Season 5 Episode 17

The Social Contract

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 09, 2009 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
508 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

House and the team take on the case of Nick, a book editor who loses his inhibitions. The team realizes Nick has frontal lobe disinhibition, which causes him to speak his mind having no control over what he says and making him just like House. Meanwhile, House suspects Wilson and Taub are keeping something from him.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • The team treat a patient who always speaks his mind... ring any bells?

    The POW is a guy called Nick Greenwald, who is initially admitted due to collapse and frontal lobe disinhibition, which means that he can't stop himself from saying things we would normally keep to ourselves. He comments on things like Taub's nose size, how he would like to see Cuddy and 13 naked and how Kutner's bedside manner is overly excited and enthusiastic. We find out that House just paged Cuddy to see the patient so that he would describe her sexually; as Cuddy puts it, House's way of telling her she looks good today. What House doesn't see is the smile on Cuddy's face that tells us she liked the compliment, even if it was a weird way of doing it.

    Far more interesting, though was the sub-plot with Wilson. He initially tells House that he can't come to see a monster truck rally because he's playing racket ball with Taub, and didn't want to rub it in House's face that he can't play because of his leg. House then sets Taub up by asking him to bounce a ball off the wall whilst giving him the test results, and Taub doesn't know the difference between a squash racket and one for racket ball. Ergo, Wilson was lying about the racket ball game.

    By reading Wilson's emails, and extrapolating from one received from a psych doctor at NY Mercy, House figures out that Wilson's schizophrenic younger brother was found sleeping out by the police and taken to the hospital. Wilson was going to visit him, so he couldn't go to the monster truck rally. House goes with him to visit Danny, but is on the phone to the team when Wilson goes in. Later, Wilson tells House that he's going to see Danny again, and he'd like House to meet him.

    All in all, a good episode with some funny dialogue, but I was disappointed that they never followed up the storyline with Wilson's brother. That could have been very interesting.moreless
  • Another good episode

    In this episode of House, the following happens. We open with a book author getting a book published and right then the publisher starts acting strange. Then his nose starts bleeding and he collapses. And so House and the team start investigating what could be wrong with the patient. When the team get to the patient he is still speaking the truth. Wilson is acting strange and so house makes it his personal mission to learn why. House soon learns, that Wilson's brother has been found and that Wilson wants to go and see him in order to help him. SO House goes with him.

    Soon the team learn that the publisher actually has a disease which caused him to grow a tumour. Once they start him on treatment, he is back to his old self.moreless
  • Back to its best.

    This has to be one of the best episodes so far this Season. The patient is perhaps one of the most interesting this Season, as we see almost a mixture of House and Wilson- a man who has sarcastic thoughts but has trained social niceities to refrain himself from saying them. The impact it had on his family was quite remarkable.

    It was also interesting seeing the route of Wilson's shine to neediness- its about time the writers gave us more depth into House and Wilson! They are by far the most dynamic pairing of the whole show.

    Kutner's line about the patient being like Harry Potter also had me in creases- it was a very witty episode, full of classic one liners.

    Overall, House is back on a roll, and this superb episode proves that the show is still capable of living up to its own very high standards.moreless
  • House at its finest.

    The. Best. House. Episode. Hands. Down. A cured patient going home to his family should be a happy ending; instead, it was unbearably painful because you can see the lies and hypocrisy that mankind calls Etiquette guiding their every word and smile and motion, and why? Because we have to. For no reason. The social contract is painful, disgusting, totally arbitrary, and this episode reveals its ugliness and the misery it causes all of us (while forcing us to hide it!) perfectly. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we force conversation to be meaningless and positive, never saying what we really mean and knowing full well that no one else is telling us what they really mean, for the sake of avoiding making others uncomfortable? The subjects that *are* uncomfortable for us *wouldn't* be uncomfortable without the social contract!

    Perhaps the reason I love House so much (the show and the character) is his hatred of the social contract. He's paid the price for living without it. The only way we can live without it and be happy and have relationships would be if no one expected the "collaborative lies" and etiquette. House wouldn't wish being him on anyone. hating the social contract doesn't make him heartless... which he shows us via his concern for Wilson in this episode more than any I've seen. And never again will the question be asked of why Wilson puts up with House. There have been random typical philosophizings about it throughout the series, but here is the solid answer at last. It also answers why someone like Wilson who we've seen can be as mean and manipulative just like House acts so nice- he's a slave to the social contract. The fact that he's such a good one just makes him a better manipulator. And Hugh Laurie thinks he's such a hero. House's and Wilson's behavior and what this episode revealed, brought to the open, and put the clues we've had about their history, personalities, and motives together makes this the quintessential House episode, encompassing everything trademark and attractive about the series that will instantly tell anyone who sees it before ever seeing House before exactly what the show is like (at its best, when it's not insulting religionus

    I don't have to repeat how perfect the House-Wilson interaction was in this episode. Hey, their friendship lacks the social contract, and we love their friendship so much... maybe that says how much better relationships are without it? Subtle!

    Which reminds me, the obnoxiously unsubtle imagery with the mirror when House is talking to Chase was unnecessary. Okay, the one imperfection of the episode. It made me laugh and whoop and sigh and emote out loud enough to probably convince my roommate that I'm crazy. I want to watch it over and over and over again! That's what a great story should do to you.

