At the end of the season two House, M. D. episode “Distractions” (2x12), House (Hugh Laurie) has a conversation with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) about balance in the universe. Having just settled an old score with a medical school rival, House says, “An eye for an eye, LSD and antidepressants. Everything in balance. Buddhists call it karma and Christians call it the golden rule.” But Cuddy wonders if House actually believes that this is the way the world works—that the world is just, when he clearly does not. “No,” he answers, “but it should."
In a way, “Instant Karma” reminded me of an “old school” season two House. The original team is back and working together on a great medical mystery. We’re reminded that House is the best: a legendary diagnostician, better than the best money can buy. People seek him out on sheer reputation.
He is confident in his diagnoses—all of them. And even after he diagnoses a fatal illness, House continues to turn the case in his head, at least subconsciously in his mind. Until everything clicks into place, as it should, in the last few minutes of the episode.
Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), Chase (Jesse Spencer), and Foreman (Omar Epps) do what they do best and their synergy in diagnosing their young patient seems to still fit comfortably. Taub is gone, resigned two weeks ago, disinterested in working for Foreman. And 13 (Olivia Wilde) has also quit, not wanting to be anywhere close to Foreman’s orbit.
But a lot has changed in House’s world since the end of season three when the original team breaks up. Everyone’s more world-weary: House is still recovering, and still without a medical license. He seems to like not being in charge and is in no hurry to be the boss again (at least that what he believes), but as Chase ultimately tells him, no matter who thinks they’re in charge, House is the boss—and always will be. And it shows throughout “Instant Karma.”
It is so good to see House back in the front seat, if only with Foreman at the wheel (or at least controlling the brakes). House makes light of this new arrangement, enjoying the freedom of being the star, without the responsibility of liability lawsuits or administrative duties.