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October 2, 2014

House: Simple Explanation

by Hemal Jhaveri, posted Apr 7th 2009 9:41AM
House cast
(S05E20)
Whoa. So, who saw that one coming? As I mentioned last week, my DVR cut off and I never saw the teaser for this week's episode so I had no clue we were in store for this. Let's get into the nitty gritty after the cut so people who haven't yet seen the episode can avoid the major, epic spoiler.

So, Kutner killed himself. I'm frankly at a loss as to what else to say about this. We open the episode with Taub covering for a missing Kutner, since he hasn't bothered to show up to work. Now, right then is when I thought something had gone wrong. There were rumblings of a major surprise for this episode, so I was on the look out for anything different. When Thirteen and Foreman broke into his apartment, I knew it was going to be bad news. For my part, I expected to discover that Kutner was somehow ill, and everyone, including House, had missed the signs. I just didn't expect this kind of illness.

As with all suicides, in television or reality, those that are left behind spend the aftermath scratching their heads and wondering what they could have done differently and how they could have missed the signs. In this instance, it's the viewers and the doctors, including House, who are left in the exact same position.

Watch the scene here:



Update: Now, in the hours since last night's episode, the rumor mill has been churning over time. People have been speculating on the motives behind Kal Penn's departure and come up with some whoppers. Searches for the phrase "Kal Penn Death" are popping up all over Google. As far as I can tell, Kal Penn is not dead or even remotely sick in real life. In fact, Fox has scheduled a 1:30 press junket with the actor, so it's a safe bet he's alive and kicking. Also, he wasn't written off the show due to any friction with the other cast members or producers.

The truth is much, much nicer. According to an interview with EW's Michael Ausiello, Kal Penn has left House (and Hollywood) to work in the Obama White House. He tells Ausiello that during his time volunteering for the Obama campaign, he got to know the President pretty well and "expressed interest" in working for the administration. Now, Kal Penn will be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. Not sure what that entails, but it sounds pretty fancy. Basically, he'll go from working with Hugh Laurie to working with President Obama, which makes him the luckiest guy on the planet.


As viewers, we're thrown into the same space as the doctors, each of us wondering what, if any, clues we might have been given that lead to this action. The truth is that we weren't given any clues. If anything, House's nod to Kutner's correct diagnoses in last week's episode would have been our only clue that something was off. House never delivers such praise. It didn't feel a like goodbye then, but watch it again, and it does.

ER' Show Photos

    ER Maura Tierney as Abby Lockhart stars in the episode "Shifting Equilibrium." Airs Thursday, March 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Maura Tierney as Abby Lockhart stars in the episode "Shifting Equilibrium."Airs Thursday, March 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Parminder Nagra as Dr. Neela Rasgotra and Leland Orser as Dr. Lucien Dubenko star in the episode "Shifting Equilibrium."Airs Thursday, March 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Parminder Nagra as Dr. Neela Rasgotra, Leland Orser as Dr. Lucien Dubenko star in the episode "Shifting Equilibrium."Airs Thursday, March 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter stars in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Wallace Shawn as Teddy Lempel stars in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Wallacce Shawn as Teddy Lempel stars in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter stars in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter and Abraham Benrubi as Jerry Marcovic star in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC

    ER Angela Bassett as Dr. Cate Banfield stars in the episode "Beginning of the End." Airs Thursday, February 19, 2009.

    NBC



Does Kutner's death make any sense at all? No. But, of course, most suicides don't. And that's the point of the episode. There's no simple explanation, and House is wasting his time searching for one.

Say what you will about Thirteen, but the look on her face when she saw Kutner's body was chilling. The best actors can convey everything with just a look and she did exactly that. Taub responds to Kutner's death by cool detachment until he finally breaks down in the end. Foreman withdraws from everyone. Cuddy unfortunately had the coldest reaction. She seemed unfazed by it and only concerned about House. Wilson was empathetic as always, but much more so then I expected.

