House Finale Review: Enjoy Yourself
Enjoy yourself. This is the very last thing we hear on House.
Ultimately, Hugh Laurie was right when he gave an interview at the House wrap party. He was asked about one word to describe the finale and after pondering it for a moment, he suggested that, even with a title like "Everybody Dies," the episode was actually "uplifting". I almost don't recognize this feeling I have right now because it's been a rarity. Satisfaction. I feel satisfaction at this ending.
Now, that's not to say that this finale was not without its flaws. But in terms of some of the specific character journeys, I'm left feeling like I can move on from this show without hesitation. The episode opens with House lying on the ground next to his dead patient. I still am unclear about how House and this patient arrived at this point, but what difference does it make?
And that's a fitting metaphor for much of the series. House confronts each character and says, "Here we are. Now what are you going to do?" This finale dealt with so many of the series' philosophies, it is almost as if every mantra from the show was thrown at a wall, and things like "People don't change," "Everybody lies," and "Everybody dies," are what stuck. But the more prevalent themes are sometimes the ones that are unspoken.
Consider how many times the series has done episodes on making sacrifices for the ones you love. And how many times House has proven time and time again that he can't put anyone else above his needs. As House argued with his subconscious over what would be the easiest and best choice for him - living or dying - I couldn't help but be reminded of this play I read in high school called No Exit by the existentialist Jean -Paul Sartre. In it, three people appear to be stuck with each other and - spoiler alert! - they come to realize that they died and they are in hell. In other words, hell for them is equivalent to other people.
House, for eight years, has generally chosen himself, and thus chosen to be alone for most of his life. And by the end of the series he gives up everything he knows and loves for one person: Wilson. House may preach about people not changing, but in his final act as a free man, he chooses to live out the next five months with Wilson, selflessly giving up solving puzzles, practicing medicine, and any hope of escaping time in prison. And he does it for Wilson.
Throughout the episode, I was thrilled to see some former faces guiding House through choosing life, as hokey as it was. Honestly, I was just excited to see Anne Dudek, Kal Penn, Sela Ward and Jennifer Morrison again. Remember (I am positive you don't) my review from the premiere, "Twenty Vicodin"? In it, I lament the loss of past characters. This was a nice, albeit a bit corny, way to get them back. Of course, I couldn't write this review if I didn't at least mention that Lisa Edelstein was nowhere to be found.
And I wouldn't even mention it except for the fact that she was literally the only former cast member not present for this little reunion! Perhaps because they parted on such bad terms, it would do a disservice to her character to bring her back. But that certainly didn't stop the creators from cursing giving us to a little Dominika/House make-out session on Stacy's imaginary couch right near her hallucinated (?) child.
Here's what I liked about The Christmas Carol/It's a Wonderful Life/Wizard of Oz/that one episode of Buffy I can't remember: it allowed us into House's psyche one last time, which always makes for an interesting episode. I've always enjoyed the episodes that explored that, including the ones at the end of Season 5 with Amber and of course, "No Reason" where House was shot.
I enjoyed seeing Stacy pushing House to live. When she said, "Don't be logical. Be desperate," I was reminded how great of a match her and House were for each other. She was just as smart as House, but encouraged House to drop some of his logic and choose happiness.
I also loved that even as House's subconscious, these characters remained in character. Kutner still seemed like Kutner. Amber was witty, bright, and still a wonderful sparring partner for House. The only one I wasn't sure about was Cameron, who told House he should choose death. That seemed to be more of House's subconscious than the others, even though Amber's probing "whys" definitely reeked of House.
And by the way, Nolan came back! Loved his cameo as well. I'd watch him therapize anytime.
Onto the funeral and the montage. The last five minutes worked for me. House's funeral seemed ridiculous, especially since there were 10 minutes left to the show after that. But I liked seeing each old team member nostalgically recognizing House's impact. I never really thought about House making Taub a better father, but it makes sense to me. And there's Foreman, lurking alone from his ivory tower of an office, laughing as he sees House's badge on the ground, realizing House faked his own death.
Cameron holds a place for House and the team on her laptop in her heart and has moved on with a husband and kid. And Chase! My favorite scene of the montage was Chase's... by far. To see Chase take a step forward in House's shoes was the perfect move for his character. And this way he gets to work with Foreman and keep part of the initial team together.
And that leads us to House and Wilson riding off into the sunset Easy Rider style. Ever since I found out the series was ending, I wondered what song the series would end to. I expected some kind of Rolling Stones answer to the pilot's "You Can't Always Get What You Want," but I'm even happier to get the song "Enjoy Yourself," which Amber hauntingly sang in the Season 5 episode, "Under My Skin" when House thought he had gotten rid of his hallucination. House, hand shaking, picks up his phone and calls Wilson to save him from himself.
The tone was much darker then, almost taunting House. But this time, we get an aerial shot of House and Wilson riding off together, a shot very reminiscent of House when he first got his motorcycle earlier in the series when he rode off into the sunset. And the singer is much lighter, airy, even. Here's some of the lyrics courtesy of songlyrics.com:
Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
You're gonna take that ocean trip, no matter, come what may
You've got your reservations made, but you just can't get away
Next year for sure, you'll see the world, you'll really get around
But how far can you travel when you're six feet underground?
The "carpe diem-esque" warning of this song is clear and bittersweet; although Wilson and House are taking life head on by the end of the series, Wilson is on the clock (six feet underground lyrics) and House is now on the run (ocean trip reference). But let's just enjoy ourselves and bask in the realization that House isn't lamenting what he can't get, as in the pilot, but choosing to accept what he has and acknowledge that even he has to make sacrifices for the people he loves.
Thanks for the enjoyable ride, House. I'll miss your endless sarcastic wit, your perfect stubble and your brutal honesty.