- Foreman: "We gotta give Masters some pointers. Help her figure out how to deal with House."
- Chase: "Why’d we do that? The entertainment factor is off the charts. It’s like watching a bunny hop into a buzz saw. Repeatedly."
- Foreman: "And if we don’t help her, she’s out of here."
- — Office Politics
Office Politics is a 7th season episode of House and the sixth episode of the season, which first aired on November 8, 2010. It is directed by Sanford Bookstaver. Amber Tamblyn debuts as Martha M. Masters.
When a campaign manager falls ill with liver failure and temporary paralysis in the midst of an election race, the team must look to the managers candidate and his surprising announcement to solve the case. Meanwhile, Cuddy forces House to hire a new female fellow, one who has a past connection with Taub. Chase enjoys watching Masters get insulted by House. Taub also tires of Foreman's insults about his age and challenges him to a game of basketball. Taub loses to Foreman 7-11 but Foreman realizes that Taub‘s sudden concern about his age is misdirected anger against Masters. Chase, Foreman and Taub get caught breaking into a patient's home and get arrested, leaving House alone with Masters to try to work out a treatment plan.
A campaign manager is arguing with a Senate candidate when all of a sudden the campaign manager starts itching and showing numerous small red marks on his arm. The Senator suggests he call an ambulance rather than waiting to go to the doctor.
House is dealing with a clinic patient in a Roman toga with a torn Achilles tendon when Cuddy comes in to tell him that she has hired a medical student, Martha M. Masters, to be the new female fellow on his team. When House complains that she’s not a doctor, Cuddy goes over her rather impressive qualifications, including two doctorates. She leaves him with no choice.
Taub is going over the patient’s symptoms, which also include liver failure. Masters comes to the door and knocks. House introduces himself as well as “Boring, Bimbo and Bite-size”. Chase is astounded that she’s just a med student. House tells her to say something brilliant, but when she demurs, he gives her a trivia quiz, which she aces. Foreman gets back to business - liver damage explains all the other symptoms, but there doesn’t seem to be any cause for the liver damage. It looks to be environmental, so House orders an environmental scan and sends the team to the patient‘s house. He tells Masters to speak up next time.
They all go to the manager’s large house and Masters goes on about the architecture. She admits that she finds House intimidating. Foreman manages to break in. Masters is astounded, but Foreman tells her that when they tell patients about the visit, they tend to hide things. Masters can’t bring herself to cross the threshold, so Foreman and Taub go on without her. Taub and Foreman start arguing about her. Foreman finds unpasteurized cider.
Foreman thinks it might be E. coli, but House can’t see how cider would get contaminated with it. Taub tells House Masters wouldn’t go into the patient‘s house, but House wonders what Taub’s problem is. Foreman guesses Taub is intimidated by Masters’ intelligence. Foreman gets back to the cider and says the apples could have been contaminated by animal feces. House agrees and orders treatment.
Taub and Masters set up the plasmapheresis. She wants to tell the patient they broke into their house, but Taub won’t let her because it will affect the patient’s trust in them.
The patient is on the phone with the Senator. Masters tells him to slow down until he’s out of the hospital. She asks if he’s curious how they came up with the diagnosis, and he says he figures they broke into his house to find the cider, and he’s fine with it. Masters asks if honesty and respect matter, but the patient just makes fun of her. She brings up voter turnout rate, but they soon realize the patient is unresponsive - he’s now paralyzed.
The paralysis passes, so Chase thinks it was just a TIA. House admonishes Masters for ratting out to the patient. She says she had an ethical obligation. She suggests a diagnosis, but House shoots it down and asks her why she’s so free about talking about ethics. She says her ethics are what most doctors follow and suggests a new diagnosis, but Taub rules it out. House tells Masters that rules are for people who can’t think for themselves, and she’s obviously not like that, so why is she trying to be like stupid people. However, Chase comes back to Masters’ idea about an neuroendocrine tumor - it could explain why the patient made an inflammatory campaign ad. House orders tests to see if they can find the tumor. House then starts quizzing Masters on lying and catches her in an ambiguity - she will lie if it doesn’t matter, but not when it would. He asks her how she got so screwed up.
