House, M.D. Retrospective Review: Finales Done Right

I care about House — a lot more than I thought I would.

Typically, when I set out to write a review, I read a handful of others from reputable sites. I want to see if I have anything to add; it also helps to hear a professional put into words what I struggle with relentlessly. I imagine a professional critic slaves over his reviews, but when I read the final product, I forget this, and assume the perfect words came to them like an autonomic response. But finally, and most importantly, these critics seem more worldly, not because they’ve seen more films, read more books, or watched more tv, for the opposite reason in fact, it’s because they seem to understand the state of our world and what the larger implications are of the particular piece of entertainment. They understand what the piece is reflecting of life, the country, or the world.
All this is to say that, while I’m fascinated by my Friends’ soulmationship analysis… I don’t know how Chandler loving Kathy more than Monica impacts the greater world, and I believe the short answer is it doesn’t.
But as I write this (in the year 2016), about a show that ended in 2012 and as I reference “House” to myriad people, many of whom only vaguely remember the show, I’m realizing the “cultural impact” is far less important to me, than the the personal one. House affected me. It’s changed me and actually made me wander into unconscious fan fiction as I ponder the further adventures of House. I think of the adventures… But I don’t wish to see them. I don’t want the show revived (for example), I’m satisfied with the ending, but I keep thinking about it.

Zack Handlen, from the A.V. club, wrote a review on the finale and the thing that stuck with me was how he felt House “wasn’t bad enough to be terrible, and wasn’t consistently good enough to be great”; the critic believes” the last time the show was truly creatively viable [was] the end of the fourth season”. Afterward, there was little more they could do with the character.
That and the critic’s comment about House’s line in the finale “Nobody cares about the medicine” being so meta-textually on point, I thought they were reading my mind. I thought I’d pick up on different diseases, symptoms, and Latin names… And I picked up on none of them. An average episode played out for me as follows “jargon jargon jargon, snarky comment, jargon, jargon, jargon, Cuddy’s objectified appendage.”
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But that is the point. The character is interesting to me. And I remember being on edge heading into any episode because I knew he cared about the people in his life… but he refused to show it. In fact, he’d go to great lengths to show people he didn’t care about them. This made me physically anxious binge-watching the series (as I just did) because I was worried he was going to screw some thing or some one up — this became especially difficult for me when he started dating Cuddy.
I was convinced each episode would be their last… But he kept pulling through. Like when House openly tells Wilson that he has no interest in Cuddy’s daughter, but by the end of the episode, he actually believes she may be much more intelligent than most toddlers. Instead of pretending the baby means something to him, he discovers that the baby is worth something and that’s where I find House (the show) worthwhile; House doesn’t compromise, he overcomes.
I used to think of House as a sociopath who simply couldn’t be bothered enough to pretend to care, but it was the finale (and the many episodes leading up to it) that made me rethink this. He’s not the friend you want (let alone keep), he’s your acting conscience, your harshest critic, your self destructive, self-doubting voice. He’s the thing that tells you to give up when something is too but you though you can always push yourself further.
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He is the voice in our heads personified. Usually, the conversations between ourselves and our consciences are private and it doesn’t matter if our shoulder devil wins because it’s a war only we are privy too. House however sees it and calls each person out on it.
Characters take chances — and would absolutely lose their medical licenses — because House tells them they can’t, so they do it just to spite him and in doing so, they push themselves further — Chase kills a guy for Christ’s sakes!
No one says no to House, in the same way that we don’t say no to our negative thoughts. The quote “if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done” comes to mind.  Every brutal comment House makes is one we’ve made in our own heads a thousand times. Of course Foreman believes people judge him for his race; of course Cuddy believes people objectify her; of course Taub believes he’s a bad husband. But it’s easier to challenge a person than it is to challenge ourselves.
And then there’s the finale, which is hands down, the best finale I’ve seen to date. Wilson is dying and House might go to jail for the remainder of Wilson’s lifespan. It’s a sickening reality that leads House to reconsider suicide…
Of course, The first 40 minutes (of the 45 minute episode) are largely crap. It’s cameo-centric and twiddles its thumbs on unnecessary philosophy since it’s a character we already know — presumably, as we’re watching the finale. But the last five minutes are the absolute best as House and Wilson bid adieu to society, rules, and their lives to tour Europe (or the Great American countryside [or both]) on motorcycles for Wilson’s last few months. No doubt their adventures continue.
The finale was final without feeling final. It felt right. That’s what I’m still thinking about.

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