Final Project--Final House, M.D. Episode
You are about to watch the “final” episode of House, M.D. Perhaps “watch” is not the best term to describe what you are about to do as you fix your eyes and attention on your computer screen—“read” might work a little better. But in the hope of transcending the boundaries of genre that define “watching a television show,” you might want to do the following:
1) The songs listed below should be listened to at their respective points in the script while simultaneously reading the dialogue. The intent is to make this “viewing” experience as true as possible without actually involving a television, so you should open the songs up ahead of time in another tab on your browser so you can listen at the appropriate time. I did not want to include links to the songs in the script as I thought that might be too distracting.
Sympathy for the Devil—The Rolling Stones http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX7pINBoXRc
Change of Time—Josh Ritter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhoME4ji6jk
2) Read through the script in one sitting. Like any other television show, it is best to “watch” this straight through and keep pausing to a minimum. Don’t attempt to analyze anything right away—“watch” it, then go back to it a second time and let your critical mind take over. The experience of watching something on television is meant to be a relaxing one where you may zone out to an extent as the characters and their story float by in front of you.
Final Episode—“The Cure”
“Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones starts playing. Front of House and Wilson’s condo. Slowly move in—cross the street, go through the front door, up the stairs, take a left turn and go through the open apartment door. Take a right and go through the bedroom door. Alarm clock goes off; House’s hand reaches out and turns it off. Cut to angle from underneath bed, looking out. As soon as House’s feet touch the ground the lyrics start. He walks off, goes into the bathroom and slams the door shut. Cut to the kitchen, where he pours a cup of coffee and leans against the counter, taking a sip and looking out the window at a beautiful girl sunbathing in a lawn chair on the roof of the apartment across the street. He’s wearing a faded blue t-shirt and plaid pajama pants; he’s not carrying his cane. She looks at him and smiles, and he smiles back.
He turns around and walks back toward the bedroom. As he’s walking he stops. He looks confused. He looks down at his leg, shakes it and smiles seeing that it doesn’t hurt and he’s not limping. He continues to walk, enters the bedroom and sets his coffee cup down on his nightstand. We see that there is a woman in his bed, still asleep; we can’t make out who she is, but she’s naked underneath the covers. He looks at her and turns around. He opens up his closet. Cut to view looking out from the closet with the bed in the background. We see him rummaging around then finally pull out a shirt. The music stops as he closes the closet doors and we are left in the dark.
Cut to the inside of the apartment door. House is dressed and preparing to leave. He’s putting his watch on. We see Wilson walk into the living room in his pajamas, yawn, and then walk toward the kitchen.
House: (Sarcastically) Good morning, honey. You were an animal last night.
Wilson: (Tired) Shut up. Did you make coffee?
House: In the kitchen, sweet pea.
Wilson: Why are you so chipper this morning? It’s annoying.
House: I left you a present in my bedroom. Wanna do me a favor and feed it when it wakes up?
Wilson: (in disbelief) Oh no. No, no, no. We have a strict no-animals policy, remember? We agreed on this before we moved in!
House: (Leans in toward Wilson’s head. In a stage whisper) It wants to be paid in cash, by the way.
Wilson: House! I thought you said you wouldn’t bring prostitutes into the condo anymore. And I am not going to pay for your exploits anymore.
House: Keep your voice down! We don’t want to wake Snowflake up early—you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. (Wilson looks fed up. He starts walking away from House and toward the kitchen) No puppies, no prostitutes. You never let me do anything, Mommy. I’m gonna run away.
Wilson: (Turning around) You know what, just go. Get out of here, go to work, go for a walk…just get out of my field of vision for at least thirty minutes. I haven’t even had my coffee yet and this is what I’m greeted with.
House: Maybe if you didn’t wake up so late you would have been spared my biting sarcasm. It’s always freshest in the morning—kind of like your coffee.
Wilson: (pointedly) Goodbye, House!
Wilson turns and walks away into the kitchen. House looks at him as he walks away and smiles slightly while shaking his head. He puts his hand on the doorknob and stops suddenly. He hears voices. They are audible to us as well. They start softly and all at once at first, but gradually get louder and more distinct. House looks frightened and bewildered. He looks around to see where they are coming from.
