- House: "She wasn’t fussing like that when I was holding her. Maybe she likes the sound of my voice, which is weird, because I have no genetic connection to her. Could it be… she doesn’t know the difference?"
- Taub: "So many children of your own, no wonder you have such insight into my relationship with my babies."
- House: "Good point. How could I comprehend that you’re too despised to keep them from having the same name, too overwhelmed to remember your own calendar, and too vain to admit that at this stage, you don’t matter to either baby"
- — Parents
Parents is an 8th season episode of House, M.D., and the sixth episode of the season, which first aired on November 14, 2011. A patient who wishes to follow in his father's footsteps as an entertainer is admitted with partial paralysis. As they look for a bone marrow match, the team discovers a disturbing family secret. Meanwhile, House looks for creative ways to remove his ankle monitor so that he can attend a boxing match in Atlantic City. John Scurti plays a patient convinced he is suffering from diabetes. Taub faces a major decision when his ex-wife Rachel announces she plans on moving across country with their daughter.
A clown is trying to unsuccessfully entertain a group of kids at a birthday party. However, after one of the kids whacks him in the groin, he becomes unable to move his arm or leg.
The patient is admitted after suffering a mini-stroke. However, House wants to discuss Taub’s wrinkled shirt. Taub tries to alibi it, but House figures he got into a fight with either Rachel Taub or Ruby. Chase bets on Rachel. Taub finally admits it was Phil, Rachel’s ex-online friend and current boyfriend. He wants Taub to agree to let Taub and Rachel’s daughter move to Portland. The rest of team is split over whether Taub should agree, and House thinks their views are based solely on their own upbringing. Taub goes back to the case and suggests endocarditis and House agrees to tests. He also tells Taub that although the child will be screwed up either way, trying to split her time between parents will screw her up even more.
The team tells the patient’s parents that if it’s endocarditis, it’s treatable. His mother wonders if it was the stress of performing, but the patient insists he wants to be a clown for a living, like his biological father. His stepfather tells the doctors the biological father had a melanoma, but Taub doesn’t think its relevant.
Wilson tells House he’s scored ringside seats to the big boxing match and he’s going whether House likes it or not. House asks for the other ticket and tells Wilson not to worry about the “logistics” of his house arrest.
The patient’s heart valves were normal, but they found a thickened pericardium, but it wouldn’t explain the stroke. After a differential, they settle on Sjogren's syndrome and House orders immunosuppressants.
Taub starts administering the treatment. The patient says he has a law internship after he’s released. He says he knows he’s not a good clown now, but he thinks he can get as good as his biological father was. The patient says his father was loving, but always broke and on the road. However, Taub is supportive. All of a sudden, the patient develops a severe nosebleed and then starts bleeding from his mouth. Taub realizes it’s not Sjogren’s.
Taub returns to find House with his daughter Sophie. The team realizes that both of the kids have similar names, the other one is Sophia. Ruby dropped Sophie off with House after House agreed to let Taub off early. Park suggests to Taub that if he has trouble scheduling being with his kids, maybe he should let the other one move. After going through low counts of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells, they hit on a diagnosis of aplastic anemia requiring a bone marrow transplant. He keeps Adams behind to ask her why she started college a semester late. He figures she was trying to get her parent’s attention by letting her grades slip, but she says she was just rebelling.
The team starts looking for donors, but the mother is a bad match as are all the patient’s close relatives. Park goes to look in the marrow registry. They go to the mother to ask about the biological father’s family, but as far as she knows he has no living relatives. The patient and his parents get into a fight about his career plans. However, the patient’s back starts to hurt and his blood pressure drops.
Foreman pages House to come to his office and immediately regrets it as House disrupts the video conference Foreman is trying to conduct. He finally turns his attention to House and tells him he would like House to fill in at the last minute for a doctor at a rheumatology conference that Saturday at 9 p.m. in Atlantic City (where by amazing coincidence the boxing match is taking place). House acts reluctant to avoid suspicion and then manages to manipulate Foreman into halving his clinic duty and increase his pay. House seemingly walks away triumphant, but Foreman says that so House doesn’t have to stay the night, he’s going to make sure they put him on in the morning. When House protests, Foreman lets the cat out of the bag that he knows about the fight and has guessed that House pretended to be the cancelled speaker and suggested himself as a replacement. He tells him if he goes to the fight, he goes back to prison. He then sends House back to the clinic.
Chase and Taub report the patient is having an allergic reaction to the donor platelets. House reviews the patient’s file and wonders why, since the biological father died young of melanoma, the mother has never taken the patient to see a dermatologist despite being overprotective. He orders cross-matched platelets and a further look into the death of the biological father because he thinks the mother’s hiding something.
