As we continue to get caught up on the most important issues of the past week, we really should take note of the final episode of House.
The first episode I ever saw was Season Two, Episode 19, entitled “House vs. God.” The patient of the week was a fifteen-year old faith healer who claims to be in direct communication with God. House thinks that's ridiculous, but it soon appears there might be something to it. The patient seems to know things he could not possibly know. And shortly after the faith healer touches one of Dr. Wilson's cancer patients, her tumor shrinks measurably. Even House seemed a bit creeped out by this.
Half-way through I was sure this was going to be another of those “faith and science are two sides of the same coin” episodes. I figured they would imply that maybe there was something to the kid's beliefs after all, and that House would be made to look cold and unfeeling for his skepticism.
I needn't have worried. Not only was a fully rational explanation provided for everything, but the faith healer turned out to be suffering from a rare form of herpes. That's an STD, you know, which was interesting given that the patient was endlessly railing against sexual immorality.
Are you surprised that I was instantly hooked? House became one of the very few shows that I actually watched week to week. The writing was consistently sharp, the medical mysteries were always intriguing, and at its best the show discussed difficult ethical and philosophical issues with far more intelligence than anything else on television. Best of all, House was relentlessly anti-religion.
For example, in one episode House temporarily had a doctor working for him who was a devout Mormon. House wanted to perform an unorthodox medical test, part of which would have required the Mormon to drink alcohol. Initially the Mormon refused, citing his religious faith, but House finally wore him down. But then, while they are doing the test, House criticizes the Mormon for backing down. “You made a good argument!” protested the Mormon. House replied, “Good arguments don't usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” My kind of guy!
I know what you're going to say. The show went steeply downhill in its final seasons. In fact, the decline started at the end of season three, when the writers made the inexplicable decision to bring in a whole new team for House. And season eight, the final season, was sometimes unwatachable. (But I watched anyway.) All true. Like all formerly great shows, it hung around too long. But House at half speed was still better than anything else on television.
And as weak as the final season was overall, the last few episodes were really excellent. The final episode was about as satisfying an ending as they could have come up with.
Guess I'll need a new show to obsess over in the fall...
I will miss that man and his cane.