House: Laurence Kutner’s suicide

Nobody saw it coming, which was why it was so shocking. I’m talking about Laurence Kutner’s suicide in [[House (TV Series)|House]]. In the previous episode of House, Laurence Kutner was behaving normally and even allowed his colleague Taub to take credit for solving a case.

In Sunday night’s episode, Kutner’s body was discovered by 13 and Foreman in his apartment after he failed to show up for work. 13 tried to save him, but ended up slithering around the floor in the pool of her colleague’s blood. After realising there was nothing they could do, the pair collapsed beside Kutner’s bed in shock.

I think that was the most shocking part of the story – after saving the lives of so many patients, from often rare and bizarre diseases, House’s team couldn’t recover Kutner from a self-inflicted bullet to the temple. What’s more, this hotshot team of doctors couldn’t see the signs of suicide. Neither could we, the viewers, who presumably saw the same signs we did throughout each episode.

Naturally, House took the news extremely badly. His attitude toward his team is rarely complimentary, and he stood to be the prime suspect in the inevitable “Reasons why Kutner killed himself” checklist. He went on the defensive, acusing Kutner’s adoptive parents of putting pressure on him, and decided that Kutner was murdered.

Writer Leonard Dick does an impressive job of analysing each of the team’s reaction to Kutner’s death. Foreman withdraws into himself to deal with the grief, alienating 13 and raising questions about their relationship. Taub – who’d rejected Kutner’s friendship on a number of occassions – throws himself into his work, trying to prevent ‘another needless death’ of a patient, but ends the episode by breaking down, alone in the corridor while the others are at the funeral. I like to think that House and Taub are both questionning their approach to Kutner during those days.

What this episode (titled “Simple Explanation” by the way) succeeds in doing is making the viewer think about people close to them. What responsibility do you have for the people you work with? Could you spot if someone was depressed or suicidal? Do you maintain a strictly-professional stance or do you take an interest in other people’s lives?

Yes, I know Kutner is just a character, but the beauty of House is that it does raise the odd ethical question now and again.

Anyway, the main plot was annoying interrupted by a tame story featuring Meat Loaf as a terminally ill man misdiagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, it gave Taub something to chew on while the rest of House’s team dealt with their respective dramas. A shocking episode of House, especially since there’d been no hype or lead-up to Kutner’s suicide. It’ll be interesting to watch the impact of Kutner’s death as the next few episode roll out.

Note: Kal Penn, the actor who played Kutner left the role to take up a position as Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison in the Barack Obama administration. Well, at least Obama doesn’t strut around with a cane acting like he’s God. He doesn’t need a cane.

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