It opens innocently enough as the camera pans back to reveal the wrap up of a routine C-section delivery. But within a moment or two, a new family's world is turned on its head as an infant child goes missing from the bassinet at her mother's side. So begins "Lockdown," episode 17 of House, M.D.'s sixth season--directed by none other than series star Hugh Laurie.
Laurie is no stranger to directing--nor to directing himself. He directed himself in several episodes of the British television series Fortysomething a couple of years before he did House.Laurie has grown tremendously since then and his American directorial debut exhibits a deft and light touch. He knocks it out of the park.
The missing newborn triggers and intense but appropriate response: the hospital is put in "lockdown." No one comes or goes; everyone stays in position until security finds the baby. But the lockdown at Princeton-Plainsboro and the mystery of the missing baby only serve as a framing device to the real story, back with the show's regular cast of characters. Paired off and trapped in place, each duo passes the time, bored, isolated and with only the other for company and/or amusement until the crisis ends.
Someone clearly has made off with the baby. Was it her big brother, who resents the little intrusion into his life? Was it a nurse? In the blink of an eye a baby is gone--vanished into thin air. The truth is only revealed when a subtle, hidden symptom of an aide reveals itself. She seems normal until suddenly, quietly--she's not. (She had been suffering mild and unnoticeable seizures all day.) Cuddy's (Lisa Edelstein) sharp eye and quick thinking catches the subtle symptom and rescues the baby, hidden among the laundry by the sick aide. But, as I said, the missing baby story mere glue for four other stories, also about hiding and revealing.
Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) surprises Chase (Jesse Spencer) by hand delivering their divorce papers and they are forced to share a small examination room and confront their relationship. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and 13 (Olivia Wilde) are involuntary companions in the hospital cafeteria, where they engage in a game of "Truth or Dare;" Foreman (Omar Epps) and Taub (Peter Jacobson) find themselves in the deliciously inviting file room, where they have access to everyone's personal files. House, caught in the hallway when the lockdown happens, ducks into a darkened patient room, where he has to confront the death of a patient whose case he had once refused.