Photo Cr: Mike Yarish/FOX
(Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard)
For me at least “Knight Fall”, the 18th episode of the season, was a bit of a disappointment after the depth and complexity of last week’s episode “Lockdown”. Sure it was entertaining enough, if only because of the usual witty writing, some visually pleasing renaissance faire scenes, the transvestite date and House naked, but it lacked some of the inspiration and innovation of earlier episodes.
I wasn’t particularly engaged by the patient story or, for the most part, the three young actors playing it out. So far I’m also not overwhelmed by Cynthia Watros (Libby Smith, Lost) as Sam Carr, but she’ll be around for a while so maybe she’ll change my mind.
The B story about Wilson dating his first ex-wife is somewhat more compelling and holds the promise of fun to come in future episodes. The ambiguity of Sam’s motivations and House’s are intriguing. I’m not so sure that House cares as much about Wilson’s emotional well being as he cares about remaining the center of Wilson’s attention and concern. He doesn’t want to share him. My dime store psychology degree tells me that he’s still not over the trauma of what happened when he “shared” Wilson with Amber. That and, as he’s already admitted, he’s “not a fan of other people’s happiness.”
Usually the parallels between the A and B story are either subtle and elegant or overt and powerful, dovetailing agreeably before an episode ends. In this episode, however, it doesn’t feel like we get that pay off.
Thankfully, the regular cast turns in their standard first-rate performances, particularly Lisa Edelstein as Cuddy and Michael Weston as Lucas in their all too brief appearances. Of course, there’s also a lot of snappy dialogue. House always has enough basically sound components to be entertaining, but the show is better when it takes chances and rises to another level.
“And for the record, a little bit cold.”
The episode opens at a renaissance faire where the Queen’s champion Sir William (Noah Segan) faces Sir Horace the black, a much larger man, in battle. The King (Wes Ramsey) wants her to “reconsider your choice”, but she sticks with her champion. They all stay admirably in character (and the stuntmen have a little fun) until the fight is over and Sir William staggers in pain. The Queen (Sarah Jones) removes his helmet and discovers his eyes have turned red. Luckily, the King isn’t that big a stickler for authenticity: he pulls out his cell phone and calls 911.
House is at the condo, where his morning ritual apparently includes toasting a bagel, popping ibuprofen, drinking milk out of the carton while, in a nice little homage to Austin Powers, naked. Unbeknownst to him, Wilson had been entertaining the night before and his pretty blonde guest surprises him in the kitchen. She awkwardly, but gamely, introduces herself: “I’m Sam”. She hands him an apron to cover himself. “If there’s any chance that we can pretend this never happened I’d be completely fine with that,” she tells him and leaves.
Later that morning the team is in the office thumbing through patient files that might be unusual enough to interest House. They’re all surprised when House enters wielding a sword. He’s found his own case in the emergency room. “A knight who, instead of seizing the thrown, just seized.”
They discuss how Sir William’s Renaissance lifestyle might have caused his symptoms including the “two demon eyes” (hemorrhaging in the sclerae.) They settle on allergies or a subdural hematoma as the most likely culprits. House sends Foreman and Thirteen to check out the faire for possible allergens, while Taub and Chase are dispatched to do an MRI to test the “evil satanic subdural hematoma” theory.
House goes to Wilson’s office to confront him with the cool new sword he just swiped from his patient and the news that last night’s guest has already seen him naked. “Who’s the chick and why are you hiding her?” he wants to know. Wilson is evasive and it doesn’t take long for house to figure out that the Sam he met is the first ex Mrs. Wilson: “The soulless harpy you were married to before we met.”
Wilson tells him, “people change”. That’s something House wants to believe these days, but it goes against his long held credo which begins with “everyone lies” and ends with “people don’t change.” He agrees to back off somewhat telling Wilson, “It’s your life. You go screw it up.” He’ll wait on the “I told you so.”
Taub and Chase talk about the patient and to the patient as they run the MRI. Sir William champions the virtues of modern day knighthood, right before he vomits.
“My personal favorite, pig rectum with a side order of sphincter.”
“I think they call that breakfast in Australia.”
Meanwhile Foreman and Thirteen enjoy the Renaissance Faire…. Well, at least Thirteen does. Apparently other people having fun is not Foreman’s idea of a good time. (I miss stoned Foreman.) Thirteen chomps on a turkey leg and advises him to lighten up. He advises her that there’s a good chance Sir William has food poisoning. She spits out a mouthful of meat. (I got a give Olivia Wilde props. Many actors don’t care to eat on screen, much less spit it back out.)
They meet the King and Queen, who escort them to Sir William’s tent. They find more knight vomit in the tent and learn that the King’s rituals involve swallowing disgusting stuff like the cow’s eye they find in the vomit.
They take the cow eye back to the hospital with them where they discuss all the other disgusting things knights eat, while House bounces his newly acquired cow’s eyeball around the room like a rubber ball. (I had the impulse to research if a not-so-fresh cow eye actually takes on the properties of a rubber ball, but I decided against it. I’m just going to let this one go.) Thirteen proposes “serious bacterial food poisoning” which can be confirmed by an LP. House doesn’t embrace the theory because if it were food poisoning “the ER would look like Camelot right now.” House thinks it’s an allergy an orders them to run scratch tests and give him epinephrine.
