“Do you mean that ‘aw shucks’ kind of humility, or real humility…He thinks you do your job and what will be will be; I believe that what you and I do means something. He sleeps better at night; he shouldn’t.” I’m paraphrasing what I think is the most important speech in this outstanding espisode; perhaps one of the most important speeches in the entire series.
For the first time (I think) House expresses why he does what he does. Says it flat out to Foreman, who doesn’t really get it. It’s the perfect counterpoint to Foreman’s own contention that House blindly pokes and prods dangerously in patients bodies without any regard to the patient, just the puzzle. He says it just a few scenes before House explains the difference between Marty’s easy humility and House’s genuine humility in the face of disease.
What he does matters. He makes a difference, and that is important to him. House has never been content to return the patient to a poor quality-of-life status quo. When and if he can, he pushes to really help the patient leave the hospital better off; whether it’s getting a wheelchair-bound man walking; a brain damaged man begin living again; a paralyzed musician again living a full life. With the full use of his damaged legs.
Wilson accuses House of having a Rubik’s complex: a driving need to solve the puzzle (I was never able to solve Rubik’s cube no matter how many time and how many years I tried over and over to do it—I suspect that House has no problem with the old cube). And I think that House is more than fine with letting other (including Wilson) to believe that that is what drives him.
Of course, House’s drive allows him to help the musician John Henry Giles regain the use of his legs. He does so while risking his career (again) and following his own sense of doing what’s right…and not what’s correct. Correct would have been to allow JHG to die when the IVIG junked up his lungs. But House saw that Giles couldn’t have anticipated the treatment to have caused him to die. I agree with House that doing the right thing at that moment would have been to treat Giles. It’s like, for example, someone with a DNR having an allergic reaction to a drug he’s being treated with and goes into severe anaphylactic shock. Do you not treat that? It has nothing to do with the disease, just the treatment, and I think that’s where House was coming from.
Another thing I noticed in this episode was when they “pulled the plug.” House’s reaction to the upcoming “pulling” is quite different than anyone else’s. Wilson looks on intently as do the other docs and Cora. House can’t look. He looks away, his face full of emotion. The emotionless, rational, cold Dr. House is the one who is in agony. House takes life (and people’s lives) very seriously, I think. I remember in this season, put in the position of being asked to end Ezra Powell’s life (which House, much to everyone’s surprise, was not so willing to do); or SoCG. Foreman’s belief is that House takes this stuff lightly. Cameron asks him if he wants House to cry himself to sleep. Foreman says “yeah.” Thing is that House doesn’t sleep (when on a case, I would guess—or not very well) at all. And I think this is what sets House apart from Docs like Marty.
I think, by the end, Foreman understand who is the better, more serious practitioner. And who will be better to learn the right things about medicine from: Dedication, perseverance and willing to go beyond the conventional wisdom to the what’s best for the patient and not what’s best for the doctor or hospital.
Giles is the second (or third) in a long line of patients who love to psychoanalyze House. They see him hiding behind a mask, and try to see who and why he is like he is. Starting in the Pilot with Rebecca Adler; the nun in Damned if You Do and others all through all three seasons of House. But I was blown away by the final scene in this episode, where John Henry gives House his payback; his bit of satisfaction. House is moved beyond words when Giles gives him the trumpet. The look on House’s face is as if he’d gotten the most treasured gift in the world. His stunned gaze, eyes all misty was a powerful moment, topped only when Giles asks how many pills he’s been taking. House says simply, and with great emotion: “I’m in pain.” In that moment we’re not sure which pain House is talking about: his leg or his great emotional turmoil that has and continues to plague him. Hugh Laurie just nailed that moment. It still brings tears to my eyes, and makes the very next episode—Detox even more powerful.
I’m glad Fox decided to run this one again. I’d forgotten how simply great it was.