug fraud. Some fans loved this long arc; others hated it. But it contains some of the very best episodes the series has aired, including “Son of Coma Guy” and “Merry Little Christmas.” The final series of season three episodes deal with the fallout of House’s brush with the law and its effect on the team, ultimately leading to its disintegration.

To aid in tickling your memories, I’ve included a brief episode guide to season three, adapted from the book Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. For brevity’s sake, they largely stick to the medical case, without going into the emotional core of each episode. The poll is at the end of the episode guide.

If you have not yet voted in the seasons one and two polls, there is still time. You have until May 27 to register your votes before the final runoff between the top vote-getters from each season!

3×01″Meaning” House comes back from his summer of healing feeling exuberant and ready to find some meaning in his life. He treats Richard, a quadriplegic who cannot talk due to past brain cancer.

3×02 “Cane and Able” House’s fears about the pain returning are correct as the team treats a Clancy, a young boy found bleeding from his rectum.

3×03 “Informed Consent” Renowned cancer researcher, Dr. Ezra Powell presents symptoms pointing to both the heart and lungs. After a series of tests, House cannot diagnose Powell definitively; so the researcher requests him euthanize him.

3×04 “Lines in the Sand” House diagnoses the autistic boy, Adam, who cannot stop screaming and coughing. His resistance and unresponsiveness make him a particularly difficult patient to work with.

3×05 “Fools for Love” The team treats a young couple, Tracy and Jeremy, after Tracy collapses with severe stomach pain during a robbery. Shortly after, when Jeremy also develops stomach pain triggered by stress, House believes the cause must be either infectious or environmental. House runs into trouble with the law.

3×06 “Que Será Será” The 600-pound George is brought to Princeton-Plainsboro in a coma, and Cuddy asks the team to diagnose him while House is nowhere to be seen.

3×07 “Son of Coma Guy” House temporarily wakes Gabriel Wozniak from a 10-year old vegetative state so he can diagnose his son Kyle, in a coma after suffering seizures. House’s cocktail of drugs is effective in rousing Gabe, but knows it will only be effective for about a day. Surprisingly, instead of wanting to be at his son’s bedside, or provide House with the information needed to diagnose his son, Gabe wants a Hoagie sandwich. Wilson and House accompany him to Atlantic City to procure one in exchange for the needed diagnostic information.

3×08 “Whac-A-Mole” Jack, a busboy, collapses after vomiting at work. He is legal guardian to his two younger siblings. The young man exhibits infection after infection, and as soon as one is treated, another pops up. A bone marrow transplant from one of his siblings may cure him, but he refuses to put his brother at risk. Is his motive altruistic or is there another a factor? On the Tritter front, Wilson finds his car has been impounded as part of “ongoing police investigation,” and his prescription-writing privileges have been revoked.

3×09 “Finding Judas” Virtually cut off from his Vicodin supply, House tries to diagnose Alice, a little girl caught between her feuding divorced parents. As the parents lose sight of Alice’s best interests, the court appoints Cuddy as her guardian.

3×10 “Merry Little Christmas” Wilson has made a deal with the devil. Tritter will have the charges dropped if House agrees to go through drug rehab. Unsurprisingly, he refuses the deal. To force the issue, Wilson and Cuddy conspire to back their troubled friend into a corner by taking his meds away entirely.

3×11 “Words and Deeds” The team treats Derrick, a firefighter who collapses while fighting a blaze. But as House’s preliminary hearing nears, and facing the reality of what lies ahead for him, he checks himself into the hospital’s drug rehab program, leaving Derrick to the fellows.

3×12 “One Day, One Room” One of those episodes fans either loved or hated, it eschews the usual series formula and focuses on House’s encounter with Eve, a young rape victim.

3×13 “Needle in a Haystack” House and the team treat Stevie, a Romani (Gypsy) teen suffering from internal bleeding. He suffers a bleed in one organ, only for it to be replaced by a new bleed somewhere else.

