House: The final episode (Review)
Review by Rob Carnevale
THE final episode of House was a satisfyingly deceptive way to finish the show. There, I said it.
While some have bemoaned the cute and cuddly element of the final acts of Hugh Laurie’s Dr Gregory House I believe that it brought the series to a typically bittersweet conclusion.
True, House finally performed one selfless act by faking his own death and riding off into the sunset with his best friend, Dr Wilson (the ever excellent Robert Sean Leonard) but at what price happiness?
Wilson only has five months to live, having been unable to defeat cancer, while House can never practice medicine again. And contrary to some write-off reviews which suggest the finale lacked staying power, it did give rise to some ponderings.
For a person as calculated as House has been throughout the series, how much had he really thought through the implications of his last-act decision. True, House without Wilson would be like a doctor operating without a conscience – a point made by one of several returning characters of old. So, what would be the point if there was no one to challenge him?
But what of life’s eternal puzzle and the need for House to solve them? Can he really be happy once his best friend has gone?
Or, was the final shot of Omar Epps’ Dr. Eric Foreman finding House’s hospital badge underneath his wonky coffee table a nod to an ex-colleague that he’s still on the other end of the phone (albeit secretly and involving a lie) should the new head of diagnostics, Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), need any assistance, or a get out of jail card (so to speak) somewhere down the road.
If anything, House stayed true to form to the end, albeit with a mellowing of sorts by virtue of his last act of selflessness (to spend time on the road with his dying friend). The episode was entitled Everybody Dies – a neat book-end to the first ever episode, Everybody Lies – and it lived up to that billing in more ways than one.
House ‘died’, Wilson is bound for imminent death and the last patient that House ever treated also was found dead. The ghosts of House’s past also came back to revisit him while he pondered suicidal tendencies from within a burning building.
Throughout, House’s long-held belief that happiness is only fleeting and that life is mostly pain served up potent reminders. Even the final shot, of House and Wilson riding off together on an idyllic American highway, had a strange sorrow attached to it… almost as though they were on their own ‘highway to heaven’.
To this end, the series concluder was a thought-provoker and every bit as clever as some of the long-running show’s final episodes. What’s more, it does leave the door open for a return should there ever be an about turn in people’s thinking (and given Hollywood’s appetite for reviving past shows as movies, who wouldn’t bet against former TV favourites returning somewhere down the road?).
It was also nice to see so many returning cast members paying their final respects to both House as a character and the show, whether it was Sela Ward, as House’s ex-girlfriend, Kal Penn’s late former colleague, Anne Dudek’s Amber “Cut-throat Bitch” Volakis or Jennifer Morrison’s Allison Cameron. And, of course, Olivia Wilde’s Thirteen (a firm show favourite).
The only one notable by their absence was Lisa Edelstein’s Dr Cuddy, whose decision to leave the show at the end of the prior season over a pay dispute, was underlined as being final.
Kudos must go, too, to show creator (and final episode director) David Shore for ensuring so many character’s enjoyed a strong resolution, if only by offering glimpses of their lives as they currently stand.
And for nodding to one of its biggest inspirations, Sherlock Holmes, by having House (a medical Sherlock if ever there was one) fake his own death too.
For a show that has so often proved elementary throughout its eight years, this seemed like an even more apt way to go.