- Masters: "He’s lying. He’s not an executive. I saw his hands; they’re covered with calluses and little cuts. He works with them. A lot."
- House: "Stand up...(clumsily embraces Masters) Our little girl is finally growing up! You dream of this day, but when it finally happens...so, what did Mr. Meat Hooks say when you called him a liar?"
- Masters: "Uh, I didn’t."
- — Recession Proof
"Recession Proof" is a 7th season episode of House which first aired on February 28, 2011.
Cuddy wins an award and wants House to attend the presentation and seemingly will go to any length to make sure he shows up. However, it appears House has plans to make the award ceremony a night to remember. The team treat a patient who even ultra-trusting Martha Masters thinks is being dishonest, and it turns out he has lied to his wife that he has given up a lucrative job in real estate for blue collar work. Although his initial symptoms appear to be explained by occupational exposure, when he takes a turn for the worse House has to decide whether his relationship or his patients are more important. New roommates Foreman and Taub try to settle into a routine, but wind up getting on each other‘s nerves. Chase starts to push Masters about her naiveté and inexperience, but Masters stars pushing back at Chase's womanizing and lack of respect for women and in the end, they wind up teaching each other an important lesson.
A man is washing a floor that appears to be covered in blood. He hears his phone ring and has a few words with his wife, making her think he’s at a meeting of some kind. Officer Smith comes in to check on him and they joke around. The man leaves work and next we seem him dressed up at a restaurant with his wife. He tries some food that is moving on his plate, but when he goes to wish his wife a happy anniversary, he starts to have trouble breathing and notices a large rash on his hand. His wife tells the staff to call 911.
House is dodging Cuddy in the lobby, but Cuddy catches sight of him and takes up the chase. She almost loses him until she figures he was hiding against the wall in the elevator. She’s chasing him to get him to come to a charity gala where she’s getting an award. Although he acts like he’s not going, he finally tells Cuddy he’s already sent his RSVP and he’s just kidding around.
Foreman and Taub are discussing why Taub took Foreman’s tie to wear. House tells them the patient had anaphylactic shock, but all of his allergy tests were negative. Chase says the patient is a real estate developer and may have picked something up at a house, but Masters says the patient must be lying - his hands are calloused and lacerated, indicating he works with them a lot. House hugs Masters and tells her how proud he is for thinking the patient is a liar, but he’s disappointed when he finds out Masters didn’t confront the patient about his lie. He tells Masters to confront him, and sends Chase along to back her up.
Masters tries to send the wife out of the room and when the husband learns it’s about his job he tries to get rid of her too. Chase says they want to talk about bowel movements to get rid of her. The patient says he can’t let her wife know. Masters prevaricates, but Chase agrees. The patient says his real estate company collapsed in the recession and his wife doesn’t know. He now cleans the homes he used to build. Chase tells Masters that why he’s lying to his wife is none of their business. The patient does industrial cleaning including crime scene cleanup, septic tank repair, and mold removal.
They realize that the patient has multiple possibilities for exposure to toxins and infections. Foreman wants to concentrate on his last job, but Chase said the patient did too good a job of cleaning up - there won’t be anything left. The crime scene autopsy won’t be available for a week. House wants to focus on his old office because he still spends time there. He orders treatment for infections. House tries to see if he can speed up the autopsy report. Masters and Chase joke about Foreman and Taub being called “Bert and Ernie”.
Wilson finds House stealing food from the patients and asks if he’s really going to Cuddy’s award ceremony. He starts betting that House won’t show up, but House realizes Cuddy put Wilson up to it to give him extra incentive to go. House says he’s going anyway and wonders why Cuddy and Wilson think he’s incapable of doing something nice. Wilson says they know from experience.
Taub and Foreman are doing the environmental scan and whether Taub did anything wrong by going through Foreman’s closet. Foreman finds some leftover food and Vicodin. Taub finds a room full of toxic cleaning chemicals.
They manage to stabilize the patient, but they didn’t find any boric acid on the patient. The autopsy report on the murder victim showed no trace of contagious disease - it was just a stabbing. House checks out the Vicodin and pronounces that it’s real. However, it doesn’t explain any of the symptoms. Foreman thinks they should look for a simpler explanation and House agrees because the antibiotics made him worse. He orders a lumbar puncture and a better medical history to find out what else he‘s lying about.