Perhaps House's reaction is actually the most sane. And Wilson, for once, was wrong. House isn't just interested in the puzzle of Kutner's death. This is really House's way of grieving. Yes, he can't rest until he solves the puzzle, but this may be the only case he can't really figure out. House spends his time digging through all the clues of Kutner's life trying to make sense of his final act. Of course, he can't. No one can. It's a devastating blow to everyone, doctors and viewers alike. The final funeral scene, set to the haunting 'Lose You' by Pete Yorn, was also well done.

For my part, I'll miss Kutner a great deal. Kal Penn was fantastic in this role and House will be missing something critical now that he's gone.

Also, it's a shame that Meat Loaf was wasted on this episode. He was another sympathetic patient, but one who got totally lost in the shuffle.

Anyway, this is really an episode that begs a discussion rather than a review. Does Kutner's death work as a dramatic decision for the show? What happens from now on? Is Wilson right and House is really worried that he's losing his gift? Were there signs that we all missed? Thoughts?

50 Best TV Dramas Ever

    It's not easy winnowing more than 50 years of small-screen gems into a list of 50, but AOL TV's picks of the top TV dramas include the most brilliant doctors and lawyers, the angst-iest teens, sci-fi series that transcend their genre molds, family dramas that both warm and break your heart, terrorist- and mobster-fighting heroes ... and a show that combined the best of family and gangster drama into one unforgettable series.

    Click through to see all 50 of the best TV dramas of all time. -- By Kimberly Potts

    NBCU Photo Bank / Robert Voets, CBS / HBO / WB

    50. 'House'
    (2004-present)

    In a lineup of TV's crabbiest characters, Dr. Gregory House is right up there with Archie Bunker, Mel Sharples and Oscar the Grouch. But being a smug know-it-all with no bedside manner works for House (Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie) mostly because he does usually know it all, using his incredible diagnostic skills and intuition to ferret out treatment for even the most baffling medical mysteries.



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    49. 'Little House on the Prairie'
    (1974-83)

    Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary, Carrie and the many adopted Ingalls small fries remain one of the tube's most endearing bunches, because when the going got tough, the Ingalls always stuck together. 'Prairie' life was often difficult -- ruined crops, harsh weather, Mrs. Oleson -- but the Ingalls, particularly father Charles (Michael Landon), always stuck to their principles, and by their friends, no matter what.



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    48. 'Moonlighting'
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    Dramedy, romance, fantasy, lightning-quick dialogue and even the occasional song-and-dance -- 'Moonlighting' had it all, including a will-they-or-won't-they relationship between private eyes Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis). Off camera, the two leads butted heads, but their on-screen chemistry was scorching, as epitomized in the series' classic spoof of 'Taming of the Shrew.'



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    47. 'The Practice'
    (1997-2004)

    Handsome Bobby Donnell (Dylan McDermott) was the face man for his scrappy Boston legal firm, whose attorneys and clients weren't exactly the cream of the crop. In fact, Bobby and his colorful cohorts often resorted to desperate, unsavory antics to win their cases, leading to outrageous courtroom drama, memorable characters and, eventually, one of TV's greatest bromances, Denny Crane and Alan Shore.



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    46. 'Kung-Fu'
    (1972-75)

    Shaolin monk Caine was trained to believe in peace and the powerful skills of kung fu. But after using kung fu against Chinese royalty, he fled to the American West. David Carradine's quiet, thoughtful portrayal made Caine a hero of few words, torn between using his skills to help others and wandering the Earth alone, avoiding Chinese agents and bounty hunters and searching for his brother.



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    45. 'Mod Squad'
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    This groovy cop drama lured younger viewers with Linc, Pete and Julie, hipster slackers who made amends for their own parole-earning misdeeds by investigating the uncool adults who were trying to prey on members of the Mod Squad's generation. Besides showcasing trendy duds and breakout star Peggy Lipton, 'Mod' also kicked off a decades-long streak of youth-oriented hits for TV legend Aaron Spelling.



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    43. 'Dr. Kildare'
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    42. '24'
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    Premiering shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the real-time action-packed show follows counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) as he risks life and limb to save the country from baddies bent on destroying it. Controversial for Bauer's use of torture tactics, the drama was also ahead of its time for giving the country its first African-American President in the beloved David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert).



