As EMTs tend to an injured Wilson, Cuddy talks to Officer Soltes. He asks if she had any warning that House was going to do what he did, and she admits that he was waiting for something to happen. Cuddy says that she has no idea where House is, but is willing to swear out a restraining order and have him arrested if he returns to the hospital.
Three Days Earlier
House and his team watch a tape of performance artist Afsoun Hamidi, doing a piece where the audience is invited to attack her with weapons and do whatever they want to Afsoun. Foreman stops the tape and Chase and Hadley discuss the merits of performance art, with Hadley insisting that Afsoun is a recognized genius. House had surgery that morning to remove a drain from his earlier surgery. They’re surprised to learn that House has orders from a doctor saying he’s to stay in bed, and that he’s following them. House assures them that he’s making some changes, and fast-forwards to where an audience member pours paint thinner on Afsoun and prepares to set her on fire. Her assistant Luca hesitates and House explains that he was ordered not to intervene. He does but Afsoun collapses with a heart attack. The team goes into differential, but Foreman thinks that Afsoun is crazy. Hadley defends the artist, saying that she had a lousy childhood, but Foreman suspects mental problems and suggest a MRI. Taub points out a space heater in the gallery and House diagnoses carbon monoxide poisoning and tells them to treat her in a hyperbaric chamber. As the go, House texts Cuddy.
Cuddy is in a coffee shop and gets House’s text message. A bank V.P., Jerry Barrett, recognizes her and explains that Cuddy’s sister Julia showed him pictures of Cuddy and tried to set them up. Cuddy quickly leaves when Jerry comes across as creepy. She comes to the ICU to see House, who says that he has a box of her things she left at his apartment. When Cuddy says she doesn’t understand, House say that it’s a symbolic gesture and he wants things to go back to the way that things were before they dated. He tells her that he’s making changes, but Cuddy wants to discuss things. House refuses at first, but Cuddy insists that he owes her and he agrees to talk to her the next day if she brings him lunch. As Cuddy leaves, House gulps down some Vicodin.
As Foreman and Hadley monitor Afsoun, she condemns Luca for interfering. Foreman points out that she read his love letters in a public gallery a year ago, and Luca says that they’re not together any more. When Foreman wonders if she set the burning up, Luca explains that Afsoun never explains her work or its meaning. Afsoun begins vomiting and the quickly get her out. When they ask Luca for an oxygen mask, he freezes again.
Taub checks Ruby at one month into her pregnancy, and she says that they have a lot to figure out. He claims that he’s not having doubts, and gets a page from Rachel. He lies to Ruby and says that it’s from House.
Cuddy confronts Julia and tells her to stop interfering in her love life. Julia figures that Cuddy is still stuck after breaking up with House and wants to get her out of her rut.
Foreman and Hadley report to House, noting that Afsoun was getting worse in the hyperbolic chamber so it’s not carbon monoxide poisoning. House is interested in Luca and asks what he brought to the room for Afsoun. When they say he brought a stuffed elephant, House sends Hadley to investigate and she confirms by cell phone that it’s a nanny-cam. As she tells them what she found, House explains that Luca couldn’t decide what to do because he was ordered not to intervene in Afsoun’s newest piece of performance art.
The team gathers in the ICU and discusses the case. Taub ignores another call from Rachel and Chase notes that they found a cyst on her pancreas and drained it. Foreman and Taub don’t believe that she’s sick, and Foreman figures that he’s doing something to induce her symptoms. House notes that if she could invoke pancreatic and arrhythmia, she’s suicidal but has had plenty of opportunities to kill herself in the past. He suggests Cosackie B but tells them to test for gallstones. House insists on going with them, and figures that Foreman volunteered because he wants to check her for fibrosis of the lungs to prove his paint thinner theory. If Foreman doesn’t find it, he’ll pretend he failed, so house insists he has to go with him.
As House and Foreman run the MRI, the tests for fibrosis comes up negative and Foreman pays House off. Afsoun feels dizzy and shows symptoms of internal bleeding, and House tells them to do a colonoscopy.
Cuddy arrives at the ICU with lunch and discovers that House is gone.
As they run the colonoscopy, Afsoun tells Luca to document it. Foreman angrily yanks the camera out of his hand and continues with the tests, and confirms that there’s no internal bleeding. Foreman has an idea and realizes that his theory may be correct.
Cuddy tracks down House and complains that he’s playing the same aggressive-passive games. He denies it, but Cuddy insists that they finally have it all out and tries to get him to discuss their issues. Foreman arrives and House agrees to meet with her for lunch the next day. Once Cuddy leaves, Foreman explains that Afsoun was injecting herself in the foot with her own red cells to stimulate the heart attack. He’s checked Afsoun’s laptop browser history and learned that she’s been researching House for months.
Officer Soltes asks Wilson where House might have gone, and Wilson reluctantly tells him that House will probably be in a bar that matches how he feels inside: the darkest, most depressing hole in New Jersey.
House confronts Afsoun, who says that he thought he would understand someone who uses their work to deal with pain. She explains that she used the blood doping to attract House’s attention, but she’s really ill. However, she refuses to tell House what she has because then there’ll be no game, and she won’t have any art. When he asks why she chose him, Afsoun refuses to explain herself. She points out that he doesn’t know what symptoms she has, which ones she doesn’t, and which ones she’s lying about. Afsoun asks House if he really wants to end it now, and House admits that he doesn’t.
Back in differential, Foreman figures that Afsoun is playing with them, but House doesn’t care as long as the game is interesting. Afsoun has provided them with a diagnosis and House tells them to confirm by testing her blood. Hadley finally agrees, figuring that House wants a distraction and they’re best of providing him with one.
Foreman and Taub are in the elevator when Rachel calls again and Taub refuses to take the call. Taub admits he hasn’t told Rachel about Ruby and insists that he’s letting her down easy. However, Foreman calls him on it, saying that Taub is in a situation that he can’t cheat his way out of this situation.
As Hadley takes Afsoun’s blood, she complains of stomach and back pains. They realize they can’t trust anything she says, but confirm that her pancreas is releasing corrosive enzymes that are eating away at other nearby organs. Luca asks her to tell them what her other doctors diagnosed, but Afsoun asks him to trust her.
Hadley tells House that the pancreatic cyst that they drained earlier is back, and he asks her if she thinks Afsoun is suicidal. Even if she is, Hadley notes that she doesn’t have a way to give herself pancreatic cysts. House concludes that Afsoun doesn’t care because she knows that what she has is fatal. He shows Hadley the photo of Afsoun shaving her head several months ago for a performance piece. They run another MRI and House explains that Afsoun shaved her hair because it was going to fall out anyway. She did it to hide the fact that she has cancer, and learned about it four months ago when she broke up with Luca. House figures that she decided to do her ultimate performance piece and prove that death could be defeated, or recreate the depersonalization she felt at the hands of her first team of doctors. Afsoun says that if that’s the case, she no longer feels the way because House took the time to learn about her personally. House denies it and says that she just wanted to prove a point and hope she’d get a different answer. He addresses her nanny cam and tells her the title of her piece: “It Doesn’t Mean Anything.”
House returns to his room and finds Wilson waiting for him. Wilson knows that House has been forging his name on prescriptions again, and has given instructions that they get verbal confirmation from him. House figures he’ll eventually break from the additional work, but Wilson refuse to permit it anymore. He points out that House is going through a month’s supply in less than a week, and House admits that he’s trying to numb himself so he can change and not be so self-destructive. Wilson points out that House is angry and miserable, and wants him to actually deal with it rather than medicate the issue away. House says no, and says that he doesn’t feel anything, and he’s great with that. He packs up and goes home to get some more Vicodin.
As he leaves, House sees Afsoun and goes to see why she’s still there. She says that she’s waiting for a nurse to bring her something for eczema brought on by the paint thinner. House realizes that it’s not eczema and it’s not cancer. They confirm that she has Wegener’s Granulomatosis, which accounts for all of her symptoms. It’s treatable, but the most effective treatment is radiation to the brain. Afsoun refuses to damage her brain and cloud her thought processes, ignoring Luca’s protestations. She insists that her life is worth nothing if she can’t do her art, but he insists that it’s crazy. Luca leaves rather than watch her choose to die, and House congratulates her on choosing to die for her principles.
House shows up for the lunch date with Cuddy. She tries to avoid discussing her new dating life, but gives in when House threatens to walk if she doesn’t talk freely. Cuddy admits that she hasn’t dated anyone and turns the conversation to his leg. House insists that he did it to fix off his leg, and then rattles off all the other things that Cuddy and Wilson have accused him of. Finally he admits that it was a bad reason and a bad idea and that’s all that matters, and walks away. Cuddy goes after him and insists that he talk to her. He snaps, grabs her, and tells her that he feels hurt. She apologizes, but House says that it isn’t her fault and walks away.
As Hadley treats Afsoun with steroids, Afsoun asks her if she made the wrong choice. She explains that Luca was there for her for five years, except for when she was first diagnosed. Afsoun broke up with him and went through it all alone, and Hadley suggests Afsoun is doing the piece to have Luca with her this time.
Cuddy meets Jerry at the coffee shop and apologizes for overreacting.
Taub finds Rachel waiting for him at the hospital. He starts to explain about Ruby, but she tells him that she’s pregnant.
Hadley comes to see House, who has his pants down and is checking his leg. She gets the radiation-therapy forms and House realizes that Afsoun changed her mind. He goes to see her and finds Luca there. House orders Luca out and asks why she changed her mind. Afsoun says that there are more important things than her brain, but House insists that everything comes from the brain, including happiness, and she can’t depend on Luca, who will let her down just like everyone else. Afsoun asks why House is saying what he’s saying, and he considers and then walks away. As he goes, he turns and sees Luca and Afsoun embracing.
Wilson tracks House to his home and convinces him to open the door. He suggests that they get a drink, and House picks up Cuddy’s hairbrush from the bathroom and says they can drop it off on the way to the bar. They pull up and House tells Wilson to stay in the car while he goes to the front door. Inside he sees Cuddy, Jerry, Julia, and her husband having dinner together. House turns around and walks back to the car and tells Wilson to get out. When Wilson does, House drives the car down the street, turns it around, and drives it through Cuddy’s front window. Wilson throws himself out of the way, spraining his hand. Cuddy and the others stare in shock, and House gets out of the car, gives Cuddy her hairbrush, and walks away, smiling. As he goes past Wilson, he tells him that he was right for telling him to let out his feelings, and he’s feeling much better.
Later, House is drinking a bright, well-lit bar. He asks the bartender what he should do and the bartender suggests that he go home, but House says it won’t be tonight. He walks out of the bar onto an ocean beach, smiles, and walks across the sand along the water.