- Gabe: "I think you’ve run out of relatives. So, it’s my turn? Why did you become a doctor?"
- House: "That’s the big question? I give you complete license to humiliate me and that’s the best you can do. Well, okay, let’s discuss the wonder of the human body..."
- Gabe: "No, no, no. You’re a curious guy. You like to figure things out. Why not go into research? Why work with people when you...obviously hate people."
- — Son of Coma Guy
Son of Coma Guy is a 3rd season episode of House which first aired on November 14, 2006. The son of a patient in a persistent vegetative state starts having severe symptoms of his own. Needing a better medical history, House takes a long shot in order to try to bring the vegetative patient back to consciousness. To everyone’s surprise, House’s tactic works, but the father is told he will be back in a coma within a day. In another surprise, the father seems less interested in his son’s illness than he does in having one last fling in Atlantic City. House, Wilson and Coma Guy make a pilgrimage in order to get the world’s best hoagie, with House pressing the father for details of the family’s medical history. However, the father exacts a high price for his co-operation—he wants a deeper look into House. In the end, House reveals the most important event in his life and Coma Guy has to decide what sacrifices he is willing to make to save his son’s life.
Meanwhile, Tritter is trying to pump House’s team for information.
Wilson finds House relaxing in the room of a vegetative patient. He confronts him about stealing his prescription pad. House brushes it off. The vegetative patient's son comes into the room for a visit. All of a sudden, House starts flashing the lights and throws a bag of chips at the son, which hits him. We then see House seemingly disappear, only to appear in front of the son. He tells the son he has akinetopsia (or motion blindness), a condition that prevents him from seeing things in motion. He noted it the last time the son was there, when he nearly walked into two moving people. All of a sudden, the son has a seizure.
The patient recovers from the seizure, and tells the doctors he suffers from them. Doctors never have been able to find the source. The team does a medical history, but the patient has no surviving family apart from his vegetative father. They go to hand the patient his backpack, but they find it‘s full of wine.
The team does a number of tests and an environmental scan, but find nothing. The patient is not close enough to anyone to get a disease from them. Suddenly, the patient feels nausea, and starts coughing up blood. The patient starts heading into a coma, so House stops the treatment. They think his liver is failing from his alcoholism, and his kidneys are failing as well.
House realizes that he needs a better medical history. He decides to give L-Dopa and amphetamines to the comatose father to wake him up. His team thinks he is crazy. Cuddy tries to stop House too, but he goes ahead. The father comes back to consciousness and asks for a steak.
Cuddy examines the father, who passes all the mental acuity tests. House starts asking him about his family's medical history. The father is told he's been unconscious for ten years. The last thing he remembers is the fire that killed his wife. He's told his son is seriously ill. The father denies any serious medical problems on either side of the family.
House and Wilson discuss why the father isn't upset that his son is seriously ill. They argue about the human need for attachments.
Tritter shows up to talk to Cameron. She doesn't want to talk to him, but tells him that House takes six pills of Vicodin a day. She brushes off Tritter’s allegations. Tritter wonders why Cameron shows House loyalty when House has already let Wilson take a fall.
The team pages Cameron to get her away from Tritter. She warns them about Tritter, but they agree they can't tell House. House comes in at that moment. They tell him the son is getting worse.
House goes to the father again, who is getting dressed. The father knows he only has about 24 hours of consciousness, and wants to leave the hospital. House asks him what he has to live for apart from his son. The father says he wants a hoagie (local name for submarine or hero sandwich) that is made only by one place in Atlantic City. House agrees to take him there. He asks for Wilson's car, but the father wants to drive. House convinces Wilson to let him, but Wilson insists on going along.
En route, House starts asking questions again. The father is resistant. They play a game—the father gets to ask a question for every one House asks, just because he wants to annoy House.
Cameron tells the team that Tritter thinks House stole Wilson's prescription pad and forged his signature. Foreman believes it. The patient is getting worse.
House wants to know what the father’s factory made. The father made luxury boats. House thinks the son may have been exposed to the paint used to resist mildew. House calls the team to check for mercury poisoning.
Tritter talks to Chase, who says House takes 6-10 Vicodin pills a day. He admits to writing prescriptions for House. Tritter asks if House asked for or demanded a prescription.
The road trip team gets to Atlantic City, but can't find the hoagie place. Wilson suggests that the father go back to speak to his son. The father is mad that his son is an alcoholic, just like his mother‘s side of the family. Wilson realizes that's not why the father left as they didn’t tell him about the alcohol until after they left. The father wants to go to a casino.
The treatment for mercury poisoning doesn't work. Foreman finds out that the son's heart is failing.
At the hotel, Wilson calls room service for the ingredients for the hoagie. Wilson wants to know why House stole his pad instead of one of the others. Wilson guesses that House must push his voluntary relationships to the limit until they break. House confirms his suspicions.
Foreman calls House to tell him the mercury test was negative. House orders an echocardiogram. He asks the father to list how everyone in the family died. The deaths are for a number of unrelated reasons, some natural, some accidents. Wilson finally finds the hoagie shop. However, when he tosses the father a soda, he can't catch it.
Tritter talks to Foreman. Foreman has a poor opinion of Tritter. Tritter tells Foreman that he hears all types of self-serving stories and that everybody lies.
