Cr: Adam Taylor/FOX
(L to R: Robert Sean Leonard, Cynthia Watros and Hugh Laurie)
“Open and Shut”, the 19th outing of the season, follows the more traditional House
story structure, but it is a very well done example and effectively sets the stage for the few remaining episodes. The three story threads, Sam (Cynthia Watros) and Wilson’s renewed romantic relationship, the patient Julia’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) open marriage and Taub’s marital problems, are deftly woven into an examination of House’s own feelings and fear of commitment.
House uses Wilson, Taub and Julia to test not just the durability, but the plausibility of a successful romance. He thinks if no one can be happy or faithful or honest, than his failure to do so isn’t a failure at all but the inevitable outcome of human relationships. Caught between his intellectual conviction that monogamy is irrational and his emotional desire to prove himself wrong, he pokes and prods each relationship looking for proof and guarantees, questioning not only his future and the possibility of a relationship with Cuddy, but also his past, in particular his mother’s infidelity. (That may be a bit of a leap, but when he questions Julia about how the open marriage affects their daughter, I believe he was thinking about how his Mother’s failure to remain monogamous had affected him.)
I realize not everyone enjoys the storylines that expand on Taub’s character, or lack thereof, but I find his personal life almost as fascinating as House does. Peter Jacobsen brings so much realism to the role. His dilemma and his self deception seem genuine. His failure to live up to his own expectations is bitterly disappointing.
The Wilson/Sam relationship is also evolving into a more interesting one. (I am warming up to Cynthis Watros.) It’s good to see them being more honest with each other and becoming closer because of it. However, House’s attitude toward and reactions to the relationship are more interesting than the actual relationship.
Correct me if I’m wrong (No, I’m kidding, don’t) but the timeline is a little wonky as to when Wilson and Sam were married, isn’t it? I’m not going to go back and add things up, but it seems to me that it had to be more than ten years before. And hasn’t it been discussed that Wilson’s marriages ended because he was unfaithful? Was Sam the exception?
Nevertheless it was an enjoyable hour with so much subtext that I can’t squeeze a complete analysis in here. I just hope I hit some high points.
“Got to see if our patient’s a unicorn or just a slutty horse.”
Julia is meeting with her lover, Damien, in a motel room and they’re about to get down to it when they hear a knock at the door. It’s her husband Tom. Damien seems a little put out, but it’s not the hiding in the bathroom/closet reaction that one might usually expect. Julia lets Tom in. He has papers for her to sign for their daughter’s school. He introduces himself to his wife’s lover and clearly isn’t freaked out by the encounter. In fact, he’s cool with it. He apologizes and leaves calmly after kissing his wife. As soon as he’s gone she keels over with abdominal pain and asks Damien to go after Tom for help.
That morning in the condo kitchen Wilson and Sam discuss french toast, cholesterol and her work schedule. He suggests she leave some clothes there. House enters and makes a snarky remark, but, hey, at least he’s not naked. He waits until Sam leaves to point out that she put the milk in the refrigerator. He knows this annoys Wilson and he thinks this spells the end of his relationship with Sam. (Poor reasoning: House drinks straight out of the milk carton and Wilson still keeps him around.) Wilson realizes House is trying to start an argument, but nevertheless he moves the milk.
Later at the office Thirteen tells House they have a patient with abdominal pain. House shows no interest before she reveals that the woman is in an open marriage. Foreman thinks that’s weird. House thinks monogamy is weird. Taub says he doesn’t think an open marriage can work, but he’s very eager to discuss the subject. Chase wants to talk about the intestinal blockage, because apparently other people’s love lives are not that fascinating to him. Even though the Patient’s STD panel is clean, Chase thinks it might be Herpes Colitis which might not show up on a test if she’d been infected recently by one of her multiple partners. The test for this is a barium enema and x-ray. House is so curious about the patient’s marital situation that he volunteers to do it himself.
House does the enema and discusses the patient’s apparently loving relationship with her. Julia gives a pretty reasonable argument for the arrangement. “When you think about it tons of couples do what we do. It’s just that with most of them one spouse doesn’t know about it. We decided things work better when people tell each other the truth.” He finishes the procedure and seems to be considering her argument.
At the front desk young, blonde Nurse Maya flirts with Taub and he flirts back. After she leaves Thirteen confronts him. He says they’re just friends, but she thinks it’s dangerous. “If you want to be on a diet you might want to stop hanging out by the dessert cart.” (Sound advice perhaps, but if Taub wants to sleep around what business is it of hers? Normally I do like her, but she’s just so up in everyone’s business lately that she’s getting on my nerves. She should find her own significant other and stop butting into other people’s relationships.)
Taub and Thirteen enter House’s office. They’ve ruled out Herpes Colitis. Thirteen says the patient’s abdominal pain is gone. Taub thinks it was an intestinal blockage that has now passed an they should discharge her. House would rather diagnose her first. He wants Taub to x-ray her entire digestive system which should take all night. He wants to give Taub the chance to interrogate Julia about her love life. “Go talk to the unicorn and tell me you don’t believe.”
