Tuesday, September 20, 2005

House: Season 2, Episode 1

Episode recap here.

This may well be the best show on TV today.

A great start to the second season, as House (Hugh Laurie) bucks both Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and ex-girlfriend (and new hospital counsel) Stacy (Sela Ward) to bring death-row convict Clarence (LL Cool J) to the hospital to be treated for an apparent heart attack. Meanwhile, this week's B-plot centers around Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), who has to deal with telling a young woman who walked into the hospital clinic that she has terminal cancer.

The show picks up where it left off last season, as House (Hugh Laurie was ROBBED of an Emmy, I say) immediately starts taking advantage of Stacy while bullying Cuddy into getting what he wants. While doing this, the gloves come off between House and Cameron over Cameron's desire to run a series of increasingly esoteric tests on her terminal cancer patient. House immediately tells Cameron that the girl is terminal and lectures Cameron on the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and how she is exhibiting them. Cameron tries to make the argument that House is refusing her tests as a way to get back at her for their date going badly. "I'm over you" she snarls, like that's going to score points.

Meanwhile, Clarence continues to struggle as House initially thinks he is reacting to a heroin overdose. However, a blood test reveals anion gap acidosis, causing Cameron to toss out the possibility of a reaction to a tuberculosis drug INH (leading to a great House reaction: Yahtzee!). House dispatches Chase (Jesse Spencer) to the prison to find Clarence's secret stash. Chase tells House that he found, among other things, copier fluid in his cell. House twigs to the possibility that Clarence tried to commit suicide by drinking the fluid, which is rich in methanol. He marches into Clarence's room and begins drinking 150-proof rum shots with him. After telling Clarence he knew what he drank, he tells him that the ethanol in the rum he just drank will counter the methanol and "he'll just pee out the toxins". A later problem with a necrotic bowel leads House to send Clarence for an MRI, which, due to the heavy metal ink in his tattoos, is a VERY painful experience for him. The results of the MRI lead to the determination that Clarence has a tumor that sends additional adrenaline into his system. It is removed and Clarence goes back to death row.

An absolutely excellent episode. As usual, a tricky medical problem drives the story while all of the characters undergo more rich development. House and Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) clash over the question of whether Clarence's environment caused him to commit the crimes he did and Foreman and Clarence have a number of discussions on the same subject. Cameron and House clash everywhere in this episode, over the cancer patient's diagnosis, House's decision to focus his energies on a death row con, rather than a young, vibrant girl with her whole life apparently ahead of her. And, of course, there's House knocking heads with Cuddy and Stacy. Dr. Wilson (the great Robert Sean Leonard) continues to be House's conscience as they have a great back and forth while House has lunch and watches TV in the room of a man in a coma. Funny, challenging and not a little bit emotional, just the way a House episode should be. Good start to the season.