House asks Cuddy if she would be mad if he fired Masters. She replies that she would be made unless House had “cause that a human being would consider cause”. House says Masters’ principles are getting in the way. Cuddy thinks its useful to have someone on the team who sees things in black and white terms. Cuddy tells him to give her a real chance.
Masters is waiting in Cuddy’s office, terrified that House is going to fire her. Cuddy tells her not to worry, but Masters thinks that Cuddy has merely told House not to fire her. Cuddy assures her that House respects her beliefs. However, Masters thinks the problem is with her - she’s never been good working in groups. Cuddy wonders why she chose medicine, because it’s a team activity. She figures that Masters wanted to stretch herself, but Masters said she just wanted to be a doctor. Cuddy tells her the most important thing about dealing with House - if she helps him solve cases, he will like her no matter what.
Foreman and Chase do the CT Scan. Foreman wants to help Masters, but Chase is having too much fun watching House grill her. The patient speaks up and says his judgment is sound and he denies leaking the inflammatory video. They can’t find a tumor, so they go to check with Taub, who is doing the blood tests.
Taub is a bit behind and Foreman makes fun of how long it takes him to do things because of his age. Taub responds by challenging him to a game of basketball, and Foreman agrees. The blood test is finally finished and Taub sees that the test for DIC (this shouldn't have been in the differential as it doesn't fit) is also negative.
The Senator comes for a visit and the patient realizes the Senator is the one who leaked the inflammatory ad. Taub and Foreman come in to tell him they think it’s environmental and perhaps it was something he encountered on the campaign. The Senator remembers they were near a farm, but while they’re discussing it, Taub notices the patient has blood in his urine. This points to kidney failure.
Back at the differential, Masters comes up with another good idea Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (no joint or GI problems, also no recent URI so should have been dismissed). However, House orders chemotherapy, but Masters says that’s too dangerous - steroids would be safer. She wants to let the patient choose, but House says chemotherapy is the obvious choice in the situation - it’s more likely to be effective. House allows Masters to make the pitch to the patient.
Masters tells the patient chemotherapy is the better choice, but the patient chooses steroids. House speaks up and tells the patient he’s being stupid. Even the Senator, there on a visit, thinks chemotherapy is the better choice. However, the patient doesn’t want to deal with the side effects during the short time left in the campaign. House mocks Masters dedication to ethics.
Taub and Foreman meet on the basketball court. Taub makes two quick long baskets and is soon up 2-0, then 3-0. The game soon gets rougher and Foreman wins 11-7. However, Foreman apologizes to Taub for calling him old, and realizes the problem is that Masters is making Taub feel insecure.
Masters runs in to tell House the pharmacy has made a mistake and sent chemotherapy, but House tells her he already knows - he switched it out. He orders Masters not to tell him because it will risk his life. He fires her to make sure. When she says she’s still going to tell him, he says he will have her expelled from medical school and will lie to do it.
Foreman tells House that firing Masters was a mistake because they need her on the team to keep them in check . The rest of them aren’t intimidated, they’ve just been with him too long to really notice anymore. Chase comes in to tell them it wasn’t Henoch after all. That meant Masters was right about the treatment, but wrong about the disease. However, Taub remembers the patient’s fish tank and suggests schistosomiasis. House orders another environmental scan.
Cuddy calls House down to his office where he, Cuddy and Masters get into an argument about what Masters did. House tells Cuddy he’s not going to work with Masters, but when Masters offers to quit, Cuddy will not let her. She thinks Masters has a bright future ahead of her and wants her at the hospital. House just wants her out of his department.
At the patient’s home, Chase and Foreman talking about why Taub didn’t like Masters. They rule out any source of schistosomiasis and go to leave, but they see a police car outside. House gets a call from Foreman that they have all been arrested. House says he’s too busy to bail them out because the patient is getting worse.
