House moves in with Wilson and quits PPTH to avoid falling back into his old life and bad habits. Instead, he takes up cooking upon the suggestion from Nolan that he find a hobby to occupy his time and take his mind off his increasing leg pain. But he ends up approaching cooking the same way he approached medicine, obsessing over it until he's the best chef ever but the leg pain continues.
Meanwhile, the Cottages have spent the past three months in other areas of PPTH, as without House, the diagnostic department does not exist. Foreman convinces Cuddy to give him a shot at taking over House's job, and she gives him one patient to see how it goes: a videogame developer who's smart enough to know that Foreman, Taub, and Hadley's hands are not the best ones to be in. After they get two diagnoses wrong and his symptoms get more and more uncomfortable and incompatible with life (giant lymph nodes, priapism, high fever), he decides to take his case to the internet masses and offers a $25,000 reward for the correct diagnosis. Foreman doesn't like this at all, but Hadley has to admit that some of the suggestions aren't so bad. Which then, of course, creates tension in their relationship now that they're boss and employee instead of co-workers.
Meanwhile, Taub gets himself another job. Bye, Taub! Come back soon! Please! In the end, Hadley is about to administer some deadly chemotherapy to the patient for one condition when Foreman realizes that he actually has Fabry's Disease. He's able to stop Hadley in time, but only because she realized it was Fabry's first -- by reading one of the internet guesses. Foreman gets to keep House's job but without Hadley at his side, as he fires her to save their relationship. I hope she dumps him for that. Jerk. As for House, he's $25,000 richer and coming back to PPTH on Nolan's recommendation after realizing that his leg pain only gets better when he's diagnosing.
We open on some terrible CGI of some kind of post-apocalyptic-looking building with shark tanks and pterodactyls. Soon enough, we discover that this is a virtual reality videogame, which means the CGI is not terrible after all. I thought for a second that we were supposed to think that this was all real, which wouldn't have been such a huge suspension of disbelief after last week's episode. A lizard-thing, a monkey-thing, and a cat-thing enter the room and come up with a plan to take out their enemies, which seem to mostly consist of the pterodactyls. Sadly, both the monkey and the lizard are eaten alive by the pterodactyls and their game's ended when the cat-thing disappears from the game. The players re-enter the real world and talk about improving the blood graphics while looking for their boss, Vince, who was playing the cat-thing. They're initially annoyed at him for abandoning them like Leroy Jenkins, but it turns out that he had good reason too: his hands feel like they're on fire.
Okay, these opening credits have gone on long enough. It's been two years! I don't want Olivia Wilde on the show either but she's earned a right to be more than an "also starring."
And, of course, Hadley's the first person we see as she tells ER patient Vince that all of their tests on possible hand-fire conditions have come back negative, so, as she so impressively puts it, "I dunno" what's wrong with him. He'll be transferred to a neurologist. Not so fast, says Vince, who apparently studies the local medical hotshots when he isn't creating his virtual reality games; "don't you have some famous diagnostics guy? What's he doing?"
Why, he's quitting his position as famous diagnostics guy, as it happens. For some reason, Foreman is in Cuddy's office with Cuddy and House and is the first to respond with "you can't quit." "I think you're confusing me with Jake Gyllenhaal," House says. I see the months-long stay at Mayfield had no effect on his ability to make gay jokes, although now they're pretty dated ones. "Are you okay?" Cuddy asks, because that's pretty much what her and House's relationship has become: him doing something unexpected and her asking if he's feeling okay while looking either annoyed or concerned depending on the situation. House says that he and his therapist think he needs to change his environment and his habits in order for his progress to continue. More bad advice from Dr. Nolan -- wouldn't the added stress of having to find a new environment and new habits and a new job (in this economy!) actually hurt House more than help him? On the other hand, it might be even more stressful to go back to a job and workplace where you had your little psychotic break and everyone knows about it. Although they've probably forgotten about all of that by now. The writers have. House wants to go into the research field. Cuddy asks House if he's really sure about this. He is: "I know this will affect both of you. And Thirteen. And the one with the nose. But I just can't risk coming back here." But he can make fun of Taub's Jewish nose, so I guess this newfound concern for others has its limits. Cuddy nods and accepts House's resignation as if she has a choice. Meanwhile, how is PPTH still open? Surely all the patients died when House wasn't around all summer to save them from the shoddy medical skills of Cameron, head of the entire ER; Chase, the only surgeon; Wilson, the worst cancer doctor ever; Foreman, who once had a patient die from a bra infection and is unemployable anywhere else; and Hadley, who got a job despite being responsible for a patient's death during the interview process. I guess Taub saved a lot of lives over the last three months.
