This week’s episode of “House,” entitled “Nobody’s Fault,” is the most engaging and stylized episode of this season. It reminds viewers that though the show can occasionally fall into a formulaic rut, show creator David Shore and his brilliant writers will never leave fans dangling for long.
Directed by Greg Yaitanes, a veteran director of not just “House” but a slew of television dramas including “Lost” and “Heroes,” this week’s episode is filmed in a “Rashomon” style of storytelling, a method most recently co-opted by David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” Like Akira Kurosawa’s classic film and Fincher’s soon-to-be classic film, “Nobody’s Fault” is told from the various points of view of those characters directly involved with the story as opposed to the standard omnipresent approach where the audience gets an objective view of what happens.
In the opening sequence, we see a hospital room in disarray, blood covering the floor and furniture and an eerie silence due to the lack of people or activity. We then jump to House walking into an ornate library/lounge and sitting at a table across from Dr. Walter Cofield (Jeffrey Wright). Clearly something terrible has happened as we find out that Dr. Cofield is meeting with House to discuss disciplinary action after whatever occurred. Cofield is the chief of neurology at another hospital and is also one of Foreman’s mentors before he began working for House.
Though he has all the facts in his file, Cofield wants House to tell him what happened in his own words. House obliges, though it is begrudgingly. A high school chemistry teacher, Bill Koppelman (David Anders), collapses while jogging and becomes paralyzed in all four extremities. When he is admitted to Princeton Plainsboro, there is no sign of a stroke or broken bones that might explain his paralysis. As he relates the story to Cofield, House also touches on a small prank he played on Chase to prove he had been using Adams’ shampoo. Cofield finds the activity juvenile, but harmless.
We then begin to alternate between House’s team members as we learn more about the patient and his condition. Taub, Park and Adams take turns explaining that Bill woke from his coma after several hours, but then immediately began coughing up blood. A couple of his students who came to visit mention to the doctors that his problem might have been caused by the explosion that took place in class the day before, a fact House and his team couldn’t have ascertained since he was unconscious.
As the episode progresses, so does the prank war between House and Chase, becoming less entertaining to Cofield and more distracting from the case at hand. When the patient develops an inexplicable rash on his torso, House determines that one of three causes must be underlying its appearance. In order to determine which it is (as he normally does), House orders one treatment (in this case steroids) to flush out which it is.
Directly disobeying House’s order, Chase decides to assist Adams with testing her hypothesis about his rash. When they go to perform a biopsy, the patient lunges out of his bed and grabs the scalpel Chase had set nearby. He attacks Adams then stabs Chase in the chest before being subdued. Chase is rushed to the operating room as Adams prevents him from bleeding to death.
As Cofield takes in all the information, he starts to think that someone is definitely at fault and that the patient’s psychotic break could have been prevented had House either 1) not begun a prank war thereby distracting Chase in his duties, or 2) not fostered an environment in which his staff felt comfortable disobeying his directives as Chase clearly did.
It would be unfair to give away what Dr. Cofield decides or how the episode ends, but suffice it to say it is one of the best episodes in recent “House” history. In fact, it is very similar in style and tone to the Emmy-winning episode “Three Stories” from Season One. Yaitanes infuses a very cinematic style to the episode, clearly borrowing from last year’s Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards, “The King’s Speech,” and possibly even Steve McQueen’s powerful film “Hunger.” However you want to look at it, “Nobody’s Fault” is a great episode and one that is likely to re-energize fans of the show.