There are many ways of being “broken”: a broken mind, a broken body, a broken spirit. Dr. Gregory House’s body has been broken for years. Never healed, his leg a constant and ever-painful reminder of what he was and can never again be, he has never learned to move on from that defining moment.
Over the course of last season, House's fragile psyche was bombarded with loss upon loss, that wound deepened, bringing along with it first his mind and finally his spirit. And it is only from that point, that House, in a brilliantly nuanced and dynamic performance by Hugh Laurie, can House even begin to heal. Like a misshapen bone that needs breaking before it can be set, is it sometimes necessary to reach a point of such brokenness that you can begin to heal?
“Broken,” the feature-length season six premiere of the hit television series House, M.D. is arguably the best episode (technically, two) to come out of five-plus seasons of the series. And that’s saying a lot. It's a major departure for the series, even more (much more) than the first season's "Three Stories."
In a lot of ways, “Broken” resets the series, lyrically and seamlessly. You can enjoy it whether you’ve been watching since day one or have never seen the series before. If you are new to the show, it will set you off trying to find the DVDs from the first five seasons. (Make sure you watch from the beginning.)
When House comes to Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital at the close of season five, he is having delusions (including a sexual encounter with Cuddy), which he believes are the result of long-term Vicodin abuse. Admitting himself to the hospital in the final scene of last season, "Broken" opens with House going through narcotics withdrawal.
Within the first five seconds, you are aware this is not a typical episode of House. Gone is the teaser. Gone is the familiar “Teardrop” opening theme. The anatomical drawings. The boat on the river. The credits roll over the opening sequence: House alone in a small cell, in agony—deep in the throes of narcotic withdrawal. Neither as pretty or as fast as his imagined detox in “Under My Skin,” the penultimate episode of season five, it is almost painful to watch the agony through which House must go to have his body finally clear of opioids.