Home / TV Review: House, MD Season Finale — “Wilson’s Heart”

TV Review: House, MD Season Finale — “Wilson’s Heart”

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“It doesn’t hurt here. I don’t want to be in pain; I don’t want to be miserable; I don’t want him to hate me.”  — House, hovering between life and death with Amber

Back on the bus that has haunted House’s dreams since the terrible crash last episode as he tries to remember exactly what happened, the now-deceased Amber is the avatar for House’s subconscious, wrestling with whether he should let go or stay and fight. Stay in the warm white glow of the bus with Amber or get off and face life, as sorrowful and painful as it is? And that, it would appear, is House’s destiny. Because House is not a coward; because he cannot allow himself to die without reconciling with his closest friend (as painful for him as that will surely be); because there is no life beyond, and as unfair as it is, as random as it is, it is the hand of cards House has been dealt, and he isn’t ready to go “all in.”

Life, living life, is sometimes brutal and fraught with tragedy and pain; things we cannot control — and things we maybe could have, but have let careen out of control. A solitary figure sits in a bar trying to escape from the pain and loneliness that enshrouds his life; a bartender takes his keys after one too many, and a young woman dies as a result. It’s no one’s fault, but everyone carries some responsibility with them. “Am I dead?” the comatose House asks Amber as they sit bathed in white light. “I should be… lonely, misanthropic drug addicts should die on buses; young do-gooders in love who are called out of their apartments in the middle of the night should walk away clean.” And so House trudges on to face himself — and Wilson. As Wilson reprimanded House earlier this season (in “Games”), “Dying is easy; living, that’s hard.”

“Wilson’s Heart,” the House season four finale, was the heart-stopping, heartbreaking conclusion to last week’s “House’s Head.” Moving the badly injured and ill Amber to Princeton Plainsboro from another nearby hospital, her heart stops en route. Rather than try to revive her right away, Wilson convinces House to lower her body temperature and place her on heart bypass to keep her alive while continuing to retrieve pieces of his memory, searching for any sort of clue.

Unable to rest, not certain whether he betrayed his best friend, House’s mind continues in overdrive and each time he tries to sleep, Amber invades his subconscious. Why were they together? Could they, as Taub suggests, be beginning an affair? A devastated House honestly cannot answer Taub’s accusation. Is this the terrible truth House’s mind won’t allow him to recall, that he and Amber were cheating on Wilson? If only it were that simple. House is living on a knife’s edge as the physical and emotional toll on him mounts. Exhausted and “barely coherent” (as he tells Wilson), House is too emotionally invested (on several levels) in the case as he tries his best to diagnose Amber and to remember something that may be too painful.

As in “House’s Head,” the dreams are fantasy infused with fragmented reality, and they emerge as parts of a whole, providing vague clues. In one incredible fantasy, House dreams that Amber pours him sherry and seduces him. Passive, but completely into the moment (he doesn’t touch Amber at all as she climbs on his lap whispering in his ear and caressing his face), House awakens as the word “electricity” sparks a new clue. Why is “sherry” important? Was there really a seduction? Or was Amber’s lap dance simply a new reflection of the lap dancer from “House’s Head?” He doesn’t know, but the fantasy helps him recall that electrical stimulation of his hypothalamus might recover vivid images of his broken memory. Wilson and Cuddy veto this dangerous and possibly fatal procedure, telling him that he needs to rest. But we know that House will not rest until he discovers what is missing.

House experiences a flash of memory about Sharrie’s bar after Kutner notices House fixating on Amber and sherry as they argue with Wilson about how much to risk Amber’s life for a diagnosis. House grabs Wilson and they head down to the Sharrie’s bar, but not until he tells the team to play it “safe” and do as Wilson requests. It is a path House has chosen out of friendship and supportiveness. He wants to do this right, to not hurt Wilson, to not have Wilson “be mad at him.”

So they were there together, at Sharrie’s bar. Again, more questions. The barkeep insists that Amber and House were drinking together. Wilson seems crushed; House is upset, but to him this is secondary to finding out what is wrong with Amber. He wants to plow on, not believing (or wanting to believe) that he and Amber were actually together in that way.

As House’s team calls him on his lack of aggressiveness, Foreman finally goes to Cuddy. Telling Wilson to let House do his job, she gives House the support he needs when he does not want to fight Wilson.

Ultimately Wilson asks House to do something no one should ever ask a friend, or anyone else, to do. He asks him to do the brain stimulation procedure that he and Cuddy had earlier vetoed for its risk to House’s life and cognitive function. It was at that moment that I burst into tears (well, not really) and couldn’t stop until long past the final scenes of the episode. “You want me to risk my life to save Amber’s?” House asks gravely, making certain that he and Wilson both understand what he is asking.

House pauses for a beat as Wilson waits hopefully, grimly, and finally acknowledging that, yes, that is what he wants House to do. Understanding ultimately that Wilson would sacrifice House for Amber hits House very hard, but he agrees to do it. It is an act of pure selflessness; pure friendship; pure love. It is the essence of House; it is House, stripped of all defenses, of all bullshit. And at that moment, Hugh Laurie lets House’s ultimately decency shine through House’s resolute and sorrowful eyes. No words pass between Wilson and House as they ready House for the procedure. House is scared, and we notice a flicker of disappointment, as he glances over at Wilson, who says nothing and instead looks away — both feeling the gravity of what’s being asked, and the danger ahead.

