Thursday, January 26, 2012

HIMYM 7.12: "Symphony of Illumination"

“Mr. E. Looks like some little scamp just earned the right to put the Vikings helmet on Baby Jesus!”

“Symphony of Illumination” was a rather somber episode of HIMYM, especially for a fall season finale. I’m really not sure if I liked that. The episode dealt with the aftermath of Robin telling Barney she’s pregnant, and it also had some holiday storylines thrown in, too. I know the gimmick that was used in this episode caused quite a bit of uproar when it was first broadcast. Even now, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I guess I’m used to Carter and Craig and the rest of the HIMYM staff teasing us and saving stories for later, so I don’t really get offended by twists like the one that ended this episode. I kind of expected something like that twist would happen, honestly, because Barney and Robin are most likely endgame, and something that would tie them together so fully as Robin being pregnant can’t happen just yet.

While we do get some minimal Saget!Ted narration in this episode, the bulk of the episode is framed by Robin telling the story to her “kids.” They’re sitting on the couch just like Ted’s kids usually are, and Robin says she’s going to start the story about their father by telling them his reaction when she told him she was pregnant. The resulting scene is pretty funny in what is overall a rather serious episode. Barney keeps saying accidentally insulting things like “I just thought you were getting fat,” and Robin keeps punching him out. Neil Patrick Harris taking a punch or slap, whether it’s from Robin, Marshall, or Captain Hammer, is never not funny. He’s just so good at it. When Barney is finally conscious enough to get a few more words out, he says he thinks it’s wonderful that Robin’s pregnant and he’s going to be a dad. Robin is the one to faint this time. Oh, and in other important news, Robin and Kevin haven’t had sex, so if she’s pregnant, the baby is definitely Barney’s.

We then move to MacLaren’s to introduce the other plot of the episode. Marshall announces that he wants to create a more impressive Christmas light display than one of his new neighbors out on Long Island. He’s going out to the new house for the weekend to accomplish this. Lily’s kind of upset because it means that she’ll be registering for baby products on her own. Barney volunteers himself and Robin to accompany her instead. Barney tells Robin this is to show her that kids aren’t so scary after all, but Robin doesn’t really seem to appreciate the gesture. She gets freaked out by the stuff she sees Lily buying, such as nipple butter and vaginal numbing spray. Barney gets quite freaked out himself. He sees his former best friend (before he met the current gang), Insane Dwayne, who now has a wife and kids and is no longer so insane. Now, neither Barney nor Robin want a baby anymore.

I’m just going to run through Marshall’s plot right here in a paragraph because it was kind of stupid. At the house, Marshall is met by a neighbor teenager named Scott. Scott is super-flattering and calls Marshall “Mr. E,” so Marshall is only too happy to let Scott help with the Christmas lights. Then Scott strands Marshall on the roof by taking away the ladder, and Marshall can see him “eating a sandwich” inside the house. To make things even worse, Scott invites a bunch of other teens over for a party. He puts a picture of his junk on Marsall’s cell phone to use as blackmail in case Marshall ever tells the police about what’s happening. Lily eventually goes out to Long Island too, and she meets Scott in the front yard. She gives him money for helping Marshall, but then she goes inside to find that the house is a wreck and Marshall is still on the roof.

Getting back to the main plot of the episode, Robin and Barney pay a visit to Dr. Sonya, and she tells Robin that she’s not pregnant. Robin and Barney do a really hilarious sort of victory dance. Later, however, when she is totally enjoying not being pregnant by drinking and watching Teen Mom, Robin is called back into Dr. Sonya’s office. Dr. Sonya tells Robin that she can’t have a baby. The definitiveness of this doesn’t really make sense considering Robin’s only gone through one round of testing and hasn’t even really tried to get pregnant yet, but the news really throws Robin. She didn’t realize that she might actually want kids some day until the option was taken away from her. Dr. Sonya suggests Robin talk to a friend about her feelings, and a really funny montage explains just why she can’t do that. My favorite is the explanation of why she can’t tell Marshall. She thinks he asks too many really detailed questions in response to problems, and I love this response because it’s a quintessential lawyer response to something.

At MacLaren’s Robin is clearly not herself, and when Ted asks what’s wrong, Robin decides to lie and say she can’t be an Olympic pole vaulter because she’s too tall. The rest of the gang (even Marshall, via phone) have the expected reactions, but presumably not as intensely as if Robin had told them she couldn’t have children. Later, the gang (minus Marshall, who is still on the roof) is back at the baby store, and since they aren’t having one, Robin and Barney both start thinking kids are cute again. Ted finds a maple leaf onesie, and Robin completely loses it, running out of the store. Back at MacLarens Ted and Lily try to figure out why Robin is so upset, and Barney is just worried that they’re going to figure out that he and Robin slept together. Luckily for Barney, Ted decides that the explanation is Robin being upset that she’s not going home for Christmas.

Ted buys a plane ticket for Robin to come home to Cleveland with him for Christmas, but Robin is not appreciative. She says it’s not Ted’s job to cheer her up. Plus she likes New York at Christmas because it’s peaceful. We next see her sitting on a park bench, and it turns out that the “kids” she’s been speaking to all episode were actually in her imagination. She goes home, still feeling down, and when she tries to turn on the lights, she discovers Ted has put together a rather spectacular Christmas light indoor display set to AC/DC. Shes incredibly touched by the gesture, and she cries on Ted’s shoulder. Saget!Ted informs us that Robin would never be a “pole vaulter,” but she would also never be alone.

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