It was a unique and fresh start for season six of House as Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) admits himself into Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. After the hallucinations and traumatic deaths from season five, House realizes that he needs a clean slate and to detox from Vicodin. Throughout all of the seasons, House’s addiction has been part of his persona. He pops pills like tic tacs.
He has tried to detox so many times and each time he becomes more addicted, which raises a question about how the situation will develop in this season.
In the two-hour season premiere, “Broken,” House struggles with exactly that. The episode opens up with House going through an intensive detox. The director uses different fast-paced lighting and camera angles to show quick flashes of House going through physical and emotional pain.
This is over before the opening credits and new theme song finishes (which is hopefully for just this episode). Now that detox is over, House can get back to being his old witty, drug-free self, and back to solving those unsolvable cases five minutes before the episode ends.
This episode style breaks from the conventional episodes where House just solves a medical problem. “Broken” starts out like the medical comedy that fans know and love, with House passing sarcastic remarks both for entertainment and as a defense mechanism, but quickly turns into an emotional rollercoaster. Not only is the style different, but there is a new set and new characters to go along with House’s new problem: getting his medical license renewed.
The characters, partly from being psychiatric patients, are dynamic and vivid even though they are short-lived in the series. Dr. Darryl Nolan (Andre Braugher), the head doctor, shapes up to be a formidable opponent who actually may be smarter than House.
Even House’s roommate Alvie (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a manic depressant, provides for much comic relief and even some musical/rapping entertainment. The whole episode is sprinkled with characters who obviously have problems and interesting histories, but because they are mainly there to help shine the spotlight on Laurie, their little quirks are used as comic relief.
It’s great that we have all these new characters, but where is the old cast? This is a season premiere, not a spin-off of House. Only James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) manages to have some screen time, which amounts to 10 seconds (five of those is House on a payphone). Hopefully, the writers just wanted to make House totally isolated from everyone from the previous season so they could give him a fresh start.
And he did start fresh. House went through a dramatic transformation. He managed to become human again (he even has another emotion besides being miserable). The episode has an intense romantic relationship between House and one of the patient’s sister-in-laws, Lydia (Franka Poitente).
Although it’s nice to see House in a relationship where he actually opens himself up and becomes vulnerable, what happened to Cuddy? The writer’s have been playing cat and mouse with the House and Cuddy relationship and most viewers are craving for something to finally spark. It will be interesting to see whether the subject of their relationship is brought up again soon.
Overall, the season premiere definitely lives up to the House reputation of being captivating while thinking of new possibilities for the season. This episode was jam-packed with so many new changes with House that it is hard to grasp everything and even image how the “new” House will be.