Note: I will have a full commentary on House, M.D. “Everybody Dies” later in the week, when I have a chance to digest the series finale. I wanted to post an open thread now, just touching on my first impressions.
Everybody lies. Everybody dies. Last night was the series finale of House M.D. it was full of surprises, twists, and turns. It was a fitting conclusion to this leg, as it were, of his journey. Riding off into the sunset with his best friend, the dying Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), House (Hugh Laurie) is ready for whatever comes next. Although we will not see them, the next months for House will not be easy ones. She will learn to care for his friend, to be the adult in ways that he has never had to before. But he is willing, at least now, to confront this time. He is no longer more willing to self-destruct, to hide, to runaway—to kill himself, but instead, for the last months of Wilson’s life to put someone else ahead of himself.
“Everybody Dies” finds our hero in purgatory, the fires of his personal hell lapping at him; waiting to consume him. Facing jail, the death of his closest friend, and the refusal of his colleagues to further enable him, House is at a crossroads—again. So many times he has been here, in this place where dying is the easy way out. And every time, he has (often haltingly) chosen life.
But as the warehouse burns around him, we, as viewers are stunned when it appears that House—always so resilient—has finally decided to end the pain of his life permanently. I scratched my head as I watched that moment with a (virtual) roomful of fans whose “WTFs” and “OMGs” turned to stunned silence (as in no typing) and shock that House was dead. I scratched my head because there were still more than 10 minutes to go, and it didn’t add up to me. What had David Shore cooked up for us in those last 12 minutes? A tribute? A farewell? A meeting in the afterlife for House and Wilson (and Amber and Kutner)? Indeed, not.
In true Housian fashion, once again, not only has House chosen life, but figured out how to game the system entirely! But this time, not to his benefit (not at all), but to Wilson’s. House has destroyed himself: his career is over; his name is eradicated from the list of the living (and in true Holmsian fashion ala “Reichenbach Falls”). He will never practice medicine again as the world-renowned diagnostician. But he chooses this in a pure act of selflessness and self-sacrifice—just to “be there” for Wilson and help him live out the last few months of his life in happiness and peace.
I adored the series finale. It was great seeing so many faces from the past put in appearances, from Dr. Nolan (Andre Braugher) to Cameron (Jennifer Morrison, who took a break from filming her own hit show Once Upon a Time), to Stacy (Sela Ward), Amber (Anne Dudek), Kutner (Kal Penn), and even Nurse Jeffrey. I was disappointed not to see Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) drop by somewhere in House’s heroin-addled subconscious, but I’m glad David Shore at least inserted a small clip from a happier time.
Placing House in purgatory to be visited by a series of guides to steer him through this last stretch was a brilliant way to structure the episode’s story. For all his sarcasm, House has always been one of the most introspective characters to ever have graced the small screen. The best House episodes have been those that allow us access into his chaotic inner life, whether through dreams, hallucinations or honest revelations.
House’s purgatory is to listen to his own voice channeled through those no longer in his life: Kutner, in whose suicidal shoes House now walks; Amber, whose voice has stalked him at other crisis points; Stacy, a woman with whom he shared a deep love, and Cameron, who had always believed in the best of him. And in the end, he has no choice, but to choose life as he so often has before. Remember: people don’t change!
A question for you all: Did House leave clues for Chase, Foreman, and Cameron that he’s still alive and bikin’? Much more later this week! But for now, a poll: