A teenager, Ben, is performing as birthday party clown Wacky Benny for a young girl named Emma. Her parents and the audience aren’t impressed, but the parents figure that Ben deserves a chance. One of the young boys finally has enough and punches Ben in the groin. Ben shoves him and gets into a brief fight with the boy’s father, but then collapses, paralyzed.
House and his team go over Ben’s case but House is more interested in signs that Taub was in a fight. When they start betting on whether it had to do with Taub’s ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, he finally tells them that Rachel’s boyfriend Phil has been relocated to Portland and wants to take Rachel and Taub’s daughter Sophia with him. After that, things got a little... heated. Trying to focus on the case, Taub suggests that the groin punch caused the stroke, but House points out that the symptoms don’t match. The team ends up discussing whether Taub would be a suitable parent. Park believes he wouldn’t be but Chase figures that he deserves a chance. House points out that they both have screwed up parents and asks Adams about her parents. She says that her parents were fine but House doesn’t believe it. Taub finally proposes endocarditis and House orders the team to test for it.
Chase and Taub perform the test on Ben and meet with his parents, mother Janey and stepfather Ron. Janey worries that Ben might have had a stroke due to stress, but Ben insists that he wants to be a circus clown, just like his dead father. His mother tells him that he should aim higher and that he never even know his father.
At the clinic, House meets with Monroe, a patient who insists that he has Type 2 diabetes. House doesn’t believe it and refuses to give him insulin since it would prove fatal to a non-diabetic. Monroe insists that House do a new blood test and House walks out, telling the staff to ignore Monroe. In the hallway, House runs into Wilson, who has tickets for the Rubio boxing match in Atlantic City. He wants to make sure that House is okay with staying behind while he goes to the match. House isn’t, and suggests that Wilson should stay and keep him company. When Wilson refuses to cave, House asks for the other ticket and assures his friend that he’ll find a way to deal with his ankle monitor.
Back in differential, Chase and Taub report that Ben doesn’t have endocarditis. He does, however, have a thickened pericardium, which wouldn’t account for the stroke. When Taub talks about how Ben is following in his father’s footsteps as a circus clown, House points out that Taub is just saying that because of his own case as a biological father. Adams suggest Sjogren’s and House tells them to treat with IV immunosupressants. As Taub gives Ben the treatment, Ben says that Ron has set him up with an internship at his law office. Ben talks glowingly of his biological father, saying that as a clown he made Ben happy and that Ben wants to do the same for other children. When blood pours from Ben’s nose and mouth, Taub realizes that it’s not Sjogren’s.
When Taub reports to House, he discovers House holding his other daughter, Sophie. House explains that Ruby dropped her off after Taub forgot that it was his night to take care of their daughter. Park notes that Taub doesn’t seem to be able to handle parenthood and should consider Phil’s offer, while House figures Taub is so vain that he won’t admit that he doesn’t matter to either daughter. Taub would rather focus on the case, and House suggests aplastic anemia. That means that Ben needs a bone marrow transplant and House tells the team, minus Adams, to start looking for genetic matches. He then reveals that he’s checked Adams’ history and learned that she had five incompletes in her junior year. House is eager to prove that means that her parents screwed her up, but Adams says that she isn’t messed up, therefore her parents didn’t mess her up.
After dropping Sophie off at the maternity ward, Taub joins the others. They all consider Taub an unfit father at this point, much to his disgust. While the team starts checking the marrow registry, Taub tells Ben and Janey what’s going on. Janey explains that her absent ex-husband was an only child and his parents are dead, so he can’t help. When Ron asks if Ben will miss much time at the law office, Ben speaks up and says that he plans to only get a GED and then train as a clown. Janey is shocked but Ben insists that he wants to find a connection to his father. He then complains about back pains and the sensors go off, indicating that his blood pressure is dropping.
Foreman summons House to his office for a meeting, but is in the middle of a videoconference when House arrives. His boss tells him wait, but House makes himself annoying until Foreman ends the videoconference. He then tells House that a rheumatology conference in Atlantic City has lost their speaker and want House to fill in. Foreman says that he wants House there and will clear it with his parole officer, and asks what else he can offer House to do it given his dislike of conference speaking. However, it soon becomes clear that Foreman has figured out that House impersonated the original speaker, cancelled his arrangement, and referred himself to the conference. Foreman tells House that he won’t be going and orders him back to the clinic.
