This week’s episode of House goes backwards to set the stage for what else is to come for the show’s sixth season. Following the suspension of House’s license from his brief stint in the nut house, Foreman is now heading up Princeton-Plainsboro’s diagnostic team. After Taub bails for a higher-paying gig as a plastic surgeon and Foreman giving Thirteen her walking papers on the basis that she’s his girlfriend, Cuddy pulls a deus ex machina and gets newlyweds Cameron and Chase to temporarily round out the Diagnostics team roster, reuniting The Original Three.
Although House put in an appearance or two at the Diagnostics Dry Erase board, much of his storyline was relegated to a subplot involving his new living arrangement. Rooming as one half of the Odd Couple and sharing Wilson’s apartment, House encounters an exceedingly cranky, one-armed Vietnam vet whose loss of a limb affecting his general outlook bore an eerie parallel to oh, say, a slightly reformed, cantankerous doctor with bum leg. While House offered several solid theories as to the condition of Dibala, the bulk of his storyline for this episode revolved around cracking the case and uncovering a mental cure for Wilson’s nightmare neighbor, haunted by a phantom limb and the his own past.
In between sleuthing on Wilson’s one-armed neighbor, House doesn’t allow his lack of license stop him from kicking in his two cents with the Diagnostic team’s latest case: attempting to figure out what caused an African dictator to vomit a Carrie-sized bucket of blood.
This is no mere dictator, however. Dibala, the African president/warlord visiting his med student son in the United States, is portrayed by none other than the legendary James Earl Jones. In a major casting coup, <em>House</em> managed to score a guest appearance by the man who gave evil an authoritative, yet strangely admirable voice as both Darth Vader and Conan the Barbarian’s nemesis, Thulsa Doom.
Although most of Jones’ scenes called for his character, Dibala, to be bedridden and ailing with the Disease of the Week, his trademark mix of booming power and pathos took center stage. The only downside was that he didn’t share any scenes with Hugh Laurie as House. One could only imagine the back-and-forth banter these two could have had! Nevertheless, Jones’ ability to create such a darkly likeable villain helped to set the stage for the moral quandaries faced by the Diagnostic team.
Through several assassination attempts on the dictator within the hospital, details were revealed about Dibala’s plans bring order to his homeland. In order to quell a minority uprising, Dibala planned on large-scale genocide and had already employed cruel methods of torture in his country.
Foreman, bent on justifying his new position and hoping to maintain it even if House does go through the necessary channels to be reinstated, viewed Dibala’s case as any other patient who would place their life in the hands of the Diagnostics team.
Cameron, ever the (annoying) bleeding heart, would just as soon see Dibala die without determining the cause of the dictator’s bleeding, believing the death of a single man (i.e. Dibala) to be for the greater good of the oppressed people of his homeland.
Initially charmed by the dictator, Chase was fully on board with Foreman, wanting to cure Dibala. After a confrontation in which Cameron nearly injected the African President’s I.V. with an air bubble, the (rightly) angry warlord grabbed her to call her to task for her attempt on his life. Overcome by seeing his wife in a precarious position, Chase was swayed to Team For The Greater Good. Deliberately swapping a sample from the morgue of a woman with scleroderma, Chase caused the Diagnostics team to treat Dibala for a disease he didn’t have. As a result, the treatments caused fatal complications in conjunction with the undetermined disease Dibala <em>actually</em> had that was not properly diagnosed.
The dictator hemorrhaged to death on the operating table and Forman, distraught over having lost another patient, realized Chase’s hand in Dibala’s death and confronted him. The repercussions of this international incident would be tremendous for both Chase and the whole of Princeton-Plainsboro. Rather than bringing down his colleague — and possibly anyone else –Forman destroyed the evidence.
Next week, fallout from the Dibala death debacle circles the staff and evidence of Chase’s grave indiscretion just may be brought to light.
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