I’ve been diligently avoiding Twitter since the How I Met Your Mother season finale aired Monday. The coda (wedding with “surprise” participant) has been talked about for months now. The other revelations of this episode didn’t come out of nowhere, but the finale pieced together all the disparate pieces into a wonderful, moving, and very funny episode.
Since this is both a review and a recap, spoilers abound. I can’t believe I missed the biggest “surprise” of the episode. In retrospect, it should have been obvious, especially for a seasoned viewer. However, HIMYM does such a good job of keeping audiences engaged in the moment, that the big surprise came as a, well, surprise to me.
As always, there were plenty of in-jokes. Ranjit (Marshall Manesh) showed up. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) translates what a subway conductor says. We even get a glimpse of the Marshall pillow. More importantly, this episode includes huge growth for many season-long or series-long story arcs.
We open with Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Ted (Josh Radnor) arguing over who gets to push the button to demolish the Arcadian. Robin (Colbie Smulders) humorously reminds them that, having dated both of the men, she can safely say that neither are good at “finding the button” and the building would probably just “fake an implosion” and go to sleep.
Soon, Ted faces the monumental nature of the skyscraper project. He realizes that every decision of his will have huge impact and begins to doubt himself when he can’t decide on a type of lightbulb for the building. This uncertainty drives him back to Zooey (Jennifer Morrison). Flashbacks show Ted’s previous insecurity-driven reunions with ex-girlfriends.
Barney and Robin resolve to stop Ted before he can make another relationship mistake. Along the way, the two discuss their failed relationship, through the guise of analyzing Ted and Zooey. It’s a touching scene, if a little overplayed.
Meanwhile, Lily picks up a carton of her and Marshall’s favorite soup, from a restaurant known to cause food poisoning. Sure enough, Lily begins showing symptoms mere hours after ingesting the soup. She runs to warn Marshall (Jason Segel), in a fun sequence that pays off when it appears that she has returned just in time to stop Marshall from putting a spoonful of soup in his mouth. Except that he was about to start his third bowl of said soup.
Marshall realizes that he only has a short time before he too begins exhibiting food poisoning symptoms. Unfortunately, he gets an important interview with a top environmental law firm that day. In an endlessly funny sequence, his interviewer eats a egg salad sandwich, brings in uncleaned gear from a sewer site visit, and shows Marshall pictures of rotting animal carcasses.
Marshall runs out of the interview, at the time he calculated would be the start of his food poisoning. At home, he cries out to Lily about the unfairness of his past year. His father died, he lost his job, and now he has just ruined his chance at the career of his dreams. He decides to take a nap before he has to spend the rest of the night in the bathroom.
But that doesn’t happen. He wakes up, having slept through the night. He didn’t get food poisoning after all. Because the soup actually wasn’t contaminated. Lily is pregnant.
I applaud the writers for this clever gambit. Like most viewers, I was expecting a “Lily is expecting” announcement any day now, but the elaborate story involving food poisoning made me forget the possibility even existed. The revelation of Lily’s pregnancy coming at the heels of Marshall’s frustration with the world was timed perfectly. A great emotional win for the characters and for the audience.
In this episode, it is implied that Barney reunites with Nora, even though Robin clearly still has feelings for the man. In the coda, we find out that the important wedding the show has been alluding to is Barney’s. I like Barney and Robin together, and I like the two of them apart. However, the problem with a Will They Or Won’t They scenario is that the audience can basically predict the ending. Either the bride is Robin, or the bride is Nora, but Barney will most likely end up with Robin anyway. Not exactly an intriguing mystery.
As for Ted, he realizes that it is better to move on than to try again with Zoey. However, his last romantic act for her goes awry, and flowers are delivered to another blonde woman. Music swells and Bob Saget’s narration delivers: “And that’s how I met your mother….Psyche.”
This season has seen tremendous growth for all of our major charactors. Lily and Marshall’s relationship has matured, and the two have learned to support each other and communicate. Marshall has dealt with the death of his father and decided to really go for what he wants.
Ted is still learning relationship lessons every episode, but he’s getting there, folks. He’s getting to the point where he can finally find the right woman and be a good partner to her.
Barney found his biological father and is learning that settling down might be the next challenge he has to face.
Robin…well, Robin hasn’t really faced any great challenges this season. Oh well. Here’s to next season!