(Warning: spoilers for the episode that aired Nov. 29)
This week's House opens with a feisty mom soothing her daughters' nerves before their big talent show number, when they are upset at rich Sally Ayersman's snooty remarks about their costumes. â€śIf Sally's mean to you again, I'm just going to have to key her daddy's new convertible,â€ť mom Kayla says with hilarious near-foreshadowing.
When we see her popping painkillers in the audience as her precious kids take the stage and massacre â€śItty Bitty Pretty One,â€ť it's almost a funny moment â€“ except that the CGI shots of her oozing gut tell us it's really not very funny at all.
This set up provides the introduction to some fun with very non-formulaic structure, as â€śThe Mistakeâ€ť unfolds with hospital lawyer Stacy (Sela Ward) preparing mistake-maker Chase (Jesse Spencer) and his boss House (Hugh Laurie) for a peer review following the patient's death, and we see their alternate and sometimes opposing versions of past events.
Despite that definite article "the", there are a few mistakes referenced in â€śThe Mistake.â€ť The most obvious is Chase's that led to Kayla's misdiagnosis and eventual death, and this is the mistake that Stacy is determined to find a mitigating reason for, but Chase and House are determined to leave unexplained.
Instead of a bleeding ulcer, Chase diagnoses Kayla with Behcet's disease, leading to a cascading chain of medical woes when the undetected ulcer perforates. His â€ślittleâ€ť mistake is in not asking her any questions when she comes to the clinic for her test results, despite her mentioning continuing pain â€“ but as House says, paraphrasing himself in other episodes, â€śMistakes are as serious as the results they cause.â€ť
She eventually needs a liver transplant, which she gets thanks to her brother and a blackmailed lab tech who hides the fact that little brother Sam has Hepatitis C, and thanks to House and a blackmailed transplant surgeon, a Dr. Ayersman, whose new convertible does wind up getting keyed (though not by Kayla). Prize for best line reading of the week goes, of course, to Hugh Laurie, for the priceless â€śAre you free?â€ť after he lays out his plan to ruin the doctor's marriage â€“ and halve his income â€“ if he doesn't perform the risky surgery. Though the surgery goes well, unfortunately, the Hep C had also caused liver cancer, which was treatable in Sam but led to immunocompromised Kayla's death.
We get pieces of the puzzle doled out slowly in flashbacks, then retracted and replayed differently as Stacy realizes her narrators are unreliable. She starts the episode trying to avoid House, whom she hasn't forgiven for stealing her therapy files and manipulating her into nearly revealing her desire to be with him instead of her husband.