House S08EP23 “Everybody dies”

I can’t believe this is the end!

According to the WordPress stats, there have been 43 posts out of roughly 260 tagged “House Party!” House has been a complex show, with a need to walk a tightrope between giving the audience characters that they can become invested with and watch grow over time, and at the same time creating a situational environment week after week that can maintain interest. The writers and producers also endeavored to make the necessarily contrived plotlines (after all, how many cases of Nagleria would you really expect to see in Central New Jersey???) at least pass some sort of credibility level. This was mostly successful over the past 8 seasons, but did occasionally make me frustrated. However, my frustration was never with the portrayal of the characters, but only because the contrived situation of the week came close to the limits of my ability to suspend disbelief.

This week brought us the final episode of House, which aired following a series retrospective. The medical mystery of the week in the finale was inconsequential, and the diagnosis of the patient (a drug addict, who came into the clinic seeking narcotics) occupied about 5 minutes of the total episode. House admits him based on his suspicion that he had additional medical issues beyond heroin addiction, due to bruising around his navel (Cullen’s Sign) suggesting either an ectopic pregnancy or pancreatitis. I will leave it to the astute BIO230 reader to decide which cause is more likely.

The ongoing story arc picked up from the previous week, where House’s final act while coming to grips with Wilson’s mortality resulted in the destruction of the hospital’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit. This led to the police becoming involved, and the realization that House would have to return to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence while Wilson dies from his cancer. This week’s plot then was driven by several attempts by House to defer going back to prison. Attempt number one (taking on a massive caseload) is nixed by Foreman, and attempt number two (getting Wilson to take the fall) is nixed by Wilson. This leaves House with the Reichenbach Falls as his only logical solution, as he realizes that the only way that he will be able to avoid prison is by being dead.

Much of the episode, including the diagnosis of the heroin addict, was shown in flashback, with House waking up at the start (next to the now dead junkie) inside a burning warehouse. This ends (apparently) poorly, with Wilson and Foreman arriving just in time to House engulfed in flames while the warehouse explodes. During the eulogy, Wilson receives a text “Shut up you idiot;” House managed to escape out the back, and the body of the dead junkie was ID’d as House’s body following some lucky dental record switching. The episode ends with House and Wilson riding off on motorcycles.

My aim in watching and talking about this show was not to nitpick, although it might come across that way some times. I want all BIO230 students to be in a position to be able to give an honest assessment of the things that they watch and read; we don’t have to be medical experts in a specific specialty, but we should be able to use the information we are given and do just a little bit of research if things do not seem as they should. The show House, MD managed for the most part to create a scenario week after week, that although it may not have been likely, it was at least plausible. And the holes that inevitably appear with closer examination are always instructive.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on May 22, 2012, in House Party!. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. When I saw my fb feed swimming with ‘House is dead’ posts, I was prepared to send my condolences to you. Glad to see he faked it…he is too clever.

    • Based on the Holmes homage throughout the years, there really was no other way that they could end the show. Ironically, the House finale aired one day after the Sherlock series episode “The Reichenbach Fall” on Masterpiece! Sherlock faked his death on that show too.

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