House, 8x22, "Everybody Dies"
Damn, I did get spoiled on the "House fakes his own death and runs off with Wilson" ending. Damn it! Of course I did.
The idea of House being trapped in a burning building -- I jumped when he fell through the floorboards -- and spending most of it lying around and waiting to die could have been intense, but over half this finale was boring as could be. Terrible last case - you couldn't be bothered to find an awesome actor, at least? And then subjecting me to an endless slog of Kutner and Amber? Absolutely not. Following them with Stacy? Are you kidding me.
Listen, I liked Stacy back in the day and for roughly five years that was my only ship for House, but those days ended when Sela Ward showed up on CSI: NY with her flat expressions and stale acting and set a fire of hatred ablaze in my heart. I literally did not recognize anything about Stacy in these scenes; it was just Jo Danville staring languidly in her second hallucinatory dreamland role of the season. That domestic fantasy scene literally had me making retching noises. Greg House + baby = no thanks. Although I had managed to temporarily forget Dominika existed, so that was cute. I am still unclear why you couldn't get Lisa Edelstein back for this.
Things FINALLY took a turn for the better when Cameron showed up. I knew she was coming back, and that was a blessing. Her statements were clearly the best. Will never understand why I am such a big Jennifer Morrison fan now.
The funeral was perfect (and look at you getting Amber Tamblyn back!), with eulogies as appropriate meta for commemorating and paying tribute to the show, even though due to the stupid potential spoiler rattling around in my head I never thought he was dead. I was sort of hoping he was, because for it to have happened right in front of Wilson's eyes would have been wonderfully tragic. I still got quite a lot of mileage out of that hollow look while sitting on the curb with a conveniently-appearing blanket around his shoulders. But I guess it was kind of worth it for INCOMING TEXT: SHUT UP YOU IDIOT.
And, well, our closing scene. Because that was something stupidly close to a happily ever after, and I couldn't do anything except smile (and then maybe gape in amazement at that breathtaking scenery and be happy just how long we lingered on that shot), because that is the one thing I never expected them to do. In all those finales that could have worked as series closers -- the sheer amount of optimism in this just warms my heart. The series has always been about them. I tip my hat to your
And now I have to settle up with some hard truths that thus far, I have been able to put off thinking about or genuinely processing because the series wasn't over yet and things could still change:
-Wilson really has cancer. He is really going to die. He won't be alone, but he is also never going to have that happy home life I have been dying for him to have. I mean, sure, we could all *pretend* something miraculous happens, but all signs point to "he's really dying in the fall." I don't quite know if I can ever come to terms with this. It stings less to make it happen off screen and only in theory, yet there's also a shadow across the series, trying to reconcile the fact that you have known the character as long as he's existed, and yet you are also watching the end of his life.
-House's life is over. He really can't ever go back. "I can change," whatever, I'm not really okay with this. I still don't know why he couldn't just let Foreman make his case to the parole board, which seemed like a really easy solution over getting Wilson to confess to it, even if that had worked. Best not to think about it.
-That little fairytale shot of Cameron's happy new home life with husband & kid, locking the door on a reunion with Chase forever? RUDE.
-But the sight of Chase's name on the office door (which I missed until the internet told me), assuring me that he is actually not gone from this world forever? Opposite of rude. I am so proud of this choice, I don't know what to say.
In the meantime, TV Line did the best post-finale interview in the history of post-finale interviews with David Shore, and I'm going to cut & paste its glory right here because these are all excellent questions and they offer amazing answers/insight, and also I don't trust the internet to preserve it as long as my blog will be around.
[In spoiler text, with my comments in [italics]]
TVLINE | Was there ever a point where you thought about really killing him?
Yes. Everything was on the table. But it was considered for that long, partly because I want the series to live on. The idea of people thinking that House is dead is a weird thing to leave people with. It ultimately felt better to have him out there with Wilson doing who knows what. I thought that was a really nice thing to leave people with and to let them put their imprint on that in their own mind.
