House: You Don't Want to Know
Tonight's episode had parallel three plot lines running through it that investigated one theme: What is magic? And how much power can information give you? The three plot lines involved the case, of course; the game House is playing with the fellows to see who gets fire, of course; and Thirteen and her mysteries. Of course.
Gallery: House: You Don't Want to Know
The episode begins with House doubting that there is anything wrong with the magician, who has had a heart attack while hanging upside down in a magic tank, with blood coming out of his mouth. House insists the magician is faking in order to cover a botched magic trick. Kutner bets his job that the magician has a genuine underlying illness.
One of the things that is interesting about this episode is the fact that House has insisted for pretty much the entire series that all everyone lies. However, in this case, the magician didn't lie about anything. He kept secrets (the key in his abdomen-- maybe ultimately the key to his disease was in his abdomen, but I don't know enough about lupus to know that or not); the key to his magic tricks; his actual blood type. However, he did not lie. In fact, he demonstrated repeatedly that he was a genuine magician and not a hack.
The second plot line was House's challenge. He told the fellows that it was important for them to be able to subvert the rules without getting caught. He orders them to get Cuddy's thong, and the person who can do it can nominate two others to be fired, using any criteria they choose. By its very nature, this plot line has to involve subterfuge... or does it?
Finally, House figures out that something is wrong with Thirteen, when she drops a file as Kutner hands it to her, and then overreacts to it.
When House wants to know the magician's secrets, the magician insists that there is no magic in knowing. House says if there is no magic when you know the secret, there was never any magic to begin with. Given House's obsession with solving mysteries, of course, he has to know the answers to the three riddles: How does the magician do his card trick? (Which absorbs him more than the question of what ails the patient) How did Cole get Cuddy's panties? and What is wrong with Thirteen?
In the magician's case, his professional reputation is on the line. If he gives up his secrets, he will lose his ability to charm his audiences. In Cole's case, his professional reputation is also on the line: House discovers that Cole made a deal with Cuddy to get her panties. She gives him job immunity with the panties, and in return, he has to nominate the two people that she chooses. And finally, with the beauty of three parallel plot lines, Thirteen's professional reputation is on the line; she doesn't want to find out she has Huntington's Chorea, because it is fatal, and killed her mother at age 32.
In the end (and the magician's name is Finn, which sounds like fin which means "end"), Finn is the only one who is able to keep his secrets. However, House gets the answer to the case, so his curiosity is solved: For him, the diagnosis is the magic. The window painting around the diagnosis is maddening.
This is why it is interesting that he drops the test results of Thirteen's genetic tests for Huntington's into the trash at the end of the episode. She throws in his face that he is obsessed with questions, because he hopes that the answers he uncovers might change something, make him a little less miserable. That is a dead on diagnosis of House if I have ever heard one. She tells him that when he runs out of questions and answers, he will have run out of hope for a better life; she doesn't want this final answer, because not knowing makes her live her life more fully.
The magician predicted the hour of his death. However, he was wrong. Thirteen doesn't want to know her trajectory, when she will die. The magic of life is in the not knowing, and this episode was all about the magic that comes with not knowing. In fact, Cole was protected by the mystery of House not knowing how he got Cuddy's panties. When the mystery was over, the magic was gone, and so was Cole, for having handed Cuddy power that he was supposed to be thwarting.
Some lovely bits of writing (or obvious, I suppose, depending on how you want to interpret them): Thirteen quizzes the magician about why he isn't more nervous about what is wrong with him. He replies [paraphrasing], "Unless worrying is a new form of treatment, either I'll get better or I won't. I mean, I don't want the ride to be over, but worrying about it won't change it."
Thirteen says the same thing to Cole when he asks her why she isn't worried that she will be one of the two people he nominates to be fired. And it's possible that she is not worried about it because she has bigger things to be worried about.
Kutner and Amber also both use the same language when trying to persuade Cole not to choose them: "So, who's going up on the block?" This is a red flag, if you're paying attention, because it shows that by using identical language, they will share an identical fate (which they do; Cole puts them both on the block, but they are both given a reprieve when Cole is fired in their stead).
So, will the magician and Thirteen share an identical fate as well? Is she really not worried about whether she has Huntington's because knowing won't change the outcome? Or is that what the patient in the "Mirror/Mirror" episode meant when he said she was afraid? On the other hand, she has admitted that working for House scares her, and she wouldn't have done it if there hadn't been a chance that she has Huntington's.
A couple of questions I had: Do you think House was lying about switching Thirteen's decaf for regular coffee, to make her shake? Before he told her that, when she fumbled with the pen lid and her hands shook, I wondered about Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's both, but I wondered why House noticed her trembling and didn't pursue it with her until his transfusion. However, he is a very good diagnostician, and I don't think he would have messed with her (if he did) unless he had a pretty good indication that she had something anyway. Of course, her mother's picture only confirmed his suspicions.
I also wondered at different points whether Thirteen was faking an illness in order to pique House's curiosity about her. I thought that would have been a nice parallel to House's insistence that the magician was faking being ill (except that if the magician and Thirteen are following similar trajectories, as their dialogue suggests, then if he is not faking, neither is she).
I loved the interplay between House and Wilson about the blood types: House is the universal recipient, AB, and takes from everyone. Wilson is the universal donor, O, and gives to everyone. I know that House has done checks on Wilson in the past (when Cuddy was eyeing Wilson as a sperm donor, House tested Wilson for something, but it wasn't a sperm count), but I don't know whether he tested Wilson's blood-- does anybody remember what House is referring to? I Googled it, but I didn't come up with anything.
Finally, in another nice turn of writing, House says that for the first time, he has a case of lupus on his hands. At first, I thought this was going to end up being Thirteen. However, it seems that he was talking about the patient after all (unless Thirteen and the patient share a fate beyond this episode; they seem to, both probably having a chronic illness, but not in immediate danger of dying). The lupus diagnosis also ties in nicely with the double entendre of the magician's name. After years of guessing lupus at some point in nearly every case, with Finn, we get lupus.
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