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House finale


I've been trying to articulate to myself why I was bothered by last night's ending, since up until that point I loved the episode. I did roll my eyes at how contrived the set up for the episode was, though once House was on the scene I absolutely believed that he would go rogue - though not so much that he would be able to crawl through rubble and walk around with his cane, when one of the points of the episode was how much his own experience had crippled him, and not just emotionally. I could get past that, however, because the story that came out of the implausible set-up was worth the suspension of disbelief. The interaction between House and Hannah was beautifully and believable developed - we've seen since the pilot that House can connect with a patient in a way that will change his method of treatment. And the way it unfolded brought House to a place that was first liberating and then devastating.

And therein lay the problem for me. I don't think I would have wanted the episode/season to end on a "will he/won't he" note vis a vis the Vicodin, because that's a cop out. I don't mind cliffhangers when the consequences of an action are what's in question, ie: House firing his team in Season 3, or choosing the ketamine in Season 2, because the action of the story was completed. Which is not to say that I would have wanted House to go back on the Vicodin - I'm glad they avoided that trap and allowed House to grow. But I would have rather he came to that decision on his own. Having Cuddy come by and suddenly announce her undying love and thus save House through the power of coupledom at first made me nauseous (especially that close-up on their intertwined hands), and then just depressed me.

But while I don't like the way they ended the story, I do recognize that they've been laying the groundwork for it (though I do feel like it was imposed rather than organically developed from the beginning). The flirting and sexual tension has been there from the beginning - it's the revelation five seasons in that they've been pining for each other for decades that bothers me, because it invalidates the first two seasons of the show, especially in terms of House's relationship with Stacy. And then to have Cuddy dump Lucas the day after they got engaged just because she suddenly realized House wasn't a complete bastard after all, reminded me of the moment in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels when Jolene tells Lawrence they're engaged and he turns to the audience and asks, "Did I miss a scene?"

And it also bothers me that the whole Sam-Wilson relationship was created not to give Wilson any kind of new character development, but to make that last minute possible. Which I think is a disservice to Wilson's character. What I wish I'd seen was that arc forcing House to stand on his own and finally allowing Wilson to move on from Amber, because those were the stories I was following all season.

But I also have to recognize that a large part of what is bothering me is that I just feel threatened. I watch the show for the ethical dilemmas, HL and RSL's acting, and to learn more about the stupid, screwed-up House-Wilson friendship. And as fascinated as I am by House himself, it's Wilson's character that creatively inspires me.

When House focuses on Cuddy, Wilson fades into the background (and vice versa, but at least when Cuddy is in the background she gets to be a strong woman running a hospital - Wilson just gets to lecture House, which is his least interesting character trait). What I've always loved about Wilson is that he's the one character who chooses to be in House's life. That's not the case any more, so it feels like his purpose in the series has been undermined. I know it's just a kneejerk reaction to something that may well never happen, but right now I feel like I've lost part of what makes the show special for me.

Comments

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taiga13
May. 18th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
it's the revelation five seasons in that they've been pining for each other for decades that bothers me, because it invalidates the first two seasons of the show, especially in terms of House's relationship with Stacy.
This, absolutely. I simply can't believe that House has been pining for Cuddy for 20 years because we SAW that he was in love with Stacy and completely committed to her for five years, then mourning her loss for at least another five. Plus I simply didn't see evidence that he wanted her in the first two seasons. House was attracted to her in college, I have no problem believing that. But that he's ALWAYS wanted her, that I just can't accept because it's not what we were shown.
I agree with everything but especially the idea of Cuddy saving House with her love. I would have liked to see him save himself. I do understand the point they were making, that House "did everything right" and was rewarded in the end, but is that why he changed? Why he quit Vicodin, went to therapy? Are we to believe he did it to win Cuddy? Because that's not the story I thought I was watching. Sure he wanted Cuddy, tried to win her once he was out of Mayfield, but I thought he wanted to change for HIMSELF. If he did it just to win Cuddy that's not growing as a person, plus what will happen if the relationship fails?
Like you I'm most interested in the relationship between House and Wilson, and I recall Doris Egan saying on her blog that there was a scene cut from last year's finale where House told Wilson "I've made an attachment to someone else and now our friendship will change, and you'll just have to accept that!". So as interesting as it will be to see how House and Cuddy try to make their relationship work, it will be interesting to see how Wilson adjusts. I expect he'll be the cheerleader, supporting them both, but will he also suffer from losing his first place in House's life?
mer_duff
May. 18th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Exactly - I wanted House to develop as an individual, not a couple. I hate the idea that life can only be meaningful in pairs.

