Workouts for the Imagination–Thanks to Television

I’ve always been all too ready to speculate on how a television series will wind up the broadcast year or its run on the tube. Not all shows lend themselves to feverish discussions, but Diamondqueen and I have been talking about the finale of “House, M.D.” on Fox for weeks now.

Diamondqueen came to the show at the last minute. She spent the spring watching entire seasons of episodes in boxed sets and got hooked in time for the series’ swan song. Her imagination is as active as mine, so we’ve been trading plot developments and potential demises of key characters, worrying about unsatisfactory developments and whether there’s going to be a St. Elsewhere-style infuriating finale where everything turns out to be a dream.

The first of the last three episodes airs tonight. Still uncertain is whether Dr. House’s best friend, Wilson, is going to succumb to the cancer announced two episodes ago, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of possible twists. Even spoiler sites really have only their own speculations to go by, so I’m going to exercise my writer’s creativity and offer some scenarios audiences may be discussing by the end of May. (Note: If you’re not a House fan, none of this is going to mean much to you. And if you plan to catch up on the series via boxed sets, the way Diamondqueen did, you’ve already seen one spoiler; you might see others if you read on.)

1) My favorite concept is House and Wilson both die. At the memorial that closes the series, the camera pans back to show the spirits of House and Wilson sitting in the last row, making caustic comments about the service and the people in attendance. Maybe Kal Penn’s character, who offed himself a couple of seasons ago, will be there as well; the actor is listed in the cast of the final episode.

2) Wilson dies of the cancer, and House commits suicide.

3) Neither of them dies, but someone unexpected does. An expected death is the character 13 because she was already ill. I saw a site that pointed out Dr. Chase doesn’t appear in any of the photos leaked from the final episode. He was seriously injured by a patient; maybe his healed wounds go bad on him.

4) House dies. On the other side he finally finds out who his real father is: Stephen Fry in a guest appearance.

5) Diamondqueen is rooting for some kind of after-death check-in with House—especially if he’s looking around in astonishment and thinking, “Crap, I was wrong!” (about there being an afterlife).

4) The potential for death seems large because the final episode is titled “Everyone Dies.” The very first House episode was called “Everyone Lies.” Fans have speculated that there will be some kind of disaster in which every character will perish. I’m dubious. The writers and director are wilier than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if NO ONE dies, and the title refers to some kind of philosophical revelation for someone.

I’m sure Diamondqueen and I will come up with more prospects as each of the last episodes gives us more to play with and new information and photos are leaked. It’s fun. I haven’t enjoyed this kind of “what will happen” fury since the original “Twin Peaks.”

NUDGE: Pick a series you like and imagine how it will end the season, or the series itself if it’s going off the air. Go wild with speculation or craft your list of possibilities as if you are the actual writer. If none of your favorite series work with this exercise, pick a series finale from the past and write about it. Did you like it? Did it disappoint you? How would you have ended the series if you had been making the decisions?


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