It was recently announced that Lisa Edelstein wouldn’t be coming back for the 8th, and likely final, season of House … and then her character got run over by a car.

Upon hearing that Edelstein was leaving I was sorry to learn that I’d be robbed of a character and an actress that I’ve really come to like (in fact, a while back I wrote an entire article about how great she was and deserved some Emmy recognition). Upon watching the finale, however, my suspicion that Edelstein was making the right decision to leave was totally confirmed.

Since I have a completely useless BA in Philosophy, I’ve spent a lot of time working in bars and restaurant. One of the many things I’ve gleaned from those experiences is that line cooks are modern day tragic figures. Line cooks are often gregarious type A extroverts who thrive on the desire to live life to its absolute fullest, their personality traits demand a life of freedom to experiment and explore, which makes them great for the face pace, high anxiety atmosphere of a working kitchen (it also makes them gravitate toward hard drugs, but that’s another story). But the most interesting thing about line cooks is that ultimately the job they perform is contrary to the very character traits that make them perfect for it. The job is bland and repetitive, it’s hectic and is best done by a person who operates at a frenetic pace, but it’s monotonous. It’s standing over a hot flattop grill and making the same old staples of bar and restaurant cuisine; burgers, chicken fingers, and fries.

When I think of Lisa Edelstein’s character on House I think of a line cook. For the entire series Edelstein has been asked to portray Cuddy as frustrated. Sometimes it’s frustrated at work, sometimes it’s frustrated at her personal life, sometimes it’s frustration tinged with love, sometimes it’s frustration underscored by despair. Edelstein as Cuddy has constantly been asked to react to whatever the perpetually frustrating character of House was doing the way a line cook reacts to a server relaying a customer’s order. And while she does that exceptionally well and understated, she’s capable of more but the parameters don’t allow for such divergences from the prescribed menu.

Any good story needs a conflict and the primary conflict of House, though it is sometimes hidden in the background, has always been can House be both happy and good at his job? That’s the importance of Cuddy. She’s the character that for the first six seasons served as the lynch pin to House’s happiness and the show’s primary conflict therein. Whether she was defending his actions to an outsider or acting as the foil to one of his more extreme medical procedures, she always existed as the countermeasure to House’s misery. House liked it when she backed him up just as much as he liked it when she served as his antagonist. It’s a complicated relationship to say the least, but their romantic potential represented the human potential, in spite of overwhelming complexity, for happiness and redemption.

That star-crossed plotline led to one fantastic season and season finale after the other as they tried to navigate maintaining their independence while attempting to forge a romantic relationship, which is traditionally one of dependence. When Cuddy and House got together in the season 6 finale (a great episode on par with “Broken”, “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart”) I had hoped that the show would attempt to portray a relationship where two independent people try to give themselves romantically to one another without sacrificing who they are as individuals. I feel like that’s a real issue among modern couples and something not explored in movies or TV, especially not network TV. Instead the show opted to change the characters of House and Cuddy, who morphed from their fiercely independent selves into the “Huddy” amalgam that underage fans fawn over and create YouTube montages too. It wasn’t an adult or modern relationship; it was the sort of fantastical hokie rom-com crap you’d find on Grey’s Anatomy.

As a result, season 7 was, in my opinion, the worst season of House. The reason for its comparative underachievement was precisely because all the hope for House’s happiness that drove the previous seasons was heartily snuffed out.  If there is no room for House to be happy or redeem himself or attempt to balance his misanthropy with love, if House is going to simply be unrepentant, then there is no room for Cuddy as she is the embodiment of House’s potential to be something better than what he is.

So with her character relegated to pointlessness and with this season being worse than those prior, who can blame Lisa Edelstein for leaving? If the character of House isn’t going to grow and if her character essentially just reacts to what House does, Lisa Edelstein would find herself standing over a hot flattop grill cooking up the same items from a familiar menu. At the end of the day, though I’ll miss her, I’m glad she’s leaving because line cooks are modern day tragic figures and Edelstein has Anthony Bourdain talent.