3×14 “Insensitive” The teenage Hannah to House through the ER, injured after a car accident on a snowy night. She’s examined while her mother, much more severely injured, is elsewhere in the hospital. House notices that she notices that she cannot feel any pain (although she tries hard to hide it). House, intrigued, concludes that she has CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain and Anhidrosis), making her insensitive to pain. He insists that they test further to rule out internal injuries.

3×15 “Half-Wit” House treats Patrick, a 35-year old musical savant whose hands painfully contort, as he is about to perform at classical piano concert. Patrick’s musical genius appeared after the left side of his brain was damaged in an accident when he was 10. His musical abilities fascinate House, but as the team continues the diagnosis, they identify a bleed in Patrick’s brain, eventually suggesting an autoimmune condition.

3×16 “Top Secret” House’s dream about having his leg shot off in a war zone spooks him when one of the soldiers in the dream turns up as his patient. Perplexed that he can’t figure out how he knows the Iraq War veteran (because you “can’t dream someone you’ve never met”), House goes to great lengths to research everything about him.

3×17 “Fetal Position” House treats a pregnant photographer, Emma, who has a stroke with her baby‘s due date four months away. He diagnoses maternal mirror syndrome; there is something wrong with the baby manifesting in Emma. House’s solution is easy: abort the fetus. But Emma refuses, insisting that House diagnose what’s wrong with the fetus and fix it.

3×18 “Airborne” House and Cuddy travel to Singapore for a World Health Organization (WHO) conference where House delivers a speech. On the way home, an epidemic seems to breaks out on their flight, after one of the passengers, Peng, starts vomiting soon after takeoff.

3×19 “Act Your Age” House treats Lucy, a little girl exhibiting signs of premature aging, including problems with her heart, lungs, and kidneys. When the team finds a discarded blood-stained shirt, they suspect the widowed father of abuse.

*3×20 “House Training” The impoverished and out-of-work Lupe collapses on the street while running a “three card monte” scam. Foreman diagnoses a transient ischemic attack after Lupe reports she suddenly had become indecisive before the attack. As her organ systems fail one-by-one, Foreman believes she has cancer and decides to do a full-body radiation treatment.

3×21 “Family” House treats Matty, a boy with upper respiratory symptoms as he prepares to donate his bone marrow to his brother Nick, Wilson’s leukemia patient. The team needs to isolate the infection, working against the clock while Nick awaits the transplant in a clean room.

3×22 “Resignation” House and the team treat Addie, a college student who is coughing blood. A series of infections leads House to believe that she suffers from Complement H deficiency, a fatal genetic condition. Her apathetic reaction upon receiving this dire news leads him to reconsider.

3×23 “The Jerk” House treats Nate, a 16-year old chess prodigy who beats (literally) an opponent to a pulp after winning a match. In addition to unexplained rage attacks, Nate suffers severe headaches. The kid has been an obnoxious brat for years, and now with these symptoms, House wonders if there’s a physical reason behind the bad attitude.

3×24 “Human Error” A Cuban couple, Esteban and Marina, risk their lives to travel in a small boat from Havana to New Jersey to see the famous House. He diagnoses Marina, trying to distinguish symptoms caused by the trip from symptoms caused by her illness.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Addison

    I agree with Susan. House and Cuddy’s flirtatious interactions in Insensitive and Top Secret are the epitome of the Huddy relationship before it was destroyed in season 8. It’s so obvious that they both care for each other a great deal, but hide behind sarcasm and snarky remarks.

  • Chris

    Without a doubt, One Day, One Room has got to be one of the crowning moments for not only season 3 or for House but for television as a whole. Everything is so wonderfully and meticulously executed. We’ve come to expect much from Hugh Laurie in past performances on the show but never have we seen a patient who can really put him off kilter or an actress as powerful as the young woman who portrayed the raped victim.

