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!