Time of death: 11:00pm, Thursday 24 May 2012.
The last ever episode of the hugely successful medical series House went out in a blaze of glory last night. Literally. The building was on fire, flames licking at the feet of Hugh Laurie’s misfit medic while he wrestled with the meaning of his life.
But the fire wasn’t followed by a flood of emotion as some had hoped and many more will have feared. Unlike the usual hospital soaps, House has always been and remains (forever immortalised now) the antidote to sentimentality.
Instead, House was probed and dissected by his own demons, personified by old colleagues including Kal Penn and Jennifer Morrison in a trippy twist on an increasingly surreal final series. Admittedly, at times it all got a bit too weird.
And where was Cuddy? The woman who, arguably, had the most profound influence on House’s life was notable by her absence.
The standard formula – revolving around the treatment of a single patient – was observed, but did millions around the world really tune in each week to find out whether the pleuropulmonary blastoma was actually a case of fibrosing mediastinitis?
Negative. The treatment of physiological trauma never mattered as much as the psychological examination, the mind games that House played with those closest in a desperate attempt to complete a pattern – to prove beyond doubt that ‘everybody lies’ – and justify his lonely existence.
In this context, the fiery turmoil imagery did work. House had created his own hell on earth. The best we could hope for was that, finally, he would prove himself wrong about humanity and – because presumably Lisa Edelstein wasn’t available for the final series – cement his ‘bromance’ with Dr Wilson. “I’m not gonna say ‘I love you’,” he assured Wilson, last week.
Thank goodness for that!
Everybody knows that actions speak louder than words and House performed his greatest romantic gesture yet, making the ultimate sacrifice for his old pal by killing his career. It wasn’t what you might have expected for a show titled ‘Everybody Dies’, though for a minute, it did look like we were headed for a flat-line – a banal funeral scene to end it all.
But then, a genius stroke at the last minute! It was as if creator David Shore pulled out the defibrillator paddles and brought the flagging spirit of House back to life with a stunt that perfectly captured the man’s sheer audacity, sick sense of humour and, yes, love for his fellow man. (Wilson, that is.)
House faking his death also chimes with Shore’s original inspiration for the pairing – the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson – echoing that famous scene where the great detective goes over the edge at Reichenbach Falls.
Wilson’s cancer storyline shoehorned into the last few episodes was pushing things a bit far, but it did pay off in the end without tears or man hugs and the wheeling out of the old deathbed cliché. Instead, there was leather, the thrum of motorcycle engines between their legs and the open road. Sans sunset, of course.
Even if Cuddy couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the funeral (charming!), a sense of faith was restored in a series that was, like the man himself, getting a bit rickety. It was both emotionally satisfying and anatomically correct to discover, in the final analysis, that House did have a fully functioning cardiovascular system.