Wow. Okay, one obviously saccharine moment, but when Hugh Laurie does upset, he really moves you, doesn’t he?
The fifth season’s been a slightly odd one, hasn’t it? With so many series regulars, it’s been hard to find them all things to do. So we’ve had new arrival ’13’ getting busy with Forman, getting Huntingdon’s and then forgetting she has it. We’ve had Chase and Cameron getting closer and closer, while simultaneously getting further and further apart. Cutner just ended up killing himself for no good reason. Wilson has become the voice of humour and practical jokes. House and Cuddy have been dancing around each other all season. And there’s the bald one who doesn’t like his job. It’s all just been iterations around that, without touching on issues the way previous seasons managed to. Indeed, on the few occasions where the show has touched serious issues – such as the deaf teenagers episode a few weeks ago – it’s been more than a bit embarrassing.
But not a huge amount has changed. House is still an arse that needs a stick to walk and pops pills all the time. He doesn’t really care about anything or anyone, so nothing really gets to him. It seems.
Yet, the producers over the last few episodes have been doing something relatively different and unsettling. Despite being overladen with regulars, the producers re-introduced everyone’s favourite irregular – Amber – to shake things up.
Because House’s addiction to Vicadin, once a given element of the plot transferred over from Sherlock Holmes’ 7% solution, has finally started to have ramifications. If he can’t be sure of what’s real, he can’t help his patients or solve their puzzles, the only thing he does care about.
So the finale, while apparently just a nice stab at the late House-wannabe 3Lbs, which had a similar storyline involving a man with two personalities thanks to a severed corpus callosum, had something of a master twist at the end. While we’d been led to believe that House and Cuddy had got it on last episode after she’d helped him detox himself, it turns out that House had hallucinated the whole thing – and much of the finale – and was still addicted to pills.
It was actually quite a touching scene, with Laurie showing us a genuinely upset and frightened House as he realises reality has gotten away from him and just what a serious problem he has – and that there’s the real possibility that he might not be able to practise medicine any more. We also got confirmation that Kal Penn and the producers hadn’t had a falling out, despite his face not being shown in the Cutner death scene. And it’s also at least the second or third season ending which has required House to hallucinate a lot.
A good end to a relatively average season then for House, even if we did have to endure the Chase/Cameron antics and wedding – here’s to their getting more to do next season but fewer weddings.
But will there be any big changes? The thing about House is there have been very few big changes in the format, beyond the mass departure at the end of season three (and none of the characters actually left the show, even then). Even when there was the threat of House’s limp disappearing after his being shot by Moriarty, they still brought it back.
So is House going to come out of rehab a better person? Probably not. Cured, possibly. But a better person? Probably not. That would almost certainly spell the end of the series. But as a surprisingly unsettling way to end a season, I think it’s the best so far – even better than last season’s.