The play we're closing our season with is all about these complex, intertwined relationships. But at the end, the director has the actors stand alone in individual spotlights. It's an absolutely gorgeous moment, as you realize that despite all these connections, the characters are essentially alone. I could watch the play a dozen times just for that single moment.

It will be interesting to see how Wilson adjusts. I expect he'll be the cheerleader, supporting them both, but will he also suffer from losing his first place in House's life?

I think that might have been a stronger possibility if they hadn't put Wilson in a relationship as well - though if Sam breaks his heart first maybe we'll see Wilson extra devastated because he won't have House either. I knew there was reason for hope :)
taiga13
May. 19th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
I think the ending I would have preferred (yes I'm aware it's not about me) is for House to choose for himself not to take the Vicodin, THEN for Cuddy to walk in.
I've made a bet with myself that House will tell Wilson "my girlfriend is hotter than yours".
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
His girlfriend is hotter than Wilson's :) But while I think both relationships are a trainwreck waiting to happen, Wilson's is less likely to result in literal castration...
elynittria
May. 18th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
You've articulated all my inchoate thoughts and feelinsg regarding this episode perfetly. The retconning of the Stacy/House relationship in particular bothers me, because it's so unnecessary. The writers could have written House as moving on after Stacy and realizing that he could still love other people, but no, they've decided to go dramatize the "one true love" fallacy. Ugh!

Like you, I worry about next season. (I'm even contemplating not watching it!) Without Doris Eagan as a writer, and given the new plot developments, I'm very worried that Wilson as a character will disappear or simply be "Wilson the Lecturer" (which I can't stand, because that's lazy writing to use him in that way).

I really, really wanted House to decide on his own not to take the pills. That would have meant a lot. It would have been a huge development—much more so than the deus ex machina appearance of Cuddy to declare her undying love. I still can't believe that last scene.
mer_duff
May. 18th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
It did feel very deux ex machina - moreso, I think, than the hallucinated sex last season. Or maybe it's just that the shot of the hands together and then House dramatically dropping the pills moved from dramatic to melodramatic for me.

Nobody likes Wilson the Lecturer - not even Wilson! And while I like happy moments, I'm not particularly fond of Wilson the Comic Relief, either, which is what we've been getting a lot of recently as well. What I worry about most is that both relationships will destruct around the same time and Wilson's pain will be buried under the House/Cuddy fallout. And that just makes me sad, because RSL does heartbroken so brilliantly.
zulu
May. 19th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
I'm not particularly fond of Wilson the Comic Relief

Oh my god, so much this. I cringe whenever it happens. The occasional gag, okay, but there is something seriously dignity-losing about what they do to the poor man so often.
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
Seriously! While I am eternally grateful that Doris Egan actually cares about Wilson's backstory, I don't blame RSL for freaking out when he finds out she's writing an episode (and not just because he's a lazy bastard :D).
zulu
May. 19th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
Heh, do you know what my favourite line of the entire run of this show is? Socratic Method, when Wilson says, "Dodging chainsaws, no doubt." It's restrained, it's dry, it's the perfect cap to House's rant, and it gets me every time. Has me rolling in the aisles! It puts House in his place while not lecturing him, it shows that Wilson listens but doesn't agree, and it makes him look witty, urbane, and yes I will say it, suave. What happened to that Wilson, I so often ask myself!
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
Mine is, "Godot would be faster." Oh, witty, intelligent Wilson, where have you gone?

