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An almost unrecognizable Joel ("Cabaret"/"Remo Williams") Grey plays a world-famous researcher who collapses and nearly dies, and then wants House to "off" him on the QT. Not normally a moral dilemma for any veteran physician (I used to be a hospital employee, so I know), this particular case stops House from simply killing the guy as House scrambles to figure out a way to save him. The entire staff must come to grips with the issue of suicide and mercy killing, a common-enough hospital practice but not so common to House's young staff, especially the doe-eyed Cameron. Grey is great as the suffering senior. Again, I am being asked for more lines than I care to write. So in that case, let me point out it will be worth keeping a close eye on Cameron in this episode.
As House goes, this is a fairly typical episode, with lots of soapy melodrama, overacting, one-dimensional characters, and an overly simplistic view of medicine combined with lots of dramatic license. However -- it's a GREAT academic tool. I teach "Medical Law and Ethics" to budding health care professionals (it's one of the first three classes in their curriculum), and have now used this episode in about ten classes over the last five years on the last day of the course. It does a nice job of incorporating half a dozen basic principles into a package, from informed consent for research to informed consent for treatment; from active euthanasia to passive euthanasia to "let nature take its course." It is a gripping tale despite its unrealism, and a powerful educational tool as a springboard to class discussion about the general and theoretical principles they have been studying for many weeks. It's been a great way to wrap up the class on the final day. Class member feedback has been that it's very moving, very thought-provoking, and there's JUST enough ambiguity so that the viewer has strong suspicions but is ... not ... quite ... completely certain exactly who might have been in the hospital room at 2:30 a.m. It's an episode worth watching, especially for medical newbies as an academic exercise.
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