"If Greg House steps foot in my hospital again - comes anywhere near me - I want him thrown in jail." Cuddy is sitting outside her house, in a daze, surrounded by fire trucks and police crime scene tape and watching emergency personnel bandage Wilson's right arm, as a police officer tries to take her statement.
No, she has no idea where House is. No, he didn't threaten her. Is this almost over? She's got to call her mom and pick up Rachel. "Was there any indication that something would happen?" the officer asks. She has to laugh, even while she's fighting back tears. "Yeah, every moment I spent with him. I was always waiting for something to happen. But this . . ."
It's three days earlier. House is in his hospital bed, surrounded by the team. He's called them in to watch a video of their latest patient, renowned performance artist Afsoun Hamidi. Chase doesn't think that it's a good idea for House to rush back into work after surgery. "Doctor says it's OK as long as I don't leave my hospital bed," House says. "Which doctor was that?" Taub asks. "Seuss or J?" But it's true. Dr. Hourani even wrote it in the chart. "I'm surprised he approved it," Thirteen says. "I'm more surprised you actually asked." "I do things like that now," House tells her. "I'm making some changes."
Back to the video: Hamidi is dressed in a long, flowing white gown, as a man pours paint thinner all over her. She doesn't move. The man reaches for a pack of matches . . . Chase stops the video. "I'm not going to watch a woman get set on fire."
House calls him a Philistine and starts it up again. But who is the man in the video with the notebook, who looks like he doesn't quite know what to do? "Her assistant," House says. "He's been instructed not to intervene. Spoiler alert: he does." Just then the assistant rushes toward the man with the matches and pushes him away. "For her, it's literally heart-breaking," House says, as they watch Hamidi fall to the ground. "Let the games begin."
"Arrhythmia, high hematocrit, and inconsistent RR variability." Chase reads a list of Hamidi's symptoms. Foreman tells him he left out a fourth symptom: "Being completely crazy." "One man's crazy is another woman's art," Thirteen says. "Her work explores things like gender politics and self-image . . . " "And the pressing issue of shaving your entire body in public while wearing a monkey mask," House continues.
But Thirteen says Hamidi's art represents the transformation of pain she's endured. She saw her mother commit suicide and was abused for years by her stepdad. "I didn't say the crazy wasn't motivated," Foreman says, arguing for a resting-state functional MRI, looking for increased activity in the dorsal nexus. "She's not nuts," House says. "She's elevated being full of crap to a genuine art form - and made a fortune doing it. The people who pay $20,000 for one of her video stills, on the other hand, really do need their dorsal nexii checked."
Could the paint thinner have set off an allergic reaction? Not without a bronchospasm. "There was a space heater next to her in the gallery," Taub notices. "Carbon monoxide poisoning. It fits," House says. "Put her in a hyperbaric chamber." When the team leaves, House immediately grabs for his cell phone to text Cuddy.
"Lisa? You're Lisa Cuddy." Cuddy's at a coffee shop when a man approaches her. But she doesn't recognize him. "What's this about?" she asks. "I'm sorry," he says. "I'm Jerry Barrett. I recognize you from . . . the photos that barely do you justice." Now Cuddy's really confused. It turns out Jerry is a friend of Cuddy's sister. "She showed me your photos. I work at the bank across the street. Julia's my client. She wanted to set us up."
Cuddy doesn't want anything to do with this right now. "I'm afraid you have me mixed up with somebody else." "No, I don't think so. I've seen many pictures of you several times . . ." he tries. "I guess I just have one of those faces. It's nice to meet you," she says, walking away, quickly.
"Oh, thank God. The ICU isn't being attacked by giant radioactive spiders." Cuddy walks into House's hospital room, holding her cell phone and looking slightly annoyed. "Did I text you that? That was meant for my dream journal," House says. But he's actually called her there for a reason: he wants to return all of her things that were left at his apartment. "Don't worry, I didn't go AWOL. I had my wife/maid bring it over." Sweater, coffee mug, half-used bottle of lotion, and a DVD of "Marley & Me." "Given your thing for Owen Wilson, I thought you might want those last two back ASAP," he says.
"I don't get it," Cuddy tells him. "You masturbate to Owen Wilson . . . " House says. "I meant the box," Cuddy says. He tells her it's a symbolic gesture. "I want things to go back to the way they were before we started dating," House says. "No more bad feelings, no more issues. Just work." She hasn't even spoken to him since he tried to operate on himself. "I was self-destructive. It won't happen again," House says, looking back at his laptop and his new case. "I'm making changes. I'm going to stop doing stupid things." Cuddy doesn't look too relieved. "The smart thing to do would be to talk about why you did it." Not surprisingly, House isn't interested. "I think I can avoid putting another hole in my leg without talking about my mother." "Well, I don't want to find out you're wrong by getting another phone call from you in a bloody bathtub," Cuddy says.
