How I Met Your Mother Recap – Last Forever

Season 9, Episode 23
Last Forever

Marshall Eriksen once said, “I’m not ready for this.” Tonight, I say the same thing. All the naysayers out there can complain about recent seasons being weak. And sure, maybe they are not as consistently funny the show was in its prime. But this show ALWAYS kept its heart. Tonight the gang wore their hearts on their sleeves one “Last Forever” time, and I for one was crying, for better or unfortunately worse.

I am still digesting everything we saw tonight, because holy time span, we got A LOT. And some of it was good, some of it was bad, but boy oh boy was there some grieving. Not just for the [spoiler alert] deceased Mother, but for the end of the journey we were on with this group.

I am still in disbelief that they actually went through with the dead Mother theory. I held out hope—even when we learned VERY quickly that Robin and Barney’s marriage ended in divorce—that it was just another red-herring that the show likes to pull. In fact, I felt practically triumphant in the scene at Robots vs. Wrestlers in which we learned that after all their years and kids together, Ted and the Mother never paused to get married. “Ah ha!” I shouted. “They will be planning their own belated dream wedding years down the road and it is the Mother’s mom who will be deceased….Oooh you really got me good with your little trick, HIMYM.” But nope. The cruel joke was still on me.

To top it off, we saw another highly-controversial theory come true: Ted ultimately ends up with Robin. In the year 2030, it has been six years since the Mother’s passing and Ted has finally finished his “brief and to-the-point” story. But his kids point out a very obvious and telling detail—the fact that their dear ole’ dad sure spent a lot of time talking about their Aunt Robin. They love their Aunt Robin and totally think their dad still has the hots for her. The kids give their blessing and even encourage him to give it a go. Ted goes to pick up the phone and then has a better idea. It’s been 25 years since their first date, and Ted Mosby goes back for the blue French horn to surprise her at the window with her dogs.

Sigh. Here’s my conundrum with this finale. So much of it was what the show does best: mix humor with sadness; jump the timeline into future years while also being nostalgic with references and flashbacks; and show these characters go through the ups and downs of life in a way that no other “sitcom” ever would. It did all of these things so very well, one last time. And I laughed and I cried one last time. But I am also very sad and extremely disappointed in the ultimate outcome…of what actually happened to Ted and the Mother.

Part of the problem is that the writers were almost too good all these years, and then they abused our trust at the final moment. Way back when in early seasons, I think a lot of us still held out hope for a Ted-Robin reunion. But as the seasons passed, we all became so comfortable with the idea of them NOT being together and then literally went way beyond that to the point of THEY DO NOT BELONG TOGETHER. I genuinely bought into the idea that Ted and Robin work better as friends, and they really truly worked hard to get to that platonic relationship. Not to mention how many times we watched Ted ‘let her go’ and move on. We too moved on from them as a couple.

Then, this past season, the thing that the writers did the absolute best job with was writing the Mother, who…drumroll please…is named Tracy McConnell! They made us fall in love with her just as much as Ted did. And their final scenes together tonight only solidified that bond: their adorable jokes; their mutual Renaissance appreciation; their re-proposal moment; Tracy getting Robin to their long-awaited wedding; and holy cow that even longer-awaited first meeting on the train platform with the yellow umbrella. It was all so very magical. They even have the same initials! So it was extra heartbreaking to know that Ted only had a handful of years with his beloved. I get it, I get it…life isn’t always fair and bad things happen to good people…but why to this couple, and why on a show that was supposed to ultimately be a comedy? Future Ted has had six years to process the death and find some peace with it—and fully appreciate the time he did have with her—but me? Not so much…I am just not there yet. Maybe in six years time, when I am watching reruns, I will feel more at peace with these final creative decisions. But not right now. I didn’t just want Ted to live happily ever after with the Mother we came to know…I felt I was owed it AND I needed it.

Rather than end on such a disappointing note regarding Robin, Ted and the Mother (funny that I still call her the Mother even now that we know her name), I will try to end this final blog post on a few things that I did appreciate:

  • Time jumping. Lots and lots of time jumping. I really did appreciate the epic scale of this hour—after being so pent-up in one wedding weekend all season, it was a breath of fresh air to see their lives actually evolve over a lengthy amount of time. Granted, I didn’t like everything I saw in those years, especially toward the end. But overall it covered some major milestone moments for our gang and for that I am thankful. It also adequately explained some of the timeline questions I had—such as baby Penny being born the same year that Ted proposed to the Mother (2015). Turns out they postponed getting married for years because of the unexpected joys of parenthood.
  • Some nice call-backs and direct flashbacks. From Robots vs. Wrestlers and “Murder Train” to Ted’s “hanging chad” Halloween costume + rooftop party and Barney’s Perfect Week, a lot of nostalgia was referenced and even expanded. How great was the Mother as a Gore-Lieberman campaigner? But I think my favorite fun call-back was the cockamouse, hands down.
  • The gang’s goodbyes. While still at the wedding, Ted and the gang say their goodbyes because Ted must leave for Chicago. But the goodbye scene was wonderful. Robin got one last “Major” pleasure joke [salute]; Marshall got a Gazola’s Pizza joke; Lily got an E.T. goodbye, and Ted and Barney slapped one heck of a high-five-infinity. It was even more amusing when, barely 24 hours later, Lily and Marshall stumbled upon Ted in MacLaren’s, who did not go to Chicago because he met “a girl.”
  • Babies, babies and more babies. Remember when Marshall and Lily thought they couldn’t conceive way back when? Well turns out they had three kids! We learned about Daisy a few episodes ago, but tonight we saw Lily pregnant with unnamed baby #3. And speaking of babies, Barney got #31 of his “Perfect Month” pregnant. He ended up being the father of a little girl named Ellie, and SHE was the love of his life—the one who truly changed him. Those few moments where Barney meets his daughter…give the man a friggen Emmy. But oh how I wish he and Robin could have stayed together. Yeah, the divorce part really sucked.
  • Robin’s estrangement from the group. OK, so it is not so much that I LIKED this in a “isn’t that awesome” way. No, it was actually quite sad to see Robin more and more cut out from the gang as the years passed and it led to some of the most poignant moments, like her confrontation with Lily in the empty apartment. But I respected its realness. That is the kind of stuff that happens in friendships as people get older and lives move on…her friends had families and she had a big, yet lonely, career. And that is the kind of story line that I have always appreciated HIMYM for depicting in such an honest way.
  • Ted and the Mother’s wedding day. Ultimately, it wasn’t a French castle for big romantic Ted. But their wedding had the whole gang together and a lot of love. It also opened the door just enough for a Robin-Barney friendship with a “Daddy’s home” comment.
  • That yellow umbrella meeting. That almost-final scene, with Ted and the Mother on the platform, was just perfection. They clicked in every way possible. It was meant to be.