And finally the memories come flooding back. The unbearable set of circumstances that led to Amber’s death. “Dial-a-Wilson,” which sets off a chain reaction of events that lead to Amber’s death. The call is a fateful moment in time for all three of them: Wilson, House, and Amber. A tragic set of circumstances, seemingly random — any one of them could not occur and Amber lives — but which result in the loss of her life and Wilson’s love, irrevocably. “I was on call,” Wilson remembers.

“I told her to find you,” House recalls, telling it haltingly, emotionally, as the terrible impact hits him, recognizing his responsibility in Amber’s situation. It’s a quiet moment of grief, sadness, and regret. And recognition. And with that recognition comes House’s understanding that this is something than cannot be fixed. It is raw emotion, made exquisitely powerful by the close-up twin shots of House, agonizing over what he has (albeit inadvertently) caused, and the moment when Wilson knows that he’s going to lose Amber. Their fates are sealed. Amber is going to die. “There is nothing we could have done. I’m so, so sorry,” implores House, tears streaming down his face.

Now knowing that Amber is going to die, Cuddy begs Wilson to wake her up, so that he can have closure, have a chance to “say goodbye.” It is a powerful moment as Wilson wonders why she isn’t angry at him; at House, at the world. “Anger isn’t the last emotion I want to feel,” says Amber, resigned to her fate, and comfortable in the knowledge that for maybe the first time, she has experienced both love and respect, which is what she originally told House that Wilson gave her, and something she said that has always eluded her.

And House is left in a coma, having suffered a complex partial seizure, worsening his already badly injured brain. In yet another powerful moment, House wrestles with whether he can face life (and Wilson). “I want to stay here with you,” he tells Amber on the bus now bathed in a comforting white light, that clearly beckons House. It beckons him to a place where you don’t hurt and there are no betrayals. It is safe and free of despair. But it is not his time. “You can’t always get what you want,” she says. And Amber sends him back to the land of the living because (I think) she knows, that as angry as Wilson might be with House, Wilson will need House more than ever to get through his grief.

And so House struggles through the fog to awaken, and finds Cuddy, teary-eyed at his side, grateful to simply have him alive and aware. He tries to speak. “I’ve got to…” (I believe the rest of the sentence is “speak to Wilson”). But Cuddy only quiets him, telling him not to try and speak, to just rest. And as weak as he is, he can do nothing else. And Cuddy, House’s guardian angel so often, sits vigil at his at his bedside, holding his hand and weeping for him, for Amber, and for Wilson.

But the effect of Amber’s death, which began with House’s first drink in Sharrie’s bar, ripples on, making those around her give pause and reassess their own lives and the value they place on love, on life, and on death. Taub, returning home to hold his wife, to maybe cherish her just a bit more; Kutner, thinking about his own family tragedy; 13, deciding that it’s better “to know” than to “not know;” and Cuddy, understanding the value she places on House and the love she feels for him.

And what about Wilson? Will the selfless, noble act that House performed out of love and friendship mitigate the anger that Wilson may now feel towards him? Or, will Wilson let it fester on? He looks in on House as Cuddy sleeps by his bed, coming in, but not speaking to him. House’s eyes express such regret and sadness, grief and pain. But Wilson cannot look him in the eye and walks away wordlessly. It is a moment that will leave House pondering much as he recovers.

Why was House drinking alone in a bar, getting plastered? Will we ever know? Was House testing Wilson’s friendship? Measuring it against his love for Amber (as a friend – Blacktop – suggests)? Another attempt to drive a wedge between Wilson and Amber? How long would she put up with Wilson running out of the house in the middle of the night to rescue his wreck of a friend?

Or was House escaping the inevitability of losing Wilson as Wilson drew ever nearer to Amber? Finding himself friendless and alone, crippled, broken — a shell of a man? Has House’s self-loathing become full-on self-destructiveness? But those are questions for next season, certainly, as House has to deal with the tragedy that his actions indirectly caused.

Looking into my crystal ball (well, it’s not really crystal, and not even a ball) I see Emmy nominations: writing, direction, editing, and acting. And, ahhhh, what sublime acting. Robert Sean Leonard’s emotionally wrenching performance as the grief-stricken family member, helplessly watching the love of his life die; asking his best friend to do the unthinkable and risk his life to save another person. Ann Dudek as Amber in a great guest starring role; and, of course, Hugh Laurie. An incredible performance, as he allows us into House’s mind and into his heart and soul, showing us House’s baser instincts, but also his great nobility — his resolute willingness to help Wilson by undergoing the risky procedure was perfectly portrayed as a combination of fear, disappointment that Wilson would ask this of him, and fearlessness to go ahead and do it to help his friend. Between last week’s “House’s Head,” and this week’s finale, Laurie has put in a tour de force performance that the Emmy people cannot this year fail to overlook. Bravo to all involved in the episode.

And that is it (for the show) until September. I will continue to write “revisited” commentaries on old episodes, as well as do a season four wrap-up over the summer… and maybe a new trivia quiz (or something). Other ideas are in the works as well. However, I want to take the opportunity of the House season finale to thank all of my readers and friends for their support during my first season writing about House for Blogcritics Magazine.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her debut novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse comes out October 11 from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Buds

    Great article, Barbara. Amazing in-sights. Awesome episode. I am still in shock from watching it, so I’ll hold off on saying anything right now. Gonna have to watch it a couple of times before I think I will able to express my views on it properly.

  • Mary Dagmar Davies

    Thank you for this insightful commentary on the season four finale of House MD. Indeed it is the nobility of House, so clearly defined here, which sets him apart from other television characters. I hope the Emmy judges read your reviews of this and ‘House’s Head’ because both these episodes contained the finest work of so many gifted artists of a magnificent cast and crew.

