Symphony of Illumination
Season 7, Episode 12
Wow, HIMYM….wow. You keep making my jaw drop week after week. Ever since last season—which brought us the sudden death of Marshall’s father and the re-emergence of Barney’s dad—this show has been cranking out these incredibly sad/incredibly funny/incredibly moving hybrid episodes. The writers weren’t joking when they said they had big things in store for Robin this year. Whereas last season really belonged to the men (i.e. Marshall and Barney’s arcs that caused them each to grow up in different ways) this season goes to the major developments impacting our ladies, Robin and Lily. And I’ve got to say…Robin is bringing it! And so is Ted for that matter; he truly is being a wonderfully solid friend.
Let’s start with the fact that the episode began in quite the jarring way: Future Robin talking to her Future Kids (boy in a suit, natch!) telling them how she found out she was pregnant. The writers wasted no time in addressing our big cliffhanger from two weeks ago—well, at least the part about who Robin’s baby daddy is. Since Robin admits to Barney that she and Kevin have not yet slept together (whaaat?) the baby would have to be Barney’s, assuming that she is actually pregnant. OK, so this also begged the other question we all had: IS she actually pregnant, or will this be a false positive situation? Fortunately, we got an answer very quickly when Barney and Robin went to the doctor a few days later. Unfortunately, Robin got news she was not at all expecting (literally and figuratively).
But before their doctor’s visit, it was fun to see a rather joyous Barney actually get excited about the thought of fatherhood and a freaked-out Robin accompany Lily to “We B Babies” (awesome store name, btw). The little store visit did nothing to help build excitement for Robin…I mean, the thought of 4-inch long cracked nipples doesn’t really sound all that fun. Meanwhile, Barney jumped off the happy-daddy bandwagon when he ran into his pre-Ted bestie, “Insane Dwayne.” Kudos to the flashback of Barney and Dwayne hitting on girls in MacLaren’s with a goateed Ted in the background. Barney quickly learned that Insane Dwayne had become Sane Dwayne ever since becoming a father from his one-night stand. Now neither Robin nor Barney felt up to the challenge of parenthood. So, it was only fitting for the duo to launch into a hilarious dance routine in the doctor’s office upon finding out it is “Not a Fathers Day!”
The B-plot tonight was purely for fun and revolved around Marshall’s determination to out-light his suburban neighbors with a “Symphony of Illumination.” This made perfect sense given Marshall’s childlike wonder and competitive spirit. He also took a liking to a neighborhood teen, Scott, who ‘wanted to help.’ You could tell that Marshall enjoyed getting to play dad and son, not only because it reminded him of his own father but because he saw it as his own future. So it was even better when the boy revealed himself to be a snotty teen who stranded Marshall on the roof so he could throw a party in Marshall and Lily’s house. The writers had fun connecting Marshall into the main story in little bits, such as Lily getting text messages to send dirty pictures (not knowing they were from Scott) and Marshall trying to help Robin by lawyering her with questions. But again, Marshall’s symphony of illumination—or failed attempt at it—was merely a silly distraction from the serious business at hand.
Back over in baby-land, Robin thoroughly enjoyed watching episodes of “Teenage Mommies” while smoking and drinking since she was told by the doctor she was not pregnant. But then she got a call to come back in because the doctor had more news. It turned out that her tests revealed she could never have any kids. Robin knew her friends and was painfully aware of how each would react if she told them the truth—Ted would force feed her comfort food, Lily would implode with emotion, Marshall would pepper her with logical and too-personal questions, and Barney would turn to physical comedy (and I would wager, magic tricks). Rather than face these reactions, she chose to keep it all inside, which proved to be more difficult than she thought. At one point she covered by saying she could never be a…poll-vaulter for the Canadian Olympic team because she was too tall. And funnily enough, all her friends reacted the way Robin guessed, which was hilarious given how random and ridiculous her ‘problem’ was. If only it was as simple as Robin trying “that one where you ski and shoot at the same time.”
Ted was especially determined to cheer up his friend and roomie, but Detective Mosby miscalculated what she was upset about. Seeing Robin walk the city alone on Christmas and continue telling the story to her future kids was heartbreaking, but of course the real heartbreak came when it was revealed that these future kids of hers didn’t actually exist. I am sure every single one of us questioned the actual existence of Future Robin Kids at the beginning of the episode—nothing is ever so plainly revealed on HIMYM—but at the same time, they set us up to believe that the mystery would be how Robin would eventually be able to have kids despite being told at Christmas 2011 she was infertile. The reveal that the kids were merely manifestations of what might have been made the ending all the more painful. But nothing topped the bittersweet comfort Ted surpised her with when she returned home that night. Setting up their apartment to display a “Symphony of Illumination” to the song Highway to Hell was pure awesomeness.
With such a somber life-changing moment for Robin, I don’t want to neglect the truly funny moments from tonight:
- Robin punching Barney numerous times immediately after telling him she was pregnant (“Are you sure you’re not just getting fat?” “Looks like nobody told your boobs!”)
- “One of your socks? Boom!” (Ted taking a guess on Marshall’s gigantic stocking)
- Ted lamenting his stepdad Clint’s nontraditional Christmas traditions (always great having a callback to Clint and Virginia)
- Big Fudge has come to town and he brought his friends Manheim and Steamroller (Marshall, referring to his own awesome strength)
- ‘Mrs. Scherbatsky’ and her ‘boyfriend’ jamming out a dance routine when the doctor tells them they are not pregnant. And Future Robin saying, “Again, sorry kids.”
- Barney trying the vaginal numbing spray—on his face.
- Mr. E screaming at Scott through the skylight, especially when a certain large stocking is violated.
- Once Robin learns she is infertile, she sees babies in a different light: “Aw damnit that thing’s cute as crap.”
- “It’s Sane Dwayne now” (Barney’s former best friend); “You used to be magnificent” (Barney)
- “Meet a nice guy, get married, vault some polls…” Robin tries to claim it’s what most women want.
- Ted finds a onesie with a Maple leaf…“Oh Canadorable!”
- Ted will always work to cheer Robin up, you can’t fire him: “I’m union, bitch”
So, where does the show go from here? How does Robin change as a person knowing this news, which seems especially difficult given the timing of Lily and Marshall’s baby happenings. Does she admit her news to her friends? And where exactly has Kevin been? And who else is looking forward to seeing Robin the Bullfighter?!