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368 Comments

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Nique

I really enjoyed that episode, but it is very disappointing to see Kunter character being killed off. I hope that the writers get rid of 13 or better yet Taub. House is coming back in full swing, the show lost some spark for a whille, but I enjoy watching it more than this other junkk on tv.

April 15 2009 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lolo

Guys. Didn't you notice something during the last whole 4 or 5 episodes? didn't you notice that House is not taking his Vicoden pills? I think we'll see this coming in the near episodes... what explanations do you guys have for that?

April 08 2009 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kendall

I will miss Kal Penn playing Kutner on House. He had an important part on the show. I am really happy that he gets to work for Obama at the White House. Imagine going from actor to working for the President, what an honor. I can't help but wonder what will happen next. I can't see House hiring a new member for his team. Who knows though. I will really miss him though and that episode was really devistating.

April 08 2009 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

Hemal Jhaveri..

I am very dissapointed by your lack of follow up and response to the comments by posters who used your article as an opportunity to say hateful and inappropriate things. While I am sure it wasn't the intention of your recap, your silence is certainly condoning what you inadvertantly launched.
SPEAK UP!

April 08 2009 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harrison

As for the show, no polotics, the producers are turning the thing 180 degrees because of their ratings. Everything that's happened this season iis an oposit of what happen 2 seasons ago. The things that Cameron did then, House didn't do this season.(Cameron-Chase vs House Kutty) Now you have to get everyone's attention and boy they did that!! Now you make the turn.

April 08 2009 at 9:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bcrnbs

LOL, LEFT A UP COMING CAREER IN T.V.
TO WORK WITH A LOOSER IN THE WHITE HOUSE
NOW WE CAN TALK STUPIDITY..

April 08 2009 at 6:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gery

THOUGHT HE WAS SMARTER THSN THAT...
gIVE HIM TIME AND HE WILL COMMIT SUICIDE WORKING FOR BOOMA AS HE WILL WRITE HIM OFF IN TIME THEN WHERE WILL HE BE.....

April 08 2009 at 6:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann

I would MUCH rather work with HUGH LAURIE than for the White House!!!! Oh well, to each his own.
Please listen to the producer's interview. It was NOT a murder.
I hope they don't replace Kutner. The cast is too large as it is.
RACHEL: IF YOU ARE REALLY FEELING THAT BADLY, CALL A HOTLINE OR TELL A FAMILY MEMBER, TEACHER, SOMEONE AT CHURCH, ANYONE YOU RESPECT. THERE IS HELP. IF YOU ARE TAKING AN ANTIDEPRESSANT, PLEASE TELL YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT HOW YOU ARE FEELING BECAUSE IT IS PROBABLY FROM THE MEDS.
GOD BLESS YOU AND HELP YOU.

April 08 2009 at 4:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Renee\'

People, let us just remember that this is a TV show, NOT real life, that the actors DO have a REAL life, life moves on, producers must do what they must to make the show seem "real" and keep the viewers and this has nothing to do with race, the President or anything else ignorant that has been said. This show is excellent, it continues on (as do the actors) and let US move on.... let's move on to see what's next. The show isn't going to get boring...has it yet? If it has, none of you would be commenting as you still wouldn't be watching it all these years. Just my thoughts...nasty replies are not necessary...but, always welcome...LOL

Once last thought, best of luck to Kal Penn...goes to show he can go from slapstick, to seriously humorous, to appropo funny yet serious and, now, taking his life serious...but, probably still finding humor in it. God Bless to All!

April 08 2009 at 3:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric Thompson

I am so sick of people being called racist because they can't stand Obama.If Hillary had won we would be called chauvinists for hating on her. Many people, myself included, think he is a corrupt politician, a two-faced liar, and a closeted socialist.There are way too many reasons to hate Obama that you don't need to bring up race. It's not that a black man won the presidency for me ,it's that the wrong black man won. I voted for Alan Keyes.

April 08 2009 at 3:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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