"I'm a big believer that the best way to get past the past is to shoot it in the head, bury it in a deep pit, and pour lye on it," House says. But she just wants him to talk to her about it. "You owe me," she tells him, sitting down on the bed. House promises to talk to her if she'll bring him lunch tomorrow. The minute she's out the door he reaches for his pills.
"I should have known the gallery wasn't ventilated enough." Hamidi's assistant, Luca, is waiting with Foreman and Thirteen while Hamidi is in the hyperbaric chamber. But Thirteen tells him that if he hadn't stepped in, they'd be treating her for third-degree burns as well. "That was a mistake," Hamidi says from the chamber. "He shouldn't have interfered." Luca apologizes. "I want to share your commitment, but it's hard for me sometimes." The two used to date - Hamidi even read his love letters as part of a performance once. "That was a year ago," Luca says. "And we're not together anymore."
Foreman wonders if Hamidi was really going to let the man with the matches set her on fire. "He was just a plant to get the crowd going, right?" "If that's your interpretation, I welcome it," she answers. Luca tells them Hamidi believes explaining her work limits its potential. "But, between us, he was real. And a total dick," Luca says.
Which brings Foreman back to his original theory: "No sane person would let themselves be burned alive for the sake of art." Hamidi is defiant. "My work is meant to force the audience to break with the rational and see things in a new way."
But before she can continue, she's overcome with nausea and vomits in the chamber, gasping for breath. "Luca, hand me the oxygen mask behind you," Thirteen asks, as she and Foreman race in to save Hamidi. But he just stands there, closing his eyes. "Luca!"
"Congratulations, it's a gestational sac." Taub is performing an ultrasound on Ruby, but it's too early to see much. Ruby knows that. "I just figured this would help me process what's happening," she says. There's a lot they need to work out. "We have almost eight months," Taub says. "You're not having doubts, are you?" "No!" she says. "Are you?" "Definitely not," he tells her, looking back up at the monitor. "Nice cozy home for little Rueben," he says, but Ruby doesn't seem excited about the choice. "It's a family name," he says. "It's a sandwich," she replies. Taub's phone rings - it's his ex-wife, Rachel. But he lies and tells Ruby it's just House, as he puts the phone away.
"I swear to God, stay out of my personal life!" Cuddy is having it out with her sister, Julia, over the fix-up at the coffee shop. But Julia doesn't understand the problem. "Jerry is cute. He's a senior VP. He kite surfs in Costa Rica every winter and he loves his mother." Julia thinks Cuddy is "stuck" because of her relationship with House.
"She got worse in the hyperbaric chamber. It's not CO poisoning." Foreman and Thirteen are reporting to House about Hamidi. Thirteen wants to test for infection - including Luca. "I couldn't get his attention. He was in a daze." Foreman doesn't think that's a symptom. "He's in love with her. Probably just overwhelmed, couldn't decide what to do." House wants to know what Luca's been up to since Hamidi was admitted. "Did he bring anything from the patient room to the treatment room?" Foreman says he brought a few things, like a handbag, flowers, and stuffed elephant. "Does she seem like the kind of woman who needs a stuffed animal?" House asks, reaching for his cell phone. He wants Thirteen to check out Hamidi's room, checking in with him on the phone.
"Now go address the elephant in the room," House tells Thirteen via phone, as Thirteen enters Hamidi's room. It's on a table next to a lamp. She finds a zipper down the back - it's a nanny cam. "The reason Luca couldn't decide what to do in the treatment room," House says, "is the same as in the gallery. He's been told not to intervene. Congratulations, we've become her latest work of art."
"It shouldn't have surprised us. All her work is based on personal traumas." Thirteen has brought the elephant cam back to House's room. "She's had Luca taking notes, videotape her treatments, collect things like sharps and bandages. It'll all go into a gallery installation." "Well, then I guess since the exploitation is properly motivated, it's all OK," Taub says, as his cell phone rings again with Rachel's ring tone.
"Ultrasound showed a cyst on her pancreas," Chase says. "We drained it." But Taub doesn't even know why they're discussing the case. And Foreman says they can't know for sure she's really sick. He thinks maybe she even huffed the paint thinner. "She would have let him set her on fire because of the honesty of her work. Faking an illness doesn't fit," Thirteen says.
