This week on House, the team labored to stay focused on a case while reeling from a tragedy that hit very close to home.
The episode started with a man (guest star Meat Loaf Aday) who for all intents and purposes was on his death bed, even to the point that loved ones were paying their final respects. "I never got you to Rio," he tells his wife with his last breaths. But suddenly, his wife Charlotte gasps, chokes and starts to collapse. This prompts the husband, Eddie, to rise up and plead (best he can) for help.
House's team, save for an MIA Kutner, gathers to review Charlotte's unusual case as well as Eddie's inexplicable recovery. House scoffs at talk that the husband is actually on the mend, countering, "He just had an adrenaline surge when he saw his chance to hit the singles market."
The wife rebounds. And then ails again. The husband grows able to stand. What is going on?
Foreman and Thirteen visit Kutner's apartment, but there's no answer. (As Remy puts it, "House didn't ask us to find out where he wasn't.") So they go inside, and find their colleague.
Dead. In the bedroom. Shot in the head. By his own hand.
House, as much as he does with the most complex of medical case, is anxious for answers about Kutner's suicide. "He didn't say anything ... to any of you?" he asks/accuses the team (aka the "idiots who worked along side him 80 hours a week hadn't seen this coming").
Thirteen trots out data about how 25 percent of suicides exhibit no signs of depression; House suggests those 25 percent simply had oblivious friends. Ouch.
Cuddy reaches out to House, who maintains he's "fine, despite what Wilson will say." Did he spy any clues? "I know [Kutner's] fantasy football team cratered," House quips. "I figured he'd have been over that."
"I'm sorry for your loss," Cuddy says. "It's not mine," deflects House. Cuddy: "Then I'm sorry you don't think it is."
House's quiet anguish/frustration surfaces again when the team (minus Taub, who says he feels "pity, yes" but not "guilt") visits the couple who adopted Kutner after his parents were shot dead in front of him as a youth. House suggests that Lawrence couldn't deal with not being who he was, a Choudhurry, instead "hiding" behind an Anglo name. Before he is kicked out by the outraged Kutners, he leaves.
Back at the hospital, House notes that Taub didn't ask about the visit with the parents. Taub says he doesn't buy that suicide is always a cry for help. "It's a good thing you got some [help]," House tells Taub, who failed his own suicide, "or you might've tried again and gotten it right."
Working the medical mystery, House determines that after her initial collapse, Charlotte faked her illness, to hold onto Eddie. Apparently, we will learn, she loves him more than he has ever demonstrably loved her. But when Charlotte's leg atrophies, House's theory is tossed.
Yet House is far more greatly vexed by the mystery of Kutner's death. Cuddy suggests that he's so hurt because Kutner was the team member most like House. "If he thought like me," says House, "he'd know that living in misery sucks marginally less than dying in it." Cuddy beseeches Wilson to step in, saying House "needs a friend." Wilson hesitates, until he learns of the outburst at the Kutners' home.
"It's OK not to be OK," Wilson tells House, finding him at Kutner's apartment. Turning CSI, House observes that Kutner was open about his pain as a stranger in a strange land/family, hanging photos of both "the good and the bad." When Wilson claims that House doesn't so much care about Kutner as he is frustrated to not solve the mystery of the suicide, House says that Lawrence didn't kill himself — "He was murdered."
Back with the medical case, Charlotte tells the team her heart is Eddie's if she goes first. Not content with the "if" in that thought, she steals some drugs and shoots herself up with enough god-knows-what to collapse and seize on the floor. That ultimately leads to House's "a-ha" moment.
Meanwhile, Thirteen aka Remy Hadley finds and reaches out to an AWOL Foreman, but he hurts her by insisting that, as always, he prefers to work through pain/difficult things on his own. Dejected, Thirteen walks away.
House asks "incurable romantic" Cameron to get Eddie to consent to dying on the table in the name of donating his whole liver to his wife; Charlotte, though, can't be in on the jig. Flying in the face of the song title "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," Eddie agrees to that plan, only to have Cam get cold feet when she observes that he might not actually be dying!
House tells Eddie his heart failure is in fact curable, but he still wants to die for his wife. "You'd rather trade the certainty you'll live for the uncertainty that she will?" House asks. Eddie says one way or another, he will end his life to (maybe) save Charlotte's.
Taub finds a fix to the situation by telling Charlotte the truth about "the plan," infuriating Eddie ... and spiking a fever in Charlotte. House confronts Charlotte about her beach trip to "Hawaii," and she confesses she in fact strayed on her husband to have the Rio escape she had always wanted but never got.
As most of the team readies for Kutner's funeral, Wilson again talks to House. You're in pain, because you never saw it coming, Wilson notes. Also, he suggests, House's sadness is not about missing any signs but why he missed them. Is he losing his gift of observation?
As Kutner is ceremonially cremated and the pyre burns, as "Foreteen" find each other again, and as Taub breaks down privately at the hospital, House takes one final pass at Kutner's apartment. He scans through photos until he finds one which might behold the simple explanation. No, Kutner wasn't planning some vengeance on his parents' killer or anything of the sort.
He was just a depressed young man.
Some memorable lines and one odd moment:
• "I thought maybe Kutner was nursing the rib you broke when you elbowed your way in for credit on the last patient."
• What was with the pageant girl who got drunk on mouthwash? Standalone scene, or leading into something coming up? "Gotta be perrrrfect."
• When Thirteen says "no" to forcing the liver transplant: "It's really not fair to have that much subtext in one syllable."
• "Did you deduce that while removing your sunglasses to the strains of a Who song?"
• That was Mary Jo Deschanel (aka Emily "Bones" Deschanel's mother) playing Mrs. Kutner.
House fans, what did you think of this very dense episode? Were you utterly shocked to see Kutner be the rumored loss to the team? How do you think the show handled the thorny issue of suicide?
RELATED: Kal Penn reveals why he asked to leave House.
This week on House, the team labored to stay focused on a case while reeling from a tragedy that hit very close to home. Read the full recap after the jump.