- House: "Steroids isn’t fascinating, it’s moronic. There’s no other sign of hormonal imbalance. What’s fascinating is that you equate discipline with bullying. Which means that your parents either disciplined you too much or too little. I’m guessing too little. "
- Masters: "It’s hardly surprising you agree with our patient’s philosophy. You’ve run your department like a boot camp as if cruelty insures performance."
- House: "…Oh! Is this where I’m supposed to disagree with you?"
- — Carrot or Stick
Carrot or Stick is a 7th season episode of House which first aired on January 24, 2011. An instructor at a military style detention camp collapses. The team is stumped until one of the teenagers at the camp is admitted with similar symptoms and the team finds something else they have in common. Meanwhile, Chase's womanizing seems to catch up with him when embarrassing photos show up on a social networking site and he desperately tracks down his recent encounters to find out who is responsible. House starts to seem genuinely concerned about Rachel Cuddy when Lisa Cuddy starts worrying about whether Rachel will get into a prestigious preschool, so House starts coaching Rachel to improve her chances. Nigel Gibbs reappears as Chairman of the Board Sanford Wells.
Some young men are running through an obstacle course in the rain at a military style camp. The instructor is pushing his charges through the course despite the conditions. However, as one of the teens complains he’s hurt himself and the instructor is screaming at him, the instructor complains his back hurts and he collapses in pain. The teen, who was treated badly when he was in pain, walks away after delivering a sarcastic remark.
Chase arrives at work to find the rest of the team looking at his social media profile. It appears someone posted a naked picture of Chase showing he has a very small penis. Chase protests it’s not true and the team backs down when he threatens to prove it. Taub recognizes the hotel where the picture was taken – it’s where the Chairman of the Board had his wedding. Masters thinks this will narrow it down until Foreman tells her Chase slept with three different women that night. Chase shuts down the computer just before House walks in. He tells them the patient is a former marine who has back pain and a bladder he can’t empty. Masters notices the patient is in suspiciously good shape and guesses anabolic steroid abuse. House shoots her down and says she can’t equate discipline with abuse. Masters implies House is a bully too. House doesn’t disagree. Chase says they have to check out his urinary tract and House agrees to a catheterization. However, he lets Chase out of it because he says he doesn’t want Chase to be upset about the patient’s normal sized penis.
House finds Cuddy and her daughter in the cafeteria. Cuddy explains she is planning on enrolling Rachel in Waldenwood, a first class preschool. House, watching Rachel try to eat oatmeal while holding her spoon backwards, is concerned if she is smart enough.
Foreman asks the patient to tell them when the urge to urinate becomes unbearable. The patient and Masters discuss his job. The patient finally says he has to urinate.
Chase can’t get the photo removed because he set his password to “password” and whoever put the photo up changed the password. Taub jokes how much Chase’s humiliation has eased the burden of his break-up with his wife.
The urine test shows no infection and the other test showed that the inability to urinate was a problem with the patient’s nerves. The team starts a differential and realize that House will jump straight to syphilis. They decide to test. However, when Masters tries to draw blood, the patient becomes enraged and paranoid and attacks her. Foreman rushes to her aid and manages to restrain him with the help of a security guard.
The patient is put in restraints and haldol makes him lucid again. House starts a new differential including psychosis. House jumps to syphilis, but the tests have already ruled it out. Masters suggests that the patient may have been poisoned and House agrees to an environmental scan of the camp. He then reminds Masters that although he brushed off her injury and showed no compassion, she still performed well.
Chase catches up to Sanford Wells to find out about one of the women at Wells’ wedding on the pretext he wants to ask her out. One of them turns out to be Wells’ niece Wynn Phillips. Wells is happy to hook them up until Chase asks for the names of the other two women.
House goes to see Wilson to see if he has any ideas on how to make Rachel Cuddy look smart to the people at the preschool. Wilson accuses House of caring about what happens to Rachel but House claims he couldn't care less – he’s worried about Cuddy’s reaction if Rachel doesn’t get in. Wilson tells him not to worry but while House discusses Rachel’s habit of putting things in her mouth, House thinks of something. Wilson is angry he’s unwittingly helped House come up with something.
Masters and Foreman visit the camp and she’s very critical of their approach. Masters agrees that some people need more structure and discipline than others but the camp goes too far. They can’t find any poisonous plants but Foreman thinks to ask which of the patient’s trainees had the most problems with him. They are directed to Landon Parks. Landon says that the patient treated him worse than the other teens but denies doing anything to him. When Foreman threatens him with prison if the patient dies, Landon tells him that his mother is dead, his father is missing and it is likely he will wind up in prison in any case. However, Foreman notices one of the other teens has red eyes and asks him why he isn’t taking allergy medication. He figures the patient was dosed with the allergy medication and starts treatment for it. The patient wants to know who did it and realizes that Masters doesn’t trust him. He apologizes to Masters for hurting her. However, the patient develops a tachycardia and Foreman calls for a crash cart.
