After spending too much time in non-reality and committing himself to Mayfield psychiatric hospital at the end of Season 5, there's nowhere for House to go but up. He detoxes painfully from the Vicodin in a montage and, sober and no longer hallucinating, decides that everything is fine now and he can go back to his life. Not so fast, says Andre Braugher, also known as Dr. Nolan. House can leave any time, but if he wants to be able to practice medicine again, then he has to stay and get better until Dr. Nolan writes a letter to the medical board. House spends some time trying to think of a way to blackmail Dr. Nolan, but Wilson won't help him out, nor will he appear in the episode again.
House tries to trick the doctors into believing he's all better, but Dr. Nolan easily figures out that House isn't taking his meds and is faking improvement. So House decides to pull a One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and free fellow patient Freedom Master (well, Steven. But he prefers to go by his made-up superhero name) from the hospital for a day of fun so he can re-discover his delusion that he's a superhero. It works like a charm, which is a bad thing. Because Freedom Master then decides to fly off the second story of a parking garage and almost dies and House has to admit to himself that it's his fault and his reasons for doing this were more about sticking it to Nolan than they were about doing something good for Freedom Master.
And that's when House decides to truly participate in the recovery process and admit that he has a problem, even though I thought he already admitted that at the end of last season and that's why he is in the mental hospital in the first place. He takes his anti-depressants and truly opens up to Dr. Nolan in therapy sessions and makes efforts to get close to people and let them get close to him. He helps his annoying manic-depressive roommate rap in the ridiculous Ward 6 Talent Show! He connects with a catatonic patient's visiting (and married) sister-in-law so much that they have sex because the night staff at Mayfield clearly went to the same training school that the PPTH security staff did! He's even there for Dr. Nolan when his father dies! And he apologizes to Freedom Master for indirectly causing his internal injuries and broken bones, at which point Freedom Master is able to get over his near-catatonia and break the catatonic woman out of hers, even though she's been totally non-responsive for a freaking decade. And yet, her voice sounds perfectly fine the first time she uses it in ten years. Okay.
Her miraculous improvement is bad news for House, though, as her brother transfers her to a rehab facility in Arizona and moves his family there with her -- which means his wife can no longer cheat on him with House. This makes House very sad, and when he goes to Nolan about it, Nolan says that the fact that he connected with someone else enough to be hurt by her and then came to Nolan about it means that House is ready to go back to the real world. So… he was in a mental hospital because he doesn’t like people and is a jerk? Really? What about the hallucinations? Why did those happen? Why were they never addressed? Aren't hallucinations and making up a relationship with your boss so convincing that you can't tell the difference between it and reality kind of a major problem that needs more than just talk therapy and anti-depressants? And are we really supposed to think that House has no idea how to connect with other people when we know that he had a long relationship with Stacy? Or that he'd be willing to take anti-depressants after they caused him to miss a diagnosis in that episode a few seasons ago? It can't be that easy. It shouldn't be that easy. Oh, well. Hugh Laurie was awesome and House is back. We'll see exactly how the new House fits in with his old life next week.
Last time on House: House went to a mental institution. Let's spend two hours seeing how the writers dig themselves out of that hole this season, shall we? A stoned and sweaty House lies in his mental hospital bed as Radiohead plays instead of the opening theme. He curls up in a fetal position. He takes his pills, which are not Vicodin. He pukes. A nurse cleans him up. Withdrawal sucks. Or maybe it's the institution food. Also, his leg hurts. He bangs on his room door and screams for someone to help him. And now he's in restraints. That'll teach him to ask those overworked and underpaid nurses for help. By the way, before they started House on the detox, they gave him a new short haircut. Not a shave, though. Never a shave. Props to the whoever's in charge of Hugh Laurie's bald spot, because that piece is good.
The music ends and the show begins. House, no longer in restraints, gets out of bed and rubs his leg. Apparently, he's feeling much better, as he grabs a suitcase and starts packing up all of his faux vintage T-shirts. He randomly steals a wool hat off of another patient's head as if that guy doesn't have enough problems and tells the pill station lady that he's ready to go now that he's off the drugs. She says she'll check with the doctor, but House says no way. He's here on a volunteer basis so he'll be leaving on one, too. "Dr. Nolan left specific instructions," the pill station lady says. Uh oh.
House lets himself into what I'm assuming is Dr. Nolan's office, where we find Andre Braugher talking to a colleague. House interrupts their meeting and introduces himself to his doctor with this: "and he's black!" Ah, first impressions. Nolan gives his colleague a nod that tells her to leave the scene. House says he's feeling much better now: no more hallucinations, no more painkillers, and the leg pain is "manageable." Yeah, as in as soon as he takes one step outside of the mental hospital he'll be managing it with Vicodin. Nolan says House is "legally" free to leave anytime, but it's his "suggestion" that House stick around for a while. House removes the hat that I still don't know why he was wearing in the first place and seems to have no intention of following Nolan's suggestions. Nolan asks why House didn't just check himself into rehab if he thought the hallucinations were from the Vicodin. "I was deluded into thinking I might be crazy," House says. Yes ... but I think the fact he was deluded by his delusions kind of means that he really is crazy. Nolan points out that House abused Vicodin for years without hallucinations or insomnia. It was only after CTB, his father, and Kumar died that he started having those problems. "Your issues run deeper than Vicodin," Nolan says. Right - like being unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. Nolan recommends that House be transferred to a "long-term ward" and start talk therapy and medication. And not the good kind of medication, either. House turns to leave the office and the hospital. Nolan lets him get to the door before saying that he won't be able to practice medicine again without Nolan's recommendation. Way to make the crippled guy who just got off painkillers do some extra walking, Nolan. House accuses Nolan of blackmail. "You need to get better," Nolan says.