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House: Season 5 - Both Sides Now (Season finale review)

Hugh Laurie in House

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the final episode of House: Season 5 entitled Both Sides Now (as aired on Sky1 on Sunday, September 27, 2009).

What’s the story? House (Hugh Laurie) takes on a case of a patient with two different personalities as a result of having the left and right part of the brain operating independently. Meanwhile, he deals with the aftermath of his night of sex with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein).

Was it any good? As usual, House served up a corker of a cliffhanger finale… admittedly not as good or intense as season 4 finale Wilson’s Heart, but a doozy nonetheless.

From the outset, we knew something was wrong. House, superbly played by Hugh Laurie as ever, was in a good mood. He’d slept with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). And he was determined to further their relationship in the only way he knew how – by baiting his boss with typically sarcastic comments.

Cuddy, on the other hand, wasn’t having any of House’s games. She sternly warned him that at work she was the boss, and if he couldn’t accept that, he was fired.

Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), meanwhile, warned House not to ruin things, or push Cuddy too far. But he did… repeatedly, playing prank after prank, mostly involving the diagnosis and treatment of a patient who liked to imitate a parrot (played with relish by veteran Carl Reiner).

The main case of the week, meanwhile, involved a man (played by Ashton Holmes) whose left arm worked independently from his right – frequently doing the opposite to what he wanted. But this seemed more of a distraction for House… as was the impending wedding of Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer).

So far, so normal…. or was it? When has House ever been in a good mood, no matter what the occasion? And was his lack of pain from his recent detox really the result of his newfound happiness with Cuddy?

The revelations flew thick and fast during the final 10 minutes. House hadn’t slept with Cuddy at all, and neither had he kicked his drug habit. Rather, he was hallucinating still and his mind was a mess.

Hence, as Chase and Cameron finally made it up the aisle, House was driven to a psychiatric facility by Wilson to begin treatment for his new condition. The final moments were actually quite poignant, as House stared back at his friend from the asylum door… regretful, humble and, for the first time, silent without any quips or theories.

Indeed, as played by Laurie, he looked like a broken man; someone who was no longer sure of himself, and who was about to embark on his own personal nightmare of a journey.

Wilson, for his part, senses this too, and the look of reassurance tempered with regret spoke a thousand words, as the two friends parted company.

These scenes were cleverly juxtaposed with the marriage of Chase and Cameron, which at least provided a rare moment of uplift in an otherwise downbeat finale.

House’s strength, however, remains its ability to surprise… and to force its characters to exist in torment, self-doubt and pain. Happiness is only fleeting… and fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

With Sky now caught up with US scheduling, the good news is that we don’t have to wait to find out how House copes in his newfound psychiatric facility. It’s a bold move and one that promises to take the show in interesting new directions.

What’s more… five seasons and counting and House has lost none of its ability to grip and entertain.

What did you think?