How I Met Your Mother "The Time Travelers" Review: T-Minus 45 Days

How I Met Your Mother S08E20: "The Time Travelers"

“How I Met Your Mother. Gut punch.”

That’s what I tweeted the moment HIMYM ended. After a run of mediocre episodes, the show came roaring back this week with "The Time Travelers," an installment that even without its closing minutes would've ranked as one of Season 8’s best. With its final reveal, though, “The Time Travelers” delivered an emotional close that could stand with many of the show’s finest moments.

After spending the entire episode following the present-day version of Barney, two future Barneys and two future Teds tried to convince present-day Ted to attend Robots Versus Wrestlers, and then HIMYM yanked the rug out from under us. In a shocking ending, the entire episode was revealed to be either a memory of Ted’s (Marshall and Robin’s dance-off over the name of a drink at MacLaren’s) or all in Ted’s head (everything else). “Look around, Ted—you’re all alone,” figment-of-Ted’s-imagination Barney said as Ted realized that while the rest of his friends were busy living their lives as new parents or a couple planning a wedding, he was at the bar… by himself.

That's when the Bob Saget narration took over, setting up yet another heartbreaking HIMYM monologue. Saget’s Ted walked his kids through all the things he'd have rather been doing that night instead of going to Robots Versus Wrestlers: Spending time with Marshall, Lily, and Marvin. Watching Barney and Robin fight over a caterer. Or even just sitting in his apartment, surrounded by furniture that reminded him of his younger days. “You know what I would do first?”  Saget's Ted asked, and then we saw Ted running through the streets of New York City to reach a slightly familiar-looking apartment door. When the door opened, Ted launched into an impassioned speech, his eyes filled with tears.

“Hi. I’m Ted Mosby, and exactly 45 days from now, you and I are going to meet... and we’re going to fall in love. And we’re going to get married.”

Ted continued to ramble at this faceless woman, telling her about how they were going to have two kids and love each other and they're children very much. Most importantly, Ted said that he didn’t want to wait 45 more days. He wanted to meet The Mother in that moment. 

Part of me actually thought there was a chance that HIMYM was going to reveal the identity of The Mother right then, that the camera would spin away from Ted’s distraught face and show us the woman we’ve been waiting eight seasons to meet. Had the showrunners snuck a major casting choice by us? But before Ted’s fantasy was able to go any further, Louis—The Mother's current boyfriend—showed up and punched Ted in the face, returning Ted’s thoughts to his present state.

There’s a worry among some HIMYM fans that the show won’t be able to deliver the emotional goods when it finally gets around to showing us how Ted and The Mother fell in love, that the series has wasted its biggest emotional wallops on Marshall and Lily or Barney and Robin’s stories. If the closing minutes of “The Time Travelers” were any sign of what HIMYM is going to deliver in its final year, I think we’re going to be okay.

Let’s take a second to talk about the rest of the episode, which was outstanding even before the twist at the end. After Ted rejected Barney’s invitation to go to Robots Versus Wrestlers, Barney called upon 20 Years From Now Barney, a future version of himself, to convince Ted that he should go. This led to 20 Years From Now Ted, 20 Hours From Now Ted and 20 Minutes From Now Barney all joining in. Each future version of Ted and Barney offered a reason for why Ted should or shouldn’t go to Robots Versus Wrestlers.

20 Minutes From Now Barney had another message for Ted, though, calling his attention to a woman who walked into the bar. “She’s the coat check girl from that dance club we went to seven years ago,” all the Barneys and Teds yelled at Ted when he recognized the woman. Yes, the Coat Check Girl, from the Season 1 episode “Okay Awesome.” Before Ted was able to talk to Coat Check Girl, he was stopped by two versions of 20 Months From Now Coat Check Girl, one who Ted was sick of (she was wearing his hoodie and had made him muffins, since his nickname at the time was “Muffin”) and one who was sick of Ted (she wanted him to stop DVRing the news). Convinced by both future versions of Coat Check Girl that the relationship would never end well, Ted passed on talking to her. As the Coat Check Girls pointed out, his relationships never end well—why would this one be any different?

Ted returned to the booth while Marshall and Robin competed against each other in a dance-off to decide who deserved to have a drink at MacLaren’s named after them. Laughing at the situation, Ted told Barney that he wouldn’t be joining him at Robots Versus Wrestlers. And that's when Barney revealed that none of this episode was real.