Masters and Chase press the patient. He says he takes the Vicodin to hide the pain from working from his wife. He also admits that he’s tapped out his credit cards, his investments and has an extra mortgage on the house. Chase starts the lumbar puncture and tells the patient that when faced with a similar problem, he told the truth, but it didn’t work out.
House asks Wilson about the charity event. Wilson tells House to show up and behave. House wants it to be more fun and exciting for her. Wilson says not to screw it up for her.
The lumbar puncture results start to look normal. Foreman and Taub discuss their plans for the evening. When Masters says she doesn’t have plans, Chase makes a sarcastic comment. Masters asks why Chase is mad at her for picking him to come along with her. He says hazing doesn’t hurt medical students, and she says it doesn’t help either. She says she may be wrong about caring whether the patient is lying to his wife, but confronts Chase about not respecting women and having a new one every few days. Foreman does find a lot of lyphmocytes in the cerebro-spinal fluid, but this rules out their diagnosis. They all get paged.
The patient can’t move his legs or feel his feet. They look at his feet and they are turning dark from cyanosis.
They managed to restore his circulation before his feet were seriously damaged. House asks the team if they are going to Cuddy’s award ceremony. Chase and Taub raise their hands, Masters and Foreman don't. Foreman figures House only wants them all to go because House wants witnesses to see how badly he‘s going to screw up the ceremony. House then blackmails the recalcitrant team members into attending by threatening them with weekend clinic hours during Herpes Awareness Month. Foreman and Masters both promptly cave. House decides to start the patient on steroids.
Taub realizes that Foreman isn’t wearing his first date shirt, so his date must have cancelled on him. Taub has just found out Rachel is meeting with the man she met online. Foreman wants to go for dinner, but Taub offers to cook. They wind up playing video games, but Foreman realizes Taub is letting him win. Taub tells him he has to learn to relax. They get into an argument, but all of a sudden they both have intense stomach pain.
Meanwhile, the patient has assaulted his wife and has locked himself in the bathroom. He starts hallucinating.
The patient’s rash has disappeared and Masters thinks it’s neurological, but Foreman thinks it was just a reaction to the steroids. It’s obvious he still hasn’t gotten over the previous night’s food poisoning and he runs out of the room. Taub soon follows. House follows them to the washroom to continue the differential. The most likely candidate is a fungus. Masters realizes the saline used in the previous tests would have destroyed a fungus, and House orders them re-done with formaldehyde. He also orders anti-fungals for both the patient and his wife.
Masters and Chase get into a fight about whether the patient’s lie about his job delayed the diagnosis. The wife wants to know why he’s the only one they know who has the infection. The husband asks to speak to his wife in private.
Wilson is with a patient when he hears a Mexican band. He traces it to House’s office. It’s obvious that House plans to have them at the award ceremony. Wilson tells him if he tries it, he will go home alone. House starts up the music again.
The patient and his wife are arguing. Masters says it’s for the best, but Chase says he doesn’t think it is. When the wife comes out, she’s upset that her husband told the doctors before her. She says she’s going to leave him. However, the patient’s fever is back and he’s deaf.
The tests for fungus were negative. Chase and Masters start arguing about the diagnosis. House goes with Taub’s suggestion of a brain tumor and orders an MRI. Taub tells Foreman he will move out because he would rather be a friend than a roommate.
Wilson and Cuddy are discussing the award ceremony. Cuddy too is afraid House will embarrass her, even though he won’t mean to. When Wilson says that House is likely to do something stupid like hiring a mariachi band, Cuddy surprisingly says she wouldn’t mind that.
The patient complains he is cold now. He asks about his wife. Masters wants to tell him she won’t come back, but Chase tells her to lie about it. Chase tells Masters that it’s important to keep up the patient’s spirits. Masters says she won’t lie to him. All of a sudden, Chase realizes the patient is having a seizure.
The patient is suffering from kidney failure and is in a coma. The prognosis is three more days. They can’t get him a transplant until they have a diagnosis. Masters doesn’t think he would even survive transplant surgery. House wants to go for a hail mary - chemotherapy and radiation therapy for the possible tumor. He tells Masters to get the wife’s consent.
Chase comes along to watch. Masters asks if Chase even likes her. She confides that she’s put relationships and friendships on hold so she would have time to study, thinking there will be more time later. However, she realizes that she’s lost the ability to connect with other people. She doesn’t think that she can ever connect with patients. The wife arrives and Chase tells her to be honest, but if there is a choice between brutal truth and hope, to start with hope.
