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House vs. God

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House vs. God
April 25, 2006
Episode Number
2.19 Rating
Zebra Factor

The faith healer's take on Scripture and life:

"And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa was diseased in his feet, until the disease was exceedingly great. Yet, he didn’t seek help from the Lord, but from the physicians. Now there is nothing wrong with seeing a doctor, but can a doctor heal through the power that Jesus gave his disciples? Men of science can walk through life with blindfolds never knowing that you or I could not take a single step if we were not uplifted by God. Agnes, thank you for letting me be an instrument of God’s love for you. In faith, all things are possible"
―House vs. God

House vs. God is a 2nd season episode of House which first aired on April 25, 2006.


A 15-year-old faith healer collapses in pain during a service and tells his father that he needs a doctor.

At the hospital, House and Wilson trade jibes with each other while Wilson asks for his DVD player back. Wilson reminds House that he hasn't invited him to his weekly poker game yet.

Foreman is examining the patient while Cameron draws blood for tests. The patient claims that God told him about Cameron and how kind she was. They notice that his urine is extremely diluted.

Chase is assuring House that the patient’s belief that god is talking to him means that he is religious, not psychotic. They report to House that the patient's sodium is low. House believes that the patient's insights are merely the result of careful observation. He thinks the low sodium may be the result of Addison's disease, but they have already ruled that out. House orders that saline be administered and goes to speak to the patient.

House challenges the patient's beliefs and faith healing abilities. The patient assures him that he does believe in doctors and medicine. House asks him about drugs and the patient denies taking anything stronger than an aspirin. However, House notices the patient is drinking large quantities of water.

Wilson is dealing with one of his terminal cancer patients, who is refusing further treatment for her pain. She has always wanted to go to Florence, but is in no condition to do so. Wilson assures her that there is a correct pain medication combination for her, they just have to find it. At that moment, House interrupts. He wants to talk about Boyd. However, it is obvious to Wilson that House has already figured out the patient's water drinking has led to his low sodium levels and the resulting cramps. House only wanted to talk about the futility of the patient's faith.

The patient awakes and starts wandering the halls in a delirium. Chase finds him and realizes that he is disoriented. Chase tries to lead the patient back to his room. They run into Wilson's cancer patient and the patient lays his hands on her.

The team starts discussing what is causing the patient's delirium. Chase is sure that it was the result of a seizure. House orders an MRI. Wilson comes in furious because his cancer patient is saying she is feeling better and he is afraid her expectations are rising.

Chase asks the patient how long he has been healing people. The patient asks Chase why he does things he doesn't want to do. Foreman is still afraid that Cameron is mad at him about the article he scooped her on. He wants to talk about the afterlife, but Cameron won't do it with a person who has identified himself as a co-worker and not a friend.

The patient comes into House's office and sees that someone is keeping score on the whiteboard - God 2, House 1. House tells the patient that his faith healing is merely the result of a rush of endorphins in the people at the services. The patient says that House only wants to be alone, and House brushes it off as an obvious conclusion. However, the patient then tells House that God wants him to invite Wilson to the poker game. However, when House confronts Wilson, he denies ever speaking to the patient except when he found him with his patient.

The patient's MRI shows tuberous sclerosis, which would explain the symptoms. House marks up a score for himself on the whiteboard (God 2, House 2). They plan surgery for the patient.

Wilson talks to his cancer patient about miracles and how rare they actually are. The patient tells Wilson about how her illness doesn't let her plan for the future. He warns her about the perils of belief and asks to scan her liver again.

The team explains tuberous sclerosis to the patient and his father - there are benign tumors growing in the patient's brain. The patient doesn't want the surgery because he figures the tumors are what allow him to talk to God. House gets Wilson to talk to the patient, but House and the patient keep fighting about faith. Wilson addresses the risk of death with the patient and the father. Wilson points out that it may not be god's plan, it may just be an illness. The patient agrees to surgery. House invites Wilson to the poker game.

House is at home relaxing when Wilson shows up a day early. He brings images of his cancer patient, which show that her tumor has shrunk. House tells him not to tell his faith healer patient.

House wants to review the cancer patient's medical records. He finds his patient and the cancer patient talking. The patient has once again cancelled the surgery for his tumors. He tells Chase to get Foreman to lie to the patient that he still needs treatment to balance his sodium. The team can't find anything that would result in the cancer patient's remission or a mistake in the diagnostic tests.

