''Idiots are fun; no wonder every village wants one.'' Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), House Submitted by bono
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Welcome back, House! I actually mean it, too, because holy moly, what a tour-de-force episode, complete with unusual patient developments, goofiness among the Houselings, and best of all, the most Hilson love ever. Whee!

Our Patient Of The Week is none other than Ethan “That Thing You Do” Embry. I’m a huge Ethan Embry fan, and while he was totally solid in this episode, I couldn’t help but ache for his truly stunning performance on the little-seen Brotherhood. I beg of you: Watch these DVDs. Embry plays a pudgy, decrepit, miserable cop, and it’s a complete revelation — the show is brilliant, and he’s one among several hauntingly excellent performances. Aaaaanyway, Embry here is a Carmen San Diego-style criminal named Mickey, afflicted with loud noise–induced vertigo.

More importantly, Chase got a haircut! Hallelujah! (Wilson also got a haircut, but it was far less urgent.) The Houselings banter in a way we rarely see — hola, underlying respect among colleagues — and being their diagnostic tests.

At Chez Hilson, Wilson’s chatting up a friendly (buxom) neighbor who’s called Nora here but will always be Gretchen Witter to me. She thinks Wilson is funny and nice and agrees to go to dinner with him as long as he brings “that good-looking guy with the cane.” “House?” “Your boyfriend’s name is House?” Oh, be still my heart.

She’s incredulous when Wilson insists he and House aren’t romantically involved. (Welcome to the club, sister.) Once Wilson confesses to House that he wants to ask out their neighbor, of course House cranks up his meddling ways, here by busting out every lazy gay stereotype: Oh, a gigantic A Chorus Line poster and a shoe compliment? How very inventive. House decides he wants to “hit that,” in total violation of “the guy code,” so he and Wilson are now sexual adversaries. Let the games begin!

Mickey isn’t getting better, at all. He’s getting pastier and sweatier for starters. House bugged his room, but it turned out Mickey had bugged his own room, too, because he’s an undercover cop! Duhn-duhn-duuuuhn! It’s not diagnostically relevant, alas, but a good twist is a good twist.

House is out for a cozy dinner with Nora, weaving a hilarious sob story about being on the outs with Wilson. Nora invites House to spend the night, but just then Wilson walks in to thwart House’s undermining. “I love this man!” he declares, and gets down on one knee. In my favorite moment of the episode, House and Wilson exchange hilarious glances of both bemusement and intense rivalry in a perfect little scene for Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard. Nora leaves the two lovebirds to talk things over, and while House and Wilson both claim to be into her, I’m convinced they’re happier having dinner with each other than with anyone else.

In a stroke of genius, House diagnoses poor blood-spitting Mickey with a fatal autoimmune disease. Hm, maybe if you still had an immunologist on your team this would have been easier to spot. Mickey breaks his cover, calls his wife, and promptly dies. RIP, Ethan Embry!

House and Wilson decompress after what I can only assume was a stressful week. House has outfitted their abode with a recliner sofa, complete with a fold-down table in the middle, which Wilson of course hates. Wilson has, however, developed an affinity for the Chorus Line poster, and he sings us out of the episode with an adorable rendition of “One.”

Other thoughts:

I was annoyed a little with the shenanigan-heavy subplot in which Thirteen, Chase, and Taub try to convince Foreman that they earn more than he does. I liked that he tricked them back, and that they were all working together just for the lulz, but it seemed like sort of a convoluted scheme. Aren’t these people brilliant? This was the best prank they could come up with?

The criminal boss dude mentions Ferberizing, which was just on an episode of Modern Family. Are these mentions part of a trend? Or is this just an example of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

We saw Cuddy for what, five seconds tonight? Maybe she’s too busy with Lucas.

And finally, the best lines:

Taub: “Thirteen’s middlename is Beauregard?”

House: “We’re grown men over the age of 30 who moved in together. We’re two tigers away from an act in Vegas.”

House: “You know what they say. Information is not power.”

I loved this episode, PopWatchers. It addressed, oh, every complaint I’ve had about this season: that it was humorless, that Wilson wasn’t a coherent enough character, that Thirteen was too boring, etc. “The Down Low” was everything House does right. What was your diagnosis?

Image credit: Chris Haston/FOX

Episode Recaps

''Idiots are fun; no wonder every village wants one.'' Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), House Submitted by bono
Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein star in the hit medical mystery series
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