“Robots Versus Wrestlers” was an interesting episode for HIMYM to reference at this point in the show’s narrative. From Season 5, it dealt with Barney’s fear that the gang was breaking up, with everyone drifting in a different direction. Three years later, Marshall and Lily have a kid, Robin and Barney are engaged, and Ted is alone.

On a technical level, “The Time Travelers” was also one of HIMYM’s most impressive episodes. Up until I saw that ending, I thought for sure this review would focus on the complexities of the scenes featuring three Teds and three Barneys, or how the two possible Coat Check Girls fit into the Ted and Barney timelines. To borrow a line from Bruce Willis in Looper, the final scene saved me from having to diagram the possible futures of HIMYM with a bunch of straws.

I hope I’m safe saying this, but it looks like HIMYM has once again steadied itself. And just in time, too. With just four episodes left in Season 8, we’ve reached the endgame before the endgame. The Mother is just 45 days away. According to my math, the penultimate episode of Season 8 is 42 days aways and the season finale is 49 days away. While HIMYM doesn’t always follow real time, it's been known to adhere to it closely. I still want to believe that we’re going to meet The Mother in the season finale.


NOTES & QUOTES

– Present-day Barney and 20 Years From Now Barney tag-teaming their catchphrase: “Legen—wait 20 years for it—dary!”

– If 20 Years From Now Ted really wasn’t married, HIMYM would have a ton of work to do during its final season.

– 20 Years From Now Barney: “If Ted doesn't get wasted, there’s no way he ends up making out with that surprisingly realistic looking female robot.” Ted: “Waaait. I kiss a female robot?” 20 Years From Now Ted: “You do a lot more than that.”

– Lily to Marshall after he suggested a dance-off: “The doctor said your dancer’s hip is worse than ever. You have to lay off dancing for awhile.” Marshall: “You're killing me, Lily. I’m an adult. You have to let me dance my own battles.”

– Robin’s bathroom note to Marshall: “Did you know that the first two years of my life, my dad treated me like a cat? Seriously. I wasn’t permitted on the furniture, I had to bathe myself, and I was only allowed to poop in a box.”

– Bringing back Jayma Mays as Coat Check Girl was a nice callback. Unlike when Victoria returned, this HIMYM cameo didn’t ruin our past impression of the character. The woman in this moment couldn’t've been a random girl—she had to be someone Ted thought he could build a future with. The two of them did connect at the club seven seasons ago. In fact, the part of me that thought HIMYM was going to show us The Mother in this episode kind of even thought it was going to be Coat Check Girl.

– Robin mocking Marshall’s dance-off idea: “God, you're still clinging to that? Marshall, you’d lose anyway. And you know why? Cause I’m Sparkles, bitch.” Marshall “Oh, and you think you can step to me? You think you can step up to the streets? To me? You think you could step up over me to the streets?”

– Here's Ted’s entire speech to The Mother (in case you want to make it your AIM status): “Hi. I’m Ted Mosby, and exactly 45 days from now, you and I are going to meet... and we’re going to fall in love. And we’re going to get married. And... we’re going to have two kids. And were going to love them and each other so much. All that is 45 days away. But I’m here now, I guess, because I want those extra 45 days... with you, I want each one of them. Look, and if I can’t have them, I’ll have the 45 seconds before your boyfriend shows up and punches me in the face, because I love you. I am always going to love you. Until the end of my days... and beyond. You’ll see.”

What'd you think of "The Time Travelers"?

Comments (119)
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Is it me or does coat check girl also look like Amanda from when Ted and Robin wanted to volunteer at the homeless shelter on thanksgiving?
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This episode sucked in sooo many ways. And the final reveal was sooo annoying. Show us the mother already and stop jerking around!!
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I don't think he or the mother was dead. It's future Ted reflecting on his eventual meeting with the mother in 45 days and if he could, he would go to meet her earlier at any cost because she was worth it.

He would use the extra time that night to go see his friends because as time goes on, they live their own life and see less and less of each other (future ted actually mentions this in a past episode).
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I absolutely agree, that is what I thought as well.Ted has always been a romantic at heart (from what i have seen). I am really surprised that all but two reviews expect either Ted or the mother to be dead! I mean really? I dont think the writers would do that after all the careful foreshadowing thats leads up to this point.