"That was surprising," Cuddy says to Foreman. Really? This is like third time House has quit PPTH. But I guess it's the first time Cuddy could tell he meant it. As for Foreman, he wastes no time in asking Cuddy if he can have House's old job and run the Department of Diagnostic Medicine. "Somebody needs to do it," he says. Way to win Cuddy over with a compelling argument, Foreman. Who doesn't want to be hired by default? Actually, these days, I totally would, especially if it came with health benefits. Cuddy says no one needs to do it, as PPTH is the only hospital that even has a department of diagnostic medicine, created by and for House because he was just that awesome. Um, what? Didn't New York Mercy have its own department of diagnostic medicine, headed up by Foreman until he got himself fired? Or are we supposed to forget about that along with House's hallucinations? Foreman lets us in on what the Cottages have been doing while House was at Mayfield: they were reassigned to other departments so they could stay on the payroll while waiting for House to return. For that reason, alone, he thinks they should be allowed to return to their former fellow position. Cuddy says that Hadley, Taub, and Foreman are great doctors (WRONG!) that she wants to stay at PPTH -- just not as diagnostic fellows. "House was a genius," Cuddy says, silently suggesting that she doesn't consider Foreman to be on his level. And really, after all the shit Foreman pulled with getting fired from Mercy and not being able to get a job anywhere else and then screwing up the Huntington's trial, he should be thanking his lucky stars that Cuddy has a job for him at PPTH at all. Instead, he says "House was an egotistical pill-popping lawsuit magnet. And a genius," he finally begrudgingly admits. And since Foreman worked "with" (um, actually, that's "for," Foreman. There's a difference) House longer than anyone else, he's the best possible candidate for this job and wants a chance to prove to Cuddy that he can do it. She agrees to give him one shot.
And so, Taub, Hadley, and Foreman return to their offices, which were covered in sheets and left to rot for the past three months, break room food and all, frozen in time. Taub soon realizes how terrible his lot in life became with House's resignation as Hadley tells Foreman that his new boss role is "kinda sexy." Taub quickly gets to differential diagnosing Vince with diabetic neuropathy to change the subject. Foreman turns it down based on some tests results and removes the sheet (seriously, does PPTH really have that many extra sheets? They covered the meeting room with at least fifty of them!) from the Whiteboard O'Symptoms. But before he can remove the sheets from the no-doubt-individually-sheet-wrapped markers, Hadley comes up with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a diagnosis that Foreman and Taub can agree on. Foreman tells them to prepare Vince for spinal stimulation to prove it and points out that they're perfectly capable of doing this without House. Except that they haven't done anything yet. They don't even know if the diagnosis is correct. And we, the audience, all know that it isn't, since we're only a few minutes into the show. "Something's missing," Hadley says. "I'm short, he's black, you're gay ... ish," Taub supplies. Because a job worth doing is a job worth doing while being insulted.
But when Taub and Hadley go to Vince with their working diagnosis, he has the temerity to disagree, saying he thinks mercury poisoning from the large amount of sushi he eats is a better choice. "And you're currently getting mixed reviews in Speed the Plow on Broadway?" Hadley asks. But since her current audience is two straight men, the joke falls flat. "Google it," Hadley says, wishing House was still here because he totally would've gotten that if he hadn't said it first. She tells Vince that mercury poisoning is unlikely and unlikelier still that it would present as just pain. Vince turns his laptop around (they give the patients wireless at PPTH now? Bad idea) to show Hadley and Taub an article in the Atlantic Medical Journal with just such a case. Okay, but the Atlantic Medical Journal hasn't been published since 1928 as far as I can tell, so I don't know how valuable their cases are in these times. "Doctors make m