After crashing his car through Cuddy's window at the end of last season, House apparently landed in prison because that's where we find him at the start of tonight's season premiere. (Last season Thirteen was just out of prison, this year House; would you want a hospital where all the docs are ex-cons? Just asking.)
We first see him at his parole board hearing, where he's asked, "Can you stay out of trouble for five days?" until his release. He says "Yes," but we all know House's manta: "Everybody Lies."
The trouble includes Vicodin, another prisoner who needs House's diagnosis, and a prison doctor (Odette Annable) who will very obviously be recruited to join House's team when he gets back to real life.
Keeping House in prison for an episode changes the scenery, but it's pretty much an innocuous stunt, like sending Modern Family to Hawaii. The episode proves that you can take House out of the hospital, but he still sounds the same - and actually that's a good thing.
Whatever he faces when he returns to the hospital, it won't be Cuddy, because Lisa Edelstein isn't returning to the show. That's good too, because the constant on-and-off romance was tiresome. (Maybe that should have been a warning to The Good Wife, which has been floundering now that Alicia and Will have hooked up; simmering sexual tension is always less tense afterwards.)
Here's a behind-the-scenes look in which Hugh Laurie explains why he is not looking into your soul just this minute:
And here's a clip from the episode: