This week’s episode of “House” brings the show’s formula back to center stage, starting with the mystery medical condition/prologue. “Charity Case” opens up with Benjamin (Wentworth Miller) being given a tour of an urban career center by a young social worker named Amy (Jaclyn Jonet). After answering all of Benjamin’s questions about job placement, tutoring, childcare, etc., he tells her he’ll be back in a few days. On his way out, he drops an envelope that contains a check for $1 million made out to the career center. When Amy chases after him for an explanation, Benjamin collapses for no reason.
House is obviously intrigued not by the physical symptom (most likely from dehydration as Dr. Park points out), but by the fact that a person would have to be insane to give away the amounts of money Benjamin has been handing out. We discover that he is ridiculously wealthy and recently decided he can’t justify having all the millions of dollars he has when some people are starving. For the last year or so, he’s been giving millions of dollars away while living a nearly ascetic lifestyle. For House, this smells like the actions of a crazy person.
Not having a full team with which to work (and Park being too cautious of House’s reputation), House is also interested in syphoning some money from Benjamin to help fund re-uniting his old team. Foreman still has House on a short leash and refuses to pay for any other staff. In an attempt to begin rebuilding, House lies to Dr. Adams, whom he got fired after their interaction in the prison infirmary, and convinces her to volunteer her time on his team while she looks for another job.
No one else agrees that Benjamin must be crazy so Foreman tells House to discharge him. Right before he does, Benjamin volunteers to give one of his kidneys to one of Wilson’s patients who is very close to death and badly needs a transplant. For House, this is further truth that he is crazy. For everyone else, it’s justifying the fact that he is just a very generous person. Of course, House interferes with the surgery to buy more time to work with Benjamin and Wilson’s patient dies.
Making matters more confusing is the reappearance of Thirteen (Olivia Wilde in her final episode) whom House has been calling relentlessly to come back to Princeton-Plainsboro. Thirteen says she isn’t a doctor anymore and that she and her girlfriend are leaving the country, but, of course, she quickly changes her mind and begins helping House because she just can’t stay away.
The show is not back to its previous level of nail-biting excitement and thrills. The mysterious condition is pretty unimpressive and uninspired and the treatment incredibly simple. There are some good moments between Park and Adams as we learn more about Park’s personality (extremely independent and distrusting) and Adams’ (very similar to House).
It will be sad to lose Wilde who was always a great asset to the show both as an actor and as a character. Thirteen had a lot of demons she had to battle and her incurable disease was always interesting in terms of how it motivated her and guided her actions. She will be missed for sure.
“Charity Case” is not the “House” that we all love, but it’s still a lot better than most TV shows today.
“House” airs Monday nights on FOX at 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. Central