Typing Faster

May 29, 2009

Breaking it Down: House Breakdown

Filed under: Break Downs, Craft, Specs — petertypingfaster @ 10:15 am

As promised yesterday, here’s a breakdown for House. Careful, it’s a doozy!

Breakdown House Season 4

Series Overview:

House is an episodic medical drama that follows Dr. Gregory House (a brilliant doctor, who happens to be a misanthropic drug addict with a limp) as he, with the assistance of a team of fellow doctors, successfully diagnoses puzzling medical mysteries each week.

House is a network drama, debuting on FOX in 2004. During the 2007-2008 season House was the most watched scripted program on the air, and the third most watched program overall behind American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

Genre:

House is a one-hour episodic medical drama. Unlike other medical shows that favor a workplace soap approach (ER, Grey’s Anatomy), House takes the approach of a mystery or crime show, in which the patients’ symptoms are the clues and the disease is the culprit. This strange blending of medical and crime genres has led many to call house a medical mystery show, and the lead character (Dr. House) a “medical Sherlock Holmes,” which was actually the creators (David Shore) intent.

Themes:

In keeping with the strange blending of genres, the dominant theme of House is probably not what one would normally guess. Unlike other medical shows, which spend a lot of time dwelling on heavier themes such as human mortality and the relationship between doctor and patient (and House does, of course, touch on these themes often), the dominant theme of House is that everybody lies.

This theme is manifested in practically every single episode (the only reason I don’t say every single episode is because I haven’t seen them all). Dr. House will often say things like “The patient is lying,” and if ever given the choice will always put his faith in the symptoms.

House’s ‘Eureka Moment’ in each episode is usually when he realizes what the lie of that episode is. Once he’s determined that then everything falls into place and he can save the patient.

Setting:

House is mostly set in Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, a fictional hospital in New Jersey. Standing sets are what you would expect from a medical show, and all quite self-explanatory: patient’s rooms, hospital cafeteria, operating theaters, etc. Sets that are of particular note are:

• House’s office.
• The diagnostic team’s room – usually where they perform their differential diagnoses on the white board.
• Cuddy’s office.
• Wilson’s office.
• House’s apartment.

Originality:

The originality of House is twofold. The first element, one that we’ve already touched on, is the blending of traditional elements from medical and crime shows. By turning it into a medical mystery House is able to steal the best elements of both genres. While we still have an interesting and diverse cast of characters, the number of characters doesn’t feel bloated the way a lot of other workplace medical shows feel (think of how many boring characters there are in the ER ensemble!). Secondly, by making each medical case an interesting and rare disease, House manages to avoid the problem of boring medicine that often plagues its’ counterparts.

The other main source of originality for House lies in the nature of its’ lead character. Dr. Gregory House is, to put it simply, an asshole. He’s mean, nasty, likes to play mind games with everyone around him, and despite all of that we still love him because of his incredibly brilliance.

Characters:

Dr. Gregory House
Head of Diagnostic Medicine, specialty in Infectious Diseases and Nephrology.

House is a brilliant doctor who relies just as much on psychology and his keen observation of others to diagnose his patients as he does on his knowledge of medicine. He is obsessed with solving puzzles and is easily bored. He only agrees to take on cases that interest him, and is often punished by Dr. Cuddy with clinic duty where he has to deal with boring people with boring afflictions.

House is incredibly caustic, and enjoys picking people apart. However he is NEVER mean to someone without a reason for it (be it diagnostic, or satisfying his own curiosity about some aspect of the individual). His only friend is Dr. Wilson, with whom he has a fairly juvenile relationship. House also has a sexually charged relationship with Dr. Cuddy, the result of a one-night stand while they were both in college.

The character of House was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, and parallels can be found throughout the show. The name itself is a play on the name ‘Holmes,’ while the name of his trusty sidekick (James Wilson) is a play on Holmes sidekick Dr. Watson. Both Holmes and House are drug addicts, both men are musicians and both rely on psychology to do their jobs. They both also live at 221B. To top it all off, when House is shot in the second season finale, the name of the man that shoots him happens to be Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis.

Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Chief Hospital Administrator and Dean of Medicine, specialty in Endocrinology.

Cuddy is House’s boss, and one of her chief duties is keeping him under control. She is smart and tough, and tries not to put up with any of House’s bullshit. There is quite a bit of sexual tension between the two of them that complicates their relationship.

Cuddy’s primary role is to act as a dramatic foil to House. She is constantly on him to reign in his less responsible actions and to improve his behavior. Their relationship and sexual tension is also often used as a source of comedic subplots.

Dr. James Wilson
Head of the Department of Oncology, medical specialty in Oncology.

Wilson is House’s best friend, and one of the only people that can make House laugh. Wilson is almost always way too nice, and feels the need to fix the people that he meets. This is often the reason given for his friendship with House (they’re opposites, and Wilson feels the need to help him), as well as the reason for Wilson’s three failed marriages (he fixes needy women and then moves on). Wilson has an incredibly hard time saying ‘no’ to anyone because he is so driven to please those around him.

