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August 31, 2015

House: Dying Changes Everything (season premiere)

by Richard Keller, posted Sep 17th 2008 9:10AM

(S05E01) "This is Dr. House. He's too brilliant for introductions." -- Thirteen to House's patient of the week

Another season of House, another patient with a mysterious ailment. If there is one thing that has not changed in the five seasons that this medical procedural has aired it is the fact that someone is going to enter Princeton-Plainsboro with an illness that can't be determined until the very last minute. It's why House is still on the air. Well, there's that, and then there's the fact that Hugh Laurie is a damn fine actor. Oh, and the others on the show don't do so badly themselves.

So, what can one viewer look forward to for this new season? If you think same-old, same-old then you would be absolutely, totally....incorrect. Because things are a-changing in Greg House's universe -- actually have been changing since the death of Amber in last season's finale -- that he can't, or won't, stop. The result? Well, I would be writing my own death sentence if I revealed it to you here. So, come and join me for a recap of this week's episode.

First off, the cantankerous Dr. House. I've been watching some of the earlier season episodes now that they're airing weeknights on USA and it looks like Greg has gotten grumpier over the years. This time, though, he was downright moody. For good reason, though...he feels guilty that he caused Amber's death. Okay, he doesn't say that until the middle of the episode, but you could certainly see it in the way he confronted Wilson after he returned after a two-month hiatus.

Their reunion was definitely not something you would have seen on an episode of 7th Heaven. For the most part, House picked up right where he had left off before Amber's death. It was pretty clear at this point that Greg wasn't letting his true feelings be known. Granted, he's a cynical realist most times, but even he had to feel some sympathy, some guilt, for her death. But, nothing of the sort came out of House's mouth. In the meantime, what came out of Wilson's mouth was that he was leaving Princeton-Plainsboro.

From an initial look it would have seemed that Wilson was getting away from the hospital because it reminded him so much of Amber. And, that's what most of his associates thought as well. Even Cameron believed the same thing. Since she had also lost a loved one many years ago, she took it upon herself to let him know that the pain eventually would go away and it would be best for him to stay. House also tried to convince Wilson that it was the wrong move in his slightly less comforting way.

Thing is, Wilson wasn't leaving because of that. Nor was he leaving because he blamed House for Amber's death. He tried to, but the medical records didn't prove it. He was leaving because he was tired of House. Yes, tired of his best friend's binges and mocking and fighting and...everything! It seems that Amber had given Wilson something upon her death: a pair. As he left he said one thing to House that probably even punctured that thick armor he calls skin -- 'We're not friends anymore.'

Wow. House actually opened himself up for one brief moment and he got that news slammed down his throat. It's not that he didn't deserve it -- I mean, he is a bastard (he even has said that about himself) -- it just took place at a pretty vulnerable moment for Greg. Then again, it probably made it all more powerful for both him and the viewing audience. House isn't giving up, though, as seen from next week's coming attractions.

Let's move on to House's team, who still don't have their names in the opening credits. They've run into a bit of a predicament diagnosing this week's patient. See, House was so upset about Wilson leaving, and so intent in keeping him at the hospital, he told him he would leave Princeton-Plainsboro and not pick up his pager until his friend came to his senses. So, with no guiding light (or, as Taub said to Thirteen, their training wheels) to move the diagnosis along they were stuck as to how to treat the 37-year-old executive assistant whose heart was failing. This seemed strange to me, since most of these folks were in the same predicament last season. In the episode 'Whatever It Takes', House was away from the hospital treating a CIA operative. While he was out, Foreman took the reins and worked to diagnose the patient. This time, though, Foreman didn't seem to have that same handle as he did last season. Simply put, the team was rudderless.

This didn't stop them from coming up with an eventual diagnosis after a bit of trial and error. They even pulled a bit of chicanery that House would have been proud of (but wouldn't admit) when they performed a biopsy on an abnormal growth of nerves after Chase said no to another surgery. Their final diagnosis: lymphoma. And, with a bit of chemotherapy the patient seemed to be getting better. However, in came House with the correct diagnosis: diffused leprosy. The pretty type -- it clears up you skin. I found this to be a weird coincidence because I saw an episode from an earlier season of House last week where the diagnosis was leprosy.

Now, while it may seem that House was the focus of this episode, he was only in the first half. The rest of the episode focused on Thirteen. Now two months into her Huntington's Disease diagnosis she has become a crusader in the fight to live to one's potential before their death. This is what Thirteen did this week, particularly with her patient. Not only was she adamant with House and Chase she was also pretty determined to get her patient to change her life as well. It seemed to work, at first. But, as the patient got better she decided that she wanted to continue being treated as a flunky rather than living for herself.

