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TV Review: House, M.D. – Season Seven Premiere “Now What?”

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When we last left House, he had just lost a patient after amputating her leg at a horrific disaster scene. In the depths of despair (even Foreman is concerned), House returns home and to the possibility of returning to Vicodin. “He is bereft,” said Hugh Laurie in interview footage provided by Fox. “He’s formed an emotional connection with her,” and her death hits him hard. But also, says Laurie, it’s because his powerful intellect has failed him and “his intellect is all he has.” 

But as he sits in his darkest hour sitting on his bathroom floor, an angel in pink appears at his bathroom door at this critical juncture. It is (as Laurie puts it) “the saintly Cuddy” to pronounce to the stunned House that she has ended her brief engagement to Lucas Douglas. She cannot get House out of her head— no matter how happy she is supposed to be with a “new fiancé and a new house.” Season six ends on the clasped hands of a finally-united House and Cuddy after she declares to him, “I love you,” despite all her efforts to stay emotionally detached from him.

Season seven begins moments later with House and Cuddy standing in his bedroom with Cuddy tending to his physical (he was badly banged up in the season six finale) as well as his emotional wounds. It’s a powerful scene—something I won’t spoil. I’ll just say that my eyes misted and it’s a very important moment for both characters—and especially for House—to experience on several levels. 

It’s no secret that it all leads to lovemaking and House’s inevitable “now what?” Cuddy wants to go home, shower and go to work; House wants to capture this moment and let it linger into the rest of the day, calling himself in—and convincing  Cuddy to play hooky as well. 

House has pursued Cuddy for several seasons (depends on your point of view as to just how long), and now she is there. Part of House seems to still not quite believe it; at one point, Wilson gives him even more reason not to when he visits House, concerned for his friend’s well-being in the aftermath of “Help Me.” 

Watching House trying to be romantic is always fun, and he’s pulled out all the stops, trying (to great comic—but sweet effect) to open a bottle of Champagne with a sabre; draw a bath (as only House can) for Cuddy; make her breakfast (again, as only House can). It’s all sweet and its light and it’s lovely. He is courting her. This is the romantic side of House: the small sweet gestures, the gentleness and soft-spoken part of House of which few in his circle are aware. 

On the other hand, this is House we’re talking about, and he suddenly finds himself in rarely-charted territory. His happiness and joy is counterbalanced with fear and self-doubt about his ability to love and be loved. There are resonances in “Now What?” to the same sort of fears he expressed season two’s “Need to Know,” as well as lessons learned (and not completely forgotten) from his brief romance with Lydia in “Broken,” which began last season.

But House and Cuddy spending the day cocooned in House’s house, is everything you’d expect (and more), whether you are a “Huddy” fan or simply a fan of the show. This is a completely new situation for House, and it’s an opportunity for the show’s creative team to place House in a situation in which he’s never really been before in the series.

It provides him (as well as Cuddy) with emotional and practical challenges; it has the potential to once again reset the series in a very positive (and exciting way). I know fans will tell me that “it’s because you like House and Cuddy together.” Actually, although that adds to my enjoyment, I think even people who are not especially into the “relationship” thing on the show will enjoy this episode.

House is never out of character. Not for a second. If you’ve watched the series for several years, even House’s overt romanticism will seem completely in character. I’m going to enjoy this new journey. As Laurie noted, House and Cuddy’s relationship  “is a long time coming,” acknowledging that you can only go so many years teasing. “It had to happen, and “hopefully sparks ensue,” he added. If “Now What?” is any indication, they have indeed “ensued.”

There’s even a crisis (and a connected case) back at the hospital when Princeton-Plainsboro’s only neurosurgeon in town suddenly falls ill. If he goes home, the hospital is at risk of losing its Level 1 trauma center certification. It’s a crisis about which House does his best to keep Cuddy in the dark, calling on his team to manage it (i.e. figure out what’s wrong with the guy) before the hospital is half shut down—and Cuddy’s return really becomes necessary. The hospital storyline is a great counterweight to the romance ensuing in House’s apartment. As is the story of 13’s intended leave of absence from the team with twist of an ending.