  • Veresna Ussep

    Thank you for this and for all of your wonderful, thoughtful reviews. I could not help but wonder as I heard his dialogue with ‘Amber’ (or with himself, if you prefer), that he was also asking himself if he could dare to try and rise above his “self-pity and self-loathing” and to really and truly attempt to try to NOT be “misreable”. And I couldn’t help but feel a bit of forboding. We saw the depths of his despair in Season 3 when, after a taste of being ‘whole’ again, he was plunged back into physical pain and impairment. One can only imagine the depths of his despair should he try to pull down those formidible emotional walls he has surrounded himself, and be rebuffed by those he tries to connect with.

  • Susanne

    Thankyou Barbara for such a beautiful, insightful review.
    I loved this episode to bits and I bawled my eyes out on several House/cuddy/wilson/amber scenes. I could not stop crying throughout the last scenes. When I thought my waterworks was gone they had to show wilson in his bed all alone with only a piece of paper and her handwriting on it reminding him how she came to her death just made me finish off the last of my tissues, I had to have my husband hold me all night because of it. I loved the scenes with Cuddy and House at the end always being there for him in the end. I loved how she stood strong for wilson and House and gave House his strength.

    I swear HL and RSL ar brillaint high class actors! They deserve those emmys and so does AD. The raw emotions in their facial expressions, tone of voice, body language is so perfect that it can evoke any emotions from a person. The new team were good today. I didn’t really care for 13 though but i did feel a little for her. Loved how the old team reunited and in their spot similar to Half Wit. I loved how cameron silently comforted wilson, I bet she knows the pain he is going through. But once again we see the heart and the humanity in House behind all of his defence mechanisms and we see all the love, pain and guilt that he has.

    It is a real shame that the writer’s strike interrupted what it looked like to be a great second half of the season. I would like to see the old team more so I am hoping we will see more of them next season. I am looking foreward to the explorations of the House/wilson relationship and if I see more moments like this eps between House and cuddy I am more than open to see it happen.

    I love the music and this might be just me but I thought that Amber/house dream seduction was hot especially on HL. I don’t know how KJ does it. She seems to get HL to be more comfortable to do these types of scenes whether it is with JM or AD Hl seems less tense then ususal. I really thought that scene was sexy but I was glad they didn’t have an affair.

    This is going to be a long wait. Thanks a lot Barbara.

  • Elizabeth

    What an amazing review–anticipated, as always, almost as much as the episode itself.
    But not quite. πŸ™‚
    I think it was great that the writers decided to wrap up this more humorous season with two episodes of this strength, making up for any of those “deep” scenes that may have been missing from “No More Mr. NIce Guy” and “Living the Dream.” I loved both of the finale episodes, although I think I enjoyed “House’s Head” more. “Wilson’s Heart” was just too depressing, especially after the surprising and twisted BONES season finale. Also, Hugh Laurie had considerably less camera time in part II (and we all like looking at him :P). I enjoyed it immensely, though, and thought it was very clever that they used the song “Teardrop”–the nonvocals of which are the HOUSE theme song–in the episode itself. A great review to a great episode. Can’t wait for September!

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thank you for your wonderful House reviews! I can’t believe that you’ve only been doing them for one season. I really want you to know how immeasurably they (and you) enhance my enjoyment of the show. You generally express exactly what I’m thinking and feeling in words and phrases that I could never dream of putting together. (And even when I don’t absolutely agree with every opinion you express – I’m in awe of the language with which you express it :-))

    So thank your for your perfect wrap-up of the perfect season finale. (I honestly don’t see how it could have been improved upon – yes of course I was rooting for Amber to live and stay on, but no character or actor could have asked for a better exit.) It left me sad *and* comforted, satisfied *and* wanting more. What could be better?

    Looking forward to your earlier episode reviews throughout the summer!

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thank you for your wonderful House reviews! I can’t believe that you’ve only been doing them for one season. I really want you to know how immeasurably they (and you) enhance my enjoyment of the show. You generally express exactly what I’m thinking and feeling in words and phrases that I could never dream of putting together. (And even when I don’t absolutely agree with every opinion you express – I’m in awe of the language with which you express it :-))

    So thank your for your perfect wrap-up of the perfect season finale. (I honestly don’t see how it could have been improved upon – yes of course I was rooting for Amber to live and stay on, but no character or actor could have asked for a better exit.) It left me sad *and* comforted, satisfied *and* wanting more. What could be better?

    Looking forward to your earlier episode reviews throughout the summer!

  • HouseCall 123

    Brilliantly insightful!

  • Robin

    Devestating and heartbreaking are the only words I have for it. I did not sleep well that night. This was one of the few times a show left me emotionaly drained. I am glad the writers didn’t go the cheap route with an affair for shock value. House’s fantasies and clues were leading that way but this show often zigs when you think its going to zag. That was an incredible look of fear and disappointment House gave Wilson from the chair. And Wilson gave no hint of comfort back. They both knew a barrier was perhaps being built. I think House went thru with it, not only to help Wilson, but he needed to know what happened between him and Amber and what was the symptom he saw. I hear the S5 H/W arc will be 10 episodes long. I think its going to be a grueling experience for both to come back together in some form. I just hope there will be moments of humor to make it endurable. I will be watching Wilson’s Heart again, but House’s Head is easier on my heart to watch. Thanks Barb for this wonderful blog site. Your reviews and the comments it receives are often well thought out and insightful.

