A classic House, M.D. tale unfolds in the seventh episode of the series’ eighth season. Writer David Hoselton has been writing for the series since season three, and plucks at several deeply buried (and tiny) little threads (including one about Chase’s talents as a hypnotist plucked from “House’s Head,” creating a classic House episode in “Dead and Buried.”
House (Hugh Laurie) finds himself in direct conflict with Foreman (Omar Epps) over the case of a long-since dead child. The new dean wants House to diagnose a 14-year-old with an odd constellation of symptoms. But House has other ideas. Intrigued by a grieving and miserable member (Channon Roe) of his anger management class, House becomes obsessed with finding the cause of his son’s death.
Although pursuing a dead case (as it were) is likely less productive than solving a live one, House can’t help himself despite the warning from Foreman that he will send the still-paroled House directly to jail should he continue. Wilson is caught in the middle trying to navigate between cajoling House into considering consequences and trying to get Foreman to back down from his hardline stance.
Which is the more difficult task? Hmm. Trying to get House to back away from a case that’s caught his eye is like trying to pry drugs away from an addict. In a sense, as Wilson points out, solving medical puzzles is a sort of drug. And House has an addictive personality.
But why is House so drawn to this particular case? Why now? He has always used puzzles (and other addictive substances) as a way to distract himself from life, and right now, his life sucks. Chained to his home and office by a short tether, House must be going stir crazy.
The novelty of freedom is now old news, and things have settled in. He’s bored and likely frustrated by the imposed limitations. House’s leg appears to hurt in the vicinity of the monitor bracelet, and that can’t be a good sign. Perhaps the one case a week load just isn’t enough to distract him. He needs more, especially because he’s on such a tight leash.
As the team tries to diagnose the 14-year-old girl, House goes off to a crypt, breaks into a residence, and gets into trouble dead kid’s mother (played by Julie McNiven, who played Ginn on Stargate Universe, a now-defunct series I’ve only just gotten into). Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) suggests that House is being driven by a deep-seated desire to return to prison. House vigorously denies this, but Wilson could have a point buried deeply within his advice and counsel.
In the end, House’s persistence pays off for the living offspring of the dead kid’s mother; it is a genetic defect that killed the boy, and House’s diagnosis will save the life of the boy’s younger brother. And after realizing that part of the 14-year old’s problem is multiple personality disorder, he saves her life as well.
There was a lot of energy in “Dead and Buried.” The script is snappy and quick; a lot of little jokes and asides helped to propel the story and balance out a pretty serious episode. I really am beginning to like the repartee between the four members of House’s team. Charlyne Yi’s dry and straightforward delivery as Park erases any sort of nerdy innocence, and Taub (Peter Jacobson) continues to offer his own twisted, sarcastic view of everything. But the revelation here is Chase (Jesse Spencer), who has finally come into his own. He’s a serious team leader, and obviously House’s right hand. On the other hand (the left, perhaps), his secret life on camera as the Aussie TV doctor is hysterical. I hope that continues.