"Sorry for your loss." -CuddyWell, dammit. Rest in (fictional) peace, Lawrence Kutner.
"Thanks. But it's not my loss." -House
"Then I'm sorry you don't think it is." -Cuddy
I'd have been slightly more shocked if I had just put on the episode live, instead of buffering it like I usually do, which gave me a chance to see hints on the web that Something Big was happening on tonight's "House." But still... whoa. This is now the second show I blog regularly where a regular character has been bumped off in the opening 10 minutes (*). One more and we've got a trend. (Assuming that, in this day of Twitter and insta-punditry, you still need three for an official trend.)
(*)No talking about who the other one is, or what show it happened on, in the comments; either you know and can discuss it in the appropriate post, or you don't know and then we're violating the No Spoilers rule.
On the one hand, I'm upset that they had to kill off Kutner instead of Thirteen or Foreman, and that they did it after barely giving Kal Penn anything to do for the better part of two seasons. On the other, I think this story only works because they never did anything interesting with Kutner. If Thirteen kills herself, we know why (fear of a slow death from Huntington's). Foreman has enough angst in his life to make it make some kind of sense. Even Taub can be explained to a degree: not only is his professional life a wreck, but the show had just established a that he attempted suicide when he was younger.
In real life, there so often is no rational explanation, no simple cause-and-effect for suicide. But for dramatic TV purposes, there usually is some kind of ready-made excuse of the kind that would satisfy people's morbid curiosity (House) or help salve their guilt (everyone else). Here, because Kutner was such a relatively blank slate, you could read anything and everything into his death, and it might be true or it might be unrelated.
Still, it feels like a waste -- or like the writers realized they hadn't done anything useful with Kutner in all this time and decided to make suicidal lemonade out of superfluous lemons.
The performances tonight were uniformly great. Robert Sean Leonard was his usual brilliant self in the moment where Wilson realized House's true motivation in going to the apartment, as was Hugh Laurie at showing House experiencing a rare moment of shame in front of Kutner's parents, but you expect that from them. Even Olivia Wilde and Omar Epps were good together this week, and you know how I usually feel about them.
But "House" often provides good showcases for its cast. What concerns me is a flaw that's been present in the series for a long time, but in particular during this past season, wherein nothing has any kind of long-term consequence. Obviously, Kutner's dead and he's not coming back, so on that level there will be consequences. But based on how the show's been operating for a good long while now, I don't see his death having any real impact on House, and only slightly more of one on the others. And if I'm right, then Kutner was sacrifice for the sake of a Very Special Episode -- and for an incredibly creepy cross-promotional website (that I'm not going to bother linking to, or else it might help encourage future sites along the same line) -- and that's a waste of a good actor, if not a memorable character.
What did everybody else think?