It’s a typical day in the life of Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital’s dean of medicine and chief administrator on House, M.D. Up at 5:00 a.m., she starts her morning yoga routine, only to be interrupted by the screams of her baby Rachel, who is apparently sick. It is a mere harbinger of her day to come.
Running later and later, Lucas comes into the house after a nighttime stakeout with House (they must’ve made up since “Moving the Chains”). Lucas convinces Cuddy to be late in order to indulge in a “quickie.” And, yes, I do mean that in the literal sense of the word. Cuddy goes off to work sexually frustrated, but Lucas’ may have another agenda—a bet with House with fifty dollars at stake.
But Monday’s episode of House was a peek behind the scenes at Princeton-Plainsboro, a place where Cuddy lives between the usual lines of script and in between the goings on in the hospital’s diagnostics department. This day, like all days, Cuddy must deal with House and his innovative yet high risk medical practice—like trying to diagnose a patient by giving him malaria. Defending herself against charges of favoritism of House, Cuddy must also fend off the chief of surgery, upset because Chase has left his service to go back to work in diagnostics. (And, he argues, after he only gave the job to Chase as a favor to Cuddy). But these are the least of her problems.
By the opening of “5 to 9,” Princeton-Plainsboro is in the end-stage of negotiations with a major insurance company over reimbursements. Being dealt what she believes is an unfair “final offer” from the insurance carrier, Cuddy has decided to play hardball with the corporate negotiator. Not believing that Cuddy is tough enough, the (rather sexist) negotiator refuses to deal, but he is wrong as Cuddy threatens to terminate their contract entirely—a game of brinkmanship of which she’s not entirely confident.