Broken is the premiere episode of the sixth season of House and first aired as a special two-hour special on September 21, 2009. The story takes place during a six month period at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital.
Upon admission, House is introduced to his fellow patients in Ward 6, whom he immediately describes as "crazy". His primary physician is the by-the-book Dr. Nolan, who has the final decision on whether House is well enough to resume the practice of medicine. However, overwhelmed by Dr. Nolan's lack of imagination and the slow progress, and with no diminution in House's caustic nature or medical skills, House immediately sets to work diagnosing his fellow patients in a matter of seconds just to amuse himself and annoy the ward's primary care physician, Dr. Beasley. Wanting out at any cost, he turns to disruption, then deception. However, will even House be able to convince the staff at Mayfield that he may have the answer about one of their patients?
House wakes up dizzy and disoriented in a plain room. Looking at a yellow pill, he finally swallows it and joins his fellow patients. We see a delirious House receiving a sponge bath, and he takes another pill. His right thigh obviously in pain, he pounds at the door of his room calling for help. He is finally restrained to his bed until he lapses into unconsciousness.
He wakes again, less disoriented than before. He takes a few tentative steps while clutching his leg. He starts packing his suitcase and heads for the exit. He tells the nurse his dry heaving has stopped and asks to be released. She says she has to check with Dr. Nolan, but House reminds her he is a voluntary patient. She says she has to check anyway. House breaks in on Dr. Nolan to ask why he hasn't been released. Dr. Nolan interrupts his conversation with another doctor. He tells him that he wants House to stay. House says he's better - no hallucinations or delusions. However, Dr. Nolan pointed out that if all he wanted to do was detox, he could have done that anywhere instead of checking into a psychiatric facility. House says he was deluded into thinking he was crazy. Dr. Nolan tells him his issues run deeper and he should go into long term care. Dr. House says he wants to leave anyway. Dr. Nolan tells him he can't practice medicine until he gets better.
House is welcomed to Ward 6. He speaks to Dr. Beasley about his therapy. He just wants to get his medical license back. He threatens to turn the ward upside down if they don't cooperate with this goal. House is assigned a two person room with a roommate with bipolar disorder, Juan Alvarez, who refuses to take medication. House introduces himself. Alvie then introduces him to the rest of the ward. House requests a new roommate from the staff, but they ignore him. Alvie can't stop talking because of his mania. House heads for the piano, but it's locked up.
The doctors talk about House's threat to turn the ward upside down. Dr. Nolan is concerned about it and tells his staff to watch out.
Dr. Beasley starts a group therapy station. House immediately starts to figure out each patient's problems. Stomp wants to go outside, so he is diagnosed with claustrophobia. Another patient wonders where Stomp is going, and House diagnoses him with paranoia. He diagnoses Hal who is afraid to eat with anorexia nervosa. He notes Susan has cut her wrists and makes a joke about suicide. Dr. Beasley ends group early and directs Dr. House to the solitary cell where they keep uncooperative patients.
Later, they are playing basketball. House sits down with Dr. Beasley who asks if he is ready to play nice. She just wants him to talk to her and deal with other people. Instead, he plays on all the other patient's fears. She forbids him from leaving the yard, but he ignores her.
He hears someone playing piano, and it turns out to be Lydia, the wife of the brother of Annie, the patient who can't speak. Dr. House tells her Annie is merely nodding to the beat of her own pulse and not the music. The orderlies come to lock Dr. House in the padded cell again. Dr. Beasley comes to visit and tells him if he keeps this up, it will be his permanent residence. She asks him if he wants to try something different.
Finally, House goes to the rest of the ward seems to apologize, but then turns the patients against their doctors. When he points out they are being treated like children (they aren't allowed table tennis paddles although they have a table), they start to turn against Dr. Beasley. When Dr. Nolan shows up, he has table tennis paddles and the rest of the patients stop rebelling. House wonders if Dr. Nolan is going to do everything that everyone else wants, but Dr. Nolan tells House he's a natural leader and if he wants to do some good for himself and the other patients, he will do something about it.
House is taken aback and tries to form a new strategy while relaxing in bed, but Alvie is too distracting.
Dr. Beasley starts another group session. A new patient thinks he is a super hero. House walks away from group, but isn't being disruptive. Dr. Beasley calls for a break and tells House she knows he is scheming. She asks him to cooperate for a few days. However, House says he already has a new plan and is "committed".
Back on the basketball court, House asks Alvie if he can go to the third floor and break into Dr. Nolan's office and find out who he met with at 11 am that day. Alvie thinks House is trying to blackmail Dr. Nolan.
Back at the piano, House notices it's unlocked and runs through the first bar of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony until an orderly comes to lock the piano. Alvie is in the custody of the orderlies - he's been caught. However, he reports back to House that the calendar only had time marked off with no name. However, House got her license number and plans to call Wilson to find out who it was.
House and Alvie agree to fake a fight. House is soon subdued and sedated with a Haldol pill in his mouth. However, he has faked swallowing just to get out of the ward and access to a phone. House calls Wilson who is concerned about House's pain, but he is managing it with analgesics. He tells Wilson he will get out if Wilson gets him the name of the woman who was with Nolan. However, Dr. Nolan has already called Wilson to warn him, and Wilson refuses to cooperate. He tells House he will be able to visit if he cooperates. He goes back to Alvie and tells him that he's his only friend, but he still hates him. He tells Alvie he's going to have to cooperate.
House starts participating in group and his privileges score on the big board starts to improve from 0 to 1. He plays some basketball and goes to a 2. He is allowed to go outside unsupervised, and he goes up to a 3. He starts playing Blind Indian with his cellmates with cigarettes as stakes. House cheats by looking at his card in someone's glasses. He's also not taking his medication.
He once again runs into Lydia. She shares with him that Annie, her best friend, used to be a concert cellist for an orchestra in Philadelphia. He suggests she bring a cello next time.
Dr. House meets with a Dr. Medina. They start talking about who started the fight with Alvie. However, the doctor has noted that House isn't having any side effects from the medication he's taking. He offers to take a urine test, and Dr. Medina agrees. They go to get a sample, but the doctor has to watch. He has arranged for Hal to be hiding in a stall to give a sample. He starts singing from HMS Pinafore to cover the sound. He moves up to a 4. Dr. Medina apologizes for doubting him.
Dr. Medina asks Freedom Master Steve to move the piano. House challenges his methods, but the doctor tells the patient he is not a superhero and his wife is dead. However, Steve becomes extremely agitated.
While outside, Alvie tells House not to keep scheming. He says he is upset with himself for not interfering with a doctor who did something totally out of line. Alvie reminds him that if he keeps up the act, he can go home in a few days. They are ordered inside because Susan is being released. They give her a re-birthday cake and a send off. House asks the doctor where Steve is and is only told he can't take part. House goes to look for him and finds him catatonic in his bed. House challenges the doctors about this method because Steve used to be happy and functional and now he can't function at all. Dr. Nolan arrives and asks Dr. House to come with him.
House tells Dr. Nolan he's angry because they screwed up Steve. He also points out he's got a higher score than Susan, who just got released. House wants to continue to be treated on an outpatient basis, but Dr. Nolan refuses. He shows Dr. Nolan that he's not taking his medication and he still is high functioning. Dr. Nolan opens up one of the pills and tells Dr. House to taste it by licking it off his hand. Dr. House realizes that some of the pills are placebos. Dr. Nolan realized he was progressing too quickly and that he probably wasn't taking his medication, so he switched them. When the urine was positive, he realized House wasn't cooperating. He tells House to stop fighting the system and let him do his job.
Alvie asks what the new plan is, but House doesn't have one. He asks Alvie to stop talking.
