House Rundown: Episode 12, "Painless"

In this year's first new episode of House, House takes a case that hits a little close to home: The team treats a man with chronic pain who had tried to kill himself to get away from it. Meanwhile, Cuddy struggles to balance her job, her new duties as a foster mother, and her wrangling of House, and Thirteen and Foreman get all awkward with each other following their big kiss. To chat about it all, just read more.

Even though House's cane and Vicodin are a constant presence on House, it's still somehow easy to forget that House is actually in real, constant pain that nobody's ever been able to solve. He's functional, he's brilliant, and he never complains - other than the occasional sarcastic comment about being a cripple. So it was interesting in this episode to get a glimpse of what life is really like for House - and it's not easy. Taking a bath is a horrible, painful experience; he needs so much help lowering himself down that he's snapped a pipe in his ceiling, ringing up a $2,200 plumbing bill.

So taking Jeff's case is a little like looking in a mirror. The major difference, of course, is that Jeff can't handle his pain, to the point that he'd leave his wife and child to get away from it. But it's true that House is a little more - well, "sensitive" is probably the wrong word. But he's a little more aware of what his patient is going through. Normally if House considered taking a patient off the medication that made him functional, I'd think he was just being nasty and uncaring; when he suggests taking Jeff off his painkillers, he actually knows how awful that might feel. Of course, at the end, House's pain persists while Jeff's is treatable. He's done what Cameron hoped for, "curing a guy who has even less to look forward to," but getting himself into the bathtub is still a nightmare.

Meanwhile, Cuddy's dealing with a mini domestic nightmare of her own. She's officially taken over as foster mother for the baby she named Rachel, and she looks like she's adapted well to being a mom. But to being a working mom? As the family inspector tells her, she's better than most foster moms he sees, ants in the living room and diapers in her briefcase notwithstanding. But that's not enough for Cuddy; she "passed by their meager standards" but failed by hers. And after talking with Cameron, she has a solution: It looks like Cameron will be taking over some of Cuddy's responsibilities from here on out.

Some other key moments:

* Is Foreman monkeying with his clinical trial just so he can sleep with Thirteen? She doesn't want to get into a relationship because she cares about him and she knows what she'll be going through in a few years; Foreman doesn't want to give up. Switching the appointments seems pretty harmless, but now he knows Thirteen is on the placebo drub, and I can't imagine he'll be letting that stand.

* Wilson showing up at Cuddy's place with a giant stuffed duck is pretty amazing.

* Was there a giant, fancy water fountain-thing in PPH? Has it always been there? I was so distracted by it that I could barely pay attention to Taub's pain profile interviews.

* Love this exchange: "You hang laundry in there?" "I'm about to hang a plumber in there."

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