How I Met Your Mother "Sunrise" Review: The Art of Letting Go

By Kaitlin Thomas

Feb 04, 2014

How I Met Your Mother S09E17: "Sunrise"

The romantic adventures of Ted Mosby have been a bit frustrating for several years now, even if they are the reason we're all still here. But even knowing that How I Met Your Mother would eventually need to wrap up Ted's lingering feelings for Robin so he could move on and fall in love with the Mother didn't make the tough, bitter, eye-roll-inducing episode that was "Sunrise" any easier to swallow. I understand why the show's writers thought they needed to hammer home how deep Ted's love is for Robin, to the point of near exhaustion (so we'll be able to see that his love for the Mother is even deeper), but enough is enough already. Understanding why something's happening doesn't necessarily mean it's working, or that we should agree with it.

If this episode had aired a year or two ago, I think I would've reacted much differently. As it stands, in the backstretch of Season 9 and just hours before Robin and Barney's wedding, it made me want to punch some puppies. The nighttime beach stroll was too ridiculous for my liking, especially because the reason the two of them were out there was that Barney had disappeared. And knowing that the series had to address Ted's feelings so the story could move forward made watching the whole ordeal even worse. But hey, at least it's over, which means we can finally look forward to the wedding and Ted's impending meeting of the Mother. Plus, Robin now knows that Ted is planning to move to Chicago once the festivities are over. 

On one hand, this is a good thing, because Robin deserved to know the truth. Even if she isn't in love with Ted, they're still very close friends. But on the other hand, I can't stop thinking about how I would feel if a close friend told me they were moving to a different city because of me. (And no, Ted didn't say those exact words, but that's exactly what's happening.) Would I be sad? Would I be angry? Would I be able to just let it happen? Ted is running scared because Robin is marrying Barney and he thinks it's a chance to start over in a new city, and while his departure for Chicago certainly isn't the worst possible thing that could happen, I do think it's cheapened things somehow. I feel like it's an obvious way to make us feel bad for Ted, when I don't really want to. Especially because, according to my calculations, now that Robin knows, the only person who's still in the dark is the one Ted who probably should've told first: Marshall. 

But Marshall was fighting his own battle with the past in his own storyline this week. After Lily stormed out—we still don't know where she went, but she returned early in the morning—Marshall had some serious conversations with Ghost Lily, 2006 Ghost Lily, and the ghost of his late father. I really respect what How I Met Your Mother was trying to do in showing us that Marshall and Lily aren't necessarily the world's most perfect couple, and that if Marshall continues to make decisions without consulting her, or if he keeps referring to their relationship as a series of wins and losses, he'll eventually ruin his marriage. But—and this is a big but—I wish this had been a real conversation between Marshall and Lily, and not one that Marshall only imagined in his head. Because now their fight is over and neither one of them has really talked about it. 2006 Ghost Lily didn't really add anything to the episode, and even though it was great to see Marvin return for a quick cameo, I'm a little suspicious that the writers almost swept the fight under the rug because they didn't know how else to deal with it. At the very least, I hope we'll find out where Lily went after she left the inn, and what made her change her mind about their move to Italy.

And speaking of not knowing how to deal with things, I'm a bit unsure of how to deal with Barney's last night out as a single man. I really liked the idea of Barney passing along everything he considers to be "wisdom" to two young men, the same way he used to impart that wisdom to Ted so many years ago. I even liked that he passed along the Playbook, which was written on napkins. But I actually thought we'd already said goodbye to this Barney, so I guess I just don't know that we needed to revisit him. Although it IS completely believable that a man like Barney would feel the need to do such things, and I really can't fault him for wanting to tell people to play laser tag. 

Ultimately, while I agree with everything that happened in "Sunrise" on a basic level—all of these storylines needed to happen before the series ended—the execution of nearly every single one of them felt lacking. Ted needed to deal with Robin, but the scene with Floating Robin was so ridiculous that I laughed instead of feeling any emotional attachment to him finally letting her go. I'd also completely forgotten about the locket, but I did enjoy seeing so many familiar faces return. Marshall's B-story was lacking simply because we knew he wasn't actually having an adult discussion with his wife, but that's what made it possible for Marvin to drop by. And Barney, well, I'm just glad he's putting all of that stuff behind him. I hope that with these roadblocks finally out of the way, How I Met Your Mother will be able to continue without any further bumps in the road. Because with only two more months' worth of new episodes, the series can't really afford any more missteps.


– Ted's Best Girlfriends: 5) Stella, 4) Zoe, 3) the Slutty Pumpkin, 2) Marshall when he and Ted pretended to be a couple, and 1) Victoria. (It's very telling that Robin didn't include herself in this list.)

– Ted's Worst Girlfriends: 5) Blah Blah, 4) Boats Boats Boats, 3) Karen, 2) Zoe, and 1) Jeanette.

– Seriously, though: Floating Robin? We all got the analogy, but the actual scene was soooo bad.

– This episode was full of familiar faces. Who was your favorite? I'm going with Marshall's dad. 

– Where do you think Lily went? And why do you think she came back ready to put the fight behind her?