More on “Now What” Monday night after the episode airs. House, M.D. premieres for its seventh season Monday night, September 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox. 

An invitation for Chicago area fans of this column: please be sure to stop by Goose Island Brew Pub Sunday night from 7-9 p.m. to celebrate the launch of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. We’ll talk House, schmooze about season seven and more. 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Lucas

    I like this episode in so many ways. I was expecting, since Season 5, that House and Cuddy must be together. It’s so cool and relaxing (at least for me) that they are together. Now, since the show’s end, I remember this episode with nostalgic and other feelings. The subplot between the team (and specially the scene with Rock, scissors and Paper, that was so funny to me! haha) and 13 leaving the hospital was nice. I was – shocked is not the right word but… – when Chase asked 13 to have sex. The look of her face, like “Are you being serious?” haha. I like it. When season 7 started, with this episode, I thought it would be great (I didn’t know if it was going to be better than season 6 at the time), but, with 13’s departure, I was upset. First Cameron back in “Teamwork” and now, 13? You can’t compare both characters, they are different. But, I liked so much 13, (less than Cameron, of course) but I was exciting about what would happen now 13’s gone and House doesn’t know it at all?

  • Janine

    Loved the ep, and RobF I’m pretty sure his is all th elovey dovey stuff we get. I was shocked at Ken Tuckers review of the episode on EW.com (he HATED it) but luckily the majority of fans in the comment sectin came to the episodes defense. More discussion in your official review Barbara.

  • RobF

    Some reviews have expressed disappointment that romance-House was not an insensitive, sarcastic jerk. I’m glad to come here, where everyone is well aware that insensitivity and sarcasm are House’s defense mechanism, that inside the prickly exterior is a soft, gooey centre.

    Soft and gooey it was, wasn’t it? All the “you haven’t said you love me”, “are you sure you’re ready to go public with us?”, “I can’t be redeemed so you mustn’t love me” seems like material straight out of a teenage vampire angst-fest. Yet somehow it worked with House and Cuddy, precisely because they are not whiny teenagers with perfect hair. They have been through the wars to get where they are in their lives, and they have no idealism about each other. Each knows how devastating this relationship could be if it goes wrong, and they know how hard it will be for them to keep it from blowing up in their faces. Yet they have taken the leap of faith, and chosen to be happy against the odds.

    That said, while I wish them well, I don’t know how much cuddling, board games, and bubble baths I can stand to watch. I love these characters, but please torture them some more for my amusement.

    As for the other characters:
    I love how everyone always expects Chase to meddle in their lives, when he never does. Not because he respects their privacy, but because he is so self-centred that he doesn’t care.

    A couple of seasons ago, I wouldn’t have been sorry to see Thirteen go, but the writers turned her into an excellent character who will be sorely missed. If only they could work that same magic on Foreman!

  • Elisabeth

    @Susan – sounds like it’s time to buy the Season 1-6 DVDs!!! Season 6 was released at the end of August.

  • Susan

    I’m waiting with bated breath for Monday’s episode – I’ve loved Cuddy and House’s relationship since Day 1 and just hope that it will end in their living “happily ever after”. I couldn’t bear it if they broke up.
    Now my only problem is a Parent’s Night scheduled at my child’s school for Monday night at 7:00………The DVR is programmed but I have no space left on it due to too many recorded House episodes. Which do I delete? Help!

  • Flo

    That’s okay Jay, your comment was vague and as Barbara pointed out, we don’t have to click on the links, I didn’t.

    I was just making a remark, that since people don’t want to spoil other people here, the comments were so vague that it was hard to understand the discussion if you didn’t click on the links.

    But I don’t want to click, I’d rather to not understand the discussion here than to be really spoiled. It’s a choice.