House finds Masters in the lounge and starts a differential, telling her she’s re-hired. However, he doesn’t want to hear her ideas, he wants to bounce some off her. However, she keeps shooting them down. She then turns her attention to the television - the Senator is on the television talking about the patient. He blames him for leaking the inflammatory ad and says he is firing him. Masters thinks the Senator is lying, but House notices something else and thanks Masters for helping, but fires her again.
House goes to see the patient to tell him he thinks he’s been having sex with the Senator. When House saw the Senator on television, he realized he had hepatitis C. The patient admits he and the Senator shared cocaine, which would be a way the disease could have been transmitted. House explains the hepatitis test came back negative because his liver was producing chemicals that caused a false negative on the test. In addition, the plasmapheresis they gave him would have removed the only other evidence that he may have had it. The only way of confirming the diagnosis is to treat with interferon.
Taub, Foreman and Chase are still in jail, waiting for Taub’s lawyer to bail them out. They get back to talking about Masters and Foreman realizes that Taub’s instant dislike of her was probably due to him having met her before. Taub finally admits he interviewed Masters when she applied to Johns Hopkins Medical School. He was upset that she didn’t remember him even though they spoke for an hour.
House tries to re-hire Masters. He starts talking about how the hepatitis C isn’t responding to interferon, but she’s not interested. She finally gives in and starts talking about recent experiments, but House gets the idea to treat him by giving him hepatitis A (Ribavirin is also a treatment for HepC which is not even considered). He tries to fire her again, but she won’t agree this time.
House goes to get approval from Cuddy, but given the treatment isn’t approved and the legal risks, she turns him down. However, Masters stands up for House. After a short discussion, Cuddy says she will approve it, but only after House confirms hepatitis C. She sends Masters after House to help, but when House implies he’s going to give the patient hepatitis A anyway, Masters realizes she’s been fired again.
The rest of the team is back and House wants them to fake a positive test for hepatitis C. However, Chase suggests they just test the Senator, but House realizes Cuddy won‘t accept that as confirmation. Taub suggests they test the patient lots of times until one of the tests comes up positive. With no other ideas, House agrees to Taub’s plan.
House goes to see Wilson to tell him he plans to lie to Cuddy again, but this time it could affect their relationship. He’s afraid his patient will die if he won’t. Wilson gives him the same dilemma House earlier gave Masters - tell the truth and face the medical consequences, or lie and face the personal consequences.
House finally decides to fake a positive result by getting blood from the Senator and testing it under the patient‘s name. He takes the result to Cuddy. Cuddy is just happy that she followed his request, but gets back on him to hire a new female team member.
House goes back to speak to Masters. He says she can have the job if she convinces the patient to agree to the treatment. She says she won’t lie to him, but House reminds her that if he turns down the treatment, he will definitely die. Masters gives it a shot, and is honest with the patient about his chances. However, she convinces him by telling him that House has risked his medical license to get approval for the treatment. The patient consents, but House says it would have been easier for everyone if she had just lied. Masters says that House really wanted her to tell the truth - to challenge him. He says that she will learn her principles are just going to get in the way. He says he will see her tomorrow.
The patient responds to the treatment. Masters finds Taub in the locker room and apologizes - she recognized him the first time she saw him, but felt awkward about bringing it up. However, Taub suspects the others have told her and she’s lying to spare his feelings.
House has to do paperwork for Masters’ medical school, but admits to Cuddy that Masters won her over when she called Cuddy a coward. Cuddy grabs House's ass before she walks out of his office.
The Senator wins the election as the patient watches from his hospital bed.
The clinic nurse mentions to Cuddy that she can’t find the Senator’s medical records. When Cuddy asks why she’s looking for them (the Senator was never a patient), the nurse says the Senator was in the clinic with House. Cuddy checks and finds the positive test was done just after the Senator was in the clinic and that House ran it himself.
Zebra Factor 3/10
Hepatitis C is not terribly rare.
- Cuddy assigns a young medical student named Martha M. Masters to House’s team.
- Martha M. Masters appears for the first time.
