How I Met Your Mother is back. Oh, and How I Met Your Mother is BACK.
After leaving us with the image of Barney and Robin getting engaged before taking a few weeks off for the holidays, HIMYM didn’t allow itself to slide back into the slump it'd been stuck in for much of the early part of Season 8. I don’t know if I have to the power to declare that HIMYM has rediscovered its rhythm again, but I’m going to do it anyway. HIMYM is back.
Leading up to the pre-Christmas Barney-Robin engagement episode, an episode that many HIMYM fans now consider one of the best in the show’s long history, there were already signs that the show had once again found its way. The dumbing-down of Lily and Marshall had dissipated, and "The Final Page" went so far as to reveal that many of HIMYM’s Season 8 missteps or inconsistencies were really part of Barney’s complicated plan to propose to Robin.
The only thing we we've been missing is Ted having the chance to share in his friends’ happiness. He may have achieved a lot in his career at an early age (he's the youngest architect to ever design a building that became part of the New York City skyline), but he's still alone. Yeah, he has his friends, but he isn’t any closer to finding the one. Giving up Robin to Barney seemed especially hard for Ted, and "Band or DJ?" drove that point home.
While Barney and Robin dealt with more pressing matters (more on that later, kids), Ted and Lily engaged in a battle over the fate of their friends’ upcoming nuptials. While Ted had already selected a date (May 25, 2013... more on that later too, kids), Barney and Robin hadn’t yet decided on reception music and, as you may've guessed from the episode title, were faced with the decision of whether to go with a band or a DJ. Lily was doing everything in her power to hire the band that she and Marshall had wanted at their wedding to play at Barney and Robin's, but she hit a roadblock when she discovered that the group was already booked for May 25. It turned out that Ted, in his drive to secure a DJ for the event, had secured Lily’s band for the same date, in order to prevent them from playing at Barney and Robin’s wedding.
Ted’s impassioned protest speech against having bands at your wedding revealed his true feelings regarding Robin and Barney's engagement. Though he began by harmlessly pointing out the cons of hiring a band, Ted soon found himself insisting that bands can’t be trusted. That they’ll sleep with every girl in New York City. And that Robin deserves better than some crappy, unreliable band. The idea of not being with Robin had finally started to sink in.
Lily pulled Ted up to the building’s roof, where she confronted him about not being happy that Barney and Robin were engaged. Through a voiceover, Ted walked us through all the times in his life he had been hurt. The time he got hit in the nuts at summer camp. The time he fell off a chair in MacLaren’s. The time Barney punched him in the nose. The time he was attacked by a goat in his apartment. The time he had a butterfly tramp stamp removed by laser. And finally, the time Robin told Ted she didn’t love him. The text message from Barney informing Ted that Robin had said yes to Barney's proposal hurt Ted more than all of those other things put together, he told us. Since first meeting Robin at MacLaren’s almost nine years ago, there was always a part of Ted that believed he would someday end up with her. That she would come around to the idea of marriage. That she would warm up to having kids. And a single text message shattered all of that for Ted. One of his best friends was going to marry the woman he had long been in love with.
Of course, Ted couldn’t say all of this to Lily. He couldn’t go on record as not being happy for his friends. So Lily offered Ted the chance to not be the worst person on the roof at that moment. In a moment of extreme openness, Lily told Ted that there were times when she wished she wasn’t a mom. There were times when she wished she could pack a bag and sneak away in the middle of the night. After taking care of kids all day at school, Lily came home to do the same thing with Marvin. Her life wasn’t about her own dreams anymore.
“Robin shouldn’t be with Barney. She should be with me,” Ted said to Lily in what I’m guessing is the only time he’ll ever say that to anyone. As we saw later on, Ted was back to being the honorable friend, sitting with Robin at the MacLaren’s bar, telling her he was happy for her and Barney. I guess Ted will never really let Robin go, obviously ignoring Victoria’s repeated warning, but if what HIMYM showed us next was any indication, Ted won’t let his feelings toward Robin keep him from finding the one.
At a point later in time, Ted ran into Cindy—a former student/woman he dated/roommate of the Mother—and her wife on the subway. It turned out that Barney and Robin did go with a band for their wedding, but the band canceled at the last minute. So it was a good thing that Cindy and her wife, Casey, ran into Ted that day, because Cindy’s ex-roommate (yup, that roommate) was a member of the best wedding band in the tri-state area, and that a previously scheduled gig for May 25 had just so happened to fall through, making them free to play Barney and Robin's big day.
A flashforward to the wedding revealed two things. The first is that the Mother is the wedding band's bass player, and it was during the father-bride dance that Ted first noticed her. Of course, HIMYM only showed us a hand. The second is that the wedding does happen. There’s a group of HIMYM fans out there that's posed the theory that all the photos of Robin in her wedding dressed have proved there will indeed be a wedding day. However, those same fans have also suggested that either Robin or Barney would bail on the wedding, allowing Robin to still wind up with Ted. Now that we’ve seen part of the happy wedding reception, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Barney and Robin DO go through with the wedding.
While this scene did answer a few questions about the Mother, it also raised some new ones. In the season premiere, we saw Ted at the Farhampton train station, his hand wrapped in a bandage, as the Mother arrived by taxi. She even had her bass with her. If Ted left the wedding to go to the train station, why was the Mother arriving by train? That episode made it appear as if she was just arriving; if she and Ted had been at the reception together, why did they go to the train station separately? Was this a planned rendezvous? Does the bandage on Ted’s hand play into their situation?
