Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Nessie's a she, Ted. Come on.": How I Met Your Mother

If this was, indeed, the final episode of How I Met Your Mother (and all indications in the trades seem to say that it's not), then the show picked a high note to go out on, from the simply felt emotion of Ted and Robin's storyline to Marshall and Lily trying to find something to eat to the final line and cut to black, almost perfectly chosen. I'm sure I could find nits to pick about this episode, but this was a perfect capper to a season that was leaps and bounds beyond the show's sometimes hit-and-miss first season. While that season showed a lot of promise and had a ton of funny episodes, this season made good on that promise. To cancel it now would seem ridiculous, even on a network like CBS.

We finally got the explanation for the spaghetti sauce from a few episodes back (Ted and Robin, in the midst of a fight about their future, tried to flee a restaurant, only to collide with a waiter and spatter sauce all over their clothes). While I don't think the sauce callback is as creative as the writers think it is, not having the blue French horn on the wall in the same episode was a pretty interesting way to clue us in to what was going on (and I have to confess I didn't notice until I read an interview with co-creator Carter Bays). It also worked on the level of the French horn being both something borrowed and something blue.

The episodes of this show written by Bays and Thomas (as this one was) are never its most emotional, but they're often the most heartrending, and this one was no exception. Because we know that Ted and Robin don't ultimately end up together, it's hard to be a shipper for them (indeed, the show seems set out to discourage shipping -- only the Barney/Robin pairing seems at all possible at this point). But this episode made the pain of their breakup feel acute. It was hard not to watch the sad scene on the couch when they realized that they weren't going to make it because they wanted very different things and not feel a twinge of sorrow for the couple. But, thanks to Bob Saget, we know that both of these crazy kids do ultimately get what they wanted.

The episode made fine use of Barney as an audience surrogate, getting him to prompt the backstory of how Ted and Robin finally came to break up. His constant prompting of the couple to explain what had happened was hilarious, and his genuine sadness over the failure of Ted and Robin's pairing was a nice way to show that he does have an interest in romance -- as long as someone else is involved. He was also a good way to shuffle the audience through the large variety of secrets that Ted and Robin's secret could legitimately be -- from breaking up to getting engaged to Robin being pregnant back to breaking up again. Almost all of the laughs fell to Barney this episode, and Neil Patrick Harris kept the pace of the episode quick and the tone of it light.

Marshall and Lily were less important to the episode, but Marshall's big, goofy smile when he said "my wife" was a nice, gooey antidote to the bittersweet end of Ted and Robin. The resolution to avoid wedding cliches seemed another way that the couple was apparently based on Libby and I, and the fact that they didn't get anything to eat until they went for fast food was funny too. I also loved their idea to take a new shared last name, cycling through Skywalker, Hasselhoff and Awesome (what? no Puddleduck?). And, yes, I would like to meet Marshall and Lily Awesome and their children Totally and Frickin'.

But the whole thing came back to Ted and Robin. The story of the show started with them, and now it feels like one chapter of the story has been closed. Finally, Ted has Robin out of his system, and he can move on to find something else. I look forward to whatever season three brings. It's going to be legend. . .wait for it. . .


Libby said...

Oh my god ... you are so lame.
But I still like you.
And seriously: Fireball Justice.
'Nuf said.

Libby said...

And also:
First Corinthians?

Joey said...

Nice review Todd. This was a great episode, and I definitely did feel geniune sadness for Ted and Robin.

Also, if this show gets canceled I will boycott CBS. Which will be easy, because HIMYM is like the only CBS show I watch. But still, they had better not cancel it!

Carrie said...

Joey, I will join you in this boycott if CBS even thinks of canceling this show. I'll only have to give up Big Brother, but I love that stupid reality show like no one's business.