While viewers and Dr. House were treated to the return of Thirteen last week on “The Dig”, Princeton-Plainsboro co-workers welcomed her back to the team this week on “The Last Temptation.” Respecting her privacy, but still providing adequate shock value, Dr. House told the group that she spent the last year in drug rehab. The team begins to evaluate a 16-year old patient who collapsed preparing for a sail around the world on what may – or may not be – Dr. Martha Masters’ (Amber Tamblyn) last day.
Dr. Masters wakes verbally preparing for her surgical internship, but is reminded by her roommate that she needs to turn in a completed procedure log to move forward. Of course, with all of the running around she does for Dr. House, she is missing one procedure – a lumbar puncture. While searching for a case, she inadvertently learns that Dr. House has opened a position for an intern.
The internship comes with a stipulation – Masters must lie and say that she performed all ten lumbar punctures, a test of her loyalty to the team. Thirteen, who needs the procedure anyway to monitor her Huntington’s disease, offers her an alternative. Perform the procedure on her without documentation, which satisfies Masters need to be truthful, but keeps a secret from Dr. House. It doesn’t work; House finds out anyway.
While deciding if she is mentally able to work for Dr. House – and therefore compromise her principles – she bonds with the latest diagnostic mystery patient, Kendall Pearson. She recognizes that Kendall is driven by ambition, much like she is. But Masters is pulled off the case as Dr. House decides that she isn’t the “exceptional” person he thought she was.
The next day, she moves into her surgical rotation but while in the OR, realizes that the patient crashing in the room is Kendall. Instead of following her surgeon mentor into a prime opportunity during a lung harvest, she goes into the OR observation room to talk with Kendall’s dad. After ensuring him that the procedure they are doing on his daughter is routine, Masters goes back to the lung harvest procedure, but in true House fashion, she recalls something that may help Kendall’s case. She tells her second lie to exit from the surgery, which later impresses Dr. House and he welcomes her back to the internship.
In the end, the final diagnosis for Kendall is not good. She has cancer in her arm, requiring its amputation and thus ending her goal to sail around the world. Kendall does not accept the situation and refuses to consent to surgery. Her parents respect her wishes, knowing that the move could ultimately end their daughter’s life.
Masters then takes the ultimate plunge into deception. She creates a situation that forces the parents to consent to the amputation, after talking with Dr. Wilson about what had happened to Dr. House’s leg. Although Masters saves the girl’s life (a lymph node in her neck was positive for cancer, indicating its spreading), she is clearly disgusted with herself for stooping to such levels. She tells Dr. House, “”I didn’t do it to be happy. I just thought I would be.”
In the end, Dr. Masters leaves Princeton-Plainsboro with her future uncertain. Love her or hate her, Amber Tamblyn brought something to Dr. House that no one else had – naïve optimism that everyone is ultimately good.
The Last Temptation, Season 7, Episode 19 – aired 4/18/11