  • hl_lover

    I’m intrigued by Veresna Ussep’s comments concerning what might come in Season 5. She might well have summarized the gist of the next arc this coming season, if House does indeed try to come out from behind his walls. Sadly, we’ll have to wait 3 months to find out!

    Thanks for another awesome review, Barbara! You’ve done such a great job during Season 4, and I hope you realize how much all your readers appreciate it. πŸ™‚

  • Ann

    Thank you again, Barbara. What a way to end the season. One that a lot of fans, including me, did a lot of whining about. If the Emmy nominations, and wins, don’t come pouring in for all involved I think I’ll have a temper tantrum. I didn’t care about the new team until last night, which for me was the problem I was having. Now the writers have given me something to care about with them. I’ve enjoyed Ann Dudek in the post strike episodes and now I’m sorry to see her go. The finale has been, for me, two of the most compelling hours of television ever. I am in awe of the writers that developed this exquisite story and the rest of the team that brought it to life. I just love HL and RSL. And although it will be difficult to watch what happens to their recovering relationship some of the angst will be back. I wish FOX would air both episodes back to back sometime soon.

    I’ve enjoyed your reviews immensely and I look forward to whatever you write over the summer and the upcoming Season 5.

  • sdemar

    Great review, Barbara. Like so many others have expressed,this was one emotional episode. These last 2 episodes rank as my 2 favorite episodes in House history. They were brilliantly done and I love the fact that Katie J directed WH.

    Hugh was brilliant as usual but I am thrilled that they allowed RSL an opportunity to really show his acting skills. He made me weep for him and I swear I could feel his pain. His emotions were so raw and I wonder if Wilson ever felt love like that before? I would guess not even though he had been married 3 times before.

    Noone has commented on this that I know of, but I loved the fact that they were doing a playful and what looked like a potential sex video. Amber was able to bring out another side of the ironed shirt Wilson and it was a good side. He looked embarassed but a willing participant at the same time. They were good for each other and now they are no longer-waaaaaaaa.

    I had not seen Anne D in anything before House. I loved her character from the moment she showed up on screen and she played her brilliantly all the way to the end. She was able to stand toe-to-toe with both Hugh and RSL and I was impressed.

    I don’t know that I could ever rationalize asking someone to risk their life for someone I love. I think that scene will stay in my mind for a long time. The look on House’s face, the look on Wilson’s face as he thought again of what he asked and the quick affirmation that yes, he wanted his friend to sacrafice his life was truly heart wrenching. And House, hurt and sad, complied without hesitation. Amazing.

    And the writer’s knew I didn’t want the season to end without a solid House/Cuddy moment and they gave me a gem that will satisfy me through the summer. The scene with Cuddy curled up on the chair holding House’s hand and gently telling him to rest proved without a doubt that Cuddy not only looks out for House but also cares a great deal about him. That ship may have already sailed in her fantasy mind but deep down I don’t think she believes that.

    Where will Season 5 take us?

    Thanks for the great reviews, Barbara. You did a solid job and earned your spot. May I request that you write some fic over the summer? I have been missing it.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thank you all for your lovely and kind words. I had hoped all season for an emotionally packed episode, and I got so much of what I missed during so much of the season. See? I knew there was a reason I wanted to talk to Lerner and Friend. They really know how to dig into House’s soul and uncover his humanity. It’s why I was pumped to learn they were the finale’s writers and why I wanted to speak with them.

    And they delivered. I can’t wait to re-watch from the beg. of House’s Head (no commmericals–I downloaded the Unbox versions onto my Tivo!) to the end of Wilson’s heart as one filmic experience.

    Veresna–you make a good point. What if House does step away from his more closed off self–and he’s hurt again? Like Wilson said way back in season one: there may never be another time.

    Susanne–You weren’t alone. I thought that scene was amazingly hot–particularly as House was passive, taking in the feel of it, eyes closed. There was an expression of longing and such sadness mixed in with his loving the sensuality of it…

    So many powerful and moving moments in this episode, as many of you have pointed out. I think the finale two episodes redeemed the show for a lot of fans who had been harsh critics all season. I’ve read very little negative about it.

  • Boffle

    Fine review, Barbara, thanks! The weeping has subsided on my part, for now anyway… Brilliant, incendiary episodes full of heightened, surreal visions, then brought to reality through the most ordinary and extraordinary chain of circumstances, linking so many of the Houseian themes of self-destruction, love, death, meaning, taking the choice to live and accepting the time to die.

    We’re all feeling that the actors, writers, directors et al should receive Emmys (and they absolutely should) but if making the finest tv episodes ever is in any way its own reward, then they have been amply rewarded already by writing, creating and sharing this brilliant piece of filmmaking. Kudos to all involved and to St. Doris for the original story.

  • tigerfeet

    I can only join the others in their praise for your fantastic work through the season, Barbara. Thank you so very much for enhancing the House experience for us all. And now I am looking forward to whatever you will contribute to make the agonizing wait for next season a little easier to bear.

  • Buds

    Excellent review. I can’t believe you have only been doing this for one season. I look forward to reading anything you can post while we wait for season 5. Hopefully *fingers crossed* we get a full season and there isn’t an actors strike.

    RSL stole the show (at least half the show) and deservedly so, he was superb. HL was at his best – how does he express so much with just a look? These two episodes have been the best of the series so far. Its brilliant how they were able to pull this out of the bag after the shortening of this season. Kudos to the everyone involved!!!

