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House: Both Sides Now (season finale)

by Hemal Jhaveri, posted May 12th 2009 12:08AM
(S05E24) If you've been watching House for any serious length of time, you know that things are never what they seem. And, moreover, if you've seen any of the previous season finales of the show, you know that there are major fireworks in store. Going off the precedent set by last season's gut wrenching two-parter, "House's Head" and "Wilson's Heart", I was expecting a killer episode. So, for the first 30 minutes, I kept wondering when we were getting to the good stuff. After the final 10 minutes? Well, I reserve the right to change my mind, but after first viewing, it feels like a rotten bait and switch. Follow me after the jump for the big reveal.

Basically, it turns out that all of last week's episode -- the Amber-vision, the rapid 24-hour detox, the making out with Cuddy -- were an extended hallucination of House's brain. It was all an imaginary scenario concocted by one part of his brain to keep the other part happy and sedated (or lonely and hooked on drugs). See how this development parallels our patient of the week? And the title of the episode? Clever, show. Of course, the sad truth is that everyone lies. And House's head, apparently, is capable of unlimited amounts of deceit.

I've never been a fan of the "it was all a dream" storyline, and while this is probably the best one I've ever seen done, I feel slightly cheated at the end result. Rather then pull us in with gripping story, we get a big, what's behind door No. 1 moment. While I was initially stunned at the reveal, this was similar to House being shot by a patient in Season 4. It's big and flashy and not so subtle.

Though, this does explain a few things for me. First off, the 24-hour detox from last week seemed way too quick. I'm glad that the writers didn't expect viewers to buy that bogus plot point. Also, it bugged me a bit that Wilson wasn't there to help with the detox, and that he just let House off the hook so easily. Knowing now that it was all a product of House's imagination, these annoying inconsistencies make a lot more sense.

The conventional, albeit well acted, patient of the week storyline was fine for a regular season episode, but didn't seem up to snuff by season finale standards, even with Carl Reiner popping in and out as a guest star. In addition to House going crazycakes, and Cameron and Chase dueling over their feelings, we have a patient who enters PPH crying actual tears of blood. How very Biblical. While the team, with help from Cameron, tries to fix him, his left brain vs. right brain disorder causes complications. This is all just foreshadowing what we'll eventually learn about House himself. The patient is nothing more than a narrative prop, and it's getting harder and harder to ignore how little meaning they have to the show and to the characters.

Now, while House wrestles with his imaginary relationship with Cuddy, and debates whether or not he should ask her out, Cameron and Chase have sweetly made up and are getting hitched. Yay! I have always been on Chase's side in this relationship, so it was gratifying to see Cameron admit she was wrong. Though, I hope that next season they'll be given an actual storyline.

So, in the end, we end up where we started about three episodes ago, but in much much deeper water. House can no longer trust his brain and can't practice medicine, which is the scariest, saddest thing to happen to him. The conclusion is heart-breaking, but the road we took to get here seems more like slight of hand than actual character development. House has not changed at all. And his brain is actively trying to stop him from changing.

The last shot we see is of Wilson driving House to the mental institution. It's sad, you guys. It's horrible and bleak, and I can't believe that I expected anything different. Though, it warms my heart a bit to know Wilson was there with him.

What do you think? Were you surprised by the ending? Are you bummed that House and Cuddy are not a couple? And where does this leave the team? Moreover, why does Wilson always seem to attract the crazys? First his brother and now House. Mainly, how do you think House is going to get out of this one? Bring on season 6!

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i still don't understand this episode! was the detox real? i get that house and cuddy's relationship wasn't real, but what about the detox? what's going on there? why did house hallucinate in the first place, or is that a question to be answered next season? so upset about the end!

July 09 2009 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Go to BBC4's radio's Front Row web page and check out a recent radio interview with Hugh Laurie.

