May 10, 2010
Episode Number
6.21 Rating
Final Diagnosis
Severe Allergic reaction to tattoo ink
Zebra Factor
"For a year, I’ve done everything you’ve asked, and everybody else is happy. I run my treadmill, you just sit there and watch. You’re a faith healer. You take advantage of people who want to believe. There’s nothing in your bag of tricks."

Baggage is a 6th season episode of House which first aired on May 10, 2010.

House starts drinking heavily and his life starts to spiral downwards after he gets in a bar fight he can‘t even remember. Cuddy realizes he may need constant supervision to stay off Vicodin. House seeks help with Dr. Nolan during his regular session at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, and House even tries to reconnect with his former roommate, who is facing problems of his own. Meanwhile, Wilson wonders if he has to send House out of the condo to make room for Sam Carr.

During his regular session with Dr. Nolan, Nolan is sure that something is really bothering House, but instead of talking about it, House seems intent on recounting the case of a woman who arrives at the Princeton Plainsboro emergency room with no recollection of who she is, but obvious signs of being well-to-do. House tells Dr. Nolan how he solved the mystery of the woman's illness and help her re-establish her identity, but Dr. Nolan focuses on the story outside the story in order to find out what’s really bothering House, only to have House strike back.


House arrives late for his regular weekly psychotherapy session with Dr. Nolan. He wants to know why House is late and House blames it on his leg being more sore than usual. He denies any unusual stress and puts it down to the weather. Dr. Nolan asks House to tell him about his week.

House starts telling him about a patient with amnesia. The MRI showed no abnormalities and she didn't have ID. However, House notices that she has expensive running shoes. He figures someone will come looking for her. The patient asks when she gets to eat and the nurse says she was fed 15 minutes ago. However, House doesn't think she's forgotten eating - he thinks she's hungry. He thinks it might be a metabolic disorder as the patient is in amazing physical shape. She's most likely an extreme long distance runner.

Dr. Nolan interrupts to ask why House was in the emergency room. He finally admits he was hiding from Wilson. Earlier in the day, Wilson had asked him when he planned to leave the condo because Wilson wanted to have Sam move in. House suggests moving back to 221B Baker St., but he realizes that Wilson didn't suggest it because that's where he used drugs and hallucinated.

Dr. Nolan asks if House is really fine that Wilson wants him out. House asks why wouldn't he be fine. Dr. Nolan wants to know if House feels betrayed or angry. However, House rationalizes that its only because Sam is moving back. However, Dr. Nolan isn't buying it because House was late for the appointment, he didn't notice the new art in the lobby, and he took the amnesia case without protest. House said the case was interesting, but Dr. Nolan noted that House isn't interested in mental illness and the amnesia probably was caused by trauma and wasn't due to an underlying condition.

However, House looked at the scans and noticed that there was little differentiation between white matter and grey matter in the brain. Given that it was in the area controlling memory, it might not be a coincidence. The team made suggestions and House shot them down. Dr. Nolan interrupts the story again to ask if he needs to hear this. However, Dr. House finally suggested looking for the serial number of her portable heart monitor and tracing it to the store that sold it.

House agreed to take the patient back to the neighbourhood to jog her memory. Dr. Nolan found that unusual. House admitted to doing it to avoid Wilson, but Dr. Nolan suggested he did it to avoid going back to his old apartment. However, House admitted he had already gone back to his old apartment after leaving Wilson's. He found Alvie living there. Dr. Nolan wondered what Alvie was doing there. Alvie had been painting the apartment. He told House that when he was released from Mayfield he was being chased by immigration and found House's window open. He painted because he wanted to earn his keep. He had been there for over two weeks and had sold House's coffee table and other possessions to pay for the paint. House tries to throw him out, but tells him to fix the walls and leave before he gets back from work.

Dr. Nolan found it curious that House would throw out Alvie just after Wilson threw out House. However, when House returned home, Alvie was still there. Dr. Nolan wanted to know why House didn't get more assertive with Alvie and figured he wanted him there as a distraction. He wanted to know why House needed distracting.

