- Thirteen: "You could have at least hired Cuddy’s weird boyfriend."
- House: "Lucas? You don’t know….Actually until a couple of weeks ago, I was Cuddy’s weird boyfriend"
- Thirteen: "Ha! You’re going to have to do a lot better than that."
- — The Dig
The Dig is a 7th season episode of House that first aired on April 11, 2011. It is the 150th overall episode of the series. Olivia Wilde returns as Remy Hadley. The episode is set approximately one year after the episode Now What? and about two weeks after Bombshells. House finds out that as part of her "leave of absence" Thirteen spent the last half of it in jail. House finds out she pled guilty to a charge of excessive prescribing, but realizes that she was charged with another crime and wants to know what she really did. Thirteen puts up her usual wall of privacy and shuts him out. In an attempt to bring her out, he keeps her away from the hospital by enlisting her skills in controlled combustion to help build a championship calibre "spud gun" to beat one of House's younger rivals who has won the contest for several years running. While House is away, the team treats a science teacher with a respiratory problem who is a hoarder, and finds something even more interesting hidden in the hoard. Foreman is astounded when Taub starts dating a beautiful woman half his age, is even more astounded when Taub stands her up, and is entirely shocked when he finds out why.
A cab pulls up in a nearly empty parking lot. House is there and when the cabbie confirms he’s there to pick someone up at 9 a.m., House pays the cabbie to take the day off. We look over House’s shoulder and see the entrance to New Jersey’s Middlebury Correctional Institution. A buzzer goes off and the door opens. Thirteen walks out of the prison and sees House waiting for her. He gives her a martini, which she gladly accepts and drains in two mouthfuls.
House is driving Thirteen down the road and he asks what she did. She’s surprised he didn’t know after finding her in jail. House confirms he knows she pled guilty to excessive prescribing, but wants to know what she really did. Thirteen just clams up.
Meanwhile, back at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, Martha M. Masters is presenting the case of a junior high science teacher. Everyone gets paged and they learn House is going to be out of the hospital for three days. The team, apart from Masters, try to run for the exits to take some vacation, but Masters reminds them the message also says to call if they have a case. Suddenly, House pipes up - he’s called Masters’ smart phone and has overheard their plans to leave. House is on his way to the Schenectady Chilli Cook Off and Spud Gun competition. He tells them he‘s alone because his wife is with her boyfriend. Chase thinks the case is routine - a nosebleed running into the lungs that was coughed back out. However, Masters suggests a toxin and House orders blood cultures and an environmental scan.
Thirteen is surprised that House is married, but he tells her he just did it so Dominika could get a green card. Thirteen thanks him for not telling the team about her jail time, but he says he did it so he could figure out why she went to jail without getting anyone’s help. They come up to Thirteen’s exit on the freeway, but she finds out that House plans to take her to the spud gun tournament.
The patient says he’s had nosebleeds since he was hit in the nose with a volleyball. When Chase presses, he figures the patient has a serratia infection - a red colored bacteria that can affect the lungs. Chase wants to treat him for it, but when the patient coughs again, it’s clearly blood.
Thirteen wants to know why House is taking her to the tournament. House wants to know what Thirteen is going back to when her license to practice medicine is obviously suspended because of her conviction. Thirteen says she doesn’t even have a change of clothes, and House turns into a mall to buy her some. While she’s in the change room, House starts going over the facts. She’s only been in jail six months even though she left the team a year ago. Second, he points to the fact that Thirteen hides behind a number because she doesn’t like people to know about her. He figures she was running an illegal medical clinic for some sympathetic group of people. House reveals he wants Thirteen to go along because she won a science fair competition in high school on clean combustion and he needs her skills for the competition. He tells Thirteen he’s finished second four years running to the same man - Harold Lam. Thirteen realizes how serious House is about the competition and agrees to help, but demands that she be allowed a personal stop along the way.
As they do the environmental scan, Foreman wonders why Taub was home late the previous night. Foreman finally realizes that Taub was on a date, and Taub says it was the hot redhead certified nursing assistant. They’re going out again. Foreman is impressed and Taub offers a seminar. They have trouble entering the home and find boxes and books piled everywhere - the patient is a hoarder. Foreman doesn’t think it’s related to his physical symptoms. There is no heat, electricity or running water in the house. Taub finds a dead cat in the working freezer (which is drawing power from an extension cord), but more importantly, Foreman finds aspergillis in the refrigerator. It explains all the symptoms.
