The first House of the new year fails to excite when House and Stacy are stranded at the Plot Contrivanceville International Airport with nothing to do except share a hotel room and talk about their complicated relationship for the umpteenth time. Since Stacy's had a fight with her husband, she seems to think it's okay to put the moves on House, as long as a strange Indian-food analogy is used. They kiss, but are interrupted by the Cottages, who are back at home trying to cure the Patient of the Week. Fletch is your typical edgy, danger-loving reporter -- complete with silly reporter name -- until he collapses and gets aphasia, followed by organ failure. Lost without their fearless leader, it takes the Cottages a good forty-five minutes to figure out that Fletch only tries to tell them something about his condition when his wife is out of the room. Via speakerphone, House figures out that Fletch is secretly bipolar and tried to cure himself to become the kind of man he thought his wife would want. He went to South America for an experimental brain surgery that didn't work and left him with a case of cerebral malaria. Case closed. House and Stacy's relationship issues will live to bore me another week, and the Cottages get some screen time of their own to spend bickering with each other in some of the more enjoyable scenes of this episode.
I was so close to writing ten pages of nonsense words and sending it off to Wing Chun with the excuse that this episode was so off of House's usual greatness that I came down with a case of aphasia myself, but just writing the blurbs in aphasia language was probably more exhausting that doing them in English, so I gave up. ["It's probably just as well, since I have no idea how I would edit that. 'She wrote "strawberry," but I'm sure she meant "stilts"'?" -- Wing Chun] Sorry, aphasiacs! You'll just have to run the recap through the English-Aphasic translator at www.babelfish.aphasia.stringcheese/modulator_racoons again.
A large banner wishes Greta a happy retirement, thereby putting the odds on her being our latest patient of the week at 3:2. A rugged-looking man, in a slow and flat tone that shows us all why he's not an on-air personality, tells the assembled office party a story from his danger reporter days about how Greta, his managing editor, was there for him when the police wanted him to give up a source, although not so much that she wouldn't stop him from going to jail. Kind of like that episode of Murphy Brown, except probably not as funny, although I'm sure Greta is much more entertaining than that annoying Miles. Now that Fletch is forty-five, he exposits that he's given up the life of a hard-boiled reporter from a '40s noir movie (seriously, his name is "Fletch"? Why not just call him "Scoop Whitley," throw a fedora with a press card in the hatband on his head, and get it over with?), and all the drinking and drugging that apparently went with it, for a new life with his new wife, and then toasts Greta. Great toast there, Mr. Self-Absorbed. The crowd applauds, and Greta smiles shyly. She seems nice. Too bad she's doomed to become the patient of the week. Or maybe not, as Fletch finishes his speech with a truly amazing fall to the ground, smacking his face on a nearby desk on his way down. Wife and Greta run to his side and revive him. Fletch wakes up and announces that he "flung the investment." Everyone laughs nervously. Fletch gets to his feet and repeats the nonsense words. No one is laughing anymore. Fletch seems confused at the reaction. "Why can sign?" he asks. Greta goes to call 911. "It's proficient," Fletch says, sounding annoyed. "Why disqualify the rush? I'm tabled." He's apparently unaware of the difference between what he thinks he's saying and what he's actually saying. Unless Greta comes down with some flesh-eating bacteria problem on her way to the phone, it looks like she won't be the patient of the week after all.