- "First of all, stop thinking you can minimize the hurt. A lot of people are afraid of the word “dying”—if you pussyfoot around it, she’s not going to read your mind... No it’s not [okay]. When you look in her face, you’re gonna feel the instinct to temporize. Crush it... Then wait. Give her time to process the news. Let her know you’ll be with her through all of it. Wait ‘til she’s done thinking, ‘til she meets your eyes again, then if you feel it’s appropriate, you can touch her, maybe put your hand on her arm like this. Let her know she’s still connected to another human being... You’re freaking out... Give her what she needs. What she doesn’t need is a doctor who’s not there with her because he made the wrong call. You are freaking out, you should be freaking out… Let her see it."
- ―Wilson talking to Foreman. House Training
House Training is a third season episode of House which first aired on April 24, 2007. Foreman’s personal life intrudes when his mother and father come to Princeton for a visit. On the medical side, he appears to have more insight into the case of a young woman than any of the rest of the team until a seemingly obvious step turns out disastrously wrong. Meanwhile, House is worried that Wilson is getting attracted to Cuddy and turns to Wilson’s second ex-wife for insight into his best friend’s ability to build and destroy relationships.
The show opens with an African American man running a three card monte. He invites a beautiful Latina woman to "find the queen". She guesses correctly, then takes an offer to double-up on her winnings. She finds the queen again, but when given a third chance, she seems utterly confused and frantically repeats "I can't decide" and "I don't know" several times before collapsing onto the sidewalk.
The woman is taken to Princeton-Plainsboro where she recovers. Foreman describes her symptom as abulia—the inability to make decisions—caused by TIA, a blockage of the blood flow to the frontal lobes of the brain. He asks her if she's taking drugs, and any jobs she's had to see if she‘s been exposed to toxins. She lists an extensive list of all her past jobs in reverse chronological order. House consults with his assistants about the TIA, and they discuss possibilities, considering her tox screen is negative. House notices Wilson talking to his second ex-wife, who is trying to give Wilson custody of her dog Hector. House then finds that Wilson is going out with Cuddy on the date that he had previously invited her on and is disappointed she chose Wilson over him. He’s also going to an art gallery with her as well. Wilson says he enjoys her company.
House tells his team to investigate the woman's lack of free will. On the way to the labs, Foreman runs into his father, who tells him that he's rented a nearby hotel room with Foreman's mother, who will be turning sixty soon. It is implied that Foreman's mother has Alzheimer's and that Foreman should "talk to her while she still remembers him" since he hasn't been home in eight years. Foreman counters that he often calls her and is upset that his she doesn't always recognize him. His father says he should concentrate on the times she does.
At the patient’s residence, Foreman finds a crack pipe. He volunteers to do the tests, but Chase agrees to do them in his stead so Foreman can be with his family.
House interrogates Cuddy about going to out with Wilson, and House "warns" her about Wilson "always marrying them in the end". He once again asks why she wouldn't go out with him. She says Wilson is a safe choice, and House thinks that it's cool that he's not safe.
Foreman stops by his parents' hotel room, and is welcomed joyously by his mother. Foreman is not as joyous. His mother wants to know if he's happy. He says everything is fine. His mother seems lucid and responsive.
At the hospital, Foreman tells the patient how she may have arsenic poisoning from drug abuse, but she says the crack pipe is her boyfriend's. Suddenly her face turns blue and she begins to cough up blood as well as going into respiratory arrest. Foreman calls for a crash cart.
The patient tests positive for arsenic, but not enough to cause her symptoms. Cameron and Chase conduct tests while Chase tries to get Cameron to go out with him again, but she's not interested. He says he's going to ask her out every Tuesday. Chase notes a mass and does a biopsy which shows the woman's body is attacking its own white blood cells, meaning she has an autoimmune disease. Foreman gives several possibilities, all which should be treated with steroids, and finally House agrees to the treatment.
