Cane and Able

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Not to be confused with Cain and Abel.
Disambiguation: Prior to House, "Cane and Able" was the title of a Modern Madcaps short featured in Season 5 Episode 55 of The Harveytoons Show.
"Cane and Able"
House episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 2
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Teleplay by
  • Russel Friend
  • Garrett Lerner
Story by
Featured music "Gravity" by John Mayer
Original air date September 12, 2006 (2006-09-12)
Guest actors
Season 3 episodes
List of House episodes

"Cane and Able" is the second episode of the third season of House and the forty-eighth episode overall. The episode's title is a pun referencing the biblical siblings Cain and Abel as well as House's cane and his reinforced confidence in his ability as a diagnostician.

Plot[edit]

House's ego has taken a blow believing he failed to diagnose his last case, and it's affecting him physically. He is in pain again, although he denies it. House's new case is seven-year-old Clancy, a product of in vitro fertilization, who's been admitted to the hospital with rectal bleeding and proclamations of being tortured by aliens. As the team runs tests on him, they discover the same test is giving conflicting results. House thinks the child is having nightmares with the one symptom of having a bleeding disorder. The tests on the bleeding disorder are first negative and then positive, leading both Chase and Foreman to think that the other made a mistake. The tests keep going back and forth. When Clancy claims to have a tracking device in the back of his neck, Chase discovers an unknown metal object exactly in that spot, and the team is not quite sure what to think. House, however, surmises from his chart the metal in the back of his neck is a surgical pin that had not been completely removed several years prior and had migrated via the circulatory system.

Meanwhile, Cuddy and Wilson decide not to tell House the truth about his previous case, thinking that perhaps he will learn some humility if he believes he is not always right. Cuddy has her doubts, but Wilson argues that House's self-confidence makes him increasingly reckless. Because he could eventually kill a patient by employing some insane treatment, this arguably justifies lying to House. Cameron discovers the lie and is outraged, but Cuddy convinces her to hold off telling House.

When House and the team discover cells with a different type of DNA in Clancy's body, they are forced to give Clancy's alien claims a little more credence. A frustrated House gives up on his young patient, forcing Cuddy to re-think her desire to hold back the truth. When she finally tells House the truth about his last case, he is relieved that his idea was right; that he is still able as a diagnostician; and suddenly realizes what Clancy might have.

House tells the parents that Clancy has chimerism, where there are two sets of DNA in one body. In effect Clancy's twin brother had merged with him in the womb. In order to remove the "dead" cells in his brain, they have to perform brain surgery by inducing electric shocks to the part of the brain which is responsible for hallucinations, causing Clancy's own cells to "light up", while his brother's cells would remain dark, allowing for their identification and removal.

When doctors fail to induce the hallucinations that would be strong enough, House orders higher and higher voltage shocks. His team warns him he would be way over the preset maximum with the next electric shock, and he shows the self-restraint that Wilson was afraid he might not possess. He resorts to simply scaring the boy. The level of hallucinations allows for clear distinction between two sets of cells, allowing the cells belonging to Clancy's brother to be removed.

Later, House goes to Wilson in his office and confronts him about his last case. Wilson claims that if House had known the truth, he would have thought of himself as God, to which House simply replies "God doesn't limp." House soon returns to using his cane.

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