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House has long been a fantastic show. Its main drawback is the predictability of the episode formula, and even now the season long formula. We know inside and out what each character will do, and how things will transpire. The fresh faces this season were more a necessity than a branching out of storylines. Tonight the season finale of House has done something remarkably different for the show, and yet it still kept to the same basic formula. Yes, we end the season once again seeing the real humanity of Gregory House. But this time it’s raw and true in a way that wrenches at the heart. In particular the heart of his best friend, Wilson.
Why Aren’t You Angry?
I had feared the memory loss situation, which conveniently provided the mystery in part one of the finale last week, would carry over. It was handled well, and “House’s Head” was a fantastically done episode. Continuing this course would have tried even my patience, and I’ve found over the years that no ridiculous antics of the good doctor Pill Pop could stop me from watching.
The twists and turns of the stories on House are unremarkable at this point. There’s nothing there but verifying if we – the players at home – are now able to diagnose patients under House’s care. “Wilson’s Heart” pulled a fast one on all of us by reeling our greedy little minds into the game. To me Amber was nothing more than another patient. Sure, her attachment to the characters I love may provide a little extra “season finale flavor.” But that’s to be expected. OK then, it’s time to get to this damn episode.
House and Wilson go together to find Amber. The docs at the “other” hospital – the one that is obviously not as super cool as Princeton – have patched her up nicely. Except that her kidneys were utterly destroyed. Like last week’s random comment about a 27 year-old Jane Doe, this reference will come back to haunt the team. Using his ability to lie House insists that Wilson is Amber’s husband, and thus has the authority to transfer her to Princeton-Plainsboro. On the way over her heart goes haywire, and before House can defib Wilson convinces him to put her on ice. All I could think was that they’d be putting her in cryogenic storage, and then when they found a cure she’d wake up and have to learn how to use the three seashells. That would suck, because three seashells would chafe something awful.
Chase is there to don his role of “dude who now stabilizes patients.” The usual barrage of tests and quips amongst the team begins here. House orders Kutner and Thirteen to investigate Amber’s house. Taub inquires about a possible affair between House and Amber. House says he never had an affair, and Taub wonders if last night was the first time. House can’t remember, and since some drugs might have been involved a tox screen is ordered. Kutner, who more and more is trying to mimic House with his “don’t give a shit” attitude is peeping around the computer where he finds a video of Amber and Wilson having sex.
House falls asleep and dreams about Amber, who implies they had an affair. She pours a glass of Sherry, and he then wakes up. House insists on shocking his brain to get to the last of the memories, but Cuddy and Wilson urge him to not do it. Kutner and Thirteen return from their foray and report the finding of diet pills. In order to test to see if this is what caused the heart damage they’ll need to raise Amber’s body temperature back up. Wilson refuses to let this happen, and House orders them to crack open her chest and physically check for calcification.
OK people, this is where the road less travelled begins on the finale. House figures out that the bar he was at was called Sharrie’s, so he takes Wilson there to get some answers. While perusing the place the bartender, played by Fred Durst of all people, reminds House of much of the night. Because Amber was sneezing House diagnoses her with Hep B. In a dream Amber gets up off the table in the ICU and shows House her back, immediately upon awaking he investigates to find a rash.
Foreman wonders if maybe she has Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever from a tick, and House orders a round of antibiotics. This will require eight hours and Amber will have to be warmed back up. Now at this point in the show we’d normally check our watch and notice that House is on his way to solving things, but according to my clock there was still plenty of time. And it was at that moment I began to fear that perhaps Fox’s promos of an episode that will “change everything” could come true. Normally that type of hype marketing I pay no attention to, as was the case with the House season finale.
Turns out Fox was right, but maybe not for the reasons one would suspect. There was no affair, and what happened was a bit more profound than that in any case. The diagnostic back and forth continues until House finally has his brain probed and shocked. House recalls the entire evening and eventually comes across the truth of what has been happening. He remembers seeing Amber take some amantadine pills, and because her kidneys were destroyed in the crash she couldn’t filter them out of her body. She has amantadine poisoning and even with dialysis it can’t be taken care of. There is nothing anyone can do now, or could do at any point, to save Amber’s life. House relives the crash and has a major seizure, which puts him in a coma.
In an absolutely touching and wonderful scene Wilson and Amber (who has been warmed up to say goodbye) embrace and he tells her what’s happening. As he lies next to her, telling her he loves her, Wilson asks Amber why she isn’t angry. And she responds:
That Isn’t The Last Feeling I Want To Have
He shuts down her life support and holds her until she passes. And then we get something unique and different for a House episode. While in his coma House is with Amber, bathed in white light and on the bus. He inquires whether they’re both dead, but she tells him it’s not is time yet. House doesn’t want to go back. It doesn’t hurt where he is now, and he tells Amber he doesn’t want to be in pain anymore. “I don’t want to be in pain, I don’t want to be miserable. And I don’t want him to hate me,” House tells Amber. She turns and tells him that he can’t always get what wants, and he wakes up with Cuddy standing over him.
We then get a montage of the cast doing different things: Taub going home to embrace his ex-wife, Kutner eating cereal, Thirteen confirming she has Huntington’s, the original team get together for drinks at a bar, and Wilson watches as House wakes up. When House looks at him, Wilson turns and walks away.
The greatness of this episode comes on many levels. For one thing it mirrored last week, but rather than the quickfire burn of learning it was Amber all along there was an agonizing reveal of the dire situation. I do wonder how much things on the actual show are going to change going into next season. I’m sure that a lot of the feelings we finally got to see when House talked to Amber at the end will be bottled up and put on a shelf, as they always are. It’s not like House will become a nice guy all of a sudden. But will Wilson’s resentment of him finally cause House to change in some way, to perhaps finally embrace Wilson outwardly. It may be the only way to save the friendship, and I’ll be very interested in how things play out.
Since Hugh Laurie is often nominated for awards I want to point out the performances this week. I don’t think anything in this show has come close to the emotional power of Wilson and Amber’s final scene, and it was nearly matched – if on a different level – during House and Amber’s white light bus conversation. I’m impressed the writers were able to weave such an interesting tale, and didn’t ever come close to the clichéd infidelity storyline to expand the turmoil of Wilson and House’s relationship. That’s a story deserving of so much more, and the seed has been planted. I just hope that next season there’s something worthwhile to watch there.
What did you think of the episode? Is Cuddy perhaps more interested in House than she’s let on? I mean, she was quite relieved when he woke up…and more in a personal interest kind of way. Is Kutner trying to mimic House without understanding what really makes the man such a sarcastic and miserable bastard? Will Thirteen change her ways now that she’s confirmed to have Huntington’s? And will Wilson and House ever be able to renew their friendship?