House: Season 8 – Final Review

After eight years and enough pill-popping to give him dangerous recurring arthritis, House has finally been struck off. Hugh Laurie’s brilliant-yet-horrible doctor has given us some great moments, but will he get the downbeat yet hilarious ending he’d clearly want?

And, before we hit the finale itself, how was the tail-end of the season?

I last reviewed House at the mid-point of the year, and they’ve made my job easier by having almost nothing happen until four episodes before the end. Chase’s stabbing was forgotten almost instantly, leaving only House’s chaste romance with visa-bride Dominika.

And no-one was overly surprised when that was abruptly destroyed by our hero being a tosser at the worst possible time. A shame, as she was a likable character, but also too light and comedic for our final storyline: Wilson gets cancer.

You can see how they’ve gotten to this – the show lost Cuddy and long ago trained us to see the junior doctors as disposable walking labcoats. The House/Wilson relationship is all they’ve got for actual pathos, and my god, they yank at it in these final weeks. Thanks to our years of investment, not to mention Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard’s acting, it often works. The scenes where Wilson undergoes chemo on House’s sofa are particularly intense and well played.

It tips into soapy melodrama a few times, but they slip in some nice twists leading up to the end of the penultimate episode. Although as House becomes pre-occupied by Wilson, we see a horrible truth: watching the team solve medical cases without our limping hero is dull.

And we reach the finale itself, and sadly it doesn’t quite work. Their efforts to make it seem like a resolution to the entire eight-year series lead them to line up guest appearances and hallucinatory lectures about House’s “nature” that don’t go anywhere. Although, again, after eight years watching the series, I can't pretend it wasn't stirring to see the old characters turn up, Jennifer Morrison's Cameron in particular was given a few moments to reflect how important she once was. Season 2 love interest Stacey's appearance felt a little out of place, but I imagine her scenes would've gone to the much-missed Cuddy if Lisa Edelstein had returned.

The writers thrashed the “Is House redeemable?” arc in seasons 5-7, proving no amount of dead friends, love or rehab can make him stop being a drug-addled arsehole, due to both his nature and their not wanting to change the show that much. So it was time to move past that, but they never came up with a new theme to replace it, leaving much of season 8 a diverting but meaningless coda. So you can see why they reach for it again in the finale, even though there's little left for them to add, leaving much of the hallucinatory psychobabble feeling empty.

There’s a sweet resolution to the “Will House get to cuddle Wilson as he dies?” issue, but as an ending to everything, it’s rather pretentious and undramatic, even when the lead character is thought dead. So, no, I can’t really say they finished House on a high note and vindicated everything. Still, even if this last season has meandered, there has been some great TV during the whole run. Let’s not take that away from them.

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