Masters tells the wife the patient is in a coma and probably has a brain tumor. The wife is worried about the patient and Masters agrees the treatment could be fatal. She lies to the wife that the patient’s hearing has improved and she might be able to get through to him. The wife signs the consent. Chase nods encouragement.
The wife returns to the patient’s bedside and apologizes for what she said before. She tells him she loves him. She also admits that she was going to tell him that she’s pregnant. However, Masters has noted the rash has returned.
House figures that they must have done something to bring back the rash. House realizes it was cold at the house and in the MRI room. The patient may have Muckle-Wells syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. It matches all the symptoms and House wonders why he didn’t think of it before. House orders treatment.
However, when they return to the patient’s room, he is crashing. Masters starts CPR with Chase assisting. However, they can’t stabilize him. Chase has to stop Masters from trying to revive him when it’s obvious it’s too late.
Wilson asks House if he’s okay. House says he’s fine - he solved the case even though the patient died, and he’s not capable of saving everyone. Wilson comes to apologize for being so hard on House. House tells Wilson that he knows Cuddy loves mariachi bands. Wilson tells House to go home and change for the award ceremony.
Foreman tells Taub he doesn’t have to move out. Foreman realizes that he’s been alone a long time, and that he was being an ass. Taub tells Foreman he was right about his marriage.
Chase meets Masters while they are waiting for Taub and Foreman. Chase has cancelled his date. Foreman is looking forward to the mariachi band.
However, House has skipped the award ceremony and has gone to a nearby bar. Wilson finds him there. House admits he is upset about losing the patient and some of the other patients he has lost since he started dating Cuddy. House says love and happiness are distracting him and making him a worse doctor. Wilson reminds House he already knows that he deserves happiness, but House thinks it’s costing lives. Wilson tells House Cuddy is upset and worried that he didn’t show up. House says he has to tell Cuddy the truth. Wilson tells House he can’t drive and that he’s in no condition to talk to Cuddy. House decides to walk instead.
House shows up at Cuddy’s door in the rain. She tells him he screwed up and that he’s drunk. He tells her that being happy and in love with her is making him a crappy doctor. She tells him he’s too drunk to make a decision. He says she’s made him a worse doctor and people are going to die, but that she’s totally worth it and he chooses her over all those patient’s lives. He falls asleep on her lap.
Trivia and Cultural References
- The title is a common idiom for a type of business or employment that does not suffer a loss of sales or revenue during an economic downturn, such as medicine.
- Another set of alliterative nicknames - Scary (Foreman), Smarmy (Chase) and Shorty (Taub).
- Bert and Ernie are two Muppet roommates from the television series Sesame Street.
- Although the characters continually refer to the Mexican ensemble as a "Mariachi" band, since it includes an accordion, it is properly referred to as "Tejano." Accordions are not considered part of traditional Mariachi instrumentation and are an innovation originating in the Texas Hispanic community.
- The song played by the band is the "Jarabe Tapatio," or "Mexican Hat Dance song." It is one of the the traditional regional dances of Mexico.
- Juan Gabriel is a popular Mexican entertainer.
- “Booting out of the nest” is a metaphor based on the belief that birds will toss their young out of the nest to get them to fly. It relates to a belief that people perform best when forced to eventually confront a difficult situation.
- The cases House discusses with Wilson in the bar are from episodes Unplanned Parenthood and A Pox on Our House.
End Credits Message
- Hugh Laurie as Gregory House
- Lisa Edelstein as Lisa Cuddy
- Omar Epps as Eric Foreman
- Robert Sean Leonard as James Wilson
- Jesse Spencer as Robert Chase
- Peter Jacobson as Chris Taub
- Olivia Wilde as Remy Hadley (credit only)
- Amber Tamblyn as Martha M. Masters
- Adrian LaTourelle as Bert Eskey
- Ashley Jones as Diane Eskey
- Tom Connolly as Officer Smith
- Mike Moh as Waiter
- Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse
- Frank Drank as Bartender
- Episode review at Blogcritics
- Episode page at IMDB
- Episode page at House MD Guide
- Episode guide at Ace Showbiz
- Episode page at Fanpop
- Episode page at TV Rage
- Music track listing at Heard On TV
- Episode page at The House of Fan
- Episode article at Wikipedia
- Episode review at Television Without Pity
- Episode review at TV Fanatic
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