I always thought that writing a series would be the easiest thing in the world–it isn’t. When I wrote Longhorns and Outlaws it was with the intention of producing a book year set in the wild, wild Canadian West (there really was one) with adventure after adventure rolling off the presses and my young character growing to a mature, responsible young man under my expert guidance.
Well, what I discovered was that “guiding” that character was about as easy as guiding the three sons I’d already raised. Ha! Didn’t happen.
The sequel to Longhorns and Outlaws, titled Kidnapped by Outlaws, didn’t follow the carefully prepared outline I’d created at all. Fact was, I just couldn’t make the character do what I wanted. Guess that means Lucas Vogel was a strong character, or a stubborn one at least. At any rate, I’ll be publishing Kidnapped by Outlaws in e-book form this summer, some four years after Longhorns and three years after the intended sequel.
So what does this have to do with the series finale for House?
Well, House isn’t really about a genius doctor and his team solving unsolvable medical mysteries. It never was. Rather, House is about what makes him do the things he does. His team, while contributing to the diagnostic end of things, also serve the purpose of interacting with an enigmatic character who doesn’t always do the things we expect–or for that matter, want.
During the Swan Song part of the series finale, House was compared to Sherlock Holmes, and Wilson to Dr. Watson. It all made perfect literary sense. Yes, House was all about solving mysteries of one sort or another. But he was also about pushing people and circumstances to the limit, which was his final downfall.
The series end episode managed to do justice to the character and let him grow at the same time, one of those requirements of good literary writing. Of course House would do anything for Wilson and Wilson had to choose not to treat his cancer and accept his eventual death (I’d run into that situation in my novel, Run, where I learned that sometimes the writer really has no control over who lives and dies for the plot to work, any more than we do in real life).
House, once he’d exhausted his usual bag of tricks in solving problems, found himself in a situation he couldn’t just solve or fix. It was logical that he could consider death an option in the middle of the warehouse flames…but even more in character for him to manipulate the situation that presented itself.
And so, House and Wilson ride off into the proverbial sunset with motorcycles instead of horses, to the gentle refrain of the song Enjoy yourself: It’s later than you think… House is still House, but he’s also shown that above all else, the people we love are what matter.