I just wish that the yellow umbrella train station meeting had been destined to be the final scene of the series. Because THAT moment on the platform would have been the ending I wanted, with no additional talk of death or a Robin reunion. Just Ted meeting the Mother. But ultimately, the fact that I have written and thought about and loved this show for so many years is the true testament of its legendary status.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – The End of the Aisle

Season 9, Episode 22
The End of the Aisle

Sunday 5:28 pm… 32 minutes until the wedding

We made it. The end of the aisle. It was bittersweet and legendary as Robin and Barney finally, FINALLY said their I-dos. Vowza! But the walk down the aisle—set to Sandcastles in the Sand no less—was not without some final, last-minute panicking. Fortunately, all the nerves led to a good place.

We arrive at a point we have seen before, with Ted going to see the bride and finding her a tad upset. Robin is dealing with her lingering doubts. That missing locket still weighs on her mind as a bad omen…she secretly thought Barney would come through with it. Cue Ted, who HAD secretly retrieved the locket, running to Barney and insisting that he give it to her. To Barney’s credit, he is at least a little reluctant, but ultimately does as Ted says. Robin doesn’t see through this lie for a moment. She calls Ted back in and knows he is the one who somehow moved heaven-and-earth to find it, despite Ted’s adorably elaborate tale involving pigeons to explain how “Barney found it.”

This is where Ted and Robin really truly for probably the very last time EVER confront any lingering feelings and put the love-triangle to bed. Robin wonders if she should be marrying Ted after all, since he is a man who always goes above and beyond for her. Ted is quick to point out that Barney also ‘goes big’ for Robin [Canadian rehearsal dinner, proposal] but Robin counters that Barney’s antics always involve lies. I never thought about the fact that Barney’s initials are actually B.S. until Ted mentioned it. Robin even goes full circle in wondering if Ted is the better man in that he stole the blue French horn for her on their first date, and here he is now going to great lengths to retrieve her locket. But then Ted shows what a best man and best friend he is—he tells Robin that they don’t love each other like the way they used to anymore. And that he would never, ever ruin what she has with Barney. Good boy, Ted.

But Robin makes a run for it anyways. And she runs straight into the Mother at the reception set-up, knocking her down in the process. So now the last member of the gang (other than Ted of course) has met the Mother, and even sort of gets to second base with her! The Mother may not be able to offer a lot of advice to the frantic bride she just met, but she does recommend taking three very deep breaths. Side note: LOVED the Mother’s throwaway line that she could sense something was wrong because she was “a bit of a detective” as a kid. Your soul mate is SO close! OK back to Robin…The three breaths are enough to calm Robin down and, even better, Barney appears with a stack of Barney-esque [read: unusable] vows. That’s when he tells her that he is only going to make one vow to her because it is the most important: he will always be honest with her. He starts off by making good with this vow and tells her that Ted got the locket. They seal the deal with a kiss and head to the altar.

Before the happy couple says their vows at the wedding, another couple had already renewed their vows. Lily and Marshall had another sweet episode as they assisted Barney with his own nerves and vows. While Barney calls them out on various vows they have broken—why did we never get to see drunken Marshall dressed as Wonder Woman?!—it becomes more and more clear to them that vows can change over time, just like life. So Marshall sweetly takes his bride since 2007 [that WAS a long time ago!] into the church before the guests arrive to profess their real, daily love for one another. Most importantly, they vow to keep making new vows as their lives change. Awwwww. Marshmallow + Lilypad 4ever.

Sunday, 5:59 pm…one minute until the wedding

So much goodness happens in this brief-yet-legendary ceremony. Marshall doles out the FINAL SLAP to calm the groom at the altar! Barney may not miss the slap bet, but we sure will. Robin walks down the aisle with her father to a slow piano version of Sandcastles in the Sand! And we finally get to see the infamous ring BEAR, which Robin ends up loving. But Barney wisely cuts the “flower guerilla.”

And a wise Future Ted paints the whole picture and gives us some nice perspective, for one penultimate time: Love is the best thing we do.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Gary Blauman

Season 9, Episode 21
Gary Blauman

This St. Patty’s Day, luck was on my side in that I was able to see a special screening of tonight’s “Gary Blauman” episode in advance. This was all thanks to a ticket I purchased back in January for the HIMYM panel at Paley Fest. This episode contained a lot of what I love about this show and these characters. It perhaps felt more special to me because there is nothing quite like watching one of the very last episodes of a favorite TV show with hundreds of other self-proclaimed superfans—everyone laughing and cheering in magnitude, wishing it could last just a little bit longer.

The episode’s title is deceptively simple. Some of you—if you looked only at the episode’s title before watching—maybe had some concerns about the quality of the content. Would there be enough substance? Are they really going to ‘waste’ an entire episode on a very minor recurring character? I would have asked myself these same questions had I not been suddenly thrust into an opportunity to watch it. Instead, I think the writers did us well. They gave us some funny and creative closure on some beloved recurring characters who helped make the show as delightfully successful (Ranjit, James), humorously innovative (Billy Zabka, Blah Blah), and sometimes frustrating (Zoey, Jeanette) as it was. Not only that, but our gang’s character quirks and tics were in fine form, AND we got to experience the very first adorable date between Ted and the Mother.

