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House episode
House s5e04.jpg
House stands over his father's casket.
Episode no. HOU-504
Airdate October 14, 2008
Writer(s) Doris Egan & David Foster
Director(s) David Platt
Guest star(s) Diane Baker as Blythe House
R. Lee Ermey as John House
Samantha Quan as Nicole
Scott Paulin as Bob
Christine Healy as Janice
Jack Conley as Sheriff Costello
Ho-Kwan Tse as Fang Dong Wen
Raymond Ma as Wu Zheng
Esther Kwan as Wu An Lan
Jonathan Palmer as Minister
Bobbin Bergstrom as Nurse
Final diagnosis Metallic pins embedded in patient's brain shifted by magnetism
Episode chronology
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"Adverse Events" "Lucky Thirteen"

"Birthmarks" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of House and the ninetieth episode overall. It aired on October 14, 2008.[1]


A 25-year-old Chinese woman, adopted by American parents, seeks out her birth parents in China, but they dismiss her, stating they never had a daughter. While praying and lifting up a small Buddha statue, she collapses, vomiting blood and claiming stomach pain. She is brought back to America and treated at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Meanwhile, when House finds out his father John has died; he is reluctant to attend the funeral, due to his father's abuse. In the initial diagnosis, House theorizes the woman contracted SARS in China and the patient's parents state their adoptive daughter overly abuses herself with alcohol and tobacco. Using a ruse that the patient could have infected House with SARS, Cuddy injects a sedative disguised as an Immuno-globulin injection for SARS into House. House passes out and wakes up to find himself in a car driven by Wilson, who is taking him to the funeral home and his father's funeral. Wilson, however, is reluctant to speak to House but finally says he is only driving him to please House's mother and Cuddy. House tells Wilson the reason he does not want to attend his father's funeral is because he's not his real father, and then explains his theory about "an old friend of the family" and his mother having an affair.

As House is traveling to his father's funeral, he works with his diagnostics team over his mobile phone, while at the same time trying to stop Wilson from driving to their destination. When the patient develops further stomach pains, the team suggests the presence of gallstones, but before House can explain further, they are pulled over by the local police after House uses his cane to force Wilson to speed past a police cruiser. Furthermore, Wilson is arrested due to an old Louisiana warrant out for him. Explaining to Sheriff Costello, the arresting officer, Wilson tells the circumstances of the charges brought up against him: While attending a medical convention in New Orleans years ago, he was upset when a man repeatedly played "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" by Billy Joel on the jukebox of a bar, causing him to angrily chuck a bottle at a mirror inside the place, breaking it. Although Wilson paid for the damages, he was still put in jail, until House, who was also attending the convention, bailed him out, due in part to his ascertaining of the situation surrounding a package Wilson clung to (which were divorce papers from his first ex-wife), and his subsequent interest in him amongst a sea of "boring people", thus revealing their first encounter and eventual friendship.

Back at Princeton-Plainsboro, the team is still stumped by the patient's illness, when her blood clots and bleeds profusely at the same time. House finally arrives at the funeral, delivering a eulogy telling of his father's commitment to his job above all else, which leads him to realize he has turned out the same. While delivering the eulogy, House concludes he might have been a better son if he had had a better father, and stages an emotional outburst, giving him an opportunity to take a small sample of his father's ear (R. Lee Ermey in a "cameo" as House's father, in the casket) with a nail clipper for use in a paternity test, due to House's theory that the man he called his father was not his biological relative at all. Another outburst occurs at the funeral home, during which House accuses Wilson of being unable to handle not being prepared for emotional difficulties, such as the death of Amber, and therefore deciding to remove the most important thing from his life - House - "because nobody can take away from you what you don't have.", and Wilson breaks a stained glass window with a bottle of whisky. The two discuss a brief differential over the patient after that.

After calling the Chinese translator who accompanied the patient to China and finding out her birth parents' adamant refusal of acknowledging a daughter. Wilson wonders and asks House when the one child policy was instated and then Wilson suggests that the patient's parents tried to kill her because they didn't want a girl. House theorizes the patient's biological parents attempted to kill her as an infant by pushing needles into her brain through her fontanelle, due to her having been born in 1983, four years after the country adopted the one-child policy. The needles were disturbed by a powerful magnet contained within the Buddha statue, affecting her brain functions and causing her first collapse.

The patient is expected to recover after surgery, and though her adoptive parents hope the team will not reveal the truth of the diagnosis, Kutner claims that due to one of the needles embedding itself in the portion of her brain containing her addictive impulses, the patient could not control her alcohol and tobacco impulses. As House silently reflects on the day in his office, Wilson drops by, states about taking his job back at Princeton-Plainsboro and admits House is right about Wilson regarding losing a friend, and that the things they did on the trip was the most fun he had with House since Amber died. While seemingly content, House reveals the results of the paternity test and proves his suspicions were correct: John was not, in fact, his biological father. Wilson notices that House was not celebrating and questions why. House responds that he thought John not being his biological father would make "a difference". Wilson concludes perhaps one cannot always choose the roles of the people in one's life, including their friends. Reconciling their differences, the two leave for dinner, and House solemnly admits, "My dad's dead.", to which Wilson offers his sympathies. [2]


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