May 28 2009 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am one of those who has been seriously watching House from the beginning. I was not let down by this episode by a long shot, although I somehow don't know what's real and what isn't at the moment. Did Chase and Cameron really marry? Does Cutty really have a baby? Is House really going to a mental institution or is he still imagining? I hope it's all true and I am also glad Wilson was with House. I love the House character and I don't agree that the show has veered away from the cases; it just focused on House more than usual. I hear Hugh Laurie really has a problem with depression and my prayers are with him. I've often wondered how this character could be portrayed by anyone else but I equally love the other players here. Here's to Season 6 and maybe some hope for House's addiction, a feeling of true friendship wtih Wilson, and a possible love connection with Cutty.

May 23 2009 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first hallucination happened in Cuddy's office when he insulted her relationship with her child, and it ended in her office at the end of this episode. And the Cameron/Chase thing had nothing to do with House. If House isn't in the room, it's not House's hallucination. Period.

I thought it was very well done! THe whole "dream" thing is usually annoying, but this time I was actually shocked. At first, anyway. It all made more sense after the shock wore off.

And to those of you who think that House's relationship with Cuddy should bloom before the show is over, I believe you are lying to yourselves. Yes, I would love to see it, too. But I know FOR SURE that if they start having a relationship, it would take a lot of the tension out of the show. The good tension. That's when it would "jump the shark" and the writers know that. Anytime two characters who have been jumping around with sexual tension in a TV show and end up getting together, the show collapses shortly thereafter. Think about it. Would you REALLY watch the show if you finally got exactly what you wanted? No. Because you would have no reason to watch it anymore because the main reason you watch it is already past.

"Cameran has to get rid of Chase or it's all over!!": Really? Seriously? Okay, if that's the only reason you watch the show, go watch Guiding Light or something. The medical portion of the show takes up the bulk of it, and it's the most interesting. Like the characters on CSI. The cases are the main reason I watch it, also. True, the characters make the show, as well. But, the cases also help shape the characters.

I don't mean to insult anyone and their opinions, because I know I have some of my own others don't agree with. I'm just saying how I feel it is.

May 19 2009 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michelle's comment

I am highly disappointed with the House episode. If I was able to cry I would have. I had to watch the show again to understand what Cuddy was referring to when House was talking back and forth.

Although Cuddy and House did have a one-night-stand, it was not what Cuddy refers to in the season finale. She states that she cannot allow an employee to talk about sexual exploits with an administrator (i.e. her). She is saying that in terms that in general, it is bad for someone to talk about another's affairs. Not saying House was "lying", but Cuddy is under the assumption that House has been trying to get her mad, which is why she congratulates her for achieving the highest level of (asshood). So, Cuddy is furious because House "lied" to the entire staff.

That's one point made. Another is the rapid detox. Even I started to worry when it has been only 24 hours since he's been sober. It was in one episode where House was detoxing for more than three days. Wilson thought that the happy endorphines must have cured the pain House normally would have suffered through, but since he was "happy" after sleeping with Cuddy...

Another thing is that House was quick to go back to the use of his cane. I forgot at one point, but in the end House is seen with his cane when he enters Cuddy's office. (If I am not mistaken.) And the thing with the lipstick. The moment the his team did not question his "good mood" or the lipstick (even though he "hid" it right away), I was beginning to wonder why.

I was just so upset the entire scene with Cuddy in his apartment was an hallucination. Even if you're not a "Huddy" fan, this shows House's true feelings/desires for her. And now that he's labeled "crazy" and ruined her reputation, how could the show possibily revive their relationship? Even if House has the excuse of of the Vicodin overdose and/or schizophrenia, how could someone like Cuddy forgive his last actions? (Calling her baby a bastard child, announcing a false sexual encounter, etc.) As a woman, I would lose respect for Cuddy if she went back to House at this point - EVEN THOUGH IT'S EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED TO HAPPEN!

