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House, M.D. returns in three weeks, but what will prison have taught the good doctor?

Will Prison Change Doctor Gregory House?

I keep wondering about which Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) we’ll get in three weeks when House, M.D. returns to FOX for its eighth season. I know we’ll get Jail!House, dressed for success (not) is prison orange. But that’s not what I mean. I mean, once he’s out of the slammer and back in the friendly confines of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, what then?

I’m focused on that because, frankly, that’s why I watch House—and always have. I’ve always found House, M.D. a fascinating character study of a deeply flawed and complex troubled soul.

I imagine that while he’s in prison, he’ll be all about the pushback and toughness. House will use every bit of his considerable street smarts to manipulate his way through a system that would eat him alive if he didn’t. He’ll be sweet and compliant enough to please the powers that be, and at the same time, get his way by his wiles and medical brilliance. His fellow inmates will see him (eventually) as some sort of legendary hero who work miracles. Despite what we’ve seen in the promos so far released to the public, I believe this is the Gregory House that will eventually re-emerge into the daylight post prison.

So, I do not think he’ll feel chastened or at least outwardly show the tiniest bit of remorse for what he’s done to Cuddy and the havoc he’s wreaked with his own life. I do not think we’ll see House very introspective in public—even with Wilson, and certainly not with the diagnostics team or the new dean of medicine. I think he’ll distance himself from everyone, viewing his patients as puzzles and putting his emotions in the deep freeze. He probably blames his lack of emotional control—and allowing himself to feel—for all of his troubles these past two years. Even if he’s had months of new therapy, he’ll never let it show in front of his colleagues—especially not at Princeton-Plainsboro.

And he’ll probably be a bigger jerk than we’ve seen him in years. He’ll be caustic, uber-rational and unemotional. His sarcasm muscles will be primed and ready. He’ll act as if nothing matters and that the events of the past several months have barely fazed him. And I’m okay with that—if. If we get something—some signal, some sign that somewhere deep behind those expressive blue eyes that it does matter.

It will have to be tempered by something of which we’ve seen very little over the past couple of seasons, and that is House in his more private moments. We’ve been privy to very few of those moments where we see House alone in his flat or his office, introspective, thinking, hurting, agonizing. And with House’s emotional life more open to us as his feelings about Cuddy, his leg and life in general have been exposed we haven’t necessarily needed those moments.

But I think that in the aftermath of Season 7, House will be completely emotionally closed off, much as he had when we first met him back in Season 1. But back then, and through the seasons, all that had to happen was for the camera to pan in close up on his eyes, and we would know. There was a rich and complex emotional life hiding behind them—and we could see it. But only we could see it. Wilson, Cuddy, the team—none of them had perceived what really goes on beneath the surface. So as long as we get those moments, I’m just fine with an unbowed and still-arrogant House.

Here’s to a great Season 8! House, M.D. premieres Monday, October 3 at 9:00 p.m. ET on FOX. And for those of you who are curious and haven’t seen it, a little preview from the folks at FOX:

 

 

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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