    Wilson willingly put everyone he knows, cares about, and respects at risk to cling on to the love of his life. Now thats what I call love. Not that what he did was right, but it just shows us how much he really loved Amber. He disagreed and argued with House’s team. He was screaming at the top of his lungs at Cuddy. He was even willing to risk his best friend’s life in the hope that it might give him a definitive diagnosis before risking Amber’s life.

    House may have felt guilty on some level for Amber being on the bus without really knowing why (because of his amnesia) which may be another reason for him not treating Amber like a regular patient. I doubt that the only reason House agreed to the Deep Brain Stimulation was because Wilson asked him to do it. I think he himself wanted to find out what happened and why they were at the bar together that night. It being a puzzle, and him being him, he would risk himself just to find the answer. In the scene where he is hovering between life and death with Amber, I feel the thing that he was scared of most of all was that Wilson would hate him, and blame him for what happened to Amber. That seemed to the be the thing he feared most.

    I was surprised that Cameron wasn’t at House’s side at all in this episode. She was there for Wilson and Foreman when they needed her, but not once with House. Could this mean that she is well and truly over House? Or was House’s near death experience from the previous episode too much for her to handle? Also, for a case as important as this , I would have thought that either Wilson or Cuddy would have asked Cameron and Chase to join in the differential diagnosis. But you know what they say about too many cooks and broth.

  • Fantastic review of a fantastic (probably best so far!) House episode. No episode has drained me as much as this one… the immediate emotions already did me in, and then I started to realize what was going on, really going on, between House and Wilson, House and House, and all the terrible things that could happen in the next season. I don’t know who I shed more tears for, House or Wilson… Robert Sean Leonard’s acting devastated me, Hugh Laurie’s left me speechless, as always. Incredible episode, such emotional, psychological tension as most TV series wish they had.
    Waiting with baited breath for the next season!

  • sassydew

    Barbara, wonderful review as usual! I agree, of course, that HL, RSL, and AD were phenomenal! And, like you, I am left wondering why House was in a bar drinking alone so early in the day, as comments were made suggesting it was unusual. I think House learned something or did something or had something happen that led to this and I do hope we’ll learn what it was.

    As others have suggested, the poignant conversation between House and Amber on the bus opens up the possibility for House to reexamine his life and reevaluate his choices, but I can’t help remembering when he told Foreman, after the Euphoria ordeal, that nearly dying only changes a person for a very short time thereafter. I don’t have any brilliant insights to add to what you and others have already said about the beautiful and heart-wrenching House/Wilson/Amber story.

    I do want to comment on the new fellows, though, as they finally became much more real and three-dimensional for me in this episode. I had been hoping that would happen. While on the surface they first appeared to be similar to the old fellows, it’s now clear that they are very different individuals. I watch the show primarily for House, and only House, but I’m excited at the possibilities to learn more about House through his interactions with these new people. I felt that new fellows were needed by the end of S2, and I was excited at the prospect, but, like many, I had my doubts. I don’t have doubts anymore.

    As much as it pains me to say this – because I have become quite a Chase fan – it is definitely more than time for Chase, Foreman, and Cameron to move on. I really liked the scene that showed them at the booth in the restaurant, and I got the feeling that everything had come full circle for them and that this was a message that they’re moving on.

    I have one question about Cuddy, though: I believe that House and Cuddy are great old friends who care deeply for one another, so I thought it was fitting that she was sitting at House’s bedside and holding his hand. It got me wondering about this, though: Why wasn’t Cuddy beside herself with grief when she thought House was dying in “Half-Wit”, yet obviously broken up about his situation in “Wilson’s Heart”? Is it possible that Cuddy somehow knew House wasn’t really dying during “Half-Wit”?

    Thank you again for your terrific reviews all season, Barbara! I am looking forward to your thoughts on the show to get me through the summer!

  • Laurel

    I think the only way House can escape his inner emotional prison is to be continually bashed down with unpleasant experiences that force him to confront his own personal truths. And, needless to say, these truths will have to be extreme. “Wilson’s Heart” is only one of a number of emotional traumas he’s had to endure in order for him to become a more “whole” human being. What he chooses to accept from these painful truths and emotional catastrophies has yet to be seen. I think, in order for more of House’s underlying character to be revealed in the future, the trials will have to be as emotionally bloody, brutal and bent as he is.

  • blacktop

    Thank you for another superb review, Barbara, and for your kind nod in my direction! I want to take up a point made above by Buds: I think that it is right to see considerable ambiguity in House’s decision to undergo the Deep Brain Stimulation. I believe he had multiple reasons for doing it. Certainly there was the considerable act of love and friendship he gave to Wilson in acceding to his request. Both men acknowledged the huge risks of the procedure and House’s agreeing involved potential sacrifice of his mental faculties and even life.

    But I think that an equally strong reason for his agreement was his fundamental drive to know, to solve the puzzle. Wilson’s request gave House the opportunity for redemption through knowledge of the truth. Think of how tortuous the future would have been for House if he had faced Amber’s death with only shadowy understanding of what had happened in that bar. These doubts would have eaten away at House’s composure, his confidence, his relationships with Wilson and Cuddy, and possibly undone his sanity.