House agrees with the conclusion if not the analysis. "If the patient induced pancreatitis and a heart attack, she'd be suicidal," House says. "If she wanted to be dead, she'd have been dead a long time ago. Pretending to cheat death pays better than watercolors. Coxsackie B fits. But do a spiral CT of her biliary tree to rule out gallstones."
Foreman agrees to perform the CT, but it's clear he thinks House is wrong, which doesn't escape House's notice. "If you really cared about me, you wouldn't be so obvious when you scheme to prove me wrong. You volunteered because you want to CT her lungs, not her biliary tree," House says, getting out of bed to go with Foreman, against his own doctor's orders. "You want to find fibrosis and prove your paint thinner theory. If I don't come with, when you fail, you can pretend you never tried. I don't really have choice now, do I?"
"Because I've seen your paycheck, I probably shouldn't . . . " House pretends to reluctantly accept money from Foreman - it wasn't fibrosis. "Canned beans aren't so bad . . . " But House doesn't have much time to rub it in, as Hamidi calls out from the CT room: "I feel dizzy." Foreman, check on her. "Pale, diaphoretic, tachycardic. BP 80 over 40 . . . internal bleeding?" House thinks for a second. "Get her out of here and scope her."
Cuddy brings lunch to House's room as promised . . . but there's no House.
"Sorry, didn't find the bleed, so we're going to look by your liver." Chase and Foreman are painfully poking around Hamidi's insides, while Luca takes pictures. Or tries to, as he looks like he's about to faint. "Luca, please!" Hamidi says. "We need to document everything." Snap, snap, snap. That's enough for Foreman, who takes Luca's camera and tosses it in the trash. They're not finding any blood, though. Then Foreman pulls up Hamidi's blanket to look at her feet. "Why are you looking down there?" Chase asks. "Because I don't like beans," Foreman says, smiling.
"You stood me up." Cuddy is back in House's room, now that he's returned. "Sorry, should have scheduled my patient's internal bleeding for Thursday," he says. "You're still playing the same petty, passive-aggressive games," she tells him. "I got you to go all the way to the second floor of a building you work in. Boy, did I screw you," House says.
But House was the one who said he was going to change. She's angry; why can't he express his anger? "Right now, let's finally have our fight," she says. House thinks all they do is fight. "No, all you've done is pull pranks or have temper tantrums with Wilson - never me. Marry mail-order prostitutes; make me go to your wedding. You cut open your own leg!" She thinks it's all related to their relationship. "We've never even had a conversation about our break-up," she tells him. "I know one conversation isn't going to solve everything, but it is a start." He agrees to see her at lunch tomorrow in the cafeteria.
"How many of those have you had today?" Foreman sees House grab his pills as soon as Cuddy leaves the room. But more importantly (to Foreman), he thinks he's solved the case: "The patient is a fraud. Found a puncture in the dorsal vein of her left foot." Not from injecting heroin, but her own red blood cells. "Caused her heart issues, and when her hematocrit evened out, we mistook it for internal bleeding." Foreman pieced it together from the browser history on her laptop. "She was researching blood-doping, among other things." Foreman hands House a folder of articles he found. They're about House and the team. "This isn't about creating art in the moment. It's about you. She set you up."
"We sent a uni over to his apartment and the hospital." Back at the scene of the accident, the same policeman who questioned Cuddy is talking to Wilson. Wilson knows House won't be at either his apartment or the hospital. "When you find him, you're going to arrest him?" Wilson asks. The cop looks surprised. "Is there some reason you think I shouldn't?" Wilson pauses. "Knowing him, he'll be at a bar. He'll find one that matches how he feels inside. It'll be the most dark, depressing hole you can find in New Jersey."
"Now you're just pissing me off." House is angrily confronting Hamidi over her deception. "I thought you would understand someone who uses their work to deal with pain," she says. Hamidi claims that she really is sick - but she won't tell House what she's got. "I did the blood-doping to intrigue you, but I was already ill." If she tells House her diagnosis, he won't have a game, and she won't have her art.
"Why me?" House asks. "I don't answer those questions," Hamidi says. "This is a puzzle tailor-made for you. You don't know which of my symptoms are real, which are fake, which ones I'm not even telling you about. I know that intrigues you. Do you really want to end it now?" He doesn't.
"You want us to waste a bed on her?" Chase doesn't know why they're bothering with Hamidi. Foreman doesn't get it either: "It's either just a lie or it's just a game." House doesn't care. He's having fun. "Go get a blood culture. Check for parasites and bacteria." No one moves . . . except Thirteen. "I'll do it. He's going through a tough patch right now. If this is the distraction he needs to keep him in his hospital bed, I'm sure it's better than any of the alternatives." Incredibly condescending, as House notes, but it seems to have done the trick, as they file out.