The First Date: Wednesday at 8PM, 3 days AFTER the wedding
I really like how this season we have seen pivotal and lovely moments of Ted and the Mother’s relationship, in an almost backward fashion. We have seen them celebrate anniversaries and have their kids, and now here we are at the very first date, just three days after the wedding (Future Ted had told us years ago that he did not wait the standard three days to contact her). Eventually, Future Ted’s flashbacks to the present will collide with the future glimpses of the couple as each set of stories work toward the exact same point: the meeting. If the actual legendary moment of the meeting isn’t the very last scene of the series, then it is certain to be one of the last. This is, after all, the story of how they met.

It is an adorably awkward first date—you can see they both have their nerves and their baggage, with the Mother’s literally popping up on the street in the form of her VERY recent ex (the same one who proposed on the wedding weekend). But you can also just feel the initial chemistry and almost like they are both trying to temper the sparks because they feel like they need to on a first date. Future Ted even points out that he didn’t just let out a declaration of love speech, a la his Robin first date, showing that he has matured in some ways. He also just had a feeling it would work out. And fortunately, the initially hesitant Mother took on the typical Ted role by calling him back and kissing him. It is a sweet moment that we can only hope is not marred by forthcoming tragedy for this love story.

Where Are They Now?
As Ted and the Mother stroll along the streets of NYC for their first date, after wisely passing on an unappetizing Scottish-Mexican fusion restaurant by the name of Pedro McKinnon, Ted does what he does best: tell a story. He explores a little Code Red action the happened just before the start of the wedding, when an unexpected guest showed up. Robin had not counted on former GNB employee Gary Blauman (ahem, her real-life hubby Taran Killam) to attend, so when she spots him she enlists Marshall’s help. Good thing that Mashall is a seating chart master—guests from Table 27 at his wedding still hold reunions to this day. But when Marshall sees what a disaster Robin’s seating chart is to begin with, of course he enlists his best bro Ted. Cue additional flashbacks that explain how each member of the wedding party—Ted, Lily, Barney, Billy Zabka, and James—all either hate or love Gary Blauman.

Let me break it down:

  • Ted HATES Gary because once they had a days-long (?) stand-off over a girl at a party celebrating something or other. I enjoyed seeing Ted in all his historical fun facts glory as the two men ‘duke’ it out with Teddy Roosevelt biography factoids. But was Gary even really interested in the GIRL?
  • Lily LOVES Gary, because way back when she and Marshall were broken up for those few months, she had been thisclose to getting a hysterically horrible mega tattoo in honor of her equally bad break-up song, Sugar Ray’s Fly. Fortunately Gary stopped her only half a butterfly into the process.
  • Barney HATES Gary, but would love to kick him out of the wedding. He has a really good reason for his hatred—Gary once ate four of Barney’s fries, and the fourth fry was an accidental curly fry. Props to the writers for finally having all three bros agree that a basket full of regular fries with some accidental curly fries is “living the dream.”
  • Billy Zabka LOVES Gary, and that is solely because Gary approached him earlier that day to compliment him on his poetry collection. Nice.
  • James HATES Gary, but his reasoning goes much, much deeper. Turns out that Gary is the man James cheated with, thus causing his marriage separation. In related news, Ted now sees the party hook-up standoff in a whole new light.

Judge-in-spirit Marshall to the rescue, and he declares that Gary Blauman can stay at the wedding and they will find him a seat…because the Bride requested it. As they all head outside to find him, Future Ted reminisces about how difficult it is in life to truly stay connected with the people who once seemed so important at various times. Even with the best intentions, people come and go, so if you find someone you want to keep around, “you do something about it.” He did manage to keep track of a few people over the years, and we are fortunately the beneficiaries of this excellent scene, with staging reminiscent of the two-minute date:

  • Carl still runs the bar, now with his son.
  • Jeneatte was arrested (of course) but surprise! In her mandated court therapy she met good ole’ Kevin, Robin’s ex. They now live in Poughkeepsie.
  • Ranjit made some good investments and now owns limo service! Hoorah for Ranjit!
  • Patrice has a drive-time radio advice show: Patrice in the Morning! She still doles out the happy, while Robin still calls in with, “Dammit Patrice!”
  • William Zabka won American Humanities Medal for Literature with his poetry.
  • Zooey still protests, and still isn’t very successful with it.
  • Scooter met Stripper Lily, Jasmine, in the lunch line. A perfect match if there ever was one.
  • Blitz struggled with gambling addiction, and found that his curse continued. Awwwww man!
  • Blah Blah…well, she has a name! Carol!
  • Sandy Rivers had career setbacks in the U.S. and moved to Moscow, still smarmy as ever, now in Russian.
  • James fortunately reconciled with husband Tom and they lived happily ever after with their two kids.

It was a nice send-off to a slew of characters we have grown to know, love, or hate. And it was great to see so many actors from over the years pop up. The scene reminded me of Seinfeld’s finale, when all these folks the gang had encountered over the years (usually for the worse) showed up at the trial. Now that we have a little humorous closure for HIMYM’s crazy cast of characters, I truly believe that the final two episodes will be all about our beloved little gang and one very important Mother.

Some thoughts on HIMYM @ Paley Fest:
Attending the HIMYM panel at Paley Fest practically had the energy of a concert—everyone was THAT pumped. And the cheering for not only the stars but the creators really proved how much love still exists for this show. Sure, the final couple seasons haven’t been as uniformly strong as the first several (when is that EVER the case for a comedy?) but audience members like me have love and respect for the entire life force of this show. Just watching a montage video of clips from all nine seasons, it was wonderful remembering just how much HIMYM got right, and how significantly it worked its way into not only pop culture, but our own daily cultures. And this was no small audience: we completely filled up the Dolby Theater in Hollywood (i.e. where the Oscars are held).

