Although my esteemed colleague Ross Ruediger may have disagreed with me in his review of “House: Season 4,” as is his God-given right as a TV critic, I have to say that, personally, I probably enjoyed the fourth season of “House” as much as any season of the show to date. After ending Season 3 with the members of House’s team so infuriated with their fearless leader that they were moving on to greener pastures, I think just about everyone figured that Season 4 would’ve begun with them saying, “Okay, we were wrong, we’ll come back.” But they didn’t. Instead, we were treated to House playing his own version of “Survivor” as he selected a new diagnostic team, thereby giving America’s grouchiest doctor the opportunity to interact with a whole new crowd of characters, but we were also still provided with occasional visits from the original team. It was win-win, as far as I was concerned.

It was the two-part season finale (“House’s Head” / “Wilson’s Heart”) that really got me, though. The unfolding of the secrets locked within House’s memory, the tragic ending to the romance between Amber and Wilson, and the realization that the events which led to Amber’s death never would’ve been set into motion if House hadn’t been attempting to take advantage of Wilson for the umpteenth time…it was gripping drama, to be sure. But how on earth can the relationship between House and Wilson ever recover from something like that?

Based on the Season 5 premiere, it’s very possible that it may not…but, then, this is where the optimistic and cynical sides of my brain begin to do battle with each other.

Yes, a seasoned TV viewer such as myself should know full well that, statistically speaking, the odds are in favor of Wilson and House finally mending their fences…or, more specifically, that Wlison will sigh and say, “Well, it’s not like House is ever going to change, so fine, whatever.” But I can’t just expect the expected from “House.” The show may be formulaic with its regular “disease of the week,” and that certainly doesn’t change in the season premiere (this time, the assistant of a tough-as-nails businesswoman suddenly believes that there are bugs crawling all over her skin), but when it comes to the character-driven storylines of the series, it’s been known to zig just when you expect it to zag.

Time has passed since the death of Amber, and when the episode begins, Wilson has just returned from his leave of absence for bereavement. We’re talking literally here: it’s Wilson first day back in the office, and everyone is asking House if he’s gone to see him yet. He has not. And he isn’t in any rush to do so, either, since the two of them haven’t spoken since the events in the season finale, and whenever their reunion does take place, it’s going to give new meaning to the word “awkward.” Will House pretend to be human and apologize for the fact that his actions put Amber in harm’s way? Or will he be his usual self, i.e. an asshole, and try to tell Wilson that he’s making too much out of his part in Amber’s death?

Well, in typical fashion, House just blows into Wilson’s office and begins talking about his current patient, as if no time has passed and nothing unusual has happened. In turn, Wilson informs him that he’s only come back to tender his resignation and brief the other physicians on the cases he’s handing over to them. Clearly, House isn’t going to stand for this, so he decides to perform an act of blackmail: he won’t help his patient until Wilson agrees to stay.

Childish? Yes. Completely in character for House? Without question.

No further spoilers will I offer, except to say that both the current and past members of House’s team get key moments during the course of the episode, the conclusion to the episode isn’t entirely predictable (even if you’re confident that Wilson’s going to make good on his vow to leave, there can’t be any longtime fans of this show who would really expect him to do it so quickly), and Wilson’s closing comments to House show that Amber’s death has changed his view on life…and his relationship with House.

It’s a nice start. Let’s see where it goes from here.

Post-script: Despite my above bashing of the “patient of the week” situation on the series, the opening of the season’s second episode is pretty damned awesome, offering up a series of events which seem to be utterly unrelated until seconds before the credits begin.