"Why do you keep ducking your wife's calls?" Foreman and Taub are in the elevator, and there goes Taub's phone again. "I'm sure she just wants to congratulate you on knocking up a 22-year-old nurse." But Taub hasn't told her about the baby - or about the fact that he's decided they shouldn't see each other anymore. "Rachel never wanted to have kids. I don't want to hurt her feelings," Taub says. "Yeah, you are all about feelings," Foreman scoffs. "She's going to find out. It better be from you. Can't cheat your way out of this one."
"What is it?" Thirteen sees Hamidi convulse in pain in her bed, while she and Chase are taking preparing her blood draw. Her side is discolored and bruised. "Grey-Turner's sign," Chase says. "We're done playing," Thirteen tells Hamidi. "Your pancreas is releasing corrosive enzymes. It'll eat away at the surrounding organs." She must already know that, though, from her previous doctor's diagnosis. "Just tell them!" Luca begs her. "If you know what's wrong with you, tell them so they can fix it!" But she refuses.
"That pancreatic cyst we drained? It's back." Thirteen fills House in on Hamidi's condition back in his room. And Hamidi doesn't seem to care one way or the other. It seems almost suicidal - but how could she have given herself the cysts? House has an idea. "The reason she didn't react isn't because she wants to die. It's because she knows she can't do anything about it. Whatever she has is fatal."
"What are we doing here?" Luca doesn't know why House is imaging Hamidi's brain. "Testing a theory. It's based on some stuff you can't understand, like RR variability, and some stuff you can, like the fact that she shaved her head in an art piece four months ago." House thinks that wasn't art at all - she knew her hair was going to fall out because she was undergoing treatment for cancer. He shows Luca a tumor in Hamidi's brain. "Are you getting this?" House yells to Hamidi. "Game's over. I won. Primary CNS lymphoma with associated paraneoplastic syndrome."
She admits he's right. "Four months ago, I had some vision and balance problems and New York Mercy diagnosed me. The tumor was too close to the brain stem to cut out. So they did a few rounds of radiation. But it didn't work, and they sent me home." Luca can't believe it. "That was around the time you broke up with me." She says she didn't think that it would have been fair to involve him. "I'm involved now! You just didn't want to open up." House thinks she must have realized she could use her death to make her ultimate art project. "Or maybe you wanted to show that no one can cheat death, not even an entire team of doctors with unlimited resources. Or maybe your first doctors didn't treat you like a person, just a series of symptoms. And you wanted to re-create that depersonalization. And I was the man to see."
"If that was what I thought," she says. "I don't any longer. You spent time with me. You took this personally." "No, I didn't," House tells her. "And I don't actually think this piece is about anything. I think you just figured out that you're mortal. You're just a bag of cells and waste with an expiration date. You wanted to act out, you wanted people to notice. Maybe you even prayed for a different answer this time." He picks up the stuffed elephant and looks into the camera. "I have a title for your piece. 'It Doesn't Mean Anything.' "
"You're forging my name on prescriptions again." Wilson is waiting for House in his room when he returns. "No," House answers. "Because what you just said implies that I stopped at some point." But it's over - Wilson's ordered verbal authorizations for all his prescriptions. "Your liver, your hearing - never mind the fact that each scrip you write is a separate felony. You will serve time. So could I."
House has downed a month's supply of Vicodin in three days. It can't all be about physical pain. "OK, maybe I am trying to numb myself a little," he tells Wilson. "Because I'm trying to change. Trying to stop being self-destructive." Wilson is just worried about him. "I don't know how many times I can watch you cut off pieces of yourself," he says. "You're miserable, and you're angry. And I want you to actually deal with that. And not just try to medicate the issue away."
"You know what I feel right now?" House asks. "I don't feel miserable or angry. I don't feel good or bad. I feel nothing. Which feels great." And with that he grabs his stuff to leave the hospital. "What are you doing?" Wilson asks. "Moving on, in the direction of my house," House says. "Where I've got some more pills."
"You're discharging yourself against doctor's orders - you've got to check that box." House can't leave until he fills out the right paperwork at the nurse's station. Before he leaves, he notices that Hamidi is still around. "Why are you still here?" he asks. "I'm going, as soon as the nurse brings me something for my eczema," she says, scratching at her neck. House takes a closer look; it's purple and scaly. "I figured it was irritated by the paint thinner poured on me at the gallery," Hamidi says. "It's not eczema," House tells her. "And it's not cancer."
