So how had House managed to get hard time when, as prison doctor Jessica Adams (Odette Annable) observes, House has had no prior convictions—and no one had been physically injured by his actions. We learn that House hadn’t hired a defense lawyer, instead taking the first deal offered in exchange for a guilty plea. He’d apparently put up no fight, and as Adams suggests, perhaps House intentionally subjected himself to a much harsher sentence than he was due (or would have gotten with a lawyer).
It doesn’t surprise me that House would punish himself much more harshly than would the legal system. He is usually his own harshest judge. And despite his characteristically defiant sarcasm to the parole board, House carries a lot of guilt on his shoulders (not undeserved, in this case) for a great many things. How many times, I wonder, during his time there has House provoked a prisoner to beat him?
The events of season seven have taught House that something has to change in his life. So, House has decided that he wants nothing more to do with medicine. Although, as young prison Dr. Adams observes, House has a “gift,” House believes that it is his gift that’s gotten him into so much trouble. Explaining that he intends to pursue a PhD in particle physics, House says that he wants to research dark matter: the biggest mystery in the universe.
Physics (at least I think they’re physics) equations line the white wall around his bed and the overhang from the bunk above him. It’s as if he’s had a bad breakup with medicine (and the humanity medicine forces him to be around) and has hurtled himself into another discipline. Likely feeling the full impact of his actions, House may believe that only by divorcing himself from humanity entirely—holing himself up in a physics lab may be the only way for him to move on.
As he explains, when he gets out of prison, everything’s changed. “No medicine, no fixing people—done!” He seems to believe that there’s no longer a place for him among “normal people.” He’s so far outside “the circle,” he can’t get anywhere near it. He observes, “There’s a reason we’re locked away from nice normal people.”
For all his personality flaws, House is a natural, and even charismatic, leader when he wants to be. House has been accustomed to being a rock star of medicine for years, getting his own way; making his own rules. But in prison, House has lost all power. His job is to follow the rules; not make up his own.