Unwritten (House)

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House episode
Episode no. Season 7
Episode 3
Directed by Greg Yaitanes
Written by John C. Kelley
Original air date October 4, 2010
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Unwritten" is the third episode of the seventh season of the American medical drama House. It originally aired on October 4, 2010.


When Alice Tanner (Amy Irving), the author of a popular children's book series, 'Jack Cannon the Boy Detective', inexplicably suffers from a seizure during an attempt to take her own life, the Princeton-Plainsboro team faces the challenges of evaluating both her underlying medical conditions, as well as her unstable psychological state. Because of her suicide attempt, House can hold Alice in the hospital under psychiatric hold for 72 hours, but Alice is uncooperative and the team are against the clock to diagnose her until she is allowed to leave. Meanwhile, House takes Cuddy on a double date with Wilson and his girlfriend, Sam (guest star Cynthia Watros).

When the team gets Alice an MRI, three metal screws are ripped out of her leg by the strong magnetic field. She claims they are from treatment following a skiing accident. House is particularly motivated to cure Alice as he's a fan of her books, and is convinced that the key to unlocking the mysteries of Alice's condition lies in the pages of her most recent novel. He takes the ribbon from Alice's typewriter and calls Sam in. Sam re-programs the MRI slightly to be able to read the marks of the typewriter in the ribbon, and House manages to print out a manuscript of the book.

He suspects that Jack Cannon's mentor Helen Rutherford's symptoms are actually Alice's symptoms that she's been writing about in her book. The symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, light sensitivity, and depression. When they add those to Alice's pericardial effusion, her seizures, and her wetting her bed, they get lupus. House doesn't like this diagnosis as it's not curable and he wants to take her pain away so she'll keep writing, but he orders the test anyway.

Later, he suspects the screw implants were actually from a car accident, and that the seat belt damaged Alice's thyroid glands, causing her symptoms, but she soon is paralyzed. Taub suggests a post traumatic syringomyelia that grew over the years and pressed on her spine, causing all her symptoms. The team can't find her old medical records, so Cuddy suggests that Alice Tanner is only her pen-name.

At this point, House realizes her real name is Helen. The books are about her son who died in an accident at the wheel during heavy rain and she just couldn't let go. Helen refuses treatment until House lies and tells her that her son died from a brain aneurysm that caused the crash. After being cured, she decides to stop writing the book series because that chapter of her life had closed. House demands that she at least must write a new ending for the last book with more resolution than the cliffhanger ending she originally wrote. Helen refuses and House begins to tell her the truth about her son's cause of death, but he sees Cuddy in the doorway and instead merely says 'Your son... was very lucky to have you as his mother.'

In the side story, House is worried that his relationship with Cuddy is doomed to failure because they have no interests besides work in common. Cuddy briefly pretends to share an interest in Alice's books, but House says he knows she is lying. Cuddy then tells House that she doesn't care that they have nothing in common because commonality is boring. She says that she thinks they make each other better people and that is sufficient.


Critical response

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B- rating.[1]


This episode was watched by 10.78 million American viewers.


  1. ^ by Zack Handlen October 4, 2010 http://www.avclub.com/articles/unwritten,45899/ "the various references to the Twilight books, Harry Potter, and Stephen King, were sort of cute"

External links

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