    The acting is jaw dropping, from their first encounter to their final fading words. The talk is just that – talk. They banter about some philosophical topics, delve into personal trauma and in their own semi-reclusive and damaged ways, still try and connect. In the end, the episode closes perfectly in a heart wrenching ambiguous fashion. We wonder if anything has changed at all. Eve hasn’t recovered, House hasn’t changed but perhaps just talking was enough.

    This is undoubtedly the best episode of House I have ever seen and I’d compare it to the top episodes of Boston Legal and West Wing to crown it as one of the most touching episodes in modern television history.

  • Judy Myers

    Choosing a fav from the excellence of Season 3 is tough. I chose ‘Airborn’ because the ‘A & B’ stories were so cleverly related. And funny.

    The ‘Lady From Caracus’ was a hoot. Plus “Dive ’til you can club baby seals out the window” and House checking out Cuddy’s ass, priceless.

    Makes me smile just thinking of it.

    Judy Myers,

  • By the way, how come no review for the last Season 8 Show? I can’t find it– the one with the sex doll?

  • How I will miss this great show! This is painful– remembering all that we will no longer get to see.

  • The Other Barnett

    One Day, One Room is my favorite because it shows the human House, without making him follow the TV cliche of trying to feel one’s pain or share that whole “I care for you” vibe…which would ring false as a show of emotion.

    However, there was his two-three minute part of Son of a Coma Guy that made me hesitate…when he explains the story of the janitor in a Okinawa hospital….it says it all about House.

  • Alex

    I voted Airborne because it was the first episode of House I remember seeing. Funny enough, I didn’t watch the whole episode, or even one scene — I was passing by the TV and only caught a meager glimpse of the show through one of Greg’s witty caustic retorts.

    But reflecting further on season three, I’d have to say Half-Wit was my actual favorite. I love episodes where Hugh gets to flex his musical muscles, and the brain cancer arc kept me captivated the entire time.
    I don’t want to comment too much on the ending, in case some readers may not have seen the episode, but I have to say it was a very affecting conclusion.

    Come to think of it, Half-Wit would probably rank toward the top of my all-time favorite episodes of House.

  • Erin

    Half Wit, Lines in the Sand, and Son of Coma Guy, just perfection.

  • Sally

    Half Wit. Best kiss EVER on TV. And second favorite episode: Informed Consent.

  • ann uk

    12 tipitinatoo
    I couldn’t express better the reasons that I picked ” One Day, One Room”I have always loved this episode and I agree that Hugh is heartbreakingly perfect in it.

  • Susan

    Fetal Position was the best overall, the scenes where House interacted sincerely and seriously with the patient, the scene where the fetus held his finger, the music at the end where House rips up the plane tickets that Cuddy gave him and sits on his couch and rubs the finger……
    But I also loved Insensitive, where House trails Cuddy on her date and at the door of her house she asks him “Do you like me House?”
    And Top Secret because House can’t get the patient our of his mind because a few years before he had seen him kissing Cuddy, and at the end there is a fantastic flirtatious bit with House and Cuddy where they mention their past and “one night I gave you everything you wanted…….”, and she says “that ship has sailed” and he remarks about her ass that the “supertanker has sailed”, as she walks away from him with a memorable radiant smile.
    Seaason 3 was great because I saw the development of House and Cuddy’s interest in each other. Foreshadowed in Season 2 – Who’s Your Daddy.

  • rbrown205

    Lines in the Sand
    Fetal Position

  • tipitinatoo

    “One Day, One Room” was my favorite episode, equaled only much later in the series by a few episodes I’ll identify when we talk about Seasons 4 thru 8. For me, this episode revealed a never before shown vulnerability and depth of sadness in House that was stunning and engaging, but that allowed the POTW, Eve–a character name that I took to represent all womanhood–to finally see the authenticity in him that allowed her to trust him and open up about her rape. An unforgettable script, brilliantly portrayed by Hugh Laurie. Having seen this episode at least 7 or 8 times, I am always moved by Laurie’s flawless interpretation that takes the viewer through stages of House’s long-buried grief and shame around his own abusive childhood. It’s as if Eve’s wounded-ness actually gave him the strength to finally confront it openly and honestly–no wisecracks, no jokes, no glib metaphors. Then, we get a glimpse of his soul searching, of whether he dealt with Eve appropriately, which results in his closing comment to Cuddy, that “maybe all we did was make a girl cry.” This episode had it all without ever becoming cloying or maudlin. A very honest depiction.

