This week’s episode of “House” marked the much-awaited return of Olivia Wilde, and we’re very pleased to report that she delivered big and made her comeback especially memorable. While the episode struggled to balance its various stories, one of the plots was impressive enough to keep us hooked, leaving us genuinely moved by the end of the hour. Check out the review to see how we felt…

The Players:

  • Director: Matt Shakman
  • Cast: Hugh Laurie, Olivia Wilde, Peter Jacobson, Omar Epps, Amber Tamblyn, Jesse Spencer

Episode Title: “The Dig”

House picks up Thirteen from prison and enlists her help in a, uh, ”spud gun” competition while trying to figure out what she did to get in trouble with the law in the first place. The team treats a patient whose wife is a compulsive hoarder, and Taub spends his free time hooking up with a mystery woman who turns out to be someone very significant from his past.

The Good:

  • House and Thirteen: Olivia Wilde’s return to “House” is as strong as we could possibly hope it to be. The writers have found a way to give her character some interesting developments without getting too melodramatic, something which is always a danger on this show. We’re glad she’s back and look forward to seeing where the show takes this story arc. Her moments with House remind us that Olivia Wilde is a very talented actress who isn’t simply getting by on her looks.
  • Taub’s dilemma: Taub finds himself in a rather unique situation this week, and while we can’t say for sure that he ends up doing the right thing at the end of the episode, we can say that the story went in a direction we weren’t exactly expecting it to. It was a refreshing take on his character, although we don’t know where this particular subplot is going to go, if anywhere.

The So-So:

  • Hoarders: The real emotional weight in this episode comes from the relationship between Thirteen and House; everything else just seems like it was tacked on to take up some screen time. Such is especially the case with these week’s “medical mystery.” The inclusion of a character who epitomizes the hoarder lifestyle seems like a weak attempt to make this part of the episode relevant when it didn’t need to be.
  • Western: There’s a scene in this episode that plays out as a classic gunslinger showdown, and while it added some levity to the otherwise emotionally intense proceedings, we can’t say that it was easy for us to take it all that seriously. No one behaves like that in real life, so the moment felt out of place in an episode devoted to depicting authentic human drama.
  • House’s Wife: We’re really unhappy with the fact that House recently got married, and we’re not too thrilled to discover that the writers can’t even find any interesting way for his “wife” to contribute to the drama. Sure, any attempt to get her involved this time around would have felt artificial, but perhaps we’re just peeved by the fact that she exists, whether she’s involved or not.

The Bad:

  • Masters: Nothing against Amber Tamblyn, who does her best with Masters, but let’s face it, she’s not a well-written character. Her curiosity with the life of her patient seems way too forced, her enthusiasm way too unconvincing. Maybe, like Cameron before her, she’ll mature a bit, but she’s making slow progress.

Overall:

While that review looks as though we weren’t too thrilled about this episode–there’s an equal amount of topics in all sections–we have to say that the main plot, featuring the triumphant return of Thirteen, was strong enough to make this week’s episode memorable. The emotional content of her story was especially effective, and the script even managed to slip a commentary on euthanasia into the episode without making it too explicit. We liked what we saw.

Rating: 8/10

“House” airs every Monday night on FOX!

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What was your take on last night’s episode? Was it a strong return for Olivia Wilde, or were you expecting better?