The team calls House to tell him that treating the patient for antihistamine poisoning gave them a new symptom but proved it wasn’t antihistamine poisoning. Chase’s profile has been pranked again and he keeps getting phone calls. However, House agrees with Chase that it may be a pheochromocytoma and orders scans of the adrenal glands and continuous urine tests.
Meanwhile, House is at the preschool admissions playroom under the pretext that a child came home sick after being there. He hustles the School Director out of the room with a lie that there might be something contagious, and starts taking pictures of all the educational toys and games.
Masters is doing the MRI with Foreman but Foreman begs off to do something else despite Masters protests. He assures her nothing will go wrong. Masters tries to start a conversation and the patient tells her he already figured out who dosed him. Masters tells him it wasn’t the antihistamines that made him sick. She encourages him to reach out to the boy.
Chase is asking Taub to get him more clues from the photo. Taub reminds Chase that he probably hurt one of the women emotionally. However, he starts taking picture with his cell phone and realizes that whoever took the embarrassing photo of Chase was probably shorter than average.
House shows up early at Cuddy’s and offers to play with Rachel. He starts coaching her on how to play the games he saw at the preschool, but Rachel seems uninterested. House tries to focus her attention but she’s intent on putting the pieces in her mouth.
Chase confronts the first woman, who is short. However, she denies being the culprit and he realizes she’s innocent because she was wearing heels during their intercourse. Despite this she wishes for him to stay, which he does.
The tests for the pheochromocytoma were negative and the patient’s heart rate is getting harder to control. At that moment the team is paged. Landon has been admitted with back pain and urinary retention.
Taub tries to find things that only the two patients have in common but they can’t find anything. House wonders if the teen might be lying but Taub points out he hasn’t had much unsupervised time. A courier comes in with a thank you card directed to Chase for a generous charitable donation so Chase fears his credit cards have been compromised. The rest of the team figures Lyme disease is most likely and House agrees to treatment. Chase finds that he has donated $2,500. House tells Chase to cancel his credit card, find out who did it and marry her.
Masters finds that Landon is reluctant to take the pills but she convinces him to do so.
Wilson finds House trying to train Rachel by clicking a dog clicker and rewarding her with cheese doodles for correct answers. Wilson is astounded that it appears to be working.
Chase confronts the woman who he let use his credit card but she denies taking the picture and says she gave the card back. Chase almost runs for the hills when she says she’s not 18 yet. She also says her parents monitor her computer use and won’t let her on social networking sites because of sexual predators.
Landon tries to escape from the hospital and Masters finds he has stolen her car keys. They also find the instructor with tremendous leg pain.
The leg pain was a cramp from low sodium, indicating a problem with the kidneys. It also appears to rule out Lyme disease. Masters is upset Landon lied to her and House tells her that she should have expected it. House is using hot sauce on toys to keep Rachel from putting them in her mouth. Taub finally suggests botulism and House agrees to the antitoxin.
Masters goes to give them treatment and finds that Landon, unlike the other kids in the camp, was not there because of a court order.
Chase is confronting the last woman, who asks why she would take a naked picture of him. She doesn’t want her boyfriend to know she slept with him. However, it turns out she had a sister at the wedding too.
Masters does some digging and finds out something about Landon. She and House separate the two patients. House asks the instructor why he paid Landon’s enrolment fee at the camp and guesses it’s probably because he’s his father. The patient admits it and asks House not to tell Landon.
The patients aren’t responding to the anti-toxin and Landon is having seizures. Foreman doesn’t think it’s genetic – most genetic diseases are age-onset. However, Chase points out some genetic conditions are set off by a triggering event. Masters did see some old batteries at the camp so surmises the lead might have triggered granulomatosis with polyangiitis. House orders cyclophosphamide. Chase runs off with an idea he has about his prankster.
Masters asks the instructor why he didn’t come forward when Landon’s mother died. He tells her Landon was already in foster care. The instructor won’t admit to it now because it will only make him look like a hard-ass and if he dies that’s how Landon will remember him. Masters wonders why he apologized for attacking her in a psychotic state but won’t apologize for abandoning his son. She tells him his son doesn’t need a drill instructor, he needs a father.
House comes with Cuddy to the admissions interview. It apparently went well but Rachel showed signs of coaching. Cuddy can honestly deny coaching her but asks if she’s ever played “feed the monkey” before. House glares at her and Rachel denies doing so.
House is treating a clinic patient and is telling him how he thought Rachel was dumb but she came through when she had to. He also tells the patient he knows he’s lying about tripping getting into his truck. The patient admits that he tripped in his greenhouse. House goes on about how Rachel didn’t rat him out. House once again denies caring about Rachel and says he’s only impressed with her ability to lie. However, as he goes to give the patient a local anesthetic he thinks of something and runs out of the room.
