“The great moments of your life won't necessarily be the things you do, they'll also be the things that happen to you,” Ted Mosby once told us, continuing, “Now, I'm not saying you can't take action to affect the outcome of your life—you have to take action... and you will.” How I Met Your Mother's last episode of 2012 showed us that the series is ready to take action... and so is Barney Stinson.
HIMYM finally delivered the proposal it had been teasing since we first saw Robin in her wedding dress, and, wow, did the show nail it. After weeks of making us think that Barney had lost it or was over-correcting, we learned that there was a plan. Or, more accurately, there was a play. The Robin. The final play in Barney’s Playbook, the sixteen steps that would end with the former womanizer down on one knee, asking Robin to marry him. "The Final Page" was my favorite HIMYM episode in a long time, and the series really redeemed its recent missteps with the episode's final ten minutes. Seriously, that ending pretty much Toy Story 3’d me. If you’re a guy, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
When this season started, Ted was at Barney and Robin’s wedding, so we knew the two would get back together. To get this to this point, we had to fight through months of misdirection—Barney was engaged to Quinn, Robin was dating Nick, Patrice showed up to impact both Barney and Robin’s lives. And then HIMYM threw in one last bit of misdirection with Patrice, as she and Barney began dating and Barney told Ted that he planned on proposing to her. As I guessed last week, there was more to Barney and Patrice’s relationship than what the couple was telling everyone.
The second half of "The Final Page"—the half that really matters—focused on the gang attending the opening of Ted’s crowning achievement: the GNB tower. With Barney absent since he planned to propose to Patrice on the same night, Ted asked Robin to be his date. During the limo ride to the party, Ted pulled a classic Mosby: Even though he swore (a jinx swear, too!) to Barney that he wouldn’t tell anyone that Barney was going to propose to Patrice, Ted told Robin anyway, giving her one final chance to make a play for Barney. With tears streaming down her face, Robin told Ted she couldn’t throw herself at Barney anymore, that she couldn’t keep making an ass out of herself. This is where a show like HIMYM, a show with almost a decade's worth of hard-earned history, shines. Robin was talking to Ted Mosby, a man who knows a thing or two about making an ass of himself during a romantic pursuit. Drawing on his past attempts to win over Robin himself, Ted told Robin that there wasn’t any shame in making an ass of yourself, not when there’s the potential for something great to come out of it. For Ted, even though he didn’t wind up with Robin, his numerous attempts to woo her resulted in their friendship, something that means a great deal to him.
Without Robin’s knowledge, Ted had the limo (and Ranjit, the gang’s favorite limo driver) drop her off at World Wide News, where Barney had told Ted that he was going to pop the question to Patrice. When Robin reached the rooftop, she found only candles and a single piece of paper. The final page to Barney’s Playbook, which listed just one play. The Robin. In a voiceover that easily stands out as one of HIMYM’s greatest moments, Barney revealed that his actions over the past weeks had been his final play to win Robin.
He admitted that he wasn’t over her at Splitsville. He made a drunken move on Robin after their night at the strip club with the purpose of getting shot down. He enlisted the help of Patrice, the person Robin couldn’t stand the most, to make Robin realize that she really did love Barney. He made sure Robin saw him burn the Playbook (thanks to the hidden cameras I just knew Barney had in his apartment). And he told Ted about his plan to propose and swore his friend to secrecy, all while knowing that Ted couldn’t keep that secret from Robin. All of this led to Robin standing on the WWN rooftop with Barney standing there, the most genuine and content smile on his face we’ve ever seen.
Saying what a lot people have probably thought about Barney’s actions this season, Robin told Barney that there was no way she could marry him. That they were through. That should could never trust him after this giant game. There was final step to Barney’s play, though: Robin flipped the piece of paper over to find Step 16. “Hope she says yes.” After all of his planning and prepping, Barney could only hope that Robin would say yes.
To be honest with you, at this point, part of me thought Robin would say no. Barney’s final play for her really was crazy. She probably would have been justified if she said no and left. Would the HIMYM writers really put us through this again? Could they draw us in so deeply as they did with Barney’s voiceover only to break our hearts? Not this time. After so many disappointments—Don, Kevin, finding out she can't to have children—Robin finally got a happy ending. She said yes.
For a guy who climbed to infamy on a ladder of catchphrases, suits, and magic tricks, Barney Stinson has grown more than any other character on HIMYM. Think back to that first season—Barney wasn’t just a womanizer, he was a bad womanizer. As the years went by, Barney’s reputation with the ladies grew, but so did the fact that there was an emptiness in his life. He grew up without a father, and when he finally learned that his Uncle Jerry was really his dad, Barney had to work through the realization that Jerry not only left Barney, but that he wound up becoming a great parent to two other children. Barney thought he found love with Nora, but gave it up in hopes of being with Robin... only to have his heart broken once again, finding himself dejectedly picking up rose petals in Robin’s bedroom. The proposal in "The Final Page" was one that Barney earned, developing as a character and as a person since we first met him. He’ll always be the Barnacle, but now he’s the Barnacle who found the person who can make him whole.
Let’s not forget Robin’s journey, though. In addition to the previously mentioned setbacks, Robin once told Ted that she never planned on getting married, a huge roadblock when it came to those two having any chance at working as a couple. It was only a few seasons ago that Robin was content to let herself just be Alex Trebek’s coin-flip bimbo, but now look at her. She’s overcome every negative thing life has thrown at her. She’s matured to the point where she’s ready for marriage.
By my count, this was HIMYM’s seventh proposal, counting Marshall and Lily’s original engagement and their re-engagement when Lily returned, Ted’s engagement to Stella, Ted’s random proposal to Victoria this season, Kevin’s proposal to Robin and Barney’s engagement to Quinn. Barney’s proposal to Robin was the most satisfying of any of them, and I’m so glad Robin said yes. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go through with Barney actually proposing to Patrice as part of his scheme. After so many proposals, it’s hard to have them mean something. HIMYM should only have one more proposal left in store for us, and it’s the one the show has been leading up to for eight seasons now.
