Monday, May 21, 2012
House: "Everybody Dies"
Recently Noel Murray at the AV Club wrote a very observant article on the perils of the planned Series Finale. (You can find it here) I think “Everybody Dies” quite obviously falls into some of the pitfalls of this kind of episode. A desire to go bigger, to provide closure, to wrap things up neatly, when really, something more akin to the hours of entertainment we’ve previously enjoyed would serve the show’s needs much better.
But House has never been a show for subtlety or nuance, and over the years it has hit some big home runs when it swung for the fences. In my Top Ten Episodes list earlier, most of the entrants represent times when the staff of the show really went for it. So it is hard to blame them for taking one more big swing. I just wish they could have done something less trite and forgettable.
In some ways “Everybody Dies” is a casualty of the show’s long run. The constant cast changes have left the show with a number of characters that various segments of the fan base would have wanted a chance to say goodbye to. Thus the show, providing service to the fans instead of the show itself, resort to the old standby, near-death hallucinations. The first three-fourths of the show are a veritable merry-go-round of former members of the Differential Diagnostics Unit. Some of them are people we’ve even seen before in hallucinogenic form, as Kutner and Amber are the first to approach House in the role of dour Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present.
You see, Ebeneezer House isn’t feeling very good about himself lately, since his prank got out of hand and might cause him to miss being there for Wilson’s Death. So, House finds himself in a burning building, with the heroin addict he had been shooting up with lying dead next to him. Our favorite misanthropic doctor is not so sure he wants to try and escape from the flames, and not even Stacy or Cameron can really convince him, though they do manage to get him to provide exposition on the heroin addict’s diagnosis.
Eventually, Detectives Wilson and Foreman, who had both nonsensically tried to teach House a lesson by refusing to save him from jail, (to be fair House’s plan was absurdly ill-considered), track him down and arrive just in time to see the giant fireball consume him.
It’s then that we get the spectacle of House’s funeral, where all the guest stars and more get to put their best spin on what House did for them, even though presumably they all knew House well enough to know how much he would hate what they are doing. Eventually Wilson snaps during his eulogy, and starts telling it like it is, until his phone starts ringing…
Surprise, House isn’t dead! Because the urge to center finales around big splashy life events isn’t that strong, apparently. If you remembered that House was modeled on Sherlock Holmes, you may have been skeptical of this death from the beginning, after all, Holmes fell over the Reichenbach falls and lived to tell of it.
But House’s career is basically gone, and if he’s ever discovered he’ll be in jail for years! But never mind that, he’s too busy Easy Rider-ing with cancer patient Wilson while Louis Prima plays in the background.
Not a lot of Everybody Dies made sense from a logical perspective, and its language and arguments were too trite compared to the House of old. It’s unfortunate, but House did not go out on a high note. It limped to the finish.