Voice 1: How’s he doing?
Voice 2: He’s still under. When should we wake him up? I have the solution ready and we could—
Voice 1: No! Didn’t you hear what Don said last night? The solution could kill him the way his immune system is right now. We’re gonna have to wait until whenever he’s ready.
Voice 2: Are you kidding me? We’ve been waiting for three days. He’s taking his sweet time if you ask me. I could have been at my kid’s recital. Do you know I haven’t been to one of them all year? I pay out the wazoo for her to dance at that school and I don’t even get to see—
The voices get gradually quieter until they are inaudible. House shakes his head.
House: Should’ve had more coffee.
He turns the doorknob, walks out and shuts the door behind him.
Cut to the inside of Princeton Plainsboro Hospital. House is walking in through the front doors. Patients, families and nurses are walking to and fro across the lobby, as usual. House stops to look in Cuddy’s office. He sees her shuffling papers and answering her phone, and then keeps walking. The camera stays on her office, and we see her hang up the phone. Seconds later her face goes pale and she looks around wildly, as if she hears something. She checks to see that the phone is hung up, and then sinks back down into her chair. She looks disturbed as she runs her fingers through her hair, lets out a big breath and looks down.
Cut to the inside of House’s office. He sets his bag on his chair and begins to take books out of it and place them on his desk. Cut to the side door leading into the team’s office. Chase and Thirteen can be seen walking into the room with coffee in hand. Foreman follows them carrying a pile of papers and sets them down on the table. They glance up and into House’s office, pull out their chairs and sit down.
House puts his hand to his heart and throws his head back dramatically. He walks out of his office, swinging the door between it and the team’s office wide open, throwing his arms open.
House: Never fear, Daddy’s here.
Chase rolls his eyes and Thirteen looks up, annoyed
House: (Sarcastically) Please don’t greet me all at once. Just seeing you so excited makes me blush, and you know I get so embarrassed when I—
Foreman: (Interrupting him) We have a case.
House: I have a hangover.
Chase snorts, then looks up. Everyone is looking at him.
Foreman looks at Chase, then up at House.
House: (Loudly) That’s racist!
Foreman looks at him, then looks back down at his file and keeps reading.
Foreman: —middle-aged man. Someone found him passed out in one of the hallways on the third floor late last night. Tox screen came back relatively clean, except for traces of painkillers. His BP was way up a couple hours ago but he’s stable. For now.
House: And we care about this because…?
Thirteen: He’s not responding to any medication. No ID, no one who has come looking for him. We tried waking him up but as soon as we tried he started seizing.
Chase: So no ID means we can’t get a history. No history, no facts to deal with. No facts—this is gonna be one hell of a case.
House: Well he had to be here for a reason. Check with the nurses. See if any of them gave directions to the third floor to a middle-aged white guy yesterday.
Chase: Maybe he’s just a bum off the street. The highway’s only a couple of minutes away from here.
Thirteen: So we’re going to waste our time playing Sherlock Holmes while this man lays there? The lab found traces of painkillers—maybe he had a preexisting condition. Maybe something congenital? We can run an MRI without knowing who he is.
House: And risk him completely spazzing out in the machine if he has a pacemaker we don’t know about? Talk to the nurses first. I want to know where this guy came from and what he was doing here.
Foreman: (Looks at him skeptically) Why are you so interested in our patients now? Usually you don’t give a damn where they came from as long as they act as a puzzle for you to solve.
House: (Looking down at table) I have a feeling about this one. (Sarcastically, toward Foreman) Call it woman’s intuition. I’m sensitive this time of the month.
Everyone except House stands up to leave, putting their papers away and grabbing their coffee cups. On their way out the door.
House: (Yelling toward them) Mind getting me some Midol and a Snickers while you’re out?
Cut to front desk of hospital. Chase is talking with one of the nurses standing at a computer.
Chase: So he didn’t come in asking for anyone in particular?
Nurse: Nope. Just walked right through those doors and started walking. I think I’ve seen him before on my lunch break, just hanging out outside the hospital. Creepy if you ask me. And he looked cracked out.
Chase: How so?
