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House Recap: Episode 20, "Simple Explanation"

House Rundown: Episode 20, "Simple Explanation"

In this age of spoilers, I'm always impressed when a TV show manages to pull off something shocking. So kudos to House for keeping a secret; that made what happened in Monday's episode mean even more. To say more would risk ruining it for those who haven't seen it, so if you're ready to chat, just


If you'd asked me which House character would be most likely to commit suicide, I never would have said Kutner. Taub, sure. Foreman? Wouldn't have been surprised. Thirteen? Definitely. Even Wilson and Cuddy have gone through things this season that could drive them to the edge. But Kutner? He's the goofy one, the Guiness Book of Records crawling champ, and the surprisingly good doctor who — in his last act on House's team — let Taub take credit for one of his discoveries. And maybe that's why it's so interesting for him to commit suicide: There is no simple explanation. House, whose entire idea of himself is built around solving mysteries, can't crack this one.

As he tries to figure it out, House does some truly terrible things. Telling Kutner's parents it's their fault? That's awful, and even though he does look a little shamed when he realizes how far over the line he's gone, that's not a thing you take back. He's ruthless in his investigation, breaking into Kutner's apartment multiple times to search for clues (to the shock of Wilson, though I don't really know why: House's primary motivation is never kindness). And in the end, there's nothing — no outward signs of pain, no diary. House even believes for a while that Kutner must have been murdered; he can come up with a better explanation for that than for why Kutner would take his own life.

Watching the rest of the doctors deal with Kutner's death reveals a few interesting things: One, Foreman doesn't know how to get and give support in a time of crisis. He's used to dealing with things alone, so he rejects Thirteen at first — but finally steps forward at the funeral to take her hand. Two, Taub would rather wait with his dying patient than mourn the death of his friend. But this episode also made me sad that Kutner (and Kal Penn) didn't get to do more on the show. The fact that Kutner is a blank slate may be why his suicide is intriguing, but it made me feel much less than Amber's death did last year, simply because Amber was such a rich character and Kutner (other than a few key touches, like his childhood trauma or his geekiness) was always on the periphery. I'm sorry to see Kutner go, and I wish we could have known him better first.

Some other thoughts:

  • It's impossible to separate what happened from why, so here's the quick answer: Kal Penn asked to leave the show to go work in President Obama's White House. I'll be talking to him, and to House producers David Shore and Katie Jacobs, later today, so leave any questions in the comments. Update: Here's more on that.
  • The patient-of-the-week story barely held my attention given everything else that was going on, but I will say there seemed to be some pretty significant ethical lapses going on re: potentially letting patients die rather than treating them appropriately. An intentional side effect of Kutner's suicide? Or did the writers figure we wouldn't spend a lot of time picking apart the case when there was so much else going on?
  • So who's looked at Fox's Kutner memorial yet? It's a very web-savvy thing to put together, but at the same time, something feels very eerie about it. And I wish there were some info about prevention of actual suicides (which I'm glad they included at the end of the show).
  • Everything in this episode was so dark! Especially at the beginning, that upped the eerie feeling; the first shot back in the hospital after Foreman and Thirteen find Kutner felt particularly ghastly.

Were you shocked by Kutner's death? Sad to see him go? Wondering what this will mean for the rest of the season?

