It’s the episode we have been waiting for these past two weeks. Ever since the game-changing moment at the end of Bad News, in which Marshall tearfully learns his father died from a sudden heart attack, we have all been wondering how exactly HIMYM will handle this tragic development moving forward. In tonight’s Last Words, the entire gang goes to Minnesota to support Marshall, and I for one think the show did an excellent job of blending the emotion and the humor. Perhaps more than any other event, a funeral is one of those times when everyone wants to say and do the “right” things—so ironically there are many opportunities for humor as loved ones struggle to be helpful in any way they can.
Marshall and his family decide to focus on his father’s last words for their eulogies. His mother and his excessively large Minnesotan brothers all seem to have absurdly idyllic last words with Marvin Erikson…from a tender moment with grandchildren to a deer eating out of his hand on a hike. Marshall, however, struggles because he begins to recall the very last words he heard his father say as his parents left NYC. These words include such true-to-life discussions on leftover pork chops, “positive racist” comments regarding Koreans, and finally the oft-overlooked quality of the movie Crocodile Dundee 3. Marshall is pretty bummed to say the least, until he discovers he has an unheard voicemail on his phone from his father. This last potential for final words fills him with hope and then paralyzing fear.
Meanwhile, Lily, Ted, Robin and Barney all try to create useful roles for themselves. Lily—who has never gotten along well with Marshall’s mother—quickly determines that she can be most useful as a whipping post as she lets Mrs. Erikson unleash anger on her. Barney and Ted go for the laughs—they make it their mission to show Marshall every ridiculous YouTube video of guys being kicked in the nuts and when that fails they go for “the immediacy of live theater” and try it themselves.
My favorite, though, is definitely Robin as “vice girl.” Robin proclaims herself a seasoned pro at these events and she knows her role: be the girl who has every kind of vice at the ready for the person in mourning. This leads to some great one-liners and sight gags as everyone at the wake begins approaching Robin for her “goods.” The best is when she first starts pulling magical items from her bag and Ted remarks that Robin is like Mary Poppins, if Mary Poppins had a bag full of drugs. Robin’s response: “IF??? The kids in the movie jumped into a painting and spent 15 minutes chasing a cartoon fox. Spoonful of sugar? Grow up.” So true, Robin, so true.
Back to Marshall and the last words. Well, just as Marshall decides he has to listen to the voice message—good or bad—to find out his father’s true last words to him, he discovers the message was a pocket dial. Marshall had been holding it together pretty well up until that point, but a non-message “message” was pretty much the last straw. I think we all knew that after Marshall’s outcry about the cruelty of the situation he would end up hearing actual words from his dad on the message. Despite sensing that words were coming, the scene did not disappoint. Marshall got to hear an ‘I love you’ from his father one last time…and something about foot fungus. It was another strong touching moment for Marshall, and he chose to keep those true final words to himself (and the gang).
A few of my favorite funeral moments:
- “You’ve somehow crammed Tijuana into a purse” (Ted to Robin, regarding the many vices she has prepared for the occasion).
- “Wait, doesn’t Judy hate y…um, that you aren’t so close?” (Robin sort of correcting her statement on Judy’s feelings toward Lily).
- “Make your fancy tofu sushi bagels…and choke on them!” (Minnesotan Judy railing on Lily’s NYC cooking style).
- Marshall making them all consider what their own fathers’ last words would have been to them had they died…the best being Ted’s bachelor dad (who we know is a player from the episode Brunch) and Ted recently having to listen to his dad talk about his latest young hook-up (Ted’s prom date).
- Robin pulling Crocodile Dundee 3 out of her purse at the end.
- Marshall’s “last words” to his friends before heading to the bathroom: “I really really really love you guys. I’m going to go drop a deuce.”
The only thing that I really didn’t care for in this episode—nor did it add anything to the story—was the substitute minister who used to bully Marshall back in the day. The character was not funny, nor was that side-story needed at all.
Looking forward, we have known for a while that Barney is on a path to eventually meet his father. The Natural History Museum episode earlier this season—which was truly one of the series’ finest—really put Barney’s curiosity on the map. Now Marshall’s situation is pushing Barney into action. And, of course, we will see how this event continues to impact Marshall, Lily and their own quest to have a child.
Did you like how HIMYM handled the immediate fall-out and the funeral?