So how do we get to that proposal? By my count, HIMYM has just ten episodes left, and without any deal in place for a ninth season, this is it. The show has to have Robin and Barney’s wedding, which leads Ted to a bus platform where a taxi drops off a certain woman with a yellow umbrella. There've been some theories that Robin and Barney won’t actually get married, as HIMYM has only showed us what happens before the wedding, but after "The Final Page," I can’t believe there’s any way the show won’t make good on this engagement. I truly believe that we just saw the show seal up Robin and Barney’s journey, which means it can now focus its attention to getting Ted to exactly where he’s supposed to be.
The final moments of this episode contrasted Ted and the newly engaged Robin and Barney. Barney and Robin may have been alone on that rooftop, but they were the only people they needed. Ted, however, was surrounded by people eager to congratulate him on the GNB tower, but he couldn’t have been more alone. “So I raise a glass to Ted Mosby,” said one person. “None of this would have been possible without him.” Ted may have brought Robin and Barney together, but he was still searching for the one.
I leave you with a verse from "Let Your Heart Hold Fast" by Fort Atlantic, the song that played during the closing moments of this episode. “To believe I walk alone is a lie that I’ve been told. So let your heart hold fast, for this soon shall pass.” For Ted Mosby, you gotta believe that his loneliness won't last.
NOTES & QUOTES
– I didn’t even touch on the first half-an-hour of "The Final Page," but besides Barney revealing to Ted that he was going to propose to Patrice, nothing really important happened. The gang traveled to Wesleyan College so that Ted could confront the professor who'd told Ted he would never be an architect (played by Peter Gallagher) and gloat about the GNB building. Marshall and Lily ran into Daryl (played by Seth Green), a classmate who'd christened the trio “the three hackmigos,” thanks to the one time they played hacky sack together. Everyone eventually learned that they shouldn’t let grudges ruin their lives. A lot of Silence of the Lambs jokes were made. At World Wide News, Robin fired Patrice, saying something about Patrice being too happy and making only okay cookies. Patrice asked Robin if her termination was really about Robin, which prompted Robin to break down into tears. Patrice kept her job.
– At the beginning of the episode, Marshall jinxed Barney, a feat that the group eagerly celebrated. Thanks to his getting hit by a bus after previously ignoring a jinx, Barney took the jinx very seriously, not talking almost the entire episode, only escaping the jinx by showing Ted an engagement ring, causing Ted to say Barney’s name. Interesting note: Barney getting hit by a bus was shown in the third-season episode Miracles. This was the first time HIMYM really hinted that Barney had deeper feelings for Robin, showing him look at Robin while Marshall and Lily debating the superficial loves of Barney that would’ve flashed before his eyes when he got hit by the bus. Ted also proposed to Stella in that episode.
– I’m sure the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fans were really looking forward to the reunion of Alyson Hannigan and Green, but the second half of the episode really overshadowed everything else.
– Robin in response to Patrice being her Pit Guy: “Guys, I told you I am done obsessing about Patrice. Just drop her.” Lily: “Drop her in a pit.”
– Sandy Waters: “I’d hardly call giving me gonorrhea a petty personal difference.”
– Marshall: “Whatever you do, don’t march in there thinking, ‘I’m gonna do the worm. That’ll show ‘em.’ Seriously, guys, I can't stress enough how bad my prom was.”
– Barney enjoying his first moment of post-jinx speech: “If the bison on the nickel could hear you talk about them, they would diminish their population even further on purpose. If Lily wants a big weiner in her mouth, she’s got my number.”
– We can now add the jinx swear to the slap bet. If you break a jinx swear, though, you get hit in the nuts three times with a wiffle ball bat.
– Ted worrying about the GNB tower opening: “I keep having this nightmare where King Kong shows up to the opening but refuses to climb my building because, in his words, it’s a bit derivative.”
– Ted describing Barney when explaining why he wasn’t coming to the GNB tower opening party: “I dunno. He said ‘legendary’ and ‘challenge accepted,’ then he winked. ‘Wait for it.’ All that stuff.” Marshall: “That does sound like him.”
– Lily preparing her dad for babysitting duty: “Okay Dad, I made you a list of Marvin’s nightly schedule, down to the minute.” Mickey: “Uhh, 9:06 p.m., put on edible underwear.” Lily: “Wrong list... wrong list.”
– I loved Marshall and Lily’s lullaby for Marvin. With all those animal noises (and robot noises), I’m surprised Bigfoot didn’t get a chance to say goodnight.
– I found it very interesting that Marshall was still rooting for Ted to end up with Robin, even telling him to not let Robin know that Barney planned on proposing to Patrice. I thought the Team Tedward train ran out of steam seasons ago.
– The way Ted looked at Robin when she said he could find the future Mrs. Mosby at his party was kind of heartbreaking. It was hard for him to finally let Robin go, and I think there was a version of that night in his head where Robin could have been the future Mrs. Mosby at his party.
– Ted urging Robin to go after Barney: “Robin, do you want to spend tonight making small talk with a bunch of bankers in a daring yet refined contemporary masterpiece King Kong would be lucky to climb or do you want to follow your heart?”
– Barney and Patrice’s fake fight on the porch is second to Brad and Jane’s fake fight on Happy Endings last year when it comes to authenticity, but first when it comes to impact. Without HIMYM’s fake fight, Barney wouldn’t have been able to propose to Robin.
– Even though Ted was alone, this episode’s final shot of the GNB tower in the same skyline as the Empire State Building was fantastic.