The father asks why House became a doctor. He points out the fact that House has chosen to work with people when he doesn't like them. He pushes for an honest answer. House tells the story of when he lived in Japan due to his father being stationed there with the Marine Corp. House was 14 at the time and was out rock climbing with a friend from school. His friend fell and was injured. House took him to the hospital and they went in the wrong entrance. Upon entering the hospital he meets the janitor. Later his friend came down with an infection. When the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong, they called in the janitor, who was a member of a despised minority group, the buraku, but also a fully trained doctor. When the doctors really had to get the answer to a problem, they had to go to the janitor. House points out that the guy was not part of the staff. He did not fit in. He did not dress well or care that he was not accepted by the hospital administration. But House points out that they needed the janitor because he was right. House states "the people that ran the place did not think this guy had anything they wanted, except when they needed him. Because he was right. Which meant that nothing else mattered and they had to listen to him."
The son starts going into convulsions and his heart starts failing.
House asks the father what happened the night of the fire. The son dropped a popcorn shaker which dislodged some tinders which fell on some paper, and the fire spread rapidly. The father shows that he is angry he couldn't save his wife and can't save his son. House finally realizes that all of the accidental deaths happened at night. The son and the maternal line have MERRF syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes clumsiness, weakness and poor night vision (the disease is inherited from mother to son because it is a mitochondrial disease, house bases the diagnosis on history of maternal sister and father. But if the moms father had it he couldn't have transferred it to his daughters. So the basis for the diagnosis is wrong). House calls Foreman to give him the news, but the son needs a new heart and can't be put on the transplant list because of his alcoholism.
The father decides he wants to give his heart to his son. Wilson points out that the father may once again awaken, and that MERRF is treatable, but not curable. The father wants to go ahead, but Cuddy refuses permission. House sends Wilson out of the room to keep him out of it and set up an alibi for both of them. The father decides to commit suicide. House gives the father his options. The father knows he won't be conscious long enough to see his son again. The father asks what House would want from his own father. House says that he would like to hear his father say "You were right. You did the right thing."
Wilson embarrasses himself in the casino to make sure he and someone pretending to be House are remembered so House has an alibi. They hear the father fall unconscious in the room. They rush him back to Princeton-Plainsboro for the transplant. Cuddy questions why the patient would have taken aspirin, which would have preserved the heart. House says that it was just lucky he did so.
The son recovers and wonders if the father had a message. House tells him that the father said "You were right. You did the right thing."
House knows Tritter has been speaking to his team—they all told him. Wilson finds that his bank account has been frozen on Tritter's orders. Wilson says House is buying them dinner.
- Wilson confronts House about forging his name in order to get pills for himself.
- House awakens a man who has been in a vegetative state for the last ten years in order to get more information regarding his alcoholic son.
- Tritter starts talking to House's fellows in an attempt to get more information about House‘s drug use.
- House and Wilson go on a road-trip with Vegetative State Guy and head to Atlantic City.
- House reveals why he became a doctor and gives insight into his motives and personality.
- Wilson discovers that his bank accounts have been frozen as part of Tritter's investigation.
Zebra Factor 9/10
MERRF Syndrome is an extremely rare genetic condition, with an incidence of less than 1 in 400,000 people in the general population. Its only obvious symptom, a series of increasingly bad seizures, is common to many diseases. However, it is conceivable that a case could come to House's attention.
Trivia & Cultural References
- As House points out several times, the patient was not in a coma, but was in a persistent vegetative state.
- House states that the patient is in good condition considering the condition and makes a reference to Terri Schiavo, a woman from St. Petersburg, FL who had a big legal battle between her husband and her parents which made the United States Supreme Court as to whether or not to stop life support.
- The Sherpa are an ethnic group native to Nepal. They are famous for being mountain guides in the Himalayas.
- Several cathedrals are named after St. Patrick, including two in Armagh, Ireland and two in New York City.
- Acid is a common euphemism for LSD.
- In the area around Philadelphia, “Hoagie” is the most common name for what is usually called a Submarine Sandwich, and the term dominates throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
- The iPod is a digital music player. It wasn’t marketed until 2001.
- Morristown, New Jersey is in the northern part of the state, well north of Princeton.
- Twizzlers are a brand of candy sold in the United States and Canada. It was originally flavored with licorice (and is still available today), but strawberry is currently the dominant flavor.
- In the standard American issue of Monopoly, all the streets (except Marvin Gardens, which is in nearby Margate City), including St. James Place, are named after streets in Atlantic City. A car is one of the standard set of tokens in a classic Monopoly set.
- House’s line “Quid pro quo, Clarice” is from The Silence of the Lambs, where Agent Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter play a similar game where Lecter agrees to answer Clarice‘s questions if she will answer his.
- The Oedipal fixation is a theory in psychology where males cannot separate themselves from an emotional attachment to their mother.
- Ben Casey was the titular character in an American medical drama that ran from 1961 to 1966.
- In season 1 episode 'Cursed' Dr. Chase mentions about a guy named Gabe who is in coma to another patient named Gabe when he says that he is cursed.
- 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
- David Morse as Michael Tritter
- Zeb Newman as Kyle Wozniak
- John Larroquette as Gabriel Wozniak
- Holly Kaplan as Mrs. Shaffer
- Jonathan Strait as Fake House
- Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse
- Monte Hunter as Gas Station Attendant
- Episode article at Wikipedia
- Episode page at IMDB
- Episode page at House MD Guide
- A review of the medicine at Polite Dissent
- Episode summary at TV.com
- Episode page on Facebook
- Quotes at House MD Quotes.com
- Episode page at TV Squad.com
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