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'House': EP on Chase's future

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HOUSE
Jennifer Clasen/FOX

After getting a chance to check out tonight’s major episode of House a bit early, I knew we’d all be filled with questions and thoughts on the exceptional hour. Thankfully, executive producer and episode director Greg Yaitanes was ready and willing to chat with EW.

To recap, the episode found House and his team under the scrutiny of Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Walter Cofield, an old mentor of Foreman’s (Omar Epps) who came to Princeton-Plainsboro to determine whether House was at fault for an incident that resulted in Chase (Jesse Spencer) being gravely injured. The episode, says Yaitanes, examined “the show at it’s very core” and really put the series on trial, which in turn, [put] House’s process on trial.”

Though the episode ended, ultimately, with House not being held liable, it also left us on a milestone note: House took responsibility for the incident and apologized to Chase, who had been paralyzed as a result of his injuries. He was expected to fully recover after a successful surgery, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a host of challenges before him, says Yaitanes.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This must have been a fun episode for you to take on as director.

GREG YAITANES: 100 percent. To be able to draw on everything that has happened before [and] to be relevant to what you’re doing and inform what you’re doing, is enormously challenging and daunting. But I love the fact that it was so steeped in something that meant so much to the show. [I felt what it was like] to be one of the guilty parties who has cheered on House’s process over the years and to now see that on trial and to ask the questions that I should have been asking myself [all along]. Now someone has gotten hurt. What does it mean when someone gets hurt and what responsibility do you have for cheering someone on through their reckless behavior? That’s really what the team has to look at — as well as House — and what Cofield, Jeffrey Wright’s character, was there to do.

I love the last scene, which I saw as a huge step for House because he owned up to the exact thing you’re talking about. Tell me about the weight in that statement.

To see him do that, which he’s not done in the history of the show, it was a big, big deal. That was actually something that was really a moment. We made sure to put that moment at the very end of shooting so it would be fueled by all the themes before it and so Hugh could really have that to work from.

I have so many Chase questions. How quickly is he going to bounce back? How are we going to find him in the next couple episodes?

Next week’s episode is entirely about Chase. So it’s an episode told through Chase’s point of view, meaning we follow Chase through an episode. If we’re not with Chase, we’re not with the show. We’ve done this really well in the past with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde). But this is great and Jesse does an amazing job. The House story and case is really on the peripheral and it’s really about Chase’s journey back to the team — if he’s going to go back. And, if so, how and what he encounters along the way. He’s taking an examination of his life. That scene between him and Cofield in the ICU greatly impacts the next episode of House.

Where he is mentally when we pick up in the next episode?

I would say to everybody about next week, without ruining anything: All the questions you’re asking are exactly why people should be watching. It will fully address in a very satisfying way the impact of tonight’s episode.

Tell me about why you thought now was the time to explore Chase and put him through this really taxing storyline.

I wouldn’t be able to answer that as well as David Shore could. He guides where the characters go on the grander scale, but all of us have watched Jesse’s growth as an actor over the course of the eight seasons. Something like this, in terms of him being able to take it and run with it, is really a tribute to great growth and the great work that he’s done over the years.

This, like I said, was an exceptional hour. What’s the next big hurdle for you?

Well, I’m leaving House this week or the follow week as executive producer. I’ll remain on it to help either get us to the finish line or to get us teed up for season 9. But I’m going to direct and run the Alan Ball series called Banshee.

Yes, congratulations.

Thank you very much. It’s HBO’s first in-house production for their sister network, Cinemax. It was a 10-episode series that’s going to air in January 2013. Alan Ball and two other great writers have written pretty much that entire season. I was brought in to come quarterback and direct and showrun that series. I’ll be doing the first few episodes and producing the series in North Carolina. It’s very an exciting new chapter. It was an opportunity and a natural next step from my work at House, although bittersweet.

You said that will be around to launch House into Season 9 or into the finish line. Have y’all heard anything solid about that?

If I knew, I’d be more definitive in my answer.

So much is up in the air, but it all sounds really exciting.

Thank you very much. I’m very excited. It’s going to be great. It’s a very, very cool project. It would have to be to pull me away from House.