Chase and Taub press the mother on the biological father’s death and she finally admits he’s still alive. She kept it from the patient because the father was a drunk who walked out on them.
Wilson says he has to invite someone else to the fight, but House still resists. Wilson also wonders why House is so keen to prove Adams’ parents screwed her up.
Taub and Park track down the biological father, but when he’s told he won’t be going to the same hospital as his son to do the test, he tells the doctors that he guesses he doesn’t have a son anymore.
Chase counsels Adams to tell House how her parents screwed her up because House won’t drop it. He tells her to lie if she has to, but Adams doesn’t want to validate House’s theory that all parents screw up their kids. Adams says Chase looks well adjusted, but he tells her the only reason he got interested in medicine was that when his mother couldn’t handle him, she would lock him in his father’s study. After being bored and cried out, he started to read the medical books in there. He says his success is a way to fill the void. Adams finally tells Chase her parents made their money illegally, but when she starts telling him how they moved from gambling through narcotics to the child slave trade, he realizes he’s being put on. She then grabs Chase’s phone and finds House on the other end. He says he’s disappointed she won’t trust a co-worker.
Taub tells the mother that she will have to see the biological father herself to convince him to come. However, the patient develops a pleural effusion. Park figures he’s bleeding into his lungs. She manages to get a tube into his pleural cavity, but only a yellowish liquid comes out. She realizes the patient’s bone marrow is fine, but his liver is failing.
Someone is trying to remove House’s ankle tracker. Liver failure explains all the symptoms, but the source of the failure is still a mystery. Antibiotics had no effect. House is more concerned why the mother lied about the biological father. Taub thinks that they should tell the patient, but Park points out that the mother is the legal guardian and the information isn’t medically relevant. The man trying to remove the ankle tracker sets off the alarm that indicates tampering and runs out of the room. The team can’t decide whether the problem is that the liver isn’t synthesizing proteins or it’s failing to process toxins. House orders a dangerous test - pump the kid full of proteins and see what happens.
The police come to see what’s wrong with the ankle bracelet. They find House in the whirlpool, faking an apology for accidentally drowning the device.
Taub goes to the mother to get consent. She agrees when Taub tells her that they don’t know how to treat him otherwise. He then suggests that she tell the patient about his father and let the father visit, but the mother thinks the suggestion is inappropriate and refuses.
Chase is still pressing Adams to admit to House that her parents screwed her up because House still isn’t letting it drop. The patient complains his eye feels weird. It’s bulging out.
Ruby comes to Taub’s apartment to get Sophie and she and Taub get into a fight. She can’t go back to work because her job doesn’t pay enough to put Sophie in daycare, and she’s upset she has had to move back in with her mother. Taub offers to let her stay the night in his guest room while he takes care of Sophie. He gets paged, but ignores it.
They treat the patient with steroids to get the eye back into its socket. This problem seems to rule out any problem with the liver. House still concentrates on why the mom is keeping the biological father away and figures she’s hiding something. He also figures Taub has let Phil take Sophia because he’s happy. Taub says he’s happy because he spent the night with Sophie and Phil will never be a father to his child. As House and Taub go back and forth and the team tries to distract them with diagnoses, House finally ties the swelling together with his clinic patient and realizes that Park is right about Burkitt’s lymphoma and orders chemotherapy.
Wilson asks Foreman to let House go to the fight and they will also do the rheumatology conference, but Foreman turns him down flat. Although Foreman agrees that House probably deserves a break, he has to act like a jerk in order to convince House that he will always be a jerk. He also tells Wilson he can’t go to the fight either. House only wants to go because Wilson is going, and Wilson has to stay with House, be his friend, watch the fight on television and complain about what a jerk Foreman is. Foreman says if they don’t do that, there is no way House will get all the way through his parole without doing something stupid and going back to jail. Wilson realizes Foreman is right.
Taub finds Rachel and Phil waiting for him at the hospital. Rachel obviously wants Phil to apologize. Phil says he’s sorry for confronting Taub about Sophia. When Rachel says she still wants to go to Portland, Taub thinks he’s being manipulated. Rachel is insulted and says he will see Taub when it’s time to pick up “Sophie”. When Taub reminds her the child’s name is Sophia, he’s told they’re calling her Sophie now.
As they go to start chemotherapy, the patient is upset he has cancer, but as Taub and Park talk to him, he starts crashing.
