- Thirteen: "Remy Hadley. I also answer to “Thirteen”. I sometimes sleep with you."
- Foreman: "I know I should have called. I just need some time."
- Thirteen: "Alone?"
- — Simple Explanation
Simple Explanation is a 5th season episode of House which first aired on April 6, 2009. Charlotte, an older woman who has spent the last six months taking care of her dying husband Eddie, is rushed to Princeton Plainsboro after collapsing from respiratory failure. The couple becomes a double mystery for the team when Eddie begins to improve as Charlotte’s condition worsens. The previously unthinkable becomes a dilemma when Eddie‘s prognosis suddenly changes and it seems that Charlotte will die before Eddie, and the team will be forced to face a seemingly impossible ethical dilemma. In the middle of all of this, Kutner is found dead in his apartment from an apparent suicide. The team each grieve in their own way, but Taub seems surprisingly blasé about the event, and House is convinced it must have been murder.
In promotional commercials for the episode, Fox promised it would contain a major event that was "beyond words". The episode remains one of the most controversial, and yet popular, to date. The key event of Kutner's suicide was a reaction by the producers and writers to deal with Kal Penn's decision to leave the show to take a position at the White House on Barack Obama's staff. The decision to kill off one of the series' most popular characters met with a great deal of resistance from both critics and fans. In the end, the sub-plot about the lack of a "simple explanation" for Kutner's suicide overshadowed the main plot of the episode about a middle-aged married couple whose disorders seem to mirror each other - when one gets worse, the other gets better. The main plot draws on such classics as The Gift of the Magi, with both patients being willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. Even when the plot reveals the one of the couple has betrayed the other, their love for each other still lasts until the end.
Despite the outrage about Kutner's death, the event galvanized the series and sets the stage for House's later deterioration and the return of another dead cast member that finally pushes House to confront his Vicodin use at the end of the season. However, it also marks another decision by the series producers to stop killing off major characters. In the space of just over one season, Amber Volakis, John House and Kutner all die in quick succession. However, despite the departure of Jennifer Morrison from the series, the decision of Olivia Wilde to take time off to shoot Cowboys & Aliens to enhance her already red-hot career, and Robert Sean Leonard's decision to work on Broadway, the producers and writers have since made a conscious effort to write around the departure of actors rather than write them off altogether.
A nurse tends to Eddie Novack as he lies dying in his bedroom, surrounded by his friends and wife. Eddie sends everyone out of the room except his wife Charlotte. Through strained breath, Eddie apologizes to his wife for not taking her to Rio before he passes. Suddenly, Charlotte can't breathe and starts choking from acute respiratory failure. Eddie calls for the nurse to help.
Taub and Foreman present Charlotte's case to House, but he's already decided that the patient's obesity is the problem. He asks about the whereabouts of the missing teammates. Taub says Thirteen is with Charlotte and Kutner is late because of his sick dog. Foreman turns the conversation back to the patient, who has been tending to her husband with heart failure for the last six months. Thirteen enters with the news that Charlotte wants to be released so that she can be with her husband who she claims has gotten stronger since she stopped breathing.
Taub wheels Eddie into Charlotte's room, hoping that his presence will help heal her. Taub starts treatment with acyclovir. Meanwhile, in the clinic, House stares at Rosabel, a six-year old beauty queen in full makeup who is woozy. Her mother Katherine is urging House to make a diagnosis quickly because they have a pageant to get to. House quickly sees that Rosabel is drunk as he can smell mouthwash on her breath, and hand her his coffee so she can sober up. The girl says that her mother drinks mouthwash too instead of spitting it out.
Charlotte's breathing returns to normal. She can be discharged, but Eddie is getting worse again. However, House is more concerned with why Kutner still hasn't shown up to work, and accuses Taub of covering up for his friend.
Suddenly, Charlotte starts to suffer extreme chest pain. Taub rushes in to find Eddie stable and standing, so he listens to Charlotte's chest. She has tachycardia. There is no fluid in her lungs and Taub has no idea why she is reacting this way.
