[Warning: this review will spoil the episode for you]
Six months after Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) mysteriously disappeared from Princeton Plainsboro for her “trip” to Italy in the House season 7 premiere, we finally see what the Huntington disease-stricken physician was really up to.
As the episode, entitled “The Dig,” opens with House (Hugh Laurie) standing outside of a prison, it’s easy to tell that Thirteen’s absence wasn’t as self-imposed as we initially thought. With a new mystery waiting for him at the steps of a New Jersey penitentiary, the ability to take the famed diagnostician outside of his familiar surroundings provides the perfect setting for the episode to unfold, and ultimately reveal Thirteen’s biggest secret.
Once again, this review contains major SPOILERS for the House episode, “The Dig.”
With Chase (Jesse Spencer), Taub (Peter Jacobson), Foreman (Omar Epps) and Masters (Amber Tamblyn) stuck back at Princeton Plainsboro, the episode is surprisingly lacking the appearance of fan-favorites Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). Fortunately, the manner in which this episode decides to focus its attention and beautifully balance both the hospital storyline and the mystery surrounding Thirteen’s incarceration, House fans will hardly notice that they’re missing (although, I’m sure there will be a few who do).
While the patient-of-the-week at Princeton Plainsboro is far from the most intriguing story to be told in the series’ seven year run, it does provide a wonderful foundation for many of the so-called “forgotten” characters to shine. An implied hoarder with a deep secret is something that fits in nicely with the given title of the episode and allows for the indented duality to extend to the House and Thirteen storyline.
For much of the episode, the mystery surrounding her incarceration is rightfully the focus of the show. But, for those that watch closely, you’ll begin to realize that it isn’t the highly-anticipated revelation that Thirteen euthanized her brother who had been overcome with the symptoms of Huntington disease that makes this episode wonderful, it’s the emotional journey that the viewers see unfold within both House and Thirteen.
Considering this episode marks the return of Thirteen, it’s only appropriate that the episode focuses on her story, but given the recent break-up of the fanatically named “Huddy,” House has just as much soul-searching and emotional atonement as Thirteen.
Although Chase and Masters have some semi-romantic-esque (this is Masters that we’re talking about) moments that could certainly shine if contained within many of this season’s episodes, and Foreman’s terrific adventure of catching Taub sleeping with his own (ex)wife was a beautiful way to conclude the storyline for one of the series’ most under-rated characters, it was – by far – the scenes between House and Thirteen that made the episode.
With specific scenes wonderfully peppered through-out the episode, the viewers remain connected to the storyline – even with the shift of focus changing, or the inclusion of a superfluous potato gun contest. And, yes, the “spud gun” contest was superfluous. But that doesn’t matter. Given the depth that these perfectly executed scenes reach, the question of whether or not the given situation makes sense seamlessly falls away as you soon realize that the only way in which these scenes would be fully realized would be outside of the familiar confines of both characters.
A beautifully frank decision about House’s relationship with Cuddy at some proverbial dive-bar/restaurant, the moment at which Thirteen cries by herself in the middle of the night, and the brash confrontation where Thirteen tells House that she now knows why Cuddy broke up with him: all of these are wonderfully surprising character moments. Surprising, because in the last few episodes, the series somewhat went astray from its uniquely contemporary manner of storytelling.
In this episode, not only did the original vision of storytelling return, but it specifically led up to one of the most revealing moments of the entire series. As House sits next to Thirteen in the car and assures her that “I will kill you” when her Huntington disease progresses to such a extent that she no longer wishes to live, there’s a sense of expectedness that instantly rushes over you. Given the series, and given the type of person House is, one would have expected him to say something like that.
Of course, that notion quickly passes and then one really begins to contemplate exactly what that statement means. As a doctor, House is wonderfully original and spectacular in his ability to solve problems. But when it comes to someone being able to rely on him, he always falters. With the promise that House made to Thirteen, he is able to both fulfill his consistent need to achieve medicinal righteousness for his given patient, all while serving as the emotional crutch in an almost certainly dire situation.
This aspect, while both completely intriguing and emotionally revealing, will allow the character of House to emotionally evolve to a point in which he is able to reciprocate the level of emotion security that is needed to sustain an honest relationship.
Well, unless he decides to stay married to the prostitute… then I’m not sure.
House airs @8pm on Fox
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