- "I'd turn around and shoot you, but apparently I'd miss."
Runaways is an 8th season episode of House which first aired on January 30, 2012. It is written by a new addition to the writing staff, Marqui Jackson.
A teen Jane Doe (Bridgit Mendler) needs treatment requiring adult consent, but claims she is fleeing an abusive household. House and Adams debate whether to call Social Services, and Wilson soon realizes that House's interest in the patient isn't just professional, but personal. When the patient's mother shows up, it turns out the relationship is far more complicated than the team could have anticipated. Meanwhile, Taub can't connect with his infant daughters and House threatens to exploit Foreman's relationship with Anita.
All this plus tortoise races, Civil War re-enactment and skeet shooting!
House is examining a young girl in the clinic and asks her father how long she has had trouble breathing - it’s been about a week. He asks about the last time she saw a doctor, and she says it was about five months ago to treat strep throat where she was treated with amoxicillin. She asks for an inhaler because she thinks it is asthma but House accuses her and the man she’s with of being unrelated. She goes to leave, but House tells her that she’s bleeding from her ear. She denies any trauma, and House continues his physical examination. He tells her to pay off her fake dad and she hands him a couple of cans of beer. She asks what’s wrong with her, and House says he has no idea.
House is in a diner 30 miles from the hospital when his team comes in to see him. Taub asks why they’re meeting so far away and House points to his lack of a tracking anklet and says it’s because he can. He starts a differential, but Adams has figured out the patient isn’t really 18 and says they have to call social services before they treat her. House says that the patient has said she will run out of the hospital if social services is called. Chase notes the usual suspects have been ruled out, then looks at the entrance to the diner and sees Foreman come in with a beautiful woman. House waves to them and takes a picture. Foreman comes over and House lets it out of the bag that he knows the woman is married. Foreman tries to alibi it by saying the woman is a pharmaceutical rep, but House wants to know why they’re meeting far from his home and the hospital. Foreman gives the same reason for being in the diner that House did - the pancakes are highly recommended. They get back to the differential and House decides to treat for pneumococcus, but the team argues that she may have been vaccinated and that they should still call social services. House insists on treatment. Taub is left to pick up the check.
Adams tells the patient how she ran away from home, but the patient is not sympathetic because their situations are different. Taub points out there are alternatives to homelessness, but she says they’re all bad. Adams decides to search the patient’s belongings. The patient protests, but Adams only finds schoolwork.
Chase tells Foreman that he deleted the pictures on House’s phone, and Foreman thanks him. Foreman says he loves being with Anita, but he admits he’s bothered that she must be lying to her husband. Even Taub is supportive, noting that if he didn’t cheat, he wouldn’t have his daughters. However, Taub admits that his daughters are boring. Adams calls from the patient’s school - she has been vaccinated for pneumococcus. The patient registered under a fake name, but Adams and Park decide to do an environmental scan of the foreclosed house she listed at her address.
The house is in good shape with decent food, although they do find more beer. Park notes that despite the patient’s homelessness, she’s keeping up good grades and is captain of her school’s volleyball team. However, Adams is still appalled. Park notes that she loves and needs her own parents, but the patient is flourishing without them. However, Adams finds mold.
The patient is angry that the doctors went to her school, realizing that social services will be on her trail. She goes to leave but Adams tells her she probably has a fungal infection and needs treatment. She says she knows what she needs to treat it and will get it at another clinic. However, as the patient tries to stand, she collapses and complains she can’t feel her legs.
House drags the team to a skeet shooting range for the next differential. The paralysis rules out a fungus. Adams notes that since the patient can’t run away now, there is no reason not to call social services. House is opposed to it and returns to the medicine. As House continues to miss clay pigeons, Park realizes he’s never done it before and House admits as much. Chase finally comes up with vasculitis and House agrees to steroids. Adams gets back to calling social services and House makes a bet - if she can hit a clay pigeon, she can call, but if she misses, she can’t raise the issue again. He says if she calls without taking the bet or if she loses, he will fire her. Adams takes the gun, calls “pull” and obliterates the clay pigeon. She ejects the spent shotgun cartridge straight into a nearby bucket. The camera then cuts to House who's standing there in disbelief.
They start treatment and the patient improves. The social services worker arrives but Adams is suspicious - the patient isn’t making a fuss and the social worker is wearing five inch heels. Adams wonders if House could have known she was an expert marksman.
