character is a respected doctor and hospital administrator, there’s a very logical reason for how Lisa Edelstein came to be dressed in a schoolgirl uniform and working a stripped pole in this Monday’s (May 12) episode. Well, at least there’s a somewhat logical explanation.

"It is very interesting what happens in the first half of the finale in terms of learning about how House sees people and getting the world from his point of view entirely," Edelstein explains to reporters just days before the episode. "He’s suffering from a brain injury so he’s trying to remember what he saw before the accident and in doing so he’s using the people around him in his imagination to kind of help him dig through his memory and bring things up and so when Cuddy enters into that fantasy, he decides he might as well have her strip."

See? That makes total sense. Since having Edelstein’s Cuddy stripping in House’s mind is a key piece of Monday night’s episode, the actress figured she might as well get prepared.

"I called Sheila Kelley, who has a company called S-Factor. She’s actually the wife of Richard Schiff, who I’ve worked with on West Wing and Relativity and she did a movie a long time ago about strippers and realized that stripping is a great way to stay in shape and also a great way for women to explore their sexual power, so I went to her and she helped me choreograph this routine," she says. "It was a very interesting experience."

"I didn’t really need it for the exercise, because I would show up there having just done two hours of yoga, but in terms of learning about how to be sexy without doing it for somebody else…" Edelstein continues. "I think that’s the trick, that you stand within your own skin and your own power. You do it for your own enjoyment."

But enough of the prurience. What else can we tell you about the two-part House finale? Well, based on the episode sent to critics, there’s a bus accident and House is injured, but he’s less concerned about his own well-being than another passenger whose life he needs to save, by any means necessary.

"He ends up risking his own life in order to access his own mind and none of the other people can do what he does, so they’re all willing to participate in that risk," Edelstein says. "For a long time, nobody really knows to what extend he’s risking his own life, but even when it becomes apparent, it still goes on."

The two-part finale caps a busy season for the hit FOX medical drama, which added a dozen recurring characters at the beginning of the season, trimming that group to three regulars at midseason, an influx of talent that never concerned Edelstein.

"I felt the least affected, I think Wilson and I felt the least affected by that," she says. "Certainly you wonder how they’re going to manage to give any of us anything to with so many characters on the show, but they seem to have managed. It’s really the same structure where you have the inner-workings of the case and then the B and C stories of what’s happening among the personalities of the main characters. It’s a wonderful new group of people and they’ve shown up with lots of excitement and eagerness and they’ve good attitudes, so it’s been a wonderful experience."

Indeed, while House’s former colleagues — particularly Jesse Spencer’s Chase and Jennifer Morrison’s Cameron — have seen their screentime dramatically dwindle, the Good Doctor and Cuddy have always been able to make time for their usual adversarial/amicable banter.

"I think that she very much loves House and also lives vicariously through him, because she’s a very smart woman who was very successful as a doctor and has a great job and a wonderful position, but also has had less and less to do with the actual practice of medicine as the years have gone by. So I think she’s excited by what he does and how he does it and deeply frustrated by him at the same time."

With the threat of a possible actors strike looming for later in the summer, the House cast has already begun production on the show’s fifth season, meaning that even if viewers will be treated to an inevitable cliffhanger, the actors have no such suspense.

"It’s a very exciting day when you finally get get the first episode script, but this year there is no surprise," Edelstein says. "I have no burning questions. We started like the minute we were done with Season Four, we were on to Season Five."

But what will viewers be dealing with?

"I think your main question will be: What will become of House and Wilson’s friendship."

There’s your spoiler, fans.

Other highlights from Edelstein’s chat with reporters:

On whether House would be stripping in Cuddy’s fantasy: "I don’t think Cuddy’s like a Chippendales kind of gal. I think women have a different idea of what’s sexy in terms of what they want to see their men doing. Maybe it would something like laying there quietly caressing her belly, tickling her baby while doing a diagnostic."

On whether the show has caused her to self-diagnose: "When anybody I know has any symptoms at all, I have a thousand things that run through my head. A friend of mine had a rash that won’t go away and I’m making sure it’s not an auto-immune problem. It definitely gives you more information than you definitely want most of the time. But most of it goes in and out of our heads, because we have to compile so much stuff per episode that you have to let it go."

On how Edelstein and Cuddy differ: "I’m much more playful than she is. I behave younger and I have a different kind of energy completely. I’m usually ricocheting off the set walls until they say ‘Action’ and then I’m this serious person. She wears skirts that you can’t even take long strides in. It’s great playing that part of myself with her, but I think most people are surprised when they meet me that we’re so completely different."

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg