I'm just a casual House watcher. I usually tune in when there's an actor I like playing the patient of the week (e.g. Breckin Meyer, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kevin Zegers). When I heard Kal Penn's character Kutner committed suicide, I was suprised like many other people across the globe. I watched the ep to see how they pulled it off. Not in the morbid sense to see how he killed himself, but to see how the explained it in the show. Well, they didn't. We, the audience, are just as clueless as the other characters on the show.
In real life there isn't always a simple explanation why someone commits suicide. Looking at it from that angle, I guess the story worked. Was it a satisfying conclusion for a beloved character? No, I don't think so. I like my television realistic, but it's also a form of entertainment. I see sick people on a daily basis. Death is an unavoidable aspect in my line of work. There is not always closure. When I'm watching a television show and they kill off a character I care about, I would prefer some closure. Life can be harsh enough as it is already.
Kutner's suicide may have worked for shock value, but ultimately it didn't hit me emotionally. The entire episode didn't. And I regularly cry watching television shows. I cried when Billy died on Ally McBeal. I cried when Doyle died on Angel. I cried when Joyce died on Buffy. I didn't cry watching this ep. I can't put my finger on it. I think it's sad what happened to Kutner, but I'm not feeling it. I don't know, maybe it's because the other characters on House weren't really feeling it either. Billy's death had a huge emotional impact on Ally and I felt it. Doyle died a heroic death on Angel and his goodbyes were heartbreaking. Buffy finding Joyce's body and her reaction to it is what really makes Joyce's death sad at that moment. When Foreman and Thirteen found Kutner, I wasn't feeling the sadness. I think the scene was rather brief though. More of Thirteen crying might have helped it.
I can't help but think of Dennis Gant (Omar Epps)'s death on ER. Gant, an intern, jumps in front of a train (off camera) and ends up unrecognizable in the ER. The docs are pissed about his absence and start paging him, only to realize that their John Doe patient on the table is Gant when his pager starts beeping. Now that was a shocking ep! And sad! And memorable! Gant's death was over a decade ago and I still remember it so well. I don't think I will remember Kutner's death in six months. Sad..
In other news, congrats to Kal Penn on his awesome new job!