'House' takes fans for a ride one last time

Who knew the kid with the snow globe would age so badly?

OK, so that’s not how Fox’s “House” ended Dr. Toad’s Wild Ride Monday night, in an episode that averaged nearly 8.7 million viewers, enough to win the time slot in both viewers and among the 18- to 49-year-olds advertisers target.

But while “St. Elsewhere’s” claim to strangest season finale ever (medical show division) remains intact, “House” did manage to surprise.

(Read no further if you don’t want to know how.)

Oh, I never actually bought that the addicted doctor (Hugh Laurie) was dead. Dr. Gregory House was playing the modern-day Sherlock Holmes long before Benedict Cumberbatch signed on for “Sherlock” and Holmes he was, right to the not-so-bitter end, faking his own death  in a warehouse fire to escape the six-month prison stretch that would have coincided with the final months of his best friend Wilson’s life, then interrupting Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) with a text message in mid-eulogy to take him on one last road trip.

I was mildly surprised, though, that Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) wasn’t there, not in House’s guest star-studded hallucinations, in which he was supposedly debating life or death, and not even at the fake funeral, where Wilson got a text from the guest of honor in mid-eulogy.

They brought back Kal Penn, whose character committed a far more unlikely suicide to free Penn to go work at the White House. They brought back Anne Dudek, who’d also played dead before on “House,” as well as Sela Ward, whose character had once loved him, and Jennifer Morrison, who’s gone from battling House to battling the Evil Queen on “Once Upon a Time.”

Andre Braugher made a brief guest appearance in another scene, as House’s former shrink.

But the absence of Edelstein, who left the show rather abruptly at the end of Season 7 after the show failed to reach an agreement with her on a contract extension, was a sizable one.

Though at least Cuddy wasn’t put through that charade of a funeral. Or the possibly overdone sequence of visits from the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come.

“Everybody lies” has been House’s mantra for eight seasons. In the final hour, he added “Everybody dies.”

He just didn’t say when.

So what did you think?