As House, M.D. fans (well, nearly everyone who reads my column) breathlessly anticipates the much-hyped (and from what little bits I’ve seen, well-deservedly so) “Bombshells” episode to air Monday night, I thought it might be time to take a deep breath and step back.
At the end of this week’s episode “Recession Proof” Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) declares that given a choice between happiness and being a genius doctor (a choice that is in his mind more than reflective of reality), he chooses to be happy and in love with Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). This is an enormous thing for House. I’m not going to go back through the episodes to cite chapter and verse about why; I go into that in my “Recession Proof” review.
What I do want to delve into is House and Cuddy’s relationship, now nearly 10 months old. (Season 7 begins moments after Season 6 ends in the series narrative.) Season 6 ends on Cuddy’s disclosure that she’s broken up with her boyfriend Lucas Douglas (Michael Weston). Choosing the relative safety of being with the goofy, affable, but more-stable-than House Lucas, Cuddy sacrifices what she truly wants for the stability of what Lucas can bring to Rachel, Cuddy’s young daughter. But in the end, she realizes that stability is no substitute for happiness (even if it brings a certain amount of misery along with it) and real love, something she admits when she tells House that as much as she wishes it weren’t true, she loves him.
For his part, this disclosure makes him wonder if he’s not started hallucinating again. But she’s real, and assuring him at the end of “Now What?” that she understands who and what he is, House accepts that and begins to open up to a possibility that hasn’t existed for him for years.
Cuddy sees in House what lies beneath. She knows he can be a jerk; she knows he’s needy and self-absorbed—a narcissist to the core. But she also knows (and reminded in the Season 6 finale) he’s dedicated and passionate as a physician and healer. He can be self-sacrificing and compassionate, and even selfless if the situation demands. House is not good on the niceties—the little things that convention demands whether it’s dealing with a patient or in his relationships. But the big things, he does extraordinarily well. Grand romantic gestures? Career-risking heroism? He’s your guy. He can be sweet and tender, but it’s not like Cuddy is so taken by this that she’s blinded to his considerable baggage—something that hits home by the end of “Recession Proof.”