At the end of last season's "House," the quickly deteriorating (not to mention hallucinating) Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) could no longer deny the severity of his drug addiction, so he committed himself to a mental institution to kick that nasty Vicodin habit and get a handle on his demons.
Tonight's season 6 premiere picks up exactly where that finale left off: House is a newly admitted patient and going through the painful withdrawals on his way to getting clean. But in fact, the "cleaning" of House actually takes up very little time in the 2-hour debut.
The good stuff is what happens next, and it's difficult to overstate just how extraordinary this episode is.
After his ugly detox, a surly but confident House goes to his attending physician, played so perfectly by Andre Braugher, and demands to be released. Though he's voluntarily committed, House needs Nolan's recommendation to regain his license to practice medicine, and that's not about to happen just yet. Nolan explains that the drugs were only part of his problem.
To say House resents staying at Mayfield is an understatement. Instead of participating in his recovery, he devotes all of his time to beating Nolan at what House openly treats as a game, and he's not above using the other sick people on the ward to win. The manipulation and relentless conniving are classic House, but Braugher is a worthy opponent. And in the end, House's biggest obstacle is once again, himself.
The magic of this episode, apart from extraordinary acting from Laurie, is the unbelievable supporting cast. Braugher is fantastic, but so is Lin-Manuel Miranda (above), who plays House's bipolar roomate Alvie. The entire cast is great. So great that I prefer them to the cast waiting back at Princeton (Wilson and Cuddy excepted -- and apart from a brief scene featuring Wilson, none of them appear tonight).
The entire 2-hour episode deals with House's attempt at recovery, but I couldn't help but wish at the end that it had taken a little longer. I would have loved watching the whole season (or at least half) set there.
"House" airs on Monday nights at 8pm on FOX.