Wilson goes out of his way to protect House on numerous occasions. He also helps House with consults whenever House suspects a patient might have cancer. Wilson often forms the basis for the ‘C’ plot in any given episode.

Dr. Eric Foreman
Member of the Diagnostic Team, specialty in Neurology.

Foreman is a great doctor who’s overcome a lot of adversity to get where he is. He grew up poor, and was a juvenile delinquent (one of the reasons that House initially hired him), before straightening out and excelling in med school. He is one of the few subordinates that House has come to regard as an equal.
In many regards Foreman is much like House. He is a brilliant diagnostician, a natural leader and can be quite stubborn. In the third season Foreman realizes that he’s become too much like House and tries to leave, but no other hospitals will hire him since he’s become “House Lite.” Foreman is then forced to return to work with House at Princeton-Plainsboro, though he refuses to play any of House’s games anymore (though Chase observes that that’s Foreman’s role in House’s games).

Dr. Allison Cameron
Senior Attending Physician in the ER (episode 401 to present), specialty in Immunology.

Cameron was the ethical center of the first incarnation of House’s team, and often clashed with House over her idealistic worldview and her belief that they should be ‘nice’ to their patients. Cameron strongly objected to House’s belief that ‘everybody lies’ and often went head to head with him over his habit of deceiving his patients. She typically served as the ‘no’ person on the team, expressing the opposite view of House.

Much like Foreman, Cameron realized in season 3 that she was becoming a lot like House, using his tactics and taking on his outlook. She left the team at the end of season 3 and now works in the ER at Princeton-Plainsboro. She’s done playing any of House’s games though, and often advises his new team members that they’d be better off doing the same.

Dr. Robert Chase
Surgeon (episode 401 to present), specialty in Intensive Care Medicine.

Chase is enthusiastic and eager to please. He’s often willing to take part in House’s more ethically dodgy schemes showing that he doesn’t have a particularly strong moral framework himself. He typically served as House’s ‘yes’ man on the initial team.

As the series progressed Chase gradually grew a backbone and started standing up to House. This led to House firing him at the end of season three. Chase got a job working as a surgeon at Princeton-Plainsboro, and while he no longer works with House directly, he often lets himself be roped in to help out either House or one of House’s fellows.

Dr. Chris Taub
Member of the Diagnostic Team, specialty in Plastic Surgery.

Taub is one of the new team members that House hires during the course of season three. While initially mocked for being a plastic surgeon, Taub proves himself to be quite smart and resourceful. He also proves himself to be able to stand up to House and challenge his authority, even suggesting that House be removed from a particular case when he disagrees with him. He is one of the fellows that Cuddy recommends House hire, saying that Taub’s sneaky nature will keep House focused.

Taub’s role is similar to that of Foreman’s in the initial team composition (ie. standing up to House, wanting to prove him wrong, etc).

Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Member of the Diagnostic Team, specialty in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Kutner is one of the new team members that House hires during the course of season three. He is enthusiastic and a bit of a bumbling idiot, often acting as a source of comic relief. He is also often the most willing to go along with House and rarely challenges him in a serious way.

Kutner’s role is similar to that of Chase’s in the initial team composition (ie. House’s yes man, source of comic relief).

Thirteen (aka Dr. Remy Hadley)
Member of the Diagnostic Team, specialty in Internal Medicine.

Thirteen is the most secretive of House’s new team members. Throughout the course of season 4 she does her best to reveal little to nothing about herself. House can’t help but be fascinated by the puzzle she represents. The few things that we know about Thirteen is that she tests positive for Huntington’s Disease at the end of season 4, and that she is bisexual.

Thirteen’s role is similar to that of Cameron’s in the initial team composition (ie. Compassionate, not likely to go along with House’s plans, etc).

Character Development:

While the relationships between characters on House change and evolve over time, the core of all the characters remains essentially the same. This is particularly true of House himself. House has remained a remarkably static character throughout the course of the series, largely because the series itself is intrinsically tied up with the nature of his character. While he has gone through several periods where he was less caustic (for example at the top of season 3 when his leg is temporarily healed), he soon relapses to his old self.

The characters that have gone through the most marked change on House are probably those of his former team members. Foreman, Chase and Cameron have all matured to the point where they are no longer willing participants in House’s constant gamesmanship. They have, to greater and lesser degrees, grown into themselves, becoming more confident versions of themselves, while staying true to their essential natures.

House’s relationships with Cuddy and Wilson have also deepened and matured over the course of the series. Both relationships have been subjected to periods of strain, but the writers recognize that eliminating either relationship would cripple the show and so consistently reset things to the status quo. The best example of this can be seen in House’s relationship with Wilson at the beginning of season 5. After the conclusion of season 4 and the death of Wilson’s latest wife Amber, Wilson decided that he couldn’t be friends with House anymore, going so far as to quit his job and leave Princeton-Plainsboro. This relationship turned into a mini story arc lasting five or six episodes, at the end of which Wilson realized he couldn’t live without his best friends and moved back to be closer to House.

In short, characters on House are static, undergoing no major changes, only deepening their core attributes as their backstory is gradually revealed. While the relationships between characters is subject to temporary change, they are often reset to the status quo within five or six episodes (the only exception being House’s relationship to his former team members).

