One of America's biggest dramas reaches its penultimate instalment- but was it any good?
The aurora and cult status surrounding House is now fully tangible as the drama races towards its final episode, something which is hugely prominent in terms of the risks that Holding On takes in setting up what promises to be a grand send-off. Still reeling from the shock revelation at the end of The C Word that Wilson's intense session of desparate chemo hadn't shrunken his cancer, we moved into two parallel plot threads of Dr Greg and his best friend solving their differences over their impending personal dilemma and a patient diagnosed with a strange mental illness inflicted by grief over a loved one. For any other programme, these two fairly chunky arcs might have proved difficult to balance; for House, it's all in an episode's work, and typically the show's writers astounded me by pulling off this counter-weight system with aplomb and bravado. It's easy to empathise with the plight of the college teen when his mother is so shaken that she daren't talk to him about his brother, and yet the crux of the narrative is deeply compelling, in that we witness perhaps the most heartbreaking and uplifting moments of House and Wilson's relationship over the course of just three quarters of an hour. From quite possibly House's most cunning and thoughtful prank yet to the absolutely groundbreaking cliffhanger that's implemented perfectly to give a sense of consequence to the deranged doctor's angry outbursts, the entire episode's main emotive plotline manages to compel and engage constantly throughout the whole of its running time. Olivia Wilde's return as Thirteen for one last time (well, until next week) to guide both of her former colleagues towards the light was a lovely turn of events too, even if it's hard to shake the feeling Wilde was simply on a contract and thus used as a construct to move the story on a bit when it stalled in pacing. Best of all, the implications of what might come to pass in next week's episode seemed crystal clear, as Taub handed in his letter of resignation under the assumption that House was going to die, at which point later Greg responded by lamenting the number of times he had considered committing suicide. And yet I can't help but wonder if all of these signs are meant to divert us away from a darker (or happier?) fate that awaits House- I would be surprised if death doesn't lie at the end of the season for either House or Wilson, but perhaps there's a way for one of them to 'save' one another, or maybe it really is true that Everybody Dies. Whatever happens, for now we can rest safe in the knowledge that Holding On does not fail in its role as a precursor to the final case House and his team will take on at Princeton Plaserbo next week, instead setting things up marvellously with vigour and the utmost sense of tension while telling a fantastic standalone tale of its own. As we race towards the light or dark at the end of the tunnel, the quality of the episodes just seems to improve, so it's quite possible that next week's finale really could be one of the best TV instalments of 2012! Heck knows, Holding On is already one of them!