House has realized that the patients have variegate porphyria, which was set off by the lidocaine given to Landon when he got his stitches for his head laceration and the antihistamines the instructor was dosed with. Landon realizes they have the same genetic disease. The condition is treatable and a liver transplant could cure them. Driscoll admits to Landon that he’s his father. Landon is sceptical but House offers a DNA test to prove it.
Chase catches up with the sister of the third woman, who admits to the pranks. She took the picture when she found him in the room she shared with her sister. She says she did it because he ditched her after she said she didn’t sleep with guys on the first date. She figures he’s either an ass or a good guy who lost his way and, in either case, he needed negative reinforcement. She gives him his password. He apologizes and asks her out for dinner. She turns him down.
The instructor wants to talk to Landon but he doesn’t want to. The instructor agrees to wait and says he’s not going anywhere.
Cuddy is playing with Rachel. House comes in and finds that Rachel has been turned down because too many other kids have siblings who get priority. House tells Cuddy that Rachel is smart and will be fine. Rachel cuddles up to a discomfited House.
- Chairman of the Board Sanford Wells reappears.
- The team discovers that Chase's nude photo has been put on a social media profile.
- Cuddy wants to put Rachel into a prestigious preschool.
- House realizes Rachel is not very smart, and begins to coach her so she will be accepted in the school.
- House teaches Rachel about lying, and discovers she has somewhat of a knack for it.
Zebra Factor 8/10
All forms of porphyria are very rare.
Trivia & Cultural References
- “Carrot or Stick” is a common metaphor to describe whether people respond better to rewards or punishments.
- The Army Corps of Engineers is a mixed civilian and military agency of the United States government that designs and executes major infrastructure works throughout the United States, particularly dams.
- John Hughes was an American director who was best known for his films directed to teen audiences.
- Bree changed Chase’s password to “greatbigho”.
- House refers to Driscoll as a "38 year old former Marine". However, Marines believe in the adage, "Once a Marine, Always a Marine". So even retired Marines are still considered Marines. This is a mistake commonly made by civilians, but many Marines will take offense at being called "former" Marines.
- The girl who set up Chase was evidently not a psychology major, as what she did was punishment, not negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is creating unpleasant situations that end when the desired behavior is achieved, increasing the likelihood of that behavior recurring in the future - it is not meant to prevent or decrease certain behavior. Not to mention that what she did by donating Chase's money is illegal, so gloating about it to his face once confronted is not the brightest idea.
- When performing his forensic analysis on Chase's photo, Taub tries to extrapolate the person's height using camera angles. This would only estimate the height of the camera lens at the time the photo was taken; for this to be extrapolated and determine the person's height, every person would have to hold the camera at exactly the same position relative to their body. Since it is possible for a short person to hold the camera high, or a tall person to hold the camera low, the camera angles yield no information about the photographer.
- Taub's "shorty" theory is also geometrically improbable. When comparing a person's near features (shoulders, nipples, eyebrows, etc.) with their far features, they would appear even when at the same height as the lense. For features above the lense, the far side would appear lower, and vice versa. Based on the picture (and his eyebrows especially), the camera lens was likely even with his face - meaning a "shorty" would have had to hold the camera up rather high to take the picture. (If they were Taub's height, they likely would have had to hold the camera above their head.) Because this would be an unlikely way to take a picture - especially secretly - it is unlikely they were much shorter than Chase.
- Episode article at Wikipedia
- Episode summary at TV.com
- Episode review at Blogcritics
- Episode page at IMDB
- Episode review at The Onion's AV Club
- Episode review at IGN TV
- Episode review at Give Me My Remote
- A review of the medicine at Polite Dissent
- Episode page at TV Rage
- Episode review at TV Fanatic
- Episode recap at Television Without Pity
- Episode page at House MD Guide
- Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
- Lisa Edelstein as Dr. Lisa Cuddy
- Omar Epps as Dr. Eric Foreman
- Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. James Wilson
- Jesse Spencer as Dr. Robert Chase
- Peter Jacobson as Dr. Chris Taub
- Olivia Wilde as Dr. Remy 'Thirteen' Hadley (credit only)
- Amber Tamblyn as Martha M. Masters
- Sasha Roiz as Driscoll
- Tyler James Williams as Landon Parks
- Nigel Gibbs as Sanford Wells
- Kayla Ewell as Nika (the one with a boyfriend)
- Stella Maeve as Kenzie (the one who is underage)
- Maïté Schwartz as Bree (Nika's spurned sister, her name was not used in the episode,
IMDb says the it's Bree, all other sources say Ali)
- Rachel Melvin as Wynn Phillips (the one who likes cats)
- Kayla Colbert & Rylie Colbert as Rachel Cuddy
- Kyle Fain as MacDonald
- Patrick Rafferty as Trucker
- Grace Rowe as School Director
- Elizabeth Ann Roberts as Teacher
- Melanie Cruz as ER Doc
- Turner Dixon as Delivery Guy
- Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse (recurring role)
- Gui Inacio as Nika's Boyfriend (uncredited)
Larger than Life
Carrot or Stick