'House': Was the last ever episode a hit or a miss?
Published May 22 2012, 11:59 BST | By Morgan Jeffery This Week...
Trapped in a burning crack den, House must choose between life or death. A host of familiar faces appear to guide him in his hour of need, but is it too late to save the medical maverick from himself?House Viewing...
We'll be honest, 'Everybody Dies' was not what we were expecting. You can check out our prediction piece
- written before we'd seen the episode - to find out what we thought might happen, but in the end, series creator David Shore and his team have delivered a far more interesting and complex finale than might have been expected, albeit one with some serious flaws.
It would have felt like rather a waste of time to devote much of 'Everybody Dies' to a traditional patient-of-the-week storyline, and while House (Hugh Laurie
) does solve one final medical mystery - a well-to-do clinic patient (James LeGros) who is revealed as a secret heroin addict - this plot is told in flashback, through the framing device of our addled lead trapped in a burning building...
Waking up stoned in a hovel, House is haunted by faces from his past - his first guide is Kutner and it's a fitting cameo from returnee Kal Penn. Back in season five, Kutner's suicide felt abrupt and rather meaningless - necessitated more by Penn's real-life move into politics
than by any plot requirement - but here, his demise finally seems relevant.
"Guess we figured out why you're seeing me - your suicidal friend," he tells House, who lies prone in the burning crack den, having given up on life. Soon, Kutner vanishes and another deceased figure takes his place - 'cut-throat bitch' Amber (Anne Dudek) and it's here that we learn that, shockingly, House began relating to his heroin-addicted patient - a successful man who is nevertheless "miserable" and addicted to drugs.
House has become disillusioned with his own life on practically every level - the only person left that he still cares for, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), is on the way out, he's faced with a return to jail and he's losing faith in his profession too. "Everybody dies… it's meaningless," he spits.
Meanwhile, Wilson and Foreman - who has a pleasing amount of screen time in 'Everybody Dies', given his reduced role this season - hunt for our hero and turn to House's old psychiatrist Dr Nolan - the first real surprise of the episode as Andre Braugher reprises his role from season six.
The pair learn that House was considering sending himself into a heroin-filled oblivion, but as it stands, he's still suffering Scrooge-like fantasies. Again, we're treated to a genuine surprise as Sela Ward takes a break from starring in CSI: NY
to reappear as House's ex Stacy Warner - a character last glimpsed back in season two.
Stacy suggests that since Wilson has always served as House's conscience, he's never had to develop one of his own. Stacey tells her ex the difficult truth: "You'll be better off without him." It's an intriguing notion - that once he's alone House won't crumble but will be forced to become self-sufficient for the first time. Wilson, it turns out, is more of a crutch than his famous cane.
There's another switch-up as Sela Ward is swapped out for Jennifer Morrison, and while one might expect the notoriously emotional and sensitive Cameron to be a soothing presence, she's essentially the devil on House's shoulder, convincing him to lay down and be consumed by the flames that are now dangerously close.
However, confronted by his own cowardice, House emerges from his stupor and finally utters three words we never thought we'd hear him say, let alone mean: "I can change."
But it's too late - the flame-consumed building explodes and House is seemingly killed, just as Wilson and Foreman arrive on the scene. This writer's original, expletive-filled reaction to this moment has been redacted for reasons of decency!
Unfortunately, following this high, it's here that the wheels start to come off of 'Everybody Dies'. Everyone House dreamt about - plus Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn), Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) and Chase (Jesse Spencer) - attends his funeral. But Wilson's final eulogy is interrupted by a text message - "SHUT UP YOU IDIOT" - can you guess where this is going?
Yes, House has faked his own death - utterly ridiculous but given the character's original Sherlockian inspiration, not without precedent, we suppose. Just don't question how a middle-aged man with limited mobility was able to escape a collapsing building moments before it erupted into an enormous fireball.
Chase steps in at Princeton-Plainsboro, taking charge of the diagnostic team in an awesome, fan-pleasing moment. And finally, completely free, House can spend his last days with Wilson and the pair take to the road, literally riding off into the sunset...
'Everybody Dies' is emotional, surprising and cleverly structured - in fact, it's so clever that it takes the viewer a little while to recognise the episode's flaws. Most obviously, bar Chase's promotion and a token reveal about Cameron's new life, there's little to no resolution for the show's supporting characters - Taub, Adams and Park all get short shrift.
Another issue is the lack of Cuddy. This writer was never a huge fan of the character - and certainly not of her ill-advised romance with House - and having Lisa Edelstein's former dean of medicine return to the hospital would be stretching credibility plot-wise.
But given the format of this final episode, it seems deeply unlikely that Cuddy wouldn't pop up in her former lover's subconscious, given how large a part she played in his life.
Still, satisfactorily wrapping up an eight-year-old show in 45 minutes is no easy task. 'Everybody Dies' probably won't go down in TV history as one of the great series finales, but it does get a hell of a lot right. House gets his happy ending with Wilson and, perhaps more importantly, there's the implication that he'll be okay once his friend is gone. You'd have to be a stone-hearted cynic not to love an ending like that, just a little bit.What did you make of the House series finale? Share your thoughts on the last ever episode below!