Nurse: Honey, do you really have to ask? Red eyes, unshaven, scraggly—you know, the works.
Chase: I see. Thank you. (Walks away from the desk and toward the elevator. Gets on the elevator at the same time as Thirteen, who looks upset.)
Chase: You look particularly happy today.
Thirteen: Do you notice how he always sends us out to do the detective work? He stays in his office and acts like he can’t do anything, like he doesn’t have an M.D. attached to his name.
Chase: He’s tired.
Thirteen: He’s lazy! Either that or he cheated his way through med school. I’m sick of us doing all the work while he nurses a hangover. Who gets drunk on a Tuesday night?
They get out of the elevator. Camera angled looking from the back and watching them walk away. We see the doors close behind them. Cut to House’s office.
House is sitting at his desk with his head in his hands, looking down. It is very quiet. He looks to the side and sees his cane leaning against his desk. Then he looks at the diploma hanging on the wall above his computer for a few seconds, and looks back down. He sighs. Then he looks up suddenly. He hears the voices again, muffled at first but steadily growing clearer. He looks around the room. The voices become defined once again.
Voice 1: Ok, I think it’s time. His eyes are fluttering, you see? I told you we wouldn’t have to wait long. Turn off the ventilator.
Voice 2: It’s about time. Shoot, the recital started twenty minutes ago…
We hear House’s heart beating. It’s very soft at first, and then gets louder and louder until it is the only noise we can hear. House looks scared and starts breathing faster. He goes to get up from his chair and stumbles, and then falls to his knees on the floor. He looks up at the camera, his eyes wild with fear. The sound of his heart beating gets extremely loud, and then stops suddenly as the screen goes black.
Cut to a hospital room, where instantaneously we see House spring up from his position on the bed, where he had been laying down. He gasps and starts breathing heavily. We see his face up close, in the same position as where we just left it. The camera pans out a little and see a nurse on either side of his bed. We recognize their voices as the same ones that House has been hearing.
Nurse 1: Good morning, sunshine! Bout time you woke up.
House: I—what am I doing here? I’m a doctor, let me up—
Nurse 2: Maybe we should’ve let him sleep a little longer, he’s delusional.
Nurse 1: No, honey. Don’t you remember how you got here? You passed out three days ago upstairs and have been dozing ever since. Until now, that is.
House: This is ridiculous. Where’s Cuddy? What about my team? They’ll recognize me. Our office is on the second floor—
Nurse 1: (Pouring him a cup of water) I’m sorry hun, the second floor has been under construction for three months. You’re in the ICU. Don’t you remember? Do you remember where you’re from or what you do?
Nurse 2: Maybe we should leave him alone for a little bit—
House: No, I want this straightened out now. What do you have me hooked up to? What solution is in this IV? (Begins to pick up the cables connected to him. The nurses try to stop him. He opens up the IV and tastes some of the fluid.) This has way too much sodium in it! Do you want me to stroke?
Nurse 2: You know, for a bum he sure knows a lot about what’s going on.
Nurse 1: Hush, Melinda. (Points toward door, where another nurse is walking in. We recognize her as Thirteen. She looks different—wearing scrubs instead of a long, white lab coat. She’s not wearing makeup, and her hair is pulled back. She looks at House and her jaw drops. She is amazed at first, and it almost looks as if she recognizes him, but she quickly shakes her head and starts walking over to the bed.)
Thirteen: Need help?
Both Nurses: Yes!
Thirteen: I’ll go get the doctor. (Looks back at House as she’s leaving the room.)
House: Her! Get her back in here! She’s part of my team. I don’t know why she didn’t recognize me—
Nurse 2: He thinks Remy’s a doctor? Well I’ll be. (Both of them laugh. House looks angry) She just graduated from nursing school a year ago. Some time to go before she goes getting an M.D.
(The nurses walk out of the room talking and laughing. Thirteen passes them in the doorway as she’s coming back in. She goes to stand near the side of House’s bed.)
Thirteen: Your doctor will be here shortly. Do you need anything?
House: Why didn’t you tell them? Why didn’t you tell them I’m your boss?
Thirteen: (Looking down.) I don’t know what you’re talking about.
House: Yes you do. Look at me and tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve seen you before.
