97 Seconds

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"97 Seconds"
House episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 3
Directed byDavid Platt
Written byRussel Friend & Garrett Lerner
Original air dateOctober 9, 2007 (2007-10-09)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"The Right Stuff"
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"Guardian Angels"
House (season 4)
List of episodes

"97 Seconds" is the third episode of the fourth season of House and the seventy-third episode overall.[1] It aired on October 9, 2007. The primary patient in the episode is a man with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) who develops symptoms that could be related to his SMA or something else. However, the episode title refers to a different patient who was clinically dead for 97 seconds after a car accident.



Thomas Stark is a man with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), using an electric wheelchair. While he and his assistance dog were crossing the street he faints (syncope) and is almost hit by an SUV.

House sets his team of ten fellowship candidates to compete in a race to find the diagnosis first. To do this he splits them into two teams: men and women, but Amber Volakis (Anne Dudek) elects to defect to the men's team. When House suggests this is because she thinks the female candidates are inept, she says it's because House has never had more than one woman on his staff so if he's going to fire an entire gender it will be the women's team. Because of her previous behavior trying to get on the team, including getting others fired, House and the other fellowship candidates begin calling her "Cut-throat Bitch." Amber continues to do whatever she feels it takes to get the job, initially starting by attempting to schmooze Dr. Cameron into giving her advice.

Initially, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) treats him for strongyloides with ivermectin but with no favorable changes. The doctors eventually decide that they have cured him, and House holds a "tribal council" and fires some of the doctors, including Amber. Amber then turns to Dr. Chase, and attempts to appeal to his grudge against House for firing him in order to get him to help perform some blood tests that she no longer has privileges to do. However, Stark develops a pulmonary aspiration then kidney failure and pneumonia and eventually dies from asphyxiation because of the pneumonia. House, Thirteen, and Jody discover that his assistance dog has also died. Based on Dr. House's knowledge of the dog's genes (as an English Shepherd, it has a defect in the MDR1 gene), a search of the room reveals that Stark did not take the ivermectin, but the dog did. Autopsy of Stark reveals that he indeed had Strongyloides, confirming Thirteen's diagnosis.

House confronts Thirteen, who failed to watch Stark take the ivermectin, and berates her for her fatal error since she killed Stark with her mistake. He does not fire her because he's positive she will not make a similar mistake again. He does, however, fire the other three members of Thirteen's team: the twins and Jody. This leaves seven candidates remaining.


In the clinic, House encounters a patient wearing a cervical collar who, immediately upon House's entry, sticks a knife into an outlet and attempts to electrocute himself. Later, upon awakening, he implies to have encountered a near-death experience, described as the best 97 seconds of his life, between clinical death as a result of a drunk driver, and his resuscitation. House attempts to discredit his experience by claiming that his oxygen-starved brain induced the visions by releasing endorphins and serotonin, to which the patient mentions his use of many hallucinogenic drugs and insists that the experience was unlike any of them. As a result of the experience, and in direct opposition to House's beliefs, he believes that there is an afterlife, and House is left surprised and intrigued.

When the teams postulate that Stark has cancer, Wilson is brought in for a consultation. Stark's dismissal of an additional few months to live leads House to deride his philosophical beliefs. Wilson confronts House, saying that he doesn't know any better than anyone whether there is an afterlife. House later uses the knife he took from the clinic patient to electrocute himself (after paging Amber seconds before to come and resuscitate him). The experiment sends him into a temporary coma, forcing Wilson to take over the differential and potential candidates. At first, the potential fellows, unfamiliar with the depths of House's eccentricity, think that House has attempted suicide. When House finally wakes up, he finds Wilson waiting for him. Wilson demands to know why House did it, and House reveals he wanted to see for himself what would happen while he was close to death. Wilson reminds him he's had two near death experiences already (references to "Three Stories" and "No Reason"). He tells House that "just looking at you hurts. I'm gonna order up some extra pain meds." House replies, "I love you", and his tone is unexpectedly heartfelt.

Although House does not reveal what he saw to Wilson (only asking for the clinic patient, who Wilson informs him has died). Later, after Stark dies, he tells Stark's body in the morgue, "I'm sorry to say, I told you so," implying that he saw no afterlife, in reference to House's outburst after Stark said he was ready to die.


Foreman is head of a diagnostic department at New York Mercy and leads a team of at least four (including himself), much like House was at Princeton-Plainsboro. He is faced with a patient who has similar symptoms as in "House Training", where his decision to administer radiation to treat cancer proved erroneous, and fatally exacerbated the patient's MRSA infection. Foreman believes this patient has anaplastic large cell lymphoma but his boss tells him to stick to the rules/protocol and treat for infection.

Late at night, Foreman decides to treat with radiation. Tests reveal that this treatment saved her life because she, indeed, had cancer. Since Foreman didn't follow the rules and — according to the hospital's Dean of Medicine — "confused saving her life with doing the right thing", she fires him.

The fellows[edit]

House splits the 10 remaining doctors up into two groups to compete head-to-head to diagnose the patient first.

He splits them up:

  • "if your sex organs dangle...you're the confederates"
  • "if your sex organs are aesthetically pleasing...you're the yanks"

After this initial division he consistently refers to the "confederates" as "the danglers" instead. For example, when Amber wants to change teams, he says it's all right with him if it's all right with the Danglers.

Effectively, he splits the group of 10 into 5 men and 5 women, at least initially. Part way through Amber convinces the Danglers to let her switch teams: making it 6 vs. 4. House announces that this inequity is OK, because one of the Danglers is not a real doctor anyway (this is 26, "ridiculously old fraud", who was revealed in the prior episode as not having a medical license).


# Actor Role
13 Olivia Wilde "Thirteen"
15A Melinda Dahl "A" twin
15B Caitlin Dahl "B" twin
32 Meera Simhan Jody


# Actor Role
9 Kal Penn Lawrence Kutner
18 Edi Gathegi Jeffrey Cole
24 Anne Dudek Amber Volakis aka "Cutthroat Bitch"
26 Carmen Argenziano Henry Dobson
37 Andy Comeau Travis Brennan
39 Peter Jacobson Chris Taub

In the end, House eliminates the "Yanks" team, with the exception of Thirteen, who made the correct diagnosis, and inadvertently caused the death of the patient by failing to supervise his actual ingestion of the medication.


The song playing while House contemplates putting the knife into the electrical socket is "Not as We" by Alanis Morissette.


  1. ^ ""House" 97 Seconds (TV Episode 2007)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 4 December 2018.

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