Back at the condo, Wilson and Sam are loading the dishwasher as she talks about her day. He’s upset because a big bowl is in the bottom of dishwasher, but when she questions him he pretends nothing is bothering him.
As he x-rays her Taub wants to discuss the patient’s open marriage. She tells him how cool it is (but it’s not like he’s a hard sell.) As they talk her heart begins to race and Taub has to call for a crash cart.
“Our unicorn isn’t a unicorn: it’s a donkey with a plunger stuck to its face.”
Chase questions the husband, Tom, in the hallway about giving him a list of his sexual partners over the last few months. They’re thinking that the husband may have contracted some parasitic infection from a lover and then passed it on to Julia. Tom admits that he hasn’t slept with anyone else. He’s content with his wife. It makes her happy to sleep with other men so he goes along. He doesn’t want her to feel bad about it.
Later in his office House says that Tom is lying. Not about sex, but something else. He’s letting Julia sleep around in order to “even the score.” Thirteen’s uses some convoluted logic to arrive at the conclusion that “House believes in monogamy. He’s being romantic.” House denies it… sort of and concludes that the problem could lie in whatever the husband’s lying about. “What better cover than a business trip to Nebraska, like that’s really a place?”
To confirm the theory Chase and Thirteen search the patient’s home, where they further discuss the patient’s marriage. Chase admits he couldn’t have had an open marriage. He had been jealous of House even though “Cameron never touched him.” (Of course he means in the sexual sense… uh… you know… past first base. She did kiss him after all, but since he gave House a great big hug that kind of evens the score, right?) Thirteen reveals that her Dad had an affair. It was painful at the time but she understands now. She hopes whoever is taking care of her when she gets sick has someone to take care of them. She finds a loofah and they guess that patient may have gotten parasites from it.
Later Taub and his wife Rachel have dinner at a restaurant. He brings up the fact that his patient is in an open marriage. She wonders if he’s telling her that’s what he wants. He denies it, but admits that he’s been attracted to a woman at work. She’s not thrilled. “Aren’t I enough for you?” His beeper goes off. The patient is paralyzed. He leaves despite Rachel’s protest.
“You’re the moron who took marital advice from Tila Tequila.”
Back in the office they rule out parasites and discuss the now more serious symptoms (paralysis, arrhythmia and the intermittent abdominal pain). House notices that Taub cut himself shaving and deduces that he didn’t go home to shave. Taub tells them that he brought up open marriage with wife. “It was a disaster.” Taub thinks House pushed him into it, but House is suddenly more interested in the patient. Chase thinks her very active sex life might be symptom. Thirteen gets all indignant. “A woman who likes sex must be sick?” House thinks it’s time for an MRI.
Wilson and Sam are hanging out at the condo. When she fails to use a coaster it sets him off and he complains about all the little things that have been bothering him. She denies the charges and he figures out House must have been the one doing the annoying things in an attempt to get them to argue. Nonetheless they begin to argue.
Julia is visiting with her husband and daughter as they prepare her for the MRI. Her lover Damien arrives with flowers to see how she’s doing. Tom is upset that he’s interrupting “family time” and Julia back him up, asking Damien to leave. Damien is understandably a little confused by the open marriage rules. (All right so maybe he’s got to take a little responsibility for the weirdness when he chooses to sleep with a married woman even under the circumstances, but they were a little harsh with him.)
At the condo Wilson and Sam’s argument picks up steam as he vents all the grievances he’s stored up for years.
Taub and Thirteen discuss his marital problems during the MRI. She thinks maybe he has a genetic predisposition to cheat. (So why bother scolding him with the dessert cart analogy?) He thinks she might be right, but “I’m not going to stop trying. Rachel is worth it.” And he means it. They find a spot on the patient’s lung.
The condo argument continues. She accuses him of being cold and uncommunicative during their marriage. He tells her she was a selfish bitch.
In House’s office Thirteen delivers the test results. The spot on the lung is a blood clot. House thinks a clotting disorder might explain all the symptoms, but he’s still curious about the husband’s secret. Cuddy enters on cue to tell them the patient doesn’t have health insurance. House isn’t too concerned: “I’m long past the number of procedures that would bankrupt them.”
They go to inform the Julia who thinks that she does have insurance. Tom admits he’s behind on the premiums and that their savings have been wiped out. House is pleased to be proven right. “Sounds like a secret to me.”
“Now all I have is cold milk.”
Later in his office House muses over being right about the husband having a secret. “If it’s not sex, it’s always money.” He asks Thirteen how Tom lost the money and she tells him he won’t care. “Wilson’s been teaching me how to care. Try me.” She does try and he admits. “You’re right. I don’t care.