Extendability:

House revolves around the medical mystery of the week, and thus the number of potential new episodes is limited solely by the writers ability to find interesting new medical cases for House to solve.

Of course the show, like any other, does run the risk of becoming repetitive. House has done a masterful job of refreshing itself by changing the character relationships in dramatic ways at the end of the past two seasons. At the end of season 3 the members of House’s team either resigned or were fired. Season 4 then devoted the first 9 episodes to the selection of a new team through a reality TV style competition, thus refreshing the show not only with the introduction of new characters (eg. the new team), but also by showing the audience something it hadn’t seen before. Similarly season 5 begins with the relationship between House and Wilson in serious jeopardy, something the audience hadn’t seen before.

By combining a new episodic case each week, and incorporating interesting and new mini-story arcs like those described above, House can be extended for many, many seasons to come.

Visual Style:

Like many other medical and crime shows, House uses a fairly cold look with lots of blues, metal and glass. This style helps to sell the medical aspects of the show in that it all looks quite anti-septic. It also helps to draw a contrast between the medical world and the world outside the hospital (which tends to use a much warmer / richer color palette).

The camera setups in House tend to be quite traditional. There are very few long walk-and-talks in the vein of The West Wing. While House does borrow some of the visual stylings from shows like CSI (namely the VFX shots of what’s happening inside a patient’s body), these are used relatively infrequently.

Structure:

Due to House‘s procedural nature, there are a lot of structural rules to adhere to.

Episode Structure

Each episode consists of a Teaser and Four Acts (with notable exceptions).

Teaser
• Always introduces the A plot.
• Almost always takes place outside of Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital.
• Almost never shows House or any other main character.
• 2ish minutes long.

Act One
• Always introduces the A, B and C plots.
• Usually begins with House being introduced to the case of the week (A plot).
• Almost always goes out on the realization that their first diagnosis was wrong and that the patient is getting worse. Often the patient crashes (A plot).
• Usually 10 – 12 minutes long.

Act Two
• Almost always begins with the team doing a differential (A plot).
• Almost always goes out with the revelation of a new symptom / complication, but not necessarily a screw up by the team (A plot).
• Usually either 6 – 7 minutes long OR 10 – 12 minutes long.

Act Three
• Almost always begins with the team doing a differential (A plot).
• Almost always goes out on the patient crashing due to the team screwing up (A plot).
• Usually either 6 – 7 minutes OR 10 – 12 minutes long.

Act Four
• Almost always beings with the team doing a differential (A plot).
• House ALWAYS has his “Eureka Moment” where he figures out what’s wrong half way to three quarters of the way through the act.
• House ALWAYS solves the puzzle, regardless of whether or not the patient lives or dies.
• Patient is usually cured / the puzzle is usually solved with 2 minutes left in the act.
• Final 2 minutes is usually devoted to wrapping up any loose ends, thematic moments, outstanding subplots, etc.
• Usually goes out on the B plot.
• Usually 10 – 12 minutes long.

Plot Lines

Each episode of House has an A, B and C plot.

The A plot is the story of the patient of the week.
• Usually has between 20 – 30 beats, distributed evenly between the acts.
• Always introduced in the Teaser.
• Almost always serves as the In and Out for each act.
• Always dramatic.

The B plot usually revolves around either House or his team.
• Usually has between 10 – 20 beats, distributed evenly between the acts.
• Always introduced in Act One.
• Frequently scenes will serve double purpose beating both A and B plots.
• Can sometimes serve as the In or Out for an Act.
• Usually dramatic.

The C Plot usually revolves around House / Wilson or House / Cuddy.
• Usually has between 5 – 15 beats, distributed evenly between acts.
• Always introduced in Act One.
• Rarely scenes will serve double purpose beating both A and C plots.
• Very, very rarely serves as the In or Out for an Act (probably never).
• Almost always comedic.

Serial vs. Episodic

House is a very episodic show. This is largely due to the fact that each episode revolves around a single medical case. This is true even when there are two part episodes, as evidenced by the season 4 finale. In the finale there are two cases, one per hour, each of which is resolved by the end of their respective hours.

House will occasionally have mini-story arcs that take place over the course of several episodes. Examples of these would be the ‘House hiring a new team’ mini-arc of season 4, or the ‘House spying on Wilson with a private investigator’ mini-arc of season 5. While these arcs play out over multiple episodes, they are never allowed to interfere or usurp the place of the case of the week.


Other Rules

There are a few other rules common to House that should be touched on:

• House can never be mean without reason. He is only ever mean when it helps him figure out a puzzle (whether it’s medical or personal). If he’s mean without purpose it will undermine his brilliance, and the main reason that an audience likes him.
• House can never be wrong in the end. He can make mistakes along the way, but he always gets the right diagnosis at the end.
• House always has to have a “Eureka Moment” (a flash of insight) where he figures out the answer to the case of the week.

