The fifth season of House, M.D concludes with Dr. Gregory House (the always extraordinary Hugh Laurie in a heartbreaking performance) watching his world come crashing down around him — his sense of reality shattered, unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. It was a somber way to end the season, the camera pulling back to reveal the lone figure of Wilson, watching sadly from afar as House enters the doors of Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital.
House co-executive producer and the finale’s writer Doris Egan explained the significance of the final sequence during a one-on-one interview the day after the finale aired. We also discussed the episode’s themes and the series’ relationships.
Egan has written for House for several seasons, penning some of the best and most beloved episodes of the entire series, including season three’s “Son of Coma Guy,” her Writer’s Guild-nominated “Don’t Ever Change” (co-written with Leonard Dick) from season four, and season two’s “House vs. God,” for which she received a Humanitas Award nomination.
The final scene of “Both Sides Now” intercuts joy and sadness: the sunny spring setting and smiles of delight as Chase and Cameron exchange vows and wedding rings set against House’s shell-shocked expression, gray chill day and desolate walk up the steps of Mayfield. The montage, set flawlessly to the Rolling Stones’ classic "As Tears Go By" was choreographed by the series’ Emmy Award-winning director Greg Yaitanes (he won for last season’s penultimate episode “House’s Head”). “Yaitanes pretty much laid out the choreography of the entire final sequence, except for House handing his belongings to Wilson, which was scripted,” Egan explained.
The difference in atmosphere, she said, was intended for visual contrast. “In my original version,” noted Egan, “we went inside the place and saw House hand himself over to strangers there, recite his symptoms flatly to a doctor as his personal possessions were taken and Wilson added unhappy amplifications — all without sound, under music, as you saw it — and then Wilson watched as House went through a locked door.”
Moving the final scene outside, she said powerfully demarcates the different worlds that House and Wilson now occupy. Obviously, if you go that way, you still want to see House divest himself of his ordinary possessions and all they imply; so as House hands Wilson his wallet, pager and cell phone and watch, Wilson became the Keeper Of House Past.”
Egan told me that there were a couple of main challenges to writing the script, which had to be written so the big reveal of House’s delusion wasn’t given away too early. During the entire episode, she said, House and Cuddy were on different pages: “House was going to be thinking one thing and Cuddy something else.”