Hugh Laurie

This week on Fox's House (Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET), an impatient patient takes hostages at Princeton-Plainsboro until what ails him can be determined. So complex is his diagnosis, and so taut is the tension, that the hour-long drama demands an extra seven minutes to unspool (so adjust your DVR).

In preparing to tell this story, executive producer Katie Jacobs — who also directed the episode — picked the brain of real-life SWAT team members who have been involved in near-identical hospital face-offs. "One had a really interesting story about how they were all poised to get the hostage-taker, but when he came out, he and the hostages all had on surgical scrubs and masks," she tells TVGuide.com. "So they could not figure out who the hostage-taker was and who the victims were."   

Rather than ape that Inside Man-style stunt, Jacobs aspired to offer House's own spin on the stalemate. "Guys pulling guns is not all that original, so we were interested in tapping into the frustration that many of us feel when we go to see a doctor and they simply don't know what's wrong. This patient (played by Damages Emmy winner Zeljko Ivanek) had been to 16 hospitals and has been through every imaginable test, and he feels that there is a certain indignity [in all of that]."

As House attempts to identify and possibly treat what's wrong with his captor, the gun-waving patient insists that everything injected into him also be administered to an innocent. With little regard for the possibly fatal drug interactions, Olivia Wilde's Thirteen — who already faces a grim prognosis from her Huntington's — volunteers as guinea pig.

"She's kind of at a spirally place, has lost all hope," says Jacobs. "So she's kind of given up."

But will she wind up giving up her life to save House?