And because I'm shallow, I also miss Wilson rocking a suit, a la the "Fidelity" lying French shoes scene (or the tux in "All In"). Not that I don't love casual Wilson, but there's too much in between (a la my icon). It's like how in Hawaii Five-O, James MacArthur wore awesome suits that totally worked with his colouring in the first couple of seasons, and then all of a sudden they started putting him in those awful tan suits that weren't fitted properly and let him grow those awful sideburns. While I know the '70s were mostly to blame, I'm convinced Jack Lord was somehow responsible as well...
m_supercomputer
May. 18th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
And I don't know, I see the Cuddy-Wilson issue a little differently - yes, when House is focusing on Wilson rather than her she gets to be a strong character, but she's also mostly not much of a factor in most episodes and doesn't interact all that much with House. (Which is another problematic aspect of the House/Cuddy thing, that they so clearly have no idea what to do with her when not focusing on romantic tension with House, but nonetheless.) When Wilson's not in focus, they still need him to be the person House can open up and talk to - which yeah, can be lecture-y and annoying, but I still think it's significant that they felt the need to end the House/Wilson rift away after just five episodes while the H/Cuddy one lasted more like 13-14.

I'm depressed about DE leaving, but I feel reassured that David Foster and Thomas Moran and Lawrence Kaplow seem to be sticking around - the former rivals Doris for best writing of Wilson, and the latter two generally do the H/W friendship very well.
mer_duff
May. 18th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
You're right, Wilson won't disappear, but I guess what I mean by him fading into the background is that when he's playing Greek chorus or amateur analyst, we're not actually learning anything about him. Then again, I don't feel like I've learned anything new about him in the last half of this season except the name of his first wife, so perhaps my expectations are too unrealistic for a show that's called House...
m_supercomputer
May. 18th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
Welll, I don't blame you there. I just sort of figure that, comparing Cuddy and Wilson (as they have roughly equivalent statuses on the show, supporting character-wise) - Wilson's s5 vs. Cuddy's s6 or hell, Wilson's s6 vs. Cuddy's s5, and you can bet when H/Cuddy goes wrong the story will be poor woobie House hurt by the mean lady - overall, they've done better by Wilson than the other supporting characters. That's still wayyy below how they treat House's character, of course.
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
I guess what it boils down to for me is that Cuddy's character doesn't interest me nearly as much as Wilson's does (and that's with her being my third favourite character on the show), which means my perspective is distorted. Which is why it's helpful for me to work through my issues in writing, so that I can recognize that distortion.
smiddlecn
May. 18th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
The last five minutes of the episode left me stunned. We are to believe that Cuddy got engaged to Lucas the day before and is now no longer with him? Did she take a lunch break, go home and kick him out of her life? And then we have her declaring her long-standing love for House...and House standing there soaking it all up like a needy sponge. This is the same woman who, only hours before got up in House's face and told him he was miserable, without friends and basically could have saved himself some trouble by dying years ago. Yes, House is an emotional mess right now--but I don't think he's an idiot. He and Cuddy have the personality mix of oil and water, and I just can't see them in a close relationship together for any length of time without a massive clash happening.

It seems to me that this year, the writers have tried their best to make us hate Wilson. They have him preaching and lecturing and pointing his finger and wrongdoing--but they don't allow him to be the person we know he is--House's friend and defender and the one person House can always count on. Like you said so well--Wilson chooses to be in House's life. It's so sad. My only hope for the next season is that they get all this ludicrous behavior out of their systems and start behaving like the characters we have come to love.

Oh, and let's face it--Wilson and Sam are not going to last long together either. That's just a bomb waiting to explode.
mer_duff
May. 18th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
As much as the ending strained credibility, I think once I get over my kneejerk reaction to the final, I'll quite look forward to the possibility of explosions at the beginning of next season, as long as I get some equal opportunity Wilson angst...

I don't necessarily agree that the writers have tried to make us hate Wilson, but that's certainly been the result with many fans. But then I've never understood the Wilson hate.
genagirl
May. 19th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
it's the revelation five seasons in that they've been pining for each other for decades that bothers me, because it invalidates the first two seasons of the show, especially in terms of House's relationship with Stacy. I see others have picked out this kernel of truth right here. This really annoys me. As well as the Wilson part - he's too interesting to be shoved into the background too far. But for Cuddy to ignore what she has - a great job, a baby and a good man for what she remembers from college because since then House has been horrible to her (with reason, I know)blows my mind. In the early days of the series you could see the lust they shared but it simmered and sizzled - what made it turn into a flame so quickly? Did I miss a scene?
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
I think if they'd kept building the House-Cuddy relationship from the original seeds, I would have been happier, or at least believed it more. I just struggle with the idea of it being some timeless love - that's not an organic part of the story for me. And yet I don't remember having this much trouble accepting the hallucination sex, so it could just be that I wasn't ready for it this time (or the payoff was just too rushed).
aolian
May. 19th, 2010 04:54 am (UTC)
Wilson just gets to lecture House, which is his least interesting character trait.

