I liked the episode though I did not think it was great. I had to judge it without comparing to other episodes of the series. Just as with "Broken" which I thought was just fabulous (except for Lydia though in retrospect I suppose I can see why they threw here in there--that whole House making a connection then losing it thing) it has to be judged as a stand-alone.
Hugh Laurie was great (so what else is new?) in this episode, making magic of what is written for his character, then again has there ever been an episode of House where Hugh hasn't been great? He's always been the type of man to put his "all" into everything he does, be it television, movies, music or writing. Great acting do absolute wonders for a mediocre script.
Things I liked:
House's softer side in regards to his cellmate's pet cricket. I love it when big burly killers have tiny little delicate pets they care for in prison! :) By the way, cute that he thanked his cellmate for not killing him.
House's chess-playing partner who saved his ass with words of wisdom a few times. One thing about being on the inside, you need to shut up sometimes and listen to the seasoned inmates, they know what they're talking about.
When House's cellmate stood up for him and beat the crap out of those skinheads.
When he manipulated one inmate to beat up another so he wound getting not only his walkman back but his tuna too! That's the manipulative House we know and love.
When House flushed the Vicodin down the toilet, said "nice knowing you" to his cellmate and headed to protective custody in defiance of the skinheads and then the epiphany moment, which happens in ever episode.
House's dialogue with skinhead Mendelsohn while getting their daily meds. I found myself laughing and having to rewatch that little scene again!
When House went to solitary for breaking the rules and that the look on his face (again it's actions not words that show us how he really feels) when he gets Dr. Adams note that he was right about the diagnosis. For House it was worth days in solitary with correctly diagnose a patient. That is the House we know.
The emotion House showed when anyone made reference to why he was in prison.
That little speech he gave to the POTW about "she's not your girl" and how he looked pained/remorseful/sad when he talked about "your job, your girl" in reference to everything being left behind. This is yet another one of those examples when something related to the patient relates to House a swell. This has always been done well in previous episodes and I thought it was well done here.
This last point reminds me of something. If one thing is consistent throughout the series, it is that House is a man of actions over words (which he has himself stated) so what he does speaks volumes more than what he says. In this episode it's not words, but somber facial expressions that tell us how House feels not just about running his car into Cuddy's house in a fit of rage but also how he feels about having lost the woman he loved, who kept him anchored and in line for so many years. These are two people who had a long and complicated history going back to their college days some 25 years ago. He is not about to get over this easily. At least he shouldn't if the right people are writing the scripts. Shore needs to be reminded of that.
Things I did not like:
The backtracking at the beginning related to the incident at Cuddy's house. In my opinion, Shore would have been better off actually leaving that out of it completely and addressing in another episode. Obvioulsy there to appease the masses. It did not work.
A detail about Adams at the beginning that bugged me. She was willing to risk her job to save the patient because she knows and believes in his "gift" for reading people. But at the beginning of the episode, he's been in eight months, has five days to go till parole and it was only at that time she found out House used to be a doctor. Why would she risk her job and potentially a patient's life for something she only just found out? She apparently knew nothing about him prior to this moment. I guess this is one of those implied things by TPTB where we are supposed to assume something behind the scenes. I know this seems trivial but it's details people, details.
My thoughts on the Team:
Foreman's going to bore me to pieces as Dean of Medicine. I used to love Foreman, he was serious when he needed to be, an ass when necessary and funny sometimes. I don't know when it happened but I became bored with him and it's possible that happened when he hooked up with Thirteen back in Season 5.
Chase changed too, he's not funny anymore, he's not appealing. I loved him with Cameron, they were good together. But even when she wasn't around, Chase was funny and his sense of morality was a bit warped at times. I loved the ep where he was praying with the nun who was dying and the ep where he killed the African dictator Dibala played by James Earl Jones in S6. I love that Chase, miss him too.
Odette Annable as Dr. Adams doesn't impress me so far. She seems bland. If anything House will use her as someone he can manipulate to do his dirty work for him since, according to Foreman, the slightest slip will get him thrown back in prison. Adams doesn't need this job, she's a trust fund baby so she'll be easy to manipulate. Also, I believe her being hired by TPTB serves one purpose: eye candy for the 18-49 male audience. With Thirteen gone, there's nobody left for them to salivate over.
Charlene Yi--I don't know much about her character except she's really smart. Translation = boring. She's probably there to balance out the team and cater to those still pining over losing the brilliant Martha Masters.
Oh yeah I forgot someone--does anyone honestly give a crap about Taub? I mean seriously? It's Taub!