    By learning the painful truth, House is left guilt-wracked and worried about Wilson’s anger. But at least the way is cleared for an eventual reconciliation. House didn’t just want to do the procedure from purely altruistic motives, he needed to do it for the sake of his own mental health and even his life. I think that is why House — in the form of the dream Amber — instructs himself to return to his life with all its miseries and painful disappointments. By knowing the truth he can give himself absolution and permission to live on.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Blacktop, my good friend, there is ALWAY ambiguity in EVERYTHING the complex Dr. House does;)

    I think you make a great point in House’s multiple reasons for agreeing to do the procedure. There was much fear on his face just as he was about to undergo the procedure, and a little resentment that Wilson would ask this of him. So very sad.

    If House wanted to learn the truth, though, he could have done it once he was stronger and his head had healed,so the procedure would lose its risk. That he agreed to do when he was already badly injured and sick was where his greatest sacrifice came.

    But I agree that if he had never done the procedure, the not knowing would eat away at him until there was nothing left. The guilt and self-hatred would be corrosive, and I would have no trouble believing that House would eventually end up committing suicide because of it.

    House is such an emotionally fragile character, made more so for how he hides from it. He feels deeply and suppresses it more deeply.

  • Clarice

    Barbara, thanks for a thoughtful and serious review of these two episodes. “Reality” and “altered states,” themes you wrote about earlier in the season came back into play in these two episodes. These writers did wonderful things with dreams, fantasy, the subconscious, and memory in the Head & Heart episodes. But, I also think that they are playing with genre in their consideration of reality–this season we had comments on reality shows, a documentary, a magic show, and soap opera. I look forward to your critique of the season. I, for one, am happy the writers took some chances. Maybe some of it didn’t work but a great deal of it did. As House said to Amber, to work for him you have to risk losing. πŸ™‚

  • Krista

    Great review! Almost made me cry all over again. I also need to watch the episode a few more times to catch all of the nuances that you saw.

    Hugh Laurie has got to win the Emmy this year. He is simply amazing. I would also love to see Robert Sean Leonard win as well.

  • Clara

    This finale was a masterpiece; it spotlighted each character and brought a new aspect of them out into the light. It was heart-wrenching and wonderfully beautiful. Got to watch it again and try not to sob…and sob…!!

    Words really can’t describe the impression that “Wilson’s Heart” made upon me. Brought out the “human” in House, (I mean, who’s ever seen tears running down his face? When has he ever apologized?) Taub is loving and caring, Kutner is warm, intelligent, and suddenly very appealing with his “freshness”, as well as showing his self-control and maturity in living as an orphan. Thirteen’s fear is reavealed even more, at possibly having Huntinton’s, and not a surprise that she tests positive. (Oliva Wilde wondered how Thirteen came to be a doctor, perhaps this explains. Perhaps to feel that she has a control, going into the medical profession even though she fears a disease?) Cuddy is there for House, always steady, compassionate, and strong. Wilson shows great love and tenderness, as well as much emotion. For some reason Chase, Foreman, and Cameron seem far removed, rather aloof.

    It’s still hard to believe Amber’s gone. She was so strong, alive, smart, even at times conniving. It was a very bold move for the plot…I think one that left many viewers (me!)after the show still bawling.

    The music, so well chosen, played a large part in the feeling of the show. Hugh’s acting was like nothing I’ve ever seen. There was something so strongly subtle to it. It’s still so… wow. Pardon me as I wipe my eyes again….

  • Veresna Ussep

    Barbara, I hope you’ll forgive me for leaving a second comment here, but I’m also hoping that you will consider two possible topics while we wait for Season 5 to begin. First of all, a retrospective of the season. I admit that, until ‘Head & Heart’, which is how I’m going to start thinking of these two episodes, I was so disappointed with the season that I doubted I would get the DVD set. Now, I know that I will and will be interested in watching the unfolding events again from a different perspective. Secondly, I think that reviewing the whole series up to now with the emphasis on Wilson and House’s relationship would be intriguing. On some of the fan boards, it appears that people are close to fisticuffs, some people arguing that House bears absolutely no guilt in any way for Amber’s death, etc. If Amber had lived, there would certainly have continued to be tension between all three. From what we have seen, Wilson’s wives didn’t even try to prevent his friendship with House from disrupting their lives, something that Amber would never have suffered gladly. Anyway, I think it would be great to have you give your thoughts on this complex relationship since it appears it is being tested to its limits at the moment.

  • Barbara Barnett

    I had the opportunity to watch both episodes, back to back with no commercials yesterday (yay Amazon Ubnbox!) It is, indeed a masterpiece. I’ve had people calling me for the last two days (friends and colleagues) asking me if I had recorded it and could they borrow it to replay! That’s NEVER happened before. People were moved, touched and blown away.

    Veresna–I was absolutely planning on doing a season retrospective, trying to find the lines and themes in the season as I did with season three (the various “acts” of the season). The choppiness of it will make it interesting (and necessary). Funny you should ask about a piece on the house/wilson dynamic. I started one about a month or so ago and dropped it because I was too busy at the moment. It is somethig I will pick up again over the summer. Thanks for the input and the reminder!

    Always feel free to leave multiple comments. Discussion is an integral part any column of this sort, so feel free to discuss πŸ˜‰

  • Jo

    Great review, Barbara, as always.

    I am ecstatic for Hugh Laurie’s sake that the season finale finally showcased his amazing range and depth and gave him a worthy Emmy submission. His acting has always been top-notch, but up until the last two episodes, he hasn’t had anything meaty enough this season to sink his teeth into or stand out among the other male drama contenders. He, Leonard, and Dudek were absolutely breathtaking in this episode.