Foreman and Thirteen go to Kutner's apartment to look for him. When he doesn’t answer, Thirteen shows Foreman she has a key to Kutner’s apartment. They open the door and look around the room, but no signs of Kutner appears. Foreman then checks his laptop and realizes that his pager is still there, meaning that Kutner should've been around. Thirteen continues to look around, and then her smile turns into a combination of fright and disbelief as she finds Kutner lying in a pool of blood. A gun is by his side. She mutters 'Oh God' and rushes to him with Foreman following. They try to revive him and Foreman calls for an ambulance. However, Kutner's body is cold and they realize it is pointless to continue.
The team assembles silently in House's office. House finally asks if Kutner said anything about family problems, bad relationships or financial pressures. Foreman notes that Kutner's parents had been shot right in front of him as a boy. This was long ago, and House says that shooting yourself is an act of panic, not something you would do if you wanted a peaceful death. He suggests that the rest of the team are idiots for not seeing something coming. Foreman agrees that they should have seen something, but Thirteen is angry at being held accountable, and reminds them that twenty-five percent of suicidal people show no outward signs of depression. Taub calls Kutner an idiot and says he feels pity, not guilt. He'd rather they deal with the patients, but Foreman thinks they should pass the case on for the time being. House re-focuses them on the case. As they start to list possible causes for Charlotte's illness, Cuddy enters the office to announce that she has hired a grief counselor and that they can all take time off. She realizes none of them will take either offer. House says that polyserositis fits Charlotte's case and orders the team to start her on indomethacin.
Cuddy is surprised that Wilson hasn't come to talk to House yet. House says he had no inkling of what was happening to Kutner. She apologizes for his loss, but when House says it's not his loss, she replies "Then I'm sorry you don't think it is." However, House agrees to join Thirteen and Foreman to visit Kutner's adoptive parents.
As Taub gives Charlotte the anti-inflammatory, Eddie awkwardly tries to make his wife imagine being in Rio. She says she refuses to go without him. Taub tells Eddie he wants to run a test on him.
House, Thirteen, and Foreman visit Kutner's adoptive parents, Julia and Richard. They show photos of Kutner as a child and recall when he came to live with them after going through a tragedy at such a young age. They start telling stories about him when he was young and how much he liked his colleagues. House starts saying that Kutner had no idea what his identity was supposed to be. He was immersed in an Anglo world when he was born Lawrence Choudhary. Julia explains that they tried to encourage him to retain his heritage and that it was his idea to take their last name. Yet House presses on, accusing the parents of shutting out their son's pain and not understanding him. He thinks that Kutner buried his pain and it eventually drove him to suicide. Julia begins to tear up and Richard's anger rises. Foreman tells House to leave, which jars House from his rant. He tells the parents he's sorry about Kutner's death.
House returns to the hospital, and Taub meets him at the elevator to brief him on Charlotte's progress. He also ran a hormone test on Eddie, who is objectively improving. Taub theorizes that perhaps the couple's love changed their body chemistry. House isn't interested, and questions why Taub hasn't asked if he learned something from the Kutners that might have saved him. "Sometimes you just don't want help," Taub says. House busts Taub that he got help after his suicide attempt or else would have tried again and succeeded. Taub steers the conversation back onto the patient. They are both stumped that nothing fits any diagnosis. House thinks that can lead to only one conclusion.
House goes to the patient room to suggest they induce a heart attack in Charlotte because her heart is too strong while Eddie's is too weak. This scares the pair, so House then accuses Charlotte of faking everything since her initial symptoms in order to cause Eddie to hang on to life. She admits that House is right and that she has been faking since her initial attack because she loved being so close to him recently. Suddenly, Charlotte cries out that her leg hurts. House is annoyed, but then sees her one leg is much thinner than the other, something that even Eddie realizes can't be faked. Pressing the leg causes a deep indentation.
The team discusses what disease would cause shredding of her epiglottis and make the leg muscle disappear. Foreman is still furious with how House treated the Kutners, but House still can't figure out what caused Kutner to commit suicide. He admits it wasn’t the culture clash as, if that had been the problem, Kutner just would have started by changing his name back. House has called all of Kutner's friends, and they had nothing to offer either. Taub again tries to force them back onto the patient, but House goes to leave, telling them to test Charlotte for Multiple Sclerosis and allows Taub to run an echocardiogram on Eddie's heart.