All in all, it was a good episode to begin the fifth season of House, even though it was a tad dull. The schism between House and Wilson is a nice way to slightly shake up the status quo in a season that looks to be one of character development rather than one of revamp like last season. With Thirteen now living on borrowed time a new angle is given to her character. Hopefully, we'll get to see some more fleshing out of Taub and Kutner as the season progresses.

That's it for this week's episode. Tune in next week when House tried to get back into Wilson's good graces.

What was your opinion on the season five premiere of House?
Good. Nice continuation of the Amber issue639 (57.9%)
Okay. A bit slow in places, but good nonetheless404 (36.6%)
Bad. Not a good start to the season.60 (5.4%)

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Well, it's finally happened, Cuddy's clothes which have always been completely ridiculous have gone completely over the top. Is there a reason the showrunners think that putting her in clothes that are two sizes too small is sexy? it's not. She just looks idiotic.
What is wrong with them?

September 18 2008 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We have been watching this show since day one, when I think our family was the only people watching. Anyway, I miss the original three! They were endearing and interesting, now this new bunch, well I dont care about them. I am also loosing patience with House! How can he be so nonchalant about the patients. He would rather watch television than be involved with the care of his dying patient? I can deal with his off color humor and his rather bizarre bedside manner, but his antics have gone way too far.

I do love Wilson! I would like for Wilson to be more like his character was last night.

September 18 2008 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love that they keep shaking things up a bit in this show. I love the new twist in Thirteen's storyline and that they're giving her more airtime which I love. I thought Olivia Wilde did a great job with Thirteen in this episode so I was really happy in the overall tone of the show.

Every show needs a good "rift" episode arc and this House/Wilson thing is no different. It's going to be interesting to see where it goes.

September 18 2008 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gooby's comment

can we untwist this twist? i am so unhappy without my weekly fix of wilson and house. their chemistry drove the show for me. love and hate are very close emotions. i think wilson sees the good and bad in house, as most of us do.
wilson come back!!

September 19 2008 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm curious about the shirts too...

...and outstanding episode.

September 17 2008 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok, since no one else asked ...

What do the t-shirts say that the cast is wearing in the photo atop this post, please?

September 17 2008 at 1:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to David's comment

I thought it was a great way to kick off the new season. Something meaty for those of us who have been watching and enough information to usher in new viewers who may not know all the house lore.

September 17 2008 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode should have focused on House/Wilson and Cuddy, neither team, no case, just the characters dealing with Amber's death. After the powerhouse finale, I didn't expect them to raise the bar again, but this ep was a let down.

Thirteen - Why? Why put her story front and center in this episode? They made me care about cut-throat bitch, but Thirteen bores me. I just don't care, and doubt their ability to make me care. The quicker they end her storyline the better. Her story belongs on ER not House.

September 17 2008 at 1:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It seemed like the fact that House put down his pager and left the hospital to blackmail Wilson into staying actually helped this diagnosis. Having had no exposure to the patient for a week, he was the only one that noticed how drastically she had appeared to age. Everyone else had seen this progression happen much more slowly. Had House been with the team the whole time, he might not have found the correct diagnosis.

September 17 2008 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

I think Wilson needs House. He's such a good guy, trying to help everyone, and getting involved with his patients. I mean, the guy had affairs with some! And 3 wives! House is what keeps him from being a total wuss. And Wilson keeps House from being evil. The modern Odd Couple. Will someone please get rid of Foreman? He really irritates me.

September 17 2008 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I still can't believe they haven't changed the opening credits in five years... It's kind of messed up that three whole new cast members have joined and yet... Not even a mention...

Anyway, I think this episode was alright, but the only really great thing was House and Wilson's interactions, which were sidelined by Thirteen's story. And what the hell was up with that anyway?

I can understand what the writers were going for by the time everything came to a close, how Thirteen was trying to cope with her Huntington's and needed to feel useful to do so, but the patient was one of the most bland patients I've ever seen. It's rare to see a patient on House that doesn't end up half crying at some point (I still couldn't believe how stoically she handled the news that she had cancer).

And I picked up on what you said too, about how Foreman kind of drifted along with the team not taking the reigns to leadership. Considering how many similarities he has to House and how the patient had a good bit of neurological symptoms, I was really suprised at him barely saying anything during their run around to find the disease. I'm also not sure how to handle Chase's personality. He didn't get much spot light last season so maybe I just never noticed he was so much more strong spoken when not under House's reign. Or maybe he just doesn't consider House's new team as equals (though in terms of medical knowledge they probably would be).

Overall an okay episode, but not one I would've minded missing. Or that's what I would say if this wasn't the season premiere.

September 17 2008 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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