Whilst my love for House is such that I’ve wittered on about it right here on this very blog before (hell, it even sneaks a mention in my Twitter bio), a steady decline in quality over the last few years meant that I approached the final episode with mixed feelings as well as a large box of tissues. On one hand, you could argue that the show should have ended a few seasons back, but on the other television just won’t be the same without Hugh Laurie’s stubbly, Sherlockian diagnostician, easily one of the most compelling characters to ever grace the small screen.
Regardless, after eight seasons this was the end. No more Massive Attack kicking in after the obligatory cold open. No more lightbulb moments after 38 incorrect diagnoses (give or take). And, save for a limp, crapola spin-off which nobody wants, no more Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. For those who haven’t yet seen the finale, it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that heavy spoilers follow, so turn back now while you still can. For those who have seen it though and fancy a second opinion, join me in the next paragraph for the autopsy.
Everybody Dies (titled as a nice play on words to House’s mantra, “everybody lies”), opens with our misanthropic doctor lying on the ground in a burning building next to a dead body, where he is addressed by Kal Penn’s Kutner. That's Kutner, who, for the benefit of goldfish and those with bad memories, SHOT HIMSELF and DIED back in season five. Okay, so you’ve got us, we’re hooked already. Another mental breakdown for the titular super-doc? Well, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) has just been diagnosed with five months to live (where are those tissues?) and House has been sentenced to six months in prison. As anyone with a grasp of basic equations could tell you, this overlap was going to cause significant problems to their farewell hang-out plans.
As it turns out, however, Kutner’s visit was a subconscious hallucination, while our eponymous limper decided whether he wanted to live without his best (and only) friend or die before him. It wasn’t the only one either, as the final instalment boasted hallucinatory visits from House's previous partner Stacy (Sela Ward), Wilson’s deceased girlfriend Amber (Anne Dudek) and former team member Cameron (Jennifer Morrison). Between these burning building chats, the majority of the episode took place in flashback as House and the team treated one last patient (James LeGros, for anyone keep score) while he tried to get out of his upcoming prison sentence in order to spend time with Wilson.
Then there’s the small matter of House (seriously, if you haven’t seen the finale, avert your peepers now!) dying. Truthfully, it was a surprising, sobering moment which enabled the return of more old cast members at the funeral (Olivia Wilde’s Thirteen, Amber Tamblyn’s Martha Masters). But just while we’re wondering where the hell Cuddy is (yes, House drove a car into her front window and it was confirmed that Lisa Edelstein wasn’t returning, but still), it’s revealed that, well, he isn’t dead after all! Unfortunately, this big ‘twist’ slightly undid the effects of the demise a few minutes earlier, even if you could have seen it coming. After all, this is a character modelled on perennial death-faker Sherlock Holmes.
Overall, the finale was reasonably effective and thankfully not awful, if not quite the definitive swan song we were hoping for. With series creator David Shore penning the episode, there was closure and a few decent lines ("It's a tiny white lie. No offence. Especially since from what I hear nothing black is tiny. Except your penis. I guess.”), but nothing as memorable as the season finales of old. Remember House checking himself into a psychiatric hospital? What about him working to save the survivors of a crane collapse? These, and all the season closers previous, stayed with you and lingered in the mind for days.
Perhaps the finale was ultimately undone by the uneven nature of season eight, coupled with the fact that the series didn’t have many character avenues left to explore - even if House and Wilson’s friendship, arguably, has always been the heart and soul of the show. All that said, television will undoubtedly be a lesser place without Hugh Laurie and his cane. So goodbye dear friend, and thanks for teaching us that everybody lies and that everyone is an idiot. Oh, and that it’s rarely lupus.
But what did you think readers? A great finale or underwhelming? Should the show have finished a few seasons back? Or did you give up a while ago? As always, we welcome your diagnostic-like theories on our bloggy white board.
racquetman75 Posted on Friday May 25, 2012, 17:51
I always hated the episodes with hallucinations that showed up from time to time throughout the years, so I knew I wasn't going to care for the finale after about 5 minutes of watching. It was just a lazy way to get a bunch of characters throughout the years on the screen one more time.
That being said, it was probably more of a fun finale for the cast than the fans of the show, and that may have been the intention (I mean you don't have to worry about losing viewership after a finale, right?!).
I was hoping for something a little more edgy and dark, not a happy fairytale ending, from a show like this.
tommyinglis Posted on Friday May 25, 2012, 21:27
I love(d) house, always have, right from season 1. It was a very sad ending, but I feel like I've had closure for the series. I was expecting a sad ending, but quite liked the happy ending, even if it was bitter-sweet. I mean, we know that Wilson hasn't got long and that House can no longer practice medicine, but we do get the feeling that he'll be OK. I've really enjoyed watching this TV show, and am sad to see it go.
lewisb548 Posted on Friday May 25, 2012, 22:06
It was a touching and gripping finale- the ending was extremely upbeat for a medical drama and Hugh Laurie was brillaint as always it was a good episode and lets hope that Laurie makes the most of his film career in years too come.
simjamlmx Posted on Saturday May 26, 2012, 00:18
the finale was very "reichenbach fall". house definitely should have ended at the end of season 6 for me. but house is definitely a character which will never be forgotten and the two best characters of which one is wilson will never be forgotten. hope to see hugh laurie again soon.
