As happy endings go, Drs. House and Wilson riding off into the sunset on their motorcycles after eight seasons (accompanied by the jaunty tune "Enjoy Yourself: It's Later Than You Think") was an awfully satisfying coda to House's series finale Monday night. More sweet than bitter, as they opt to spend whatever time Wilson has left on the open road, not in the clinical confines of Princeton Plainsboro. These cranky BFFs were meant for and deserve each other, and there are worse ways of remembering them.
Like ever being reminded of the tedious hour that led up to this final scene. "Cancer's boring" are House's last words before the music swells and their bikes fade into the leafy landscape. Forget cancer. "Everybody Dies" (a title echoing the pilot episode's "Everybody Lies") was so ponderous I figured if the fire raging around House didn't kill him, all the hot air would.
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While the episode's ultimate twist evoked House's literary inspiration of Sherlock Holmes, who also climactically faked his death, the rest of the episode was more like ersatz Dickens, as Dr. Scrooge is visited in a burning building by ghosts of past seasons — some ghosts, like some seasons, better than others — gassing on and on pretentiously about how the love of "the puzzle" or maybe just love itself (in the fetching form of Sela Ward, one of several surprise cameos) is what makes life worth living. I think I was happiest to see the late "cutthroat bitch" Amber (Anne Dudek), if only because of her entrance line: "Stop being an idiot!"
This term of sardonic endearment is repeated much, much later — after everyone assumed House had died in the fire, with Wilson and Foreman helplessly looking on; after House's supposed ashes lay in an urn and everyone but Cuddy came back to eulogize him — when Wilson's tribute turns sour: "The truth is he was a bitter jerk who liked making people miserable." True enough, and right on cue comes a text on Wilson's phone: "SHUT UP YOU IDIOT." Which he does. And heads off to find House sitting on the stoop, ready to shuck his old life to see Wilson through the rest of his.
In the hour preceding the finale, an affectionate "swan song" largely filmed and shaped by Hugh Laurie reminded us what a great character and show House was in its prime, and what a terrific personality and star Laurie is, as he interacts with cast and especially the crew, from production designers to craft services. Unlike many retrospectives, this pulled the curtain back on the full creative world that House built — and unlike the finale itself, it's an hour I wouldn't mind watching again.
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