The long anticipated and much hyped season premiere of "House
" has come and gone, and it left behind a slightly dissatisfied air. While there are parts of this two-hour episode that are beautiful, poignant, and chock full of unexpected character development, it also has unnecessary segments and a lack of trust in the audience.
David Shore and company do this every year; they set up a giant cliffhanger ending and then wrap it up quickly as soon as the next season starts. Is it so much to ask for lasting impressions? This time next year, will the show even remember that House was once in an insane asylum? They've certainly forgotten he got the use back of his leg for a short time. More on this later, for now, let's get into the premiere, which was super long so this recap will be as well.
House is in the psychiatric institute voluntarily, and he's not exactly enjoying his real detoxing. This is no hallucination with fake Cuddy that lasts only one night; this is the real long, exhausting, disgusting process. Once it is over and the vicodin is purged from his system, House wants to check out and get back to his life, but the head of the institute doesn't think that is happening. Dr. Nolan thinks House has problems to work out that are more than just drug addiction, and he refuses to recommend House's medical license to be reinstated unless he stays longer. House characteristically doesn't like being forced to do anything, so he plans to turn the ward into a real madhouse until the doctors give him what he wants.
Sweet blonde doctor Dr. Beasley is too much like Cameron to be pleasant to watch, and she tries to get House to work along with the patients. Instead, he purposely messes with the patients using all their insecurities and problems against them. When that doesn't work, he tries to turn them against the doctors, and then after that failure he tries to get his roommate Alvie to break into Dr. Nolan's office. House thinks the doctor is having an affair and wants to use it as leverage. When he calls Wilson for help, for once Wilson calmly refuses to enable and tells House no. YES! That is one of the highlights of this episode, and hopefully the start of Wilson showing some real backbone. House has never taken the pills in the ward to prove he doesn't need medication, but Dr. Nolan says they were placebos lately. They knew he was lying, and he ain't going anywhere.
House starts to get close to a german visitor named Lydia who plays the piano for her sister-in-law who refuses to speak or engage with anyone else. In an attempt to prove he knows better than the doctors, House 'borrows' her car and takes one of the other patients - who thinks he is a superhero named Freedom Master- to a park. He lets him feel like he's actually flying, but this backfires badly when Freedom Master jumps off the parking garage and gets seriously injured. House starts to weaken and admits to Dr. Nolan he might need actual help.
Dr. Nolan and House start intense therapy discussing House's desire for happiness and his problem trusting people. Nolan takes him to a party to just try to connect to strangers, and he connects instead to Lydia who is there only because she's the pretty plot device of this episode. She kisses House. Freedom Master keeps saying he wants to save Lydia's catatonic friend, and House tries to help him now that the kid is basically catatonic himself by finding a music box. Nothing happens, and it disgruntles him. He pushes Lydia away, afraid one of them will get hurt.
Nolan asks House for a consultation for his dying father, and House sympathetically stays despite himself to give comfort. He then comforts Lydia and gets a little something something out of it, although it's ambiguous as to whether they have sex or not. Most people seem to agree they did, but the filming of that moment is slow motion and not very blatant. Let's start the complaint right here. House has attachment issues and it's not that surprising he would connect to a pretty woman who will take his bull. But what kind of married woman with children would get attracted to a psychiatric patient she's only met a handful of times? She let him take her car! With another psychiatric patient! It is hard to like her as a character when she seems so unstable and unbelievable. Plus, how are patients given so much privacy that they can basically have sex in an empty room? Really? A patient could hang themselves in that amount of time. I call BS.
The residents have a talent show and House ends up joining when his annoying roommate gets scared on stage. He raps. Hilariously. House apologies to Freedom Master, who gives the cataonic woman the music box, and she thanks him. This seems to magically fix all of her problems and she plays the cello for everyone. It's good to know all it took was a music box to cure years of heavy psychosis. She's released, although Nolan tells House that it's just because the family is moving. He wigs out and goes to confront Lydia, finding out she is a mother and can't break up her family. This hurts House enough to turn to Nolan, and Nolan in turn gives him his pass to get out of crazy town.
Seriously. Okay. First the good things about this episode: the acting on all parts is superb, the editing and camera work are artsy and well executed, and the institute is a rather interesting setting. Some people fear that House will change too much and stop being the doctor we hate/love, but keep in mind that none of these things ever last too long on the show. They'll be back to the status quo in just a few weeks, and all this development will be but a thing of the past. That's the main problem. If this experience with House was stretched out over several episodes, perhaps in time with the ducklings coming in to ask for his medical advice or the cast visiting, it could really be an interesting story line. It could've given House the time to develop his relationship with the patients, the doctors, his own psychosis, and Lydia.
As it is, two hours to make us think he's done a 180 turn and fixed everyone ... ugh. It feels too Lifetime movie of the week, and the truth is Shore and co. just don't trust the audience to stay with them past the premiere if they try anything different. House falls in love and connects with the patients within one episode, and we're supposed to think it is just that easy? Maybe, but it feels like they rushed a good idea just to get back to the safe, proven procedural. The question is why bother at all to have an intricate and difficult story line if you don't plan to follow through on it? There are a few weeks ahead while House jokes about the crazy house and tries to get his team back, but it's unfulfilling because so was his stay. There was so much they could've done with this idea, but they played it safe. Is that what House would do?
"House" is on FOX Monday nights at 8 PM EST.
What did you think of the "House" season premiere? Let us know in the comments!
Image © Fox Broadcasting
House cast: Hugh Laurie
/ Lisa Edelstein
/ Omar Epps
/ Robert Sean Leonard
/ Jennifer Morrison
/ Jesse Spencer
/ Peter Jacobson
/ Anne Dudek
/ Olivia Wilde
/ Edi Gathegi
Story by Chelsea Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer
Follow Chelsea on twitter at http://twitter.com/mustbethursday