Adams, House and Foreman are in Foreman’s office. House hired a prostitute to impersonate a social worker. House says it’s Adams’s fault for taking a bet she knew she would win. Adams wonders what happened to the social worker. Foreman explains that House called back under the alias “Dr. Puhols” and cancelled it. Foreman says he called back, explained the situation, and the police are looking for the patient’s parents. Foreman says House should have told him about an underage patient. House says he did it to give Foreman deniability, but Foreman gives House more clinic duty. House tells him to back down, but Foreman says House has nothing on him. House pulls out photographs of Foreman and Anita. Foreman says he won’t be blackmailed, but House says his demands for fewer clinic hours and more internet porn are reasonable and not to ruin both of their lives.
House runs into James Wilson, who realizes that House is trying to protect the patient. House says he’s doing it to avoid social workers and parents. Wilson tells House that he will realize that he’s protecting the patient when the parents show up and House protects the patient from them too.
Taub is with his daughters trying to entertain them with puppets. However, he’s having no luck and gets distracted by a phone manual he left lying around. He grabs the manual and starts reading it.
The next day, Taub says he feels terrible, even though he can now program his DVR from his phone. Adams assures him that all kids are boring. They arrive at the patient’s room - she knows they called social services and she’s ready to leave rather than have her mother abuse her. However, a social worker arrives with a woman who introduces herself as the patient’s mother. They have been separated for two years. As the patient insists she want her mother out of her life, she starts to have trouble talking, then coughs up blood.
House meets the team at a place that does tortoise races. He has $100 on the outcome. They start a differential as it appears steroids made the patient’s condition worse. Park bets with House. House’s tortoise wins. Adams thinks the patient’s allegations of abuse have merit. House decides on Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and tells them to get consent from the mother to test for it. However, Adams is opposed - if the mother did beat the daughter, she shouldn’t get any say over the patient’s treatment. House says that’s not relevant unless social services agrees.
Adams goes to get consent, but the mother realizes Adams has a problem with her. The mother denies ever hitting the patient, but admits she was addicted to oxycodone until her daughter left her.
Anita comes to see Foreman at his apartment. He says he’s not there for fun - he tells her House is blackmailing him by threatening to tell her husband. Anita says that she’s already told her husband and, although they are still working things out, she’s not ready to give Foreman up just yet. She tells him not to feel guilty.
Adams asks the patient why she lied. She says that people understand physical abuse, but not what she went through - working two jobs to keep the power on and cleaning up after her mother. She said if she had to act like an adult, she would do it on her own terms. Adams asks her to give her mother another chance, but the patient feels her mother will return to drugs when things get bad.
They discuss the brain surgery with the patient. The patient realizes Adams thinks House is wrong. Adams accuses the patient of being an alcoholic based on the beer they found in her home, but the patient denies having more than an occasional beer. She says she wants the surgery, but Taub says it’s the mother’s decision. The patient assures her mother she’s not an addict, but her mother reminds her that’s what she always said. The patient snaps back she’s not like her mother and says she wants surgery. The mother says she wants time to think.
House chastises Adams for discussing her diagnosis with the patient and her mother. He accuses her of turning a medical decision into a reason to deal with the baggage of her own problems as a teenager. He says that Adams can’t accept that the patient might be doing alright without parents and has played into the mother’s guilt of thinking the illness is her fault for being a bad parent. Adams tells House not to bully the mother, but House says that the mother will feel worse once her daughter dies of the aneurysm.
House goes to see the mother. He tells her he only shows up when a parent is doing something stupid. He tells her that her daughter hates her and should hate her. He tells the mother to leave. He says he’s going ahead with the surgery and will deal with the fallout from social services. However, he’s left a bottle of pills behind - his Vicodin. The mother calls him and gives him back his pills. She tells him to treat her for alcoholism.
Chase is having fun with Taub’s daughters while Foreman ponders why Anita told her husband about the affair. Taub wants to know why Chase deals with his kids with such ease, and Foreman goes on about how he doesn’t feel better now that Anita’s husband knows.
Adams tells the patient about the mother’s social services report, but the patient counters that the mother always does well on those reports. Adams thinks it might be different this time because her mother didn’t take the bottle of Vicodin. The patient won’t let the mother into her room because she took Adams’ word about the alcoholism. Adams tells her that her mother is finally acting like a mother.