Thirteen is giving directions to House while House keeps guessing what Thirteen did. They arrive at a tidy house in the suburbs and Thirteen goes to the door. A man answers and Thirteen knees him in the testicles and talks to him as he crouches in pain. Thirteen refuses to discuss the incident and asks to go for food.
The patient is upset that the doctors went to his house. The team plan to treat him with anti-fungals. They also want to send him for a psych consult, but the patient says he’s only a slob, not a hoarder.
Thirteen says she’s hurt that House didn’t bribe someone or hack into sealed records to find out what she did. House says that wouldn’t be fun. She asks why he didn’t hire Lucas Douglas, but House breaks the news that he replaced Lucas as Cuddy’s boyfriend. Thirteen thinks he’s joking, but she soon realizes he’s serious and badly hurt by the experience. He assures her it’s not a big deal. She tells House she killed a man.
The anti-fungals don’t work and even the psych consult was fruitless. The patient is getting worse and is now on oxygen. Taub says even if it was environmental and related to his hoard, he should be getting better in hospital. Foreman turns it around— maybe something in the home was keeping him from getting sicker. They hit upon his gas heater— it releases carbon monoxide which, in low doses, acts as a vasodilator. They realize they have to go back and test for carbon monoxide. Masters volunteers herself and Chase.
Thirteen is now driving House, who is strangely quiet. She realizes House is upset that she killed someone. She asks that House stop asking questions, but House keeps guessing.
Foreman catches up to the nurse Taub dated. He wants to know how Taub did it, but decides to drop the matter. However, the nurse tells him that although she and Taub had a date planned, he cancelled it.
House wakes up from a nap and finds himself in a park. He sees Thirteen test firing his spud gun. She tells him it needs a fuel valve and a better ignition source.
Masters is actually having fun at the patient’s home. The carbon monoxide test is negative. Masters wants to figure out why the patient is hoarding. Chase finds some raccoon feces and Masters realizes Q fever fits the symptoms. Masters then spots some toes under a plastic tarpaulin. Chase lifts the sheet and finds a cowering woman.
The team confront the patient with the woman, who is his wife. They plan to start them on doxycycline. It turns out the wife is the hoarder.
Thirteen and House are shopping for hardware. He warns Thirteen that Harold will probably hit on her. She asks how they judge the contest and realizes that as every aspect is judged equally, they should ignore accuracy and go for raw power. She wants to find fertilizer.
Foreman is snooping around Taub’s locker when Chase comes in. Foreman tells Chase about Taub’s cancelled date. Foreman finds out that whoever it is, Taub is meeting her at Foreman’s apartment when Foreman is supposed to be out at the gym. Foreman plans to ambush him.
House and Thirteen arrive at the contest and plan to amp up the power of the gun. However, they see Harold, who has a much bigger contraption of his own, obviously built for power as well. House and Harold march towards each other. They exchange fake pleasantries. House tries to bluff Harold about who Thirteen is, but Harold isn’t buying anything. House tells Harold Thirteen killed a man. The tension is broken when Thirteen misfires House’s gun. Harold jokes that Thirteen probably didn’t kill the person with a spud gun.
Foreman comes home to find Taub making out with his ex-wife. Foreman exits awkwardly.
Thirteen has big plans for the gun. They start eating some pie, planning to use the pie tins to improve the gun. House asks Thirteen nicely to tell him what she did. House promises to put in a good word for her with the medical board, and to hire her back as a non-physician assistant. She tells him that she was with a man she met and he overdosed.
The patient is telling the doctors about how her wife’s hoarding started. Masters want to know why he stayed. He tells her that his wife finds treasure in everything. The patient’s lungs are clearing up and it looks like he will fully recover. However, the wife starts having heart problems.
As House tries to sleep, he wakes up to find Thirteen by the window sobbing.
The husband is fine, but the wife had a heart attack. They realize the wife’s hoarding could be a symptom, just like Taub said. He wants to do an MRI. However, Foreman hits on hydrogen sulphide exposure— it could explain the wife’s symptoms and they didn’t test for it. House orders another environmental scan, and they once again decide Chase and Masters have to go.