House is taking a tour of a house with Wilson's second ex-wife to pump her for information about Wilson. House pretends he remembers their first date, but he obviously doesn't. Meanwhile, Wilson and Cuddy are at an art gallery. The exhibit is the wrong one, and quite kinky. Wilson stammers several times and begins to flirt with Cuddy. Wilson's ex-wife tells House more about her relationship with Wilson, and how he started out only wanting to be her friend and how he reeled her in until she initiated sex. She notes how amazing Wilson was at sex, but how they had sex after they were emotionally attached, which made it harder for her to dump him before they got married. She asks House to ask Wilson to take Hector.
Back at the hospital, Foreman talks to the patient, who thinks Foreman is judging her. She does admit to using drugs occasionally. She thinks he believes people who don't make it out of the ghetto are not as good as he is. He tells her to go back to school. He shines a light in her eyes and notes that they have a yellow tinge showing her liver is failing. Foreman notes how her brain, lungs, or liver are failing and it can't be an autoimmune disease—it has to be cancer. He suggests total body radiation which, despite the risks, may have the positive side effect of suppressing the renegade immune system if it is an autoimmune disease. House agrees to the treatment and he talks to the woman to get consent and advises her about the side effects of radiation, but he keeps asking about why she doesn't like Foreman. He eventually pushes a form in front of her to consent, and noting she can't decide, asks her several questions that are much simpler, like who she likes better as James Bond. She begins panicking from her inability to decide and passes out again. House tells the nurses that she should be given blood thinners and be taken to radiology. He tells them to get her to sign the consent once she recovers.
House and Wilson share a coffee as Wilson accuses him of hanging around with his ex. House suggests that Wilson sleep with Cuddy before they start liking each other to "end the chain of exes" before she becomes the fourth ex-Mrs. Wilson. Wilson misunderstands and believes his ex-wife said he was dissatisfied with their sex life.
When Foreman tells House about the pain, House suggests that the woman is septic. Foreman is incredulous, but has to agree. She has an infection and the radiation has wiped out her immune system. House tells Foreman to conduct an echocardiogram. Foreman agrees to tell the patient that the radiation treatment has killed her.
House is visited by Wilson's ex, and they exchange harsh words over his deception. She tells House how Wilson gave him more attention than her. He tells her to get a new career.
Foreman asks Wilson about how he talks to terminal patients. Wilson tells him not to control how the patient feels, and to wait for her to process the news, then tell her that he will be there to the end. He tells Foreman it's okay to freak out when you've made a bad call and trying to hide it from the patient is a bad idea.
Foreman goes to the woman and tells her she will be dead within a day. Foreman is fully honest with her and explains that she has an infection that has spread to her heart and beyond, and that the radiation exposure killed the immune system she needed to fight it off—it was the worst treatment they could have chosen. Antibiotics need the immune system to work. The infection is everywhere and replacing the organs won't help. However, instead of accepting the news, she begins crying and yells at Foreman to get out. Foreman leaves the room and then punches a large dent in the wall, breaking his finger.
Foreman receives and rejects sympathy from Cameron, who tells him that House went to the ICU. Foreman confronts House, who is still trying to test the patient. House wants to know what they missed, but Foreman stops him and tells him they have to wait. He has the woman moved back to her room because being in ICU won't extend her life and at least being in her own room will give her some privacy. When he gets to her room, she expresses apathy and hostility to him when he asks her forgiveness, although he doesn't expect it. She’s not close enough to anyone who will be with her when she dies. She notes how she didn't make much of an impact with her life. He admits that he does feel superior to people who are still poor, but tells her that he too has made bad decisions, including killing her. However, he got a second chance, and since then he's always wanted to be number one because if he figured he wasn't, they would figure out he didn't belong there. He tells her how small his room felt when he returned home, and he hasn't felt the same about it since he last visited. He wants to distance himself from people who he thinks are just like him. The patient admits she didn't take her second chances because she felt she would have more time. He tells her he's not going to leave her alone to die.