House tries to avoid Wilson on the elevator, but Wilson is gloating about House trying to protect the patient from her mother by testing the mother with drugs. Wilson also notes the patient is improving on the treatment the mother preferred. Wilson accuses House of wanting the treatment goes wrong, but House still thinks it is an aneurysm and they will only find it at autopsy.
Wilson arrives at his office to find Taub. Taub wants to know how to fake interest in people to make them feel better and eventually form a bond with them. Wilson says it doesn’t work that way - you have to find some common ground and that makes people interesting. Wilson is confused about what Taub wants, but Taub leaves.
Anita says she told her husband because it was the right thing to do. Foreman says that it changes how he feels, but he doesn’t want to break up. He proposes lying to the husband about them breaking up. He says it will make him feel better about it. Anita leaves.
The mother has brought banana muffins as a peace offering - they ate them when they went on a trip. The patient asks her mother if she was high during the trip. She says she wasn’t when they were together - she waited until her daughter was asleep. The patient takes the muffins and tells the mother she can stay. However, after she eats the muffin, she collapses and Adams realizes it must be a burst aneurysm.
They perform emergency surgery, but can’t find anything. They use dye to try to locate a leak, but the blood vessels are all intact. The patient’s blood pressure drops. House calls Adams, Taub and Park back to his conference room to let Chase maintain the patient. They start talking about the patient being in Florida and that it might be a tropical infection. House notes those don’t wait for years to appear and goes to dismiss the idea when he thinks of something.
House asks the mother if the patient ever went swimming in Florida, but not in a pool or the ocean. The mother says she went swimming in a nearby canal. He asks the mother to follow him into surgery. Chase reports on the patient and House reveals she has ascariasis, a parasite. They are generally asymptomatic, but when set off by a small trauma, they attack the body’s organs. The steroids they treated her with made it worse. She just needs mebendazole.
The patient improves rapidly. However, when her mother comes to see her, they realize she has run away again. She has left a note - that she prefers to remember her mother the way she was. Adams tells House he got the ending he wanted. House tells Adams he doesn’t mind if she’s screwed up, but she should find absolution on her own time - not while working for him.
Taub is still bored with his daughters. He’s been through the entire toy box. He spots a magazine and grabs it. However, he shows pictures from the magazine to his daughters and makes fun of the football players. The girls start laughing.
Foreman tells House that Anita broke it off. Foreman says he must not be good at affairs. House tells him he is - he just stopped being interested once it wasn’t an affair anymore. He warns Foreman that if he doesn’t get an adrenaline fix, he will find excitement elsewhere. House takes a Vicodin and Foreman denies being like him. House agrees - Foreman doesn’t limp.
House arrives in the exam room to find two men dressed in Confederate uniforms. They stay in character as George the lower ranking one describes the fact that the General has diarrhea in 19th century language. House makes fun of them and the general goes to leave, but the lower ranking one says they should stay despite the insults. House gives them an anti-diarrhea medication and says he can put mercury in if they want authenticity. They thank him and leave.
However, George returns after accidentally shooting himself in the foot, luckily with only a blank charge. He apologizes for his brother’s behavior earlier, but tells House that they were estranged until they started doing re-enactments together. House still thinks they’re idiots.
Soon, both brothers return, vomiting violently. The General thinks it’s food poisoning, but they’re the only ones who are sick. House looks at their uniforms and realizes they are cheap modern polyester and not expensive authentic wool. He tells them polyester is treated with antimony and they have heavy metal poisoning. It explains the diarrhea, the numbness that caused the accidental shot, and the vomiting. The brothers start arguing.
- House starts enjoying being free of his ankle tracker.
- It's revealed that Adams is an expert level sheet shooter and that like Wilson and Foreman, she is also left-handed.
Zebra Factor 2/10
Ascariasis is a very common parasitic infection, particularly in the south-eastern United States. However, it is usually asymptomatic.
Trivia & Cultural References
- Chris Christie is the governor of New Jersey
- More about Civil War Re-enactment
- Skeet shooting is a competitive shotgun sport
- Section 8 is a military discharge code for persons discharged for mental unfitness. It was popularized by the series M*A*S*H.
- Aaron Rogers, Terrell Owens and Mark Sanchez are professional American football players.
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