At the clinic, House meets with Monroe, who now has a urine test that he wants House to test for diabetes. The patient insists that diabetes runs in the family and that he’s concerned that he’s next. Chase and Taub arrive and report that Ben is having an allergic reaction to the donor platelets. House tastes the urine sample, much to their shock and horror, and then wonders why Janey didn’t take Ben to a dermatologist for a checkup after Ben’s father died of a melanoma. House tells Chase and Taub to use cross-matched platelets and then find out what Janey is hiding about her first husband. Much to their relief, House reveals that Monroe substituted apple juice for urine to fake a spiked blood sugar count.
Janey finally reveals that her first husband didn’t die, and is living under the name Mitchell Gordon. Ron is shocked that she kept that information from both his and Ben, but Janey says that Mitchell was a drunk and a womanizer who breezed in and out of Ben’s life, and that her son didn’t need to know that about the father he idolizes.
House meets Wilson in the cafeteria and takes most of his sandwich. Wilson explains that he has to take someone else because of the ankle monitor, and then analyzes House’s current obsession with bad parenting. He figures that House had a bad parenting experience and so has to prove that everyone else has as well. House tosses the half-eaten sandwich back, blames it on bad parenting, and limps off.
Taub and Park find Mitchell and tell him about Ben’s situation, and that a simple test at a nearby hospital could save his son’s life. When Mitchell learns that Janey wants him to take the test at a different hospital so he won’t meet his son, he says that he doesn’t have a son anymore.
Chase and Adams are running tests and Chase warns her that House won’t stop trying to prove that her parents were bad. He figures that House is right, and admits that bad parenting made him a doctor. Chase’s mother was a drunk and locked him up in his father’s study, and he read the medical books. Adams finally tells Chase that her parents were drug dealers and white slavers… and then grabs his phone, where House is listening in, and turns it off.
Taub tries to convince Janey to convince Mitchell to get the matching test. She reluctantly agrees, but Ben has another attack as liquid leaks into his lungs. However, when they try to clear the fluid they discover that his liver is shutting down, meaning that they were wrong and a bone marrow transplant won’t help.
A desperate House hires an ex-con, Vince, to try and remove his ankle monitor. As Vince works, House discusses the case and says that they have to figure out why Ben’s liver failed. However, House also wants to know why Janey lied about Mitchell. Adams points out that the ankle monitor can’t be removed, and Vince explains that heat sets off the monitor. Taub figures that Ben’s liver can’t synthesize proteins, leading to liquid leakage, and starts defending Mitchell. House figures that it’s another attempt by Taub to justify his own role as a biological father. Taub says that he’s just thinking of their patient and wants to tell Ben that his father is alive, but the others disagree. Chase suggest hyperammonesis, but they can’t diagnosis for that and synthetics. Vince sets off the monitor and makes a hasty exit, and House tells them to convince Janey to sign a consent to give Ben proteins. It will either cause a heart attack or a coma, and either way they’ll know what Ben has. When Park objects, House points out that the alternative is certain death.
Foreman and two police officers get the alarm and set off to find House. They track him to the physical therapy room, where he’s soaking his feet in the hot tub. House claims that he “accidentally” forgot that he had the monitor on.
Taub details the risks to Janey and warns that they can’t diagnose the problem otherwise. He then suggests that Janey tells Ben the truth about Mitchell. She takes offense at Taub interfering and tells him that Mitchell isn’t Ben’s father in any meaningful way.
Monroe’s wife Sandy visits House in his office and asks for a fake prescription. She plans to inject it into her husband, let him believe he’s getting better, and then reveal it’s a fake so that he knows it’s all in his head. House isn’t interested in prescribing imaginary drugs for imaginary ailments and leaves.
As Chase and Adams treat Ben, Chase tells Adams that he believes that House is right and that somehow her parents screwed her up. He warns her that won’t stop investigating until he finds something, but they’re interrupted when Ben’s left eye starts swelling.
Taub is at home with Sophie when an exhausted Ruby stops by to pick up her daughter. She says that she’s been too tired to concentrate on taking care of Sophie, and that she can’t go back to her job as a nurse because it won’t pay for Sophie’s daycare. Taub offers his guest room for Ruby to sleep in while he watches Sophie for her. She wonders if he has the time and Taub’s pager ring, but he ignores it. Ruby finally agrees and Taub considers Sophie, wondering if being her biological father makes a difference.
