I just watched the series finale of House. I know, I'm a few weeks behind. These past few seasons, I've been catching up in big chunks between long periods of not watching. But I've been watching house since it came on the air, in 2004. I was fifteen at the time, just around when I was really starting to develop my own identity -- and I have to admit that House was a role model for me. I was never anywhere near that much of a jerk, but House, as a character, is a rich and detailed blend of pragmatism and cynicism, and I tried to pick out the pragmatics without getting too cynical in the process.
I knew the show was going to end, some day, but I could never imagine how they could pull it off.
Spoilers below the fold.
[warning]Spoilers start here.[/warning]
The episode, the finale, leans heavily on the plot device of House's subconscious as portrayed by people from his past, a technique the show has used several times before. It employs the muddled storytelling style that the show always uses for their finales. But that's not much what I want to talk about.
In the end, House appears to have managed one final, grand act of self-sabotage, killing himself in an existential fugue when his only friend, Wilson, who's dying of cancer, needs him more than he ever has. That's basically what I thought was going to happen. I was still crying at the funeral scene, but it's the kind of ending I imagined, a few years ago, probably around season 4.
But that isn't how it ended. House didn't do that. He chose life.
He chose life, with all his comforts and identity tokens ripped away from him in a grand act of criminal deception, to spend Wilson's last five months with him, rather than going to prison and leaving Wilson to die alone. The show ended in a triumph over apathy with love, and over fear of coming pain with embracing the present and all its opportunity.
House spent eight years teaching me that the realities of suffering are unavoidable, and denying them just leads to more pain. But it ended with an affirmation that, despite it all, it's still worth living, and it's still possible to live well.