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Blogcritics reviews House M.D. "Post Mortem" and previews the penultimate "Holding On"

House, M.D.: Coming to a Poignant Conclusion – “Post Mortem” and the Penultimate “Holding On”

After this week’s “Post Mortem,” We are down to the last two episodes of House, M.D. before it bows for the final time. This week’s episode was a gut-wrenching hour that, had I been watching with commercials, would have left me breathlessly anticipating the start of each act.

In seasons past, the House-Wilson road trip was virtually synonymous with long-time House scribe Doris Egan, who left the series at the start of season seven. For House and Wilson’s final road trip (unless we get one in the series finale), Katherine Lingenfelter  and long-time House writer David Hoselton have penned a an astoundingly beautiful episode. In it are echoes of past forays off campus and out into the world, but more than the others, this one packs an emotional wallop that begins with House and Wilson, segues to Chase and back to our daring duo at the finish line.

Wilson’s illness provides a dramatic backdrop that wouldn’t have been possible in any previous season. We would have known, of course, that Wilson was going to survive—and that House would be set back to “go,” no matter how his journey had been affected by the threat of losing the person closest to him.

But with this being the final season, all bets are off. Wilson may or may not make it—and we still don’t really know by the end of “Holding On.” And we’ve no idea how House will react if Wilson dies of the C-Word. Will he survive—or will he implode? No one knows, and with this being the end of the series, anything can happen.

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve described a House episode as poignant, but that is an apt adjective to describe the excellent “Post-Mortem.”

As Wilson waits out the days until he learns whether the procedure in “The C-Word” has worked, he tries to make a transformation to a new and more selfish person. Having missed out on too much in life by “trying to be good,” he decides that if he only has a few months to live, he should live it as someone who puts his needs above others’. Finally finished with playing the caring doormat, he decides to take on a new this strange, new persona—and schlep House to Ohio to meet actress British actress Julie Christie. Of course they never reach their destination; Wilson is delayed by his ingrained need to do what expected of him.

What I found most interesting was House’s obvious anxiety about Wilson’s big transformation—red Corvette and all. It’s beyond the “people don’t change” Housian mantra. House seems almost alarmed at the prospect of this strange, new Wilson.

And just as surely as Wilson tries to change stripes, his illness has had a profound effect on House. For the first time since the series start, House leaves his phone back at the office; all of his attention is focused on his best friend—and spending time together with him (although reluctantly at first).

But this change in Wilson’s health status in a sense flip-flops their roles: House becomes the caretaker that Wilson has always seen in himself. We saw that, of course in last week’s “The C-Word,” and again here.

The other huge development in the episode concerns Chase, who gets a big wakeup call from this week’s patient, another doctor. Chase learns that this physician would have been awarded a fellowship with House had Chase’s father Rowan not made that fateful phone call on behalf of his son Robert.

The patient forces Chase to take a good, hard look at what he’s done and where he’s been in the eight years since he’d been hired by House. And what he sees is a now-not-quite-so-young doctor who’s been spinning his wheels for years, and still under the wing of his long-time mentor. It’s time, Chase concludes to move out of House’s giant shadow. The tender farewell scene between House and Chase is beautifully acted by both Spencer and Laurie. I have to confess that this scene as well as Chase’s resignation scene (with Foreman) misted over my eyes.   

But not even this excellent episode prepared me for next week’s episode, the penultimate “Holding On,” which I’ve already had the pleasure of screening. I do not want to spoil the episode in any way, but I will say that next Monday’s episode takes House and Wilson on an entirely different sort of journey and concludes with a revelation that, in any other season, might have been the cliffhanger to keep us chatting all summer. Instead it will serve as the cliffhanger to the series finale. For your viewing pleasure, I have embedded a sneak peek from the episode. Warning: big spoilers.

“Holding On” has much to do with the meaning of friendship (and love), and the ability to look beyond your own needs to do what’s best for someone else.

As many of you already know, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) makes a guest appearance; she has scenes with both House and Wilson—both crucial, but neither, in any way meant to upstage the episode’s main thrust—the series core relationship.

To tell you any more would give away “Post Mortem’s” cliffhanger, and I can’t really do that.

If you have specific questions, I will try to respond in the comments section, but please do not use the thread to reveal spoilers if you have, like me, seen the episode.

“Holding On” airs Monday night at 9:00 p.m. ET on Fox.

Please Note: I will be hosting a CoverItLive Chat event post-episode on May 21 following the House series finale. I will post more information next week, so please stay tuned!

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out 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)."

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