House goes to Cuddy with Kutner's personnel file that he stole from her office. He wants to know why she hired Kutner when he was charged with indecent exposure. Cuddy answers that Kutner only streaked at a Penn-Dartmouth game, which is what House would have expected of him. When House is frustrated that this wouldn't lead to an answer, Cuddy tries to comfort him and says he should be upset because Kutner was so similar to him. House replies that living in misery is at least marginally better than dying in misery.
Thirteen performs an MRI on Charlotte, who admits that although she love Eddie and believed he loved her, he never really showed affection or spent time with her during their 30 year marriage. Suddenly Charlotte crashes and is rushed into surgery. Meanwhile, Taub runs the echo on Eddie, who thinks that his cancer might be in spontaneous remission and confesses that he wished he had more time to spend with his wife and make up for the past. Taub is sceptical that Eddie really means what he said about his wife. Taub sees that Eddie's heart chamber walls are barely moving. This is not a good sign.
Cuddy comes to Wilson and asks him to be House's friend. He lambastes Cuddy for wanting him to be the one to take care of House when he has issues to deal with himself. Then she says that House told Kutner's parents that the suicide was their fault. This leaves Wilson speechless.
Chase operates on Charlotte's ruptured spleen, which means it wasn't MS. Taub waits impatiently for the organ so that he can biopsy it for rheumatoid arthritis. Chase says he can do it and that Taub should go home and mourn for his friend. "Kutner wanted to die," Taub says, refusing to leave because he knows Charlotte wouldn’t want him to. Chase notices that the liver is scarred, so it's not rheumatoid arthritis, but the surface is rough and bumpy. Whatever Charlotte has is spreading.
Wilson goes to Kutner's apartment, where House is alone. "Good to see you," House says before explaining that he's looking for whatever Kutner was hiding. They look at Kutner's collectables and House comments that Kutner had passions. House sees a picture of Kutner's birth parents next to his adoptive parents and knows that Kutner would have been open about his pain and wouldn't have hid it. With House still searching for what he might have missed, Wilson realizes that House doesn't care about Kutner—he cares about solving the mystery. House surmises that he didn't miss anything because Kutner was murdered. Wilson becomes disgusted with House and with himself for giving in and going there. He leaves House alone.
The next morning, the team goes over Charlotte's case. Foreman is missing, taking Cuddy's offer of time off. They eliminate hepatitis because Charlotte's thyroid is normal. Taub reluctantly admits that Eddie's heart is still failing and he was wrong about their health being connected. House turns the whiteboard around so the others can see. Instead of listing possible diagnoses for Charlotte, he's written potential motives for Kutner's murder. Thirteen is appalled and refuses to indulge him. House thinks she's mad because Foreman called his boss about taking time off before calling his own girlfriend. Even Taub admonishes House for embracing the irrational. Frustrated with having no allies, House orders them to run the patient's AAT proteins to look for an alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency.
As Taub draws her blood, Charlotte asks to donate her heart to Eddie even though donor banks have turned him down. Taub tells her it isn’t over for her yet, but she reminds him it is over for Eddie. Meanwhile, Thirteen goes to see Foreman at his apartment, and he says he needs time alone. He's always worked through issues by himself. She's hurt, but leaves.
Cuddy comes to House's office because he is logged onto Kutner's e-mail account. House theorizes that the man who killed Kutner's birth parents is coming up for parole and may have enlisted someone to get rid of Kutner because Kutner always testified against him at the parole hearings. Exasperated, Cuddy reminds House that Kutner's fingerprints were on a gun he owned and there was powder residue on his temple. House still believes the murderer would try to make it look like suicide. He also lets her know that he is aware she is checking up on the patient's case because she thinks it's the only thing holding him together and she promises another patient when he's finished.
Taub and Thirteen rush to treat Charlotte, who broke into a cart to inject herself with whatever she could grab. Thirteen figured she was trying to make herself worse again so that Eddie might start to improve, but Taub tells a stunned Thirteen that Charlotte was trying to kill herself.
