This Monday night’s House, M.D. (“Bombshells”) is a break-the-formula episode, something the series has been very successful at doing for nearly seven seasons. Beginning back in season one with “Three Stories,” House has used flashbacks, non-linear storytelling and dream/hallucination sequences to shake up the story and give it new dimensions and unfamiliar textures while delving into the minds of its characters—but mostly House’s (Hugh Laurie) “rat maze” of a mind.
“Bombshells” finds Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) dealing with a potentially serious health crisis, providing the opportunity this time to dive into her subconscious at a critical juncture in her relationship with House. “The story picks up immediately after the end of the last episode (‘Recession Proof’),” according to Edelstein. She and and executive producer/director Greg Yaitanes (who directed “Bombshells”) met with entertainment writers Friday afternoon to discuss the forthcoming episode. If you recall, “Recession Proof” ends with a drunk House professing his undying love—but at the same time, he discloses that his love for Cuddy provides such a distraction that it might destroy his genius for medicine.
At the start of the episode, Cuddy is shaken to discover blood in her urine. As Dean Cuddy becomes Patient Cuddy, going through procedures and treatments, she takes a hard look at her priorities and relationships through a series of surreal dreams. Because dreams can sneak past our usual filtering mechanisms, they can make for an effective (and visually stunning) narrative device to explore our deepest fantasies and our darkest fears. But because dreams can be surreal and fun, they also make great tension-breakers from what will undoubtedly be an incredibly intense episode.
Cuddy’s dreams and hallucinations during the episode provide important glimpses into her life and her relationship with House are, according to director Yaitanes. They are, he said, significant for what they reveal, but also added provocatively, they are as “relevant for what they don’t say.”
The sequences pay homage to several iconic film and television moments in genres from 1950s TV to horror movies and westerns. And of course there is the big, spectacluar movie musical production number, created by Emmy winning choreographer Mia Michaels (So You Think You Can Dance?). The TV sitcom tribute is a sort of a 1950s version of Two and a Half Men, with Wilson and House playing Mr. Mom to an 8-year-old Rachel Cuddy!, said Yaitanes. One dream gets the Hollywood Western treatment as House and Cuddy play Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in a nod to the 1970s Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie, with Cuddy cast as Sundance and House playing Butch (and with eyes every bit as blue as Paul Newman’s!). But the highlight, according to Edelstein was working with Mia Michaels on the dance routines, which took a lot of rehearsal.
Neither Yaitanes nor Edelstein would give much away about the episode, but with “Cuddy in the midst of a health crisis, she take a hard look at her life. There’s a lot of inner reflection,” noted the actress. Because the episode takes place right where the last one began, she elaborated, everything she’s been feeling—all her doubts about House—“are brought to bear” at a very “complicated moment.” So Cuddy is “seeing more of the truth of what it’s like to be involved with” the very complicated House.
“Bombshells” airs Monday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX. In the meantime, enjoy a studio-recorded interview with the show’s star!