“Bombshells.” I can’t think of a more appropriately titled episode for tonight’s episode of House, M.D. Although the episode focuses on Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and her health after she discovers blood in her urine, the series core has always been about the journey of Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie, in a fabulous performance). And while Cuddy's kidney cancer scare provides for her a moment of clarity about what she wants and needs from her relationship with House, it also provides an opportunity to see how far House has come in the past year socially and emotionally.
"Bombshells” asks whether love and happiness have removed enough of House's barriers to allow him to deal with pain and grief. Is he strong and secure enough to deal with the serious illness a loved one?
Last season, House finds it nearly impossible to "be there" for Wilson when he undergoes a liver surgery. House can only see the potential loss of his best friend through the lens of his own grief. “If you die,” House confesses to Wilson, “I’m alone.” So, telling Wilson he can’t be there during the operation, House can’t face the notion that he might lose his best and only friend. In the end, House does come through, gets over his own pain to focus on Wilson's troubles.
If Cuddy dies of cancer, however, it might be an even greater loss for House. He has finally opened up to someone again; he's happy (enough); she is the love of his life; he needs her. Her loss would be a devastating blow to him. He cannot deal with that, so, in denial for the first part of the episode, he worries apart from Cuddy, in his own way. It's almost as if by saying it—acknowledging it by facing her—her loss might be too real. If he stays away, it can’t be true that she will die. So he stays distant, but plagued by a nightmare: a horrific scenario in which he cannot get to Cuddy in time to save her as she’s being devoured by zombies. (It's a great homage to horror movies.)
House is great at the grand romantic gestures. But here, Cuddy doesn’t need romance; she doesn’t need Mariachi bands or romantic breakfasts under the bed. She just needs House to be fully present and at her side, fighting her illness together. But,in his subconscious, House realizes, as his nightmare suggests, that he might not be able to be there when she needs him—no matter how much he may want it. And he does want it. No matter how hard he fights his demons (or zombies), they will win in the end. The zombie dream provides a neat foreshadowing of the episode's end.