House has a lot of ground to cover as it returns for the season 8 premiere Monday, October 3 at 9pm on FOX. The show ended last year with House crashing his car through Cuddy’s house and fleeing to a tropical island. That’s a big mess for the show to clean up, and the season 8 premiere starts the process by focusing all of its attention on Dr. Gregory House.

The season 8 premiere is very similar in style to the start of season 6 when House was in the psychiatric institution. This time he’s in prison, but it’s still a one-man show. No other returning cast members appear and they aren’t even mentioned. This episode is all about House and no one else.

But as much as fans may love Wilson and Taub and the rest of the gang, there’s a lot to love about the new season.

“Goodish Behavior”

The very first scene is House sitting before a parole board after serving eight months of a one-year sentence. He’s being considered for early release due to “goodish behavior,” and no phrase has ever more accurately described the good doctor than that one.

Surviving Prison

After a few scenes, fans will start to wonder how House survived eight months in prison. You’d think that being surrounded by big, strong neo-Nazis would make him act a little less like himself, but no. Dr. House has no problem antagonizing the leader of the neo-Nazi gang, which might be the worst idea he’s ever had.

Meet the New Doctor

While the returning cast members don’t show up, we do get to see a lot of new series regular Odette Annable as Dr. Jessica Adams. The show does an incredibly good job establishing the new character and making her someone to root for, and after just one meeting, House sizes her up and offers his analysis of her. The result is more backstory than we’ve ever had for 13, and it’s a good start for her future with the show.

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The House season 8 premiere works wonderfully as a stand-alone episode, but if you’re hoping to find out how Dr. House gets back into his groove and what PPTH will look like without Cuddy in charge, you’ll need to wait. The first episode back is just about how House is doing in prison, and as a character study, it’s pretty darn great.

(Image courtesy of FOX)