Wednesday, September 26, 2012

HIMYM 8.01: "Farhampton"

“When you leave someone at the altar, you always leave a note. It’s common courtesy.”

“How I Met Your Mother” kicked off its eighth and likely final season with an episode I can best describe as “interesting.” Not necessarily in a bad way, but not in a spectacular way either. Just interesting in the purest sense of the word. I call it interesting because we were fed some important pieces of Ted’s final journey towards the Mother. In fact, we even see the Mother standing not far from Ted in all her yellow umbrella glory. But the chain still isn’t completely connected just yet. We don’t know why Ted is sitting at the Farhampton train station in the rain looking kind of bumbed after what was (I hope…I really, really hope) Barney and Robin’s wedding. I guess (and hope..again) that all will be revealed through the course of the season. I’m not one of those “we need to meet the mother NOW because that’s the whole point of the show” folks. I actually think that non-Mother related material has been the show’s strongest. But the more the writers tease and use gimmics related to the Mother, the more I just want to meet her and be done with it already. Sorry if I seem cranky. I just watched the first two episodes of “New Girl” season two, which were amazing, and it kind of makes me realize how stale HIMYM has gotten.

The episode itself uses a framing device of Ted sitting at that Farhampton train station I just mentioned. Then we flash back to immediately before Barney and Robin’s wedding, where Ted is trying to talk Robin down from a five alarm freak out. She has decided she doesn’t want to get married, and she feels it so strongly that she wants to crawl out the window. Ted tells her that it’s easier to crawl out the window than it is to crawl back in. This makes Robin laugh and possibly calm down a little, and we flash back yet again to the present day to see the source of this inside joke. It all starts with most of the gang (except for Ted) at what is now Marshall and Lily’s apartment, gushing over Marvin. Marvin’s not doing much (infants generally don’t, as I learned when my best friend/college roommate and her husband had a son earlier this year). Poor Marshall and Lily, though, are exhausted to the point where they can’t remember anything anyone tells them for more than a couple seconds. I thought this bit was overplayed, but it was important for the plot later. When Barney and Marshall go into the living room, Quinn asks Lily and Robin to be bridesmaids at her upcoming wedding to Barney. This is surprising to them, considering, you know, Robin used to date Barney. It turns out that Barney hasn’t told Quinn that important fact.

Ted’s not at the Marvin viewing party because he’s rather stupidly driving off into the sunset with Victoria. Victoria reveals that she didn’t leave a note for Klaus when she left him at the altar, though, and given his experience getting left at the altar himself, this doesn’t fly with Ted. He (rightfully) thinks that the least she can do is leave a meaningful note, since she’s about to destroy the guy’s life. Ted gets annoyingly picky about Victoria’s note, probably because he’s starting to feel the guilt about doing to Klaus what was done to him. Finally, Victoria writes something that Ted finds acceptably meaningful, then she asks Ted to deliver it. She doesn’t know if she could leave the church a second time, which maybe, I don’t know, is a sign that she shouldn’t be calling off her wedding? Stupidly, Ted agrees to deliver the note.

Back at the Eriksen-Aldrin apartment, Barney begs Robin to keep the fact that they used to date a secret from Quinn. Apparently Barney has gone to great lengths to erase any trace of his relationship with Robin (he’s doctored a lot of photos and such) so that Quinn doesn’t find out, and he’d really like to keep it that way. Which seems pretty absolutely horrible, and Robin’s not happy about it, but I don’t think she was as pissed as she should have been. Barney makes the same request of Marshall and Lilly. That, predictably, doesn’t work out well for Barney considering the sleepless state that Marshall and Lily are in. They start babbling about how Robin and Barney used to be together, and of course Quinn hears them. Quinn rushes out of Marvin’s nursery (where the conversation had taken place) to confront Robin.

Robin says that yes, she and Barney dated, but she has a new boyfriend now. His name is Nick, and he’s the guy Robin had a meet cute with a couple seasons ago but was dropped in favor of Kal Penn when the actor wasn’t available. Marshall and Lily can’t corroborate Robin’s story, though, because of their sleep deprived state. Quinn walks out on Barney even after he manages to tell her the storyline of the entire first seven years of the show in one minute (which involved some awesome delivery by Neil Patrick Harris), and Marshall and Lily tell him he should go after her. Quinn believes Robin once she meets Nick and sees his great abs, though. Barney seems kind of bothered by Robin’s new relationship, and they have a little chat. Robin says she could never just throw everything about their relationship away, and Barney hands her keys and gives her an address. They’re for a storage unit where Robin discovers Barney actually has kept all the mementos of their relationship.

Meanwhile, Ted’s running into some trouble fulfilling Victoria’s wish to deliver her goodbye note to Klaus. He can’t climb up the drainpipe into a church window. When he finally gets the courage to walk in the front door, he finds that Klaus’ sister won’t let him into Victoria’s dressing room. Ted gets Barney to distract the sister with a dirty phone call, and he successfully leaves the note in the dressing room, but he accidentally leaves his car keys there, too. Ted is eventually able to successfully rescue the keys, and he runs into Klaus on his way out of the church. Klaus is bailing on the wedding too. This makes Ted realize that if he gets Victoria’s note back, Klaus’ goodbye note will be all that’s left, so Victoria will be absolved of all blame for the impending Klaus/Victoria wedding implosion. So Ted does just that.

Ted has one more conversation with Klaus before the episode ends, this one at the Farhampton train station. He wants to know why Klaus is giving up on Victoria. Using long, probably made up German words, Klaus explains that Victoria is almost, but not quite, exactly what he wants. He wants to keep looking for the woman who right away he knows is exactly the woman for him. Saget!Ted then shows us examples of just such women and their men with a shot of Marshall and Lily with Marvin and Robin opening Barney’s storage unit. We also see Barney looking wistful, which gets a big “aww” from me even if I’m still pissed that he sort of tried to erase his relationship with Robin. We wrap up the episode with another “a little ways down the road,” scene, presumably not long after the Stinson/Scherbatsky wedding. Ted is sitting in his suit, not looking especially happy, at the Farhampton train station, and the Mother is standing nearby with her yellow umbrella. Ted’s expression had better not mean that the wedding was called off, or I am going to be one pissed Barney/Robin fan.

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