    Unfortunately for me, these last episodes won’t make up for the rest of Season 4. I still dislike it and think it was terribly disjointed. I won’t be putting Season 4 on my Christmas list this year. I simply cannot find any interest in Taub or Thirteen, and dread the idea of Thirteen now becoming the focus in Season 5 as a sad, noble little trooper who bravely faces her fate. (gag)Kutner, though, is refreshing and definitely a keeper.

    I’m going to look at the last scene with Cameron, Chase, and Foreman together as a hopeful sign for the next season – dare I hope they will be back together again? The writers have teased us over and over again with hints that Thirteen and Taub are unhappy with their jobs, and that House wants both Cameron and Chase to return. So far, their promises to give Cameron and Chase more screentime have come up empty. It’s time they kept their promises. As someone who has loved and been interested in all SIX characters in the first three seasons, I find myself bored to death with the new team’s interactions.

  • Amanda

    I can’t say much more than everyone else has said. The episodes were a MASTERPIECE.
    Hugh Laurie as HOUSE is AMAZING.
    But I have one question I hope someone can answer for me. HOW did House know that Amber had a rash on her back?
    Can’t wait until Season 5.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Jo–Glad you liked the review. I think that everyone has strong opinions on the direction of the series, and a lot of people do have issues with how the old team are being used.

    I like the new team; I like Chase (and how they’ve developed the character)–I could do without Cameron and esp. Foreman. It will be interesting where they take everyone next year. Hey, and I hear there will be a cast commentary on the season four dvd!

    Amanda–All I can think is that House saw the rash when tending to her on the bus. Remember, he tended to her leg wound and saw her being rescued from the bus. So maybe there; maybe when they moved her to the ambulance, like W said.

  • blacktop

    I agree with those above who are looking forward to Barbara’s summary of this season as a whole. I thought this was an exceptional outing, breathtaking in its bold decision to up-end the show’s formula and introduce major new characters. It will be particularly rewarding to re-examine the development of the character of Amber throughout the season and the fantastic subtlety and flair for comedy and tragedy that Anne Dudek brought to that tough part.

    The shifts in the role that Cuddy played through the season will also be of considerable interest also as she moved from House’s exasperated boss to his games-playing collaborator to his devoted partner and savior. Magic, illusion, games, mortality, impermanence, and fate: these large themes were explored in worthy fashion by a great show.

  • Ratha

    Hi Barbara,

    I’ve been a long time reader of your reviews but this is the first time I have ever posted a comment. But after “House’s head” and “Wilson’s heart” (especially “House’s head”) I just felt compelled to write.

    First of all I just want to say that if Hugh Laurie does not win an Emmy there is seriously something wrong with the Emmy people’s heads. Whoever they may be, I have no idea. I thought he was fantastic in “Merry Little Christmas” (still do) but I was just totally blown away watching “House’s Head”. I may even go as far as saying it is now my favorite House episode thus far. And I never thought I would say that about a season 4 episode as I have not been overly thrilled with this season.

    And RSL and Anne Dudek surely deserve Emmy nominations for their wonderful performance. In fact they deserve Emmy wins.

    I don’t think I’ve been so emotionally drained after watching a television show before! I’m still finding moments throughout the day where I think back to the episode and I can feel the emotions I felt watching it all over again.

    I can’t believe how much I’ve “fallen” for a TV show! And Hugh Laurie!! Well don’t even get me started!

    As I mentioned earlier, on a whole season 4 has been a tad disappointing and like many I can’t wait to read your review of the season. I love both Cameron and Chase and I miss them. Alot. I find 13 and Taub extremely dull and uninteresting. I miss the clinic patients and I felt that for the most part, I have found the POTW’s and their medical mysteries boring. The only exception being Cate in “Frozen”, the soap actor in “Living the Dream” and Amber in “Wilson’s Heart. In general season 4 has felt so different compared to the first 3 seasons. Many time I have wondered “where is the “House” I love?” And to me the medical mysteries have been the B stories when they use to be the A stories and it was from the characters interactions with the patients that we find out more about their character. And the writers strike sure didn’t help. Saying that though, since “Frozen” I have enjoyed the season much more.

    I’ll always continue to watch “House” no matter what direction the show takes because I love Hugh Laurie and the character’s House, Wilson and Cuddy (and it doesn’t look like they’ll meet the same fate as Cameron and Chase) but I am very much anticipating what will happen next season in regards to the old team and I hope I won’t be too dissapointed.

    Sorry for this very long post and sorry if I’ve droned on. I’m looking forward to season 5 and thank you Barbara for your reviews of what is the BEST show on tele.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks Blacktop and Ratha. And Ratha–welcome. Never apologize for a long comment. Thoughtful commentary is what this column is all about!

    I so agree with you about the Emmys. He has to win this year. Nuanced, emotional and restrained performance in what could have been wild and over the top. Every range of emotion was felt and expressed. Yeah, my husband is always teasing me about my middle-aged crush on Hugh. what can I say, other than confess.

  • Susanne

    Don’t worry, I too have a major crush on Hugh Laurie. At least your husband only teases you on it, mine gets jealous πŸ™‚

    There must be something wrong with the Academy if HL doesn’t get the emmy. It is so overdue.

    I felt that this season overall was a dissapointment though. I understand the themes of the show and I understand what the writers were trying to achieve however I felt that it was the execution of it that made me feel nagative about the season not to mention being bored to death on 13 and Taub. But I have my fingers crossed for next season.