[bolding mine. awwww! brb, removing complaints that I ever thought it would be more fitting to end with him dying.]
TVLINE | How did he manage to survive the floor collapsing in on him and the subsequent explosion?
It was supposed to be ambiguous as to whether the floor collapsed on him or in front of him; certainly it was nasty stuff. There are a few seconds between the collapse and the explosion. He narrowly got out the back.
[that's what I figured. Still skeptical he could move fast enough, but okay]
TVLINE | Was the homage to Sherlock Holmes famously faking his death intentional?
From the moment we had the idea, I was aware that that’s what Arthur Conan Doyle did and that did tickle me. We didn’t say, “That’s what Sherlock Holmes did — we should do that.”
TVLINE | Of all the cameos in the episode, which was the trickiest to coordinate/accommodate?
There were scheduling issues with everyone. It was very tricky. Because all of the actors had gone on and done really good stuff. My hat goes off to my old production crew for just physically putting that schedule together.
TVLINE | Is it fair to say that Stacy filled the Cuddy void in this episode?
I don’t want to make it seem like it was one or the other, but had [Lisa Edelstein been available] she might’ve done something [similar]. But we knew before we even had written it who we had available.
[translation: it's fair to say.]
TVLINE | I really liked how you made a point of showing that Cameron ends up happy and fulfilled in her personal life. Did you ever consider reuniting her with Chase in the end?
No, because there would’ve been too much backstory to fill in.
[*grudging look* Fine.
But then why couldn't you leave it ambiguous though.]
TVLINE | How did the fire in the abandoned building start?
It’s actually alluded to. There was more about it in the original cut of the episode. There is a reference to the fact that the guy fell asleep while smoking. That’s how he got the burns on his chest. He presumably passed out while on heroin and dropped the cigarette and the fire started.
[I actually wanted to know this, so yay!]
TVLINE | What was the deal with the gum Kutner put on the POTW’s shoe?
[Laughs] You shouldn’t read too much into that. That just seemed amusing to have a hallucination chewing gum and interacting with the real world.
TVLINE | Why did you choose “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” for the final scene? Ever consider using “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” just to maintain the symmetry with the pilot?
We did consider that briefly. The Warren Zevon song that we used before it, I had wanted to use that; it just felt really nice. And then Hugh [Laurie] came to me one day while we were shooting [the episode] and said, “I have the perfect song for the final scene.” So I decided to stick two songs in there. We’re all about cutting against what people think we’re going to do. So going with this weird, uplifting song [about] dying had a really nice feeling to it.
[Hugh Laurie, putting everyone you love to shame.]
TVLINE | In the final moments, Foreman finds House’s nametag under his wobbly table. Does he know House is alive?
The notion is that Foreman had pieced it together and figured it out.
[Oh? I assumed that was something House did before he went to go kill himself, as a farewell gesture of good will. But okay.]
TVLINE | Lastly, what do you picture House doing once Wilson is dead?
I don’t know. That’s way down the road. And that’s not what it was about. The story is the story. And the story ends when the story ends.
[Way to dodge the question. But also, I really love this statement and I wouldn't want it answered any other way.]
TVLINE | Can you see revisiting this character in the future in some way?
I love this character. And I know Hugh loves this character. I keep it open, but the chances of that happening from a practical point of view are slim. I would hate to lock in my head, “I will never revisit this character again.” That would be a depressing idea to me.
[How curious. I suddenly no longer feel the need to cuss you out by name for any reason. Never thought much about you in the first place, actually, until you were breaking up Huddy forever, but this interview has earned you a number of respect points.]
Followed by bonus treat, "Swan Song": The 1-hour retrospective.
a/k/a "A memoir by Hugh Laurie."
a/k/a "If you have ever loved House at any point in your life, you need to watch this."