Final Battle / Self Revelation

The climax / final battle of each episode of House revolves around the correct diagnosis of the patient, and then whether or not the patient will live or die as a result. It also usually includes House emerging triumphant in the B plot as well, though occasionally the result won’t go his way, resulting in a slightly deflated ego (if that’s possible with House).

There is usually very little in the way of self-revelation for House at the end of each episode, which is in keeping with the static nature of his character. However the characters around House often go through a moment of self-revelation brought on by either the B or C plots, usually in a way that is thematically linked to the A plot. A good example would be the way in which all the team members confront their own mortality in reaction to Amber’s death in the season 4 finale.

HOUSE Plot Breakdowns:

Episode 401 – “Alone”

Episode Description:
An office building collapse on a woman, and House must diagnose her without the help of a team.

A Plot – Patient of the week – 29 Beats
B Plot – House hiring a new team – 13 Beats
C Plot – Comic relief. Wilson kidnapping House’s guitar – 11 Beats

TEASER – (1:50) – 1 A beat

1. Intro to the patient of the week just before the office building she works in collapses. She is fighting with her boyfriend, saying that she’s feeling ill and won’t be going out with him tonight. We also see another coworker that looks quite similar to her in the background. These are all clues that will be paid off later in the episode. – A plot.

ACT ONE – (12:28) – 9 A beats, 4 B beats, 3 C beats – In and out on A plot

1. House playing guitar in his office when Cuddy enters. She presents him with the case of the woman from the teaser, House is bored by it, wants nothing to do with it, and even if he did he doesn’t have a team so couldn’t take it anyway. Cuddy tells him to hire a team then, they wind up making a bet, if House can diagnose the woman before the end of the day he doesn’t have to hire anyone and Cuddy will leave him alone for a week. If he can’t then he’ll have to hire a team. A / B Plot. (1:51)
2. Wilson and Cuddy talk about Cuddy’s plan to make House hire a team. Wilson doesn’t think it’s going to work, that they need to use “a more convincing argument.” B / C Plot (0:14)
3. House trying to run his usual differential diagnosis, but can’t do it because he doesn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of. Recruits a janitor to help him out. A / B Plot (1:26)
4. House and the Janitor take a first look at the patient and the patient’s family. Mother says she’s drifted apart from her daughter, that the boyfriend knows her better. Boyfriend says they’ve been fighting. A Plot (0:41)
5. House tries to convince the janitor to help him break into the patients home to look for parasites and fungi. The janitor refuses saying “he has principles, and House should be nicer to people.” A Plot (0:45)
6. House and Wilson driving to the patients house, Wilson thinks that they’re going to a restaurant, House responds “we are, this one’s just homier.” A Plot (0:15)
7. House and Wilson break into the patients home, Wilson makes a crack that House can’t even get arrested alone so of course he needs a team. House finds her hidden diary, in reading it becomes convinced that she had been depressed and is now on anti-depressants, which would explain her current symptoms as being a bad drug interaction. Now he just has to convince the family. A / B Plot (2:43)
8. The janitor tries to convince the family to treat the patient for the drug interaction, eventually folds and tells them that he’s not really a doctor, just a janitor. A Plot (0:20)
9. House in Cuddy’s office defending himself to her and the family. Manages to convince them that the patient was lying to the boyfriend, was indeed seeing a psychologist and on anti-depressants and that the course of treatment should be pursued. A Plot (1:23)
10. House returns to his office to find that Wilson’s kidnapped his guitar. C Plot (0:49)
11. House confronts Wilson about his stolen guitar. Wilson says the guitar will be returned once House agrees to interview new team members. House refuses saying he’s solved the case. C Plot (0:55)
12. The patient confirms that she was seeing a psychiatrist and was on anti-depressants. House was right. And then the patient crashes. A Plot (0:59)

ACT TWO – (6:38) – 5 A beats, 2 B beats, 3 C beats – In and out on A plot

1. Cuddy in House’s office, tells him he lost the bet. He disagrees saying he explained the fever, which is all they were betting about. A / B Plot (0:53)
2. House tries to get his guitar back from Wilson by asking him for the resumes of potential new team members. Wilson refuses to hand over the guitar until House holds the interviews. C Plot (0:47)
3. Cuddy still trying to explain the rest of the patent’s symptoms, House is convinced that Crush syndrome explains everything. Cuddy asks him to perform a test to confirm his theory. A Plot (0:50)
4. House performs the test and rules out Crush syndrome. He comes up with another theory however, but refuses to discuss it in front of the family. A Plot (0:36)
5. House discusses his new theory with family and Cuddy. He thinks that the patient is also an alcoholic, self-medicating for depression, convinces the mother over the boyfriend’s objections that the best treatment is to give her more booze. A Plot (0:53)
6. House calls a candidate for an interview. The candidate is mid party, and obnoxious in a frat boy kind of way, House hangs up in disgust. B Plot (0:45)
7. Wilson gets called in to the hospital in the middle of the night, finds out once he arrives that it’s a fake code called in by House. C Plot (0:20)
8. House escalates his war with Wilson, breaking into his house while Wilson is at the hospital and erasing his TiVo recordings in retaliation for the guitar. C Plot (0:54)
9. Cuddy with the patient, finds out that House’s alcohol treatment is working, but then notices that the patient has been silently screaming for hours. A Plot (0:38)

