This week's patient saves a woman from being hit by a train and then collapses. House assumes there's something wrong with his brain or else he would never have risked his own life to save some random woman. Martha M. Masters, of course, believes that people can be selfless and heroic and that the patient has some kind of bacterial infection with no brain involvement. They're both wrong, although House stops caring about any of this after about ten minutes in order to focus on Cuddy's mother being in town for her birthday and his presence being requested at a celebratory dinner. Wilson, whose post-breakup whining House was hoping to avoid for one night, is also invited. House deals with both Wilson and Cuddy's mother (played by the always-amazing Candice Bergen!) by slipping sedatives in their wine. Ma Cuddy believes she got too drunk and passed out, and apologizes to House the next day for her behavior and for being an overbearing, judgmental mother. She seems to approve of Cuddy's boyfriend, showing that she is a terrible judge of character, and gives House his flash of diagnostic brilliance: the patient of the week has chicken pox. Also, Taub's wife's horniness causes them to separate.
We open in what appears to be a New York City subway station, so if someone ends up all the way in a New Jersey hospital from here, when there are plenty of great hospitals in New York to go to, I will be suspicious. Unless there's a Princeton-Plainsboro subway system I don't know about, and that's where we're supposed to be?
A father and his daughter wait for the next train, with the father played by Matthew Lillard at his most Lillard-ly. He crushes his daughter, Daisy's, dreams of pizza dinner with her dad by reminding her that he's "going back on the road" and so won't be joining them for dinner, which seems to be a fairly common occurrence in Daisy's life. Before their conversation can turn into a Harry Chapin song, some woman has a seizure and falls down on the train tracks. Various people standing on the platform call for someone else to help, but no one makes a move to do so until Matthew Lillard jumps on the tracks and carefully walks towards her. He doesn't know what to do after that, since she won't snap out of her seizure just because he asks her to and there's a train coming and no one else on the platform looks remotely interested in helping them up. They do wave at the oncoming train, but that's about it. Lillard ends up lying on top of the woman as the train runs them both over and comes to a stop in front a bunch of hilariously overacting extras.
The extras order the train driver to move it forward, because all they seem to be good at is telling other people what to do, and there's Matthew Lillard still lying on the tracks over the woman, seemingly untouched. The crowd on the platform assumes they're both dead until his hand moves and then he stands up to the applause and relief of everyone watching. Including his daughter, who no one thought to, like, grab and pull her away so she didn't have to witness her father's train-shredded body. Matthew Lillard notes from a medical bracelet on the no-longer-seizing woman's wrist that she has epilepsy and therefore will not be our patient of the week, as if we ever thought she would be when Matthew Lillard is guest-starring, and then, sure enough, just after he tells his daughter he's okay, his eyes roll to the back of his head and he passes out.
Oh, in the month since the last new episode I forgot that Martha M. Masters existed. But she's back and urging House to take on a case she found in the ER (yes, the ambulance took Matthew Lillard all the way from NYC to PPTH) which is only exciting to her because it's the Subway Hero. This is also interesting to House because he does not believe in Subway Heroes and thus considers that to be a symptom along with the abnormal EKG and passing out. Um, isn't House the guy who went under an unstable building in the last season finale to save that woman? And risked his own life several times for her? How is that any different from what Matthew Lillard did? Of course, Martha M. Masters believes that people can be heroes and therefore that it is not a symptom. Oh, good. Those two can fight over morals again. For the third episode in a row.
House shoots down all of her attempts to argue that people are selfless heroes, with Taub saying that one time when he was mugged, he was unable to do anything heroic because he fainted when he saw the mugger's gun. Chase makes fun of him for this, as if he's never done anything cowardly in his life and we all forgot about when he sold House out to Vogler in Season 1 because he was scared of losing his job. Anyway, House takes Taub's story as a show of support and orders them off to look for masses in Matthew Lillard's brain.
Chase and Martha M. Masters find Lillard, whose character is named Jack, basking in the glow of being a hero and beloved by all, even the PPTH employees who are either useless (security guards), sociopaths (that woman who worked in the pharmacy), or jaded by working in and around House (everyone else). Actually, they aren't so much in love with him as they are standing outside his glass-walled room and taking pictures with their cell phone cameras, which has got to be some kind of HIPAA violation. Jack says he doesn't remember much about the incident as his wife, Eva, finally arrives. She asks if he's okay before laying into him about how his heroic actions traumatized their daughter. Eva is mad at him because of this, like, would Daisy have been less traumatized if her father hadn't done anything and she watched a seizing woman get run over and killed by a train? Give him a break, lady.