Thomas and Bays talked about how, when coming up with the show’s concept, they used the cardinal rule: write what you know. In case you don’t know, Thomas is “Marshall” and Bays is “Ted.” And if you enjoyed the Mother playing and singing La Vie en Rose the other month, just know that Bays himself bought a ukelele in Hawaii during his own wedding and learned that song (and sings it to his kids). Turned out that Cristin Milioti’s family also has a special connection to that song and she surprised them with that episode. The cast also shared some fun things they learned from the show or their characters. Alyson Hannigan doesn’t go out after 2am, because as we all know nothing good happens after 2am. However, she also hilariously admitted to rarely leaving the house after 2pm. But all of them expressed how bittersweet it was to film the end of this beloved show and how much it meant to them personally. The crew had tissue packets printed that read: Let It Go. No Questions Asked.

Unfortunately neither Jason Segel nor NPH could be there. But a very cool NPH really showed us how much he appreciates the fans by Skyping from NYC and his rehearsals for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Check out a brief clip of NPH addressing the crowd (and ripping his shirt off!) here in my brief video clip.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Daisy

Season 9, Episode 20

Sunday 2pm, 4 hours before the wedding…

We are down to the wire with episodes and tonight’s HIMYM episode, “Daisy,” didn’t deliver til the very end. I mean, after last week’s [literally?] killer twist, the first half of this episode felt a tad weak exploring Lily’s “secret” disappearance in the night. Then, fortunately we were treated to an awwww-inducing payoff.

Daddy Dearest
Robin’s mother is in the house, at long last, after a surprise arrival for the wedding day. For some reason I was expecting more of a strained relationship, but I guess I was just thinking of Robin’s daddy issues. Instead, she and her never-seen mom actually have a pretty nice mother-daughter vibe and are at ease with one another. It is unfortunate timing that the show had a couple of lame fear-of-flying airplane disaster jokes involving Robin’s mom, given the scary Malaysian Air news this week. Just like Robin’s mom freaking out on the plane, that part didn’t sit too well.

Robin and Lily hang out with the ex-Mrs. Scherbatsky and start chatting about the groom. It is at this point that Robin’s internal fears over marrying a defective man like her father are verbalized inadvertently by her unsuspecting mother. It seems that Robin’s scary father has several uncanny things in common with Mr. Stinson, right down to impersonating a Prussian aristocrat and having a portrait painted just to hook up with girls. This leads to Robin’s 99th panic this year about her impending wedding to ultimate womanizer Barney. Please can we just get these two down the aisle already? Perhaps with a ring bear?

Mum’s Mom’s the Word
Meanwhile, the boys are brunching, complete with Ranjit and Billy Zabka. Marshall mentions his confusion over Lily’s disappearance during the night when they argued, and how she returned suddenly willing to give up Italy and let Marshall take the judgeship. Thanks to Billy Zabka’s late night dirt-biking, the bros quickly piece together that the mystery car belonged to the Captain…ahoy!

Barney ditches (temporarily) the meeting of his future mother-in-law and a saltine cracker challenge so that they can all head over to the Captain’s Long Island estate and avenge the Lily situation. Marshall immediately punches the Captain in the jaw—and challenges him to sword duel because he does like a good fake duel. But the Captain says that Lily only popped by bizarrely, used the bathroom and then left. His fiancé, the infamous “Boats! Boats! Boats!” Becky, corroborates the Captain’s account.

Thanks goodness for another installment of the Mosby Boys, incorrectly solving crimes since childhood. Ted pieces together an elaborate rationale behind Lily’s strange disappearance and recent behavior tics, all leading to the conclusion that she secretly started smoking again while Marshall was away and that she snuck off to smoke in the Captain’s bathroom that night. And in true Ted fashion, he took about 15 self-amused minutes to explain the sentence I just wrote. Just as Ted reaches into the Captain’s daisy plant to pull out what he thinks will be a cigarette butt, he instead pulls out….a stick Lily peed on (i.e. a pregnancy test)!

The guys go rushing back to the Inn so that Marshall can confirm the news with Lily. You see, she CAN keep a secret! And it turns out her Kennedy drink package this entire time has been water with lime. Wow, that is quite a bit of money to pay for some water. But, Linnus has been on top of every sip! Marshall and Lily really and truly make up, re-solidifying their relationship. In that moment, Marshall declares that they WILL move to Italy to follow Lily’s dream, because she is already making his dream of fatherhood come true for a second time. It is a sweet moment and it is nice to see a couple follow the female’s dream for once. Granted, going to live in Italy for a year or two isn’t exactly a hardship.

Even sweeter is the flash forward to a year from now, with Lily and Marshall using their stock Italian phrase to speak of Funyons. But they have picked up more language skills and seem to be enjoying la dolce vita. That’s when new-ish lovebirds Mickey (Lily’s dad) and Judy (Marshall’s mom) come out to join them on the terrace with their grandkids: toddler Marvin (awww) and a baby girl…Daisy!

Were you surprised by the Lily pregnancy news? Or the “now we ARE going to Italy” twist? You just knew that there had to be SOME kind of twist to Lily’s minor disappearance if they were going to dwell on that in one of their very final episodes. And I left out another nice moment when Barney finally met Robin’s mom and gave her a big ole’ bear hug. It’s just too bad that Robin still feels a little shaky on whether Barney can be reliable for the long haul. But I say, onward with this wedding! It’s about time already. Unless the Mother is going to be dead. Then I don’t want time to move forward.

One last overall comment, really more of a shout out. I happened upon this very well constructed and helpful timeline of Ted’s life, written out with his significant moments in chronological order based on all the details we have been told. Very cool.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Vesuvius

Season 9, Episode 19

Tonight’s new HIMYM, “Vesuvius,” was a tough pill to swallow. We have all heard the theories and weighed in on the conjecture that perhaps the Mother is dead in the future. It would be a logical (and emotional) reason that Future Ted tells his kids all these stories. While I always felt this could very well be possible, I just didn’t WANT it to be the case.