ACT THREE – (10:00) – 7 A beats, 3 B beats, 3 C beats – In and out on A plot

1. Cuddy tells House that he was wrong again. House tries to argue, saying the latest symptoms could be caused by the alcohol treatment. Cuddy refuses to enable him anymore by doing a differential with him, he needs to hire a team. A / B Plot (1:15)
2. House going over the case, can’t find fault with his logic. Cuddy enters, expresses her disbelief that anyone could hide as much from their significant other as this woman had. House won’t buy into it, finds broken piece of his guitar and leaves to confront him. A / C Plot (1:05)
3. House confronts Wilson, again refuses to hire a team. Wilson issues a veiled threat to do more harm to his guitar. C Plot (1:00)
4. House runs a test and rules out Pancreatitis. Wilson enters, says he’s figured out why House won’t hire another team, he’s scared of being hurt again, like he was when the last team moved on. House scoffs at that, finds out the patient’s suffering from internal bleeding. A / B Plot (1:18)
5. Cuddy and House observe the surgery to repair their patient’s internal bleeding. Cuddy admits that House was right again, but he still needs to hire a team. House notices that the patient’s uterus is enlarged, but if he had a team she would be dead because they would have been there instead of him and wouldn’t have noticed that. A / B Plot (1:28)
6. House bursts into the surgery, examines the patient and determines that she recently had an abortion. Since the boyfriend didn’t know, and wants kids, she lied about that, and then lied about being on the pill afterwards. A drug interaction between the pill and drugs administered post surgery would explain the bleeding. He doesn’t need a team! A Plot (1:03)
7. The patient’s boyfriend introduces House to a guy who was dating another girl from the building, she died that morning. House tells the boyfriend that his girlfriend had an abortion and was on the pill. He can’t believe that she was lying to him, but House has already done blood tests to confirm. A Plot (1:35)
8. House kidnaps one of Wilson’s cancer patients. C Plot (0:51)
9. House’s treatment to eliminate the excess estrogen (from the birth control pills) from his patient’s system causes her to crash. Refuses to admit to Cuddy that he was wrong. A Plot (0:20)

ACT FOUR (12:02) – 7 A beats, 4 B beats, 2 C beats – In and out on B plot

1. House goes to the ER looking for other doctors to bounce ideas off of, but none of them will talk to him because Cuddy told them not to. B Plot (0:56)
2. An ER doctor catches up to House outside the ER, suggests several ideas to explain the patients symptoms. House says he’ll put her resume on the top of his pile. A / B Plot (1:20)
3. House checks on the patient, mother and boyfriend still there, notices a lump in her arm. A Plot (1:00)
4. Cuddy talks to a lab tech who’s running tests for House, despite her memo to not help him at all. Lab tech says she got another memo shortly afterwards telling her to ignore the first memo, and it was a good thing because she found growths all over the patients body. A Plot (0:33)
5. Cuddy tells the family that the growths are an allergic reaction, which is odd because the patient doesn’t have allergies, treats for it anyways. A Plot (0:37)
6. House contemplates his board of symptoms. A Plot (0:24)
7. Wilson finds out that House has kidnapped his patient. C Plot (0:20)
8. Wilson confronts House about his missing patient. House says he’ll return the patient when Wilson returns his guitar. Wilson calls him out for being irresponsible, this is a human being he took, what if someone gives him the wrong medication? House has his eureka moment “Bad things would happen.” C Plot + House Eureka Moment (0:49)
9. House tells the patient’s mother and boyfriend that this isn’t their daughter, it’s really one of her co-workers who was misidentified by paramedics. The girlfriend never lied, her chart did, it explains everything. A Plot (2:30)
10. Real boyfriend visits his girlfriend, other boyfriend sees his dead girlfriend in the morgue. A Plot (0:37)
11. Cuddy tells House that if he had a team he would have solved the case days ago. She doesn’t care how he does it, but he has to hire a new team, and do it now. B Plot (1:23)
12. House at the front of an auditorium full of potential new team members. If he’s going to hire a new team, he’s going to do it reality tv style. Wear a cup! B Plot (0:47)

Episode 409 – “Games”

Episode Description:
When House is ordered to make a final decision on his team, he gives the remaining candidates a demanding case of a punk rock star with a history of civil disobedience.