Thirteen and House plan their strategy, but House finds a clue while Thirteen is talking. He recalls she has a sibling she’s never talked about, but she dodges the inquiry. He presses. He realizes her sobbing meant that the dead person was close to her, and she doesn’t want to discuss the details because they’re personal. He realizes she euthanized her brother, and the man she kneed in the groin was a doctor who wouldn’t help her cover it up. She says that the man she kneed was her cellmate’s boyfriend who cheated on her. However, House realizes that was the only detail he missed. Thirteen congratulates him.
Foreman and Taub discuss Taub’s encounter with his ex-wife while they do the MRI. However, the MRI is clean. Masters feels that there must have been some sort of incident that caused the wife’s hoarding. She finds the wife was a cheerleader, meaning she was popular, beautiful and gregarious in high school. Chase is trying to ignore her. The test for hydrogen sulfide is negative. Chase goes to leave, but Masters keeps investigating.
House and Thirteen are alone. Thirteen’s brother was in the late stages of Huntington's disease and couldn’t control his movements. However, when he was lucid, he made it clear it was time for him to die. Thirteen wore gloves so they couldn’t prove she had administered the drugs, but she couldn’t hide where the drugs came from. She realizes that one day, she will be that sick too, only no one will be there to help her. She’s surprised House has very little emotional response and realizes that’s probably why Cuddy broke up with him.
House goes back to his spud gun. Harold taunts him by telling him he’s going to hit on Thirteen. House points the gun at him.
However, the next thing we see is House leaving a State Police headquarters. Thirteen offers him a soda. She finds out that House got off with a warning for shooting Harold because Harold had the bad idea of feeling up a girl at the fair who turned out to be the Sheriff’s daughter. Thirteen is surprised House always gets his way, but he admits that it doesn’t always go his way. That day would have been his first anniversary together with Cuddy. He calls it an arbitrary thing to celebrate.
Masters’s digging has paid off. Tracing everything back, she found the oldest hoarded item in the house— baby clothes. They admit they are infertile. Masters figured the wife started hoarding to fill the void. Masters thinks it’s a problem with the wife’s hormones and has already started tests. House tells them not to rule out the husband. Thirteen tries to get House’s attention, but he’s ignoring her. Finally, Thirteen pipes up and everyone wonders who it is. Thirteen realizes House has tricked her into speaking up, but as the rest of the team wonder about where she’s been, Thirteen reminds them that there are reasons other than infertility why people can’t have kids. House is impressed.
Masters goes to the wife and tells her she has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that also causes miscarriages. The husband is surprised that the wife had three pregnancies without telling him. Masters tells her the condition is treatable, but she will need a psychiatrist to deal with the hoarding. The husband wants to know why his wife was afraid to tell him. She said she was afraid to lose him, but he counters he never did anything to make her believe he ever would and leaves the room.
Taub is with Rachel and tells Rachel they should stop seeing each other so they can move on. She tells him they’re not breaking up just because he wants to be noble. She says she used to be miserable when they were married, but now she’s having fun. Taub realizes there is something seriously wrong with them as Rachel agrees and they embrace.
The husband returns to the wife’s room and embraces her hand.
House returns Thirteen to her house and asks for gas money. He also promises to kill her when the time comes and even offers to use his baseball bat now if that will be convenient. She says she will be in on Monday and goes inside.
- Thirteen is released from prison after serving six months.
- House picks up Thirteen at prison and, in an attempt to find out why she was there, takes her to a spud gun competition.
- We find out Thirteen spent her junior year of high school in West Virginia.
- We meet House’s rival Harold Lam, who has beat House in the spud gun competition four years running.
- House tells Thirteen that he dated Cuddy, but they just broke up.
- Thirteen finally reveals that her prison sentence was for over prescribing pain medication which she actually used to euthanize her older brother, who was suffering from Huntington’s.
- House is disqualified when he shoots Harold with the spud gun after Harold makes an insulting comment about Thirteen.
- Thirteen decides to return to the team.
- House promises to Thirteen he will kill her when her time will come after she reveals she has nobody to stop her suffering from Huntington's.
