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I have such mixed feelings about the season finale of House. I love this show beyond words and Greg House/Hugh Laurie is a delicious man (yes, I have problems; I like my guys damaged). But for those of you patient (and quite possibly a little masochistic) enough to be following my recaps, you’ll have detected the faint beads of sweat on the computer screen from me feverishly tapping out these long, wordy episode overviews full of foreign medical terms and multiple diagnostic differentials. Whew, I’m exhausted already. It’s been a ride, but I’ll miss it all. Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t miss me.

The final episode of season five opens with a pretentious diner in a restaurant complaining about the food to his date. He notices that someone keeps lobbing bread rolls at his head. At the table behind him, a young man is seated with his girlfriend, struggling to stay still. The “injured” man walks up to his attacker to confront him and the guy claims he didn’t do it. But when he rises to shake the man’s hand, he tosses a glass of water on his crotch. Pretentious Guy grabs him by the collar and the man apologizes profusely. Then his eye starts to bleed and he collapses.

In the Princeton Plainsboro ER, Cameron introduces the case to Taub: the patient had his corpus callosum severed to correct a seizure disorder, but the resulting “split brain” has caused alien hand syndrome. Taub changes the subject to Chase and Cameron’s wedding. She tells him that there’s been a glitch. Definition of “glitch”: last week, Cam revealed to Chase that she still has her dead first husband’s sperm on ice in case things don’t work out between them; now, the wedding is off.

House is on a natural high – he’s 24 hours sober and he slept with Cuddy last night! He rises the next morning to find her gone but her lipstick still on his face and a tube left beside his bathroom sink. He joins the team at the hospital, unafraid to hide his good mood. They’re curious but ignore him and discuss the case. Cuddy enters his office and asks to speak to him in private. Once alone, she explains that their relationship can only be that of employer-employee. He watches her leave with a smile on his face, taking the tube of lipstick from his pocket. He later visits Wilson’s office and confesses that he slept with Cuddy after she helped him get clean. Wilson is floored and doubly happy for his friend but wonders how House will mess it all up. House tells him about Cuddy’s visit. Wilson explains that either Cuddy is really in love with House and terrified or she has screwer’s remorse.

Thirteen and Taub search Phantom Hand’s home and find mold on his bathroom ceiling. They swab and bring the sample back to PPH for testing; in the meantime, they give the patient antifungal medication. Phantom Hand’s girlfriend visits him in the hospital and brings him some things from home: shaving cream, deodorant, a tiny cactus plant. She fears that she’s trying too hard to please his fussy right brain but he assures her that she has nothing to worry about. He leans in for a kiss and his left hand slaps her hard across the face. She runs from the room and he tries to follow her for an apology. When he gets up from the bed he collapses to the floor, unable to walk.

During the differential, the team crosses off fungal infection and dehydration, but House suggests that a cancerous growth could be reconnecting his cerebral hemispheres. In order to prove the meningioma theory, they conduct a test using three giant computer screens in a lab. They ask Phantom Hand to stare at the center screen containing a “+” sign while the screens on either side flash words. The left side of his brain sees the words that flash on the right-hand screen and he repeats them without effort. When the word “candle” flashes on the left-hand screen, he cannot see it. Foreman asks him to draw what he thinks the word is and his left hand sketches a picture of a candle. Then the team flashes the command “stand up” on the same screen and Phantom Hand rises from his chair. Rather than admit that he doesn’t know why he has stood up, he makes up a story about being cold and wanting to return to his room for a sweater. Confabulation means no brain communication and proves House’s theory incorrect. Phantom Hand sits back down and starts scratching his stomach. House smells ammonia on his breath, meaning his liver is failing.

Wilson summons Cuddy to his office to talk business and she seems disappointed that he isn’t asking about something else. House interrupts the meeting and demands that Cuddy allow him to conduct a liver biopsy on Phantom Hand to check for sarcoidosis. She grants him permission without argument. He gets up in her face, trying to make her angry but she isn’t stirred. He places his identical coffee cup next to hers and plays a switcheroo, a move that doesn’t go unnoticed by Wilson.

With great difficulty, Taub and Thirteen prep Phantom Hand for the liver biopsy. He apologizes for his excessive sweating and body odor, but it’s his hand that keeps generally wreaking havoc. However, he has an idea: if they get some rock music blasting, they can trick his leftie into playing air guitar while they perform the biopsy. The distraction works for a while and even his right hand gets in on the fun. But Thirteen notices splinter hemorrhages under his fingernails and he immediately throws up blood.