House sees Lydia arrive with a cello. He comes to offer to help carry it, but when she refuses it, he offers the services of Steve. They go outside and they talk about why she comes to visit her sister-in-law five times a week. Steve struggles with the cello, but it's clear he's still suppressed. House asks for her keys so he can drive the other patient around the grounds. She agrees. However, he tells her he's making an escape attempt. They go to an amusement park where they go on a ride that simulates a parachute free fall. The superhero starts to feel better, as does House. He asks his fellow patient to tell Dr. Nolan he's an idiot. However, he sees Steve standing on the edge of the parking garage, and he jumps off.
House returns to the hospital. Steve survived but is severely injured. Dr. Nolan admonishes House for reinforcing Steve's delusions. Nolan tells House that he doesn't care about anything and that he's going to be transferred to another psychiatric hospital. House asks not to be transferred and admits he needs help.
Dr. Nolan starts a psychotherapy session with House. He doesn't know where to start, but Dr. Nolan tells him the only way to find out what to talk about is to start. He says he's sick of being miserable. He offers House SSRIs, but House is resistant. Dr. Nolan asks him if he's afraid to lose his edge. They talk about whether Van Gogh would have lost his inspiration, and Dr. Nolan says he wouldn't have, but his life would be better. House takes the pill. He agrees to start taking his medicine.
Alvie thinks House is still faking and is upset he's broken. He says he was broken and is now getting better. Alvie tells him he hates him.
House has been there four weeks and Dr. Nolan comes to see him and asks him if he has any insights about the other patients. However, when House does, he notes that he has only talked about how one of the other patient's sees him - Alvie. Dr. Nolan tells him he has to start trusting people.
Dr. Nolan takes House to a cocktail party where he doesn't know anyone. He tells him to talk to some of the other people. He starts talking to a donor who he figures out used to be a patient. He tells the donor that Dr. Nolan is his lover. He meets the visitor who realizes he isn't gay. He and the visitor start playing with one of the other guests, pretending they're married to fool with her mind. Dr. Nolan comes to him later and he admits he was screwing with people and having fun. Dr. Nolan realizes that House has been lying about what he was - a philanderer or porn producer, but he points out that no-one ratted him out. He wonders why House didn't just tell them he was a patient. The visitor comes over to ask if he's in trouble, but he's not. She asks if he wants to be her pimp. He just wants to talk about why she isn't mad about him stealing her car. She thinks he is misguided and irresponsible, but also nice. She says she comes to visit her sister-in-law so often because she used to be her best friend. She says she married the patient's brother after she got sick. The brother stopped coming, but she didn't. She says she has to leave and House wishes her good night.
House goes back to his room and Alvie starts talking to him again, asking what happened. House says he had fun.
House is back in psychotherapy telling Dr. Nolan that he and the visitor kissed. He points out she's married and he's institutionalized. House asks about the woman in the parking lot, but Dr. Nolan denies having an affair with her. However, House starts questioning him. He's noticed he only has one number on his speed dial - his father. He thinks Dr. Nolan is lonely and has no personal life.
The visitor comes back and House asks why she kissed him. She says she just likes him. House plays the piano for her. Superhero patient comes back in the room, and he's depressed again.
House goes back into psychotherapy and tells Dr. Nolan the kiss meant less to him than seeing superhero patient back in his depressed state. Dr. Nolan asks why Dr. House why he dwells on his failures so much. He says success is fleeting, but failure lasts forever. He tells him to acknowledge failure and move past it. He says House is punishing himself for causing pain in others. He has to apologize and move on.
House goes to see superhero patient, but doesn't say anything. However, before anything happens, Dr. Beasley calls for a group session and tells them they will have a talent show. When Dr. Beasley asks for superhero patient's opinion, he is unresponsive. Dr. House doesn't think that he's going to get better the way they are treating him. They have to make things better rather than hoping they will. All of a sudden, House remembers that superhero said "they stole her voice box" when he got agitated, and that he keeps staring. He realizes he is staring at a music box that's locked up in the secure room. He tries to get it and Dr. Beasley calls for an orderly. However, House insists that the music box will work. Dr. Beasley relents. Dr. House grabs the box and tells him to speak. Dr. Nolan comes along and tells everyone to take a break. He tells House he's still trying to fix people instead of moving on.
