Always Watching

House: Broken Review

In 2009 Fall Season, Homicide: Life On The Streets, House, Men In Trees, Thief on 09/22/2009 at 2:04 pm
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A review of last night’s two hour House season premiere by Tara!
What an appropriate title for this episode. In every sense of the word, House was broken. And it took the very talented Andre Braugher (Homicide, Thief), playing House’s psychiatrist, Dr. Nolan, to not only make House see that but, more importantly, to acknowledge it, accept it and make peace with it.
This episode was not the traditional formula we are used to seeing. Rather than the hospital where the ‘team’ tries to figure out what’s wrong with this week’s patient, the first images we see are those of House going through withdrawals, in a singular cell like bedroom. Once the images stop and we see that House has begun to recover, it becomes clear that he is ready to leave. And he goes about doing so in typical House fashion.
With that we get our first introduction between Dr. Nolan and House. House tells him he’s a lot better and wants to leave, “Gonna miss you. Wanna start missing you as soon as possible.” The sarcasm begins. Nolan counters with, “your issues run deeper than Vicodin,” as he has been misusing the drug for years but his hallucinations happened only after two colleagues died. House wants to leave but Nolan stops him by saying he can’t without his recommendation.
Welcome to Ward Six.
Just a quick look around the room and we see men playing ping pong, a girl with very large and broken glasses holding a stuffed animal that even when I paused my DVR I couldn’t figure out what it was. I don’t know why but I’m curious.

