An agoraphobic man, after having passed out from a seizure, wakes to his worst nightmare: strangers busting down his door and involuntarily bringing him outside. At the first whiff of Jersey’s not-so-fresh air, he freaks out, punches a paramedic in the face, and dashes back to the safe confines of his home.
Cameron introduces the case to the team: a 35 year old male with severe headaches and three seizures in the past two days. House wonders why his time’s being wasted on a simple clot or brain bleed that a CT scan can detect, until Cam explains that Housebound’s fear of the world prevents them from testing him with anything other than what they can bring to him and fit through his front door. If they’re even allowed entrance through his front door. During a robbery seven years prior, Housebound was shot and his girlfriend killed, making leaving his home an impossibility.
House gets distracted from the differential when he spies Cuddy outside his office – damn that sexy tweed suit and furrowed brow! Cuddy wants to talk about the kiss and even thanks him for not taking advantage of her in an obviously weakened state. He, of course, hides his awkwardness behind snarkiness, and that’s why we love him (that and the narc abuse). When he returns to his office, Thirteen asks him what Cuddy wanted and House actually tells the truth! Sort of. But who’s gonna believe him? Portable equipment can’t distinguish a bleed or a tumor. House, in his special way, suggests that they may be able to detect the cause of the patient’s symptoms by provoking a new seizure and performing an EEG – he doesn’t actually say it, but Foreman is his usual brilliant mouthpiece. Aside from the test, House also orders the team to search the home for toxins.
Cameron joins the team at Housebound’s locked door and tries to convince him to open up. Kutner advises her to bait him with honesty, so Cam tells HB his life isn’t as important as the whole hospital of sick folks they should be caring for – fair enough. HB agrees to let one person in but Cam tells him it’s all or nothing. He finally gives in. Once inside, Cam prepares to induce a seizure while the others search the premises. HB is understandably nervous and Cam makes the mistake of trying to get too close physically and emotionally – she sits down beside him on his bed and tries to empathize with his loss and pain, which causes HB to push back a little. He tells her he doesn’t need anything of the outside world: he makes good money working from home writing tech manuals (zzzzzzzzz…); he has everything delivered to his front door; and he can watch movies (bow-chicka-wow-wow!) on the Internet. What more could a shut-in ask for?
Back at Princeton Plainsboro, Wilson approaches House about talking to Cuddy in light of her post-adoption fiasco. House tries to dissuade him from further talking about her by “joking” that he hooked up with her. Whereas everyone else thought he was just being an ass, Wilson actually takes him seriously. Wils plays House’s game well and immediately takes note that there must be a reason he was hiding the kiss from him. Maybe he likes her. Awwwww! House tries to ignore him by scratching at a mosquito bite on the back of his hand but then gets saved by the bell when his phone rings.
It’s the team reporting that Housebound’s home is clean. House turns his attention on Cameron and asks if she and Chase are engaged yet. That’s right! Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer, the actors behind Cameron and Chase, really were dating until they split last year. I wondered when the show’s writers would broach this topic. Their characters have been somewhat distant thus far in the season and I was beginning to forget they ever hooked up in the first place.
Since Thirteen’s brush with personal invasion a couple weeks ago, she takes extra offense at House prying info out of Cameron on her sex life. But Cam just explains it’s often easier and faster to answer his questions in-between following the true agenda – while learning that sleep deprivation would take too long to elicit the desired seizure and drugs would mar their testing environment with unwarranted side effects, we are also privy to Chase and Cameron’s living and loving arrangements. House asks where the patient was when he had his first seizure (in the entry hallway while getting his mail); he deduces that since Housebound was approaching the outside, his episodes might have something to do with his blood pressure. If they hope to bring about a seizure, they should scare him into it. But rather than take him outdoors, why not bring the world inside? Later, House shows up at Housebound’s home with three strangers he picked up in Princeton Plainsboro’s ER (guess he’s not worried they might be contagious). He busts into the poor guy’s bedroom with the bewildered folks in tow, expecting to shock HB into a seizure. Instead, the patient immediately starts writhing in stomach pain.