    Ruthinor, Jay, you didn’t spoil me, don’t worry about it. 🙂

  • Jay

    Flo, I’m so sorry if my comment was spoilerish. I thought that it was a vague spoiler since it didn’t give any really specific details. I should not have asked Barbara about additional clues to the comment I posted. You’re right, this is a spoiler free zone and I should have respected that. I am very sorry.

  • Ruthinor–there’s no hard and fast rule. I do try to write my previews so they avoid spoilers and a lot of spoilerphobes feel pretty comfortable here, but people don’t have to click. Always alert if spoilers abound, that way, you’ll be safe 😉

  • ruthinor

    Barbara, if you wish this site to remain free of links to other reviews that may contain spoilers, I would be happy to abide by that rule. I enjoy a variety of opinions, but I understand that many folks don’t wish to be tempted!

  • rsg

    I can’t wait!! Thanks for the preview, much appreciated as usual:)

  • Flo

    The only review I read is this one by Barbara because I trust her not to be spoilery as I don’t like this.
    I consequently didn’t click on the links you provided and I think it wasn’t the right place to to do so. Indeed, you basically wrote comment about other articles than Barbara’s and, in wanting to avoid saying spoiler, ended up writing vague comment that only spoilerphobe could really understand.

    I’m glad you didn’t write any spoiler as I’m glad I didn’t click on your links. I don’t want to be rude, it is not my intention but this blog used to be a spoiler free zone (links included) and I’d like it to remain so.

    That being said, I understand why you all felt the need to compare the reviews as I am sure that some reviewers don’t care about being spoilery and that point of view is everything.

    Like the rest of you, I can’t wait for Monday (well Tuesday for me).

  • Jay–only that its important, and absolutely essential to the story and the series. Genius.

  • Jay

    I’ve read most of the reviews that have come out and I’m so pleased with all of them. They’re all really good and they’re saying that the romance is being explored in a very classy way and not the cheesy way that I feared.

    One of the commentors provided a link for a review from the New Haven Register. The review says the following (not spoilerish): “There is an argument scene between House and Cuddy in “Selfish” that is breathtaking in its drama, poignancy and depth.”

    Do you know if there’s any truth to this, Barbara? Any clues as to what it might involve. 🙂

  • Ruthinor: That’s what so fun about House–you can look at the show through many different perspectives

  • my TIVO is all set to record. One of my favorite shows on television. (Sigh) – I wish all doc’s were are smart as House!

  • ruthinor

    Perhaps the bombshell was just something said in passing. I find it interesting, when reading several reviews, how different the emphasis can be. I would expect that most male reviewers would be more interested (or say that they are more interested!) in the medicine. And I thought that this reviewer was upfront about that. I like the medicine too, so I always check out both Barbara and “Polite Dissent”. Most ( not all) of the rave reviews have been from women, and I would expect them to be more into the relationships in House’s life. Medicine was secondary in the female reviews.

    BTW Janine, I also guessed correctly about 13. Should be interesting.

  • I read the review in the Register. It’s very, very spoilery. But he watches it from a particular point of view (don’t we all?). He watches for the medicine, calling himself a purist (well, I’m a purist too, and I think the medicine and House’s journey are both extremely important–and some of the series best eps have had nothing to do with conventional medical stories–nuff said).

    The bombshell is no bombshell is not actually very important in the grand scheme of things. Pay it no nevermind 🙂

  • Janine

    if your read the titles from spoilertv, i’m pretty sure those came from one of teh writers on twitter (but i could be wrong) the ones on House Daily Dose seam wrong
    Yes the article is spoilery and i skipped over some parts of it but to my surprise, I had actually totally guessed about Thirteen and why she is leaving, so I’m not upset that I read that. I don’t understand why people would think this reviewer is being untruthful. Barbara, without giving us any more information could you just give us a yes or no answer as to weather all or some of this reviewers information is correct?
    I’m glad that even a non-Huddy was able to write a positive review about this episode and that he likes both episodes.