A snowy night in 2024
Head’s up East Coasters: Looks like the winter in 10 years from now may give this winter a run for its money in terms of snow. Ted and the Mother barely make it to their favorite romantic spot—The Farhampton Inn—for a little getaway without the kids. Bart the judgmental receptionist is still there, but now Ted can be the lovey couple the Inn demands. Ted and the Mother immediately begin to reminisce, which as we all know is Ted’s favorite pastime. But the sweetest part is that Ted and Mother have finally reached the “old married couple” phase where each knows every single story of the other: “Nice! We did it!”

Yes, as Ted begins to recount stories of snow that the Mother and we have heard before, it leads to the continuation of the infamous wedding day morning of Robin and Barney. And thus we welcomed back Lucy Hale as Robin’s little sister Katie [last seen in season 2 before she was a ‘pretty little liar’] and the return of the amazingly terrible movie, The Wedding Bride, courtesy of an equally bad sequel: The Wedding Bride Too.

Wedding morning moments
Future Ted fills Mother in on some of the last minute prep before the wedding, even though she already knows most of these stories as well. Ted spent the beginning of the day helping Barney pick his suit. Obviously this was no easy task; even more difficult given that Barney checked his suits into their own room, “Susan Tupp” (read: Suit Up). Ted really came through as a solid best man by giving the groom a heartfelt pep talk about his upcoming nuptials and love for Robin until Barney was ready to feel great in his custom Tim Gunn-created suit.

Meanwhile, Lily projected her own nerves, emotions and bridal freak-out moments onto the very chilled Canadian bride. Little sister Katie didn’t seem too worried about her big sister, and willingly gave her crap about her hockey skills. But Lily just couldn’t let it go, and she made it her mission to get some burst of emotion out of Robin, good or bad. Her plans took a detour when she, Marshall and Robin all got sidetracked watching The Wedding Bride Too on pay-per-view…a movie they had been forbidden to watch. Side note: apparently it became a Broadway musical as well. Marshall particularly enjoyed it until seeing himself as a slovenly character named Narshall.

When Lily decided enough was enough, she stormed out of the room determined to get a reaction out of Robin. So she returned in her own wedding dress! Yes, it seems Lily decided that she and Marshall would “borrow” Robin’s photographer to re-take their own wedding day photos (in all fairness, they did have a lot of disasters), but she also hoped that THIS news would finally get Robin to crack some emotion. Nope. Instead, it was Lily mentioning that Ted’s move to Chicago would be the next day, and that this would be the last time all of them would be together for a while. Hold your sniffles for the moment…

Because Robin headed into the hall to get some ice and who should she see? Her mother! Robin’s mother made the journey after all at the last minute, and she was played by none other than Tracey Ullman. Continue to hold your sniffles as Robin hugs her mom…

Back to snowy 2024
…because it turns out that Robin’s mother’s arrival was a part of the story that the Mother has not heard before. She is not totally impressed with Future Ted’s surprise reveal when she responds, “Of course she showed up! What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?” Future Ted’s face crumbles and they grab each other’s hands as they both think about this statement with clear and utter heartbreak. Oh F* no.  We also quickly think back earlier in the episode to the Mother telling Future Ted that she doesn’t want him to live so much in the past with his stories: life moves forward.

Clearly this looks to be like serious bad news for Ted, the Mother, and us all. If it is not an outright reveal that the Mother will pass away from an illness, at the very least they must think her diagnosis is pretty darn bad. Again, while I knew it was a possibility, this is just not what I wanted to see for our Ted…and for the lovely Mother now that we know her. It’s interesting that I have usually applauded this show for its darker and sadder threads (see: Marshall’s father dying; Robin learning of her infertility; Barney’s struggle to reconnect with his father). And I truly do believe that HIMYM has covered these more serious life influencers with greater depth and human spirit than any other “sitcom” ever has or would. And it’s not that it doesn’t make sense that Ted would tell his kids all these stories to preserve the memories of his late wife—but I just feel like the tone would have been different this whole time. Wouldn’t the kids—even snarky teens—be a little more invested and caring at remembering a deceased mother? Maybe that is just my wishful thinking and my desire to live happily in the past with our favorite HIMYM stories. Maybe I am more like Ted, not ready to let go yet and move forward.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Rally

Season 9, Episode 18

Sunday 8am, 10 hours before the wedding…

Cue music…”It’s the final countdown!” And here we are: Season 9, episode 18, appropriately titled, “Rally.” This really is the time to rally, as we begin the final six episodes of HIMYM…ever. To kick off the homestretch, the gang had to revive a super hungover groom prior to family photos. But the real treat was getting numerous glimpses into the future.

The Hangover
After all the drinking we have witnessed in the past few episodes of one very long night, Barney is out cold. With family wedding photos in a mere two hours (dang, that’s early!) the gang must come up with a plan, stat. Unfortunately, the one miracle hangover cure that they have all used successfully in the past was developed by Barney [make that Barnert Stinsonheimer in the “Too Many Manhattans Project”]. They know most of the ingredients in the nasty green concoction, but not the one mystery substance. This leads to an all-hands on deck mission: the boys head out to gather as many of the ingredients as they can, while the girls try to wake up Barney long enough for him to utter the ingredient.

Of course both plans hit some snags. The girls practically annihilate Barney with a nasty trip down (and back up) the stairs, but neither that nor Robin’s Canadian scare tactics do the trick. Meanwhile Marshall and Ted have some fun getting their ingredients, particularly a big bottle of discontinued Tantrum. My favorite line of the night was the corny joke the boys cracked when Marshall tossed the soda bottle to Ted: “Dude, you’re a grown man! Why are your throwing a tantrum?” I am a sucker for lame Ted-Marshall jokes.

