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TV Review: House – “The Right Stuff”

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This week’s unlucky patient is Greta – a space pilot who crash landed her flight simulator because of some psychedelic disturbances during her test run. She covers her mistake by lashing out at her technician and immediately loses my sympathy. House, in the meantime, has his new squad of 40 ducklings wearing numbers and congregating in a classroom where they are trying to come up with alternate diagnoses for the late Buddy Ebsen’s allergic reaction to aluminum dust. Cuddy, who is beautifully but inappropriately dressed for work, comes in the room to yell at House for hiring too many doctors. House arbitrarily fires row C and then changes that to row D so he won’t lose a pretty candidate.

Greta somehow gets House’s beeper number and approaches him with $50,000 in cash to figure out what is wrong with her without having to go through insurance. She doesn’t want a paper trail to alert NASA to her health problems and thereby lose her chance at realizing her dream of becoming an astronaut. Greta pulls out all the stops to try to get House to treat her; there’s the cash on the table, some general flattery about knowing that he is the best and that he’s willing to break the rules, and finally a compelling puzzle for House to solve – Greta can hear with her eyes.

House takes the case and brings his anonymous patient to his new flock of ducklings. He introduces Greta to the team as Osama Bin Laden and they begin to get her medical history and find causes for her synesthesia. House breaks up the new team into groups and sends them off on varying tasks throughout the episode to find the cause and cure for Greta’s symptoms, without leaving any evidence of tests for Cuddy to find. While these doctors are doing their assigned tasks, we begin to learn a little about them.

There are a few standouts among the doctors working on Greta’s case. The group assigned to wash House’s car includes Amber, (Ann Dudek) and Cole (Edi Gathegi.) Amber convinces everyone that being told to wash House’s car is a sign that they are all going to be fired. Thus, they all quit, except for Cole, who continues to wash the car, grateful to have the opportunity to work with someone as brilliant as House. A few minutes later, Amber returns with House’s keys and suggests going to the car wash. She is manipulative and ambitious. I think I’m going to like this girl.

Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) is an obvious standout among the doctors because she is beautiful, smart, and mysterious. She reveals very little about herself, and seems to be able to match wits with House. She even jokingly asks him if he needs a minute after catching him viewing porn in his office. I foresee a developing storyline between those two.

Henry (Carmen Argenziano) is much older than the other candidates, but very knowledgeable. House asks his age twice during the episode, and both times he answers, “21.” He is not only lying about his age, but also about being a doctor just to get the chance to work with House. I can totally relate to that. House keeps him on as an assistant.

Taub (Peter Jacobson) is a plastic surgeon who has a different view of Greta’s condition. When the team suspects Greta has lung cancer but refuses surgery because NASA would investigate her scars, Taub suggests that Greta get breast implants as a way to open up her chest to explore for cancer. Kutner (Kal Penn), another candidate, sets Greta on fire when he uses a defibrillator on her in a hyperbaric chamber, but he also saves her life. House fires him as number 6, so he flips his number over and comes back as number 9. House lets Kutner stay on when he suggests doing shots of tequila to test Greta’s liver for cancer without doing a biopsy.

The new ducklings are rounded out by a Russian doctor name Ashka (Heather Fox), who likes to play it safe, Mason (Jonathan Sadowski), who tattles on House’s unauthorized procedures to Cuddy, and a set of Doublemint twins (Caitlin and Melinda Dahl), who I suspect are there simply for House to make sexist fantasy remarks about. Ashka is fired for her inability to take chances and Mason is fired for his loose lips. I am curious to see how far the writers will go with the twins before House fires them.

Throughout the battery of tests, torments, and trials that Greta endures, House thinks he sees Cameron, Chase, and Foreman in the hospital. House asks Wilson if they are back but Wilson is on a mission to gaslight House into believing that he is having visions of them because of guilt. He lies and tells House that Chase and Cameron are both in Arizona and Foreman is working in New York. Wilson seems to enjoy tormenting House about his fragile psyche. Payback is a bitch, but it is fun to watch.

It is not until House sees that her lungs are full of cysts during her breast implant surgery that he realizes what Greta’s problem is. He asks his team of doctors in the OR to name the disease that caused the cysts and Greta’s myriad of other problems. It is Dr. Chase, making a triumphant return to House’s world, who gives the correct answer. Watching from the gallery, he tells them that it is Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome. House is shocked to see him and tells him he shouldn’t be there. But Chase replies that he is now part of the surgical staff and has every right to be there. When one of the new guys asks if House will hire him, Chase just shakes his head and leaves.

Amber discusses Greta’s diagnosis with her after the surgery. She tells Greta that she has to inform NASA of her illness, but Greta insists that they don’t need to know. House tells them both that he has already told NASA, because it would be dangerous to have Greta fly.

The end of the episode has House confronting Cameron in the ER, where she has been working for three weeks. He stares at the newly blond doctor through a doorway, and she slowly draws near, smug in having hid from him for so long. House tells her she looks like a hooker, which he, and apparently she, likes. Cameron tells House that she was the one who gave Greta House’s pager number and asks why he told NASA. House tells her that he lied. He never told NASA and thinks Greta will be a great pilot, and more careful than anyone else in the air. Cameron says she figured he wouldn’t tell because House doesn’t like to destroy dreams. We can always count on Cameron to point out the nobler, human side of House.

Here’s an interesting aside about the episode: In the first classroom scene, the chalkboard had “Tesla was robbed” scribbled on it. It was so prominently displayed that I just had to know what it meant. Nikola Tesla, a contemporary of Thomas Edison, was a visionary and the real inventor of the radio. He never received credit for much of his work due in part to his eccentricities and bizarre behavior. Tesla is said to have also suffered from synesthesia. In one of the early discussions between House and Wilson, Wilson refers to a cat being able to be in two places at once. This is a reference to a quantum physics problem called Schrodinger’s Cat and the movie, The Prestige, which featured David Bowie playing Tesla. For anyone interested in this kind of nerdy information, I recommend a Google search. It makes for interesting reading. My college physics professor would be proud. The next time one of my kids complains about my obsession, I’ll just tell them that watching House can be a learning experience.

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About CindyC

Cindy is a Connecticut writer and member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. She has had many changes in her life, but one thing has always remained the same: her life-long love of theater.
  • B.I.

    Great research u numskull, “inventor of the radio”.

  • cindyc

    “In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States granted full patent rights for the invention of the radio to Nikola Tesla.”

    But maybe I’m wrong and shouldn’t believe everything I read.

  • cindyc

    “In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States granted full patent rights for the invention of the radio to Nikola Tesla.”

    But maybe I’m wrong and shouldn’t believe everything I read.