  • hl_lover

    In reference to the rash on Amber’s back:

    House’s mind did know, all along, that Amber was ill with the flu and he had witnessed her taking amantidine tablets, but he had suppressed it very deeply under a layer of ‘retrograde amnesia’.
    I think the dream sequence of Amber showing House the rash (how incredibly creepy to watch her rise from the undead…kudos to the makeup dept. on that one) was his mind processing information subconciously, coming up with other clues to her condition that would fit the diagnosis of influenza.
    It took the break-through of the deep-brain electrical stimulation for the full remembrance of Amber’s flu and the medication to become a conscious thought again.

    Did that make any sense? Anyway,
    Sorry for the interruption, and carry on! πŸ™‚

  • Barbara Barnett

    It makes total sense, HL_L! I agree with you on your assessment πŸ˜‰

  • Iranu

    I honestly think that was the best 1.5 hours of television I’ve ever seen (I’m English and downloaded each episode, without ads).

    I don’t know if anyone’s already mentioned this, but if Chase hadn’t told House to ignore Amber while under hypnosis, he might have uncovered there and then that it was Amber on the bus with him. At least that’s how it seems to me.

    What has been mentioned is that Hugh Laurie deserves an Emmy for his performance, and I agree wholeheartedly, both because he is amazing and because his acceptance speeches are hilarious.

    I was surprised by how genuine Robert Sean Leonard and Anne Dudek’s performances were. They were as good as if not better than Laurie in this episode, and if that doesn’t deserve an Emmy nothing does.

    Why does everybody want Cameron and Chase to come back? I think it would be unrealistic and a cop-out if they did, plus I think they’ve ran their full course as characters although I guess their relationship could be explored. The only member of the new team I don’t like is Taub, he just doesn’t seem to gel with the other members or House, and there’s something about his acting that I don’t like. I like both Kutner and Thirteen, although the latter might just be because I’m a 17 year-old boy πŸ˜‰

    About House noticing Amber’s rash, at the beginning of Wilson’s Heart when House is in the ER, I think (but I’m not sure) he has a flash of memory seeing Amber being carried out of the bus while he is talking about noticing a symptom in somebody, so he might have seen it then. Or it might have been his subconscious coming to a rational conclusion from the suppressed memory of Amber saying she had the ‘flu – bad flu = rash, not an unreasonable leap.

    Unlike many I really enjoyed season 4. No more or less so than the previous seasons, although the different approach was definitely fresh. I think it takes something like this to keep a series “on its toes” if you like, stop it from becoming tired and dull. And of course there are bound to be people who do not like the shake-up, although I am surprised by how many articles and posts I’ve read stating disappointment with the season. Seasons like this I think act as a transition phase, whether deliberately or not, and next season I think will be a (welcome) return to the more traditional House format.

  • Barbara Barnett


    Thank you for your comments. I would agree that this is as fine a television experience as is possible. I watched the episodes again last night, no commercials and back to back. There are so many resonances from the begining that tie in a that end. From the song in the strip club sounding like a siren at the start echoing the sirens that House must’ve heard as he regained consciousness on the bus after the crash.

    You are right, of course, about Chase’s possible post-hypnotic suggestion that might have prevented House from accessing Amber’s identity until the end when he pushed himself past every block.

    I have also mostly liked this season. They’ve tried new things, and I do think it’s worked. I like the new team; Taub is confrontational with House (and as experienced if not as gifted) without Foreman’s arrogant whiny-ness. I like Kutner, who reminds me much of a big goofy kid. But very, very smart. I like 13 because, while she is very young, like Cameron was, she is wary and street smart as much as she is afraid. I do like where Chase has landed, and i would keep him (which is interesting, since I despised Chase through the first 2.5 seasons).

  • Buds

    Chase’s character has been very nicely developed. He has gone from being one of the most despicable characters, to one of the most lovable.

    I think the relationship between House and Chase (before season 4) was similar to a father-son relationship. This was shown in “Resignation”, you see pride in House’s eyes when Chase deduces that House is also ashamed of Foreman’s reason for quitting. Then again in the season 3 finale, Chase is quick to figure out House’s motives for agreeing with everything Foreman said. In the same episode, after House fires Chase, when House is sitting alone at home (when Esteban keeps calling and leaving him messages) for the first time you see tears in House’s eyes (the season 4 finale wasn’t the first time). It shows that firing Chase was probably the hardest thing House has had to do . It shows that House really meant it when he told Chase that he had learned all he can from working for him and that it was time for him to move on.

    I’ve just been re-watching all the season finale’s so I thought I would just add that.

  • Ratha

    I have to agree with Buds in that Chase’s character has been developed beautifully. I too didn’t care much for Chase at the start. The whole Vogler thing put me off him but now I adore Chase.

    In fact Jesse Spencer is the reason I started to watch House when it first aired. I’m an Aussie and I had a major thing for him when he was in Neighbour so I was glad to see him back on tele.

    Back to Chase though, he stepped up to the plate in numerous episodes (Finding Judas and Airborne are two in which he got the diagnosis right) and I love the look House gave him as you mentioned Buds when he called House on also being ashamed of the reason Foreman is quitting and also when Chase deduced that it was House who cancelled Foreman’s job interview.

    I hope they do bring him back a lot more next season and develop on his character. I love House/Chase scenes. There’s so much more I’d love to know about Chase, Cameron and Foreman.

  • Andy Murray

    AMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tim

    Once again, you are spot on. I was sitting in a coffee shop watching “Wilson’s Heart” when I couldn’t control myself as Wilson and Amber lay together for the last time. I had to rush to the rest room and cry in secret. The episode is a treatise on the value of those you love and the price of losing them.