Grease Is the Word
Grease turns out to be the most challenging ingredient, especially when the snooty inn’s chef explains that they have zero with their organic farm-to-table menu. Oh, except for the vat of bacon that bacon-virgin Ted consumes. Just as Ted discovers all the wonders of bacon that his mother denied him—and why a BLT sandwich is so much better than an LT sandwich—the girls realize that there is only one thing that may wake Barney. They kiss…and Lily’s yearnings are finally realized. Robin’s yearnings for Lily are just awakening, however.

So are Barney’s, as he wakes up for a moment. It is long enough for him to admit that there is no secret ingredient: the entire concoction was always just a “placebro.” But then the gang realizes that Barney pretended that the elixir had magical hangover-cure powers because he loves them. He was there each time with the green potion when they needed him most for a big day, or in Ted’s case the big recovery of getting left at the altar years earlier. With no time left to cure Barney on this big morning, and no special elixir, the gang decides there is only one thing they can do for their best bro: lie to him in the same loving way he would lie to them. A little while later they regale an awakened Barney with an awesome tale of a “Weekend at Barney’s” photo shoot. It’s the dream! Barney loves the story…he just wonders why his balls are sore.

Broken Vows
Throughout the morning, each character makes a vow that they are done getting THAT hammered. They are getting old, after all. But of course each of them breaks that vow sooner or later. And thus we get fun little glimpses into the future…

2014: Ted gets hammered in one year’s time, celebrating with the Mother after her poverty economics book is published. [Remember, for the gang it is still 2013 in “present day”].

2016: Barney and Robin wake up super plastered in Buenos Aires, with a crying baby no less. It just isn’t their baby…wrong room!

2020: Now hairless-Marshall runs for the state supreme court and gets trashed when it looks like he will lose to still-hot Brad. But in a surprise twist he wins and must give a drunk victory speech. In related news—dang, Marshall’s career really takes off quickly!

2022: In the cutest future scenario, the Mother is hungover from a New Year’s Eve party, and doting husband Ted brings her Barney’s famous elixir moments before their adorable little kiddos come running in (awwww we get to see them a little younger).

2030: In another sweet moment, we see an 18 year-old Marvin arriving at his parents’ alma mater for his first year of college. And that’s when proud (and child-free) mama Lily lets loose big time. Marvin takes after his mom with his priceless reaction, “You son of a b-!”

Are you ready to rally for this final batch of HIMYM episodes?

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Sunrise

Season 9, Episode 17

Sunday 5 AM, 13 hours before wedding

I was bummed that I was not able to blog last week’s triumphant 200th episode, “How Your Mother Met Me.” Unfortunately I was out of town and had to play catch-up with my TV. It was everything we—the long-time fans—wanted and more. Seeing the Mother’s back story, from heartbreak to humor, weave in and out of our gang’s moments further cemented just how perfectly Ted and the Mother fit together. It also continued to prove what an excellent job HIMYM did at casting this critical role.

Tonight’s episode, “Sunrise,” brought us to the wee hours just before daylight on the big wedding day, as Ted and Robin set out to locate a missing drunken Barney. It also showed us Barney passing along his bro-wisdom to a new generation and the reconciliation between Marshall and Lily. The theme of ‘letting go’ rang true for each character as a new (and final) day dawned.

Barney and Some Bros
Ted discovered that a very hammered Barney was missing when we last saw them all crawl into bed. It turns out Barney was out stumbling down the roads of Farhampton, looking to pass along his Playbook wisdom to a new set of bros. He found two dudes, not unlike the innocent young Ted from back in their early days, and proceeded to tell them exactly what he told his original bro, “Boys, today is your lucky day. Because today I am going to teach you how to…live.” Except he barfed where that ellipsis is. These guys were a tad fearful of a zombie-like Barney, but went along for the adventure. From a visit to Farhampton’s finest strip club, The Crab Shed, to an emergency suit fitting with Tim Gunn, these boys received Barney’s ultimate gift: advice for how to live an legendary life. We have seen Barney make his peace with leaving behind singledom before, but one particular line that he uttered before stumbling away really rang true: “Whatever you do in this life, it’s not legendary unless your friends are there to see it.” Pure and genuine words from Barney’s heart as he enters a new chapter of his life.

Ghosts of Lily Past
We witnessed an interesting, very HIMYM-esque resolution to the Marshall-Lily fight. As Marshall struggled to sleep in his Captain Deardruff haunted room, he realized that it was actually haunted by his wife: both present day and 2006 San Francisco Lily. Of course the initial paranormal encounter included a fun conversaion between past and present Lily, specifically what the future was like and what kind of ho-bag would marry Barney (ahem, Robin). But things got more real when Marshall’s deceased father, Marvin Sr., also paid a visit and helped his son realize that a marriage is not about winning, losing, or drudging up past hurt. Just as Marshall realized the error of his ways, actual Lily returned and agreed that staying in NYC for Marshall’s judgeship was best for their family. I guess Marshall’s dream of a ghostly threesome with two versions of his wife never happened. And my dream of an episode of House Hunters International featuring Marshall and Lily in Rome, complaining about a small kitchen, will never happen as well. I am happy that these two have made up, but still not sure how I feel about the decision. There was never going to be a perfect answer. Both got the opportunity of a lifetime, but in the end it had to be their family’s lifetime.

Lists and a Locket
Ted and Robin spend one last bit of time together, supposedly looking for Barney, but really having one last goodbye. On their beach stroll, the subject of Ted’s exes come up and we learn just how many Ted has recently spoken with, all in an effort to find Robin’s missing locket. First there was Ted’s visit to Stella in L.A., then a call to Victoria in Germany. Victoria did have the locket and mailed it to Ted, which was unfortunately intercepted by crazy Jeanette. Yes, Ted has quite a romantic history; and we learned that Robin even made top five lists for best and worst.

