House recap: Head Case
A bus accident leaves our hero with brain damage and the suspicion that the clues to a mystery patient's ailment are hidden in his memory
”The shortest distance between here and your memory is straight through your prefrontal cortex. All we have to do is access it.” — Kutner to House, who has lost his mind after a bus crash
In the cold open we found Gregory House coming to in a gentlemen’s club while staring at a dancer. He was literally stripped of memory, suffering from retrograde amnesia. He had a gaping wound in his head and an even bigger hole in his evening, since a four-hour lapse preceded the lap dance. Black-and-white flashbacks indicated that someone was going to die if House didn’t find him or her. So House stepped outside into the New Jersey night, and we learned that the mean streets of Princeton look an awful lot like the Sesame Street set. But that’s a minor quibble in this awesome part 1 of a finale episode titled ”House’s Head.”
Part of the grand fun of this show is to try and figure out the answers to the medical mysteries before Sherlock Doc hits upon his aha moment. In this case my own noggin was rolling over possibilities like they were hapless passengers on House’s bus. I’m still thinking plot twist or season-finale cliff-hanger and wondering if House is still dead from sticking that fork in a socket earlier this season and this whole season has been a bad dream.
The tricky maneuvering of recall and fantasy and hypnosis and dreams confused me as much as it fueled House’s passion for saving someone’s life. I had no idea where this story was going, but I was happily along for the ride sans seatbelt and helmet. There were so many insanely inappropriate lines. House called the Asian American bus driver Lalph Clamden and changed Thirteen’s nickname to Lesbian. These quips made me realize our boy was still aces, and so I worried less about his recovery.
This is the first time I have been able to watch a House episode twice and get as much out of the second viewing as the first. And so I learned, late in the game, that clues were barraging us from the beginning. The slutty woman twisting her body around a pole in the first scene turned out to represent House’s mystery patient, who (since we assume you’ve watched the show and don’t mind a spoiler in this spot) is Amber, whose leg was punctured by a large hunk of bus pole during the accident. Ouch.
When House’s crew assembled for the first time this episode, Thirteen mentioned a 27-year-old Jane Doe who had been taken to another local hospital. This was their Jane D’oh moment. Well played, House writers, for like the bus driver, I did not see what was going to hit me.
The memory sequences were mesmerizing and shot beautifully in blueish greens. And when Dr. Chase hypnotized House back onto the bus, the sound editing made the vehicle interior echo and hum like it was submerged underwater by David Lynch.
Next House remembered his time at the bar, where he got so drunk he had to take the doomed bus home instead of his motorcyle. Amber was there, and Wilson asked why she was in House’s memory. But the strangest apparition was the bartender, who, inexplicably, was Fred Durst. (Maybe House is in hell after all).
NEXT: Cuddy strips
Back on the bus, we saw a new passenger, who was a typical House beauty type. In fact she looked like she could be the sister of Drs. Cameron and Thirteen. (Are there no ugly people in New Jersey? I want to ride a David Lynch bus or visit an aesthetically pleasing hospital.) Beautiful mystery passenger lady had all the clues, including a necklace. House couldn’t see that the stone was made of amber and that he is the bug trapped inside this black widow’s jewelry. And since Amber was in the Fred Durst bar, we are probably meant to assume that House and Amber were hanging out. Was it the start of an affair? Wilson noted that House ”cares” for Amber, and that worried him.
And then there was the bus driver. He is lame. Hmm, so is House. In fact, they are both wearing the same colored shirts and slacks and ear bleeds. So is the bus driver part of House’s subconscious mind, playing games and trying to let House know that he is about to hit something hard? It all works as a dream sequence, allowing the viewer to be as confused as the character. So we are House, and he is the bus driver, and something bad is still going to happen.
And then Cuddy did a striptease dressed as Britney Spears, and that’s when I wanted to smack House’s broken cranium.
Otherwise, my head loved this episode, and it’s still spinning. The ep also had some great dialogue. When House was sitting with Cuddy in the back of the bus she asked, ”Why were you riding the bus?” and House responded, ”I was going to drive home, but some mothers got MADDDD,” pronouncing each D with an expert stutter.
By the way, House’s cool skeletons-drinking-coffee T-shirt is by a great designer named Taavo. The text reads ”Coffin Break,” which I know because I need a coffee break right now and I own the same shirt.
What did you think of the episode? Were the flashbacks intriguing or too confusing? How long did it take you to figure out who Jane Doe was? Is House having an affair with Amber, and how will this affect his relationship with Wilson?