The patient is suffering kidney, heart and lung failure. They realize it’s probably not Burkitt’s because it doesn’t progress this quickly. As they discuss a new differential, Taub sees the patient’s biological father heading into his room. The mother confronts him, then Taub, but then the stepfather admits he called him. The mother throws him out and he leaves. However, as he turns to go, House tells him to wait. He realizes the biological father has late stage syphilis and the mother kicked him out because he molested his son. The son got the syphilis and the test for it was a false negative. House realizes that the disease is only active in the arteries of his brain, where it hides from the test. House realizes the blow to the groin released some of the bacteria. When they gave him immunosuppressants, the bacteria ran wild. The antibiotics were too little too late and merely created toxins that sent the immune system into overdrive. The mother admits that he found evidence of the molestation, but the patient didn’t remember it after a while and seemed normal. House orders antibiotics and antibodies. He then orders that the health department and police be notified. Adams wants to know if they are going to tell the patient he was molested. House leaves it up to Taub how to explain to a virgin how he got syphilis.
The patient rapidly improves. Taub tells him about the syphilis, but lies to him about how he got it. He reports to House who tells him this is a perfect example of how parents screw up children.
House meets Adams in the elevator. She says she’s onto his gambit about pretending not to be interested. He says that once he found out about her academic problems he knew her parents screwed her up and he doesn’t need the details. She tells him he’s wrong - she ran away from home. He says that proves she had lousy parents. She says her parents were the only people she knew who weren’t divorced or cheating. She thought that being dysfunctional somehow made you a deeper person. She went to Manhattan and lived with an older man, but after two months ran back to her parents. They were hurt for years and House realizes her good marks afterwards were her way of making it up to them. House tells her that her parent’s failure to screw her up is what really screwed her up - by romanticizing dysfunction. He thinks that’s why she wanted to work with prisoners. She says it’s why she wanted to work with House. House admits he was still trying to get the details and pretending he wasn’t interested was a tactic.
Taub goes to see Phil and Rachel. He tells them he can’t let them move and then leaves.
Wilson shows up at House’s apartment for the fight, but it’s empty. He turns on the television and sees House and Foreman at ringside.
A patient wants treatment for his diabetes. However, House notes the symptoms don’t match and the patient’s blood tests are all normal. House says he would like to give him insulin, but the patient would die and that would violate his parole. The patient demands another blood test. House ostensibly goes to order one, but instead tells the nurses the patient is on a sleep study and not to disturb him for eight hours.
The patient comes back with a urine sample. House admits he thought the patient was a hypochondriac, but now changes his theory to girlfriend without health insurance. The patient says he has swollen ankles and he has a family history where all his close male relatives developed it at the same age. House takes the urine sample and to everyone’s astonishment drinks a bit and pronounces that the patient doesn’t have diabetes - it’s apple juice, a common way to try to test high for blood sugar.
Finally the patient’s wife tracks down House and tells him that the patient is obsessed with his health, imagining symptoms and insisting on a diabetic diet. She suggests injecting him with a placebo to show him he’s not really sick, but House gets a page and leaves.
However, after remembering the swollen ankles, he calls the patient and his wife back. He asks the patient why he didn’t mention his heart rate was slow. The patient denies it, but when House tests him, he exhibits bradycardia. He asks if he’s been eating bok choy, which many diabetics eat. His wife says he cooks a pound a day. House tells them it inhibits thyroid function and all his symptoms are due to hypothyroidism. The patient is relieved he doesn’t have diabetes, but tells him to watch his obesity or he may get it anyway.
- Wilson gets ringside seats for a big boxing match in Atlantic City. House tells Wilson he’s going but can’t lose his ankle tracking bracelet or get Foreman’s permission. However, House enlists Foreman to get the tickets from Wilson so House and Foreman can attend the fight.
- Adams reveals she ran away from home at the age of sixteen.
- Rachel Taub asks Chris to allow her to move to Portland with their daughter to be with her new boyfriend. However, he refuses to let her do so.
Zebra Factor 1/10
Despite better treatments and prevention, syphilis is still a common infection. Adams even guessed it early in the diagnosis although they were thrown off by the negative test.
Trivia & Cultural References
- Pennsauken is a suburban area in west central New Jersey that serves as a suburb of nearby Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Boxing Day is a tradition in Great Britain where wealthy people would give gifts to their servants. It is commonly observed in many British Commonwealth nations (and is a statutory holiday in Canada), but is not widely observed in the United States.
- Boxing Helena was a controversial 1993 film. It starred Sherilyn Fenn.
- The beer Wilson brings over for the fight is called "Ambush Light," a play on Busch Light beer and the scam House and Foreman successfully ran on him to get the fight tickets.
- When the team comes in, discussing the patient's bulging eyeball, House is sitting with his leg on the table. He then proceeds to remove it from the table twice in two consequent shots.
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Dead & Buried