- House fires and re-hires Masters multiple times during the episode.
- By the end, Masters is hired for good, and the vacancy caused by Thirteen's departure is finally filled.
- While in the patient's house, Taub, Chase and Foreman are spotted and jailed.
- Foreman begins to question Taub about Masters.
- It's discovered that Taub interviewed Masters for the Johns Hopkins Medical School but she didn’t recognize him.
- Masters admits to having recognized Taub, but had been too nervous to mention it at first.
- House lies to Cuddy in order to save his patient's life.
- Cuddy discovers that House lied to her.
Trivia & Cultural References
- The title is a common description of behavior in an office setting outside of the standard hierarchy of the business in an attempt to better an individual’s position or responsibilities. It refers to both the regular political campaign that forms a sub-plot of the episode, as well as the maneuverings by Cuddy, House and Masters regarding the fellowship position.
- Escher was a 20th-century Dutch illustrator who was well known for his drawings depicting places that could not exist in the physical world.
- Another set of alliterative nicknames this week: Boring (Foreman), Bimbo (Chase) and Bite-Size (Taub).
- Azerbaijan is a small nation in the Caucasus that is a former republic of the Soviet Union.
- Beethoven was a 19th-century composer who is often regarded to be the finest classical composer of all time.
- Euler’s Number , represented by the letter “e”, is a mathematical constant that is the base of natural logarithms.
- Virginia Giant did in fact win the 2004 Thunder Nationals.
- Small Wonder was a syndicated situation comedy in the 1980s about a super strong robot which was disguised as a little girl.
- Tudor Revival is a 20th-century architectural style that duplicates the wood and plaster fronts of real Tudor buildings, usually using brown painted wood and white plaster.
- Einstein was a 20th-century physicist and Nobel Prize winner. His work on the photoelectric effect made modern television possible.
- Mary Poppins is a nanny with uncanny abilities. She was first featured in a series of books that were first published in the 1930s, but became much better known after a 1964 film musical adaptation.
- Taub saying “One, Nothing” in a very old voice is a play on an old routine by comedian Bill Cosby recounting an incident when a young Cosby was thrashed 21-3 in a game of handball by a much older opponent.
- Pippi Long Division is a play on the character Pippi Longstocking, an eight year old girl with long red ponytails and superhuman strength. The character first appeared in print in Sweden in the 1940s and has since been adapted to films and television series. This also refers to the fact that Tamblyn played the character in a school play at age 10, which was when her father's agent saw her and persuaded her father to send her on auditions.
- The reference to the rest of the team having been in the water a while is from the Boiling frog anecdote, which holds that as long as the heat is raised gradually enough, a frog in a pot of water will not jump out, even if it would jump out if it jumped into hot water in the first place. However, the anecdote is false - frogs are very sensitive to temperature changes and will jump out if the water temperature becomes too high for them.
- A Moebius strip is a topological construction made by taking a strip of paper and giving it half a turn before joining the ends together. A Moebius strip therefore will have only one side and one edge even though it exists in three dimensions. It will also just become one long loop of paper if the strip is cut down the middle.
- When Masters refuses to enter the patient's house and Taub says, “Why, are you a vampire? It's okay, we invite you in.” This is a reference to the many myths and legends regarding vampires. According to these myths, vampires can only enter the house of a human if they are invited in.
- When House informs Dugan he contracted hepatitis C from Anderson, he says Anderson has been “taking weekend trips down to Bunbury”. This is a reference to Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest, where one of the main characters, named Algernon, created an imaginary invalid friend named Bunbury. The reason for this was to have an escape from any undesired social activities, enabling him to do more favorable things on the premise of visiting his poor invalid friend Bunbury . After he notices a similar behavior in the protagonist, John Worthing, he even starts to call the act itself “Bunburying”. Critics now widely believe Bunburying was actually used as a euphemism for homosexual escapades that had to remain secretive. Thus by mentioning Anderson has been taking trips down to Bunbury, House is implying Anderson contracted hepatitis C from having anal sex.
A Pox on Our House