The next day, Cameron performs an abdominal x-ray that reveals a partial small bowel obstruction. This explains the pain, but what explains the blockage and the seizures? Thirteen suggests atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) throwing emboli (blood clots) and Taub thinks it could be Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory disease of the digestive system) causing an abscess. Foreman agrees that it could be either of those conditions plus a million others, but they’re not going to be able to properly diagnose Housebound without an MRI of his brain and exploratory surgery. House believes he can force HB out of his home by reminding him of the excruciating pain he’s going to be in if they don’t do something about his condition, but HB has the most rational argument: I hurt when I go out, therefore I’ll stay in, thank you very much. Oh, and he forgot to mention he hurts when strangers are around, so get the hell out of his place! Fear of sepsis and death doesn’t scare him straight, so what’s next?
House tells Housebound Chase may be able to operate on him in his home, which, of course, isn’t true at all. What he meant was Chase can come to his place, put him under, transport his unconscious body to the hospital, operate on him under safe, sterile conditions, bring him back home, and wake him up in his own bed. Sounds like a plan. Right before the fake home surgery, HB takes Cameron’s hand and thanks her for not giving up on him. First class ticket on the guilt trip.
Wilson finds Cuddy in the cafeteria. Before he even brings it up, she glosses over the kiss like it was no big deal, which must mean it is a big deal, right? Wilson wonders why she has never thought of House “in that way,” or so she claims. When Cuddy runs down the list of future disastrous scenarios that would play out if they got together for real, she proves that she might have been understating how much thought she had given to a House romance. Wilson, surprisingly, tries to convince Cuddy to taste the forbidden fruit, but she’s saved by the buzz when her pager goes off.
Cuddy’s alerted to a major amount of hospital equipment being checked out. She catches Cameron and Chase wheeling unconscious Housebound down the hallway. In a private room, she fights them on surgery without the patient’s consent and definitely thinks HB shouldn’t be returned to his home right away, and House…agrees. He knows HB will likely get a nasty infection, so he thinks they should do post-op in the hospital. Cuddy catches him before he can exit the room to ask if he’s okay. He pushes her away, but it turns out she was just asking about the bloody wound on the back of his hand. So, was that really a mosquito that bit him or a vampire bat?
As they prepare for surgery, Cameron’s conscience kicks in and she decides to wake Housebound up to confess their plan – stupid move! He freaks out on the table, rips the IV from his neck, and starts hemorrhaging all over the place. They calm him down but he’s pissed! HB calls his lawyer and threatens to sue the hospital; the surgery is cancelled and he returns home undiagnosed. Cuddy pulls them all off the case and House concedes without a word. Cameron may be dumb sometimes but she isn’t blind; she knows something’s up between House and Cuddy. House claims he was just ignoring Cuddy’s orders; he sends Cam back to HB’s house to treat his constipation with lactulose.
Wilson confronts House about his behavior around Cuddy and tells him he’s afraid to get involved with anyone who might truly bring him happiness. House counters with his own hypothesis that Wilson’s only getting so worked up over the kiss because he wants Cuddy for himself – he had asked Cuddy out last year and probably still likes her.
Cameron talks her way back into Housebound’s home. Later, she checks in with House and informs him they’ll need to do the surgery after all because the patient’s only getting worse. Since Chase refuses to participate, House recruits plastic surgeon Taub to perform the at-home operation. Taub extracts a piece of HB’s intestine which under microscopic examination reveals atrophy: they conclude Whipple’s disease (a rare, infectious systemic disease that may cause neurological symptoms and abdominal pain). If everything HB’s been through isn’t bad enough, Taub ignites built up gas in his bowels with the cautery and almost engulfs the patient in flames! In front of the guy’s lawyer! Nice.
Chase meets Cameron at Housebound’s place and invites himself to spend the night at her apartment, but she refuses. He begins to protest her continued involvement in the case just when HB cries out in fright – he can’t feel his legs.
With peripheral neuropathy added to the list of symptoms, Cameron scratches off Whipple’s. Kutner suggests porphyria (a genetic enzymatic disorder involving the blood) but the liver’s fine. Thirteen thinks it might be amyloidosis (a protein abnormality) but it didn’t show up in the intestines. Foreman feels that if it isn’t Whipple’s, it must be Celiac disease (an inability to digest gluten). Rather than wait on a test for Celiac, House tells the team to force-feed HB wheat and observe via endoscope what happens once it reaches his duodenum.