  • Greenhouse

    Argh! Your review is killing me!
    Monday seems so far away!
    How lucky you are to have seen it already! Like D_B, I must admit I still can’t believe this is really happening!

    I want to thank you Barbara, with all these last articles which have really helped time go by and brought such thoughtful comments and debate from everyone.

    I look forward to coming here every week (Tuesday?Wednesday? No pressure…) starting next week to read your reviews!!

    Maybe you could give the answer to our debate on one of your other posts : first names?last names? Hoping it’s not considered spoilery.

  • ruthinor

    Some people who have read the New Haven review think it is not truthful, but the reviewer seemed pretty up front to me. He prefers the medical mysteries to the relationships, and so he preferred episode 2 to episode 1, but, in general he was very positive in his attitude. And recall, the “big spoiler” did not actually occur. It’s Wilson’s fault!

  • savtaof5

    The New Haven Register review of the first two episodes Ruthinor just included in her post is really, really spoilery. I did love reading it. Of course, it whetted my appetite even more for the big night on Monday.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    I don’t know about those episodes and the titles… The filming locations listed for “What Now” are the ones we got clear confirmation are NOT in this episode (the beach and Pier Beach club filming photos that will be used in a further episode). So i’m taking those with a grain of salt.

  • ruthinor

    I’m glad that those who have read them enjoyed the reviews. Google is an amazing instrument! ****** spoilers below for those not wanting to know. The review below is from a different prospective in that the author prefers the medical mysteries to the Cuddy-House interactions. It contains one bombshell that I’m not sure I believe, but it is there to whet your appetite!

  • John–I think they’ve already begun to address that in episode two. I’m going to love this ride. I trust David Shore’s cynicism, the writers’ gift for dialogue and the actors’ instincts and intelligence to carry it off! I am so stating for the record:)

  • John Wilson

    House is a smart program so maybe they will solve the problems of a program maintaining it’s interest after the central tension is resolved. Now that would be like a real marriage.

  • Janine

    I’ve read that too,it sounds good! also the titles for the first nine episodes have been released. spoilertv if you want

  • Delia_Beatrice

    @Barbara, thank you for your answer. It sounds so good, i am beyond myself…

    @Ruthinor, thank you for that link. I’ve read many previews to this episode, but the one you posted sounds like the most mature and true interpretation of what is going on there – and it fills me with unspeakable joy.

    Here’s to The Monday of our dreams coming sooner:)

  • ruthinor

    That’s true, Janine. It just goes a bit further in describing Cuddy’s reactions. Also, just read that they cast a very famous actress as Cuddy’s mom. I don’t know if that would be considered a spoiler, so I won’t say it here. Google Ausiello if you want to know more.

  • Janine

    WOW an A plus!!! I’m so excited. P.S. its not too spoilert for those who want to read it. It doesn’t mention much more than Barbara did.

  • DebbieJ.

    Thank you for your preview Barbara and thank you for staying spoiler free. You’ve got me more anxious for Monday night than I already am and I didn’t think that was possible! LOL

    I also just received my copy of CZ in the mail yesterday. I cannot wait to savor it.

  • D_B: It goes both ways. The do A LOT of talking like adults.

  • ruthinor

    The source below has spoilers**** so if you don’t want to know, don’t read it. It’s a detailed review of episode one that should answer questions that are worrisome for some. Again, I apologize in advance for copy and paste not working here.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Barbara, thank you very much indeed. It is amazing to read this, as it’s been amazing to watch the promos, sneak peaks and teasers. My excitement has turned into trembling, that is all i can say…

    It is actually surreal to see them like this. I am convinced to the core not only of the incredible strength and necessity of this relationship, but also of it’s magic and chance at being an ever-life-changing experience for House, one which i wish, for his sake, will last until the end of times.