My thoughts on the future:
Frankly I believe it is foolish of Shore to think he can bring us back to the roots of the show. Well he might think he can but we're not buying it. Shore can't just magically forget years of history on screen between House and Cuddy whose complicated relationship stems not just from their meeting college but also from the fact they are both so very flawed, damaged and lonely people. He can't just have House and Wilson suddenly become buddies again and move on laughing, pranking and carrying on as if nothing happened. Shore already implanted the backstory in the viewers heads, he did that seven years ago and he can't take it back. He cannot treat it as if it ever happened by pretending it never existed. Wasn't there a line in late S7 about "you can't go back" - maybe Shore needs to hire a better continuity person to keep track of what's said and done in previous episodes because that certainly applies here.
Unfortunately House cannot be redeemed without Cuddy. It can't happen. A person who seeks forgiveness (and my bets are that House wants forgiveness from the one person he loves most though he will never say it--he will show it) cannot receive it without the person they wronged being a part of the process. No matter what TPTB do, we are still left with a gaping hole where Cuddy used to be and where House and Cuddy's relationship as friends/colleagues/lovers used to be. House cannot be redeemed, gain forgiveness, nor can he even have anything remotely resembling closure to the past in an attempt to try and have some sort of life without Cuddy being a part of that in some way, shape or form. I'm not speaking just as a fan of the dynamics of the two since Season 1, I'm speaking as someone who has loved this show, the characters and the stories since day one. Again--It. Cannot. Happen. So we can only hope by some miracle (which is almost what it would take) Lisa Edelstein will come back to this show at some point to either save Cuddy and House or possibly vice versa, House saves both of them. I'm not talking purely in a physical sense necessarily but an emotional one as well. Nobody got them like they got each other. Nobody will ever really know how House or Cuddy feel deep down inside over what happened between them.
To be honest, we were all better off before TPTB got them together as a couple. Yeah they danced around each other for twenty-something years but the dynamic we had before between these old friends/colleagues: the snarky world renowned diagnostician and the tough-as-nails Dean of Medicine was just pure awesome. We can thank good writing but even more so great acting, chemistry and friendship between Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein who made it look so easy.
What I miss:
I could fill volumes with what I already miss about this show. My favorite three have always been House-Wilson-Cuddy either separately or together. All brilliantly played even when the scripts suffered. Cuddy will be missed in more ways than one. Both Cuddy and Wilson were important to House's life. Without one of them he just won't be balanced. Wilson is House's conscience as well as his enabler while Cuddy kept House in line and was the only person who could keep him in check and he liked that (it was kind of an exchange for him challenging her to be her best which he did). Wilson could never provide that for House. So it seems he will be unbalanced. Now the dynamic trio is down to a dynamic duo. I don't know how much Bob will be active this season given his Broadway show has closed maybe he'll be around more but can he and Hugh carry an entire show? And should they have to? I just don't see that it is possible, nor is it right to expect it. It will be very strange watching House walk through the halls of PPTH with no Cuddy to be his foil, his protector, the one who kept him sane and in line. I don't think it can work without her. Not just because of her alone but because of what she was in his life and even in Wilson's life. Without her it will seem like something is missing, and rightly so, something is missing.
I miss my old House series, the original characters, the pranks, the laughter and the incredibly riveting POTW stories that managed to tie into some area of House's life, making his humanity show just a wee bit. I remember times I felt so much emotion for what House was going through, I miss that. (Paternity, Autopsy, One Day One Room were just a few of the many eps that really made me FEEL for him).
What's coming next week:
Next week in episode 8x02 "Transplant" House is brought back to the hospital by new (as if we didn't already know) Dean of Medicine Foreman (seriously? Foreman?) for help in solving a difficult case and an opportunity to get his old job back in Diagnostics. He's wearing an ankle bracelet, told by Foreman if he gets out of line he's going back to prison, his office is the size of a janitor's closet (yes he eventually gets his old office back), he's got a new team and Wilson will have nothing to do with him. By the way, I think that's when the big gaping hole left by Cuddy will really hit us because won't it be strange to see House roaming the halls of PPTH with no Cuddy there?
More great reviews of "Twenty Vicodin" at:
Lisa Palmer at TVFanatic.com
Anthony Ocasio at Screen Rant
Mindy Peterman at The Morton Report
Adam Wright at TVDoneWright
Magali Levet at the VoiceofTV.Com
Also, if you get a moment you should read Max's extremely well-written "RIP Huddy" article at her blog. She is not only a big fan of House and Cuddy and appreciates what their unusual relationship from day one, she's a longtime loyal big fan of the show itself. Max is a television and movie critic, editor and writer. For her it's not just the relationship between House and Cuddy that got screwed but her favorite show as well. Many of us have felt that the House (both the man and the series) we're seeing now is no longer recognizable. Her writing is worth the read, most definitely!
Editing in...my mother told me today that she watched the Season 8 premiere and is now hooked on [H]ouse! LOL I told her it might be wise to start at Season 1 and work her way forward....this is probably not the best place for newbie to begin ya think? :)