Later, as a restrained Charlotte is kept stable, Taub reports to House that the patient's liver is now more damaged because of the injection she took, but she tested negative for AAT deficiency. She needs a new liver within twenty-four hours and a partial lobe transplant won‘t work - she needs a whole new liver. Her symptoms point to myelofibrosis, but the test takes forty-eight hours and the transplant committee won‘t giver her a liver without a confirmed diagnosis. House fills out the form with the diagnosis of myelofibrosis to lie to the transplant committee. Thirteen points out that House has tried lying before and it has never worked. House’s cell phone rings, but Thirteen takes the phone from him, refusing to let his fixation on Kutner interfere with treating their critical patient. Taub suggests that Kutner would have said they should come clean with Cuddy. Suddenly, House has an idea, and leaves the office.
House goes to Cameron in the emergency room. "I need an incurable romantic to talk to an incurable romantic," he says before Cameron interrupts him by insisting that Kutner wasn't murdered. She knows he wants this answer to let himself off the hook. House needs her to convince Eddie to donate part of his liver to his wife, but they both know he will die on the operating table so they can take his whole liver instead.
Cameron speaks with Eddie and explains that they can't tell Charlotte what they are planning. He only has a couple of days to live with his weak heart, but at least his liver will help his wife survive. Eddie accepts his fate and signs the consent form. Cameron watches his fingers closely as he signs.
Cameron tells House that they cannot perform the transplant because she noticed that Eddie's fingers have nodules. She thinks his doctors misdiagnosed him and what he has is curable. House refuses to listen to her even though this result would allow him to prove other doctors idiotic. He reluctantly tells Cameron that the guy who killed Kutner's birth parents died two months ago and can‘t be behind a murder for hire plot. Cameron knows this mattered to House, and says that no one got a chance to save Kutner. She convinces him he should try to save Eddie instead.
Later that night, House lets Eddie know that he figured out that his heart failure was caused by a fungal infection called cardiac blastomycosis, which is treatable. The other doctors, except for Cameron, mistook the nodules for cancerous growths on his heart. He got better earlier because his emotional state helped temporarily raise his prolactin. However, Eddie doesn't want the treatment. He'd rather give up his liver to allow his wife to live even though it's not certain she will survive the transplant. Eddie is adamant and threatens to get "hit by a car" so that his body will show up in the morgue to allow her to have the organ.
House sits, resigned, in his office as Thirteen questions why they should commit the equivalent of murder. She won't do it, but Taub says he will. "We've already had one pointless death," he sighs.
However, instead of going through with the plan to let Eddie die. Taub wheels Eddie's bed into Charlotte's ICU room. Taub tells Charlotte that Eddie has a curable disease but wants to die in order to give her his liver. Eddie is furious, and Charlotte is overcome with emotion. Eddie pleads with her to let him do this to make up for things. Yet Charlotte shakes and becomes unresponsive.
Taub briefs House that Charlotte's body has become infected all over. Her white blood cells are elevated and she has a fever. Thirteen interjects that infection is a new clue. They run through possibilities, but House remembers Charlotte was a neglected housewife who always wanted to go to Rio. He rushes to the ICU room, followed by Taub, and asks Charlotte about her trip to Rio. She went to Rio instead of visiting her sister in Hawaii like she told Eddie. They have disease-bearing sand flies on the beaches in Brazil, which means she has visceral leishmaniasis. Charlotte admits to Eddie that she got tired of waiting for him and went to Rio with another man.
House tells Taub to start her on antimony and have Cuddy find Charlotte a liver donor. He adds that the couple was ready to die for guilt, not love. Taub says that you cannot feel that much guilt without love.
They find a liver the next day, but Taub lets Cuddy know that Charlotte's treatment isn't taking and that they diagnosed it too late to do any good. She offers him a ride to Kutner's funeral, but Taub would rather stay with his patient. Cuddy tries to be sympathetic that Charlotte bought them some time to save Eddie, which will give her death meaning, but Taub bluntly says it won't.
As House stares at the white board of murder motives, Wilson comes to see him. He knows House is in pain not because he can't solve the puzzle, but because he is terrified of losing his gift. House never saw Kutner's suicide coming even though he sees everything coming.
A pundit presides over the Hindu funeral for Kutner. Thirteen, Cuddy, Wilson, Chase and Cameron stand together. Thirteen sees Foreman standing alone in another aisle, lost in his private thoughts. They are among the pallbearers who carry the casket to the crematorium. Foreman comes up to Thirteen and takes her hand. She looks to him, but his face watches the smoke rising into the sky.
