House rounds up his reluctant team for help — most notably an on-the-make Chase, whose attempt to impress a woman at the party with tales of shark punching is interrupted by House inquiring about his anal fissure. The reason for House's interest in the case is yet another layer of House obsession, but one that doesn't really add to what we know about the character. Twelve years before, he lost an elderly patient with the same symptoms as The Kid, and has been trying to solve the case on others he's encountered with those symptoms. We know this old case means a lot to House because he actually knows the dead patient's name: Esther. Or Ester, if you believe the patient chart. But he almost knows her name, and that's significant enough for House.
Though the team-against-House arguments get a little tiresome sometimes when we know, and they should know, that he only ends up with extremely oddball cases, and that his crazy ideas are not actually crazy, this time Chase gives us a reason to be on the team's side for once: House in the past has subjected patients with a stomach bug to invasive tests on his quest for closure. Still, the tension between whether House is right or his doubters are right is never quite enough to sustain an episode.
Because of Esther/Ester, House knows the progression of symptoms The Kid will face, a progression that quickly leads to death. He also knows he needs to keep Cuddy away so he can have time to solve the mystery before the little boy faces the same fate as the old woman. He phones Wilson to get his help in distracting Cuddy, but both Wilson and I were fooled by the real nature of his plan - he's actually "helping" Wilson to lose, so Cuddy will stay in the game.
The team, and later Wilson and Cuddy, worry that House's obsession with his 12-year-old lost case is affecting his decision making with Ian, but also that if he loses again, the obsession will only intensify. He'd even started taking out his frustrations on the poor, innocent white board. The difficult part for me was that the emotional attachment House has to the case are rooted in a dead patient we've never met, not for the little boy in front of him. And his obsession isn't personal, it's professional, so the emotional stakes aren't high enough for me to agree with Wilson's assessment that "obsession is dangerous."