I loved the song at the end, a beautful rendition and looked like lots of fun.
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After he meets the mother they can just call the show When I met your mother and keep going. They could even drop the whole future Ted telling the kids storyline and just go as a normal show
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I'm not a type of guy that gets emotional but the twist in this episode was heartwrenching... I'd buy it that mother or ted are dead(this entire story being a recording his kids are watching) but I don't believe it since I just cannot see a possibility of a sitcom ending on that tragic a note.. I mean the finale ending with the reveal of a death would be heartbreaking and haunting since you in fact would retroactively(sort of) be watching a man's eulogy for his wife or the last words he'll ever speek to his kids if he's dead.. Seems awfully depressin to end a comedy show that way don't you think.. Although, an ending like that would definetly elevate this show to a whole new level for me if it happened.
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I think that the last episode of this season will reveal who the mother is, and that there will be a nineth season where it actually shows how they get married, how they plan the wedding and stuff.. or it could be that the final episode if 8th season reveals the mother and that's all, though I really want to see how they work their relationship.. I don't think neither of them will be dad.. i mean it's a comedy sitcom after all, it would break my heart to find out that Ted or the mom is dead..
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Don't worry — the ninth and final season is already official. Here's my theory on it: http://www.tv.com/news/prediction-how-i-met-your-mother-is-about-to-become-how-i-met-your-father-30552/.
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Bill -- your theory is great, but I subscribe to this theory:
http://bit.ly/10M5ldS
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cause i'm sparkles, bitch
it was the best line!
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Are you crazy??! This episode sucked once again. Just another filler ep with not much going on. I agree Barney en Teds future selves was funny. But the rest of the episode? No not at all. And what about that speech? Didn't make any sense. HIMYM in it's first season was refreshing and new. Now it's just another mediocre sitcom. Even TBBT has taken over and that's something i never thought i would say.
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I agree. Although I enjoyed this episode, I think the mystery created by fans is far beyond what the show has created for itself. Without the mother thing, this would have disappeared around season 3 or 4.
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An idea came to me this morning when I woke up , what if the mother is also played by Lyndsy Fonseca ? I mean it's the perfect way to keep it under the radar , and surely her daughter would look like her . She is a litte young for Ted ( Lyndsy is 26 , Josh 38 and Ted 35 ) but nothing make up and clotihing cannot fix
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Awesome thought! However I don't see how that could work as Lyndsy Fonseca is currently working as one of the main characters in Nikita so unless that show get cancelled or her character died there... it would be really tricky.
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Mind Blowing! ...and perfect BTW =D
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Before this episode I had a hunch that the mother was dead. Now, like several other posters, I suspect that Ted is deceased at the time of explaining to his children how he met their mother. After all, why are the kids always curled up on the sofa? Could they be watching their father's recording of his life story?
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Don't think the kids were watching off a recording, they did gasp on occasion (like the smoking episode) and Ted quickly covered it with something else.. showing some kind of dialogue rather than a broadcast
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i'm pretty sure the children say stuff to future ted sometimes (once or twice, not every week). not that it would matter because continuity is not something writters really go for during big reveals at series finales (cough*gossip girl cough*).
the mother being dead is much more probable.
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That would make more sense. It was certainly my original suspicion, and having looked on YouTube I can confirm that the kids do appear to engage in dialogue with future Ted. That could still be a red herring - future Ted could be terminally ill, for instance. In any case, I think one of them is dead :-)
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my thoughts exactly
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I'm actually right there with you on the possibility that either might have died in that future,

"But I’m here now, I guess, because I want those extra 45 days... with you, I want each one of them."