A Plot – Patient of the week – 23 Beats
B Plot – House deciding who the new team will be – 14 Beats
C Plot – Wilson’s misdiagnosed patient – 5 Beats

TEASER – (2:04) – 1 A beat

1. Just before going on stage a rock star coughs up a lot of blood and collapses. A Plot

ACT ONE – (10:02) – 5 A beats, 5 B beats, 2 C beats – In on B, out on A

1. Cuddy tells House that he needs to decide which members of his team to hire by Friday. B Plot (1:09)
2. House goes to the ER to ask Cameron for an interesting patient. Winds up taking the rock star (who’s a liar and a drug addict). A Plot (1:02)
3. House tells the team that this will be their final test, also introduces a point system to measure them by. Foreman doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the rock star that can’t be explained by his drug use. A / B Plots (1:47)
4. Foreman tells House that he’s being irresponsible running this game. House doesn’t care. B Plot (0:27)
5. Wilson tells House that he misdiagnosed a patient, what Wilson thought was cancer turned out to be harmless lesions, a false positive, House is interested. C Plot (0:59)
6. 13 asks Amber why she went straight for the drug theories, calls her out for being an idiot for leaving an addict patient alone in a washroom with cigarettes and an oxygen tank just before there’s an explosion in the washroom. A Plot (0:28)
7. House watches while Wilson gives the good news to the patient he misdiagnosed. The patient isn’t happy about it though, he’s been preparing for the end, including selling his house. House thinks it’s all very cool. C Plot (1:30)
8. House tells his team to put the patient on a Nicotine patch so he won’t sneak anymore smokes. Lets Amber continue with her test, despite 13 objecting that she screwed up and forfeited her turn to treat the patient. A / B Plot (0:58)
9. Chase tells Foreman that he’s starting to look like House, that his attempts to “stop the game” are really his role in the game. Foreman is not amused. B Plot (0:34)
10. The team realizes that the patient has covered himself with Nicotine patches, but that’s not the real problem, the real problem is that he’s got a bunch of blood clots throughout his body. Amber was wrong. A Plot (0:58)

ACT TWO (11:00) – 5 A beats, 4 B beats, 1 C beat – In and out on A

1. Team doing a differential. Amber pushes new drug related theories to explain the blood clots, House agrees with 13 who suggests Malaria. A Plot (1:19)
2. House calls Amber into the “loser’s circle.” Wants to know why she hates drug addicts and losers so much. She just likes winning, and why should that be a problem for him? B Plot (1:45)
3. Taub tells 13 that he doesn’t care about this patient, that he’d rather spend his time sucking up to House. Then they discover that the patient’s missing. B Plot (0:50)
4. House finds out Wilson is planning on paying off the patient he misdiagnosed. Taub and 13 confess that they’ve lost the patient. A / C Plot (1:40)
5. House asks 13 why she likes drug addicts. She doesn’t, just thinks that drugs are always a mask for something else. House pretends to not be impressed by her standing up to him. B Plot (0:45)
6. 13 and Taub find the patient entertaining kids in the pediatric ward, mid joke he collapses again. A Plot (1:02)
7. House tells Cuddy he wants to keep all four team members. Cuddy wants him to get rid of two, when asked who she thinks he should keep she tells him to keep Taub and Kutner. 13 and Kutner interrupt with the news that it’s not malaria, but bad blood fragments instead. A / B Plots (1:40)
8. House explains the bad blood fragments as being caused by sharing needles with one of his bandmates. The patient goes into critical respiratory distress, which is definitely not caused by drugs. A Plot (1:13)

ACT THREE (6:42) – 5 A beats, 1 B beat, 1 C beat, In and out on A

1. The team doing a differential, trying to come up with an explanation for the respiratory problems. Kutner gets to run some tests, but Foreman wants nothing to do with it. A Plot (1:18)
2. House finds some abnormalities near the patients heart, is also surprised by the fact that patient doesn’t seem to care whether he lives or dies, but cares what House thinks about his music. A Plot (1:40)
3. Wilson tries to buy off the patient he misdiagnosed. The patient doesn’t take his money, wants to sue him for the correct diagnose (the one that gave him a clean bill of health). Wilson is confused. C Plot (0:56)
4. Taub suggests that maybe the patient has a defect in his heart that’s causing the breathing problems. House agrees to check it out. A Plot (1:19)
5. House and Taub convince Chase to crack open their patient so they can take a look at his heart. House asks Chase who he thinks he should hire, Chase thinks he should hire Taub and Amber. A / B Plot (0:55)
6. Once cracked they discover that the patient’s heart is fine, but that his lymph nodes are enlarged. The patient then crashes. A Plot (0:25)

ACT FOUR (13:30) – 7 A beats, 4 B beats, 1 C beat – In on A, and out on B

1. Differential trying to figure out what causes respiratory failure and enlarged lymph nodes. The patient’s life’s at stake, Foreman tells House to finish the game and just hire someone. 13 offers up a drug diagnosis (sustained immune reaction caused by tainted drugs) in an attempt to save herself, House relents and tells them to test for it. A / B Plot (1:35)
2. The patient refuses to tell Amber where he got his drugs, says he’d rather die young than grow old. Amber tells him that she hates him, he doesn’t care because he has no regrets. She’s jealous of that. A Plot (1:46)
3. Wilson confronts House about his involvement in advising Wilson’s patient to sue him for more money. House was just trying to prove to Wilson that everyone’s out for there’s. Kutner interrupts, the treatment isn’t working, the patient isn’t suffering from bad drugs, and by the way he volunteers at a home for abandoned kids. A / C Plot (2:04)
4. House and the team are back at square one, the patient is dying and that’s all they know. House has his moment, realizes that the patient’s volunteer work is relevant. A Plot + House Eureka Moment (0:49)
5. House asks Cuddy for permission to do a brain biopsy on the patient, looking for Measles. Says he couldn’t have come to the right answer without all four team members. Cuddy won’t give the go ahead without any neurological symptoms. A / B Plot (1:46)
6. House induces a seizure in the patient using the patient’s horrible music, there’s the neurological proof. A Plot (1:00)
7. House fires Amber and 13, keeping Taub and Kutner. B Plot (2:28)
8. Amber tells the patient that he won’t die. He asks what’s wrong with her, she tells him she just got fired and that she’s here, trying not to care. It’s not easy. A / B Plot (0:38)
9. Cuddy tells House she can’t let him hire two guys, he needs to hire 13 as well. Perfect, because that was House’s plan all along. B Plot (1:13)

