Entertaining Platt: House Series Finale – “Everybody Dies”

May 22, 2012 § 3 Comments

That could have gone better.

For just a moment, I thought the House series finale was about to deliver a great storytelling twist.

Don’t read past this point if you don’t want to be spoiled…

As Wilson gave a eulogy about his best friend, a cell phone started chirping. I hoped it would end up being Wilson’s, and it was, but I had hoped it would be waking him up rather than being something actually in his pocket with a message from Gregory House telling him to shut up.

In my imagination, the series ended with Wilson waking up in that burning building and maybe House was just a tumor-produced personality in his mind.

But, hey, I get it, the show’s never been about Wilson, it’s always been about House.

So, somehow, a burning roof fell on a crippled, drug-addled House, and he just managed to slip out the back without so much as a nasty burn, let alone crushing injuries.  Somehow House managed to switch dental records with another guy without anyone noticing.

I understand that House has always been a modern day take on Sherlock Holmes, but ending the series with a death fake-out (especially one that makes no logical sense, unless we choose to believe that House was planning his patient’s death in that building from the start, thus making him a homicidal killer) is a pretty cheap way to go out. Yes, it’s something that happened in the Holmes books. But it also just happened on the BBC Sherlock Holmes show and it happened in the recent Game of Shadows movie with Robert Downey Jr.

If the fake demise of Gregory House was planned all along, why are the ghosts of Princeton Plainsboro Past, Past, Past and Past visiting Scrooge in the middle of an inferno? And why no Cuddy? (Behind the scenes, I’m well aware that Lisa Edelstein probably wouldn’t want to come back, but if you can’t have her sparring with House in those flames, why bother with Kutner? Kal Penn seems like a nice guy, but he’s no match for Hugh Laurie.)

I used to enjoy this show a lot more when it was focused on the unusual cases, colorful patients, the puzzles that required solving. It seemed to stop being that about the time of the bus crash that killed April a couple of seasons back. Then it became more of a soap opera: House goes to the insane asylum. House drives a car into Cuddy’s house. House goes to prison. House jumps a motorcycle over a shark-infested pool at the county carnival. Well, that last one never happened, as far as I know.

As television show finales go, it wasn’t great. It can’t stand up to the end of M*A*S*H or St. Elsewhere or Six Feet Under. As House episodes go, it was probably one of the weakest. Yes, it gives closure, but I don’t think it satisfies.

 

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§ 3 Responses to Entertaining Platt: House Series Finale – “Everybody Dies”

  • Bill Murphy says:

    I thought it would have been better if he died. In the second-to-last episode, the “twist” that House would have to go back to jail for his stupid toilet prank (that seemed unrealistically destructive for a hospital plumbing system, which one would assume would have to be fairly robust for obvious reasons), it seemed that the message the show was going for was that House can’t keep pulling crap like this his whole life and get away with it. There are consequences to his actions. That would have been the perfect message of his death. House has always been rescued by someone for his own bad behavior. Cuddy saved him from the cop who wanted to bust him for prescription fraud. Wilson has covered for him any number of times. His team has covered up clearly unethical, unprofessional behavior. He always got away with it. Foreman even helped rescue him from the consequences of his (ridiculous) vehicular assault on Cuddy at the end of last season, giving him his job back (which was not terribly realistic, even if necessary to continue the series.) In the flashbacks, we saw that both Foreman and Wilson refused to come to House’s rescue and get him out of jail time for this one. Then, when he was in the burning building, being visited by the ghosts of his past, he seems to come to a realization…he’s never really grown up because people like Wilson (and Wilson, particularly) make it so he doesn’t have to. The hallucination of Stacey tells him Wilson prevented him from growing a conscience of his own, but really he just prevented him from having to take responsibility. Cameron’s hallucination made him come to terms with his own selfishness, and he at that moment makes a commitment to change, to try to be a better person.

    This would have been the PERFECT time for House to die. The message would have been, “Oh, you want to change NOW, after shooting up heroin in a burning building with a former patient who you happened to let DIE in the process, after your childishness deprived your best friend of the chance to be with the only family he really has (you) before he dies a horrible, painful death?? Sorry, buddy. Too late. No one’s here to save you this time…you just went too far. At last.” It would have been perfect, too, that Wilson and Foreman saw him near the door of the building just before he died. They wanted to save him. They just couldn’t. It would have been the perfect symbolic description of their respective relationships with him.

    This would have been a very effective end. But they couldn’t bring themselves to end what was a very dark series on such a dark note. I actually thought this was the second lost opportunity with this season. Last season, after the ridiculous decision to have House crash his car into Cuddy’s house, they should either have ended the show right there, with House on the beach in whatever tropical country he had fled to at the end of the episode, OR they should have brought him back as a fugitive in the final season. He could have wandered around encountering random medical mysteries in the real world as he tried to work odd jobs to keep himself alive and hidden, sort of like Bruce Banner in the Bill Bixby Incredible Hulk series. The end of the series would have been predictable, in that sooner or later he’d get caught and go to jail. But you could have done some interesting things with the character while he was on the lam.

    All of that being said, I didn’t hate the finale. It was inconsistent in tone with the overall series and it defied logic…did House kill his patient, having switched the medical records in advance? And did he then set the fire? Was he really planning on dying in that building? Did he suddenly become Batman AFTER the fire, when everyone thought he was dead, with the ability to sneak into the morgue and switch dental records (which I would assume would actually be quite difficult) and then sneak into Foreman’s office to leave behind his ID as a message that he was really still alive, all without anyone seeing the guy who was supposed to be dead? But I suppose what I found tolerable about all of that was that the ending was faithful to one thing… the core relationship of the series was always House and Wilson, and Wilson was the only character on the show who seemed a match for House (Cuddy was always really overmatched by him…she protected him when she needed to but she never really got the better of him and you could never really believe she was going to). So having an ending where they rode off together and House theoretically sacrificed his own future for a few months with his best friend before he died wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t great.

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