House Season 1 Episode 21: Three Stories
House has agreed to substitute for a sick teacher in exchange for a couple of hours off of clinic duty. Since, as Cuddy points out, House would rather hear himself talk than listen to patients, this trade was really a done deal from the moment Cuddy suggested it. House tries to talk it up to four hours off clinic duty, but Cuddy knows him too well.
As House leaves, he meets his ex-girlfriend Stacy, who wants him to examine her new husband who is having unidentified medical problems. House is reluctant to take on the case and admits he isn't sure if he wants Mark to live.
Now House is faced with the problem of teaching a class in diagnostics for which he hasn't prepared. He sits and thinks while the students watch him, wondering what's up with this strange teacher. Despite being unprepared, House has lots of experience and so he digs through past cases to use as example to teach his students.
Finally, House comes up with past patients he wants to use. He has two with similar initial symptoms, but needs a third. Normally, House thinks quickly and reacts immediately, but he ponders his choices for patients now. Finally, he decides to include himself as the third patient. He wanted three, he just didn't really want to include himself. But he just saw Stacy and that brought all his past back up in his memory and that's the only third patient he can see. Ultimately, he pushes ahead. It's not like these students will ever know it's him anyway.
The three patients House has chosen did not occur at the same time in reality, but for the purposes of his class, they do. The first case, the farmer, is actually the last case to happen chronologically, and House's team worked on this case although we've never seen that case or its resolution. The second case is another we've never seen, and it occurred chronologically in between the other two cases. Like the first case, House's entire team was on-hand. The third case took place much earlier, before House had a team, and before he even worked at the current hospital. This third case is House.
At the beginning of the lecture, we see scenes as if we were viewing the cases House is describing. But we aren't really, and you can tell by the tricks House plays with his storytelling. He pretends the volleyball player is a 40-year-old man, likely because a lot of diagnostic classes use that as the patient. He makes the golf player (who is really House) into Carmen Electra. Why? Because it's more fun that way. House is teaching them that some information is important, and other information isn't important and can even be distracting.
But as the lecture continues, the scenes we see slip from reflection of the lecture House is giving to actual scenes from the cases themselves. You see Chase and Foreman swabbing a dog's mouth, but the class hears that animal control does this. It isn't really important to the class that in reality House sent his team to do the work. What is important is that it got done. Even though the case scenes become more realistic, they still contain some humor, like when House mentions a case that hasn't happened yet to his team. But notice as he moves over to the whiteboard after making that comment and continues to discuss the case that "hasn't happened yet" that when we see his team again, they are all wearing different clothes; a subtle clue that we've just shifted in time to when the farmer's case actually did happen.
House's lecture interweaves the cases. The poor farmer finds himself in a tight spot. His dog has already bitten a neighbor, and there is a law in the farmer's city/county/state that if a dog attacks a second person, it must be put down. Now the farmer loves his dog. And unfortunately, the same law also says a doctor is required to report dog attacks. So the farmer hides this information, figuring the hospital can fix him up anyway even if it doesn't know it's his dog that did the damage. This leads House's team on a merry chase, which turns out to make a good case for the class to work through. It teaches them that patients don't always tell the whole story, and that death is a powerful force that sometimes provides answers to questions you thought you knew the answer to.
Ultimately, the problem becomes clear that the dog had a flesh-eating bacteria it was immune to, the farmer has his leg amputated, his dog is put down, he gets a new dog and a prosthetic leg.
The young volleyball player suffers from tendonitis and a thyroid condition. The latter is only discovered after an exhaustive exam by Cameron. Treating the thyroid condition leads to discovery of a cancer in her leg. Of the three cases, this case is actually the simplest and most normal.
So after surgery to amputate the leg and remove the cancer, the young girl recovers well enough to play volleyball again.
Finally on to House's case. At first House presents his own case as if he is a drug addict. He does this because that is what the hospital he went to thought he was. He walks his students right through all the same steps his doctors went through. His statement in the beginning of the class that one of the three patients would be thrown out for being a drug addict causes all his students to immediately identify his case as the drug addict.
In part, House's comments on the urine test he underwent on return to the hospital is sarcastic. He knew he wasn't seeking drugs and was really in pain, but the hospital didn't believe him and tried to dissuade him. As we know, House is not easily dissuaded and the results of that test turned out to actually provide a clue to what was really going on.
News of House teaching a class draws his team into the class. Cameron comes in first, being most interested in House as a person, and helps the students with part of the case diagnosis. Later, Foreman and Chase sneak in, being interested in House as professional.
As we realize the third patient is House, the students still do not. In fact, only House, his team, and Cuddy know the truth. House walks them through his past, using his pain to teach them, to help them learn, so that someday maybe they won't make the same mistakes that were made with him. He does it with skill and powerfully, never flinching, except twice, for the briefest of moments. One when he realizes Cameron is hearing his story, and the other when he sees Cuddy.
Meanwhile, in the past, the demerol patient/House has refused Cuddy's recommended course for one that will leave him with his leg still attached. Stacy is at his side as House analyzes the fact that the pain is bad but losing his leg is worse. House makes the call hospitals hate. But the pain is worse than he's expecting. His recovery is slow and interrupted by a near-death experience. He shares this moment with his class, in part because he wants them to understand, to feel, that the patient they are treating just died briefly. He replaces what he truly saw back then with images the class can relate to, images of the other two patients getting on with their lives despite their amputated lives. To make it past the pain, House opts to "sleep" through two days, hoping that afterwards the pain will be lighter and he'll be better able to cope.
Stacy talks to Cuddy who wants to know what she can do once House is in the coma. With House unconscious, she overrule his decision and opts for Cuddy's alternative, removing the dead muscle tissue from the leg. This ultimately leaves House as we see him now.
The lecture is over... twenty minutes late, as House has lost track of time when telling his story. As House leaves, he delivers a parting diagnosis of the sick professor he replaced, noting the lead-based paint he tasted in the "World's Greatest Dad" mug. Oh, and he also says he won't be teaching another class again. After he leaves, he calls Stacy... and sets up an appointment to see her husband.
Not written by me. Credit to Tv.com