Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HIMYM 8.11 - 8.12: "The Final Page"

“Could we just see it, like, up in the living room? Or anywhere…less…gimp storage-y?”

So by the end of “The Final Page,” the moment I’ve been waiting for since the summer of 2009 (when I mainlined the first four seasons of HIMYM while studying for the bar exam) finally happened. But I’m not left with the warm fuzzies like I thought I would be back then. Mostly because said moment (Barney and Robin getting engaged…sorry…spoiler alert) relied on some serious Robin character assassination. And also because the creative team likes to play plot games so much that I’m afraid they’re going snatch this away from us just as quickly as they gave it. This especially comes into my mind because of Ted looking so mopey in post-wedding scenes earlier this season. Is he mopey because he wants Robin for himself or because Robin and Barney screwed up their relationship again? I feel like the latter is more likely because we know Ted’s supposed to meet the Mother at Barney and Robin’s wedding. If he had just met his future wife, I don’t think he’d be so down in the dumps. So yeah. I kind of feel cheated.

Anyway, this story was told in what was technically two episodes, each of which had different side plots, but the whole thing felt like a cohesive enough whole that I could cover it in one post. I found the side plots in the first half to be stronger. The way the two-parter was set up seemed to be the characters spending the first half part looking back at their pasts so they could be ready to go where they need to go in the second part. Thus, the first part centered around a trip taken by most of the gang back to Ted, Marshall, and Lily’s old stomping grounds of Wesleyan University. The whole thing begins when Ted mentions to the rest of the gang how he invited one of his old architecture professors to the big GNB headquarters opening. Ted didn’t do this to thank a mentor, though. He invited the professor because the professor once told Ted he would never be an architect, and Ted wants to gloat in his success a bit. The professor RSVP’d his regrets, though, so Ted’s not going to have his chance to gloat. This is what leads the gang up to Wesleyan.

The concept really tying the first half together is another HIMYM coined term. This time it’s “the pit.” As in the pit in your basement you’d like to throw one person in and go all Silence of the Lambs on them (speaking of, NBC, can we have “Hannibal” already…I need me some Bryan Fuller goodness). For Ted, it’s this professor. For Robin, it’s Patrice. For Lily and Marshall, it’s a college classmate named Daryl, played by none other than Seth Green. It was a pretty cool Willow/Oz reunion for you “Buffy” fans out there. Daryl has been kind of stalker-y to Lily and Marshall ever since they played hackey sack once back in college. He comments on all their Facebook updates and even comments on his own comments. Needless to say, Lily and Marshall aren’t thrilled when they arrive at Wesleyan and almost immediately run into Daryl. Robin, although she’s the only one of the group not to go to Wesleyan on Ted’s quest, also has her own “pit” related dilemma. Sandy told her she needs to fire someone on the WWN staff, and she comes very close to firing Patrice out of jealousy for Patrice dating Barney.

At Wesleyan, many of the characters sort of come to terms with their past. Daryl, who still pretty much looks exactly like he did in college, invites Lily and Marshall over to his house, and he takes them down to the basement because there is something he wants to show them there. Lily and Marshall are pretty much convinced he’s going to murder him, but he actually just wants to show them the business he started. It's a hackey sack vending company called “The Three Hack-migos.” It was actually an idea the three of them had in college, and it’s been very successful, so Daryl wants to give Lily and Marshall some compensation. When he finds out they thought he would murder him, however, he decides to keep the money for himself. Ted, meanwhile, sits in one of his former professor’s lectures. Ted goes into full douche mode and is captivated by the lecture. He’s sure his amazing professor is going to be proud of Ted’s accomplishment. Ted shows the professor the drawings of the GNB building, and the professor again says “you’ll never be an architect.” This devastates Ted until he finally gets it together by the end of the first part of the episode (after having built a model of the building to show his professor). Later, while waiting in the car for Lily and Marshall to get some snacks, Barney, who has been silent all episode thanks to a “jinx,” tricks Ted into unjinxing him and reveals that he’s going to propose to Patrice. He warns Ted to keep it a secret.

The second half of the episode mostly centers around the proposal. Ted struggles with whether or not to tell Robin about it, considering she might want to tell Barney how she feels before he goes and gets engaged (again). The only problem is that Ted has to decide if he’d still rather have Robin for himself. To work out this dilemma, Ted enlists the help of Marshall, who is supposed to be enjoying his first night out with Lily sine Marvin’s birth thanks to Mickey’s offer to babysit. Marshall, of course, thinks Ted should not tell Robin, but while on his way to the big GNB building opening with Robin, Ted’s conscience gets the better of him. He does tell Robin, of course. Robin tries to play it off like she doesn’t really care and is over Barney, but Ted can see that the opposite is really true. And Ranjit, who is (of course) driving the limo to the GNB event, can tell too. Ted eventually has Ranjit drive to the WWN building (where Barney is supposed to be proposing), and he basically forces Robin out of the car.

On the roof of the WWN building, Robin finds the “final page” of Barney’s playbook. It’s for a play called “The Robin.” Basically, everything since Barney’s declaration of love that broke up Robin and Nick has been deliberate. The drunken kiss in the rain, dating Patrice, telling Ted he was going to propose to Patrice. All of it. When she realizes this through reading the play, Robin is (rightfully) furious. She doesn’t see how she can trust someone who would go to such lengths to manipulate her. She doesn’t even want to kiss Barney after that. Then Barney pulls out a ring, asks Robin to marry him, and suddenly all is miraculously forgiven. Robin melts at the shiny and says “yes.” And this is where I became very disappointed in Robin. While I’ve been a huge fan of Barney and Robin for years and would very much like to see them together, Robin’s reaction here makes no sense. It should take a long time to build back trust after a massive manipulation like what Barney pulled. Not all women only want shiny jewelry, people!

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