In the hospital, Eddie kisses the jaundiced hand of Charlotte. She reacts to this kindness before flat lining. Taub retreats to a hallway bench alone. He sits down and starts crying uncontrollably.
House returns to Kutner's apartment, still searching for answers among the personal items strewn about. House goes through photographs. They all show a smiling, happy Kutner through the years. One photo catches his eye. It's a candid shot of Kutner looking away from the camera. While neither happy nor sad, it's different from the others. House sits on the bed, staring at the photograph. He's still uncertain and without answers.
Major Events Edit
- The whole hospital is left shellshocked when it is revealed that Kutner has committed suicide.
- Kutner's funeral is held and everyone says their goodbyes.
- House begins searching for answers as to why Kutner died.
Zebra Factor 5/10 Edit
Visceral leishmaniasis is very common where it is endemic, and it kills over half a million people every year. Anyone with a history of travel to where it is endemic is at risk as it is passed by insect bites. However, it is not endemic to the north-eastern United States.
Trivia & Cultural References Edit
- Meat Loaf's character name, Eddie, is the same as the name of his character in The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Rio De Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, and the third largest in South America.
- Kutner’s address is 410 Willis, Apartment 5C.
- Although Kutner is primarily shown in photographs throughout the episode, it is Kal Penn playing the dead body of Kutner in the scene shot in the apartment even though his face is never shown.
- Fantasy Football is a virtual game where players act as general managers of a team of real players and score points for their accomplishments.
- Kutner's Colonial Warrior Blaster is from the original Battlestar Galactica
- More about Hinduism. Kal Penn is a practicing Hindu.
- The song at the end of the episode is Lose You by Pete Yorn
- The episode ends with a message from www.nami.org (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), and a phone number (1-800-273-TALK) to call if someone is in crisis and thinking about suicide.
- The line used by House and later thrown back at him by Cameron - "Did you deduce that by taking off your sunglasses to the strains of a Who song?" - is a reference to a common plot device seen on the CBS series CSI: Miami in which the character Horatio Caine (portrayed by David Caruso) deduces something about a crime and removes or puts on his sunglasses as the main title theme Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who begins.
- This is one of only a few episodes where Remy Hadley refers to herself by her full name.
- The entire episode is shot in a darker lighting than any previous episode, possibly to reflect the harrowing impact that Kutner's death has on the hospital staff.
- Thirteen: She claims he got stronger as soon as she stopped breathing.
- Taub: The mind can heal the body. Seeing his wife in distress might actually have slowed down his death.
- House: Or he just had an adrenaline surge when he saw his chance to hit the singles' market.
- Dr. Foreman: His parents were shot right in front of him.
- House: Parents are ancient history.
- Dr. Foreman: Not to someone who actually cares.
- Dr. Cuddy: I'm sorry. I've hired a grief counselor, whom I'm sure none of you will see. And I'm offering time off, which I'm sure none of you will take, but just know it's available.
- Dr. Cuddy: I'm sorry for your loss.
- House: Thanks, but it isn't my loss.
- Dr. Cuddy: Then I'm sorry you don't think it is.
- Dr. Wilson: For the record, I'm uncomfortable violating a dead colleague's dignity.
- House: It's only violating it if you find something.
- Dr. Wilson: Are you okay? It's okay not to be okay...
- House: You run the echo on the husband?
- Taub: Heart's still failing. Improvement was only temporary.
- House: I prefer the less subtle answer. "You were right, House."
- Thirteen: How many times have you lied to the transplant committee?
- House: Just twice.
- Thirteen: How many times has it worked?
- House: I... don't quite see how that's relevant.
- House: They were ready do die... but for guilt, not love.
- Taub: You can't feel that much guilt without love.
- Dr. Allison Cameron: I'm giving you a shot at a cool result. Better yet, a chance to prove other doctors idiotic.
- House: Except you're wrong.
- Dr. Allison Cameron: Did you figure that out by taking off your sunglasses to the strains of a Who song?
- Dr. Eric Foreman: Maybe we should pass this file on to another doctor.
- Dr. Gregory House: The next one too? The one after that? How many files till it's okay that Kutner's dead?
- Dr. Eric Foreman: Taub went to run the treatment. We'd... like to go see Kutner's parents.
- Dr. Gregory House: I'll join you.
