* 20. "Love Hurts" (A) — With Cameron back in the fold, House has to make good on their date. As the socially awkward House prepares for the evening, wondering if the corsage he bought is “lame, Wilson responds gently, “I think she likes ‘lame.’” Ladies’ man Wilson also has advice for him about panty-peeling repartee and antibiotic condoms. In fact everyone seems to have advice for House. But Wilson’s warning to Cameron is unexpected, as he explains that she should be very certain before becoming involved with the emotionally fragile House. “It’s been a long time since he opened up to someone, and you better be absolutely sure you want this,” he warns her. “Because if he opens up again and gets hurt, I don’t think there’s going to be a next time.” Picking up on a thread from “Sports Medicine,” we learn that House was deeply hurt in his last relationship, five years earlier. But House believes that her interest results only from pity, explaining over dinner that the reason she’d be interested in the older, unattractive (in his opinion) man is that he’s “damaged.” And, he continues, she wants to heal him, like a wounded puppy. But his scathing words say more about his self-esteem than her motives. The episode ends as House sits in the dark of his office, digging into the back reaches of his wallet until he finds a small photograph. He stares longingly at it as the melancholy lyrics “Don’t break me… I’m broken…” play on his turntable.
* 21. "Three Stories" (A++) — House is talked into delivering a lecture on diagnostics to second-year medical students. On his way, House is startled by a familiar voice. It is Stacy, the woman referred to in “Sports Medicine” and in “Love Hurts:” the woman with whom House lived for five years. Having married, her husband Mark exhibits symptoms that no one has been able to diagnose; she asks House for his help. Clearly shaken by her presence — and her marriage — House appears less than moved by her plight, coldly refusing to treat Mark. We soon learn why.
As he weaves the diagnoses of three anonymous patients complaining of only leg pain, House slowly reveals the story behind his own disability. As he relates his personal experience to the students, his colleagues, and his staff, perhaps for the first time publicly, we learn that a botched diagnosis and an abuse of his medical proxy by Stacy led to crippling damage to his right thigh. In a poignant flashback, House lies gravely ill in his hospital bed. Stacy sits beside him, believing that unless he allows his doctors to amputate his leg, House will die. She pleads tearily, frustrated by his stubbornness. "You don't think you deserve to live? You don't think you deserve to be happy?" These are questions that will come up again in the three seasons to follow as more of House's personal history is revealed. But we also begin to understand a little better why House is such a fierce patient advocate; why he believes in a patient’s right to choose (once the diagnosis is made) and why his ethical code has more to do with doing the right thing than with things “by the book.” And as he teaches the roomful of students and colleagues, he also learns. House’s self-exploration causes him to change his mind about Mark, agreeing, ultimately, to help Stacy.