In the patient’s room, the attentive Queen Shannon hovers by Sir William’s bedside while they do the tests. She’s considering postponing her marriage to Miles (The King), but Sir William asks her not to. As usual things don’t go so well during the scratch test. The patient’s heartbeat becomes irregular. They pull out the paddles and notice a rash on his chest.
“Something you think is more important than a lethal bacteria spreading like wildfire through my hospital? Well, that narrows it down to something personal and stupid.”
They conduct another differential in the hallway. House thinks Sir William might be “allergic and allergic to the cure.” Thirteen thinks MRSA and remembers that Foreman wasn’t “wearing gloves when we shocked his heart back into rhythm.” House takes a step away from Foreman (“I’m sure you’ll be fine”) and orders tests, isolation and IV antibiotics for the patient.
House goes to Cuddy’s office to talk, but not about the possibility of a deadly bacteria in the hospital. He wants to discuss Wilson dating his ex-wife. Cuddy already knows. House is astounded that Wilson could keep a secret from him. Cuddy thinks he’d “be surprised how many things Wilson doesn’t tell you.”
“Would I? Like how you slept with your Father’s best friend?”
“I’m going to kill him.”
He wants Cuddy to help him break up Sam and Wilson. He thinks Wilson is more likely to listen to her because she has “decades of experience dating and being attracted to losers.” (House really doesn’t grasp the dynamics of asking for a favor, does he?) She doesn’t want to interfere. “You force him to choose, you might not like the answer,” she tells him.
Thirteen goes into the patient’s isolation room. Shannon think the treatment’s working and that William is not in as much pain, but as soon as she leaves he tells Thirteen that the pain in his chest is worse. He just didn’t want Shannon to worry. Thirteen wants to know how long he’s been in love with her. He admits it, but he doesn’t want to tell her because she’s engaged to his friend and declaring his love would be dishonorable for a knight. (If I remember correctly, in the real world that sentiment is known as “bros before hos”.) Thirteen doesn’t agree because apparently a medical degree + a progressive neurodegenerative genetic disorder = the right to butt into everyone else’s affairs. “You’re not a knight. You’re just a guy.”
“But I want to be more than that,” he tells her.
He feels a sharp pain in his back, which tells them “it’s not MRSA”.
Taub and Chase go back into the lab to do more tests and discuss the merits of knighthood. Chase doesn’t think Taub has ever won a fight.
“I took on three guys in college once.”
House enters and overhears. “Hope they bought you dinner first.” He has a new theory: Poison Ivy. Chase doesn’t think there’s evidence, but House reveals a rash on his wrist. Sir William’s sword, which he’s been swinging around all day, has poison ivy oil all over it. Their beepers go off. The patient’s crashing again. They rush to his room to stabilize him.
“Damn it! I know I never should have let her see me naked.”
They conduct another differential and determine they were wrong about a lot of stuff. House is still leaning towards environmental toxin. He settles on trichinosis and orders a muscle biopsy.
At the front desk Wilson tells House Sam wants to get to know him better. He invites him to join them for dinner even though “it goes against all my instincts.” He doesn’t want Sam to think that he was hiding House from her…even though he was.
“You’re asking me to condone a relationship based on lies and mistrust,” House tells him. “When and where?”
Wilson knows House is concerned about him, but he tells him he doesn’t want his help. “Just come to dinner and be your usual selfish self.”
As she does the muscle biopsy Thirteen continues to counsel William to tell Shannon his feelings, but he thinks a knight should be selfless. She thinks, if you ask her, (which nobody did) that, “If you want to be king sometimes you have to be willing to take what’s yours.”
William points out, “She’s not mine.”
“She’s not his either.”
Sam and Wilson wait for house to arrive at the restaurant. He’s appropriately worried about what House might do. What House does is bring Sarah (Carey Embry), a transvestite prostitute, to join them for dinner.
In the lab Thirteen and Foreman discover that the muscle biopsy reveals no trichinosis. Thirteen doesn’t think it’s environmental, but Foreman thinks they should continue to test for fungal infection and everything else environmental. He’s noticed that House has been experiencing more pain lately. He’s extra cranky and unlikely to take “not environmental” for an answer unless they can definitively prove it.
At the restaurant House is proving just how cranky he can be. Sam and Sarah are hitting it off. Turns out they’re both from Bloomington. They happily reminisce while House sulks. (I gotta say that was really a pointless and bigoted tactic. Who was he hoping to humiliate by introducing a transgender person to Sam and Wilson. Was he hoping they’d be aghast and treat her like crap? Or what?)
Back at the hospital the patient is in more pain. “My legs they feel like they’re on fire.”
“I liked him better when he was on Vicodin.”
At the next differential they diagnosis the leg pain as Rhabdomyolysis, which means his kidneys are failing. Foreman insists it’s not environmental, but House is still convinced that it is. He tells them to go to the patient’s apartment to search for toxin. When they continue to argue he yells. “Go now!”
