April 7, 2009

a new house for kutner

House served up an interesting surprise on Monday night. This is one of my favorite shows and can do no wrong in my book, but that concept is always tested when a show throws a curve ball. We knew there was a big plot poop coming up, and we finally saw it this week when one of main characters - Dr. Kutner played by Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) - suddenly committed suicide.
To step away from the plot for a minute, we know that, oddly enough, Penn took a job with the Obama Administration. He was a pretty vocal and involved volunteer with the campaign from the beginning and was offered a job with the Office of the Public Liaison. I can't pretend to know what that means, but I do know he'll have an office in the Old Executive Office building next to The White House, which is definitely not Hollywood. Bottom line: Penn decided to leave the show, and it was up to the writers to find a way to plot that out.

I've always really liked Penn in this role. After the cast shake up last season, Penn fit in perfectly as one of the new leads - perhaps even more so than the others. Kutner was never the subject of a major plotline, but always provided really strong supporting stories. This is more than I can say for Olivia Wilde's character "13" which has veered a little too far from the bread and butter of the show - Hugh Laurie as the untouchable center.

Kutner's death was shocking and abrupt. But it's what every character departure should do - bring out the intricacies of the other characters. There was no swan song or teary goodbye for Kutner. The characters discovered his suicide and spent the episode deciphering what it meant for them and for their friendship with Kutner. It was particularly powerful for House whose arrogance has him believing that he has everyone figured out and nothing gets by him. This one got by him then turned around and slapped him upside the head.

Showrunners David Shore and Katie Jacobs have teased that Kutner's suicide is essential to where the rest of the season will go for Dr. House and the rest of the cast. It will be interesting to see where this goes, but basically it doesn't matter to me because I'll follow Hugh Laurie to the end of the earth.


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