The visitor comes back with some Dvorczak so they can play together. Dr. House asks her why she keeps coming to him, and she says they are just friends. He's afraid that someone is going to get hurt. She tells him everything comes to an end, but it doesn't mean they can't enjoy themselves. He says goodbye to her.
Back in group therapy, the patient with glasses is wondering if she should have treatment. Alvie is having trouble with his rap for the talent show. One of the doctors brings Dr. House a day pass and tells him Dr. Nolan wants to see him. He finds Dr. Nolan with a comatose patient - his father. He wants to show House his father's chart. House asks him if he ran out of sane doctors, but Dr. Nolan thought he might enjoy a break from the ward. Apparently, his cleaning lady found him unconscious on the floor. The other doctors didn't think anything could be done, but he wanted House's opinion. However, Dr. House confirms a lacunar infarction with a hemorrhagic stroke. This compressed his brain, replacing brain tissue with blood - the other doctors were right. House realized that Dr. Nolan realized this before he arrived and he just wanted permission to pull the plug. He realized that at some point in his life Dr. Nolan lost everything except his father, and now House is the closest thing he has to a friend. House takes off his jacket and sits by the bedside with him.
He finds the visitor crying and apologizes for pushing her away because he was afraid. She says she's calling herself pathetic for bringing a cello for her sister-in-law to play at the talent show. They hug and start slowly dancing. They find somewhere private and start kissing, finally undressing to make love.
At the talent show, Dr. Beasley and the patient with glasses dance the Macarena. Three other patients including the paranoid one sing "You're Nobody 'Til somebody loves you". Stomp does a percussion routine. Alvie does a rap, with House helping to fill in when he runs out of ideas. Alvie finally invites House to the stage and they do a rap duet.
Later in psychotherapy, House asks Dr. Nolan how he's dealing with his father's death. House says things are going well. He goes to apologize to superhero patient and takes the blame for his injuries. He takes him to get his meds, but instead leaves him with the patient who can't talk. He gives her the music box. She opens it and is responsive. She says "thank you" and superhero replies "you're welcome". The unresponsive patient starts playing the cello again much to the delight of her visitor and the other patients.
The unresponsive patient is released with a cake and send off.
House goes to confront Dr. Nolan again. He says that the patient has been unresponsive for a decade and can't just go back to her life. However, he tells him that she's going to a rehabilitation facility in Arizona first, along with the visitor and her brother. House asks for an overnight pass, but Dr. Nolan is worried about him and wants to help. He says he will give him the pass if he wants it, but he hasn't thought it through. He asks for the pass anyway.
He goes to visit the visitor, who has a young son. She tells him they always wanted to move to Phoenix to be closer to her husband's job, and now they can. She apologizes for not coming to say goodbye, but says she has to go.
Dr. Nolan is about to leave when he finds House in the parking lot. He tells him she left him and that he feels lost. Dr. Nolan agrees to write the letter to reinstate his medical license. Dr. House wants to know if he is just being nice, but he tells him that he's doing it because he connected to another person and that he came to see him about the pain instead of running to take drugs. He tells House to go get a good night's sleep so he can say goodbyes the next day.
They give House a cake and a send off. He pretends not to want to hug Alvie, then he does it. He then shoves his own face in the cake.
House is released and goes to the bus shelter. Alvie watches him go, and then goes to ask for medication for his condition. House gets on the bus and goes to sit at the back.
- House goes through detox and is eventually cured of his Vicodin habit.
- After several weeks, House eventually leaves the mental hospital and returns to New Jersey.
The title of this episode might come from any of the following points:
- By voluntarily admitting himself into the psychiatric hospital, he has admitted that something is wrong with him, that he is broken.
- The typical method of the hospital seems to be to "break" their patients before treating them.
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