'House': Andre Braugher returns as House's therapist

andre-braugher-house-320.jpg"House" again defied its usual formula, presenting a creative episode that provided a deeper look into House's psyche as of late. This season has done a great job moving outside the bounds of the typical episode structure, a strategy that has been much more successful in keeping the show fresh than simply injecting new characters and ditching the old ones.

Dr. Nolan (Andre Braugher) is back, and though his tendency to analyze every single word House says can grate after a while, I was very happy with what he added to the episode. The nonreliable narrator House became as he told Nolan about his latest case was a great touch, as were the scenes where Nolan appeared in House's memory, asking questions about what they were seeing. The patient definitely took a backseat to House's issues, but that's to be expected as we approach the season finale, I suppose. 

Patient of the Week: A jogger turns up in the emergency room, I.D.-less and with amnesia. They track down her husband and discover that she's a civil rights attorney, or was, inspired by an accident her brother had years ago. Now, she's upset that all her past self seemed to do was work and run, and she's having a hard time relating to her husband, seeing as he's a stranger and all. I'm honestly not sure who has it worse, the husband or the wife. At least she doesn't remember what she's lost, right?

After going through the requisite number of diagnoses and fights with her husband over treatment, House determines that the patient simply had an allergic reaction to tattoo ink, and will be perfectly fine after a skin graft. Well, that's definitely better than prion disease followed by certain death.

House (as Dr. Nolan realizes) somehow got her husband to treat her like they just met, rather than forcing their prior relationship down her throat when she can't help but see him as a stranger. And hey, he probably saved their marriage, seeing as her memory doesn't look like it's coming back anytime soon. Man, if that's the case that's a whole lotta money and time wasted on law school. Bummer.

And how does that make you feel?: House worries Dr. Nolan from the get-go when he's late to their session, further concerning him when he uncharacteristically doesn't notice new paintings in the lobby and describes taking a case without arguing. Plus, he voluntarily spends time with a patient, which is obviously a pretty big red flag. Dr. Nolan, analyzing Every. Little. Facet. of what House says, concludes that he's punishing himself for something and having trouble dealing with his past.

Nolan suspects House's troubles started when Wilson asked him to move out, since Sam's moving in. And I loved the scene where House and Nolan recount their separate versions of the imagined conversation between Cuddy and Wilson, in which the two alternately assume House can't be on his own, or they give him credit and focus on Wilson's guilt at kicking him out. Very cleverly directed, moving from shadow to light, therapist's office to hospital, and back again.

In a probably unhealthy choice, House moves back to his old apartment, which is now inhabited by Alvie (the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda), his mental ward buddy! I love Alvie! Though I'll admit it's pretty legit for House to be mad that Alvie sold some of his stuff to pay for brightly colored wall paint House didn't want. Um ... at least Alvie stole back the valuable surgical text the pawn shop sold? 

Alvie is squatting at House's place to hide from immigration, but House turns him in, only to produce fake DNA evidence proving Alvie's Puerto Rican lineage. Aww, he really does care! Alvie doesn't stick around, though, leaving House to go live with his cousin in Arizona. Better carry those new papers around with you everywhere, buddy...

After Alvie leaves, House gets drunk and heads out to pick a fight, which he doesn't remember. Nolan gets mad when House refuses to recognize the relation between the case and his own psychological issues, but he's even more angry when he discovers that House is working those issues out by getting blackout drunk. Yeah, I'd say that's probably a bit of a speed bump on his road to recovery.

After House admits that he values Wilson because he'll never leave, no matter what House says, Nolan determines that House's guilt/stress isn't about Wilson. Apparently, that's what counts as a healthy relationship in House's world. Yikes? Instead, House lets slip that he's upset everyone's happy and moving in together, leaving him behind. Alvie and his cousin, Wilson and Sam, Cuddy and Lucas. ... And there it is. Even the book he had Alvie steal was written by Cuddy's great-grandfather, sitting in House's apartment for years as he waited for an occasion special enough to merit the gift.

House, vulnerable and exposed, snaps when Nolan goes so far as to flat-out say that House is upset at losing someone he loves. He was promised happiness, and although he's done everything Nolan asked of him, he's still unhappy and in pain when others are holding hands and skipping through fields of daisies. Or something like that. Calling Nolan a faith healer, he storms out. Oh, dear. I guess I would've been surprised if House took to therapy well, especially with such an aggressively analytical therapist. Next week's season finale should be interesting, at any rate!

Quotes:

  • Chase: "Brilliant." Dr. Nolan: "Did he really say that?" House: "Subtextually."
  • House: "Aren't therapists supposed to be nurturing?" Dr. Nolan: "Nowhere is that in the manual."
  • House: "For godsakes, Wilson. You really span the chasm from wishy to washy. If you're gonna be an ass, be an ass. Stick with it!"
  • Alvie: "I'm gonna repaint your whole apartment now, make the drapes match the carpet now!"

Did you appreciate the front row seats to House's therapy, or would you rather the episode focus on the case?  

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Photo credit: FOX

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