7eke Posted on Saturday May 26, 2012, 09:24
American series' always flog it a few too many seasons. The good ones start off great, peak around season 4 and then its all down hill to season 386.
oldstuff Posted on Saturday May 26, 2012, 11:46
Yes it was a bit samey sometimes and it ran out of suitable plot ideas in the end but the cast were excellent, the medical storylines were always great and Hugh Laurie helped define television over the past few years with "House" just like he did in the 80s and 90s with the likes of "Jeeves & Wooster", "Blackadder" and "Fry & Laurie". One of Britain's most talented performers took the US by storm. The boy done good!
clarkkent Posted on Saturday May 26, 2012, 20:42
Loved the finale right up until the "twist". That moment of "oh, he's gonna make it" was the PERFECT way to end House's saga, with him finally making a positive choice for the better, only to have that sucker punch take it all away. The funeral played perfectly, right up to Wilson breaking and ripping House a new one. THAT should have been the end of it, we see the supporting cast returning to their lives and that's it. MAYBE have Wilson on his death bed see House on last time, with a conversation something along the lines of "Well, what's it like?" HOUSE: "I was right." CUT TO BLACK. THE END.
Evil_Bob Posted on Sunday May 27, 2012, 05:19
The show overplayed its hand in the last few episodes. Since it was announced roughly mid-season that the finale would be the last ever episode it rendered the point of many of the last episodes totally moot.
It meant that they were never going to have time to flesh out the new characters Park and Adams as much as they should (although they made a really good effort in Park's case) and it meant that we (and House) would more or less stop caring about the illness of the week.
Apart from throwing in Wilson's cancer as a really out there curve ball that just doesn't work for me, they also really overplayed the "House was fooling everybody all along" card that was a stalwart of the show. The two recent episodes (with Wilson's "kid" and Wilson's "ex-patients") were so fresh in my mind (and I saw both twists coming at the time, knowing House so well) that as soon as House was seemed to be dead I knew that he would show up, regardless of what elaborate and unlikely way he would manage it.
This ruined the last episode for me as it took away from the sadness of seeing all the old cast reunite for sombre reasons and I couldnt' take it seriously at all. Although the last scene was a nice ending.
BoudaSmoke Posted on Tuesday May 29, 2012, 15:44
It was a respectable ending, perhaps not as intense as it could have been, but the pressure to deliver must have been huge. Season finales on American TV are often exciting, as many of House's have been, but that is in part due to the cliffhanger ending, usually leaving several questions hanging (WTF's gonna happen next???) and often a character in jeopardy. This was a SERIES finale, not a seasonal one, and in having to wrap up loose ends it often can feel a little contrived. Most American series do seem to loose their way a little as the years go on, but I never give up on a show I enjoy. After spending over 100 hours with a set of characters you are always going to feel a sense of loss when it finally draws to a close, and this can affect a person's opinion of the final episode(s). Ask yourself this: How many TV shows have you seen which you can honestly say ended in a satisfactory manner, without feeling contrived to wrap up all of the plot threads, or leaving you with unanswered questions? (I'm looking at you, Lost). Some shows do it fairly well (I think that Battlestar Galactica did itself justice, but was not perfect), but it must be incredably difficult to get everything right for the perspectives of the characters, the creators, the critics, the casual fans and the hardcore. I'm simply trying to say that all endings will be a little disapointing because it finally over. It is the end.
gtst012 Posted on Thursday May 31, 2012, 14:12
While I enjoyed the last episode to a point, the biggest problem I had was the lack of originality. Earlier this year we had NCIS ep. 200, which featured the main character (Gibbs), in a near-death situation, reviwing his life by meeting people (dead and alive) from his past. Then for the final episode of CSI: NY we have the main character (Taylor), in a near-death situation, reviwing his life by meeting people (dead and alive) from his past. Three major episodes within a few weeks of each other with the same storyline. Has someone been leaving notes around the studio canteen?
Sellingstraws Posted on Wednesday June 13, 2012, 09:38
The thing for me, regardless of flashbacks, hallucinations and life-or-death situations is surely that House finally did the most selfless thing it's possible to do. He gave up his whole life to spend a tiny portion of it with his best friend.
No more medicine, bothering Foreman or prodding Chase and the team, and certainly no more lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. Just him and his best friend for five months. That's what marked it out as a pretty great ending for me. Hey, it was better than Lost anyway...