House wants to know how long he has to be there. It depends on him, which can’t be a good sign. And it isn’t as he responds with, “I’m going to turn this ward upside down and make you and your boss’ life so unmanageable that he will write whatever he has to, just to get ride of me.” In some ways it’s nice to know that House is House no matter where you put him.
Speaking of places you put him, he’s got a new room, with a new roommate. Who talks very, very fast. And doesn’t like being on meds because that’s when everything slows down. House meet Juan Alvarez. Or Alvie. (At first I feel like the actor is mimicking Brad Pitt’s character is 12 Monkeys. Not because I don’t think there are people out there who act like this, it just feels so ‘acted.’ But I don’t know if he grew on me or if the character toned down, because I only felt that way when he was first introduced). When he learns House’s name he does a little shriek before diving into “He’s a brick, dananana, Hooouse.” I have to admit, I kind of loved it.
Alvie wants to show him the lay of the land. We see a guy on the floor acting like his head is in dire pain, only to find out he’s just a Haldol junkie. So much so that they call him ‘Hal,’ and in group therapy House quickly points out who is who and what they suffer from. Helpful? Rude? Not really a question.
We hear a piano and House is intrigued. Hey it’s Run Lola Run, or also known as actress Franka Potente.
Back in group they welcome a new member, Steve, or as he calls himself “Freedom Master”, played by Men In Trees‘ Derek Richardson. He compares himself to Clark Kent or Peter Parker. One of the other patients asks him, “You don’t think you can stop bullets do you?” “I move out of their way.” Awesome. I already love Freedom Master, who wants to know why the one lady isn’t talking. “She needs help,” he says.
The next time we see House in group we don’t hear a sound but it appears House is going through all the motions: Talking, getting higher level points, interacting with other patients. He takes his pills, but he doesn’t swallow them.
And we are back to the piano player. She is apparently playing for the same woman Freedom Master was concerned with. The woman who doesn’t speak. House flirts with Lydia, the piano player. Oddly enough it’s not in the demeaning way he usually does with Cuddy. Lydia tells him that the woman she plays for once played the cello.
House has to check in with a new doctor, Medina, who is in charge of regulating his medication. Dr. Medina doesn’t believe House is taking his medication. House counter attacks with, “Do you want me to take a urine test? Will that earn your trust?” “Actually, yes.” Okay, that couldn’t have been what House wanted or expected Medina to respond with, right?
They walk into the bathroom and Medina tells him that House knows the rules, he has to watch. “You don’t need court side seats can I at least use a stall?” (I would think that he wouldn’t need to watch that closely, but anyway). He does get a stall, and what do you know, Hal is in the stall. So I was totally wrong. This was exactly what House wanted.
Back at Ward Six and Medina apologizes to House for doubting him, then walks up to Freedom Master and asks for his help in moving the piano away from the window. House, irritated asks “why are you doing that?” Medina says that either he is Freedom Master and he shouldn’t be here or he is suffering from a dangerous and serious delusion. Freedom Master doesn’t seem involved in the argument brewing between House and Medina, instead he says, “I can save her. They stole her voice box. That’s what she’s starring at.” He tries to get in to where they keep the pills and they call for a Code Gray.
House is angry. Uninvited, ss usual, he enters Dr. Nolan’s office and tells him that he’s coping much better than anyone thinks. He then shows him all the pills he hasn’t been taking and talks of his high scores on the depression list. And I’m wondering if that’s such a good thing to admit to. Nolan picks up the pills. “Lick it.” “You want me to lick you hand,” asks House. Which is when he realizes it’s a sugar pill. Oh SNAP! House they got you. They got you good.
Looking out the window, a common ritual at this hospital, House sees Lydia driving up with a cello in her back seat. He offers to help her carry it and when she suggests using a dolly, House suggests using ‘Clark Kent’ as it would help him feel better about himself. They all go for a drive. And then it’s just House and Freedom Master and suddenly they are at a carnival and they are flying? I ask because how did they get there. And is it really a carnival? It appears so. He really is making him feel superhuman. And the Freedom Master is back. He’s happy. He’s even got his jacket around his neck like a cape. Walking back to the car, where they are parked on one of those high level parking lots, Freedom Master is zooming around and suddenly House turns around and we see Freedom Master balancing himself on the brim edge of the lot. The excitement I was feeling and I think House was feeling just turned on a dime. The wind is blowing through his hair. If it wasn’t so awful it would almost be beautiful, but it’s so awful, so it’s not. “Hey. Come on. Get down,” House says, stern but nervous. “There’s no cry for help.” Freedom Master turns his head to look back at House and says, “Thank you Greg.” And House and I simultaneously yell out, “Noooo!” as Steve dives. Wow. I’m in shock.
“He’s lucky to be alive.” The voice of Andre Braugher, I mean Dr. Nolan. Either way thank you TPTB. He goes on to say all the many things that are broken and it all sounds awful but I am just shocked and happy he’s alive. Nolan tells him that he does, he’s transferring House to another facility, but before he can do that House finally speaks, “Don’t. I need help.”
House is actually voluntarily in therapy. It’s odd. For me and for him as it’s clear he has no idea what to do. He wants to know how this works. What is relevant. Nolan says they’re all relevant. But that the only way to figure out which ones are more relevant is to talk. (Yeah I hate that part too. House. Talking). He asks House what does he want. His response, “I want to get better. I’m sick of being miserable.” Nolan thinks that is a great goal and suggests SSRI’s as a means to getting there. “You think that by taking meds you’ll lose your edge? Stop making the unique connections that made you a successful doctor?” More banter and more seriously wise words from Braugher, and House takes the pill.
We are now moving at a much quicker pace in the show. I have been enjoying the episode as a whole, but it’s taken a lot longer to get to this point, where now I feel we are at a better pace.
