Photo Cr: Adam Taylor/FOX (David Strathairn and Hugh Laurie)
“Lockdown” is the 17th episode of the season and the first episode series star Hugh Laurie has directed. One thing about House, it’s aptly named. House is in almost every scene of almost every episode. I can imagine how difficult it would be, on an eight day television shooting schedule, for Hugh Laurie to direct himself in a typical episode. So this isn’t a typical episode. It has a distinctly different structure with five self contained stories instead of the usual overarching medical mystery. It works well for me. I always appreciate it when a series can break out of its mold and offer up a change of pace, especially when it’s as well done as this.
All the stories do have a common theme: truth. Each of the vignettes explores the theme with varying degrees of drama and success. Chase demands it from Cameron (Jennifer Morrison, making her return to the series). House and the dying patient exchange their truths. Taub and Foreman, in a lighter vein, reveal it to each other. Thirteen and Wilson actually play the game “Truth or Dare”.
I also found it interesting that they took the opportunity to pair off some of the actors that haven’t really had a chance to work together extensively. I don’t know that I want to see too much more of Thirteen toying with Wilson, even if it is easy and even if he might enjoy it, but Taub and Foreman bonding was kind of fun.
David Strathairn, who plays the lucky patient that gets to spend his last moments on Earth with House, is a top flight actor. It’s a joy to watch him opposite Hugh Laurie. It helps that Strathairn has a similar build and features (and what I’m hoping is an awesome makeup job) which heightens the ghost-of-Christmas-future facet of the character.
“We’re on lockdown. Nobody moves until we find that baby.”
A baby girl is born at Princeton Plainsboro, but before the happy parents even have a chance to name her, she disappears from her bassinet.
Chase is paged to the front lobby where Cameron is waiting for him. He’s surprised, but not pleased to see her. “Can we talk somewhere?” She asks. Cameron’s been gone a little while, but if I remember right it’s never a good thing when she starts off by saying “Can we talk?”
Cuddy gets right on the missing baby problem. Since no alarms have gone off they know the baby hasn’t left the hospital. The baby’s microchip in her bracelet would have set off alarms. Cuddy orders that the hospital be locked down until they find the baby. “Nobody moves until we find that baby.”
“Oh, God. Don’t tell me we used to date.”
Cameron and Chase have found a place to talk: a dimly lit exam room. She wants him to sign their divorce papers. He wants to talk about it first. Declaring she’s made a mistake, she tries to leave, but discovers that she can’t. She hears the “code seven” announcement over the audio system. So does Wilson in the cafeteria and Taub in the file room.
Wilson and Thirteen are in the cafeteria when they hear it and Taub is searching for a patient file in the records room. Security guards are hustling all the stray hospital personnel out of the halls nurse. House tries to sneak out, but a guard herds him into the nearest patient room.
Police question the baby’s hysterical Mother. Cuddy tries to calm her down. The father suggests they question the nurse.
Wilson and Thirteen sit together in the almost empty cafeteria. He jokingly suggests that they play “truth or dare” while they wait. “You don’t want to mess with me,” she tells him. “Truth or Dare queen at Newton North.” (Probably because she cheats.) He thinks they can find something to talk about instead…only not so much. After a moment of uncomfortable silence he starts the game: “Truth.”
Cuddy questions the baby’s nurse, who says she had nothing to do with the disappearance. She did notice that the brother wasn’t too fond of his new baby sister, but she’s didn’t think it was unusual. “It was sibling rivalry. I thought it was kind of ordinary.”
In the basement Taub is taking the opportunity to go through more than just patient files. He’s found boxes of hospital personnel files waiting to be digitized. Foreman arrives claiming to be looking for the patient file that Taub has already retrieved. He wants to know why Taub is still looking through files. “The staff credentials files” Taub tells him and he points out that they have the rare opportunity to find out more about their colleagues. Foreman disapproves. “Okay,” says Taub. “What if we just snoop on our boss?”
Foreman can’t resist. “I think I can live with that.
House sees that the patient in the room he’s trapped in is still awake despite being on a lot of morphine. He glances at the chart and diagnosis him with intestinal hypo perfusion which apparently means he’s in a great deal of pain with only a few hours to live. The patient, Nash, recognizes House from his limp. He had written to him about House taking his case, but House had turned it down. “Heart disease is kind of below my pay grade,” he says callously.
Nash persists. “You’re standing here watching me die because my file bored you.”
House tells him he turns down one in 20 cases and lot of the patients he turns down die. “It’s really a good argument for there being more than one me.”
“Do you understand what bisexual means? It doesn’t mean you have sex with two people at once.”
Wilson is taking the “truth or dare” opportunity to question Thirteen about her sex life and she’s characteristically unforthcoming. No threesomes. No Foursomes.