The next morning, the team goes over Ben’s new symptom. Chase reports that steroid treatment made the swelling down. House points out that Taub ignores his page, and Taub says that it’s Janey’s decision to make and that he supports her. House figures that Taub has changed his mind because he patched things up with Phil and Rachel, but Taub denies it. However, he insists that Phil will never be Sophia’s father. As they spar back and forth, Park suggests Burkitt’s Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes. House agrees and orders chemo, and then gets an idea about Monroe’s case.
Wilson visits Foreman and asks him to let House go to the boxing match, pointing out that his friend has behaved. Foreman says that it’s his job to be a jerk toward House rather than have him undermine his authority. He then says that it’s Wilson’s job to stay home and be with House, watch the match on TV, and bitch about Foreman. Between the two of them, Foreman figure that they can get House through his parole, and Wilson agrees.
Rachel and Phil visit Taub at the hospital and Phil apologizes for demanding that Rachel and Sophia go with him to Portland. When Taub figures that they’re using reverse psychology, Rachel accuses him of being around House too much. As the couple leave, they tell Taub that they’ve started calling Sophia “Sophie.”
Back at the clinic, House checks Monroe’s ankles and confirms that their swollen. He verifies that Monroe’s heart rate is slow and then explains that the anti-diabetic meals she’s been making for him have bok choy in them, which inhibits thyroid function and have made him sick. House can’t resist pointing out that the food Monroe was eating to avoid diabetes was what was making him sick. Monroe is relieved that he didn’t get diabetes from his father, but House points out that given his excess weight, he’ll probably get diabetes anyway.
Taub and Park prepare Ben for chemo, and Taub tells him that he should be grateful for what Janey and Ron have done for him. Before they cans tart the chemo, Ben’s bodily systems all start to shut down, meaning that he doesn’t have Burkitt’s. After stabilizing the teenager, the team tries to figure out what could cause such complete systemic shutdown. Mitchell arrives and an angry Janey blames Taub, but Ron admits that he called him. Janey refuses to let Mitchell see his son and the man walks away. House notices his stride and realizes that he has late-stage syphilis. He figures that Mitchell sexually molested Ben twelve years ago and gave him syphilis. Although Ben recovered from the active disease, the bacteria would have hidden in his brain. When the kid at the birthday party hit Ben in the groin, it kicked up the dormant bacteria. Their treatments of immunosuppressants and antibiotics drove Ben’s immune system into overdrive, causing severe Jarisch-Herzheimer reaction. Janey admits that she found evidence that Mitchell was molesting Ben. However, Ben blocked out the memory and seemed happy, so she never did anything further. Janey blames herself for failing to protect Ben from the start. Meanwhile, House orders IV penicillin and anti-TNF antibodies to cure Ben.
As House walks away, Adams insists that they need to tell Ben the truth, and that he’ll find out anyway when he wonders how he got syphilis when he’s a virgin. House tells her that he’ll leave it up to Taub since Taub is the only parent among them.
Later, Taub treats Ben and the teenager asks how he got syphilis. Taub hesitates before answering. Later, he goes to see House and admits that he couldn’t bring himself to tell Ben the truth. House figures that Taub went with the brain, not the heart, but it’s decisions based on the brain that are hard. He explains that parents screw up children because they go with the easy decision from the heart.
As House leaves for the night, he finds himself sharing an elevator with Adams. She figures that he’s using disinterest to get her to talk, and says that she ran away from home because her parents were too good. Since all of her friends had bad parents, Adams thought that made them deeper. She ran off to Manhattan and moved in with an older man, but moved back two months later. Since then, Adams excelled in college to make it up for them. House tells her that it’s normal to be screwed up, but it’s not normal to romanticize it. In response, Adams says that why she wanted to work with him.
Taub visits her wife and boyfriend and tells them that he won’t let them move.
Wilson goes to House’s apartment to watch the game but discovers that House is gone. He tunes in the boxing match and is surprised to see... House and Foreman in his seats, using his tickets. Realizing he’s been suckered, Wilson settles down to watch the game.