Forked Thread: House Ep #20: Simple Explanation (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Forked from: Heroes #22:Turn And Face The Strange/Season 3/2009

LightPhoenix said:
As an introduction, I just want to say that this review may be biased based on my response to this week's House. The short version is I agreed with the message, but hated the ham-fisted way with which the aftermath was written, and didn't like (MAJOR SPOILER) that my favorite character was killed off, while my least favorite character (Thirteen) was not. So I was already in a bit of a cranky mood going into Heroes tonight.
Brown Jenkin said:
I was shocked by what House did as well. Never expected them to go there quite that way. Now that was pushing the envelope. Heroes could learn a few things from House and the Sarah Connor Chronicles about how to deal with characters for dramatic effect and how to have that effect have real implications on the characters.
I wanted to fork this thread off from the Heroes thread so as not to bog it down with discussion of another show.


First off, I just learned today that it was Penn's decision to leave the show, since he got the job at the White House. So that ameliorates my feelings towards the episode a little bit.

I don't particularly believe that there are no warning signs for people with suicidal tendencies. However, I also believe that the tendency is for people to hide depression or otherwise trivialize it. Furthermore, I can fully believe that the House team are too self-centered to perceive that Kutner had a problem. So in that aspect, I can agree with the message that suicide can be sudden and unexpected and it can be people you know.

The premise of the episode, and something many characters seem to accept, is that anyone can suddenly and randomly kill themselves. Shrug, it happens. Personally, I find that reflective of society's endemic desire to treat mental health as something extremely dirty, something you don't talk about. If I thought that the purpose of the episode was to bring that to light, to a discussion, I might be a little more forgiving.

However, it's hard to see Kutner's suicide as little more than a cheap ratings grab for shock value. The memorial website hammered this point home for me. It was never about trying to get people to be aware of suicidal ideation, and all about ratings. So I found this whole episode entirely hypocritical.

I think I may have liked the episode better if the whole thing was Kutner imagining him killing himself, and leaving the end ambiguous. That would be more informative, I think.

Now, I won't pretend that Kutner wasn't one of my favorite characters. He was, precisely because he wasn't all emo like the rest of the main cast. He was easily my favorite of the Numbers.

All of that aside...

I've generally been unhappy with the show this season. I thought the Numbers were a clever move that brought some fresh ideas to a show that was starting to turn stagnant. Amber's death at the end of last season was great, and spawned some great stories in the aftermath early in the season (the detective, the Wilson/House road trip). However, the rest of it was generally blah. It doesn't particularly feel like it's going anywhere.

I can't stand Thirteen. I think she's a horribly written character who is unfortunately dominating the show's writing. I don't think Ms. Wilde is a terribly great actress. So when the show uses Kutner's death, and especially his funeral, to advance the Thirteen/Foreman relationship, that makes me seethe more than a little.

Now, Taub on the other hand I generally enjoy, although part of that was his banter with Kutner. I thought Peter Jacobson did a terrific job in this episode. I think something that he brought to the table was that perhaps Taub did suspect something was up, and didn't say anything to Kutner or to anyone else.

I completely buy House thinking of Kutner as a patient and wanting to know the answer.

Wilson's solution to cheering House up was the best line in the whole episode.

My hope is that this paves the way for Chase and Cameron to be back on the show more. I've never liked their characters more than now, perhaps in part because they don't seem as stale. Of course, given the preview for next week's episode, that hope may be a bit premature (
Oh look, the Cameron loves House thing... again

Brown Jenkin

The show may not have covered the subject in the best way. What I found interesting and that pushed the envelope is that they covered the issue at all in the way that they did.

Suicide has been shown plenty before, and even on network TV. What is not shown however is a regular character committing suicide. Normally when a regular character decides to leave a show they may or may not kill them off, but if the character does die it is anything/everything except suicide. The only other instance I can think of where a regular character committed suicide was in Suddenly Susan when David Strickland committed suicide in real life and the show also had his character commit suicide so that they could cover the issue in the show.

Network TV has covered regular characters attempting suicide, or contemplating it but never actually killing themselves. They tend to cover the issue of suicide prevention, but rarely do they cover the effects of it when it does happen.

House is also interesting because suicide wasn't used as a memorial or a chance at everyone remembering the character. It showed that life goes on and that different peeople react differently. Not everyone gets together and has a big group cry. Forman takes time off to the extreme of cutting Thirteen out of his life. Taub avoids the whole situation and supresses everything until he finally breaks. Dr. House doesn't care about the loss except in a selfish way in how it impacts him. Kutners parents are confused and are having to deal with people both sypathetic and people blaming them. Life is complex with all sorts of people and the show went right there without flintching.