Antenna (antennapedia) wrote,

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Simple explanations for complex problems

Last night's House, s05e20, a brief reaction: As a brief summary for people who didn't watch but don't care about spoilers, duckling Kutner committed suicide, with no warning. The team discovers this while treating a husband and wife for the usual mysterious maladies. "Simple Explanation" for the husband and wife pair, no simple explanation for Kutner, two of the three end up dead.

Everybody was in character. The reactions of all the characters were completely believable, House's reaction especially. I enjoyed Meatloaf as guest-star. And yet, and yet, and yet... I cared way less about the death of a character I liked a lot than I would have expected. Why? Because it happened offscreen? Maybe. I'm thinking about Amber's death and how gut-wrenching that was. Because I rode along with Wilson and shared how gut-wrenching it was for him? Why am I so insulated from this one? Why doesn't it feel real?

Analyzing the construction and writing issues, I think trimming the House cast size is wise. They had more characters than they knew what to do with. I would have picked the original ducklings to trim, but maybe they had actor issues? Aha. Yes. Kal Penn is taking a position in the Obama administration. Good for him.

Poses an interesting writing problem, however: how do you hit the eject button for a character in the middle of a season? If you're JMS writing B5, you plan ahead for the possibility that you'll lose a cast member, and put some hooks in place early for potential payoffs later. Talia Winters' exit was plausible. Sinclair's exit, much less so, because he was JMS's main character and the center of the story. He did a nice bit of juggling to transfer most of the storyline over to Sheridan, though I think he dropped a few balls. But mainly, the exits connect.

Kutner's exit wasn't connected to any existing setups. It was a big point of this episode, in fact, that it was unconnected to anything anybody knew about Kutner. The mystery has no explanation; there is nothing we can know about what was going on in Kutner's head. Kutner is a cipher. Can I grieve for a television character who's a cipher?

Taub's breakdown into grief at the end was the most affecting moment in the episode. The approach to feeling for Kutner is for me to see that he wasn't a cipher to the other characters.

So, flist, what did you think?

Many months later: I'm locking down comments on this entry not because of anything in the entry or the comments, but because Russian spambots seem to think this is the most awesomest entry ever to attempt to spam.
Tags: fandom:house


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