There are also HIMYM fans who've put their faith in the idea that the Mother is Barney’s half-sister. Like Barney, the half-sister would have Jerry as her father, but unlike Jerry’s younger son, Barney wouldn’t have met this sister yet. All we know is that she’s in college. If Ted dated Cindy while she was in college, and if Cindy’s roommate is the Mother, the pieces kind of seemed to fall into place. Would Barney’s half-sister be expected to be in the band at his wedding though? It could happen, but I doubt the HIMYM writers are going to go with a plan that the internet thinks it's already figured out.
Speaking of Barney, I promised to discuss the more pressing matters that he and Robin were dealing with in this episode. Believing that the act wasn’t necessary in the modern world, Barney had never bothered to ask Robin’s dad for permission to marry his daughter—something that Robin wasn’t happy with. Despite her rocky relationship with her father, Robin still wanted her fiance to go through with the traditional courtesy.
I always enjoyed Robin’s dad’s appearances more when The Young and the Restless’s Eric Braeden was playing Robin Sr., but thanks to a dispute with HIMYM, Victor Newman isn’t around anymore to show displeasure in his daughter’s life. Instead, we now have Ray Wise as Robin Sr., and while he still plays the character as a scary borderline sociopath, it’s just not the same. Oh, well. This isn’t a battle I’m going to win.
With Robin's dad now living in New York City, he met Barney and Robin at Pizzazzy, his favorite restaurant. It turns out that a lot has changed in Robin Sr.’s life. He’s dating a dental hygienist named Carol, he likes to wear Hawaiian shirts, and he’s a big Jimmy Buffett fan. In his words, he’s fun now. Unfortunately, a fun Robin Sr. is still a terrifying Robin Sr. Unhappy with Barney not killing a family of bears as tribute and the fact that Robin wanted to marry a blond man, Robin Sr. turned down Barney’s request.
Barney wasn’t going to give up, though. When Robin came home to their apartment, she found a dark-haired Barney on the verge of shooting Fluffernutter the bunny, all to impress her dad. This was it for Robin. As she had just discovered through Facebook that her dad had gotten married to Carol without ever telling Robin, she revealed that she and Barney were already engaged and that if Robin Sr. couldn’t invite her to his wedding, Robin Sr. wasn’t invited to hers.
But Barney wasn’t done giving up. Even though Robin's dad scared the crap out of him, Barney convinced him to apologize to Robin, something that he'd never done. Even though Robin Sr. could only promise his daughter a dance to "Cheeseburger in Paradise" as sung by Carol, the wedding flashforward showed a very happy daughter and father dancing together.
I also promised to come back to the date Robin and Barney had settled on for their wedding. May 25, 2013. As HIMYM usually matches its episodes up with the real calendar, I have no problem assuming that the wedding episode will air sometime around May 25. That date is a Saturday, so I’m guessing that May 20 will be the date of the actual episode, making it very likely that Robin and Barney’s wedding will happen in the season finale. With the kind-of-shocking news over the holidays that HIMYM will likely return for a ninth season, here’s how I think things will play out. The wedding will be the season finale, and with the Mother playing bass in the wedding band, I can’t imagine that the show won’t finally show us her face. Even if Ted doesn’t know she’s the Mother, we will. This will allow HIMYM to use its ninth and probably final season to prove to us exactly why the Mother was worth almost a decade of storytelling on Ted’s part. We know why Marshall and Lily belong together. And we know why Barney and Robin belong together. Now HIMYM needs to tell us why Ted and the Mother belong together. That will be the journey the show’s ninth season takes us on.
NOTES & QUOTES
– Lily in response to Ted’s parenting advice: “And here we were, just watering him and facing him toward the sunlight.”
– Ted has a bigger wedding-planning binder than Lily. Classic Mosby. While Ted was going on about his plans for Barney and Robin’s wedding, I definitely got the impression that he was planning the wedding he dreamt of having with Robin.
– Ted describing Robin’s dad: “Dude’s stone-cold Slytherin.”
– Robin Sr. after discovering Facebook: “Are you familiar with memes? There’s a cat that says ‘I can haz cheezburger.’”
– Robin trying to figure out which Pizzazzy’s bathroom to use: “Well, I’m going to the room marked 'Spaghettis,' which I'm hoping is the ladies’ room. 'Meatballs' has to be men’s, right? I don’t know what the hell 'Calamaris' is...”
– Robin, a few minutes later, after resolving the restroom uncertainty: “It turns out “Spaghettis” are men. I saw a noodle.”
– Ted describing his mom’s Facebook habits: “He’s talking about my mom’s 2,000-word review of Fifty Shades of Grey, and fourteen of those words were ‘vulva.’”
– Marshall’s mom has pictures of him as a cheerleader? I highly doubt any of the Eriksen boys were cheerleaders. Because no one makes cheerleading outfits that would fit those giants. Not because they’re too manly to be cheerleaders.
– Robin Sr. in regards to Barney’s inability to shoot Fluffernutter the bunny: “I told you not to give him a name!”
– Barney pinning the blame on Fluffernutter after being frightened by Robin’s dad: “Oh no... Fluffernutter peed all over my pants.”
– I had no idea what Lily was talking about when she accused Marshall of wanting to pretend he was in The Departed. After listening to Marshall and Ted yell “Are you a caawwwppp?” in Boston accents, I now understand.
– We can now add “confetti” to HIMYM’s list of TV-friendly code words. That was one pretty awful confetti Marvin took all over Marshall.
– Casey to Ted: “Ted, do you believe in destiny?” Ted: “You really don’t know me, do you?”