House and Alvie lead the patient around, but she isn't recognized at the store where they stole the heart monitor. Alvie is explaining his problem with immigration - although he was born in Puerto Rico, he had trouble proving it because he lost his birth certificate and the original records were destroyed in a fire. Instead of going through a long involved process, Alvie tried to forge the birth certificate and now immigration doesn‘t believe him and he skipped a hearing. House reassures the patient that someone will come looking for her. Suddenly, Alvie wants donuts. House realizes that the patient probably eats a lot and walks in. The store clerk recognizes her, but she can't remember her name. However, her boyfriend left his business card. They visit his house and he recognizes her and calls her Sidney. He's not her boyfriend but her husband.

The patient looks at a wall full of running trophies. The husband had called hospitals, but hadn't called Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital because it seemed too far away on foot. House tells him it might be something environmental. Sidney is a civil rights lawyer. House tells Dr. Nolan that it was strange because Sidney was more comfortable with him than her husband. Dr. Nolan asked if he found the dependency attractive or disturbing, but House says she was just an interesting patient. Sidney and her husband have been married for four years. Alvie collects the household chemicals and the husband tells them she just finished a case involving methane. House plans to treat her for methane poisoning, but as they start to take her back to the hospital, she stumbles. Alvie notices her pants are wet. House realizes it isn't methane - she has partial complex seizures and incontinence. However, Dr. Nolan notices that House's diagnoses mirror his own past - his own battle with toxins (Vicodin)) and a seizure from an old brain injury, just like his old leg injury. House claims he isn't threatened by his own past. In fact he went back to get the stuff Alvie sold. However, the pawn shop owner has already sold one of his books. The pawn shop owner wants $500 for the other stuff, and House lays down his credit card.

Dr. Nolan wants to know why it was important to get his stuff back, especially when he paid five times what it was worth. House gets angry and insists his actions aren't about Wilson.

House and Alvie play a little football in the apartment. Suddenly, someone knocks - it's Wilson. House skips that part of the story and Dr. Nolan wants to know why House didn't tell him what Wilson said but wanted to talk about Nerf football. House said Wilson only came by because he wanted to see if House was okay. Alvie breaks a necklace that he got from his mother. House tells Alvie he has set up a new immigration hearing for Alvie, but he wants nothing to do with it. Dr. Nolan asks why House cared enough to set up the hearing. Taub calls that the patient has been up for 12 straight hours with no seizure. House asks if the stress level is high enough but Taub tells him that the patient and her husband are arguing about working all the time. Dr. House tells Dr. Nolan that when the patient's brother died when she was in college she decided to give up her lifestyle of fun and start working hard, but now the memories of her dedication to her work are gone. House realizes Dr. Nolan has a theory about House‘s patient, but Dr. Nolan won't share it and asks House why he cares about Nolan‘s theory. House's theory is that without her memories she's gone back to before the brother's accident and is looking at her current life and finding it boring. However, Dr. Nolan doesn't agree. If she was bored, she would be polite. The problem is the same problem he has with House - the husband is forcing a history on her she doesn't remember and she feels like it is forced intimacy. His feeling that he is losing his wife makes him come on stronger, and that just drives her further away.

Next, the patient started having trouble breathing. She was put on oxygen. It turned out to be fluid in her lungs. They start thinking about diabetes insipidus due to damage to the hypothalamus. Other brain damage is causing amnesia and foot paralysis. Dr. Nolan wonders what this has to do with House’s problems. House tells him the patient had spongiform encephalitis and House convinced his team to cut out her amygdala, which would result in the loss of her long-term memory. Dr. Nolan starts to get angry with Dr. House for treating the case as if it means nothing. He reminds him that House knows that he's supposed to share how he feels and that he chose to talk about the case. He won't believe it means nothing to House other than it being an interesting case. Dr. Nolan grabs a magazine and starts reading it until House starts to open up. Dr. Nolan finally asks about a bruise on House's arm. House says he doesn't remember how he got it because he was drunk at the time. Dr. Nolan says it looks like someone kicked him. House admits he got into a fight but can't remember what happened. Dr. Nolan asks him why he got that drunk, and Dr. House says he doesn't know. Dr. Nolan realizes that House was in the bar looking for someone to hurt him and wants to know how much trouble he's in. He wants to know why House is punishing himself and how he screwed up. House says he doesn't know. However, he admits there may be a problem.