Thirteen: (Quietly, looking up at him.) I know.
House: I knew it. What about the others? Where are Foreman and Chase? And where’s Cuddy?
Thirteen: I don’t know.
House: Yes you do.
Thirteen: (Loudly) I don’t know! This is weird enough as it is. Why are you making it worse? Why do you insist on bringing this up? You’ve been asleep for three days; you don’t know what you’re talking about.
House: Oh yes I do. And I—
He looks out the door and see Chase and Foreman walking outside the room, pushing a can full of garbage. They are wearing janitors’ uniforms. They stop talking, look into the room in disbelief, then shake their heads and keep walking.
House: Did you see that?! They know. I know they know.
Thirteen: No you don’t. Listen, you’re not a doctor anymore than I am. I’m a nurse. You’re the creepy bum who watches us eat lunch every day. They’re janitors. And just because our worlds happened to collide doesn’t mean you have the right to put crazy thoughts in my head.
(Cuddy walks into the room, carrying a clipboard. She is Houses’ doctor. She sees him, stops, and then shakes her head and walks toward his bed.)
Cuddy: How are we feeling? Did you have a nice rest?
House: Tell me you don’t recognize me.
Cuddy: (Smiles sweetly, and then goes back to writing on her clipboard.) No, I’m sorry. I don’t.
House: Lisa. It’s me.
Cuddy: (Looks at him in disbelief, then straightens up and looks angry.) If you must know, I do recognize you. You harass my nurses every day while they’re on their lunch break. So after you’re out of here, I want you to stay out of here. Got it? (To Thirteen.) Get him out of here. (To House.) You’re free to go.
House: I don’t know where to go—
Cuddy: (To Thirteen.) Please get him out of here.
Cuddy leaves the room quickly, with Thirteen following her. House looks as if he’s about to say something but stops as the door closes behind them. He studies his hands, and then leans over so he can catch a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. He sinks back into his bed and we see a close up of his face. He looks tired and worn. “Change of Time” by Josh Ritter begins to play. The camera pans out so we’re looking into the room and have a full view of House. Someone walks in front of the camera, and when they’re gone the view has changed to the front of the hospital. House is walking out of the doors, his usual cane replaced by a much more worn version. On the side entrance an ambulance can be seen pulling up. Wilson gets out of the driver’s seat and on his way to the back of the truck catches sight of House. He stops, then raises his eyebrows and shakes his head as he walks away. House looks back toward the camera. He starts walking away from the hospital. Camera cuts back to the inside of the hospital, looking out. Thirteen is seen looking at House walk away. Cuddy comes up behind her.
Cuddy: Forget about him. He won’t be back. (Thirteen looks up at her. Cuddy looks at her irritably.) It was just a dream, you know. We’re awake now. Get back to work.
Thirteen looks back out the door and House is gone. She opens her mouth slightly, then closes it and turns around to face the desk. She starts shuffling papers, the camera pans out and we have a full view of the first floor of the hospital. As we pull away, the song ends. Fade to black.
Food for Thought:
The above script was an experiment in synthesizing what we traditionally know as television with what we traditionally know as written literature. Now that the experiment is over, it is important to know that your comments are greatly appreciated and quite necessary. I would love to know how the format in which I presented the script, including the incorporation of music, worked or not. How did it feel doing this kind of “watching?” Did you find yourself becoming more engrossed in the story while you were reading it, or did it feel uncomfortable having to imagine so much in the absence of moving pictures?
The inspiration for the content of the script came from our discussion of the dream world and the comparisons of dreaming and reality—in other words, is there a distinction between the two, or are they just different versions of what we know as “reality?” Is reality as subjective as it seems? In the case of House and his unfortunate dream, reality and the dream world became one and the same. Additionally, the dream experienced by House was also experienced by others working at the hospital. We discussed dreams as something very private and individual—does this mean the experience shared by the characters was a collective dream? And does this term even make sense? Are dreams defined by who has them? Is something a dream if it is experienced by multiple people? Collective dreams such as this might be an example of another dimension of what we consider “reality”.” It’s worth discussing whether this genre is too defined and limited—after all, we created the definition of what is real and what is not, and we are limited in our individual human experiences.