Ted’s top five WORST girlfriends (as ranked by Robin):
#5 Blah Blah
#4 Boats! Boats! Boats!
#3 Karen
#2 Zooey
#1 Jeanette

Ted’s top five BEST girlfriends (as ranked by Robin):
#5 Stella
#4 Zooey (yes, she made both lists)
#3 The Slutty Pumpkin
#2 Marshall (the time they pretended to be a gay couple to sell a condo)
#1 Victoria, the perfect baker

Robin asks Ted what drove him and Victoria apart the final time, especially considering that she walked out on her wedding for him. Ted finally reveals the answer: Robin. He refused to stop being friends with Robin when Victoria had asked. And he explains that there can’t be any top fives, because it was only ever Robin who mattered to him. Robin is shocked, and seems genuinely sad that her friend has sacrificed and hurt so much because of their own complicated relationship over the years. But Ted explains that it won’t be weird for much longer…and drops the bomb that he is moving to Chicago.

We have now seen the Robin-Ted ‘letting go’ moment multiple times in the build-up to this wedding. I am not sure we needed to see it yet again, although set against the beach at a moment when emotions of change and new life run high did make it extra poignant. I could have skipped the ‘Robin floating away like a balloon’ motif. We get it… he is letting her go. Ted just doesn’t know quite yet that his true love is literally around the corner…or on the other side of his hotel room balcony.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Unpause

Season 9, Episode 15

Sunday, 2am, 16 hours before the wedding…

After a very disappointing slap last week, it was great to have “Unpause” really leave its mark, in a good way, this week. While not the funniest of episodes, it was chock-full of pretty major and satisfying confrontations AND reveals.

The premise for this evening’s late night antics is that the gang has enjoyed quite a few drinks at the Farhampton Inn bar as they creep into the wee hours of wedding day morning. Marshall is determined to keep his pals drinking rather than unpausing his looming argument with Lilly. And Barney has become so drunk he is past his previous drunk high-score (where he talks like Jabba the Hutt) and has entered a new level of inebriation: truth serum drunk.

Marshall and Lilly do part from the gang so that Lilly can “tear Marshall apart” [read both good and bad ways] but not before Marshall does his road trip souvenir showcase. It was a nice call-back to an earlier episode this season when Marshall and Daphne stopped by the Mosby childhood home and Marshall took some of young Ted’s embarrassing items…a photo of cowboy Ted and his best friend, a balloon, is clearly the winner.

But then the call-backs, and eventual reveals, just kept coming! While Barney is under the power of the drink, Ted and Robin take him for a joy ride down memory lane to ask the questions for which they always wanted straight answers. Here are just a few of the big things we finally learned:

  • Barney never went all the way with Ted’s mother, Virginia, much to Ted’s relief.
  • Robin’s family is apparently super wealthy, even if it is in Canadian craploads of money. Fun side note: Ted is perturbed that he footed so many of their date bills from back in the day, now that he knows she is loaded.
  • Ring Bear, or Ring Bearer? Robin still desperately tries to find out. Barney gives a truthful answer—there is a ring bearer named Trevor Hudson. Unfortunately for Robin, Trevor is not who (or what) it seems.
  • Barney’s actual job! OK, this is big folks. I wasn’t sure we were ever going to really learn what Barney did for a living. We knew it had to be pretty smarmy and something very “evil corporate” that paid a lot of money. I mean, Barney is pretty much The Wolf of Goliath Bank. So it was a nice little twist to learn that when Barney would always laugh and say “please!” when asked about his job, he really did mean P.L.E.A.S.E. (Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything]. Yep, Barney is Goliath’s fall guy. And if that was not already a good enough reveal, we got another call-back to Barney’s hippie days with his first girlfriend, Shannon, who was stolen by the original suit guy, Greg. We know from many seasons ago that this incident did cause Barney to “suit up.” It turns out it also initiated a master revenge plan in which Barney got hired by Greg and became the company’s P.L.E.A.S.E. man, all so that he could secretly work for the Fed all these years and ultimately bust Greg and the company…set to happen two months after his wedding.

And we are not yet done with the big stuff yet. Marshall and Lilly finally begin their massive fight over their conflicting dream jobs, after lots of serious banging, of course. Well, HIMYM went pretty raw and deep with this confrontation. When Lilly says how selfish Marshall’s behavior is, he brings up seven years ago when Lilly broke off their first engagement and moved to San Francisco. It is really tough to watch these two fight like this, because you just love them so much as a couple. But kudos to HIMYM for letting them get ugly and serious on this, because really, there is no fair ending to this dilemma where feelings don’t get hurt. And now we must also wonder—who does Lilly call and leave the hotel with in order to get away from the fight?

Ted is not left out of the big reveals tonight either, except for him it isn’t technically tonight, but 2017. Yep, we have often heard Ted quote his mother: “nothing good happens after 2 am.” There was even a whole episode about it. But this notion took on whole new meeting as we flashed forward to 2017 at a Farhampton babymoon weekend for Ted and a very pregnant Mother. At the beginning of the episode they are being adorable, riding out the early contractions of labor. By the end of the episode it was time to get to the hospital in the middle of the night. Just as I was about to complain that their daughter had to already be at least one or two years old, we do see that she is …and that they are in fact headed to the hospital to have her baby brother. And that is how little Penny will get her baby bro, Luke, after 2 am…when good things do sometimes happen. It’s nice to meet you by name, Penny and Luke, after all these years.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Slapsgiving No. 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra

Season 9, Episode 14
Slapsgiving No. 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra

And we are back mid-slap. This was probably the second-longest ‘wait for it it’ moment after season two finale’s “this is going to be legen—.” While tonight’s slap left quite a mark on Barney, what it really marked was the final home stretch of episodes. The series finale has officially been scheduled for March 31, which means we will be plowing through this last set of episodes.

I feel for the writers, with such pressure to deliver increasingly amazing slaps. It is like trying to top the original Robin Sparkles video…you really can’t. So tonight we got a silly filler episode spanning space and time…and slapprenticing. While Marshall’s fanciful story and subsequent slap set-up was predictable, the surprise guest appearance was the only thing that gave this slap a strong mark.