"Wegener's granulomatosis. Biopsy confirmed that what you thought was eczema was actually a swelling of the blood vessels in your skin. It also explains the pancreatitis, and the mass in your brain, and it's treatable." Chase gives the good news to Hamidi and Luca. They could treat with steroids, but another course of radiation would be much better. Hamidi objects. "It made me fuzzy last time. It was harder to work. I'm still slowed down from it." House tells her death would also make it difficult for her to think clearly. But she won't do the radiation.
"They just said it was a better treatment. It could save your life," Luca says. "My life's not worth anything if I can't do my art," she says. "This is not some great performance piece anymore," Luca tells her. "This is just crazy." He won't watch her die. Not when she can save herself. "Good for you," House says to her, after Luca leaves.
"Uh, before I forget, there's a brush. Tortoiseshell handle, natural bristles. It wasn't in the box. If you could look for it . . . " Cuddy starts off what's looking to be an awkward lunch with House in the cafeteria. "You think I have unresolved issues, and you are the unresolved issues," House tells her. He says it doesn't matter why he hurt his leg. "Whatever the reason, it was a bad reason. That's all that matters. Good lunch," he says, as he walks away.
Cuddy follows him into the hall. "House! Talk to me!" "You want to know how I feel!" House yells, pushing Cuddy against the wall. Then, softer, "I feel hurt," he says. "I know," Cuddy tells him, taking his hand. "I'm sorry." He pulls away. "It's not your fault."
"Did I make the wrong choice?" Hamidi is questioning her decision to Thirteen. "Five years. Through every opening, every installation. Every day and every night. He was there the whole time." But he wasn't there when she was first diagnosed, Thirteen notes. "You broke up with him, and you had to go through all of that alone. Maybe that's the real reason you're doing this piece. So that this time you can have him with you. You still could."
"Hi. Um, Lisa Cuddy - nice to meet you." Cuddy is properly introducing herself to Jerry in the coffee shop. "I'm sorry about the other day. There were some personal things going on in my life, and I wasn't at my best." He really does seem like a nice guy.
"Rach, sorry I ducked your calls." Taub turns a corner in the hospital and sees Rachel talking to a nurse, so now he's got to deal with her. Before he can launch into any excuse, however - "Chris, I'm pregnant," she tells him. Taub is stunned. "I . . . didn't expect that."
"Afsoun changed her mind," Thirteen tells House happily, as she grabs the radiology forms from his office. But House doesn't look happy at all.
"Get out." House walks in Hamidi's room and sees Luca, and immediately tells him to leave. "You made a decision," House tells Hamidi. "There are more important things than -" But House cuts her off. "Than what? Your brain? Your abilities? It's where everything comes from! Any meaning in your life! Any happiness! He's already left once - he's going to leave you again. You don't need to depend on people who're going to let you down. If you do this, you're a pathetic hypocrite! You're saying that your whole life, up until him, was a pointless -" "Why are you doing this?" Hamidi asks, crying. House just walks away, looking back at the two of them embracing as Hamidi breaks down.
"House! I can hear your phone ringing." Wilson is outside House's apartment. Eventually House gets up and lets him in. "Why don't we get a drink?" Wilson asks. House will go - but first he wants to drop off Cuddy's hairbrush. "You think she's going to have an emergency tangle?"
"You want me to come?" They've arrived at Cuddy's. "You think I'm going to get in trouble?" House asks. "I'm delivering a hairbrush." House walks to the front door, but he can see through the front window that Cuddy's got guests for dinner. There's Julia and her husband on one side of the table, and Jerry on the other, with Cuddy getting up to clear. It's obviously two couples getting together. Cuddy looks like she's having a great time. House slowly turns the hairbrush over and over in his hand. But he just turns around and walks back to the car.
"What just happened?" Wilson asks. House looks down. "Get out," he tells Wilson. Wilson asks again what happened. House turns to look right at him. "Get out!" This time Wilson does as he's told. "House, what are you mad about? Just let it out, you'll feel better." House shuts the door and speeds away.
Suddenly, he slams on his breaks and turns around. He's resolute. He looks straight ahead and starts speeding back toward Cuddy's. He swerves into her driveway, knocking over Wilson, who lands on his wrist, and plows straight into Cuddy's dining room. Fortunately, everyone had left the dining room by then. House pushes open the car door, walks over the debris he's created, and hands Cuddy her hairbrush, without saying a word. "You were right," he tells a stunned Wilson, as he walks away outside. "I feel much better."
"You want another one?" the bartender asks House. "I think I've had enough," House says. He's not at a dark, depressing bar after all. It's a sunny beach. "What do you think I should do today?" House asks. "I don't know - go home?" the bartender says. "Not tonight. Cheers," House says, looking toward the waves. He smiles as he walks along the beach.