This was really it for me in terms of dialogue. We'll see if we're wrong, but it really jumped in my face the way it was said.
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I actually liked the episode and IMO it was the best this season
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Neither Ted or the Mother are dead, Ted makes references to her clearly being alive post story timeline, and was obviously alive himself to do that. Not only that, but from a writing standpoint it would be a pretty jarring and pointless "twist" given the overall tone of the show. It has about just as much legitimacy as all of those theories stating that children's shows are really about dead characters and such.
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I don't think Ted or his future wife is dead like some viewers. This episode shows Ted being left behind while his friends move forward with their lives. This shows profoundly how lonely Ted is and I think his speech and reaching out to his unseen future wife was to show how desperately Ted wants to meet the one.
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This was, in my opinion, the most funniest and touching episode of the season. Glad to see Ted's getting some recognition once again. But, I gotta ask, Marshall asked Robin: "You wanna Zuckerberg me... You're Zuckerberging me?" I mean, have I got it wrong or... I didn't understand...
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It was a reference to Mark Zuckerberg screwing over his friend Divya Narendra and the Winklevoss twins with Facebook.
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I'm pretty sure Ted is dead because he says "I'll love you 'til the end of my days and beyond. You'll see." and that is so haunting and ambiguous I can't help but think he's dead by 2030.
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Then how could he be telling the story to his kids?
OR ARE THEY ALL DEAD?????

Nah, jk. The writers can't pull that out because that would involve deny that Ted, Lily and Marshall had a "sandwich" in 2040, as it gets stated a million episodes ago.

OR ARE THEY ALL DEAD?
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That happened in 2020. All of the references to the mother occur before the "2030 Ted"
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That's so true. I wasn't thinking rationally. If present Ted's the one telling the story, how could he tell something happening 10 years ahead??
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He wrote down his feelings in a book and had a friend read them to his kids?
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Fantastic. I don't always watch HIMYM, but when there's a good review I'll watch the latest ep, and this was a gem. I love it when they give us concrete foreshadowing, and we can at the very least expect he'll meet her a the season finale, even if we don't know who she is quite yet, and that's enough.
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Quick question: Did we ever get an explanation for the goat?
(Might have missed it. Sometimes HIMYM annoys me + I quit for several months.)
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Yes. It was explained in "The Leap" which was the season 4 finale. It was his 31st birthday and the goat attacked Ted and he went to the hospital. They left the hospital and Barney and Robin stayed in the room for a few seconds, kissed, but never talked about their feelings. Then they went to the roof where they all jumped across to the next building.
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It was brought in as part of a learning thing for Lily's kindergarten class & they learned it was to be killed, so Lily brought it back to the apartment. obviously after it destroyed the apt. they got rid of it, but I can't remember where/how.
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Nope. We'd better.
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I took the 45 days speech to mean that the mother had died and he was telling his children this story as a way to remember her. It struck very hard with that realisation. It will be interesting to see if that's how it turns out. Both a great twist and shocking betrayal at the same time.
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Oh my God--that is a brilliant theory! Great, now I'm emotional.
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I know it is still not confirmed if we will even meet the mother until the series finale, but does anyone else think there is a chance that maybe we will meet the mother in the season 8 finale, but she won't even be single when the meet the first time. Who knows Season 8 could be all about Ted actually falling in love with the mother. Great episode though.
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I thought the most impressive thing was how they couched the ending in the very beginning when he told his kids his mother was with someone and he was alone. I love when foreshadowing is done really well.

People still use AIM?
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I really did not understood much of those tears for 45 more days while I was watching the episode, and though, slightly, in a very subtle way it passed through my mind that one of them could be dead, I probably could not even bear the idea.. and now reading all of the possibilities of Ted or the Mother being dead, and that this whole storytelling was an 8-year-long memorial, I just feel crushed.. please no.. do not let it be that way.. this is supposed to be a comedy show.. the dramatic moments are just good every once in a while but this, god no..
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"Legen—wait 20 years for it—dary" Great episode ! And the effects were awsome.
Although I still think each episode is filling the season until Ted meets her girl. But I enjoy them anyways !
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At the beginning I thought the episode would turn out poorly, but it was spectacular. The writers did it again. Incredible.
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For me, the show partly ruined itself when they did that episode with the tacked on subway ending where it's revealed where and how he meets the mother. That should have been a no-no and left on the cutting room floor. We should have been taken on this journey of discovery/storytelling with him and meet her when he does without the spoiling of what should have been left as unforeseen events. Sine then, the show has been tainted badly by that.
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If I was a time traveler I would travel back to the time when this was a great show. Did anyone seriously think this was a great episode pulling the " oh all you've seen so far wasn't real trick ?" Please!