    And still, seeing them like this, seeing House so emotionally naked and intimate and romantic with the woman who has been his savior and guardian for all these years… It’s so magical, i feel just like House does: i am even doubting my own eyes, experiencing this sensational emotional rollercoaster under the mark of intense AWE.

    SPOILERY CONTENT: Barbara, please, please, could you please answer one question for me? To the extent that you can, so that you don’t give away what you don’t want to. Cuddy’s initial answer to House’s incredibly insecure “what now?” question is to recite the dull list of her duties. It speaks of her own fear and confusion, her issues of control and responsibility. But is she the one who sets the balance straight again and tries to give him strength and faith? Does she understand how scared he is? Does she try to reassure him and convince him of the power and greatness of her love and commitment?

  • Cynthiaanne (hiyacinth)

    Thankyou for giving us a little insight into House and Cuddys new relationship, i think it is going to be such fun to watch House doing his clumsy best to make it work, have to wait til October for House’s return here, so really looking foreward to your ‘Now What’ review after it airs.

  • Orange450

    Thank you Barbara! You’ve made my anticipation for Monday nite surge even higher, if that was remotely possible 🙂

  • Janine

    thanks Barbara, i didn’t want to be spoiled, so the vagueness is fine. I just didn’t want this to become one of those shows where the child is only there when it is needed and then is never seen nor mentioned . I thought that the pictures may be a smoke screen after reading some reviews that made no mention of a beach, but that seems like a lot of money to spend. its not as thought we just saw them, we also saw equipment ( booms cameras etc) which appears as though something was being recorded. Perhaps it will reappear in a later episode

  • simona

    thanks barbara! You almost killed me with your review and my balance is already shaky :-))
    And thanks because you tried not to reveal much, I’d like to keep me almost “spoiler virgin” for the season premiere and I can’t wait anymore. Really crazy 🙂

  • norhu

    Thanks Barbara. I´m looking forward to season 7 and “Now What?”

  • Eli

    Can’t wait to see the episode! It sounds really exciting!

  • Hi Janine–I will say that the issue of child care comes up at least one very tiny, but important way. (sorry to be oblique, but I can’t explain further without talking about it in a spoilerish context.)

    No clue about the other photos. A cleverly constructed smoke screen?

  • Janine

    I know what you mean. The review posted yesterday by Ruthnor made it seem like House was keeping a deep dark secret from Cuddy, when in reality it is just the fact of the neurosergon, which in a way is sweet, but also House like.
    I have two questions for you Barbara, if the answers will not be spoilery or ruin something
    1.) Where is Cuddy’s child during all of this? It would make her seem like an irresponsible parent if she stayed away all night and into the next day without at least checking up on her kid.
    2.) (Minor spoiler for those who have not seen the pictures released months ago) What happened to the beach? Those pictures were released into the press back in June, but all the reviews of this episode say that House and Cuddy say at his house the whole time.
    Great review, got me even more excited for Monday (which I didn’t thing was possible) Also, just a heads up, Hugh is supposed to be on Ellen on the 21st, so hopefully he will get to talk some about the premier after it airs.

  • Thanks everyone. I tried to (and I think succeeded) in giving the flavor of the episode without spoiling major plot points (not already revealed by Fox and the show).

  • Louise

    Your review is so lovely 🙂
    I don’t regret reading it even if I avoid spoilers. You’re the only journalist to have succeeded in giving a beautiful image of the season premiere : not too much Huddy nor too dramatic events (well, some people make me believe this ep was a horrible thing with dark secrets).
    Can’t wait for the next episode (tuesday for me !) and, of course, your next review.

    (Sorry for the mistakes, I try my best, but French people are absolutely NOT good at foreign languages…)

  • mel35

    “an angel in pink”

    lovely! Great review, can’t wait to see it! 🙂

  • Mariel

    Thanks for this. I always love your articles.

  • sdemar

    So excited for Monday. I can’t wait.

  • Diane

    Sounds like a great episode!Thanks for your insight. I always enjoying reading your articles on House.