Episode 416 – “Wilson’s Heart”

Episode Description:
As House continues to search his memory in order to save another person from the bus accident, his friendship with Wilson is tested as more painful memories surface.

NOTE: This is the second episode of the two-part season finale, but I decided to break it down anyways as it follows most of the same rules as other episodes, with a few notable exceptions (Act structure, distribution of story beats).

A Plot – Patient of the week (Amber) – 22 Beats
B Plot – What happened to House – 22 Beats
C Plot – How everyone deals with mortality – 14 Beats

TEASER (2:10) – 2 A beats, 1 B beat – In and out on A

1. House and Wilson going over Amber’s (the Patient of the Week) condition with her doctor. House convinces Wilson to move her to Princeton-Plainsboro so House can treat her. A Plot (0:55)
2. House and Wilson transport Amber in an ambulance. Wilson is focused on why Amber was with House to begin with. Amber crashes, they decide to put her into protective hypothermia instead of restarting her heart, “pushing pause.” A / B Plot (1:15)

ACT ONE (9:23) – 5 A beats, 4 B beats, 2 C beats – In and out on A

1. The team watches as Amber is put on bypass and into protective hypothermia. Foreman questions why they’re doing it, only because it will buy them time to think. A Plot (0:58)
2. The team starts their differential. Can’t find out what’s wrong with Amber’s heart while it’s stopped. Kutner suggests giving House more drugs to see if he can remember what happened, House refuses, he can’t take anymore without really endangering himself. A / B Plot (1:00)
3. Taub pushes House on how he and Amber were involved. Were they having an affair? Did they do any drugs together? House doesn’t have any answers for him. B Plot (0:50)
4. Kutner and 13 search Amber’s home. Kutner checks her computer, finds a sex tape, 13 stops him from watching it, “not medically relevant.” A Plot (0:50)
5. 13 is upset, if it had been a strangers house Kutner would have watched the tape. They’ve altered their behavior because Amber is their friend. They shouldn’t be treating her at all. C Plot (0:29)
6. House has a dream / hallucination about Amber that points towards them having an affair, that there’s ‘electricity’ between them. B Plot (2:00)
7. House tries to convince Wilson and Cuddy that using electricity to stimulate his brain will help to bring back the memories. They both think he should just rest. B Plot (1:02)
8. Team doing another differential. All previous tests were negative. Kutner found some diet pills that could explain the heart problems, but they can’t test the heart without restarting it. House orders them to crack Amber’s chest and inspect the heart manually. He also tells 13 to get over her problem with treating Amber and do her job. A / C Plot (1:35)
9. Just before they crack open Amber’s chest, Chase notices that her eyes are jaundiced, which means her liver is failing, something that isn’t caused by the diet pills. They were wrong. A Plot (0:22)

ACT TWO (5:24) – 5 A beats, 3 B beats, 1 C beat – In and out on A

1. Team doing a differential. If Amber’s liver is failing the disease must be spreading. They can’t confirm without warming her up, but warming her up will kill her. House tells them to cool her further. Kutner has an insight into where House was last night. A / B Plot (1:29)
2. House and Wilson go to the bar he was at last night. Bartender remembers House and his girlfriend (Amber), says she was sneezing (new symptom) and that House seemed “really into her.” A / B Plot (1:06)
3. 13 is having trouble accepting that Amber might die, Kutner tells her about his parents (murdered) to help her see that she needs to accept death. C Plot (1:02)
4. House thinks it might be Hep B, tells Foreman to start treatment. Foreman agrees as long as House rests (you were concussed last night and had a heart attack this morning!) A Plot (0:26)
5. House has another dream / hallucination of Amber in which she tells him that Hep B is a lame diagnosis that doesn’t fit. A Plot (0:43)
6. House interrupts Amber’s treatment because he knows she has a rash on the small of her back (not a symptom of Hep B). When Foreman asks how he knew, he says he’s either crazy or he’s starting to remember. A / B Plot (0:33)