  • Seasons three and five were my favorite seasons, I have to admit, and three had so many outstanding episodes: Half Wit, Son of Coma Guy, Fetal Position, One Day, Lines in the Sand, Meaning, and of course Merry Little Christmas.

  • legendary8

    Merry Little Christmas, hands down.

  • Jane E

    OMG! This was really tough. What a great season! I agree with you the whole Tritter arc was great entertainment. I loved Lines in the sand, since I myself have an autistic child. One day, one room was outstanding. Son of a coma guy, ugh! This was really difficult!

  • Erica

    I LOVED this entire season, so this was the hardest choice, but I picked Meaning, because it delivered on all the promise that No Reason had dangled in front of us. The sheer joy of that scene near the end when the patient rises from his wheelchair after the cortisol injection gives me goosebumps every time. And then the devastation we feel when House is kept in the dark by Cuddy and Wilson and deprived of the “Meaning” he is looking for… It’s this kind of brilliantly bittersweet ending that has made House such an awesome show for 8 seasons!

    But this IS my favorite season and I wouldn’t feel right without mentioning some other favorites so I took the liberty of making a top-ten:

    1. Meaning
    2. Lines in the Sand
    3. Merry Little Christmas
    4. One Day, One Room
    5. Son of Coma Guy
    6. Half-Wit
    7. Insensitive
    8. Act Your Age
    9. Informed Consent

    Loving these polls, thanks Barbara!

  • BrokenLeg

    Fetal Position, Son of a Coma Guy,One day one room, Merry little Christmas ( all moral dilemmas and dealing with emotions) and Airborne ( by GH-LC banter).
    In the peak of the [H]series, hard election , although I did not like the Tritter arch ( unrealistic)

  • I went with “Fetal Position” because it did something a lot of the truly great episodes do: throw House into a moral dilemma, and this, for me, is one of the best ones. I also liked it because it actually shows House caring for a patient, and visiting them. It’s a side to House that I think, especially in the later seasons, has sometimes not been shown enough.

  • lobentti

    For sure, this was the best season, for me! It was really hard to pic one and leave the others: One day, one room, The son of the coma guy, Fetal position ( ohhh, my…), Half wit and the great Dave Matthews, Top Secret… and… and.. :)-but I voted for Lines in the sand .

  • gg

    son of a coma guy,merry little christmas,son of a coma guy,merry little christmas…:)

  • 20V

    This was the show’s peak, and in my opinion, one of the best seasons of any television show in history.

    The show had spent its first two seasons building these characters and establishing a bit of a status quo. That’s all shaken here. The effect House has on his team becomes profound with the actions Foreman and Cameron make. They both end up killing someone and their already toxic relationships with House boil as he gets worse in body and mind.

    And that’s another aspect all to itself. House, the character and the show, got really dark this year. Patients died even when the diagnosis was found. House begins lashing out to higher extremes. A fine line had to be walked to keep this from being depressing, but it was the audience’s attachment to these characters that maybe things will turn out alright for everyone.

    I think I’ll go with “Family”. It starts a terrific final arc and does great things with Wilson, Foreman, and House.

  • MusicandHouse

    This was the hardest one so far but I went with Son of Coma Guy for two reasons. First because I literally watch it every time its on and second because its the episode that got me hooked on House.

  • rjw

    Boy,picking a best from this season was even tougher than the previous ones.There were several that came in a close 2nd (especially “One Day,One Room “),however I had to pick “Lines in the Sand”.What a beautiful portrayal of an autistic boy,and how House relates to him.The B story was disturbing,yet amusing.A terrific episode!