Dr. Nolan gets House to talk about Wilson. House get his missing book back by convincing the pawn shop owner it's carrying anthrax and they have to find it. Wilson admits he may have been hasty asking House to move out, and asks him to come back for a little while until he can find a new place. However, House tells him to stick to his guns. Dr. Nolan wants to know why House was so hard on Wilson when Wilson was trying to apologize. House figures Cuddy put him up to it. It explains why Wilson changed his mind. Sam would never try to get House back. He figures it was Cuddy because she was always calling him about the patient, which she never does without a reason. She said it was because the patient was a lawyer, but House reminded her that the patient couldn't remember her own name. She was also using the same phrase as Wilson - ‘touching base‘. House describes the conversation he imagined Wilson and Cuddy had about him. Dr. Nolan figures that House imagines they don't trust him. However, Dr. Nolan reminds House that their lack of trust is their problem, not his. Dr. Nolan has his own version where they are concerned about House, but not overly-so. However, House isn't buying it and calls in his version of Taub to end Dr. Nolan's narrative and tell him they are having consent issues with the patient. They discuss who is right about Cuddy and Wilson, and Dr. Nolan says there is probably truth in both versions. Dr. Nolan asks why he's friends with Wilson. House defends Wilson as a great friend and Dr. Nolan points out that isn't how House portrayed him. House admits he can say anything he wants to Wilson without driving him away. Dr. Nolan reminds House that Wilson won't be around as much anymore. House figures Wilson will probably divorce Sam again anyway. However, he admits he hasn't discussed this with Wilson. Dr. Nolan figures that House's problems lie elsewhere and again asks him why he's punishing himself. He asks if anyone else is angry with him. House admits there are others who are angry with him.

The patient wants to consent to the brain surgery, but the husband is willing to go to court to stop her from losing her memories. House tells him that without the surgery, the prion infection will destroy her whole brain. However, House notices something on the monitor - her heart rate variability has meant the infection has spread to the brain stem. It's inoperable and moving fast. House orders a pacing wire, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. They can't cure it, but they can keep her alive for a couple of more weeks, during which time she may regain her memory.

Dr. Nolan asks if House was really that cruel when he broke the news, and House admits that he was because the husband was an idiot for putting off the surgery. Dr. Nolan wants to know why House was so angry and why the wife got caught up in the cruelty as well. House said he was angry because the husband put the marriage before his wife's life. He says people's brains stop working when they think they are about to lose someone they love.

House is trying to get his book back, but the buyer won't part with it because it's so valuable. However, he gets Alvie to steal it.

Back at the hospital, Taub brings in the fluoroscope they used to place the pacing wire. It shows rapidly progressing cardiac myopathy. It can't be spongiform encephalopathy and, whatever it is, its spreading through the whole body. All of a sudden, immigration officers come to arrest Alvie. Alvie realizes House turned him in after he missed his hearing.

House is at the courthouse with Alvie consulting with his team by phone. He is trying to figure out what is rapidly progressing and affects the brain and heart. Thirteen thinks it is something throwing clots in the heart. Dr. Chase figures the patient's running suppressed her immune system. House thinks it is tuberculosis and orders treatment and testing for the team.

During the hearing, House presents a note showing DNA evidence showing Alvie's matriarchal lineage. Alvie realizes House faked the test. Alvie embraces him, but realizes he has lied.

The patient is crashing when House returns and notices something on her ankle - a tattoo. She had it partially removed, but there was still ink in the deeper layers of the skin. House realizes she was suffering from an allergy to the ink that didn't express itself until she started running. All she needed was a skin graft. Dr. Nolan realized House was right - it was about her past. The patient started to recover, but her memory still hasn't returned. The husband started treating her like they had just met, and Dr. Nolan realized that House had thought of that before he did and suggested it to the husband. He also realized House was fixated on the case because of the relationships.

