The broken man sits on his bathroom floor: a mirror image of a year past. In pain, adrenaline rush gone, tormented by a happiness always beyond his grasp. And in his hand are two pills. A year away from Vicodin, he could take just two, and the pain in his leg and the pain in his heart would have faded to gray in a light narcotic haze. Just how long has House been sitting there, reflecting on what had transpired over eight hours?
As “Baggage” ends with the book, “Help Me” begins. What is the meaning of the book? Like the desk he restores to her in “Let Them Eat Cake” last season, the book is a sentimental gift, something deeply personal, quite unlike the cappuccino machine given to Cuddy a couple of weeks ago.
So why now? Why give it to her now? Is he resigned to Cuddy being with Lucas? There is no more “special occasion” for which he can hope? Or is it a last ditch effort to court her, something that is too late by far? Because in the end, the gesture is irrelevant. It isn’t the book that snaps Cuddy out of her Lucas fog, allowing her to look at House unfiltered and clear in the ironically filthy, dust-filled cavern of a crushed building.
What is it about House that makes it impossible for her to evict him from her mind? What does she see that had been obscured? Is it that he’s changed so much? He hasn’t. Is it that she had forgotten why she was in love with him in the first place?
“Help Me.” Help me what? A young woman with her life ahead of her cries out for help. House helps in the most cursory way he can. She is a cipher; a number; a nameless patient — just like all others that enter his sphere. But then again, Hannah doesn’t know that about House. She only knows that House is the only one she trusts. With subtle echoes back to season three’s “One Day One Room,” House answers that call. But this time his question is not “why me?”
Sucked into this tenuous relationship despite his best efforts not to connect with this patient who risks losing a leg or suffer what he did in “Three Stories.” Her muscle is dying, deprived of needed oxygen and when they finally lift the tons of concrete from her leg, she might suffer crush syndrome — just like what happened to House when the doctors removed the clot from his leg. All the poison rushed back into his system causing a heart attack.
House is right as the battle begins. They have time to save the leg if they can get her out in time. But as time goes on, a secondary structural collapse makes rescue much more of a shot in the dark. But House stands firm that cutting off Hannah’s leg is the wrong choice. Cuddy assumes his intransigence has to do with his anger over her engagement to Lucas, about which he has only just learned. But House’s attitude has little to do with Lucas and much to do with history — his and Cuddy’s.