    Finally, House having to manipulate and humiliate Cuddy in order to compliment her because he can't just tell her "You look hot today, baby" was priceless and classic. Best case, best issue, best House-Wilson bonding, best Huddy moment... best episode.moreless
  • Good

    House and the team take on the case of Nick, a book editor who loses his inhibitions. The team realizes Nick has frontal lobe disinhibition, which causes him to speak his mind having no control over what he says and making him just like House. Meanwhile, House suspects Wilson and Taub are keeping something from him. I thoht this was a great episode and it was also funny too. It actually is one of my favorite episodes that have aired in the season that we are in.

    Overall for this episode of House: I'll give it a 9.5/10 and a grade of Amoreless
Susan Egan

Susan Egan

Audrey Greenwald

Guest Star

Darcy Rose Byrnes

Darcy Rose Byrnes

Marika Greenwald

Guest Star

Devon Michaels

Devon Michaels

Timothy Moore

Guest Star

Kal Penn

Kal Penn

Dr. Lawrence Kutner

Recurring Role

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde


Recurring Role

Bobbin Bergstrom

Bobbin Bergstrom


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (12)

    • House: So you made your one effort to live a normal, selfish life, and the universe immediately smacked you down. And because we're wired to find meaning in semi-random events, you decided never to be that careless again.
      Dr. Wilson: You don't think that's... a little facile?
      House: Actually, I don't. I think you did it consciously. You've developed your people-pleasing talents like an Olympic athlete develops his muscles. Talk about an overreaction to a single event.

    • House: You chose to be uncomfortable. Now, why would someone choose that? Because... they hate themselves?
      Dr. Wilson: Has it ever occurred to you that when I don't share something, it might not be meant as a challenge? It might just mean that I'd like there to be one molecule of my life that goes unexamined by Gregory House.

    • House: The MRI show anything?
      Dr. Foreman: Nothing.
      House: Good. What fun would that be?

    • Nick: I'll pretend to be macho while a guy stuffs three feet of plastic up my nose. (to Taub) It's too bad it's not your nose. Lots more room to maneuver.

    • Kutner: And no marriage either if our patient keeps saying everything that comes into his head without regard for the consequences.
      Dr. Wilson: (to House) You always led me to believe you were one of a kind.

    • Nick: I don't mean to be abrasive. Especially since you're such a pleasure to imagine naked. Again, sorry.
      Thirteen: It's okay.
      Nick: Thank you for understanding. I'd do you, you know. Really, my apologies. This stuff just...
      Thirteen: It's okay.
      Dr. Cuddy: How's the patient?
      Nick: Whoa. I would do her in a minute with fudge and a cherry on top. Would someone please explain to this woman? There's only so many apologies I can–
      Thirteen: He has frontal lobe disinhibition.
      Nick: I've already embarrassed myself with one doctor. Who, I am at this moment imagining with you, in a king-size bed with a mirror on the ceiling.... I am so, so sorry. (to Cuddy) But if I couldn't have both of you together, you would definitely be my first choice.
      Dr. Cuddy: Where's House?
      Nick: Like trying not to think of an elephant. Not that you're an elephant. Your breasts, in fact, are all Homo sapiens.
      Dr. Foreman: House isn't here.
      Dr. Cuddy: Oh, he wouldn't have paged me if he couldn't watch and enjoy this.

    • Dr. Wilson: I'm not always nice. I'm not nice to you.
      House: Because you know nice bores me. Hence, still nice.

    • House: Why do you think the world will end in chaos and destruction if you're not there to save it.
      Dr. Wilson: Because when my parents put me in the rocket and sent me here, they said, "James, you will grow to manhood under a yellow sun."

    • House: Why did you hide that?
      Dr. Wilson: Because the world revolves around you. I devote time to anyone else, you'd end up stalking me and harassing them.
      House: You say that as though it wouldn't be fun.

    • House: You never take a walk unless you've got something you need to think about.
      Dr. Wilson: Maybe you just don't have a good statistical sampling of my walks.

    • Dr. Wilson: Taub. Another graduate of the House School of Being a Dick.
      House: Private dick.

    • Dr. Wilson: I may have overreacted.
      House: You definitely overreacted.
      Dr. Wilson: I knew you'd meet me halfway.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Australia: March 25, 2009 on Channel Ten
      Latin America: April 2, 2009 on Universal Channel
      Denmark: July 25, 2009 on Kanal 4
      The Netherlands: October 15, 2009 on SBS6
      Germany: October 27, 2009 on RTL
      Poland: October 28, 2009 on TVP2
      Slovakia: November 24, 2009 on STV1
      Czech Republic: March 10, 2010 on TV Nova
      Sweden: March 23, 2010 on TV4

    • Music: The Shining (Badly Drawn Boy)

    • Jennifer Morrison is credited but doesn't appear.


    • Dr. Wilson: Because when my parents put me in the rocket and sent me here they said, "James, you will grow to manhood under a yellow sun."
      Referring to the comic book superhero Superman, whose parents--Jor-El and Lara-- sent him to Earth (which has a yellow sun) in a rocketship.

  • 10:00 pm