The patient dies and House gets ready to perform an autopsy. Chase offers to get Foreman drunk, but he only wants to go do paperwork. Chase tells Foreman how he talks to God when he feels bad. He reminds Foreman even House was wrong on this case. House finds out that the patient got the infection from a scratch she got from her bra hook. She died from staphylococcus and "some bad decisions".
House tells Foreman that everyone makes mistakes and that it wouldn't be his last death. He also tells Foreman that he can’t forgive him because there's nothing to forgive. He adds that in their line of medicine, they will lose more patients than most doctors do.
House and Wilson get into the elevator as House notes he has a dog at home to feed.
Foreman goes to his mother to tell her about his bad deed, but his mother tells him it wasn't his fault and forgives him because she knows he would never hurt anyone on purpose. Foreman asks if she knows who he is and that he is Eric, but she is confused and believes that her son Eric is still a young boy.
- Rodney Foreman returns to the hospital.
- It's hinted that Foreman's mother suffers from Alzheimer's.
- Foreman visits his mother for the first time in eight years.
- House starts hanging out with Wilson's second ex-wife, Bonnie.
- Wilson and Cuddy go to an art gallery.
- It is discovered that the patient has an infection which the radiation therapy made worse and the mistake leaves Foreman feeling completely guilty.
- Wilson gives Foreman advice on how to tell the patient that she's dying.
- In a moment of anger over his patient's impending demise, Foreman punches a hole in the wall and breaks his finger in the process.
- Foreman reveals that he was previously a thief who stole cars and broke into people's houses but he got a second chance, eventually turning his life around.
- With the patient dead, House performs an autopsy to find out what infection killed her.
- House reveals that he's taken in Hector, Wilson and Bonnie's pet dog.
- First occurence of "I love you Tuesdays" where Chase reminds Cameron every week that he likes her, should she change her mind about them being in a relationship.
Zebra Factor 4/10
Sepsis is not a rare condition, but it tends to affect elderly and very sick people. An otherwise healthy young person is unlikely to develop sepsis from an infection. However as the patient underwent total body irradiation, sepsis was much more likely.
Trivia and Cultural References
- The title “House Training” refers to techniques to train pets (mostly dogs and cats) to urinate and defecate in appropriate places, such as a litter box or outside. It is obviously a play on House’s name, but it also refers to the dog Hector, who wasn’t house trained when Wilson and Bonnie received him.
- Three-card Monte is ostensibly a gambling game, but is in fact a con. The “operator” of the game always wins in the end. As depicted in the episode, the patient is acting as the operator’s “shill”—she is paid to play and win and bring in “suckers” who will think the game is easy to win.
- Thomas Aquinas was a priest in the 13th century who wrote extensively on philosophy and the need for human beings to have free will in order to make the choice to have faith meaningful.
- Hockney is most likely David Hockney, a British artist and photographer.
- Sean Connery was the first actor to play James Bond on film. Daniel Craig is the actor who currently plays the role.
- Anagrams are a form of word play where letters in a phrase are rearranged so that they form new phrases. Ideally, the new phrase should fit the context of the original name or phrase. The two used here are HECTOR DOES GO RUG for DOCTOR GREG HOUSE and HUGE EGO SORRY for GREGORY HOUSE.
- The song being played during the final and emotional moments of the episode is "Follow the Leader" by Matthew Ryan
The gallery for House Training can be found here.
- Hugh Laurie as Gregory House
- Lisa Edelstein as Lisa Cuddy
- Omar Epps as Eric Foreman
- Robert Sean Leonard as James Wilson
- Jennifer Morrison as Allison Cameron
- Jesse Spencer as Robert Chase
- Charles S. Dutton as Rodney Foreman
- Monique Gabriela Curnen as Lupe
- Beverly Todd as Alicia Foreman
- Jane Adams as Bonnie Wilson
- Charles Porter as Operator
- Thomas Webb as Suit
- Aulani Rhea as Nurse
- Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse
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