Prior to the airing of House‘s Season 7 premiere, there was much speculation as to what sort of episode might be in store when September rolled around. The last scene of the season six finale had Cuddy revealing her love for a distraught House, who had just lost a patient. Fans wondered what would happen next.
Over the summer, a slew of photos inundated the House fansites: photos of House and Cuddy on the beach, kissing and cuddling, like two lovestruck teenagers playing hooky from school. Other photos surfaced of the couple lingering outside a nightclub and a restaurant. From the presence of cameras, crew and the episode’s writer, Doris Egan, in these photos, it was obvious these were location shoots.
The title of the episode was leaked: “Thunder Roadtrip”. It sounded intriguing, forbidding, romantic! Greg Yaitanes, the House director, producer and Twitter liaison constantly shot down the notion that such an episode had been filmed. “What about those photos?” he was asked. “They’re fake,” he replied. “Like the Yeti.”
Can you say Gaslight? Who was really crazy here? The fans had the evidence but were being told it was all fake, done to throw them off the scent as to how the real episode would pan out. The question was, why would a show with a budget to meet, a cast and crew to pay and episodes to create use precious studio time just to fool the fanbase?
Speculation was “Thunder Roadtrip” didn’t work as an episode and Egan was forced to go back and rework the script. Her revamped script became the season seven opener entitled “Now What?”
Recently a script surfaced, which is supposedly a draft of the original “Thunder Roadtrip”. From the looks of it, it probably is. Either that or an extremely conniving someone has done an excellent job speculating how “Roadtrip” was supposed to play out.
“Roadtrip” begins in much the same fashion as “Now What?”. House and Cuddy have taken the first steps toward becoming a couple. But where their “skip day” in “Now What?” takes place entirely in House’s apartment, “Thunder Roadtrip” takes them away from the familiar and out on adventure of discovery and romance in the wilds of New Jersey. House’s goal is to gift Cuddy with a perfect day, making up for four ways he wronged her over the years. It is very Housian and very good.
Along the way, he breaks into an upscale restaurant (having procured the alarm code from the sous-chef at his cooking class) and cooks Cuddy a gourmet meal. He brings her to a bell tower (since the Eiffel Tower is too far for them to travel, for now), where they get sloshed and enjoy a musical interlude. They take a trip to the beach, where House attempts to teach Cuddy how to drive his cycle in the beach parking lot, without much success. From there it’s off to a special Bruce Springsteen club date, where House’s dealings with scalpers and ripoff artists don’t end well, and he fails in his efforts to get Cuddy to see The Boss.
Their adventures revolve around the same b-story as in “Now What?” The hospital neurosurgeon, Dr. Richardson, falls ill, leaving Princeton-Plainsboro without coverage in that department. Failure to get him well could cause the hospital to lose their Trauma Center 1 accreditation. As in “Now What?” House is aware of the problem and does his best to keep it from Cuddy while attempting to help his colleagues over the phone when he can.
In the end, the couple are still somewhat tentative about where this relationship might lead but both want very much to give it a chance.
My verdict? “Now What?” is the better, more realistic piece of work. It has subtlety, and the “skip day” in the apartment feels natural and comfortable, with House and Cuddy enjoying their time in their own little world. I do like the very Housian way House tries to give Cuddy her perfect day in “Roadtrip” and his reasons behind it. But if the script is indeed real, I’m pleased Egan re-wrote it. Perhaps she is too if “Roadtrip” is not the Yeti Yaitanes claims it is.