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House digs to understand why 13 spent time in the slammer, while the team digs through a hoarder's home for medical clues on "The Dig," episode 7x18

TV Preview: Thirteen Returns to House, M.D. for “The Dig”

She’s baaaack! As most of you are probably already aware, Olivia Wilde returns to the House universe Monday as Remy Hadley (otherwise known as “13”) rejoins House’s (Hugh Laurie) team.

The episode’s usual teaser is replaced with House awaiting 13’sHugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde in "The Dig" Courtesy of Fox Network release from a prison somewhere in New Jersey. He comes prepared, complete with do-it-yourself Martini kit, greeting the newly freed prisoner with a refreshing cocktail, which she hungrily downs.

To more observant fans, the timeline seems at first to be a little wiggy, but it makes more sense when you consider that House and Cuddy get together at the end of last season’s finale (“Help Me”) and the first episode of season seven takes place moments later. (And of course, as you know “time is not a fixed construct,” even in House’s world.) That said, we are reminded that 13 has been gone a year, around the same time House and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) got together.

Taking place “a couple of weeks” after House and Cuddy’s breakup, House is still pretty raw. This little side trip with 13 provides House a good distraction and an opportunity to begin to put the pieces back together. 

Although House knows that 13’s been in prison for six months, having plead down to an “overprescribing” charge, he doesn’t know what she really did. What happened during those six months after her disappearance in “Help Me” and her imprisonment months later?

This is the puzzle that House ponders during “The Dig” as he “digs” and probes 13 for clues. “I need to know” what happened, heOlivia Wilde and Hugh Laurie in The Dig, courtesy of Fox Network practically pleads at one point. I can’t tell you what she did (I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself Monday night). But after the hedonistic bender of “Out of the Chute” and insanity of “Fall From Grace,” a puzzle to solve and a “spud gun” tournament to win may just be with the doctor ordered.

It turns out that 13 won a high school science fair with an experiment in clean combustion (let’s hear it for the geeky girls of the world!). House can use someone like her to beat his archrival at spud gun, who has come in first several years in succession. This side story has some surprises and a lot of fun, but leads to 13’s big reveal. Along the way, there is stop for clothes at Macys, a shared motel room, pie eating (like from a pie shop), and the big tournament.

The patient story is also exceptional this week. The patient has big secret, and it is only by digging into his past and his wife’s belongings that it comes out. The story has a lot of twists and turns, jumping to conclusions and and…digging. Hence the episode’s title.

Foreman (Omar Epps) does some digging of his own, trying to find out what Taub (Peter Jacobson) is up to, as he’s become evasive and secretive about his current love life. The reveal caught me off guard as much as it caught Foreman. Cool.

To me, House’s big adventure away from Princeton, away from Cuddy and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard)—and away from the sour memories of the past two episodes…er…weeks, does much to rehabilitate him. A puzzle is less self-destructive than leaping from a hotel balcony, taking narcotics, and impulsively getting married (no matter what his motives, which I believe were probably more noble than he’d admit).

It is obvious in his conversations with 13 on their journey to the spud gun contest that House is still hurting a lot from the breakup. This is clear when 13 asks whether Cuddy is still with Lucas Douglas (of course she wouldn’t have known about Cuddy’s relationship with House). House tells her that he has been with her “until a couple of weeks ago,” acknowledging that it was almost their “one year anniversary” so wistfully (bravo to Laurie for that wonderful moment) that you know it hasn’t been far from his mind since they’ve broken up.

House allows himself the luxury of being vulnerable with 13, which then impels her to return the favor, haltingly providing him the clues he needs to figure out what happened to her.

There has always been something interesting going on between House and 13, and I don’t mean romantic or even sexual. He has always been protective or her, kicked her in the pants when she’s needed it. But she has always called him on his guardedness and deflections, certain that there’s something more to House than an irredeemable jerk. And in the end, 13 is correct. Anyone suggesting that House lacks humanity or believes that compassion is simply collateral damage to an incessant need to solve medical puzzles is wrong. Full stop. I’m going to stop here, lest I give away too much.

I will be on a conference call with “Power That Be” David Shore (House’s creator) tomorrow afternoon. I will likely only get in a question or two, but I will be back tomorrow with a full report. Meantime, enjoy the clip.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

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