House – Unwritten (S07E03) – Episode review

It’s [[House (TV Series)|House]] versus the hallucinating mystery writer in Unwritten, Season 7’s third episode. And House starts to wonder exactly what he and Cuddy will have in common once the honeymoon period ends.

The patient of the week is by far the most intriguing thing about this episode: It’s a clear riff on the Stephanie Meyer/Twilight phenomenon, with Alice Tanner (Amy Irving) as the author of the worldwide literary hit detective series, Jack Cannon. As the episode opens, we see her putting the finishing touches to her latest novel and stowing it away before telling a teenage boy that he doesn’t exist.

If the audience are bewildered at this statement, they don’t have time to recover when she puts a gun in her mouth. She ultimately botches the suicide attempt when she has a seizure, and we discover the boy really doesn’t exist. Except he does, but not the way you think.

If there’s one thing about Tanner, it that she’s smart. She’s almost a match for House when it comes to sussing out human behaviour. She tries to avoid treatment, but House outsmarts her by placing her under psychiatric hold. But she still refuses to co-operate.

Naturally, this forces House (Hugh Laurie) into breaking and entering mode – which he brings Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) along on, a kind of working-date. And from there we deduce that Alice may have left clues in her book – which, after an expensive afternoon reading typewriter ribbon on an MRI machine, turns out to be a correct assumption. And from there, House finally discovers that Alice Tanner is a pseudonym and she’s actually the Helen from the books.

Eventually, he’s able to reason with her to get her to accept treatment – but in true House tradition, he has to lie to her in order to convince her. Well, everybody lies, as Taub’s coat will attest.


House’s relationship paranoia about Cuddy is a minor part of the plot this week. After the initial housebreaking incident, their next date is of the double variety with Wilson and his ex-wife. At a go-karting track. Loved House sabotaging Sam’s kart after she off-roaded Cuddy.

What worked better for me was the couple’s dual dynamic. They start to address their viewpoints in “as your girlfriend/as your boss”, and this works quite well, because both impulses – personal and professional – are often entirely at odds.

Unwritten was a fun episode, that took its cues from the mega-blockbuster selling teen literature market and imagined authors like JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer with secrets in their past that spill out into their books. The House/Cuddy romance hasn’t outstayed its welcome yet, either, but it’s clear both characters are still finding their feet.


  • Wilson: “So, instead of enjoying the honeymoon phase, you’ve decided to skip it entirely?”
  • Alice: “Try and stop me.” House: “This woman is on a 72 hour psychiatric hold. If she tries to run, shoot her. With a sedative, if that’s more convenient.”
  • Cuddy: “This isn’t a date, this is a case.” House: “You ever hear of multi-tasking?”
  • House: “I need some help with Alice Tanner. She wants a vagina.” Cuddy: “I’m pretty attached to mine…”

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