Goodbye House–Thoughts on the House Finale

Like House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart, House undergoes a long night of the soul and makes a choice whther he wants to live or die. Once again, a medical mystery is tied to his decision.

The writers brilliantly broughtt in so many characters House would hallucinate in his final moments–Kutner, his guilt; Amber. his abrasive competitiveness; Stacy, his love and possibility of a decent relationship. All of them offer him reasons to live–his fear of a wasteful pointless death, his enjoyment of puzzles, possibilities of finding love again. During House’s long night of the soul, all these aspects of his personality urge him to fight the dying of the light, to live. Cameron by contrast offers him a balm which she counches as a reward of gift, an end to the pain. As she offers him the suicide he’s contemplating on a silver platter, he faces the ugly truths about himelf–he’s arrogant and self-destructive. “You’re a better person dying than you were living,” House realizes of his patient. and this makes him realize that he too needs to face death. HIs hallucinations tell him that without Wilson he can grow a conscience, and after facing death, he discovers that’s true.

His hallucinations challenge all the pronouncements he’s always made–that he doesn’t believe in God, that he’s happy alone, that there’s nothing after death, that he does’t care about his patients. His final case on the show was treating an injured drug adict who’s dying–a perfect reflection of himself. All these force him to confront the sides of himself he’s repressed–his enjoyment of puzzles, his conscience, his fear of and longing for death. Facing these suppressed shadow selves is a perfect hero’s journey or Jungian moment. And as with the hero’s journey, he follows these realizations with a descent into death.

All of House’s team, past and present, unite to bid him and the audience goodbye–Cameron’s look at the original team’s photo was a fun glance back at the past, as she and other team members establish futures: she has a baby, Chase leads the team, and so forth. At the funeral, Wilson, of course, breaks through everyone’s feeble praise to speak the truth, as House likely would have at Wilson’s funeral.

House’s surprise return wasn’t a great surprise for any fans of Tom Sawyer or Sherlock Holmes for that matter. Holmes’s famous death devastated his best friend Watson, but Holmes returned a short time later, explaining that while “dead” he could accomplish more than alive. Holmes and Watson are last seen driving off together having foiled the Germans in WWII, and heading off to another adventure–retirement can’t stop them! In the US, The Reichenbach Fall episode of Sherlock aired a day before this one, underscoring House’s faked death with Sherlock’s almost identical scene–another fun moment for fans. And indeed, a resurrected House is a House unconfined by the job that once defined him, a House prepared to grow a conscience on his own, find love, or at least find adventure and develop a new identity for himself. With of course, more puzzles and more excitement on his everlasting motorcycle. Drive on, House!

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