House s8 ep 22

Everybody dies, apparently, and in this series finale House is visited by one or two characters who already have – Kutner and Amber drop by, thus reminding us, at least in the case of the former, that he was something of a loss to the show. The Patient of the Week is… oh, does it matter? “Nobody cares about the medicine”, House observes at one point, which is both meta and accurate – I can’t remember the last time I took an interest in whether or not it was actually lupus or sarcoidosis.

The point, though, is that the PotW has access to heroin, and in a non-linear episode we kick off with House seemingly in a deserted property used for drug taking, the dead PotW by his side, the building on fire, and apparently contemplating the possibility of suicide. The flashbacks reveal that House has sabotaged a good chance of delaying his return to prison for breach of parole, and that his next best chance, Wilson, isn’t prepared to enable him any more. He then disappears, and Foreman and Wilson try to find him, leading them to the burning building, and a last sight of House before the building collapses around him, killing him.

For House fans there’s a goodly chunk of nostalgia, with just about everyone bar Cuddy dropping by to pay their respects; there’s also a nice coda in which we get to see a glimpse of the post-House future for some of them. And, of course, there’s a twist which isn’t that unexpected, but which gives us a chance to see how the show’s one true love story plays out.

It wasn’t a remarkable ending, but it was a good one. This whole season has been generally decent, in fact; not because of some sort of creative renaissance, but because all concerned played to their strengths. It would have been difficult for the show to recreate the form of its first four seasons, but I’d say that this has been the best one since then, and I’m happy that a show which has given me so much pleasure over the years – and so much to write about; House is our most-reviewed show – went out with a degree of dignity.

House s8 ep 21

Wilson’s cancer is terminal, and he decides not to bother with further chemotherapy, on the basis that he’d rather have a decent quality of what life remains to him. House, who in fairness has never promised to be anything other than selfish, is furious, because chemo might prolong Wilson’s life, and House needs Wilson. And so the scene is set for a back-and-forth between the two of them, which is the main theme of the episode. Thirteen pops by at one point, as do some of Wilson’s success stories, including a boy whose cancer Wilson cured years ago, now fully grown and about to go to med school. (There’s a twist here, but the writers used this trick only a few episodes ago, and this time I was on to it.)

House’s default state of mind is a permanent, generalised but low-level misanthropy, like background radiation. So it’s both moving and thrilling to see him erupt with pain and anger at the plight he and Wilson are in; his response includes an act of vandalism which destroys the MRI room, long a viewer favourite. With one episode to go, it’s hard to escape the symbolism. In the middle of all of this there’s a Patient of the Week, and quite a good one too, but there’s no way he’s going to get much attention.

We’re so used to seeing House escape the consequences of his sillier pranks that the ending, in which his parole is revoked and he’s told to return to prison, was a genuine surprise to me at least. And it added yet another layer of misery: I don’t want Wilson to die, but if he does I want House to be there with him.

The writers are succeeding in giving the last handful of episodes a real emotional heft. This doesn’t necessarily make them the easiest of viewing, but once again ‘Holding On’ was absolutely compelling.

House s8 ep 20

House and Wilson are road-tripping, so the team’s on Patient of the Week duties. This is unfortunate as the PotW is the tetchy, demanding doctor who carries out Princeton-Plainsboro’s post mortems. He only trusts House and has a particular dislike for Chase who, we learn, beat him to a fellowship with House ten years ago, although he claims that his feelings about Chase are rooted in his opinion that Chase should have made more of himself, given the opportunities he’s had.

By the end of the episode – patient saved, natch – Chase has come to agree, and resigns, although with only two more episodes to go it hardly counts as the most flamboyant of gestures.

As for the road trip: it’s essentially all about Wilson acting up, fast car, threesomes and all, and trying to avoid the truth that he’s about to have a scan which will determine whether he’ll live or die. All very understandable, it should be said, and House clearly understands, because he helps organise the threesome. At the end of the episode House has seen the scan, but exactly what he’s seen will presumably need to wait for the next episode.

We’re now getting very close to the end of House and, like last week’s episode, this was as melancholy and downbeat as all hell; I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but in the final few weeks of this show the writers aren’t sparing us.

House s8 ep 19

An episode which was determined to put us through an emotional wringer, and just about succeeded; in consequence, any humour was of the black variety. The Patient of the Week is a little girl with a genetic problem which means she’s going to die in her 20s anyway, but she has something else on top of that which might kill her even sooner. As any parent will confirm, it really doesn’t take any more than that to have us watching through our fingers and checking to see whether we have something in our eye. House doesn’t take any part in this storyline, and his team spend at least some of their time keeping the girl’s feuding parents apart.