House reports to Cuddy's office to try to get out of having dinner with her and her mother (!!!) this week. It's Cuddy's birthday dinner, though, so he must be clever about it. He says he's definitely coming to her birthday dinner, but he needs her advice on what to tell Wilson, since he made plans to see some film festival with him months ago and doesn't want to disappoint him too much since he's still getting over his break up. Cuddy falls for it and urges House to spend time with his sad friend and skip her dinner. She's doing this both to help Wilson and because she's just as willing to keep House away from her "handful" of a mother as he is to avoid her.
But then! House uses the same ploy that worked on Cuddy to get out of going to the film festival with Wilson, saying he really wants to go to the film festival with him and would never dream of canceling for something so unimportant as his girlfriend's birthday dinner with her mother. Of course, Wilson insists that House go to the birthday dinner instead of the film festival. Hmmm! What could House be up to? And does he really think he's going to get away with it when Cuddy and Wilson are sure to compare notes?
That night, Taub is on his way home when he sees a billboard with his face on it. Yes, PPTH is doing a little bit of advertising and he has been chosen as the face to represent them. "Be better," is PPTH's motto, which is fitting because PPTH really should be a better hospital than it is and Taub should really be a better person in general. But I'm not sure if it's a great motto for a hospital. Taub returns home to find his wife on her laptop, no doubt composing an email to her long-distance emotional affair. She comments on seeing Taub's billboard, and he says he couldn't even see his face past the nose. The people who write this show hate Peter Jacobson, I swear. Taub says they took a picture of the entire staff, so he has no idea why he's the only person in the ad. Mrs. Taub thinks it's due to Taub's good looks, as she has apparently never seen any of his co-workers' faces. Taub is confused as to why his wife seems to be flirting with him, since things have been tense between them since their fight at that wedding. Mrs. Taub doesn't think there's a problem anymore, since "Phil" isn't her boyfriend and she's never even met him, so there's no reason for Taub to be jealous. She says Taub is "still" her husband and she "still" loves him, so the fact that she's having an emotional affair with some other guy and refuses to cut it off shouldn't be a problem. I think Taub has a lot of nerve to have a problem with his wife emotionally cheating on him after he has physically cheated on her so many times, but whatever. I've long since stopped trying to understand the Taubs' relationship.
Even though Martha M. Masters isn't a real doctor yet, she still gets to perform procedures on patients, albeit under the semi-watchful eye of Chase, who doesn't understand why Martha M. Masters isn't more confident doing a procedure she's never actually attempted before. Is this part of PPTH's "be better" program? Because I don't see how letting someone who isn't even a doctor perform procedures is better. Guess what? As soon as Martha M. Masters tries to inject some dye into one of Jack's arteries, his blood pressure and heart rate rise and then his heart stops. I think that's a fail.
The next differential diagnosis session takes place outside in the middle of January just because House wants to do it in front of a bus stop ad for PPTH featuring Taub's face. He whips out a black pen and starts using the ad as a Whiteboard O'Symptoms, which we haven't seen him use in like three years. Nice to see it again. Maybe the Magic Schoolbus Cam will say hello next? Taub tells House to mock away, since that ad made his wife have sex with him last night. House finds it interesting that when Taub isn't on billboards, he sleeps with everyone but his wife. But when he is on a billboard, he sleeps with his wife. This seems backwards to House. Chase notes that his elbow is in the corner of the picture, so perhaps Mrs. Taub will want to have sex with him, too.
Martha M. Masters and her social weirdness innocently note that the marketing people put Taub in the ad and cut Chase off, then says that Jack's cardiac arrest shows that her theory that he has a heart problem is correct and House's that it's a brain problem is wrong. While the Cottages throw out a few possible diagnoses, House can't resist but use his black marker to draw on Taub's face, giving him a little moustache and advancing his hairline a bit. Taub now looks like either Charlie Chaplin or Hitler. I think we can all guess which one House was going for. Between that and Taub's big nose comment earlier, does writer Sara Hess have some kind of problem and/or obsession with Jews? Is she related to Rudolf Hess?
Anyway, House decides to go with Foreman's theory because it lets them do a test on Jack's pituitary gland and thus confirm House's belief that there's something wrong up there. The Cottages manage to talk House down to a less invasive and pituitary-poking set of tests first, and House tells them to go ahead and do them, then do his pituitary biopsy when their tests are negative.
Chase starts to explain the tests and their latest theory to Jack, only for Eva to cut him off and ask if they can have Taub as their doctor instead, since Chase has already been wrong once and Taub must be an awesome doctor since he is the "face of the hospital." Ha ha! Chase's ego deflates slightly as he goes to the hallway to call for Taub to take over. Taub is more than happy to oblige.
Cuddy and Wilson find House stealing food from the doctor's lounge. Sure enough, they did have a chance to talk to each other and discovered that House was trying to get out of pla