After he leaves Foreman decided to ultrasound the patient’s liver looking for cancer and send Chase and Thirteen to do the apartment search.
Wilson runs into Cuddy in the cafeteria. She tells him she’s heard House met Sam. “The first time he was naked,” Wilson says. “The second time he brought a transvestite prostitute to dinner. Over all it could have been worse.” Clearly he expects a big reaction, but Cuddy doesn’t give it to him. She’s wisely staying out of it. He follows her to a table. He wants to talk. Cuddy doesn’t want to give him any advice (and I think she’s still a little ticked at him for revealing her secret to House), but she tells him, “You never know what can happen. You might as well give it a chance” which seems to be exactly what he wants to hear.
Foreman and Taub examine the patient’s ultra sound. At first they believe they’ve found tumors in the liver, but upon closer examination, they discover the tumors aren’t tumors. Foreman’s not sure what it is, “but it’s definitely not cancer.”
Chase and Thirteen search the patient’s apartment and discover a secret room filled with witchcraft-y, which turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with anything, but nonetheless Thirteen dramatically intones “our knight is a witch” followed by a dramatic pause and a commercial.
“Our knight is into some seriously creepy stuff.”
House thinks the “creepy stuff” includes alchemy and he deduces that it could be lead poisoning. He tells them to biopsy the cyst and find the lead.
Sam and Wilson arrive at the condo that night hoping to be alone, but House is there singing and preparing dinner. Wilson is suspicious but House claims he’s trying to be nice. He offers them hor d’oeuvres
Later after a relatively pleasant dinner, Wilson excuses himself after they assure him it’s safe to leave the two of them alone. Only not so much. As soon as he’s out of the room House confronts Sam. “You’re a cold hearted bitch.” He tells her this is just “Phase two of getting to know my enemy.”
She tells him he’s wrong about her but “I’m glad now I don’t have to pretend to like you.”
Wilson returns none the wiser.
The next morning at the hospital the team informs House that the patient is know better. He decides to go to the Renaissance Faire himself. He takes Thirteen with him and they go in costume and they look fabulous. They discuss Wilson’s situation as they search for toxins. Thirteen thinks Wilson is making a mistake, which is kind of odd since she was the one who told him to date his ex-wife in the first place. “Wilson’s not like us,” he tells her. “He cares too much about people and their feelings.”
“Thanks for the compliment.”
House spots an apothecary shop and heads inside. He quickly discovers that the shop carries hemlock that the shop apprentice (Ryan Radis) thinks are wild carrots. After colorfully insulting him (you embossed carbuncle) House learns that the only one who bought the Hemlock was “the King”, Miles.
“It was the only part of the environment we didn’t check: the people living in it.”
“To be honest, I think you’re an ass.”
At the hospital House confronts Miles who is accompanied by Shannon. “You poisoned him your royal anus.”
Miles admits he gave him what he thought were wild carrots, but that he didn’t intend to poison him. House doesn’t believe him and wonders why, if that was the case, nobody else got sick. Miles swears he’s telling the truth. House, still in costume, goes to visit the patient. Tests confirm Hemlock. He tells Sir William that his king tried to poison him. William refuses to believe it. “Your king is a jealous idiot,” House tells him. “And you’re just an idiot.”
Wrong again. Taub tells him the treatment isn’t working. “If it were Hemlock he’d either be dead already or he’d be getting better with treatment.”
Sword in hand, House contemplates the problem in his office. Private detective/boy toy Lucas enters with an envelope for House. House has hired him to investigate Sam and he intends to charge extra because of the level of detail wanted. He tells House he didn’t find anything good. “She’s been pretty successful in everything she’s done…except marriage.” Lucas admits that he hasn’t looked at the shrink notes that he “found a way to obtain.”
Sam comes by to talk to House and Lucas leaves. She tells him that she understands why he doesn’t like her, but that they do have one thing in common. “We care about James.”
“So prove it and dump him again.”
She’s not giving up. “We just reconnected we have no idea where we’re headed, but is it really too much to ask that you give us a chance to find out?”
As she leaves he seems to give it serious consideration. He also has an epiphany about the case and kisses the sword (off of which, I trust, he already wiped the poison ivy oil.)
In the x-ray room House announces his final diagnosis to the team. The patient is a juicer. He was taking steroids which in combination with the hemlock caused all his symptoms. He advises them to start treatment and “let the King out of the tower.”
Later as Sir William successfully undergoes treatment he admits he’s ashamed. Thirteen can’t understand why he was willing to sully his honor with steroids, but not with Shannon. “That was a game, not real life.” He hasn’t changed his mind. He thinks Miles is a great guy and better for Shannon than he is. “I’d rather she be happy even if it means I’m not.”
“You really are an idiot,” Thirteen tells him.
Meanwhile in his office House has seemingly taken Sam’s words to heart. He throws out the envelope with Lucas’ research.
Next week on House: Open and Shut
Tags: House, Hugh Laurie