Ah finales. Sweet finales. That glorious time when writing staffs scribble themselves into seemingly insurmountable narrative corners that they’ll almost certainly scribble out of with disarming ease come fall.

[From here, I’m going into spoilers for House, so scoot off if you don’t wanna know…]

I’m referring here to Tuesday (May 29) night’s season finale of House, which came a week late thanks to the juggernaut that is American Idol (never mind that House beat Idol among adults 18-49 just two weeks ago).

And I guess it’s time to get to the issues that are probably most pressing to fans of the show: Why was it that the two Cuban refugees barely spoke any English at the beginning of the episode, but were completely fluent and darned poetic by the end? And does the new Bush immigration policy really allow a pair of refugees to paddle to America just to go see a specialist up in New Jersey without any kind of bureaucratic red tape? And was the episode designed as an appetizer for Michael Moore’s upcoming documentary Sicko or was that just a coincidence?

Sigh. Nobody wants to talk about those things.

Everybody, I imagine, will have thoughts on House’s new guitar and the newfound willingness to change that it represented.

As of this second, House, the series as well as the titular doctor, will be preparing to return next season without the three doctors who have made up his medical investigation team for the past three years. We already knew that Foreman was quitting because he doesn’t want to become House, or some similar nonsense. Then House fired Chase within the first 15 minutes of the finale because it was time for him to move on, or some similar nonsense. Then, in the last five minutes, Cameron submitted her resignation, tendered because of her blooming love for Chase or because she’d learned all she could learn or some similar nonsense.

As a series, House has always handled ongoing character arcs well, but ongoing narrative arcs have been less successful. Guest arcs by Chi McBride and David Morse nearly crippled the series. Things became stifled during that brief period when Foreman was put in charge. My dad was the only person entirely satisfied by the Sela Ward episodes. House’s pain-free period was fleeting and unenlightening at best.

I enjoyed Tuesday’s episode — I tolerated the religious mumbo-jumbo of the main case and liked the acting opportunities for the supporting cast courtesy of the mass exodus (the majesty of Hugh Laurie’s work goes without saying).

But where are we going to find ourselves next season? Will House continue to be crotchety and House-esque while his young charges go off to Santa Monica to set off a warmer, fuzzier private practice? That seems somehow unlikely. Will the new season begin with House more miserable than ever, suddenly unable to identify even the common cold without his sidekicks, only to get his mojo back when Chase, Cameron and Foreman see how bad off he is, decide to take pity on him and return? Geez I hope not. Will House get a new team of young docs who act as less successful proxies for two or three episodes before one spectacularly demanding case forces the gang back together for good? That seems far more likely. Will one or two members of the team return — Omar Epps seems most necessary — while the others go off to inevitably less green pastures? I doubt it.

However it plays out, it’s not like I won’t be there to watch.

Frankly, I’m tired and ready for bed. How would you like to see the House writers resolve this season’s cliffhanger? And did you enjoy the episode in specific and the season in general?

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg