‘House’ Goes Out With A Bang

Series finale, 'Everybody Dies,' was flawed yet moving.
By Tami Katzoff

Hugh Laurie in the "House" finale
Photo: FOX

In the eight years "House" was on the air, the title character had plenty of opportunities to die: He'd been shot, electrocuted, in insulin shock and cardiac arrest and involved in a horrific bus crash, and he'd taken enough drugs to kill him many times over. Another chance came during Monday night's series finale — and it was a big one.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)

The episode, fittingly titled "Everybody Dies," starts off with the doctor lying half-conscious in a burning building after a heroin binge. Beside him lies his Patient of the Week, already dead. We know that he's facing six months in prison for violating his parole, and his best bud, James Wilson, is dying of cancer. Things do not bode well for Dr. House.

The story of the final hour of "House" does not unfold chronologically; we learn how House arrived at his precarious position through flashbacks. His expired patient had originally come to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital as a drug-seeker, but House quickly found evidence on the man's body of yet another medical mystery to solve.

Throughout the episode we see House being House: brilliant, manipulative and desperately unhappy. When he's MIA from the hospital, Doctors Wilson and Foreman learn that he's gone to score heroin from his patient, and they track him down. But they arrive at a building already consumed in flames. It's too late for House — or is it?

As in several episodes in previous seasons, various characters from House's past visit his subconscious, urging him to get up, get out and live. But there's an explosion, followed by a funeral. More familiar faces show up to eulogize House. They say nice things, but when it's Wilson's turn, he speaks the hard truth: "He was a bitter jerk who liked making people miserable."

Then we have our Tom Sawyer moment. While expounding on House's faults at House's funeral, Wilson gets a text that reads, "Shut up, you idiot."

By the end of the episode we learn that House has essentially faked his own death so that he can be by his best friend's side during the last few months of his life. In doing so he has sacrificed the ability to do the thing he loves the most, solving puzzles.

It's a sweet and moving episode, but certainly not among the series' best. There are too many implausibles: How does a crippled, drugged man escape an exploding building without a scratch? And how did he manage to switch his own dental records with those of his dead patient? Things like that don't happen, even on "House."

Bringing back old favorites like Sela Ward, Anne Dudek, Jennifer Morrison and Kal Penn was a nice touch, but it made the absence of Lisa Edelstein's Cuddy even more glaring. As House's longtime boss and short-time girlfriend, Dr. Cuddy was a significant presence during seven seasons of the show. She should have been at that funeral.

Like House himself, the show's last hurrah was deeply flawed. But the final scene, with Hugh Laurie uttering his last line as House ("Cancer's boring") before he and Wilson ride off on motorcycles to who-knows-where, was damn near perfect.

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