As Marshall is in slow-motion slap mode, Ted backs the story up to a few weeks earlier at the bar [Hi! Miss you, MacLarens!]. While sitting in their favorite booth, Marshall brought up the subject of the remaining slaps (that would be two) and how the next one would happen under a willow tree with four women and a tiger. He then proceeded to tell them all of his expert training to prepare. Of course the rest of the gang is more than happy to play along and toy with an annoyed and rightly skeptical Barney. You see, Marshall claimed to go all the way to Shanghai [and later, Cleveland] for the ultimate training in the virtues of slapistry: speed, strength, and accuracy.

This is the part of the story where the HIMYM costume and make-up team decided to go all-out in stereotyped fantasy and dress up Robin, Lily and Ted in Chinese garb. Marshall regales the group with his encounters and training under the tutelage of Red Bird [i.e. Robin], White Flower [i.e. Lily], and The Calligrapher in Cleveland [i.e. Ted]. Personally, I enjoyed the running gag of Marshall guessing the real ages of Robin and Lily—only to be told by their Chinese dopplegangers that they are actually ancient—and then hurting the “Calligrapher’s” feelings by guessing older than his actual age. It was also a nice touch to see slaprentice Marshall visit some of Barney’s exes [remember Nora? and hot bartender Stacy Keibler?] to get slapped by them—and absorb their rage at Barney within his own palm.

Just when Marshall would have Barney think that he never quite completed the final stage of his accuracy training, we return to the Farhampton Inn…where Marshall misses the slap. Alas this is all part of Marshall’s elaborate plan. Barney runs away before Marshall can re-try, but he runs straight into the nighttime glow of a willow tree…with four women…knitting a tapestry with a tiger on it. Barney knows his number is up. Marshall and the gang appear so that he may receive his next-to-last slap. It leaves quite a mark. But the real gift is when Marshall introduces Boyz II Men to sing a slow-jam version of Marshall’s original Slapsgiving tune, “You Just Got Slapped,” complete with a loving montage of earlier slaps.

And just like that, Boyz II Men pretty much saved this slap, and this episode.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Bass Player Wanted

Season 9, Episode 13
Bass Player Wanted

Saturday, 10 PM, 20 hours before the wedding…

It’s a Christmas miracle! After half a season, Marshall finally reunited with his wife and friends! Now it will be another miracle if Lilly doesn’t punch him like she did her Marshpillow. Overall, this was a pretty jam-packed episode that propelled the major storylines forward—and even propelled an oncoming slap—which is good because now we must wait until the New Year for another episode.

Playing with the devil
After the fun of the world’s most spectacular Canadian themed rehearsal dinner, the gang settles into the Farhampton Inn bar for a night cap. Lilly and Robin meet an enthusiastic stranger who quickly charms them, only it seems Robin knows him. She can’t place how, but before she can worry about that, stranger Darren begins to toy with their friendship.  He tells Lilly that Robin sides with Marshall regarding the job situation, and even that she feels abandoned by the upcoming move. As the girls start to bicker, Darren the devil sets his sights on another pair of friends: Ted and Barney.

Working his moves to charm + disarm, Darren mentions Ted’s impeding move to Chicago (the city, not the pizza) and Barney is completely taken aback. He is hurt that Ted would make such a decision and not tell him, and even more astounded when he learns that Ted is leaving immediately after the wedding. While this was by no means the ideal way for Ted’s news to be revealed, it ultimately leads to Barney realizing that his best man just can’t hang out with only Barney and Robin—a girl he still loves in many ways.

Marshall vs. the Machines
Back on the road, it was time for another folk-song edition of Marshall versus the Machines. Yes, Marshall and his adorable little hitchhiker, Marvin, had set out on foot for the final five miles. Just when I thought we would get another four episodes of a delirious Marshall and his adventures with a smoking bigfoot, behold, for hark the Mother angel arrived…in a van.

It seems that the Mother was quite angry at her devil of a band-mate and decided to ditch her band at the wedding. And thanks to Lilly’s suggestion of Aldrin Justice, this also included taking the band’s van. But because she recognized Marshall and Marvin from all of Lilly’s earlier ramblings on the train and at the Inn, she pulled over and offered to give them a lift first. And this was how Marshall met Mother. I loved how she toyed with Marshall by pretending to be a freaky psychic. It was a nice touch to see Mother explain how her evil band-mate, Darren, goes about causing drama with Disney villain touches, all while watching it unfold over at the Inn. Mother was also a victim of his antics. She had formed the band years ago with some business school friends, but Darren had completely taken it over and was trying to boot her out. We could debate who has the better band name: Marshall’s law school group “The Funk, the Whole Funk and Nothing but the Funk” or Mother’s biz school band, “Superfreakonomics.”

Marshall and Mother end up having a very nice moment in the van when Marshall encourages her to stand up for herself and her band. Both Marshall and Mother are honest-to-goodness nice people, which means they don’t always stand their ground. By the time they reach the Inn, Mother has decided that SHE is going to be the lead singer again. But she needs a little liquid courage and orders the Kennedy Package, just like someone else we know.

Let’s have a Marshall and Lilly “PAUSE” here to discuss how Mother is quite literally the perfect embodiment Lily’s quirks (and looks) and Marshall’s goodness.  Which of course means that she IS the perfect woman for Ted. And un-pause.

But speaking of pauses, the ultimate Marshall-Lilly job confrontation will have to wait because, first, the two are just so happy to have their little family reunited. And so are we, guys. Hallelujah. They join the gang for a toast on the deck with the latest bottle of Glenn McKenna scotch (that Ted stole to prove his “bronor” to Barney). When Darren rears his ugly head and breaks the bottle, Ted punches him in the face. Little did Ted know that inside the bar, Mother truly appreciated a punched-out Darren. He quits the band and Mother tells Linus to give the best man a glass of their best Scotch, which just so happens to be a Glenn McKenna 35 year.

If Mother inadvertently buying Ted a drink for the first time isn’t enough of a Christmas gift for you, then stay tuned for Marshall’s gift to Barney: another slap! To be continued in 2014!

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