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A sneak preview of Monday night's House, M.D., and a new poll!

House, M.D.: Season Finale Preview

And so we come to the end of this season’s House, M.D., airing Monday night at 8:00 (ET) on FOX. (The network has warned that the episode runs one minute long, so make sure to set your DVR or DVD recorder to record that extra minute!) If you are not a spoiler-phobe, enjoy the two clips and be sure to participate in a new poll on the last page.

The season will surely end leaving us hanging, anticipating next season and speculating all summer. So, what do the powers that be have in store for us for the finale? I have no clue. Very few spoilers have emerged about the finale, which I think is a good thing. I like being surprised and sitting on the edge of my seat. Of course, finale preview voice-over guy has assured us the ending will be the “biggest shock of the year!” But how is it possible for the show shock us more than Kutner’s suicide in “A Simple Explanation”? The first question in my mind is whether Amber is really gone, or has simply taken a coffee break from tormenting House.

This year has been full of surprises and turns, and certainly any one of the last several episodes could have easily sufficed as the season five finale. The final scene of “Locked In” with House’s field of vision suddenly blurring while Wilson lectures him about ending up alone would have left viewers wondering why — and why House had secretly started seeing a psychiatrist.

“Simple Explanation” and the stunning blow of Kutner’s suicide and the final shot of House sitting alone in Kutner’s flat would have left us wondering how the team (and House) would recover from such a devastating blow. The final scene of “Saviors” would have likewise made an uneasy cliffhanger as House’s restored self-confidence is chillingly disrupted by the sudden and tormenting appearance of Amber.

The same can be said for “House Divided,” as House, finally able to get a decent night’s sleep, continues to hallucinate the dead Amber. And then there was last week’s “Under My Skin,” which left us wondering about just what did happen after the closing credits began to roll in the middle of that passionate kiss shared by House and Cuddy. That would certainly have kept the fans speculating all summer.

I’ve tried to go back through the season a bit; rewind, as it were to trace the chain of events leading to House’s emotional deterioration. From last year’s finale and his guilt about Amber’s tragic death through the loss of Wilson’s friendship, the death of his father (and the realization that John House isn’t really his father) and beyond. A bombardment of his psyche by a series of physical and emotional traumas has left our (anti) hero standing on the ledge once again, teeter-tottering on its edge and staring into the abyss of his own mental disintegration. Will Kutner’s suicide be enough to push him over the edge?

With neither warning nor apparent cause, Kutner’s tragic death is something no one could have foreseen. Not even House. Yet House, whose philosophy insists that while not everything is known, everything is knowable, is plagued by the perceived failure of his own nearly supernatural observational powers. Why didn’t he observe something “off” in Kutner in time to save his life? Was he subconsciously trying to kill Chase by failing to remembering Chase’s allergy, and Karamel’s strawberry body butter? Was it poor judgment that led to the ballerina’s rare reaction to the antibiotic in “Under My Skin”?

Tormented by guilt for things both in and out of his control, the man who plays mind games with everyone finds his own mind reserving the cruelest game for him. And in the end, he is no longer able to trust himself, his judgment, his intellect or his rationality.

Ultimately, in “Under My Skin,” House’s crisis drives him to seek out Wilson’s and then Cuddy’s help. And by the end of the episode, House seems much better than he had the night before his “dark night of the soul.” But we know all cannot be as it seems. Has House really “gotten clean and sober?” And is Cuddy correct in her assertion that off opiods, House’s pain will decrease? Surely the pain will continue to plague him, even under the best case scenario, and how will he handle it?

Now that House has been seriously freaked out by his hallucinations, will he begin to avoid his often-trod path towards self-destruction? And what if turns out not to be Vicodin causing the hallucinations after all? What if, instead, House is suffering serious mental illness? Serious brain trauma?

So many questions and just one episode to go. But not much longer to wait and ponder. Don’t forget I will be interviewing House co-executive producer/writer Doris Egan (who wrote the finale) on Tuesday to discuss “Both Sides Now” and what is in store for season six. If you have any questions for her after you see the finale, feel free to post them in the comments thread below.

So just for fun, here’s a little poll to tide you over until Monday night.

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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