ACT THREE (4:32) – 3 A beats, 3 C beats – In and out on A

1. Team doing a differential. Foreman suggests Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to explain the rash and other symptoms. Wants to start warm her up and start treatment. Wilson objects because it might kill her, House sides with him. Foreman says they’re both wrong. 13 has more trouble treating her friend. A / C Plot (1:58)
2. House confronts 13 over her fear of death and her problems treating Amber. She tells him that he’s just as bad and is screwing up the case worse than she is. C Plot (1:10)
3. MONTAGE: Cameron comforting Wilson. House trying to sleep. 13 testing herself for Huntington’s. Foreman spending time with Amber. C Plot (0:47)
4. Foreman goes to Cuddy, tells her that House is going to kill the patient. A Plot (0:13)
5. Foreman and Cuddy are warming Amber up to see if the treatment is working. Wilson comes in, objects, and then notices that Amber’s EEG has slowed. Warming her up has let the disease spread to her brain. They screwed up. A Plot (0:31)

ACT FOUR (7:38) – 4 A beats, 8 B beats, 1 C beat – In on A, Out on B

1. House, Wilson and Cuddy in a differential. Wilson is furious, they have to tell him to back off, he’s not a doctor anymore, he’s the family. House thinks it might be auto-immune, start treatment for it. A / C Plot (1:09)
2. Wilson asks House to try the deep brain stimulation to remember more about what happened. House agrees even though it means risking his life to save Ambers’. B Plot (1:14)
3. SEQUENCE – PRESENT: Wilson and Chase administer electrical stimulation to House’s brain. House tells them to increase the amount of electrical stimulation even though it’s unsafe. B Plot (0:58)
4. SEQUENCE (FLASHBACK – BAR): House in the bar from his memory. Remembers the bar tender taking his keys away, calling Wilson for a ride. B Plot (0:39)
5. SEQUENCE – PRESENT: Wilson and House realize that Wilson was at work when House called, that Amber must have picked up the phone. B Plot (0:17)
6. SEQUENCE (FLAHSBACK – BAR): Amber shows up to give House a ride home. They have a drink, House notices that Amber has a cold. A / B Plot (1:28)
7. SEQUENCE – PRESENT: House can’t remember any other symptoms, the fact that Amber had a cold doesn’t seem too important. A Plot (0:10)
8. SEQUENCE (FLASHBACK – BAR): House tells Amber he’ll take the bus. She goes back into the bar to pay for their drinks. B Plot (0:20)
9. SEQUENCE (FLASHBACK – BUS): House on the bus. Amber gets on as well because House forgot his cane. Amber tells House that she’s getting the nasty flu that’s going around. House realizes that explains the rash, but nothing else. Then House realizes that Amber was using the diet pills as a herbal remedy for the flu. She’s suffering from Amantadine poisoning because when her kidney’s were destroyed in the bus crash they could no longer filter out the medicine. There’s nothing they can do. A / B Plot + House’s Eureka Moment (2:09)
10. SEQUENCE – PRESENT: House starts seizing, his brain has been put through too much. B Plot (0:11)

ACT FIVE (4:12) – 2 A beats, 1 B beat, 2 C beats – In and out on A

1. Foreman tells the team what happened. House is in a coma following his seizure, no way to tell if he has irreparable brain damage. He was right about Amber though, but there’s nothing they can do for her. She’s dying. A / B Plot (0:51)
2. Cuddy tells Wilson he should wake Amber up to say goodbye. C Plot (0:52)
3. Wilson wakes Amber up. She remembers getting on the bus, knows that it was a mistake. Wilson tells her that it wasn’t her fault. She realizes that she’s dying. They express their love for each other. A / C Plot (2:26)

ACT SIX (7:54) – 1 A beat, 3 B beats, 5 C beats – In and out on C

1. 13 tells the team they need to go say goodbye to Amber. They agree. C Plot (0:23)
2. MONTAGE: The team members saying goodbye. C Plot (0:27)
3. Amber tells Wilson it’s time for her to go. He takes her off bypass and she dies. A / C Plot (1:49)
4. House still in a coma, his team treating him. B Plot (0:15)
5. House talks to Amber in a dream. Rails against the unfairness of it all, worries that Wilson will hate him. Amber tells him that he kind of deserves it. House doesn’t want to leave, would rather be dead, Amber tells him that’s too bad, you can’t always get what you want. B / C Plot (2:20)
6. House wakes up with Cuddy beside him. B Plot (0:26)
7. MONTAGE: 13 tests positive for Huntington’s. Taub hugging his sleeping wife. Kutner eating cereal alone in front of the TV. Foreman having a drink with Cameron and Chase. Wilson watching House, House wakes up, sees him, but Wilson leaves without saying anything. Wilson at home, finds note from Amber saying she’s gone to pick up House. House alone in ICU with Cuddy sleeping in a chair beside him. C Plot (2:06)

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Sons of Anarchy: Series Deconstruction Filed under: Break Downs, Craft, Sons of Anarchy, Specs — petertypingfaster @ 9:51 am Got a treat for you today. Tommy Gushue, one of the current CFC Prime Time residents, has given me the go ahead to post his deconstruction of Sons of Anarchy. Tommy’s a smart cat, and his breakdown is a great example of what all writers should be doing before launching into their latest spec (for another example check out my earlier breakdown of House). […]

    Pingback by Sons of Anarchy: Series Deconstruction « Typing Faster — November 24, 2009 @ 9:51 am


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