I would love it if the mother turns out to be dead when the story is told but I doubt strongly that will ever happen.
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In the first episode, when future Ted begins his story, the kids seem bored and ask him:" Are we being punished for something?" That doesn't sound as an appropriate comment if, at the time, their mother is already dead
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Am I the only one who got the feeling the wife is dead in the future?
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I took it to mean future Ted died,and that this story is some sort of message he left for his family.
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Wasn't there an episode where future Ted was saying to his kids that their mother was calling them or something? I do vaguely remember, but then again it's 8 years :) But having the mother dead really does sound like the theme of the episode -- ALL of Ted's relationships end bad.
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Maybe she died within the time it's taken him to conclude this story?
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no, i was thinking the same throughout the whole last scene
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Gut punch indeed. When I watched "The Final Page" I almost cried but "The Time Travelers" delivered a full-on gut punch. I was so moved. Let's be honest, I never thought Ted as a character could have so much depth but Josh Radnor just brought it. This was hands down the most emotional episode of HIMYM. I loved it, I didn't want it to end and I'm confident the show can still bring it.
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the last 5 minutes were like she was dead and he couldnt bear one more second without her
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It's Carl...... 's Junior.

I laughed pretty hard.
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Especially since the pub's name - where he's hanging out for years - is "McLaren's Pub".
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I don't think Carl owns the pub.
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His name is actually Carl McLaren:
http://how-i-met-your-mother.wikia.com/wiki/Carl_MacLaren
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Just like the comments in there, "Where do we learn this?"
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Absolutely stellar episode. If they don't let us meet the mother by the end of the season...
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The best episode of the season. I lough, I cry. HYMYM is finally back and this is a good news for the season final. And, Jayma Mays would be a great "Mother" in my opinion.
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I was thinking which episode was better, The Time travelers or the one where Barney proposes to Robin.

I think Im going with The Time Travelers.
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It was one of the best episodes of the season. Real gut punch. Loved it.
Also, Present day Ted, Present day Barney, 20 years from now Ted, 20 years from now Barney, 20 hours from now Ted and 20 minutes from now Barney? LEGENDARY.
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Ted would have ended his vomit-free since '05 streak had he gone to Robots vs Wrestlers.
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Ted's final speech made me think - what if The Mother in 2030 is dead? And that's why Ted spends so much time on the story, and why he gets so upset at the idea of not having as much time with her as he could've. I don't really think they would do that, I suppose, but it's an interesting thought.
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I've thought of that theory too. I don't know if they'd actually go there but at least it seems like we will actually get to spend some time with the mother next season. And Josh Radnor convinced me that I want to see Ted fall in love with the mother
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Oh my god, that would be SO sad. But as you said, they won't do that. This show is going out on a happy note, definietly!
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Bravo! I nearly cried at Ted's speech - its like Ted Mosby s1-2 was back being awesome and adorable!
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I'm glad I'm not the only one that picked up the "maybe the mother died and hence the reason for the whole long winded story" vibe. I've had that thought before, but never really seen it reflected (possibly) until this episode. I still don't necessarily think that's where they'd be going, because If she was dead why would Ted take 8 years talking about his own life and not her? He'd get to the important bits faster.

Interesting theory from whoever below said maybe Ted is dead. Maybe it's not really even Ted narrating, maybe someone else reading a journal or something similar. Probably not, but interesting.

Anyway, on to this episode... it was weird. Had some good jokes, I laughed, nothing was bad about it. But I felt a little odd after viewing, even with the serious ending. I feel this was way better than early Season 8 though, and I'm glad they got back to form lately.
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I like the idea of it being someone else reading Ted's journal, like maybe his son in the future and he is imagining his dad telling the story to them on the old family couch. It would explain why the narrator has a different voice(bob saget's) than Ted, which has always been a pet peeve of mine.
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i heard the most depressing rumor about this episode...:
they're saying that in 2030 (which is when Ted is narrating the story to his kids) the mother is already dead, and that's why in this episode, at the end, when he goes to see her in her apartment, tears are kind of welding up and he asks to be those extra 45 days with her...
i seriously hope that doesn't happen...
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Well that would at least be interesting, but they wouldn't have the guts to do that sadly.
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Agreed. I've heard this rumour and thought that when I saw this monologue. Don't you dare, HIMYM. Don't. You. Dare.
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That's the most depressing thing ever. No, HIMYM please don't. Now I wanna cry.
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This was so emotional!!!!!