Cuddy questions the Mother about her stepson. “Walker wouldn’t do anything,” she says. (That’s right. He’s an angel.) However after she thinks about it, she says he has been getting into a lot of fights at school and she considers if he might have done something to the baby.
Cameron and Chase recap their recent break up. She wonders if he thinks “You’re going to logic me into coming back.”
Taub and Foreman go through House’s file and find 30+ malpractice suits, but upon closer examination they discover that all the patients involved are named Lisa Cuddy. Apparently House has been messing with his own personnel file. ““He’s not even here and he’s screwing with us.”
“You really want to get into his head?” Foreman asks. He pulls a bottle of confiscated pills, presumably vicodin, out of his pocket. It’s after hours and they both take a couple of the pills. (Honestly, that’s a little more spontaneity than I ever gave Foreman credit for.)
House, who is no longer taking the pills, rubs his bad leg, as he talks to the patient. He notes the lack of cards, flowers and phone calls and guesses his profession was “lighthouse keeper.”
“I was a classics professor at Princeton for 26 years,” Nash tells him.
House speculates that perhaps he has no friends because he’s a “miserable bastard.” (Wow, projecting much?) He offers to unlock the regulator on the morphine so the patient can sleep “blissfully to the end.”
Nash wants to know, “Is that a favor to me or to you?”
“Win, win” House says.
He refuses and he shows some pretty quick insight into House’s character when he observes “I think you’re the one who wants to numb himself out.”
“I thought asking you to show me your breasts would be a little exploitative.”
Wilson and Thirteen continue their game. She asks if he dating anyone. He replies “not now” which she finds interesting. She refuses to answer question about Foreman and takes the dare instead. Wilson asks her to show her breasts to Taub. She thinks it’s an idiotic dare, since it takes place in the unspecified future, but she agrees, “You know, because I’m honor bound.”
Cuddy talks to Walker, the baby’s brother. He admits he hates his sister, but denies doing anything to the baby.
House admits to the patient that he’s having a “bad pain month” and that he was in rehab because “I had a little problem with something of my own.” He suspects the pain in his leg may have gotten worse lately because of arterial damage, but he hasn’t had a test done.
“You don’t want the test. In case the arterial wall is fine which would mean that the pain is coming from something else. What’s her name?”
Now House thinks Nash is projecting. “So what’s her name?”
The patient avoids the question and asks the time. “8:20,” House tells him and he figures he wants to know because he’s waiting for the woman in question to call.
Foreman and Taub are very high lying on the basement floor. Foreman is definitely a lot more fun when he’s high and, as it turns out, compulsively honest, which really helps move things along. When he discovers he can’t feel his face he invites Taub to “Hit me. You know you’ve always wanted to. Now’s you chance.”
He punches Taub in the nose and Taub good-naturedly punches him back. “That is so cool.”
Taub sees that Foreman has stashed his own credentials file in his brief case and he deduces that that’s why Foreman came down in the first place. He runs away with it and Foreman chases him.
Cameron agrees to answer whatever questions Chase wants to ask her. He’s asks her the one that’s been on his mind for a while “Did you ever love me?” She’s evasive and he points out that she’s been resisting their relationship from the start. He brings up her dead husband saying that he could never match up and again demands to know if she really loved him.
“I don’t know,” she admits tearfully.
“I always talk too much when I’m stoned.”
Thirteen questions Wilson about his love life or lack thereof. He decides to take the dare instead.
“You’re too much of a nice boy, Wilson. Let’s let the bad boy out for a bit,” she says and challenges him to steal a dollar from the cash register.
Taub is dodging Foreman and reading though his file. He discovers that Foreman was once on academic probation for faking a lab result. “Very wrong,” Taub tells him, but points out that stealing the file is “even wronger.” Foreman confesses that he “didn’t think I deserved to be at a top med school in the first place.”
Foreman pulls out a file. “Dr. Taub, Christopher Michael.” Taub chases after him.
House thinks Nash is deifying a lost love, but he’s got it wrong. It’s his daughter, Gracie. He left his family when she was six because of an affair he had. “I didn’t think I could handle commitment and like any decent academic I proved myself right.” He tells House he’s waiting to talk to her one last time. “That’s my story.” He says. (It’s a line that echoes last season’s finale. Hallucination Amber: “So this is the story you made up about who you are. It’s a good one. Hallucination Kutner: Too bad it isn’t true.)
Nash wants to know what House’s story is. House evades the question. “I’m going to be dead in a few hours,” the patient reminds him. “Your secrets couldn’t be safer unless you’re keeping them from yourself.”
House tells him, “We’re better off alone. We suffer alone. We die alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re the model husband or father of the year, tomorrow will be the same for you.”
