A family of insane people decide to spend their summer vacation SCUBA diving around sunken Dutch slave ships and take a few souvenirs with them -- including a mystery disease daughter Julie catches when the sealed glass jar full of scabs she brings to the surface breaks and cuts her hand. Idiot. House is sure it's smallpox until the CDC shows up, shuts PPTH down, and quarantines Julie and the rest of her possibly exposed family. This makes it impossible for House to run tests on Julie to prove that it isn't smallpox, especially after Julie's stepfather comes down with smallpox symptoms of his own. House thinks it's just the man's compromised immune system due to a recurrence of kidney cancer that's causing him to react to the smallpox vaccine the family was given earlier, and he's so sure that he breaks into stepdad's room to inject him with interferon and prove it. Except the stepdad doesn't get better. In fact, he totally dies. And now House is stuck in the quarantine room and possibly exposed to what the CDC is more sure than ever is smallpox. Fortunately, Martha M. Masters hasn't been fired again yet and so is able to combine her knowledge of medicine and history (along with the help of a Dutch webcam performer-turned-translator) to come up with the correct diagnosis of the smallpox-like rickettsialpox in time to save Julie, whose stepbrother has got to be just a little bit angry at her for killing his dad. House is also saved, but his near-near-death experience isn't enough to earn Cuddy's forgiveness for lying to her last week. Also, Wilson and his ex-wife/girlfriend's inability to handle a kid with cancer makes them want to be parents for some reason.
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House goes back in time and on the CGI high seas this week, as we open on a Dutch ship with a cargo of sick slaves. A doctor from land checks them out at the captain's request, as he is anxious to just dump the sick "cargo" overboard so he and his crew won't be quarantined and basically stuck on a ship full of contagious disease. The doctor orders the captain to keep his ship anchored at sea and takes the captain's logbook back to shore. As soon as he's gone, the captain tells one of his men to dump the sick cargo and "make a run" for shore because he's pretty sure they won't be allowed on otherwise. The crewmen start grabbing sick slaves and bringing them on deck, and the slaves soon figure out what's going on and what their fates will soon be. A sick father tells his seemingly healthy son that some other guy is his father now, as he knows he's about to be too dead to do much fathering soon. As the crew drags the father away from his son, someone back on land realizes that the ship is going to try to bring its quarantined cargo and crew to land and deal with the transgression by blowing a hole through the ship.
Well, that was tragic, but lo! In the present, white people are enjoying their Bermuda vacation. An apparently newly-married couple hang out on their boat and wait for their children, new stepsiblings, to come to the surface from their dive down to explore the sunken Dutch slave ship we saw back in its above-water days. The parents are happy to see their children bonding, and the kids, Julie and Roger, come to the surface bearing gifts -- a glass jar Julie found in the wreck and decided to steal even though she was expressly told not to take anything. The jar is full of something gross-looking, and when Julie's mother asks to see it, Julie accidentally slams it into the boat and it shatters in her hands, the contents of the jar spilling out onto her cut and bleeding palm. "What was in that jar?" her stepdad wonders. Well, seeing as you're on House, my guess is it's something horrible that can survive in an airtight jar for over 200 years. Unlucky.
House surprises the Cottages (still including Martha, but not Chase as he apparently doesn't show up for work until mid-morning these days) by coming to PPTH early with an exciting new case: a 16-year-old girl with smallpox. Martha the Genius informs us that smallpox was "eradicated" over 30 years ago, with Foreman adding that it only exists in tightly-controlled labs and theoretical terrorist cells. House says Julie just got back from Bermuda, where she was diving around a Dutch slave ship full of smallpox and brought up an airtight jar containing scabs from infected people that apparently they used to use back in the day as a sort of vaccination against the disease. While trying to figure all of this out, I came across a cool article that I think might have been the impetus for this episode. The article is about how someone found an envelope full of smallpox scabs in a library book from 1888 that apparently hadn't been checked out in a really long time. I once killed a spider by squishing it between two pages of a library book and thought that was a pretty gross thing to leave in there for the next person to find, but I guess it wasn't so bad, all things considered.