“Almost dying changes everything–for about two months.” House believes that a near death experience has but a fleeting affect, if any. First said to Foreman following his brush with death in “Euphoria,” and oft repeated, it has become a truism from a man who has had several close encounters with death. But in “Dying Changes Everything,” the season five House, MD premiere, House learns a tragic corollary: “dying changes everything” in the aftermath of Amber’s tragic demise. And, indeed, everything may well have changed for House and for Wilson.
Last season’s finale episode “Wilson’s Heart” left House recovering from head injuries sustained in a terrible and fatal bus crash (and from the deep brain stimulation procedure done at Wilson’s request) that killed “cut-throat bitch” Amber Volakis.
The single most important scene in “Wilson’s Heart” finds a comatose and hallucinating House sitting in an otherworldly bus with the dead Amber. He debates with her (really wrestling with his own subconscious) about whether he wants to, or even should, return to the land of the living. House argues that he should stay on the bus with Amber (who is, one might suspect, going on to that “better place”): a place with no pain (for House the ultimate escape); where he isn’t miserable, and where Wilson doesn’t hate him. “I don’t want to be in pain; I don’t want to be miserable; I don’t want him to hate me,” is House’s heartfelt confession.
The season premiere picks up two months later. House and Wilson haven’t spoken since Amber’s death; Wilson has been on bereavement leave. Cuddy is astonished that they haven’t yet spoken, which House brushes off as “he wanted some time alone” (Since when has that ever stopped House?).
“I’m leaving,” Wilson tells him placidly when House finally works up the nerve to visit him. House begins to push back, but doesn’t really want to. He stops himself, telling Wilson he should take more time if he needs it. “Good for you,” he says, albeit slightly insincerely.
But House has misunderstood Wilson’s intentions. Wilson doesn’t intend to extend his leave; he is leaving Princeton Plainsboro for good.
For his part, House is trying to be helpful; sympathetic: rationally trying to prevent Wilson from making the mistake of leaving a good job (and him) while in mourning. “It’s textbook,” House tells him. “Bereavement 101.” In House’s mind this is familiar territory. All House needs to do is to change Wilson’s mind: badger him about it, remind him that he’s not thinking rationally. Which goes over like a lead balloon.