The “House” season finale doesn’t end with House being shot or hallucinating or anything like that, but I imagine it’ll spark even more conversation than those episodes.
For the stereotypical medical show “big disaster episode,” I thought this one was handled well, and I’m still supportive of episodes that break out of the usual “House” formula. But that’s not what we all want to talk about, is it? So let’s get this party started…
Patient of the Week #1: A crane collapsed on a building in Trenton, and House and Cuddy assist in triaging the victims. You know it’s a really epic accident because they spend an eternity panning around the fancy accident set they built.
The crane operator supposedly fell asleep at the
wheel lever, but House determines he actually passed out, sending him back to PPTH for neurological tests. Turns out he had a spinal cyst, which caused new symptoms every time he was caffeinated or stressed, somehow. Yeah, we don’t really get into it much, so on to bigger and (sorta) better things!
Patient of the Week #2: House discovers Hanna, whose leg is trapped in the remains of the parking garage. After basically being forced to stay down there with her, House winds up identifying with the patient, for obvious reasons, and fighting to keep Hanna’s leg. Unfortunately, their attempt to lift the concrete beam off her results in another collapse, and they’re unable to free the leg.
When House goes up to get a cut he sustained in the collapse bandaged, he gets into a huge fight with Cuddy over his refusal to amputate (after all, who knows the value of a leg more than House?) because of what she sees as his petty anger at being alone. But with the risk of crush syndrome increasing, House surprises Cuddy by backing her up in her attempt to convince Hanna to give up her leg.
He tells Hanna his own story, ending by admitting that he wishes they hadn’t saved his leg. “I’m in pain every day. It changed me. Made me a harder person, a worse person. And now … now I’m alone. You don’t want to be like me.” Hanna is convinced by House’s obvious sincerity — it’s probably the most vulnerable and honest we’ve ever seen him. (Although with House, I suppose there’s always the risk he’s just saying what others want to hear.)
House does the operation himself, underground in the dirty parking garage and unable to knock Hanna out entirely. I liked that he was (uncharacteristically) sweet about how she’ll be “running circles around [him] in no time” while being honest about the pain she’s about to experience. I get for the sake of the story why he’s alone down there, but realistically, shouldn’t Cuddy have stayed in case something went wrong? Or is it just assumed that if something goes wrong Hanna is dead for sure?
After much screaming and sawing, which I’d prefer to forget, House joins Hanna in the back of an ambulance, giving Cuddy a long look before closing the doors. When Hanna develops what looks like a clot in her lung, House blames himself for waiting too long to amputate before realizing it’s actually a fat embolism from the amputation. There’s nothing he can do but look into Hanna’s eyes, her husband screaming at him to do something, while Hanna slips away. Man. As if nothing could mess House up even worse?
Huddy: Before they leave for Trenton, House finally gives Cuddy the book her great-grandfather wrote. The inscription: “To Lisa and Lucas: Here’s to a new chapter. Best, Greg” He wrote in it?! Cuddy is incredulous, but he says it’s the adult thing to do. This newfound maturity lasts about an hour.
Noticing that she paused momentarily in accepting the gift, House suspects trouble in paradise and tests the waters on that front. Cuddy’s response? When she opened it, she didn’t think it was a housewarming gift — she thought it was an engagement present. Just happened last night, it seems. Oh, dear. After this, when Hanna asks if House believes in karma, he tells her, “I didn’t use to, then recently I tried- Now I don’t know.” Now that’s a quote you could really analyze.
When he then takes the patient’s side against Cuddy, she accuses House of putting Hanna’s life at risk because of his anger over the engagement. And that’s when the gloves come off, folks, and it’s painful to watch. House calls her a “pathetic narcissist,” prompting the following heated exchange:
Cuddy: “I don’t love you. So just accept it and move on with your life instead of making everyone miserable.”
House: “A life lesson from a middle-aged single mom who’s dating a manchild.”
Cuddy: “Screw you. I’m sick of making excuses for you. I’m sick of other people having to tiptoe around you and make their own lives worse while they try to keep you from collapsing. I’m done.”
And as a parting shot after he tells her to stay away from Hanna, Cuddy points out that risking a life to save a leg didn’t work out too well for House, who has nothing while she and Wilson are moving on with their lives. Nothing. And given the events described above, he clearly took that observation to heart.
After Hanna’s death House returns home, woozy from exhaustion and probably blood loss, and rips the mirror off the wall after picturing her face. It’s clear why he avoids connecting with patients — if it’s anything more than an intellectual exercise, House can’t handle a negative outcome. Behind the mirror is a hole in the wall with two pill bottles stashed inside. Oh, House. Pouring a couple pills into his hand, House is on the floor verging on tears when Cuddy walks in. And I’m sure this scene will be controversial, but for the record, I think Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein did a superb job with it.
Cuddy refuses to play savior, telling House that it’s his choice if he wants to go back on drugs, but that he does need to re-bandage his shoulder. Oh, and by the way, she’s there to tell him she ended it with Lucas. Whaaa-? And again, I think directly quoting is necessary here.
Cuddy: “I’m stuck, House. I keep wanting to move forward, I keep wanting to move on, and I can’t. I mean, my new house, my new fiancée, and all I can think about is you. I just need to know if you and I can work.”
He looks up at her, wonderingly: “You think I can fix myself?”
Cuddy: “I don’t know.”
House: “Because I’m the most screwed-up person in the world.”
Cuddy: “I know. I love you. I wish I didn’t, but I can’t help it.”
He still can’t believe it. And neither can I, in some ways. Knowing all this, the scene in which she lied about not loving him and then ripped him apart seems rather cruel, even if it was provoked (and ultimately effective in getting him to amputate). Making a recovering drug addict feel isolated and alone = very uncool, no matter how much he deserves it and no matter how much you’re trying to convince yourself he’s bad for you. But hey, at least she came through in the end, right?
She helps him stand and they kiss, so tentatively. After Cuddy reassures him he’s not hallucinating, House drops the pills on the floor and kisses her again, holding her hand instead of the pills. And that’s the season, ladies and gents! Wow? It veered a little into clichéd territory, but honestly, I can get behind it. (Yes, I’m a total softie romantic at heart. Shut up.) We’ll see if TPTB can keep it from becoming the House and Cuddy Show, but if they can keep the relationship drama in the background and focus on the cases, I’m all for this.
Quotes and Odds and Ends:
House: “Is that a pill in your pocket, or are you just happy to have a tiny, pill-shaped penis?”
- Hanna asks if she and House can be friends when she’s footloose and fancy free again (what, too soon?), and he agrees to catch a ball game or group sex show with her sometime. Aww, he really is changing.
- Taub catches Thirteen leaving a letter asking House for time off. Taub: “Are you okay?” Thirteen: “Obviously not.” I’m wondering if they really meant to leave it so sketchy, or if there was a scene in which she struggles with her Huntington’s symptoms that got cut out due to time constraints. We’ll learn more next season, I guess!
So … how ’bout that House and Cuddy?
Photo credit: FOX