The episode description CBS released for "The Lighthouse" left a lot to be desired. I audibly groaned when I read that Robin and Loretta's (Frances Conroy) argument, which was boring when it began in "The Poker Game," would escalate this week. And I felt almost nothing at the mention of Ted taking Cassie (Anna Camp) up to some lighthouse. Neither story was all that appealing. But the beauty of How I Met Your Mother is that it's built its legacy on being able to pull surprisingly emotional moments out of cheap, silly setups, and that's exactly what happened this week.
What began as one of the show's silliest arguments to date—whether Loretta's scrambled eggs we're better than Robin's mother's scrambled eggs—ended with a rather emotional moment in which Robin revealed to Loretta (and a room full of extras), that not only does she not know how to make scrambled eggs, but she cannot have children either. (I'm going to leave that awkward metaphor right here for the souls brave enough to touch it.) Barney, of course, already knew this about Robin as It was revealed in a flashback that Robin confessed her inability to have children to him last fall. His immediate reaction was to emotionally embrace her until a sudden downpour made the moment a little awkward for each of them. But both reveals—Robin to Loretta and Robin to Barney—acted as a swift one-two punch that abruptly shifted the A-plot from really, really silly to really, really poignant in a matter of minutes. But it also served as a reminder that Barney and Robin are, in fact, capable of carrying a storyline that doesn't induce vomiting.
It's a relief to be reminded of this fact after so many otherwise funny episodes were brought down by their rather unfunny, poorly written storylines. I've always thought that their relationship was better suited to the emotional moments anyway, and that the ending of "The Poker Game" would have stuck the landing better if the show had allowed for that. It was refreshing to see that theory reaffirmed this week as Barney had a good old fashioned sit down with his mother and explained to her that he didn't care about not having children, because he's marrying the girl, not the idea of a future of possibly having children. Neil Patrick Harris once again knocked the emotional stuff of the park (as did Cobie Smulders) while simultaneously making silly jokes like the one about a Lambercuzzi work. But perhaps the best moment to come out of this entire storyline had nothing to do with Harris and his range, but rather Loretta setting aside her differences with Robin and accepting her into her life both literally and figuratively.
After Robin confessed to Lily that her own mother wasn't going to attend the wedding, she told Loretta, who embraced Robin and told her to call her mom from that point forward. We know Robin isn't exactly close with her mom from the very limited amount of knowledge she has shared with the gang over the years, so this moment was poignant for everything that wasn't said. I'm sure someone with a psychology degree could analyze the hell out of Robin Scherbatksy, and both her mommy and daddy issues, but that's not me, and that would be hella boring, so let's just be happy that Robin's inability to have children was addressed, her ongoing argument with Loretta has been resolved, and that she's gotten a mother, who maybe wasn't always the picture of perfect parental responsibility, but who will care about Robin more than her own mother ever has.
In Ted's B-story, we were forced to sit through what appeared to be another one of Ted's bad dates that angry, drunk Lily suggested he go on ("Take this normal size chick up to the lighthouse and fall in love with her and quit bothering us with your dumb love life stuff"). After having to carry Cassie up the flight of stairs to the top of the lighthouse (because she'd tripped on a toy car before they'd even left the inn), Ted was disappointed that he'd wasted the lighthouse on a girl he didn't care about. Typical Ted, am I right? But just when it felt like all was lost with Ted "CoinCon" Mosby, the episode pulled another emotional punch and fast-forwarded a couple of years in to the future. We saw that he eventually returned to the lighthouse with the Mother—who appreciated the view as much, if not more, than Ted—and he proposed to her at that same spot.
I know Ted's proposal is what most people are talking about about after having watched "The Lighthouse," and I know that's the important storyline we're all supposed to focus on right now, but just for a moment I'd like to point out that this was tucked away in what was technically a B-storyline. A proposal! To the Mother! That we've been waiting eight years for! Only How I Met Your Mother would almost bury something as monumental or important as Ted proposing to the Mother in a non-A story. You so crazy, HIMYM.
I'd also like to focus on the fact that How I Met Your Mother turned in an all around solid episode this week. Even Marshall's storyline with Daphne was saved by the road trip callbacks to when Ted and Marshall played zitch dog, and by incorporating the Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)." Yes, Ted's proposal to the Mother was sweet, and her impatience was even sweeter as she refused to wait for him to finish even asking her to marry him before shouting yes, but even if Ted hadn't proposed, I still would give this episode an A. And it's because "The Lighthouse" was unafraid to embrace its best strength—its ability to tell emotionally compelling stories as well as humorous ones—that made it work. .
As the half-hour progressed, I found myself thinking that no matter how many times How I Met Your Mother drops the ball from week-to-week, there's a reason why I still tune in every week (other than the fact that it's literally my job). And it's because I know the series has the ability to turn out episodes like this. The ones that make you laugh as much as they make you maybe-sort-of-mist-up-but-the-room-was-actually-just-really-dusty. This was arguably one of the best episodes of Season 9. And dare I say that only a percentage of that was due to the Mother's return. Well done, gang, well done.
– Series co-creator Carter Bays was the basis for Ted's character, and he grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio just like Ted did. Josh Radnor is from Ohio, too. Naturally, as I am also an Ohioan, I love any moment HIMYM spends on Ted's life in Ohio. This week, as Marshall and Daphne stopped in Cleveland to wait out a storm at Ted's mom's house, the series made several Ohio references that pretty much ensured that I'd come out the other side of "The Lighthouse" happy no matter what. The ones I counted (and I might be forgetting some because I'm too lazy right now to rewind): Tri-C, Wendy's, Van Aken, Geauga Lake, Coventry, and being the coach of the Browns. Did you catch any others?
– Barney peed himself in front of the 300 Weebelos at the Pinewood Derby finals in Wheeling, West Virginia.
– Ted's best friend when he was a child was a balloon. Because of course it was.
– Welcome to Cleveland, Birthplace of Ted Mosby.
AIRED ON 3/31/2014
Season 9 : Episode 24