Meantime Wilson – who is probably supposed to be round about my age, just to depress me even further – has cancer, and being an oncologist he knows what awaits him. House reminds him anyway, but then supports him through a high, possibly fatal, dose of chemotherapy. The stakes are heightened here by the fact that Wilson’s long been a fans’ favourite, and there are even a couple of nods to the House/Wilson shippers.

It’s all pretty gruelling – a very good episode, but I’m not sure I’d want to sit through too many like it. With only three episodes after this one, though, before Princeton-Plainsboro closes its doors for good, it’s not unexpected that the shadows are starting to lengthen.

House s8 ep 18

The Patient of the Week is a Hmong boy whose symptoms are eventually addressed and cured either by diagnosis and medicine or by some sort of exorcism carried out by his grandfather. Normally in these situations this show flirts with giving credibility to the faith-based approach before coming down firmly on the side of reason and science; this time, it sat on the fence for no obvious reason. I suppose many people turn to faith as their demise draws nearer, and perhaps TV programmes are no different.

By then, though, House’s eye was off the ball and he wasn’t around to debunk the power of superstition: instead, he was hooking up and breaking up with Dominika. This is a shame, although as soon as he hid the letter confirming her citizenship it was inevitable; the characters worked well together and House was notably nice to her. The C-plot – Chase and Park having sex dreams about each other – was made watchable by Charlyne Yi and Jesse Spencer. And Wilson’s end-of-episode bombshell felt uncomfortably forced: with only a handful of episodes to go, we need a big crisis, although I suppose if it affords Robert Sean Leonard one more showcase episode, it might be worth it. All rather downbeat, and the weakest episode for a while, I thought.

House s8 ep 17

As ever, the symptoms of the Patient of the Week need not concern us; what’s interesting about him is that he’s in a relationship with a high-end latex doll. He’s also being being chased by a nice girl who isn’t rubber-based, but it turns out by the end that his motivation for staying with the doll isn’t as principled, high-minded, or touching as a fear of commitment. This is played relatively straight by the show and the team, as House and his bitches can hardly be said to be making a success of their relationships: Adams is deliberately working so hard that she can’t meet anyone; Taub’s reduced to lying to women he picks up at the supermarket; Chase is sleeping with anyone he can, while avoiding commitment; Park dodges the sweet guitar-playing boy who asks her out. And House’s favourite hooker is leaving him to get married, so he’s auditioning for a replacement, while (as Wilson, no big success in this area himself, points out) he has, at home, an attractive, intelligent woman who also happens to be his wife. As it happens, House and Dominika have very good on-screen chemistry; it might be an implausible happy ending, but as I’ve said before he could do much worse. ‘We Need The Eggs’ is another late-period triumph for House, which now seems intent on showing us how much it’s going to be missed.


House s8 ep 16

House really is in the groove now, in a way it hasn’t been for three seasons or more. ‘Gut Check’ was another late-period cracker. Patient of the Week is Bobby, a brawling ice hockey player who doesn’t have sarcoidosis. It’s Taub’s turn to preach at the patient this week, because he’s a hockey fan who disapproves of all the fighting. (Ice hockey isn’t much of a British thing; in my ignorance I had assumed that all hockey fans loved the fighting. My bad.) Anyway, as well as the usual misdiagnoses, House decides to prove to Taub that his, Taub’s, attitude colours the way in which he treats the patient. And he does, but the way in which he does it is both clever and benevolent, while being manipulative and just a little cruel. It’s a good patient, a interesting story, and a resonant conclusion.

The B- and C-plots are strong as well. We’re long overdue a Wilson story; this week, he’s getting broody and claiming that he’s prepared to take on the responsibility of parenthood. House doesn’t agree, but decides that the time is right anyway to tell him that he has an 11 year old son. I didn’t spot the twist at first, although the prosciutto and goat’s cheese business tipped me off. Wilson’s reaction to the denouement was instructive – in season 1 he would had treated it as a massive and hurtful betrayal; now, he just shrugs his shoulders and hangs out with House the next day. For better or worse – mostly worse – he, and we, know what we’re getting with House. And Park moves in with Chase after she falls out with her family. When House’s current team was assembled I assumed that Chase and Adams would be all over each other before too many weeks: in fact, the writers continue to tantalise us with the possibility of a PaChase hookup.

There are only a few episodes of House to go now, but it looks as if the show is bowing out with a consistently good season.