House and Wilson play poker with House's friends, who House typically doesn't address by name, but by what they do, Dry Cleaner, Tax Accountant and Guy from the bus stop. Chase calls House from the cancer patient's home where he’s doing an environmental scan - he has found men's clothing. House realizes that Wilson has been having an affair with the cancer patient - she's the one that told House's patient that Wilson wanted an invitation to the poker game.

The patient's father comes to the team to tell them his son wants to be discharged.

House and Wilson discuss Wilson's ethical lapse. Wilson rationalizes what happened. Wilson moved in with her after he left House's apartment and lied to House about it. House challenges Wilson about his need for needy people, which also explains his three failed marriages. He reminds him about his license being in jeopardy, but Wilson thinks that House is only mad because he didn't figure it out before.

The patient has a fever which can't be explained by the tuberous sclerosis. House figures that they just happened upon the tuberous sclerosis by chance, and that his original symptoms might have been caused by something else. House figures it is an infection and orders a lumbar puncture, but the patient and father refuse it. The father wants to leave the matter in god's hands.

House goes to Wilson for help. Wilson thinks it still might be the tuberous sclerosis. However, House realizes that the patient passed on a virus to the cancer patient, most likely herpes which is causing herpes encephalitis, which can often attack cancer cells and would explain the faith healer’s symptoms. It also means the cancer patient will get worse again.

The patient is still refusing tests, but House only wants to look for sores on his body. The father agrees with Wilson that looking for sores isn't a medical test, and that the patient's water drinking was a futile attempt to purify himself. The son has the sores, indicating he has had sexual contact and therefore has (most likely) contracted Herpes Simplex Virus Type II, but confirming the diagnosis and treatment.

The patient comes in to apologize to House for misleading him. The patient admits he would like to have House's certainty. House realizes that Chase was the one keeping score, and Chase agrees to a 3-3 tie. Chase refuses to knock off a point for the virus attacking the cancer because of the unlikelihood of the event. Wilson points out that it is possible to believe in something yet not live up to it. The cancer patient realizes she is still going to die, but has made plans to go Florence.

Zebra Factor 6/10Edit

Tuberous sclerosis is fairly rare, but herpes (HSV-II) transmitted through sexual contact is very common. HSV-II infection leading to herpes encephalitis however, is rare, affecting 1 in 500,000 individuals a year, only about 10% of which are caused by the Type II virus (the majority being caused by the Type I herpes virus which also causes cold sores outbreaks). Only 2.5% of people who contract herpesviral encephalitis regain full normal brain function upon recovery as the character in this episode apparently did.

Major Events Edit

  • House figures out that Wilson is sleeping with Grace, his current cancer patient and that he is also living with her.
  • It is soon shown that Chase is the one who put the House vs. God scoreboard up in the first place.
  • Wilson’s “McGill” sweatshirt is seen for the first time.

Trivia & Cultural References Edit

The title of this episode refers to the ongoing contest between House and God, particularly the patient’s claim that God has greater healing powers than physicians.

  • More about Faith healing
  • Boyd’s parable at the beginning of the episode is about Asa of Judah. The story about his foot disease is in the Book of Chronicles and the Book of Jeremiah.
  • The movie House and Wilson are talking about where Lindsay Lohan wins a math contest is Mean Girls
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain is a traditional African-American spiritual dating back to at least 1865.
  • Lourdes is a reference to The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, a religious site that receives about five million Catholic pilgrims each year that supposedly has miraculous healing powers.
  • House complains to Wilson about Boyd's "watching, listening, and deducing," to which Wilson quips, "And you're worried about trademark infringement?" This is a reference to the fact that the series is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
  • House and his poker buddies were playing Five-card stud.
  • House tells his patient that he is 'On a mission from God' which is a reference to the 1980 film The Blues Brothers.
  • McGill is McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, a large research university and one of the oldest universities in Canada. It is believed Wilson studied there either as an undergraduate or went to its medical school.
  • During the patient's delirium episode (where he awakes and starts wandering the halls) his gown looks similar to the clothing that Jesus would wear.
  • God’s scores were for
    • The virus attacking the cancer patient’s tumor
    • Figuring out the dispute between Foreman and Cameron (very clear given their body language)
    • Telling House he should invite Wilson to poker night (apparently told to him by Grace)
  • House’s scores were for
    • Figuring out that Boyd’s sodium levels were low because of the water he was drinking
    • Determining the other symptoms were because of tuberous sclerosis
    • Figuring out the underlying problem was herpes encephalitis



Previous episode:
Sleeping Dogs Lie

House vs. God
Next episode:
Euphoria (Part 1)

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