Photos courtesy of Fox

Silviafallen Silviafallen 8 years
Thanks! :)
Nitachequita Nitachequita 8 years
Silviafallen - I think it was Lose You by Pete Yorn
Silviafallen Silviafallen 8 years
Anyone konws the title of the song the episode closed with?
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
Oh and Cuddy was so awesome!
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
I wasn't shocked because I looked at spoilers, but I was still sad. In fact, I almost cried, but stopped myself. I really did like this episode and I'm glad the writers didn't just write him out without him knowing/asking like I read before. He was a great character and I don't think this episode would have been as dramatic (which they were going for obviously) if it had been anyone else. I don't know if I would have liked the episode more with or without the POTW. I loved Taub at the end. I can't wait to see what happens in the other episodes and how everyone is effected. I think everyone feels really bad because they never got close to him. I can't wait for Monday to come. I love the memorial on the website and put up Skutner's badge on my myspace. R.I.P. Skutner! ♥
kafarine-tin-tin kafarine-tin-tin 8 years
I live in NZ and this episode hasn't aired yet. I totally just ruined it for myself. Damn.
illusyve illusyve 8 years
Total shock. He was my favourite out of the new team. :( Though I read another poster's prediction that Taub was somehow linked to Kutner's death and will be jailed. Thirteen's condition will continue to deteriorate and we'll eventually have the old team back. (then the opening credits will be more fitting). Just thought that was interesting.
supertramp supertramp 8 years
It's been a while seen an episode of anything on television has made me cry and last night I did just that. I was so sad to see Kutner go, he brought such a light to the team. I also thought the patients had a good story line, that he could just forgive his wife and let her know that he loved her, her last seconds of life.
Elsa2 Elsa2 8 years
I'm so sad that Kutner is leaving... On the other hand, good luck to Kal Penn in his new job! My question to the producers : Are we going to find out more information about why he did this?
Food Food 8 years
I can't wait to hear what Kal Penn and the network have to say when you talk to them!
bethinabox bethinabox 8 years
I always liked Kutner, but I never realized how much until this episode. I'm sad to see him go, though it's awesome what Kal Penn is doing instead. I barely even remember the case they were working on because I was so focused on Kutner's death. I still can't accept it. haha.
Ellenora Ellenora 8 years
My mom cried so hard. I was just plain shocked. I can't wait to see next week's episode. I loved 13's and Cameron's letters on the memorial site. Wilson's was nearly illegible and I love how House's is blank.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 8 years
I guessed it would be Kutner. Anyone else would be too obvious. Actually, the fact that he was so good-natured and pleasant made him the obvious choice for the producers for "shock value." Although I'm pissed with all the promo ads. There would have been much more shock value had they just teased it as a Meat Loaf episode. I'm wondering if I'll see him in his new job...his new digs will be two blocks from mine.
Kimpy521 Kimpy521 8 years
I did not see this coming at all! The preview for the episode gut cut off half way through so all I knew was that SOMETHING was going to happen. I was really bummed that this was it. Kutner was my favorite character and it seems so ironic that he would go out in such a way because he was definitely the comic relief from all of the drama the other characters put you through. Now that I've found out the real reason why he left the show I see that he had a huge opportunity, but I will still miss him!
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Totally did not expect this last night. I suspect that House will continue to search for the "truth" throughout the next few episodes and that ironically we'll learn more about Kutner in his death than we knew about him in life. Like you, Buzz, I'm glad they included the info about suicide awareness and prevention at the end of the show. As sad as Kutner's death is, Kal Penn's decision to work for the Obama administration is admirable. He spoke on our local campus during the campaign and it was clear that he believes in what he is doing. Good for him.
DCBaxter DCBaxter 8 years
Kutner's death WAS such a shock - I couldn't believe it was real. On a completely unrelated note, how funny was the drunk pageant girl???? I was laughing hysterically at her.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 8 years
im still bawling over his death.. so sudden and nothing i mentally planned myself for!! i didnt like him when he started out on house, but lately, i felt like he completed the team, and was on par with chase and cameron. good for kal penn and his new job, but i cant imagine what the team will be like now.
nessa17 nessa17 8 years
I was so shocked when he died,did not expect that at all.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Well at least now I feel better about "Kutner" leaving the show, just now how he left the suicide thing leaves stuff "unfinished". I'm glad Kal has gotten such a great new acting I know. So I'm sure this means no Harold and Kumar 3 right? :)
Jinx Jinx 8 years
:cry: I am not pleased. :cry: I am still angry and sad Kutner is off the show, no matter the reason. :cry: He was my favourite "newbie". There are fewer and fewer characters on the show I like. :( And its not leaving much.
Liss1 Liss1 8 years
I was so shocked that they killed off Kutner. This was a really good episode but was really sad. I hope they give some more info about why he killed himself.
Courtney82 Courtney82 8 years
i was totally bummed, i love his character and hate that he had to leave that way. i wish he would have just moved away and come back randomly but with that said love his new job and think that is awesome
kia kia 8 years
I don't watch the show but learned what happened today and why Kal left the show. I respect his integrity and wish him luck in his new duties with the Obama administration.
poissondujour poissondujour 8 years
I was totally shocked, but hearing why he left definitely makes me happier about it.
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
I wonder, as I always do when celebrities get cool jobs or get into good schools, how much of it is related to their celebrity.
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