“But yesterday would have been different.”
In the cafeteria Wilson makes up a story for the cashier about Dr. Hadley needing hot protein. She goes off to cook something up. He opens the register and swipes a dollar. As he closes it an alarm goes off.
In the examine room Cameron asks chase, “How do you look so okay?” (Hair products?) He thinks if she never loved him he didn’t do anything wrong. She says, “I did love you just not in a way that would have ever worked.” He’s right, she’s a mess. “I’m unfixable.” He signs the divorce papers.
“There are eight towels in Sarah’s room. There should only be four.”
Wilson is mortified that he was caught stealing, but the game goes on. Thirteen confesses she hasn’t played fair and that she lied about telling her father that she was bisexual and had Huntington’s. She tells him her father he’s staying at house and that she’s staying elsewhere. “You can’t suppress your life for his convenience,” Wilson says. She points out the irony saying that’s exactly what he does for House. He tells her he’s been considering asking his first ex-wife, Sam Carr, to dinner.
Now that they’re past the arguing and crying Chase and Cameron talk about their favorite parts of their relationship. She remembers dancing at their wedding and later thinking “He’s never going to hold me like that again.” He knows a cue when he hears it. He turns on some music (Elvis Costello’s “Alison” appropriately enough) and dances with her.
Foreman now has Taub’s file and reads it aloud. It’s very impressive and he wants to know hwy Taub is ashamed of it. “I’d trade mine for yours in a second,” Taub tells him. “I thought I’d be House someday.” Now he’s just a fellow and he’s working for people years younger than he is. He thinks Foreman should be proud of his credentials. “Your life’s been trending up.”
Cuddy comforts the now sedated Mother who wonders if she’ll ever love her stepson as much as her real child. When Cuddy goes to fetch some tissues she notices that there are too many towels in the bathroom. She wonders how they got there. She goes to track housekeeping logs and notices one of the nurses is behaving strangely. Cuddy thinks she’s having a complex seizure. If she was having one earlier she could have been on “autopilot” and taken the baby without realizing it.
As they dance Carmeron tells Chase they “never really did had a proper goodbye.” The dancing leads to a kiss… and then to a more passionate kiss. She pulls away then goes to the door and locks it. They kiss some more.
House tells Nash it’s nine o’clock. He gives him the phone. He calls his daughter, but only gets her message machine. He hangs up. “I guess she’s running late.” House notices Nash is not surprised. He knew she wouldn’t be there. He just wanted to call and hear her voice “What right do I have to need her now?” the patient asks. House gives him the phone again. “Forget about rights tell her what you need to tell her.”
He calls her back. “Gracie, this is your father. I love you.”
“Little baby’s all growed up.”
Cuddy and Nurse Smits frantically look for the baby in the laundry room with no luck. Cuddy notices one of the laundry carts is missing. They find it in the hallway and in it they find the healthy baby girl. Cuddy takes her back to her happy parents.
Chase and Cameron are lying together on the examine table after having, I trust, thoroughly examined each other. Security rattles the door knob and tells them the lockdown is over. They don’t answer. “I should go,” Cameron says, but she doesn’t.
As Thirteen gathers her things to leave, Wilson tells her he just called and asked his ex-wife to dinner. Thirteen is proud of him. He wants to know if she’s going to tell her father about her bisexuality and Huntington’s. She says she might stop by her Dad’s hotel and he realizes she was lying about her father staying at her apartment. “Was there any truth in anything you said?” he asks.
“The part about it being a good idea for you to call Sam.”
Taub and Foreman hear the announcement that the “code seven” has been lifted. Taub offers Foreman his file, but Foreman doesn’t want it anymore. “Good for you,” Taub tells him. They agree not to tell anyone about the evening’s escapades. Foreman leaves and Taub stays behind to get the patient file they originally came down for. Taub picks up Foreman’s file, removes the page about the academic suspension and puts it in the shredder.
The patient tells House that he’s ready to take him up on his offer. House ups the morphine. A security guard opens the door to tell House the lockdown is over. He knows. He stays anyway. “Sorry I didn’t take your case,” he tells the patient.
“Me, too. Gracie was the cutest six-year-old you ever saw,” the patient says and then he dies.
“Interesting night,” Taub says as he and Thirteen leave the hospital. She passes by him and flashing her breasts. “Interesting.”
In an article Hugh Laurie wrote for this week’s TV Guide, he says “I finished my stint as director with an even greater appreciation and affection for the cast of House than I had when I started – which is saying an awful lot.
“These actors did things, created moments, found nuggets of tragedy and comedy that I couldn’t possibly have foreseen.”
I myself have a much greater appreciation for the multi-talented Hugh Laurie.
Tags: House, Hugh Laurie