“House” mini-cap: Don’t go into the light

God, that was depressing. I mean that in a good way – I think. For the last four seasons, House has had one pervading mantra amid all the misanthropic behavior and brilliant diagnosis: everybody lies. Well last night in the season finale, one of the letters changed. Now, it’s everybody dies. So buckle up and break out a fresh box of Kleenex. You’re going to need it.

Last week was the frenetic “House’s Head,” with its smutty twists and turns. This week is the wrenching “Wilson’s Heart,” with its slow decent into the great unknown. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, but I know I didn’t expect this.

The episode opens in Amber’s hospital room. Battered and bandaged, she is unconscious and her heart is racing. But the doctors at the inferior hospital don’t know why. House and Wilson, through a little telling subterfuge, get her moved to their state-of-the-art Princeton-Plainsboro.

In the ambulance over, she goes into V-fib. But instead of using shocking her heart back into rhythm, Wilson convinces House to ice her down. More medical jargon ensues but the gist is that it slows down her heart and keeps it from destroying her brain. It’s the medical equivalent of “pressing pause” and will buy House time to use his big old brain.

But poor House’s head has been through a lot in the last two days. It’s gotten drunk, been hit by a bus, been given a lap dance, been hypnotized, been sensory deprived, been dosed with Alzheimer’s medication, and, finally, been on the business end of a heart attack. Even given all of that, House is acting curiously unHouse-like.

As his team offers up treatments, he demands test be done before action is taken. What? Now that’s just crazy talk. As Amber lays unconscious in a bright white room, iced down with a bypass machine keeping her alive, the team scrambled to find the answers. But what are the questions? Why was she on the bus? Where they having an affair? What did he see before the crash?

The episode is so well written and littered with clues, it really needs to be watched a second time to be fully appreciated. As Amber leaves the ambulance, the scene is bathed in white: Clue No. 1.When House sends Kutner and Thirteen to her apartment, they find diet pills in a vitamin bottle: Clue No. 2.

Speaking of Thirteen; while this episode saw no new jokes about her bisexuality (and good riddance to that), it did offer a glimpse into her psyche. As the team was trying to diagnose Amber’s illness, she was practically mute. Later, House confronts her and accuses the case of hitting too close to home. She, too, is a brilliant young doctor who – thanks to her family’s history of Huntington’s disease – could be doomed to an early death sentence.

House, in the meantime, has a dream. Amber appears to him a red pantsuit and pours them some sherry while talking about the electricity between them. House being House, a dream is not just a dream. The sherry leads to the bar he was at that night, Sharrie’s. The electricity refers to an unorthodox method of recovering memory by shocking regions of the brain. But the latter is deemed too dangerous, for now.

Instead Wilson and House go to Sharrie’s to see what clues they can find. What they find is, um, Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. Mercifully, his role is small. He tells them Amber looked like House’s girlfriend, at least for the night. But, more importantly, he tells them she sneezed. Hello, Clue No. 3. Later, House has another dream and its reveals a rash on the small of Amber’s back.

As Amber worsens, Wilson’s desperation grows. He thinks House should undergo the dangerous deep-brain electric shock stimulation. House asks him, “You think I should risk my life to save Amber’s?” The answer is a nod, a nod that calls in all the favors and pays back all the rotten things House has ever asked of or done to his best friend.

Thanks to the volts in his head, House is finally able to remember that night. He got drunk, so the bartender took his keys. He called Wilson, but Amber answered. She picked him up, but he was difficult. He made her have a drink and then hopped on the bus. She followed with his cane and then kaboom.

But what was it that he saw before the crash? She took a pill to fight the flu. It was a pill that was now killing her because her kidneys weren’t able to filter its toxins. And, yeah, it’s incurable. Then House has a violent seizure and lapses into his own coma. What follows is some of the most depressing TV I’ve seen all year. Good, but so terribly sad.

Cuddy gives Wilson the option of waking up Amber to be with her before she dies. At first I thought this was an unspeakably cruel thing to do to a person: “Oh, hello, nice to see you’re awake. Yeah, you’re about to die.” But then to see it played out, I think we would all hope for those last few moments with a loved one. As they lay together on the hospital bed, Wilson asks Amber why she isn’t angry.

Amber: That’s not the last feeling I want to experience.

They kiss. Wilson turns off the machines. She dies. I have a good cry.

The final montage is no less shattering. House wakes up with a concerned Cuddy at his bedside, but he knows his actions have forever changed his relationship with his best friend. Thirteen takes the Huntington’s test she has been avoiding. It comes back positive. Taub goes home and hugs his estranged wife. Kutner (who lost his both his parents at age 6 and now accepts death) eats cereal in front of the TV. Foreman, Cameron and Chase meet for beers. And Wilson stops by House’s room to see if he is awake, seeing that he is, he turns and leaves without a word.

Back at his empty apartment, he finds this. And that’s it folks. Have a nice summer crying your eyes out.

So, did you see it coming? Will you miss Amber? Why was Cuddy so concerned about House? How will Thirteen handle her Huntington’s? Can House and Wilson ever be friends again? So many questions, so few Kleenex.

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