I was going to take notes, but it quickly became apparent that was not happening as I just crumpled with adoration. Now, I have never considered House my favorite show. I have stuck with all the way after joining up in late season 1, but I have oftentimes considered it a rather routine part of my lineup. Sometimes it has been brilliant (SEASON SEVEN, haters to the left), but only scattered episodes have stuck with me over time. Off the top of my head, for example, Death Cat. (I will never remember the actual title.) Or the universally praised with good cause Wilson's Head/House's Heart. The premiere in the mental hospital. Etc.
But the point is, while it has never broken into the #1 rank in my heart like most of my shows, while watching this retrospective I fell in love with it a little bit. Suddenly I found myself caring about a crew I've never given a spare thought towards. I think House probably did end at a good time, and I've been pretty cavalier about cutting the cord, but suddenly I found myself emotionally manipulated into actively missing it. Everyone suddenly seems wonderful. The sheer fact that this is all narrated/hosted by Hugh Laurie (whose real accent, by the way, will never sound right to me) is just the icing on the cake.
Loved the use of old clips, though -- mainly because holy crap, season 1, everyone is so young! They are such babies! Wilson, how long ago did you graduate medical school? And Chase, damn, where are the years where your hair looks amazing like that because I need to find them and luxuriate in its length. I also need to rewatch "Broken" again because the group therapist is now suddenly the light of my life over on CSI: NY as Mac's love interest.
*cough* Anyway. As wonderful as the whole thing was with its little old-fashioned title cards, the entire retrospective was clearly made just with the closing tag of Hugh & RSL wandering through the halls with paintball guns. And exploring the effects of shooting yourself in the foot with one of them.
I'm not really going to miss this show, but they certainly made me think I will. In other words -- that was an utterly unique, incredible sendoff, the likes of which I'm not sure I've ever seen another show do, or at least, not so well.
Two non-House closing comments:
1) So...I found this, starring little tiny Ben Affleck, and my jaw dropped because "The Second Voyage of the Mimi" was our 6th grade science textbook one trimester and I had no idea there was a TV series to go along with it. I have the most weirdly positive memories of this text and all its related activities. To the point where I want a copy. Ooh, selling for the cost of shipping in evidently like-new shape on Amazon... meanwhile, clearly I just need to watch the entire series on YouTube.
2) I got a bunch of clothes at a church sale this weekend, which is more exciting for me than you (I have been DYING to add a bunch of summer clothing), but one thing seemed worthy of mentioning immediately:
Amidst the clothing bonanza, I spent $1 on the most awesome pair of open toed black sandals - platforms like I've been craving, elastic strap around the back, and instantly super comfy - only to find when I got home that they crumbled at the touch of a finger. Literally. I would touch the one spot I thought was just a bit chipped when I bought them, and pieces of the cork-type sole would come off in my hands. I walked around downstairs and then up the steps, and when I stood up from the computer, there was a dime sized hole in the sole. JUST FOR KICKS, I decided to walk about a quarter mile to another sale, figuring I would at least get one walk out of them before I tossed 'em.
Yeah, the shoes literally fell apart under my feet. I left a trail of crumbs behind me. Besides the little crumbles, one heel tore off completely, and then the whole support beneath the ball of my foot on the other just plopped off mid-step. By the time I got home I was laughing too hard to even be upset. The best part is that the brand name on the bottom was "Activewear."
3) I may or may not have pounced on a new, free-shipping copy of Glee, season 2 for $16 on eBay. Could I find it a few dollars cheaper in auctions? Maybe. Should I have held out for a lot with season 1 reducing both their prices? Probably. Will it show up at Half Price on one of their discount days? Almost definitely. But all things considered, this is something I have wanted for a very long time, it's better than when I almost bought it for $20 at Target, and I'm just really, really excited by the prospect of not having to check it out of the library for the sixth time this year.
Although there was a certain thrill associated with being its constant, jealous guardian. Therefore, I regret nothing.