After eight years, the medical maverick show, House M.D. has bowed out and off our television screens for the last time. And for those eight years, the show brought us something that few other medical shows had to offer: the puzzle. CSI meets E.R. with Sherlock Holmes and Watson leading the charge might be the best way to describe the show, if you’ve never seen it, and it’s that blend of medicine and mystery that kept the show interesting even when compared with shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. The illnesses and diseases that affected the patients each week were never the most realistic. For an analysis of the medicine shown on the show check out politedissent.com. But though the medicine might not always have been spot on it was a joy to watch House figure out everything and put all the pieces just in time.
Of course, some people complain that how he figured out the cause of the illness was too formulaic or that the show itself was too predictable. And while you could nearly always count on House having a eureka moment ten minutes from the end of the episode, I feel as though creator David Shore and executive producers, Paul Attansiano, Katie Jacobs and Bryan Singer, did their utmost to try and keep the show innovative and shake things up every once in a while. Within the first three seasons, Dr. Robert Chase, played by Jesse Spencer, got the eureka moment more than once, and starting with season four they made the biggest shake up to the whole show. They fired all the regular cast, made them recurring characters and reintroduced three new diagnostic fellows. Individual episodes have also attempted to bend the formula or throw it out altogether such as ‘Last Resort’ from Season 5 or ‘5 to 9’ in Season 6. House himself, played fantastically by Hugh Laurie, has been arrested, shot, electrocuted, in bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, been placed in a psychiatric hospital, dated the love of his life, broke up with her, dated the other love of his life, got broken up with, married a woman so she could get a green card, fell in love with her, drove a car through his ex-girlfriend’s window and went to prison. So what, after all that, could he possibly do or have done to him in the finale?
Well, the obvious conclusion is that Gregory House would die. The episode title, ‘Everybody Dies’, is both an interesting parallel to the episode title of the first episode and a huge implication that someone in the show would kick the bucket. Wilson was diagnosed with cancer but he still had five months. Thirteen’s Huntington’s hadn’t progressed that far yet. None of the other character’s had anything life threatening but House, as a character, has always been self-destructive, to the point of nearly being suicidal many times. So it was a safe bet that the death in the show would be Gregory House himself. I expect Shore was aware of this expectation when he wrote the opening to the finale episode with House lying beside a dead body in a burning building and making no effort to get out. While the character contemplating death the writers sneak in an opportunity to slip in a few returning favourites, such as Dr. Lawrence Kutner, played by Kal Penn, Dr. Amber Volakis, played by Anne Dudek, Stacy Warner, played by Sela Ward, and Dr. Allison Cameron, played by Jennifer Morrison. At first it seems that House does actually die. Wilson sees him through the window just as a fiery support beam drops from the roof and a moment later the building explodes. During his funeral, Wilson takes a page out of his friend’s book and starts telling the truth. That is until he receives a text on an unrecognised mobile phone. In the final ten minutes, the truth is revealed. The mystery is different but the formula is the same. House is alive and faked his death.
What’s important, however, is whether this ending is actually satisfying to the viewer or not. Perhaps you might think it was completely satisfying but I, for one, felt that it was missing something. I would like to think that my introduction to the show has shown that I’m not just critiquing the show because I don’t like it but I feel that this episode was a little sloppy. Though the dead body in the burning building is exposed as the patient of the week, a fellow drug addict, the show makes zero effort to explain why House is there, how the patient died or why the house is on fire. We can extrapolate some of the information for ourselves, such as House went to the apartment to do drugs with the patient and the patient probably overdosed, but the show is usually a lot tighter in regards to mysteries and clues like this. Not to mention there is no explanation for how House escaped the building or faked his death. Usually, a character would narrate exactly how the mystery had been solved in a voice over as we would see blood cells and bone rupturing and lodging in places on the screen. In this episode, the most we get is that House used the back door and that he swapped the dental records. It is believable that House would fake his own death and would probably know how to do it, but considering he’s a cripple, I have a hard time believing he escaped through the back door of a burning building.
That said, I did enjoy the final scene where House and Wilson drive off on motorcycles to spend the latter’s last five months together. It was a very sweet ending and it felt natural. Though the show was always, in part, about the medical mystery of the week, it was also just as much about House and his relationships with those around him. The misanthropic doctor generally ended up pushing everyone else out of his life except for Wilson, whom he fought for on numerous occasions. It seems fitting that the show would end with them.
Just as an aside, David Shore has admitted that he’d like to do a movie. Before anyone gets their hopes up, it’s unlikely to happen any time soon but I think it would be interesting for the film to show Wilson’s dying days with House by his side trying to avoid or dupe visitors who might recognise him. And hey, while he’s in the hospital, he might just find another medical puzzle to solve…