That would be such a letdown (if it did happen). I like Cuddy on her own, too-- I loved "9 to 5", which showed Cuddy in a way I like much better than in her role as House's reluctant romantic savior.

I've wondered if House ever compares Cuddy to Stacy in his mind. I agree about the contradiction, too. I get the attraction, but to me it feels like his relationship with Cuddy was artificially engineered to be more significant than his relationship with Stacy late in the show with the 'pining for decades' thing. I don't know, that's just me, though.
mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
I'm sure I'm just putting a pessimistic spin on things (it's amazing how much a double chocolate muffin and NPH on Glee can cheer me up). I still don't like the way they imposed the tragic yearning on House and Cuddy, but I'm going to hope for the best - or at least a lot of dramatic fireworks and House and Wilson commiserating together around episode 5.
hwshipper
May. 19th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Big fat WORD to this whole post. I've just seen the ep and am just reeling right now from that ghastly last scene! Which is such a shame as until then it had been shaping up to be one of the best, IMO - House in the ambulance at the moment he realised Hannah was going to die was incredibly moving & powerful.

And it also bothers me that the whole Sam-Wilson relationship was created not to give Wilson any kind of new character development, but to make that last minute possible. THIS. I think this bothers me more than anything. I was all souped up to explore this interesting new relationship & find out about their past & root for a strong woman in Wilson's life and now... it turns out it was just a plot device. Bah!

mer_duff
May. 19th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
To be fair, we got a little bit at the beginning (even if it came with bizarre OCD-ness), but then the only purpose seemed to be to find a way to end Odd Couple II in a way that would make Wilson look selfish and House wallow in manpain.
jotc
May. 20th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Hi, I hope you don't mind a stranger dropping in - I wanted to read a more nuanced reaction to the finale than I could easily find on the H/W forum so I started looking at blogs of authors I like!

A lot of what you describe sounds like what I think of as "Minor Character Syndrome," something I've experienced often... when I as reader (or viewer) fall in love with a character who the author isn't nearly as interested in as I am. Of course, Wilson isn't a minor character - but sometimes he gets treated like one. I think, for example, that it was a huge mistake to set up the story with his brother and then go all year without any followup. I suppose it might get picked back up again someday, but even if it does, the suspense has really faded.

That said, I do take a moderately positive view of things... To me, the finale was just like the season opener: fantastic acting, great dramatic moments, deliberate departure from realism in order to foster the story the writers wanted to tell - and unfortunately a few serious dramatic issues even if you are willing to run with the lack of realism.

Wilson's relationship with Sam is mostly boring and disappointing - but I do think it is IC. Because he had a history with her, he fell straight back into old habits, forgetting everything he learned from his time with Amber. Then House jolted him out of his passive-aggressive habits and he and Sam worked some things out. But... one habit Amber never broke him of was his pattern of committing too soon and too fast. And again, Sam is his ex, so it's really easy to take things fast. Sadly, I do think Wilson's behavior fits what we know of him.

Cuddy's behavior makes sense too. Loving someone with self-destructive tendencies and addiction issues involves a lot of anger. And trying to pretend you are in love with the person who you are "supposed" to be in love with will screw with your head too. I have seen both of those things in RL. It's not surprising to me that her feelings would come bursting out in a very cruel, harsh way as a reaction to her mixed emotions about trying to commit to Leucas, who she doesn't really love. Nor is it surprising that she would regret both her behavior toward House and her decision to commit to Leucas.

So the only thing that didn't work for me at the finale was the abrupt shift in tone. Unfortunately, that's a biggie! As a viewer, I was sure wondering "Is this a hallucination," but House himself should not have been wondering that. He should never have doubted it for a moment - because he should have been in too much physical agony to wonder for a second if he was on a drug induced high!

Even a little change would have made it so much better. If House had painfully struggled to his feet, ended up leaning against the wall because he could hardly stand after everything he'd been through physically, if he had been unable to immediately shake all the trauma but had still responded to Cuddy, maybe just reached out to take her hand and it ended there... I would have liked that so much better than the romantic music and the is-it-a-hallucination kiss.

