Birthmarks (House)

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House episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 4
Directed by David Platt
Written by Doris Egan
David Foster
Original air date October 14, 2008
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Birthmarks" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of House and the ninetieth episode overall. It aired on October 14, 2008.


A 25-year-old Chinese adoptee travels to China to find her birth parents. They reject her, stating they never had a daughter. While praying, she lifts a small Buddha and immediately collapses, vomiting blood. She subsequently is treated at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. The initial diagnosis is that the woman contracted SARS in China.

Meanwhile, House learns his father has died, but refuses to attend the funeral. Cuddy uses the SARS diagnosis as a ruse to “inoculate” House, in reality injecting him with a powerful sedative. House wakes up to find himself in a car with his estranged best friend Wilson, who is taking him to his father's funeral. House tells Wilson he does not want to attend because he has no biological relationship to his father, and explains his theory about his mother having had an affair.

While being driven to the funeral, House works with his team by phone. Their discussions are interrupted when Wilson is pulled over by a policeman for a House-created traffic offense. The stop results in Wilson’s arrest on an old out-of-state warrant, still open because of another House-related error. House and Wilson end up explaining the circumstances under which they met to the arresting officer; House describes Wilson as "the one [person] I thought wasn't boring", thus revealing their first encounter and eventual friendship.

Back at Princeton-Plainsboro, the team is still perplexed by the patient's illness—her blood clots yet she continues to bleed profusely. House arrives at the funeral and delivers an unsuitable yet self-enlightening eulogy. Afterwards, House feigns grief in order to obtain a DNA sample from his father’s corpse. This behavior triggers an angry, impulsive outburst from Wilson, who behaves in similar fashion to his initial encounter with House.

House calls China to learn more about his patient’s trip, and finds out that the birth parents adamantly refused to acknowledge the daughter’s existence. Wilson opines that China’s one-child policy may have caused the parents to try to kill the girl. House eventually resolves the patient’s symptoms by theorizing that the biological parents attempted to kill their infant by pushing needles into her brain. The needles were disturbed by a powerful magnet contained within the Buddha statue, affecting her brain functions and causing her first collapse. Kutner, who has formed an emotional attachment with the patient, explains to her adoptive parents that her alcoholism was caused by a needle which had embedded itself in the portion of her brain that controls addictive behavior.

As the day ends, Wilson tells House that he is returning to Princeton-Plainsboro, and House tells Wilson that the DNA test has proved his theory that John was not his biological father. Yet House is strangely upset by this revelation. Wilson says that no one gets to choose their parents, and adds that no one gets to choose who their friends are. He looks at House meaningfully and admits that their trip was the most fun he had since Amber died. As they leave together, House says “My Dad's dead," and Wilson offers his sympathies, thus rekindling their damaged friendship.


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