HOUSE Season Finale Recap: Moving On
May 23, 2011 by Erik Wilkinson
Since the news broke about Lisa Edelstein’s departure from HOUSE, the stakes of this week’s season finale grew by leaps and bounds. Was the creative team prepared to begin Season 8 with a clean slate, putting Dr. Lisa Cuddy in their rear view mirror? Was the news leaked to prepare viewers for a definitive end for Cuddy’s time at Princeton Plainsboro? What would the consequences be for Gregory House without his former flame and verbal sparring partner?
“Moving On” provided a mixed bag of answers to those questions. In the midst of unraveling a patient puzzle centered around an extraordinary mind cluttered by love, House sought closure in a shocking way. Spoilers follow, so read on at your own risk…
Until the closing minutes of this finale, I was enjoying HOUSE for the first time in weeks. Kath Lingenfelter & Peter Blake wrote a fantastic script, a story that offered Hugh Laurie a chance to fill in the potholes of logical gaps that accompanied the Huddy storyline. Emotions were displayed, concessions were made, and my hopes were raised that Lisa Edelstein’s real-life departure would parallel a satisfying exit for Cuddy from Princeton Plainsboro.
Instead, director Greg Yaitanes indulged his overactive imagination for the umpteenth time, closing the season with a barrage of images that sacrificed story for shock value and emotional impact for sexy camera angles.
Cuddy said it right when she asked House to, “have our fight.” Viewers have been itching to have the Huddy chapter of this show closed, and Hugh Laurie & Lisa Edelstein were capable of telling that story with their own performances. If you believe that Gregory House is incapable of love and loyalty, then you were not watching his interactions with Rachel Cuddy, the precocious child who bonded with House more than any adult. Last week’s episode, when House & Rachel shared their pirate moment in the car, was almost Jerry Maguire-esque in its showcasing of an emotionally unavailable man falling in love with the notion of protecting a child.
Leaping forward, we are supposed to accept that House would ram his car into Cuddy’s house, jeopardizing that same little girl’s life in the process? Nope, I don’t buy it. Not for a second. There is no doubt that the creative team had these closing minutes mapped out for some time. Yaitanes hinted as much on his Twitter feed. However, the producers did a disservice to their talented writers by choosing a Hollywood ending over a cerebral conclusion.
The absurd ending overshadowed two wonderful stories told in the finale. First, Dr. Taub is going to be a daddy…twice! Peter Jacobsen & Jennifer Foley always make the Taubs a fascinating couple to watch, and this twist was genuinely surprising and an invigorating way to jump into Season Eight.
Additionally, guest star Shohreh Aghdashloo added her usual gravitas to a patient storyline that could easily have gone off the rails. Since Greg Yaitanes appears to spend the show’s production budget disproportionately on the episodes he directs, I was concerned that the performance art angle would lead to a CGI-infused gorefest. Thankfully, Ms. Aghdashloo was a worthy adversary for Hugh Laurie, and challenged the entire Diagnostics team to reevaluate their own addiction to “the game” of solving mysterious cases. In their own way, Foreman, Taub, Chase, & Thirteen are all diagnostic junkies, and Afsoun Hamidi was their latest fix.
Back to Dr. House for a few closing thoughts. There is no such thing as a poor Hugh Laurie performance. He is simply too talented to allow an hour of HOUSE to be considered unwatchable. The frustration that I, as well as many others, have experienced during Season Seven is one of expectations. Time and time again, Katie Jacobs & David Shore tease the universe of TV critics and fans alike with promises that the show will go into new and exciting directions. Their instincts to titillate are hiding a deeper truth.
HOUSE is a television franchise on the level of LAW & ORDER. It is a for-profit enterprise, lining the pocketbooks of studios, producers, cast and crew. Each new episode is a bankable asset, destined for Sunday marathons on USA Network, leading into the season premieres of PSYCH or COVERT AFFAIRS.
The folks who like to read between the lines of pithy dialogue and connect dots of continuity from week to week, and I count myself among those ranks, are destined to be disappointed by the trajectory of this show. Great scripts, such as Lingenfelter & Blake’s finale, get our hopes up that the show can and will be more than a procedural. In truth, the powers that be are just as prone to ratings stunts as the producers of WIPEOUT or SURVIVOR.
Next season will not be about House opening a new practice in Miami, Tahiti, or whatever tropical paradise he was enjoying in the final moments of Season Seven. He’ll be back at Princeton Plainsboro, free of any criminal culpability, solving cases with his team. Cuddy will be long gone, a victim of budget excesses and expediency. Chase & Thirteen will become a couple, because they’re the only combination left. The season premiere will be great, as they usually are. The finale will be controversial, because Katie & David won’t have it any other way.
And I won’t be around to watch. After three years of dissecting the HOUSE universe, it is time for me to step away. I’ll keep up with the latest show news here at GIVE ME MY REMOTE, but my Monday nights need freshening up. Maybe I’ll try TERRA NOVA, instead.
On a personal note, I am profoundly grateful for the GMMR readers who have read, reacted, and continued the discussion about HOUSE over the past three seasons. This show represented my “foot in the door” to writing for this site, and I look forward to finding new programs to cover with the same enthusiasm. From interacting with so many of you over the past year, I know that I am not alone in leaving Princeton Plainsboro behind.
I’m simply out of words…
Was this an appropriate end to Lisa Edelstein’s tenure on the show? Were the loose ends left in the aftermath of House’s crash frustrating cliffhangers, or an appropriate setup for Season Eight? As a viewer, do you have closure on House & Cuddy’s relationship? Did House’s confessions of “being hurt” and acting out so violently true to his character? I cannot wait to read your feedback, so let’s close out this season with a phenomenal discussion…