My wife and I have been big House fans for some time, but the demands of school have been keeping me away from the television these days. However, between my wife’s telling me that I had to see the season premiere, “Broken,” and DZ’s flagging it last week (see #5), I caved. (How could I not with that title?) I’m not going to attempt to analyze it, but rather am just going to give a little background for those who might not be familiar with the series and offer a few choice quotes from the episode to entice you into watching it yourself.

So, for anyone who hasn’t seen House (anyone else, just skip to the quotes), the main premise is that of Sherlock Holmes in a hospital setting. The titular character, Gregory House, M.D., is a brilliant but socially challenged diagnostician. The following introduction he gives of himself from an early episode should give you a good idea:

Hello, sick people and their loved ones! In the interest of saving time and avoiding a lot of boring chitchat later, I’m Doctor Gregory House; you can call me “Greg.” I’m one of three doctors staffing this clinic this morning. This ray of sunshine is Doctor Lisa Cuddy. Doctor Cuddy runs this whole hospital, so unfortunately she’s much too busy to deal with you. I am a Board certified diagnostician with a double specialty in infectious disease and nephrology. I am also the only doctor currently employed at this clinic who is forced to be here against his will. That is true, isn’t it? But not to worry, because for most of you, this job could be done by amonkey with a bottle of Motrin. Speaking of which, if you’re particularly annoying, you may see me reach for this: this is Vicodin. It’s mine. You can’t have any. And no, I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem. But who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m too stoned to tell. So, who wants me? And who would rather wait for one of the other two guys? Okay. Well, I’ll be in Exam Room One if you change your mind.

He is also a brilliant diagnostician of fallen human nature, characterized by his oft-repeated line about patients, “everybody lies.” To be sure, House has a very Mockingbird understanding of human nature–bad to the bone. What he does not have is a Mockingbird understanding of what saves us from that nature–grace.

So, onto Season 6, which begins in Vicodin detox–not the first time in the series. However, this time is a little different for House. Last season, after the suicide of one of his staff, he began having schizophrenic hallucinations of another character, about whose death he also has lingering guilt. Needing the recommendation of his doctor to get reinstated to practice medicine, he reluctantly allows himself to be committed to long-term inpatient psychiatric care following the detox, hoping to bluff or bully his way into getting what he wants. However, his doctor proves to be his equal in stubbornness and in his understanding of human nature, but unlike House, he actually has an inkling of how grace works.

What follows is a moving (albeit not entirely realistic) picture of what it means to hit rock bottom and to arrive at a point where one has been rendered utterly incapable of doing anything, except realizing one’s helplessness and one’s need for saving.

I don’t want to give away the plot (watch it here), but the following hopefully will whet your appetites:

(I don’t think these are spoilers, BUT if you are at all concerned, just go watch the episode and skip these.)

1. House’s conversation with his roommate, who has just learned House is actually taking his medication:

ROOMMATE: They broke you?!?

HOUSE: They didn’t break me—I am broken. Stop worshipping me and go worry about your own loser life.


2. House’s conversation with his doctor, after he is reminded of the serious hurt he has caused another:

DOCTOR: Why do you value your failures more than your successes?….

HOUSE:
Successes only last until someone screws them up. Failures are forever.

DOCTOR:
So you accept that fact? You accept that there’s nothing you can do?

HOUSE: Okay, I accept the fact that there is nothing I can do. Now…what can I do?

DOCTOR:
You acknowledge failure and you move past it. Apologize.

HOUSE: Wow…powerful things, these apologies….you say two words and move on with your life. Hardly seems fair.

DOCTOR: Is that the issue? You cause him pain; if the world is just, you have to suffer equally? [chuckles] You’re not God, House. You’re just another screwed-up human being, who needs to move on. Apologize to him. Let yourself feel better. Then you can learn to let yourself keep feeling better.



To be sure, the notion of salvation offered in “Broken” is a human one and thus inevitably flawed; however, it’s still a portrait of our desperate need to die to ourselves and be raised to a new life. And that’s just good stuff.