So Sara M is out this week with what I fervently hope is not lupus. But not to worry; I'm an expert on House myself, because it always seems to be on before 24 and Burn Notice so there are literally scores of episodes I've seen the last minute of. Also, my five-year-old son is a big Hugh Laurie fan, but all he had to contribute was, "Stuart Little's dad needs to shave."
A woman is banging away on an old manual typewriter, which is the first major sign that she's got something wrong upstairs. At least she's working in a nice study, where the walls are hung with framed cover reproductions of novels from what looks like a series about Jack Cannon, Boy Detective, by Alice Tanner. They have such exciting titles as The Castle of Stone and Light, The Map Of Tomorrow, and The Girl From Columbia (which is either about a university student or a typo). In none of these covers is the hero's face clearly visible, but that'll be remedied soon. Alice Tanner herself, played by a blonde Amy Irving, hammers frantically at the keys like she's on a tight deadline. In fact she's on the ultimate deadline, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Finally she pounds out THE END and slumps back in her chair in relief. Wow, that was a really short episode. Is it like this every week?
Oh, never mind, it's still going on. She's massaging her aching hands when a smart-ass teenager in the room suggests a cure: "It's called a computer." Whatever, he's playing with a yo-yo, so he's clearly not up on the latest electronic gadgetry himself. Shouldn't he be playing with a DS or some Silly Bandz or something instead? She tells him the book is finished, and he's not too cool to get excited about reading it. But she's not going to let him this time, instead walking across the room and locking the ream of paper in a safe. He wonders how he can help with the next book, but she breaks the news that there won't be one. He asks why, and she pauses to look at his face, his Bieber cut, and the gnarly scar on his cheek before saying she can't do it any more. "I'm not brave like you." As she returns to the desk, he wonders what she's going to do with her life without writing. "What I should have done years ago," she says, pulling a revolver from the desk drawer. The kid freaks, as Alice holds the gun barrel up, pointed vaguely towards her own face. "Put it down, or I'll make you!" he says unconvincingly. "How, Jack?" she asks. "You don't even exist." Sure enough, she's alone in the room; he was a figment of her suicidal, typewriter-using imagination. Yeah, the yo-yo was a dead giveaway. She tries to put the muzzle in her mouth, but her hands shake so badly that when the gun does go off, all she manages to do is give herself a powder burn on the cheek. She topples out of her chair, and the maid rushes in to see her producing what may be the last line of her career -- a line of drool.
At PPTH, House enters a comatose patient's room, but he's not there to doctor; he's there to loot. After sampling a chocolate -- which he hates so much he classily spits it into the bedpan -- he examines the two miniature stuffed animals on the bedside table, and that's how Wilson finds him, trying to decide which of the two will say to Cuddy, "I want to sleep with you more." House decides on the penguin all on his own (declaring the beaver "too high school," like that ever stopped him before), and Wilson's wondering why he's in trouble with his girlfriend. While also snagging a bouquet of flowers, House says he's never seen Cuddy happier. And he's happy too, which worries him. As they proceed down the hall, Wilson calls that normal. Ooh, that's low. But House is convinced that he and Cuddy have nothing in common besides work, which means their relationship is doomed, even if she doesn't plan to dump him right away: "We'll fight, makeup sex, fight, maybe sex, and then she'll dump me. With possible goodbye sex...I need to find something we both like doing besides each other." Wilson suggests talking to her about it, which House sees as the beginning of an inexorable spiral of mutual resentment. "At least with my plan I get my one a day with iron to the bitter end." One a day with iron? Is that what the kids are calling it? He suddenly thinks to ask if there's a reason Wilson is following him around, like there ever needs to be one, but this time there is: "You're not gonna believe who just checked into the ER."
Down in the ER, House sweeps into the curtain area where Alice Tanner is all dressed and thinking she's ready to go. She tells House she just fainted, and while beginning the exam, House tells her, "Huge Jack Cannon fan, by the way. Love your books." Alice is as surprised as I am by the compliment, but not because she knows anything about House: "My fans tend to be overly annoying teenage girls." So do House's, if you only count Wilson. House rolls his eyes about the whole Jack vs. Deacon controversy, "Like Sarah can't love both of them. I may belong to one or two online fan clubs." He asks her about the new book, but she's not the type who talks about her work. However, she offers him a deal: if he finishes the exam quickly, she'll answer one question about anything. "Who is Jack's real father? Who kidnapped his uncle?" House takes her up on it and asks, "Why'd you try to kill yourself?" Clearly Alice should have been more specific that she meant questions about the book, since that powder burn on her cheekbone was a little hard to miss. House presses, "So, change your mind at the last second, or are you just a lousy shot?" Okay, now she knows something about House. She's about to storm out, going back on her end of the deal, and dares House, "Try and stop me." Which means she clearly still has a lot to learn about him. So the next lesson he gives her is to call out to the security guard, "This woman is on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. If she tries to run, shoot her. With a sedative. It's more convenient." And less repetitive. I don't know how legal that was, but Alice is definitely on a House crash course now.
House fiddles with his stolen flowers in the lobby while the Cottages gripe about being called back to work for a woman who had a seizure. "While trying to commit suicide," House corrects. He tries to appeal to their sense of compassion and humanity, but since they know he doesn't have one of his own, he has to up the ante by adding she's the author of Jack Cannon, Boy Detective, "beloved by millions." "By girls between 10 and 14," Chase corrects. Foreman disgustedly asks, "So we're taking this case because you're a fan?" House says that would be crazy and unprofessional; "You're taking this case because I said so." In other words, on the orders of someone crazy and unprofessional. He tells Foreman and Taub to observe Alice overnight for further seizures, and cuts Chase loose, "because he brought a smokin' hot babe," House explains. They all turn to see the miniskirted blonde waiting outside with her cigarette. See? Smokin'! House shoots down Taub's lame attempts to plead plans with his wife, saying Taub hates his personal life and adding to Foreman, "and you obviously don't have one." House sends Chase on his way with a flower. "I'd stay myself," House tells Taub and Foreman, "but I just bought the flowers." That would be a lame excuse even if the flowers weren't stolen.
House and Cuddy are making a quick stop at a big stone pile of a mansion before their 8:00 dinner reservations. "We need to pick something up from a haunted house?" Cuddy asks. House corrects her that it's "A Gothic revival masterpiece" and hopes to live in one like it someday. Because we have to start hammering the theme of how they have nothing in common in their first five seconds onscreen together. Once inside Alice's study -- because of course it's her house -- House makes out like he was asked to read a friend's manuscript. But