House and happiness: polar opposites since the show’s inception. The term “miserable curmudgeon” has fit the genius doctor well for the majority of these past six seasons. But since consummating his relationship with Cuddy, an unfamiliar feeling of joy has crept into his world and seems to be changing all that. In “Now What?”, House’s Season 7 opener, we’re given a look at what happens to both these characters immediately after the Season 6 finale. The episode’s title is apt; neither is sure where this relationship will go. Both are well aware what kind of chance they have to make it as a couple. A bookie wouldn’t put odds on the relationship lasting, but the decision to see it through is one House and Cuddy make together. They want very much to be in it for the long haul.
The outside world tries its damnedest to barge in on this love nest in which they’ve settled, but House refuses to allow it to happen. Time is of the essence here: time to be together, time to truly understand what is happening.
The episode is beautifully constructed. To give away the little twists and reveal the almost insurmountable problem that is essential to the plot would not be fair. Suffice to say, if you’ve followed the saga of House and Cuddy up until now, this episode will not disappoint.
Then there is the question of how these two will announce the news of their affair. In the season’s second episode, “Selfish”, the bombastic House-ian way wins out over Cuddy’s more subtle wish to “break it to them gently”. This is to be expected. But the manner in which Cuddy and House handle their disagreement over how best to treat House’s patient is not what we’re used to seeing. Love and sex are powerful entities. Now House has more to consider when he refuses to give in to Cuddy’s course of treatment. Now Cuddy feels she has more to lose if she doesn’t let House do things his way. It’s a puzzle, for sure. But not one we’ve seen before on this show. We’re being introduced to another side of these characters we thought we knew so well. After seven seasons, you have to give the writers credit for attempting such a feat.
Other surprises abound in this episode: the team’s reaction to the news, for one. Each member has a different opinion about the affair but not one seems truly surprised. And then there’s Wilson’s take on it…
We get one of the series’ best clinic patients in this episode, a revelation about Chase and about 13, and a patient of the week story that might possibly bring a tear to your eye.
The House we’re seeing in these two episodes shows many signs of being a changed man. However, what will happen when the hot glow of romance subsides and reality kicks in? At this point, not even a person with House’s genius would have a conclusive answer to that.
House season 7 premieres Monday, September 20th at 8PM ET on FOX.