He’s now in line for daily dosages. Alvie wants to know what’s up. He is hoping he’s ‘cheeking it.’ House says he isn’t. “They broke you,” says Alvie. “They didn’t break me. I am broken, “ House replies. No sarcasm, no cutting remarks: Just truth. And it feels surprisingly comfortable. “Now stop worshipping me and go worry about you own loser life.” And just like that he’s back. I knew it wouldn’t last long.
Nolan has an assignment for House. He has a suit for him and he wants House to start trusting people. They are at some type of party, event, I’m assuming at the hospital. He’s to start with strangers and then work his way up. So House walks up to the first person he sees and says “hi.” The guy, clearly finding it a bit odd, responds the same. And then House not one to leave good enough alone, “It’s like hello, only shorter.” Uncomfortable guy,”Yes. Glad we were able to save that time.” Hee. I so want to use that line. Somewhere.
Lydia is there. They have some fun playing jokes on a few people. And later when she asks him what’s next, and usually a typical response from House would be a sexual innuendo, he instead responds simply with, “why don’t we just talk.” We learn why she comes to visit Annie, which I believe is the first time we learn of silent girl’s name. She was her best friend, and she married Annie’s brother when she got sick because he was the only one who knew what she was going through. “I miss her. I should go.” But instead she and House kiss.
House wants to know why she kissed him. Lydia says she likes him and it felt like a nice way of showing him. As she says that we see Steve/Freedom Master rolled in on a wheel chair. House is back at Dr. Nolan’s as seeing Steve is more than unsettling for him. Nolan asks him why he values his failures more than his successes. “Successes only last until someone screws them up. Failures last forever.” In that House reveals so much about himself. Nolan wants him to acknowledge the failure and move past it. Apologize. House doesn’t think that’s how it should work. He gets someone to jump off a building and all he has to do is say the words and he can the move on with his life. That hardly seems fair. “If the world is just, you have to suffer equally? You’re not God, House.” I want Andre Braugher as my therapist. This man is good.
In the next group session everyone seems out of synch. Freedom Master is there but he’s not talking. House notices him looking at something. “I can save him. He stole her voice box, that’s what he said. Because there’s a music box in there.” And I admit I’m kind of getting the chills. They try to block him and House tells them he is not having a psychotic break. When they finally open the door there is a blue box that he gives it to Freedom Master. “You are healing. Speak. Say something.” Dr. Nolan enters and tells House you are trying to fix it instead of moving on. Right again you are.
House finds Lydia is crying. She is crying because she’s pathetic. She brought Annie’s cello in case she one day magically woke up. They hug and it very delicately turns into a dance.
Now in a room and a few clothing items are being removed. I am willing to wager this is the first time in a very long time House has ever been this intimate with a woman. And then we see his tears.
After a fun little talent show we see House apologizing to Steve. “I was trying to prove a point. I was trying to be right. I ended up putting you in a dangerous situation and I was not equipped to handle it. And you got hurt, and it’s my fault. And I’m sorry.” Steve is still holding the music box as House wheels him in front of Silent Girl/Annie. Steve hands her the music box and she picks it up. Nolan, House, everyone, all look on in amazement as she opens the box and it plays. “Thank you” she says. “You’re welcome,” he replies. It’s an astonishing moment, one that I personally feel is slightly ruined by the very quick recovery of her suddenly playing the cello, with everyone around her. I didn’t hate it, but I felt it was a really, really quick turn around. Did Freedom Master really have super powers? I shouldn’t think that in a moment like that, but I did.
Happy re-birthday cake. Congratulations to Annie. The silent girl is leaving and House is upset. He enters Nolan’s office thinking she is leaving after being silent for so long (hey, so was I), only to find out she’s moving to a facility in Arizona, as her family is moving there. House wants an overnight pass.
He’s at the front door and a little boy answers. Okay I didn’t know she has kids. No, no, no. Lydia comes to the door. She explains that her husband travels a lot for work but they have never been able to move because of Annie but now they can. House doesn’t want her to go. She doesn’t want to go but she won’t break up her family.
Back at Nolan’s car. “She left. And… I’m lost.” Nolan tells House he is going to write his recommendation to get his license back. And that he wants House to recognize two things that happened tonight: “You got hurt. Which means you connected to another person strongly enough to miss them. And more important, you recognized the pain and came to talk to me, instead of hiding from it in the Vicodin bottle.” My, my how much House has grown. But I can’t help but wonder will this really last? I mean part of why we love House, the show, is because House is House. Still I can’t help but love the emotional growth for however long it lasts.
“Today we are here to congratulate Greg. We are proud of him. We wish him well and (said in unison) we hope to never see him again.” And House goes head first into his cake. Alvie watches as House leaves and walks up to request, for the first time, his meds, saying “I want to get better.” The final shot is House sitting on the bus, with just a hint of a smile.
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  1. This review brought me right back to last nights episode and what a unique episode it was. It was definitely very different from any other House episode. While I love House, this episode as the review emplies was a nice change of pace. It will definitely be interesting to see how and if this will affect him when he goes back to work. And I totally agree about when Freedom Master dove off the ledge. My heart leaped out of my chest.

  2. […] House: Broken Review « DVR Life dvrlife.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/house-broken-review – view page – cached A review of last night’s two hour House season premiere by Tara! What an appropriate title for this episode. In every sense of the word, House was broken. And it took the very talented actor Andre Braugher, playing House’s psychiatrist, Dr. Nolan, to not only make House see that but, more importantly, to acknowledge it, accept it and make peace with it. — From the page […]

  3. I don’t watch House, but I enjoyed the review very much. Perhaps I will have to put season 1 on my Netflix queue, after I’ve finished Big Love, Arrested Development, and Burn Notice. So many shows, so little time … sigh.

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