House M.D. returned from yet another hiatus last night (this one four weeks) with an episode that filled in more of House’s back story. We meet his mother again and solve the case of a blind diabetic. The excellent comedian Billy Connolly stole most of the show as—maybe?—House’s biological father. More below, but first a spoiler alert: check for any birthmarks and then watch “Love Is Blind” before reading on.
The blind diabetic, an accountant named Will, is played by guest star Michael B. Jordan, whose casting made me pine for Friday Night Lights. We see him walk out of a jewelry store and then have a psychotic episode on the street—every sound drives him crazy, and he’s nearly hit by several cars.
At the first DDX, House says he’s hyperglycemic and hypoosmolar (which is both a body-fluid problem and also an awesome word). Except he’s not hypoosmolar, according to Adams (I think the writers just wanted to use that word). Park suggests drug abuse, but Taub says his tox screen was clean.
Just then House sees Wilson (yay, a Wilson episode) escorting House’s mom through the lobby. House, who has a highly complicated relationship with his parents, says Wilson—whom he calls his “former BFF”—is “S.M.I.T.B.A.W.S.” (“stabbing me in the back as we speak”—which I hope becomes a meme).
The DDX breaks up when Park suggests Will had a seizure caused by noise-induced epilepsy. House orders an EEG and says the Team should blast Will’s brain with harmonics to confirm. Then House takes some Vicodin (which means you bingo players need to take a shot). Seeing his mother Blythe (Diane Baker, better known as the senator in The Silence of the Lambs), House also tells the Team to tell anyone who asks that he’s at an out-of-state medical conference now and has spent the prior year in Africa with “Doctors Without Boundaries.”
Chase and Park go see Will, who says he’s never had a seizure. Chase points out they can be mild—even just a loss of concentration (which would mean I’ve had thousands of seizures in the past week alone).
Park chimes in with the first good joke of the night: “I’m Dr. Park, by the way. I’m 5’2”. I’m Asian. And I would be totally cool with it if you want to feel my face.” Will’s apparent girlfriend, Melissa, responds: “Blind people only do that in movies.”
As Wilson and Blythe have lunch in the cafeteria, Wilson notices a hospital bracelet on her wrist. She brushes it off (she says she had some moles removed), which means of course it will turn out to be important. And, indeed, when Blythe steps away for a minute, Wilson finds that her purse holds a book on dealing with terminal cancer.
Adams and Taub conduct the harmonics test, but Will doesn’t seize. Instead, he starts to choke on his own blood. And so we have this week’s coughing-up-blood scene. Except that he also coughs up three of his teeth, which had lodged in his throat.
Chase suggests heavy-metal poisoning, but Taub points out that other accountants in his office would also have it (but why couldn’t he have gotten it at home?). Park suggests a very House-like diagnosis: Melissa poisoned him. She’s pissed off because he had asked for a “break” from their relationship—presumably so he could screw around before the two of them marry. Park wonders why she would give him “a free pass to pork other women.”
“Because he’s handicapped!” House yells from the speaker phone. “Women feel sorry for us. This cane is tail-bait.” (Later we discover that the break was actually Melissa’s idea.) House then diagnoses an unusually straightforward illness for him: periodontitis, an oral infection exacerbated by Will’s diabetes. Chase says it wouldn’t cause auditory hallucinations, but Taub points out that an infection could have spread to his brain. House orders broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Meantime, he has kids from the children’s ward make drawings showing him in Africa in order to convince his mom that he really was there. (It was established in season five that his mom is one of the few people he has a hard time lying to, so he needs “elaborate props” to do so.) But Wilson finds him and breaks the news about her probable cancer.
House goes to see his mom at the hotel. He hesitates at the door but then knocks, comes in and asks for her medical records and the name of her doctor. But it turns out that she’s entertaining her beau, Thomas Bell (Connolly), whom House sees naked (later he says Bell has a “jurassic schlong”). Mom has turned the tables and lied to House. This is complicated by the fact that House has long believed Bell is his biological father (they share a birthmark on their penises, which House first noticed at age 12). He knows that he is the product of an affair his mother had with someone other than her husband, John House, whose funeral we saw in season five. (House confirmed that John House wasn’t his biological father with a DNA test.) Now mom and Bell are getting married. House is dumbfounded.
Will has a seizure, and at the next DDX, Adams says she wants to put epilepsy back on the table. But Park says it’s drugs, and she can prove it: something in Will’s apartment was dosed with acid. She’s “seriously tripping balls right now” and hallucinating (she sees a rabbit man and later says a rabbit stole her teeth); Charlyne Yi is perfect in these scenes.
Will says he tried LSD because he’s been blind since birth and wondered if the drug would help him see something, even just colors. He says his girlfriend gave him the acid, but the girlfriend isn’t Melissa. He wants to marry someone he met during the break Melissa gave him. He had proposed to Melissa, but she suggested the break, which hurt him. Then he met someone else.
But marrying may be difficult for him: he has a dark spot on his MRI. House thinks it’s a clot: cerebral venus sinus thrombosis, an appropriately rare brain condition. But what caused the condition? Adams, idiot, suggest lupus (has she ever seen the show?). House says it’s Behcet’s Syndrome, an inflammation of the blood vessels that can cause blindness. House orders steroids to treat the inflammation.
Bell and Blythe are waiting in House’s office, where Bell reveals that he and John House had been as close as brothers. But Bell and Blythe shared lefty politics that John House, a strict Marine, didn’t. That’s house Bell and Blythe became close: their shared secret of joining Vietnam war protests.
Cut back to Will, who is yet again coughing up blood. Park, who has come down, suggests that the clot has moved to his lungs. House likes that explanation because at least it means Will might live. He orders an increased dose of heparin, which can break up clots, as well as a CT of his lungs, which does indeed show a clot.
House is at dinner with his mom, who reveals that she and Bell have actually been married for a while—they wed two months after John House died. House tries to coax her into admitting that Bell is his father. When she doesn’t take the bait, House stands in the restaurant and shows the table his penis. Bell sees the distinctive birthmark and gets pissed off at Blythe, didn’t tell him all these years that “this bloody lunatic is my son.” He also calls House “a pill-popping sociopath”; his argument is that if he had been allowed to be House’s father, House wouldn’t have turned out to be … House.
Meantime, Will isn’t doing well. Tissue in his eyes has necrotized, which Behcet’s wouldn’t have caused. House looks at the scan of his lung and offers the Final Diagnosis: mucormycosis, a fungal infection. He breathed in spores at some point, and the infection has been growing ever since. His diabetes compromised his immune system and allowed the infection to spread faster. House orders amphotericin B, which will treat the fungal infection but—as Adams points out—interact with the antibiotics in a way that will probably leave him deaf as well as blind.
Will refuses the treatment—he says he would rather be dead. But Adams gets Melissa to come back and convince Will to take the anti-fungal. She also says she loves him and would stay with him through anything. He holds her and then proposes—which raises the question of where the other girlfriend is (we never find out).
The final scene finds House in Wilson’s office. House saw Wilson take Bell’s fork at dinner and asks what the DNA test showed. And the reveal: Bell isn’t his father, leaving the question of House’s paternity open once again. House says, “You know what this means?” Wilson: “Your mom’s a slut.” House: “That, and she’s not as boring as I thought she was.”
I enjoyed “Love Is Blind” mostly because of Billy Connolly and partly because it made me curious about how (and whether) the writers will tie up the many loose ends of House’s past, present and future. Any thoughts?