- Dr. Gregory House: It's hard to still be Lawrence Choudhary when everyone sees him as Lawrence Kutner.
- Dr. Gregory House: Did you let me hire a pervert?
- Dr. Lisa Cuddy: Well it would be hypocritical of me not to.
- Dr. Gregory House: Kutner's police background check from when he started. He was charged with indecent exposure.
- Dr. Lisa Cuddy: Kutner streaked at the Penn-Dartmouth football game. Precisely the kind of thing you'd expect him to do. It's okay. You should be upset. He thought like you, pushed boundaries like you. He...
- Dr. Gregory House: Not like me. He would have known that living in misery sucks marginally less than dying in it.
- Dr. Lisa Cuddy: He needs a friend.
- Dr. James Wilson: I can't deal with this and House.
- Dr. Lisa Cuddy: You need a friend too.
- Dr. James Wilson: You couldn't give a crap what I need! You just want someone to take care of him.
- Dr. Lisa Cuddy: ...He told Kutner's parents it was their fault.
- Dr. Chris Taub: Kutner wanted to die, Charlotte doesn't. So in a contest for my concern and interest, she wins.
- Dr. Robert Chase: Okay. Then you're a cold-hearted bastard, [...] too miserable to face it. Go home and cry.
- Eddie: You want me to die on the table?
- Dr. Allison Cameron: We don't want you to, your wife needs you to.
- Dr. James Wilson: You worked with him everyday for two years, and you never saw this coming.
- Dr. Gregory House: No one saw it coming.
- Dr. James Wilson: But you see everything coming. This has never been about what you missed. This is about why you missed it. You're terrified that you're losing your gift - losing who you are. And I'm terrified of what you'd do then.
- Thirteen: Oh God! [Runs to Kutner. She and Foreman both run to Kutner's room. Thirteen starts working on Kutner. Foreman picks up the phone]
- Dr. Gregory House: That little minty scent hiding beneath the rose petal perfume and the cherry blossom moisturizer, and the morning dew hairspray. You sneak into mommy's bathroom, gulp some of her mouthwash?
- Rosabel: Gotta be perfect.
- Dr. Gregory House: You spit it out?
- Rosabel: Mommy doesn't.
- Dr. Gregory House: I can fix it, but it's going to cost you $3.75. I'm not just going to give you my coffee. [Offers the coffee to Rosabel] Think of it as Costa Rican sober juice
- Katherine: She's drunk?
- Dr. Eric Foreman: I need an ambulance at 410 Willis, Apartment 5C. 28 year-old male, single gunshot wound to the right temple.
- Thirteen: No pulse!
- Dr. Eric Foreman: Alert Princeton Plainsboro, have a trauma unit ready! [Foreman puts the phone down and looks at Kutner] His pupils dilated. His head's swollen.
- Thirteen: Still no pulse! Come on, Kutner!
- Dr. Eric Foreman: Let me try. [Foreman takes over CPR. Thirteen moves to the side]
- Thirteen: He's cold... Eric!
End Credits MessageEdit
Male Announcer: The world's deadliest bio weapon has been released. A new 24 is next.
- Episode article at Wikipedia
- Episode summary at TV.com
- Episode page at IMDB
- Episode page at HouseMD Guide
- Episode page at TV Rage
- Episode page at TV Guide.com
- A review of the medicine at Polite Dissent
- Episode review at TV Squad.com
- Episode review at Fanpop
- Houseisms from the episode at Fox's official site
- Cracked picks Kutner's death as the worst death written for a great character
- Acyclovir should not have affected Charlotte's condition, as it attacks viruses, not parasites.
- Diseases of the mitochondria can affect a patient's vision. House should not have ruled this out as a diagnosis for this reason.
- Similarly, thyroid function can still be normal in a patient with autoimmune hepatitis.
- Given the progression of Eddie's blastomycosis, he probably needed something stronger than itraconazole, which is for milder cases.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is easier to diagnose with blood tests than a biopsy of the spleen.
- Testing for myelofibrosis would have taken far less than 48 hours.
| Previous episode:|
| Next episode:|
|April 2011||May 2011||June 2011|
|Eric Foreman||Simple Explanation||Season 7|
This article was the featured article for May, 2011. It was the first article for an episode to be featured.