(SPOILERS) House, MD Is Larger Than Life

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The January premiere of House, MD, found us watching as a man -- Jack Nash -- heroically saved a woman stuck in the throes of a seizure on the subway tracks (no one, I thought was interesting, asked how a woman having a seizure ended up there in the first place, but I digress). Nash collapses afterward, injuries unrelated to the train, deemed by the press "The Subway Hero."

House and his team case have a new case. (SPOILERS ABOUND!)

(Photo courtesy FOX Productions)

This is where, as a medical geek, I give credit to the House, MD team for the medical terminology that they use in every episode. As someone who grew up in a household that kept Grey's Anatomy of the Human Body and the Merck Manual on the coffee table (and a nurse myself) while own family performed differential diagnoses at the dining room table (you can imagine how awesome it was to bring a boyfriend over), I know medicine. I love medicine. I even play a dorky game, "What's Ailing You?" while I watch the show to see if I can beat the team. Often, I can. Last night, watching the January premiere of House, MD, I did.

It was a good sign that Hugh Laurie was directing this episode of House, MD, now in its seventh season. Hugh Laurie tends to perform more interesting, angled camera work and include more eclectic music. The January premiere didn't disappoint. The episode, called "Larger Than Life," was excellent.

I'm still grappling with the newishly sober Dr. House, because I'd gotten so accustomed to seeing him as an addict. I'm also coming to terms with his relationship with Dr. Cuddy, as I'd frequently imagined a life where we'd run off into the imaginary sunset. Oh, well. There's always Dexter. Enough about my fake marriages. Onto the show!

Masters, the Girl Genius on the team and House's conscience, discovers Jack, "The Subway Hero," in the ER and decides that he will make an excellent case. During the differential, Masters and House get into a debate over the "heroic" deed that Jack performed: Was it really a symptom? House, of course, claims that no normal person -- someone who does not ordinarily perform heroic deeds -- would ever jump onto the subway platform, in front of a barreling train, to save another (with the amount of pee on the subway platforms here in Chicago, I'm sort of agreeing with him). Masters believes that Jack is, indeed, a hero.

The team begins a series of tests to determine what Jack is suffering from. House believes that it is a neurological issue.

While Masters, whose deadpan delivery of her earnest lines I simply love, and Chase attend to the patient, House tries to get both Wilson and Cuddy to let him out of plans he's made with each of them for that same Thursday by playing them against each other. It's Cuddy's birthday and her mother is in town for the occasion, while Wilson has a film festival he's planning to take House to, now that he and Sam have broken up. House, it turns out, wants to sit home alone, drink scotch, and watch bad reality TV. Which, come to think of it, sounds pretty full of the awesome.

Taub, on the other side of town, notices unenthusiastically that the marketing department of the hospital has decided that he is the new face the hospital. His face is plastered all over billboards across town with the likeable slogan, "Be Better." Taub is shockingly underwhelmed by the billboards and is stewing over his wife's relationship with her "online boyfriend." When he gets home (a little sadly now) to talk to his wife Rachel, she jumps his bones.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, our patient Jack isn't doing so well. The tests that he's undergone have made him sicker. Time for more tests. More diagnoses. Another differential. This time, the team performs the differential at a bus stop on the ad with Taub's face on it. Masters and House argue about their next move. House wants to do something risky and invasive while Masters, in a very Cameron-esque move, wants to do something safer.

Jack's wife, Eva, insists that Taub take over her husband's case when the Taub Ad convinces her that he is the hospital's "most trustworthy doctor." (cue ironic laughter) As she tells Taub that Jack been touring the country with his college band for sixteen years, looking for their big break, she confesses that "Jack is just not the hero type," and Eva is tired of his behavior. Taub suggests that perhaps there's more to her husband than she'd thought. This is a weighted statement coming from Taub, who is openly grappling with his past infidelities and inability to accept that his wife has feelings for someone she's met online in a support group for unfaithful spouses.

Cuddy's mother, played by Candice Bergman, unexpectedly shows up undercover in the clinic to meet House. When he is (predictably) rude to her, House freaks out and tries to cancel on the birthday dinner for Cuddy. House won't be spending the night alone on the couch watching reality television, after all. Instead, he will be having a birthday dinner with Cuddy, Wilson and her mother. I feel unexpectedly bad for him.

During Cuddy's birthday dinner, any sense of "wow, that House can sure be an *ss!" is thrown out the window when we see Cuddy's mother in action. My jaw actually hung open as Cuddy's mother lobbed insults around the table like tennis balls. I may watch it again to take notes, because she was so stunning in her cruelty. However, even on good behavior, House is still House. As Cuddy's birthday present, he sedates both Wilson and her mother. I swooned.

Alas, our patient is still very, very ill. Taub is still very, very conflicted. Taub's wife, it seems, has feelings for her "online boyfriend," but she wants Taub to have sex with her all of the time. Taub feels used. Masters pointedly asks him why he and his wife remain unhappily married after all of these years. Taub answers that they've been together for so long that he doesn't know how not to be with her.

Finally, after long last, Cuddy's mother is good for something. She brings House to his (SPOILER ALERT!) case-solving epiphany when she mentions that she's cutting her visit short because she (DOUBLE WIN) caught a cold from one of her grandchildren.

BING BING BING.

There it is! Our diagnosis: Chicken pox.

During treatment, Taub overhears Jack tell his wife that although he promised he'd stay home once he got better, he's going back on the road "one last time." Taub sees that Jack hasn't changed at all: It's always been "one last time," one last time.

This gives Taub perspective to see his own marriage as it is. He sadly asks his wife for a divorce.

Our antihero House finally gets his night alone, away from Cuddy and Wilson, happily sitting in his underwear on the couch, watching bad television and drinking scotch (oddly, a parallel of what I am doing tonight). Bliss.

BlogHer contributing editor Becky Sherrick Harks also blogs at her personal blog Mommy Wants Vodka and the group blog she founded, Band Back Together.

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