  • Comments (175)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • fabricioh Jul 24, 2014

    I liked this episode. I think floating Robin wasn't silly at all! It was a great poetic way of showing that Ted was letting her go :)

  • sduvoisin Feb 13, 2014

    Robin's list kinda sucks in my opinion. First of all she should be on at least one of them. Doesn't want to put herself in the Top 5 okay there's an argument to be had there but then she would be in the Worst 5. Blah-blah and Victoria had Robin issues and I don't think they are the only ones.
    Great girls that I would've considered on the top 5 OVER Zoey (she was trying to kill Ted's dream), Slutty Pumpkin (they had NO chemistry) and Stella (although I did love Stella SOO MUCH!) - Janet McIntyre (History vs Mystery), Jen (Double Date), Mary the Paralegal, Trudy (Pineapple Incident and was in the maybe 3 way), Royce (Wedding Bride), Stacey Gusar (Little Boys). Would all of them be in the top 5? No of course not. Victoria has earned her place rightfully and the throw back to Marshal and Ted being a "gay couple" deserves it's place (maybe not at the number 2 slot).

    Horrible girls that should've been considered for the Worst 5 OVER Blah Blah and Becky (Boats, Boats, Boats) - Natalie (Return of the Shirt - She kicked Ted's ass), Cathy (Spoiler Alert - the gang hated her I can't believe Robin didn't mention her), Barney's half sister that thought Ted was old enough to fight in Vietnam, Strawberry (MEAT IS MURDER!), and Robin. If she isn't on the top 5 then maybe she should be on the worst 5. Ted messed things up with Victoria TWICE for her, he gave up his internet soul mate remember she loved Otis Redding and wanted to have 2 kids and played tennis, and Robin is the one that gave him the info that made him freak out with Janet McIntyre who just wanted someone to cuddle with and watch Annie Hall. Not all of that can be put on Robin Ted makes his own choices but she certainly has had a huge impact on his love life and not just in their 1 year relationship.

    Overall I didn't love the episode. The floating Robin thing was weird ( I laughed too). I think it would've made more sense for anyone ELSE to do the top 5, worst 5. I could see Lily doing it and it even works if Marshall or Barney did it. The Marshall and Lily sub-plot felt odd and then super rushed (they are trying to get everything tied up for the ceremony but come on guys do better.) Barney passing off the knowledge makes sense but that should be told VIA flashback. Him doing it the night before his wedding makes it seem like he hasn't really grown. What if they flashed back to right after they got engaged and Barney was "interviewing" guys to take over the Playbook and pass on the Bro Code. I'll watch til the show ends but this Season has had more bad episodes than good.

  • Ratisbona Feb 11, 2014

    I think Ted and Robin should have built sandcastles in the sand.

  • Asdrubal_Ribeira Feb 12, 2014

    Lol good one!

  • animeslave20 Feb 08, 2014

    I enjoyed this episode if only for the past girlfriends and the look at 2006 Lilly. I feel though that having Robin and ted walking on the beach together while Barney was "missing" was kind of odd. This episode and Ted's letting go of the thought of the "Ted/Robin" relationship would have been better without the presence of actual Robin. It would have held more weight and packed a better punch with me it were "Ghost Robin" like there was "Ghost Lilly" or Robin's "Imaginary Children" where it turns out this all was an internal struggle where he finally learns to let go. Putting Robin in the position of knowing her best friend is still in love with her is awkward at anytime but before the weddin is the worst. I am not of this school of thought that Ted needed to get over Robin because it doesn't work like that. When you were in love and you break up with somoeone, that love is still there. It makes it even harder when you are around that person all the time. This is why most of his girlfriends had issues with Robin being around especially Victoria. I think this like many other episodes in the final season has really polarized fans and it will continue till the end. I personally thought this was another solid episode. Lastly, I cannot be the only person who choked up at Robin floating away.

  • LucyBarker Feb 06, 2014

    I knew this episode was going to divide people, and I'm among those who loved it. Maybe it's because I'll forever have place for a little Ted/Robin in my heart, or maybe because I just really, REALLY love Ted... but I feel for him now more than ever. And anyone saying that it's ridiculous and unbelievable for him to still have these feelings for Robin, well, it's not. When you love someone so much and for so long as Ted did Robin, you'll never be okay with things like her marrying one of your best friends, and then seeing her day in day out with him as a happy couple. It sucks, but it's realistic. But it also doesn't mean that you'll never love anyone as much ever again, so while I do think that for Ted Robin will always be his first "true love", that won't lessen her love for the Mother. After all we all have our firsts and how many of us will end up with that person for life? So I guess what I'm trying to say is... I love Ted, I love Robin, I love them together, I love them apart, I love The Mother, and I love this show as it is. This episode made me very happy.

  • bobster_bsas Feb 05, 2014

    Dear K,
    I don't always agree with your points of view, but this time i completely disagree with everything you said in this review.
    Except for the floating Robin, that was really bad...

  • CelloPietro Feb 05, 2014

    Lot's of things remain unanswered on that Ted and Robin thing. I would personally feel much better if he actually jumped off the bridge to get the locket, not letting that be the moment who convinced him to let go of Robin as it felt. Also, their last words "I have to let go" and "I know you do", then Robin floating away, almost made me feel like Ted was imagining he was talking to her and the whole thing was on his head. I almost expected something like this. Anyway, maybe we get some more explanations on the next episode! ^^

  • ukeishiro Feb 06, 2014

    I have the same problem, I don't know what was real and what wasn't, it's disturbing and annooying!!

  • ukeishiro Feb 05, 2014

    Robin's floating was kind of weird...
    Anyway the real question is: Did Ted jump???

  • tvfanboy Feb 05, 2014

    As corny, overdone and obvious Floating Robin was, it still tugged at my heartstrings a bit....but then again I like Eternal Flame. Just call me a sap...

  • OSCL Feb 05, 2014

    The casting of britanick was just perfect.

  • See More Comments (103)