Michelle Kung
September 20, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”House”: The doctor meets his match

The status quo has returned to Princeton Plainsboro. House is reunited with his cane and back to abusing clinic patients, Wilson has inexplicably become House’s BFF once again, and the Ducklings are sleeplessly running a litany of painful tests, this time on guest star Joel Grey, who plays oxygen-deprived cancer researcher Ezra Powell. We know Powell is a Bad Man because he gives cancer to cute albino rats and then snips them open to remove their black, diseased lungs. He also radiated babies in an earlier study and hypocritically gets angry at House for running diagnostic tests on him against his will even though he says that ”informed consent holds back research.” But mainly, it’s just because he’s mean to Whiskers and Friends. In fact, the entire opening sequence brought back bad memories of the first time I watched the culty ’80s animated film The Secrets of NIMH. Does anyone else remember poor Mrs. Brisby and all those tortured rats? I had nightmares for a month.

In addition to being an animal killer, Powell is also old. Very, very old, which brings myriad issues of euthanasia and dying with dignity to the (operating) table. Drama queen Cameron is predictably tortured over Powell’s wish to end his suffering (”Whose side are you on, Senator?” asks Foreman) and generally acts like a brat until the final scene, when she finally takes a stand. Dr. Robert ”Idiot” Chase also shows some newly developed backbone when he supports House in his mercy killing of Dr. Powell. This being House, the euthanasia of course turns out to be a fake-out so that the doc can continue diagnosing the patient and Oscar-Emmy-Tony-winner Grey can throw his words back at him and generally act his little 74-year-old heart out.

Can I get a collective ”eww!” in regards to House’s Lolita-esque stalker? The low-cut shirt and tacky exposed thong were one thing, but a calendar marked to indicate her 18th birthday and graduation from jailbait status? That’s just gross. Not as gross as a rat snacking on your lip, but gross nonetheless. Now, I have complete faith in the show’s writers and can see from IMDb that next week’s episode isn’t entitled ”The Return of Alex Forrest,” but this is a potentially disastrous — and bizarrely unexpected — story line to pursue. (I can also see from IMDb that the girl who plays House’s stalker is named Leighton Meester, but that’s just unfortunate.)

So what did you think? Anyone tear up at Powell’s death? Anyone find it weird that House and Wilson are already on such good terms? And how out of left field is the teenage-stalker subplot?

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