An extremely old-looking Joel Grey plays a renowned cancer researcher who stops by PPTH with fluid-filled lungs and a death wish. He's very particular about how he dies, though -- he wants House to assist his suicide. House won't do that until he knows whether his patient is terminal or not, and gets Joel to agree to a twenty-four hour stay of execution so House can figure out what's wrong with him. If he can't, House promises to kill Joel. Well, they don't, and House fakes everyone out and puts Joel in a coma instead of killing him and keeps right on going. This puts Cameron's nose out of joint, although she's not exactly sure why, since she doesn't know if she agrees with assisted suicide or not. Good thing she has this entire episode to Learn A Lesson. While she stages a locker room sit-in protest, everyone else works to figure out what's wrong with Joel. Unfortunately, House realizes that he'll need to wake Joel up to test one of his theories. While his theory that Joel's peripheral nerves are on the fritz is right, he now has an angry conscious patient on his hands. Joel refuses any additional tests or treatment, as he's apparently the kind of guy who goes to the hospital to not have any medical care at all, but they need to biopsy a piece of his skin. House orders Cameron to get it, and after a discussion with Joel about his past radiation experiments on newborn babies without parental consent or knowledge, she decides that if Joel can do that in the name of medical science, then she can, too. She takes the skin, and Joel is very proud of her for Learning Something instead of being pissed off that his patient rights have been thrown out yet again. They test it, and after House comes up with a last minute Brilliant Diagnosis, they confirm that Joel has amyloidosis. But oops! It's terminal! The next day, Joel is dead. Cuddy thinks that House granted his wish and killed him. But he didn't -- Cameron did! Man, when she makes a decision, she does it in the most final way possible. House shocks us by actually telling her that he's proud of her, because killing patients is a good thing now. All the doctors are doing it! Also, a Clinic patient's teenage daughter manages to turn her cute schoolgirl crush on House into a creepy stalkerish obsession in just a few scenes.
Class-say music plays. A lab-coated, shaky-handed Joel Grey kills and dissects a rat. Delicious. He's displeased to find a huge tumor in the rat despite his apparent best efforts to treat it. Then he gasps for air and collapses while all the other rats in the room probably laugh and point. One starts eating his lip for good measure. He probably would've called 911 if you hadn't just killed his brother, Joel.
House reports to work the next morning and hands the Cottages the file on their newest patient, Ezra Powell. He tells them to disregard the small lacerations on Ezra's face, as those are "creepy" but irrelevant to the case. Cameron disregards the case entirely to ask House why he's using his cane again and cast a few sympathetic glances his way. House won't answer her questions, even after the usually silent Foreman expresses some concern. He tells them to concentrate on their real patient, whose name they all recognize as a world-famous cancer researcher. Cameron can't believe that House actually admires one of his peers. I can't believe that this would make any difference in the dismissive and cold way House usually treats his patients.
The Cottages get down to diagnosing. Chase notes that Ezra's lungs are full of fluid and guesses there's a problem with his heart: amyloidosis. Hmmm! That's an interesting theory; wonder if we'll ever see it again? Foreman wonders if decades of breathing toxic lab fumes have damaged Ezra's lungs. House winces in pain and tells them to stop helping the guy breathe and see what "gives out" first: his heart or his lungs. That way, they'll find out where the problem lies. Chase points out that, at seventy-one, their patients' vital organs may not be in good enough shape to give back in. House doesn't really care about that.
Cameron helps Ezra into the stress EKG machine while he points out that he and another doctor were the creators of the device. The other doctor, Ezra grimly points out, died a few years ago. "I'm sorry," Cameron says, making her best sympathy face. Ezra says the guy was eighty-four and died parasailing: "He was always an idiot." I don't know, I think that's a rather smart way to die. Smarter than, oh, say, admitting yourself into a hospital under the care of a determined diagnostician and then expecting him to help you die without even figuring out what's really wrong with you or whether it's even terminal. Now that would be stupid. Cameron smiles at Ezra and the doctor-patient bond has been formed. Goody. Ezra gets started on the treadmill while Cameron, Foreman, and Chase hang out in the booth and talk about the return of their boss's cane. Chase bitterly remarks that he's sure that House will "handle it in a stoic, grown-up fashion" and not take his problems out on his fellows. Specifically the one fellow he's always taking his problems out on. Poor Chase. Meanwhile, Ezra's struggling on the treadmill, even though his heart rate isn't even approaching the target they need for accurate results. Cameron rushes in to cheer him on and then cancels the test. "This isn't working," she says