They discuss a couple of alternate diagnosis before Wilson arrives to announce that Sam has ended their relationship. Thirteen acts shocked (and only last week she was saying how Wilson was being stupid and he might get a few weeks of great sex of it.) House tells her to go run tests and she leaves him alone with Wilson. House says he’s sorry, but denies he’s at fault. He just wanted Wilson to stand up for himself. Wilson is less the grateful.
The patient’s relationship is also not going well. Julia is angry at Tom for lying and she’s sent him away.
When he goes home that night Taub and Rachel discuss their relationship. She says that his lying had upset her more that his cheating. She offers to let him have an “open marriage” on Thursday nights. “At this point either I walk away or I try to accept who you really are.”
The next morning (Thursday morning) at the hospital, Thirteen delivers the news that all the tests have once again come back negative and it’s not a clotting disorder. House is more interested in Taub. He deduces from his cologne that Taub’s wife has given the “green light” to an open marriage. He admits it. He’s going out with Maya that evening. “Mazeltov?” says Foreman (and that’s the funniest he’s been since he was high.) Chase tries to bring the conversation back around to the patient, but House points out that “Taub’s wife is now totally on the market.” Before that can go much further everyone’s beeper goes off. The patient’s intermittent abdominal pain has returned.
“I’ve been an idiot. I don’t need anything else. I just need you.”
They discuss Julia’s case and Taub’s plans for the evening in the hallway outside the patient’s room as she continues to writhe in pain. They decide she has an intussa…something or another to do with a folded intestine and they rush her to surgery.
Cuddy walks in to her office and finds House with an espresso machine waiting for her. He tells her the “good news” about Wilson’s break up. Somehow he figures that was a karmic-ly good thing for him to do as is gifting her with the espresso machine and that these action will result in good things happening to him. “If this should somehow lead to Lucas dying or oral sex, so be it.” (Interesting. That comment seems clearly designed to turn her off, assure her he’s not serious and make any happy ending unattainable. So he gets across the point that he’s still interested while at the same time blocking any risk of commitment. Maybe he just wants to make sure that she knows he’d like to have her on the back burner in case he’s able to work past the obstacles and begin a relationship with her.
Even during the surgery Taub and Chase discuss Taub’s date and Chase wonders how Taub would feel if the tables were turned. Taub thinks he could handle it.
In the office Chase tells House they only found non-specific inflammation. House thinks it could still be IBD and tells them to start her the medication for it. As he leaves he advises Taub with a non-sequitur. “Just remember if you get disoriented, breathe through you nose and look toward the horizon.” Taub gets a phone call.
He goes to meet Rachel in the parking lot. She admits that she can’t deal with the open marriage idea. She cries. He tells her what she wants to hear. Nothing’s happened. He won’t go through with it. He loves her. They hug.
“Seriously? Our patient’s dying and we can’t move past my sex life?”
The next day back at the office, Foreman reveals the treatment isn’t working. Her kidneys are failing. The white board is full of possible diagnosis, but they’re running out of time. House notices that Taub isn’t glowing and wonders why. Taub tells them he went home his wife. After the requisite 15 seconds of mocking they get back to the differential, finally deciding on sarcoidosis and couple of other unpleasant options.
In patient’s room Thirteen tells Julia she should call her husband. Julia wonders if she dying. Thirteen tells her Tom lied to protect her and wasn’t sleeping with anyone else. Julia isn’t thrilled with that lie either, but Thirteen puts a positive spin on it. “Your husband, who only wants you, lied so that you could be happy.”
Sam goes to see Wilson in his office. She apologizes and so does he. She tells him he was right. She was selfish. She’s trying to change and she thinks he’s changed too. She wishes they had had the fight ten years before. Now they’ve officially made up. They agree not to give House the credit.
None of the treatments have worked for the patient, but her husband is back at her bedside. House notices that Tom has brought her lilacs and has his epiphany. He remembers his mother used to grow lilacs. His father made her get rid of them because they attracted bees. He tells them that HSP, which they had ruled out earlier because there was no infection or rash, can also be caused by a bee sting. He examines her for a rash and finds it in her mouth. Case solved and easily treatable. The patient’s understandably relieved and she tells her husband that she loves him. House mocks them. “That is adorable. Other than you still wanting to have sex with other dudes and him bankrupting your family, I think you kids are pretty much home free.”
House arrives at the condo to find Sam and Wilson happily playing cards. Noting that they’ve made up he quickly takes the credit, but they ignore him as he looks at them sadly, walks to refrigerator and moves the milk from the body to the door. He limps down the hall to his room.
Back at the hospital parking lot Taub’s hot blonde nurse is struggling to load a box into her trunk. Taub sees her and after a moment of hesitation he goes to help her. He apologizes for canceling their date the night before. They kiss. “You want to go somewhere?” she asks.
Next week on House: “The Choice”
Tags: House, Hugh Laurie