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TV: House (S06E01)

Wikipedia Fact: "

Wikipedia fact: "Distributed to 66 countries, House was the most watched television program in the world in 2008."

(image Source: Photobucket (chanitacr))

Year of Broadcast: 2009 (UK 13 days behind US)

Starring: Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dr. Beasley, Derek Richardson, Andrew Leeds and Andre Braugher.

*Spoilers Follow*

Summary: House decides that he’s cured, so when his doctor refuses to release him he sets out to cause enough trouble that they’ll discharge him just so that he’s gone.

Thoughts: By the end of season five House was in pretty bad shape.  After weeks of hallucinating dead acquaintances and working with them to help solve cases, he hallucinated an entire night of rehab and passion with Cuddy.  Once he became aware that it hadn’t been real he was finally able to acknowledge how much trouble he was in and checked himself into rehab.  House’s addiction to painkillers has been a significant aspect of the show from the start, and the season five finale was pretty much the culmination of that, the point at which he was finally no longer able to function.

The first episode of season six began with a quick montage of House going through his rehabilitation, having a rough time of it as his body adjusted to the absence of his pills.  Before long though he’s ‘dry’, no longer hallucinating and his leg is at tolerable pain levels, the point at which he deems himself cured and fit to leave.  Had he left at this point and gone back to work it would have been a pretty unsatisfying resolution to the events of season five, but that’s not what happens.

Though he is indeed free to leave he is stopped by his doctor, Darryl Nolan (played by Andre Braugher), who won’t sign the forms needed to allow House to return to work.  In his opinion House’s problems run deeper than his addiction, pointing out that he only started to hallucinate after enduring the deaths of several people close to him, and tells House that he wants to commit him to a long-term facility to work through his problems before he’ll even consider letting him practice medicine again.

House, of course, disagrees, and tells Nolan in no uncertain terms that while he’ll enter the facility, he’ll make things so unbearable there for the staff and patients that they’ll discharge him just to be rid of him.  House (and by extension, Hugh Laurie) is on fine form as he enacts his ‘scorched earth’ policy, coming up with a casual torture perfectly tailored to the mental problems of each patient, such as crowding the claustrophobic or scaring the paranoid schizophrenic, mostly aided by his roommate, Alvie.  As each plan fails he continues to escalate, going after the staff, faking drug tests, trying to obtain help from outside, but nothing works.

In the end he’s undone by his own efforts.  After spending so much time making the staff into the enemy, he disagrees strongly with the way one of the doctors treats another patient, Steve – who thinks he’s a superhero, with hints that this was triggered when he suffered a terrible loss at the hands of “evil men”- and takes matters into his own hands.  Of course, House isn’t a psychiatrist and he gets things spectacularly wrong (despite having the best of intentions), which finally hammers home that he needs help, with his admission of that being the final line of the episode.  It’s a good mix of the dark and the funny, a balance which the series generally manages well.

So then, here we had an episode with no case (not even an imaginary one, which I believe is a first for the series) and no regular cast members except House and one scene with Wilson (and again, for some cast members I think this may be their first time being wholly absent), and… it worked well.  The medical mysteries and House’s attempts to solve them are a key part of the series but it’s the actual character of House that has gained the series so many fans, so deviating like this is possible with harming the series (even if it wouldn’t be sustainable full-time).  As a multi-episode arc it’s a chance to see House in a new environment and with much less confidence and control over the situation, which will hopefully let us viewers see a side of him we never really have before.  I also suspect that House is going to end up curing the silent woman on his ward, possibly with the seemingly delusional advice given to him by Steve.  He may be at his lowest point, but he’s still House.

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