Season 8, Episodes 11 & 12
The Final Page, Parts 1 & 2
HIMYM needed to give us an epic win this week, and it surely delivered. It was the ultimate play…on both Robin and us, the audience. We all knew something was off and weird with the Barney-dating-Patrice scenario, but we assumed it was a silly diversion. Then when things got even more bizarrely serious between that pair, we all groaned that the writers were going down poor and uncharacteristic pathways with Barney. Last week I wrote, “Seriously?!” but tonight I learned the answer was “Nope! Not seriously.” That’s because there was another question with another answer waiting for us, and Robin.
But before we get to Robin and Barney, there was lots of good comedy in this super-sized holiday episode. Ted’s big GNB building dedication party was coming up, which reminded him of his most influential college architecture professor, Dr. Vinnick (played by Peter Gallagher). Ted was enthralled by his lectures and subsequently crushed when Vinnick told him he would never amount to an architect. Of course this makes Vinnick Ted’s “pit guy.” Yes, that’s right…the latest addition to the HIMYM lexicon is “Pit Guy,” meaning the person you hold in a metaphorical pit in your mind after he or she has crossed you in some way, and you hold that grudge to exact some sort of vengeance one day. Everyone has one (or many).
When Vinnick rejects Ted’s invitation to the building opening, Ted takes Lily, Marshall and Barney along for a day trip to Wesleyan to confront professor Vinnick and show him just what an architect he has become. Of course Ted’s ‘revenge of the nerd’ does not go as well as planned, and Vinnick quickly possesses a deeper hold on Ted’s psyche. Ted finally realizes he needs to let Vinnick ‘out of the pit,’ but he is not the only one to learn a lesson on the trip. Lily and Marshall run into an old college “friend” that they never even really liked, but Daryl (played by Seth Green) really really likes Marshall and Lily. Daryl still lives in the past and never truly left college: he runs a cart that sells hacky sacks called “The Three Hack-Migos,” inspired by his best buds Lily and Marshall (apparently the three of them played hacky sack one time back in college). Marshall and Lily do their best to get away from Daryl and his craziness (big mistake since he actually wanted to give them a major sum of money) but Barney cannot be their excuse since he is not allowed to speak.
There is a valid reason Barney is not allowed to speak: he suffered from a jinx with Marshall, and the gang truly believes that miserable luck follows anyone who speaks before a witness of said jinx speaks the cursed one’s name. This actually makes sense for this group, and they have years of evidence (nice call-back to Barney getting hit by a bus many seasons ago). Barney desperately wanting to speak—and resorting to drawing elaborate pictures while enduring the torture of not being able to joke about sexual innuendos—also rather reminded me of the episode in which no one will give in and return Barney’s high-five, leaving his arm hanging for an entire episode. Barney ultimately uses some very clever trickery to not only have the jinx broken but to let Ted in on a very special secret: he plans to propose to Patrice. Ted is not allowed to tell anyone, especially Robin.
This brings us to part two, where Ted is caught in a major moral dilemma and doesn’t know if he should abide by his swear to Barney or risk getting hit in the balls several times and give Robin notice in case she…wants to do something about it. Meanwhile, Marshall and Lily face their own dilemma about leaving baby Marvin alone for a romantic mini-escape. Since they have never been away at night time, they have fears that any typical new parents would have, plus there’s the issue of who will sing their world’s best lullaby song. Yes, Marshall and Lily have an ah-maz-ing night-night song, “And the whole world says goodnight” with a bevy of instruments and sounds that are music to our ears—well, everyone but their upstairs neighbor.
Everything comes to a head on the night of the big GNB building party. Marshall and Lily have prepared detailed instructions for Mickey and for their own pleasures away from the baby. They do get a tad side-tracked at the GNB party, though, after some drinking and that obnoxious floor Ted designed (totally the floor’s fault, not the drinks). Marshall and Lily end up spending their evening wallowing in the corner of the party, badmouthing other babies wearing tuxedo onesies and singing to photos of Marvin on their phone.
But the real action comes about when Ted [and a fabulous eavesdropping and singing Ranjit!!!] pick up a fancy Robin for the party and Ted blurts out that Barney is proposing to Patrice at the top of the World Wide News building. Damnit Patrice, that is Robin’s favorite spot too! What follows is a great and heartfelt conversation between Ted and Robin in which Robin tries to pretend she doesn’t love Barney and hates making an ass of herself, while Ted explains to her that he has never regretted making an ass of himself because it has all led to something. Ted clearly loves Robin but he has taken a major turn this past year, because he can truly love her as a friend and wants her to be with Barney. Robin finally gets out of the car to go make an ass of herself on the roof. But turns out Barney has already made an ass of her (and us) by enacting the most elaborate play in the history of playbooks: The Robin.
All of the episodes over the past several weeks—from Barney’s drunken kiss and then telling Robin he was done chasing her, to getting Patrice to be act as his girlfriend and know Robin would go crazy and break into his apartment—was all one elaborate play to win Robin once and for all. The only part of the play that wasn’t a scam was the burning of his playbook: he really did burn it because he knows he doesn’t need it anymore. When Robin arrives on the roof, The Robin play was written out among rose petals and candles and Barney proposed. After Robin reamed him out for his lies, she of course said yes!
I have to say that the writer’s outdid themselves with this ultimate Barney proposal. Even though we all knew the Patrice thing wouldn’t actually go anywhere, I certainly didn’t see it going where it did: an ultimate final play to propose to Robin. Whether you are a Barney + Robin fan or not, you have to give mad props to this episode for once again being able to take something so utterly ‘playbook Barney’ and turn it on its head to something heartwarming.
The episode ended on a rather reflective note, with Marshall and Lily watching the snowfall with the world’s cutest baby; newly engaged Barney and Robin watching the snowfall from the roof of WWN; and a celebrated Ted looking out from the top floor of his big accomplishment. And with that we are left to wonder what is in store for this gang in the New Year.