At first I didn't know what was happening, but when I realised it was all Ted's imagination because he's alone it broke my heart. And the speech! What a great scene! I was tearing up!

I need to Ted to find the mother, he deserves to be happy!
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A lot of people are saying the mother is dead in the future. I'm thinking maybe Ted is dead in the future and he has written his story because he knew he would not get the chance to tell it. Although that said every shot we see of the kids they don't seem too distraught with their father being dead. So maybe no one is dead. I know I'd be a little upset if someone were reading me my dead parents letter or telling me a story about a dead parent.

I did think this episode was awesome though. It really gets you at the end. Glad to see Barney wearing a wedding ring 20 years from now. Is it still Robin? I'm hoping we meet the mother in the finale, but I do kinda get the feeling we'll just see the wedding and the final scenes of the season will be Ted at the train station, which we've already seen, and we won't officially meet her until the final season.
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A lot of people are saying the mother is dead in the future, but I'm not getting that...

"20-years-from-now-Ted" is from beyond the point of the story-telling and he doesn't seem like he has been affected by his wife being dead... nor would he likely tease present-Ted with not being married if the mother had died.
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The last 5 minutes or so made this episode a good one.Furthermore while I had this notion for a while now, this episode just adds to my theory that maybe Bob Sackts Ted is telling his kids of HIMYM after she is dead. 'I want the extra 45 days' and 'i am always going to love you till the end of my days'. All that to me seems that he wants more time with her, which in Sackts timeframe can't happen anymore, but also that even though she is not alive anymore Ted will always love her till he dies and beyond.
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Wow. I have to admit, I started this episode on the fence. I thought the future Teds/Barneys weren't really gonna get us anywhere. I was worried about this being a massive filler episode which I hate to see so far into the season. But boy was I wrong.

The monologue at the end was just perfection. And Ted's speech...... Made me wanna tear up. So beautiful. I honestly was worried that he was gonna say something about her passing away in the future (while she's younger, not from old age) and then I would have been bawling my eyes out like a baby.

"Cause I'm Sparkles, bitch." I'm just gonna randomly say that to people for awhile.

The song at the end was amazing. I love that we can go from having this big emotional monologue/speech to something completely random and hilarious. When HIMYM is on, man is it on.

From the episode titles floating around, it sounds like the last 2 episodes will be a 2-parter so timeline wise, that would fit very well with the 45 days. So I'm cautiously optimistic that we will actually see her for real this season. *fingerscrossedbutonlyonesetcause2isbadluck*
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Well in the first 5 minutes I thought "wow this is it, HIMYM officially has nothing else to write about, no more stories to tell" and for the first time, I actually thought "I am done with this show."

But as it turned out, I kept watching, and boy am I glad I did. This turned out to be one of my favorite episodes and one of the best of the season.

Come on HIMYM keep it up, I know you can do it
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God I hate Ted
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I dont watch a lot of HIMYM anymore but I'd totally watch this for Jayma Mays. She's awesome.
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I got tears in my eyes. This was an absolutely amazing episode. I had to watch it again and I still got tears in my eyes.
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I sorta agree. It was way too dumb/predictable for most of it. Except for Ted's speech which was almost unnecessarily sad and depressing.
Weird can be GREAT in a lighthearted/goofy show. Case in point? The Ness "weird fight" on New Girl.
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I disagree. Who dosen't love a touching moment is some comedy :)
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You'll find some like-minded people at imdb.
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Feel exactly the same way. I was eye-rolling through the entire episode.
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Was gonna reply saying you're not the only one, and accidentally flagged the post...why is there not an un-flag option? :(

Anyway, you're not the only one no.
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Yeh, at the very least there should be a confirmation box. Like "Are you sure you wish to flag xxxxxx's post? OK / Cancel"

I've clicked Flag by mistake a lot... especially when the thread is so deep there isn't even a reply to that branch anymore and only a flag.
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It was a really good episode (I do kind of wish we saw more of the note) and I think the "Because I'm Sparkles, bitch" was one of the funniest random lines about that storyline. I do wonder how long Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor had been petitioning to do that last bit in the show and I almost wondering if the whole multiple Teds and Barneys was actually more written to let them do that.
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