Wilson accuses House of using Cuddy as a substitute for vicodin. Considering his stage of detox, he should be in a lot more pain than he is but the lovey-dovey endorphins in his bloodstream are keeping him happy and agony-free. Plus, he’s keeping himself preoccupied trying to solve the case of whether Cuddy loves him or not (snapping thermal images of her to determine how hot for his bod she is; testing her coffee for levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone). His plan is to piss Cuddy off enough to reveal her true feelings. Looks like he’s not the only one trying to irritate: Cuddy sends an old man from the PPH clinic directly to House’s office to complain about a squawking problem (he’s making noises like a parrot).

The team meets House in the locker room where he’s hiding out from Old Squawker and other clinic patients. Foreman points out that a clotting issue could be the cause of Phantom Hand’s internal hemorrhaging. They already put the patient on heparin and did a heart echo that came back fine. He also tested negative for Factor V Leiden, proteins C and S. Thirteen remembers that Phantom Hand complained of sweating and body odor, possible indications of cancer. House orders a scan of his pancreas. When Taub and Thirteen go to Phantom Hand’s room to tell him about pancreatic cancer, he’s already packing his things. His girlfriend left him (don’t blame her). They calm him down and House uses Wilson as a “relationship counselor” to speak peace to his two warring hemispheres during the scan. It works; his right brain remains quiet. And the scan is clean – no cancer.

Taub suggests lymphoma but House still thinks it’s the pancreas. He suggests a new procedure that paints infrared onto cancer cells. Old Squawker calls to say that he’s still making strange noises. How did he get House’s cell? And didn’t House already send him to Cuddy’s office to drop off a stool sample?

Wilson is skeptical of House’s intentions with Cuddy. He wonders whether he really wants things to work since he’s so skilled at sabotaging his own happiness. As they’re talking, Cuddy escorts a male stripper dressed as a pirate through the hospital lobby. House’s handiwork.

Chase and Foreman perform the pancreas painting procedure on Phantom Hand. Cameron interrupts to tell Chase that she’ll get rid of her dead hubby’s sperm. The wedding’s back on! As the surgery progresses, Phantom Hand’s blood pressure drops. House interrupts to tell Chase and Foreman that there has to be something wrong with the patient’s heart. They discover an arrhythmia that’s been throwing clots. Now to find out why.

The team suggests rhabdomyolysis, Grave’s disease and Cushing’s. House orders they run a dexamethasone suppression test. As they’re prepping him, Phantom Hand’s girlfriend returns. She wanted to talk to the doctors about something she’d noticed. Throughout their relationship, Phantom’s hand always threw things in a playful manner but never in anger. The day she brought the deodorant to the hospital was the first time his hand had been so violent. A clue? Phantom’s left hand lovingly strokes her cheek.

Wilson finally agrees with House that he should make a bigger impression on Cuddy to get her to reveal her true heart. And if that means bringing out the rage, then so be it! House doesn’t have to be told twice. He announces to a crowd gathered in the hospital lobby that he had sex with Cuddy! Cuddy finds out and promptly fires him. Old Squawker tracks him down in a hallway but House isn’t about to treat him if he no longer works for the hospital. The old man tells him not to worry, Cuddy actually likes him. House ignores him and writes a scrip for acid reflux medication. Then notices the man keeps adjusting his belt. Old Squawker has a large pot belly. Along with the parrot squawks, the large abdomen indicates a tumor. Taub appears and tells House that Phantom Hand’s deodorant was high in propylene glycol, the real cause of his seizures and heart problems. House tells Taub to take Old Squawker to radiology.

House goes to Cuddy’s office to talk to her about her overreaction. She doesn’t think she was overreacting to what he said. Said? What about what they did? Then, a final eureka… Flashback to House back in Cuddy’s office last week when he threatened to quit. She told him she needed to get home to the babysitter. His reply: “Go suckle the little bastard child who makes you feel good about yourself.” She leaves in anger. Wait! No, he asked her for help. She followed him home and helped him through detox. They made love for the first time. Right? He reaches in his pocket for the lipstick. He finds a bottle of vicodin.

The next day, Chase and Cameron get married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. Despite the glitch, they are made for each other. And they determine that Cam really didn’t have doubts about her future with Chase; she just felt she needed to hold onto the sperm because she didn’t want to lose the last remaining part of her dead love. Everyone is present to celebrate their joyous day. Almost. Wilson accompanies House to the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Our Greg, haggard and afraid, walks inside alone.