Two different for this episode. Q fever is actually rarer than Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Although Q fever is found worldwide, it is most common in Australia, where it was first identified.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is also not diagnosed by a simple blood test; it is a combination of clinical findings accompanied by a skin biopsy and genetic screening. Not all subtypes of EDS can be diagnosed by either the biopsy or the genetic testing. Miscarriages can occur in patients with EDS, but they are not as common as this episode makes them out to be. Many, many people suffering from EDS carry pregnancies to full-term. Multiple miscarriages would not be a differential diagnosis for EDS by any stretch of the imagination. Uterine rupture? Yes. Placental detachment? Yes. But there are just too many other medical issues that can cause multiple miscarriages for it to be considered a definitive way to diagnose EDS.
In addition, none of the 'other symptoms' are mentioned. While House is typically a medical whodunit, there were no clues about the symptoms pointing to EDS, and no proper explanation of the diagnosis. EDS in itself isn't a diagnosis, as no subtype is mentioned. Although hypermobile type is inferred, they didn't do the standard Beighton and Brighton test to diagnose.
Trivia & Cultural References
- The title is a popular reference in archaeology to a work site that has a double meaning in this episode:
- Masters's investigation of the patient’s hoard.
- House trying to find out why Thirteen was in jail.
- The reason for Thirteen's absence appears to be inspired by the case of June Hartley, a woman who assisted the suicide of her brother Jimmy after his health declined from numerous strokes.
- Neither Lisa Cuddy nor James Wilson appear in this episode.
- This episode approximately takes place one year after the events of Now What? . House mentions to Thirteen that it would have been his and Cuddy's one year anniversary that day.
- Schenectady is a city in eastern New York state, near Albany.
- A martini is a cocktail made of gin and vermouth, traditionally served in a glass with a wide brim and narrow stem. Thirteen also had a martini in The Choice when she and House visited the lesbian bar.
- Foreman going skiing in Vernon would likely take him to Mountain Creek Resort as that is the only ski resort in Vernon township.
- The actor playing the man Thirteen knees in the groin is Damon Lindelof, creator of the TV show Lost. House writer Sara Hess claimed that this was "for the ending of Lost", stating that David Shore, creator of House, had emailed Lindelof asking if he would like to "get kicked in the balls by Olivia Wilde" (Thirteen). Lost's finale is widely considered to have been a disappointing one.
- Pennington Road is a common street name in New Jersey.
- House's response when Thirteen proposes to use fertilizer for the potato gun refers to Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the "Unabomber."
- JPL is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a research centre for NASA managed by Caltech.
- Harold's spud gun has a muzzle brake on the end - a feature designed to reduce recoil and prevent rise of the barrel during automatic or rapid fire. While it could be meant to reduce recoil for Harold, it would likely reduce the ballistic capabilities of the projectile; it seems unlikely that Harold would purposefully reduce the effectiveness of his gun just for his comfort.
- The Jehovah’s Witness are a Protestant religious denomination that is well known for their widespread proselytizing and their predictions about the return of Jesus Christ. In 1966, their publications suggested that the thousand year reign of Christ predicted in the New Testament would start in 1975.
- The Bitch Is Back was a hit in 1974 for Elton John, reaching #4 in the United States and #1 in Canada.
House's statement in this episode that he hates chili flatly contradicts the episode Remorse, when he asks Lorenzo Wibberly for some chili after giving Wibberly a check to pay his mortgage. House initially turned it down during his first visit, but on a later visit asked for some chili - though it may have only been a way to indicate Wibberly now owed him.
- Hugh Laurie as Gregory House
- Lisa Edelstein as Lisa Cuddy (credit only)
- Omar Epps as Eric Foreman
- Robert Sean Leonard as James Wilson (credit only)
- Jesse Spencer as Robert Chase
- Peter Jacobson as Chris Taub
- Olivia Wilde as Remy Hadley
- Amber Tamblyn as Martha M. Masters
- Terry Maratos as Brian
- Justin Chon as Harold Lam
- Jennifer Crystal Foley as Rachel Taub
- Kimberlee Peterson as Nina
- Zena Grey as Ruby
- Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse
- Damon Lindelof as Kicked Man
Fall From Grace