In her office, Wilson starts to tell Cuddy about House’s theory – W wanting to live vicariously through H’s conquest – but ends up admitting his own affection for her. Cuddy invites him to dinner (I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable with this scenario), but it’s not supposed to be a real date (okay, I can deal with that). Then she nixes that idea and invites him right to her bed! Wow, where are we heading?! Guess it’s the bridge to nowhere ‘cause it’s just a ploy to get House jealous enough to realize he actually does want a relationship. But Cuddy’s not serious; she wants no part of the inevitable chaos to come.
Cameron tries to talk Housebound into drugs and therapy for his post-traumatic stress disorder over a bowl of Cream of Wheat, but he refuses to admit he’s suffering from PTSD. In fact, HB tells her he was agoraphobic way before the shooting and the death of his girlfriend. So, how the heck does a shut-in meet somebody? ‘Cause if eHarmony could trademark whatever he did to get a woman, they’d be looking at a goldmine!
House attempts to slow down Taub’s completion of Housebound’s blood tests in order to leave him in enough pain to force his voluntary admittance to Princeton Plainsboro. He tells Taub to re-stock HB’s IV morphine with saline. When Taub balks, House tells him he’ll do it anyway for the same reason he performed the home surgery on HB: because his marriage is falling apart and he’s looking for significance through his work. Taub admits that he’s sleeping on the couch.
The next scene is a weird, almost prophetic dream involving House chasing a mosquito with a rolled up newspaper. He swats at a random propane tank sitting in the middle of his living room and knocks the hose loose. He swats at his gas stove and accidentally ignites one of his burners. Uh-oh. Ka-boom! He wakes up and goes to Wilson’s apartment at 3am where W offers some purposely clumsy metaphors to describe the itch he can’t help but scratch (Cuddy, if you didn’t know).
Since House won’t deal with his feelings for Cuddy and can’t sleep for fear of the monster mosquito, he goes to Housebound’s place where he finds a vigilant Cameron. While she’s trying to examine him, HB codes. Rather than reaching for the defibrillator, House grabs his phone and calls the lawyer/healthcare proxy – he’s looking for emergency permission to transport HB to the hospital. But Cameron doesn’t play those games and shocks HB’s heart; once the patient is stabilized, there’s no reason to move him. House is not pleased that his plan doesn’t work.
Taub implants a temporary pacemaker into Housebound’s chest, but there’s still no diagnosis. Kutner thinks it could be lymphoma, but cancer didn’t show up on any of the prior scans of the abdomen. House concludes that it must be poison. Thirteen points out that they already dubbed HB’s house clean – too clean. Kutner says organophosphates from rose petals they found in the hallway could have introduced toxins. No, let’s go back to the cleanliness angle. House asks HB what he cleans his tub with; he tells him bleach and ammonia. Bleach + Ammonia = Chlorine Gas! Steroids and sodium bicarbonate will clean his system, but he’ll still need a permanent pacemaker.
Back at Princeton Plainsboro, Cameron tries to convince Chase to perform the pacemaker surgery, but he refuses. Her annoyance leads to a discussion about their relationship and why it won’t work – is this the real couple working through some stuff on-camera? Couple’s therapy sponsored by Fox!
Housebound is only getting worse and feeling more pain, despite Cameron switching the saline back to morphine. Eureka! House knows what’s really poisoning him, something that causes stomach cramps but doesn’t respond to morphine: lead. Years ago, the robber’s hollow point bullets shattered inside HB and left fragments in his hip which are now dissolving. After roughly digging the metal pieces out of HB’s side, House chastises him for being a coward; he realizes that the day of HB’s last seizure, he was trying to leave flowers on his girlfriend’s grave but was too afraid. He tells him not to lock himself up anymore and pretend to be happy. Sounds like good advice. Cameron takes it and finally gives Chase a drawer for his drawers at her place. Taub’s wife takes it and forgives her adulterous husband. Even Housebound takes it and opens his door to the world. But House runs to Cuddy…and the door remains shut.
Next Week: Houddy isn’t an uber-couple yet, but while we wait a young woman drowns in her own lungs. Yay.