However, although Dr. Nolan thought House had gained a relationship with Alvie, but House told him that Alvie had left to go stay with his cousin in Arizona. House started drinking, but denied anything had happened. Dr. Nolan felt the fight House got into was over relationships. House told Dr. Nolan that everyone was happy, but when he mentioned Cuddy and Lucas were moving in together, Dr. Nolan realized that House hasn't mentioned that before. Dr. Nolan did a Google search and realized that the book House was so desperate to get back was written by Cuddy's great-grandfather. He said he bought it years ago to give to her as a gift for a special occasion. He protested it was just a gift, but Dr. Nolan said it was significant that House hadn't mentioned the relationship Cuddy was having with Lucas. He told him he was identifying with the husband of the patient, who was also losing someone he loved. House said it would be pathetic to get drunk about that. He also tells Dr. Nolan that although he's followed Nolan’s advice for a year, he's still miserable. Everyone is happy except him. House compares Dr. Nolan to a faith healer. House figures that he can't be helped and that Dr. Nolan doesn't have the answers. Nolan implores him to stay, but House leaves.

Major EventsEdit

  • Wilson asks House to leave the condo.
  • House returns to 221B Baker St.
  • House goes to great lengths to recover a book Alvie sold to raise money, which turns out to be a text written by Cuddy’s great-grandfather.
  • House reveals that Lucas is moving in with Cuddy.
  • Angered that Nolan has confronted him about his feelings for Cuddy, House stops seeing him on the pretext that Nolan hasn’t helped him.

Zebra Factor 2/10Edit

Severe allergic reactions of this type are not rare. It is also not uncommon for an allergy to develop over a long period of time. Allergies to tattoo ink are somewhat more rare, but not unheard of.


The title is a reference to a colloquialism for difficulties in a person’s past that tend to interfere with their attempts to deal with issues in the present. In this case, House is dealing with the baggage of relationships:

  • his friendship with Wilson.
  • his possible love for Cuddy and the fact that she and Lucas are moving in together.
  • his friend/enemy relationship with Alvie.

Trivia & Cultural ReferencesEdit

  • Monet is a French Impressionist painter who was active in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
  • Puerto Rico (Spanish for “Rich Port”) is an island in the Caribbean Sea. It became a commonwealth of the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898, and although the residents do not elect members to Congress or vote in U.S. Presidential elections, all persons born in Puerto Rico are American citizens and may vote if they reside in any of the fifty states. Puerto Rico is still largely Spanish speaking, although English has made more inroads over the past decades.
  • Surfing is a sport that developed from Polynesian culture and was introduced to the rest of the world through its popularity in Hawaii during the early part of the 20th century. It is now common anywhere there are waves.
  • The fictional book written by Cuddy’s great-grandfather is “Approach to the Acute Abdomen by Ernest T. Cuddy, M.D.”. The title is commonly used for any article on the subject.
  • House and Alvie play with a Nerf Football, made out of a polyester resin foam that makes it very light.
  • The magazine that Nolan reads is WoodenBoat, a publication for fans of wooden watercraft.
  • Dr. Nolan calls Wilson a "manipulative Iago". Iago is an antagonist from William Shakespeare's Othello who plots Othello's downfall.
  • Sidney’s tattoo “Eddie Would Go” is a famous phrase in surfing culture about lifeguard and surfer Eddie Aikau. Aikau was renowned for being so brave that he would attempt rescues in conditions that would scare off any other lifeguard.
  • Bergman is most likely a reference to Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman.
  • At 5 minutes and 36 seconds of this episode, one can notice that the CT scan of the patients brain is the same as the scan House used to fake cancer in the season 3 episode Half-Wit.
  • The irony in Alvie's actions is that he wants to be a law-abiding citizen, but illegally entered House's home and sold his possessions without permission.
  • After Alvie's hearing, he thanks House by saying he's going to repaint the whole apartment and make the drapes match the carpet. This is the reverse of a common pickup line, "Does the carpet match the drapes?"

Real life - Puerto Ricans and immigration statusEdit

Alvie isn't the only Puerto Rican who has trouble proving citizenship. During the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, Eduardo Caraballo spent three days in jail before he could convince authorities that he was born in Puerto Rico.

End Credits Message Edit



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