Twenty Vicodin marks a return to form for ‘House’

Posted on October 6, 2011


House Season 8

A year has passed since House crashed his car into Cuddy’s home, and we find House spending time behind bars at the East New Jersey Correctional Facility under the close watch of the prison warden. When an antagonistic prison gang leader makes a serious threat, House solicits the help of a fellow inmate, but when another inmate’s unusual medical symptoms spark his curiosity, House must come up with creative ways to treat the patient while navigating prison rules. House meets Dr. Jessica Adams, a young, intelligent and bright-eyed clinic doctor, but when they are faced with a controversial opportunity to diagnose the patient’s life-threatening illness, Adams is confronted with a choice to trust House and put her career on the line or play by the book. (Synopsis from ‘Fox Publicity’ on IMDB)



So, let’s be very clear about this right from the off. Let’s get it out of our systems so we can go about the rest of this series with a clear conscience. House MD season 7, wasn’t very good.


Sure there was the odd good episode here and there but it unfortunately disappeared up its own out-pipe and the Cuddy-House relationship did little in the way of helping the show.


Which is a pity because the finale of season 6 was superb. The finale of season 7 was the pinnacle of a series that had gone so beyond ridiculous that even soap operas were shying away from it.


In that sense then, it’s good to see this season 8 opener harking back to some of the serious aspects of the show. For the second season in a row we have an out-of-kilter, non-formulaic episode. Like the mental institute last year, House finds himself in a different kind of institute this year, hanging out with the criminals, keeping main thug Mendelson (Jude Ciccolella) sweet by sneaking some of his daily Vicodin allowance to him.


Which is all well and good because House seems to be getting along just fine in prison. He’s still playing the odd trick here and there, tricking Stomper into beating up Rollo, resulting in he managing to keep his MP3 player for a little bit longer.


But when he’s given the date for his release, all hell slowly breaks loose. The other prisoners, on hearing of his imminent release, start to initiate what are known as ‘exit taxes’. And neo-Nazi Mendelson has a humdinger of a tax.


The name of the episode suddenly becomes clear. Mendelson wants 20 vicodin or else his guys on the outside pay a visit to the good doctor. This results in House having to effectively detox himself in order to make up the numbers.


Meanwhile, Nick the newest inmate is having pains in his arms. Prison doctor Jessica Adams suspects gonhoreia, House suspects lupus. In the end, both are wrong but hey, that’s nothing unusual. House, of course figures it out and it’s all quite standard.


What’s interesting is House’s interaction with this new character Adams. Both seem to latch onto each other because they are bored. Adams is not being tested in her role as prison doctor and House spots this almost immediately.


Odette Annable is very likeable in the new role and, with a shortage of Olivia Wilde’s character this series, might be just the ticket to replace her as the person who’s not altogether abusive to the eyes.


The end of the episode was always the end we expected. House was never going to keep the head down long enough to secure passage out of prison. The riot scene is well filmed and the sudden stepping-in of House’s cellmate is well realised.


The episode ends with House in solitary confinement, the guilt of ruining Adams’ career on his mind until his dinner arrives through the cubby hole. With a piece of paper saying ‘You were right.’


While it remains to be seen where House can go from here, this episode marks a moderate return to form. It’s not quite at the levels it reached before (and probably never will be) but it’s better than pretty much every episode from season 7.


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