“House” has definitely kept audiences guessing this season, alternating between mediocre episodes that seem beneath the long-running show and solidly clever episodes like last night’s “Perils of Paranoia.”
The episode focuses on a criminal prosecutor, Tommy (Vincent Spano), who collapses during a trial with symptoms of a heart attack. When he gets to Princeton-Plainsboro, the ER doctors determine it wasn’t a heart attack and Foreman determines it wasn’t a panic attack. The mysterious cause is right up House’s alley so he takes the case, intrigued by Foreman’s willingness to lie to a patient in order not to influence his condition.
In an unusual turn in recent seasons, Foreman is featured prominently in this episode. Taub is convinced Foreman needs a girlfriend so he begins dropping hints to the nursing staff which frustrates Foreman to no end. Though Taub claims it is for his own good, the meddling eventually leads Foreman into a very uncomfortable situation with a woman from his gym.
House sends Park and Adams to check out Tommy’s home for any poisonous chemicals that might account for his sickness. While snooping around, after breaking in of course, Park discovers a hidden room with a stockpile of guns and weapons. When the team confronts Tommy, he explains to them and his wife that he just wanted to be prepared in case society ever collapsed (in the way the stock market did in 2008) and he had to protect his family. Assuming Tommy’s actions are a sign of paranoia they consider it a symptom of whatever must be bothering him.
House also assumes Tommy must be crazy, but Wilson accuses House of being a hypocrite because he most likely owns a gun. House denies it but Wilson won’t give up so easily. Wilson’s refusal to accept House’s claim leads to a pretty entertaining series of pranks that escalates to an almost dangerous conclusion. In the end, House wins, but what else is new.
After Tommy begins hallucinating that he is being attacked by bears, the team is more confused than ever about what disease is causing his condition. The psychological impact is not the only new development. Tommy also has a very serious sore open up on his leg which can’t be explained either. When Tommy is unable to breathe because no air is getting through, Chase attempts to open an air hole in his throat, but that doesn’t work either. The team must use a more invasive technique which makes the mystery even stranger.
In the end, House solves the mystery, as we always expect him to do, but it’s not nearly as satisfying as the episode as a whole. We get to see another side of Foreman (something we haven’t seen in a long time) and we also get a little more personality from Park who is struggling fitting in with the team. Her final stand at the end of the episode is as surprising as it is satisfying. Overall, “Perils of Paranoia” is one of the stronger episodes of “House” in recent memory.