I will add that I never thought that the House-Cuddy story invalidated the truth of his feelings for Stacy. House and Cuddy flirted in a very sexual way all the way back from Season 1, but he was obviously not over Stacy then and was devastated by what he went through in trying to regain and then loosing her. Yet not long after, he was taking far too much interest in Cuddy's romantic life. I think that people have a natural tendency to exaggerate when they talk about their current interest. Wilson exaggerated when he called Stacy "the love of your life" - as though House could never find anyone else, and similarly House exaggerates when he says he "always loved Cuddy." I take it to mean he loved her a long time ago, and then his feelings went through various changes as his life progressed.

Anyway, it's not a perfect show, but I did think the finale was exciting and fun, in part because I am scared of enclosed spaces and found it genuinely scary!
mer_duff
May. 20th, 2010 05:33 am (UTC)
You make far more sense that I did! I still don't like the message of the ending - that House could only be saved by the power of twu wuv, but I suspect that sentiment won't last much past the first commercial break next season.

As for Wilson, I'm not surprised at all they let the brother storyline slip - it took them four years to mention him again last time. If we're lucky we might meet him by the end of season 8 :)

I guess my problem with the way they unfolded House/Cuddy starting in season five is that I thought it was developing organically without them making it this epic tale of missed opportunities. But then I'm not writing for primetime TV, so my storytelling priorities are different.
jotc
May. 20th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
[i]I still don't like the message of the ending - that House could only be saved by the power of twu wuv, but I suspect that sentiment won't last much past the first commercial break next season.[/i]

I guess I think there's a kernel of truth in that... NOT that love alone can save someone from depression / addiction, but that if you are actively trying very hard to deal with those issues, having someone on your side can make a difference. Cuddy influenced one moment in time, not his whole life. Also, her cruel words to him was a major part of what triggered his black mood in the first place. So finding out that what led her to speak to him that way was that she was fighting her feelings for him made a major impact.
kirili
May. 20th, 2010 05:09 am (UTC)
I think feeling threatened is a really good way to describe the fear of losing the interesting sides of Wilson's character.

I've tried but. I just can't seem to think of House as living in the 'burbs with a kid and lovely partner with whom he has a mainly hormonal relationship. Or if I do think of that House, it's a man who lost his battle to be independent, couldn't become who he wanted to be and eventually just jumped one of the two people who have been essentially trying to take care of him since the infarction.

Maybe it's just that I've never been all that impressed with the Huddy banter. And seeing House struggle his way into becoming a loving partner in a long-term relationship that will save him from his pain and suffering? I'm happy for the character since this is what they're saying he really wants, but it's a boring storyline.


mer_duff
May. 20th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
I felt the same way when I heard that Wilson was dating Amber - I was convinced that if he was in a relationship, then there wouldn't be any reason for him to have much screentime, and I was pretty damn wrong about that, so I should learn not to freak out over something that hasn't happened!

I can't imagine House in a "normal" relationship either, so I am a little curious to see how they play things out. I'm still not happy with the execution of the ending, but I'm less pessimistic than I was even a day ago :)
kirili
May. 20th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
It won't be normal, but they've already cleaned him up to be prepared for her healing love.

And yes, even if it's not a normal relationship, it's just not... all the interesting. The writers have basically declared that she's the one, so it'll just be a prolonged game of cat and mouse at best, followed by the mouse shagging the cat. I miss witty, worldly House.
jotc
May. 20th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
I would worry much more about an excess of melodrama than an excess of domestic bliss. Consider that Cuddy is on the record as wishing that she didn't love House, and that he has a big streak of insecurity to start with! The writers wanted a hopeful moment (and I think they really overshot the target and thus made it feel fake), but there's loads of issues weighing down this relationship.
kirili
May. 20th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
The issues aren't very interesting issues though. It's basically two ~screwed up people~ heading forward in their lives and meant to be together.

It won't be a traditional love story in the most olden sense, but certainly coupling drama, yeah. Even if it is House, if that episode is anything to go by, they can't write romantic!House or lovesick!House without either going soap opera, or exaggerating the 'he's suck a jeerrrkk' angle.

But hey, maybe it'll be funny. That's always nice.

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