And you know what, we have come to love/appreciate/care/sympathize/relate to House, in one way or another. Wouldn't we like to see him truly happy for once? Everytime something good happen to him, he gets distracted and costs his deductive abilities in his workplace. And he has always chose his job over his own feelings. But now, something as strong as his want for Cuddy comes - how can you ignore that? House's hallucinations is telling him that he NEEDS CUDDY! Couldn't the writers have accomodated him then? Couldn't they have extended his detox to the standard tree days, and have Cuddy move in with him? (That;s what he really wanted).

And I'm sorry but for once... Wilson gave BAD ADVICE! Find out your love interests' true feelings by making her ANGRY!? What kind of bullshit was that!! >=/

May 19 2009 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is a depressing show about a depressing life. Because the show's point of view is that all changes--except physical changes--are illusional, it doesn't seem to have anything to tell us; it just wallows. In line with all the existential angst, I am beginning to feel it would be better if House just died in the finale, in his ex cathedra state of non-grace. What else is there?

May 18 2009 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All I can say is that the ending made me very mad and it took some of the bloom off the rose that was House to me. Obviously at least from the point of the "insulin shock", if not earlier, until the last scene in Cuddy's office was all part of his hallucination. at least it wan't a dream, but really being derivative of your own previous plotlines? That is a new low. I, too, suspected that there was something very wrong with House's alleged "rapid detox"as well as his "instant" spinal tap to test for MS, and was glad to find out that as a medical show they were not that irresponsible, but really, give me a break. They built up the House and Cuddy relationship/sexual tension all season, so to use that as a point of plot manipulation was a total cop-out.
They seem to know that they can't let it drop..but it seems to me that they would rather have house in a sanitarium then in any type of relationship. And if the episode was a hallucination, did Cameron and Chase really get married? Did the sperm thing even really happen? And was there even a "split brain" patient? The entire two episode arc could be a metaphor for what is going on inside House's brain. As long as they are copping out anyway, maybe they can erase the last two years and bring the team back together.

May 15 2009 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ilene's comment

I agree with you, the last two years have been wollowing in nothing and nowhere. No one cares about the NEW people that are there; Kutner was the only one that brought some humor and he is gone. The "New House" is a total flop and if they don't get it turned around in a hurry, it will fade away. Cameran has to get rid of Chase or it's all over!!

May 18 2009 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unless I'm getting mixed up, the scratch from the previous episode became lipstick in this episode when House looked at himself in the mirror. This would seem to indicate that the sex scene with Cuddy was real, but the scene where House looks in the mirror is a hallucination.
However, I should have suspected it was all a dream -- I was unable to watch a good bit of it due to the shaky camera effect, keeping my eyes a couple of feet from the screen so I could "see" the action without the extreme discomfort of the shaking image. I was relieved at the end to see that the series hadn't gotten all "modern" on us, but that this was only the proof of a hallucination that I didn't catch, perhaps because I was so annoyed by it and stopped concentrating on the show, being more possessed by the device that kept me from watching the action!

May 15 2009 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i was wondering: in the previous episode house talks about the multiple options that could have caused his hallucinations:one of which was vicodin addiction and another was mental illness. Obviously because of the storyline at the end we realize he has been on vicodin all along. so if he were to actually magically detox wouldn't he be all right? why would he go to a mental hospital just to detox? is it because his level of addiction is so bad? or does he also have a mental illness on top of or related to the vicodin?

May 14 2009 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Webster

The cop was right always a junky. House is a real person with real problems like anyone else. In the next season House should not appear at all he is finished as a doctor and should be retired to a fishing pond or a trout stream in the Rocky Mt. Always finish on top. Or You only see thing through House's eyes. As when he is talking you only see who he is talking to and not House. He should be replaced by a diagnostic computer (HAL 9000 by Chandler)
There is hope for even Bad Santa finally got the big picture about what should be.
Never House and Cuddy. She was in on his leg thing. Way to much animosity. House needs a new interest like someone who is on the same page as him and can dish it out as well as he can but not better. Amber still in his head? NO!.
House never gets out of the mental hospital.

May 13 2009 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

House is really just Wilson's subconcious and deviant side. thats how its all gonna end...

May 13 2009 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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