19
Dec
2012
HIMYM: Season 8, Episodes 11 & 12
The Final Page Parts 1 and 2
Chris
We have reached a point where it is clear that How I Met Your Mother can never be the show fans wanted it to be in the early days. Too much time has passed. The train has left the tracks and is veering off into the woods. There is no landing to stick as the floor has fallen out, and the show has entered a free fall, hastily clawing for any idea that can either compress or extend the timeline depending on what mood strikes the creators and network that week. If you're still watching with me, god bless. We should reach out to each other, because addicts need support more than anything.

The Final Page Parts 1 and 2 are divided into two mostly unrelated half hours of television. The first includes a return to Wesleyan for Ted, Marshall, and Lily (with Barney in tow), while back in the city, Robin makes a petty and embarrassing lapse in judgement. Part 2 centers around the opening of Ted's first building, and a baffling return to the Barney, Ted, & Robin love triangle. While the first is enjoyable albeit disappointing in terms of some missed opportunities, but the second represents a lot of what has been wrong with this season as well as a major blow to the ongoing narrative that I don't think the show can recover from.

The Final Page Part 1 has a lot going for it. The opening featuring Barney's history with jinxing starts things off the show with a decent laugh, and remains a reliable gag throughout (especially in the scene where a mass of text relates what Barney wants to say). The concept of "Pit Guy" is introduced as a theme to tie the various stories together, and while the concept has to be stretched a bit to apply to all three stories, I did appreciate this storyline as it was relatively fresh territory for the show.

Seth Green turns in a delightfully creepy performance as a hackie sack impresario and Marshal & Lily obsessed former classmate. And while I definitely think Green's creepy factor could have been cranked up a few notches, Marshall, Lily, and Barney play off of him very well. And it was a nice touch to see that "Creepy Darryl" was living his dream.

The resolution of the "Pit Guy" concept doesn't work out as well for the Ted and Robin story lines. Robin's firing of Patrice is uncomfortably predictable and never really delivers any laughs, even during the always reliable Robin yells at Patrice gags. Ted's obsession with the architecture professor who never believed in him never really goes anywhere, even with the aid of a musical number.

While The Final Page Part 1 delivered a number of laughs, I found myself ultimately disappointed in the episode as it could have been so much better. Ted, Marshall, and Lily's days at Wesleyan are an area of the show that has yet to be strip mined and could easily have been a multi-episode affair. And while Seth Green's turn as Creepy Darryl delivered, Peter Gallagher was wasted on a very cliche disappointed mentor character, an archetype Ted has already brushed against in seasons prior. A Wesleyan trip down memory lane was one of the few bullets this show still had in the chamber and I feel like Bays and Thompson wasted it on an enjoyable but largely forgettable half hour.

Now we turn to The Final Page Part 2. Barney is intending to propose to Patrice during the opening of Ted's building. Ted knows but has been sworn to secrecy, and asks Robin to accompany him as his date. Everyone else will be there as Marshall and Lily have the night off from Marvin, their first since he was born. Ted confides to Marshall that he may want to take another shot at Robin. But instead he decides to allow her a chance to stop Barney from proposing to Patrice because he knows she is still in love with Barney. The end of the episode reveals that all of Barney's actions of the past couple episodes have been one last, intricate play in order to win back and propose to Robin.

Let's start with what I liked. The Marshall & Lily sub-plot was a lot of fun. The highlight was definitely the elaborate Marvin lullaby and Lily's drunken berating of a couple with a baby at Ted's party. I also liked that every move Barney made in the past few episodes was part of an elaborate deception as his actions make much more sense now that the curtain has been pulled back. And the emotional beats of Barney's explanation to Robin really hit home, it was almost a very, very touching scene.

Most of the jokes are very surface level in Part 2. None of the humor injected into the limo scene really breaks the tension and often borders on some of the most predictable canned laughter fodder on television. I get that this is supposed to be an emotional beats episode but if the jokes aren't going to be a priority, then the dramatic beats damn well better land.

And here's where things go terribly, terribly wrong. As Jordan pointed out to me in a fit of post-episode rage, Barney and Robin dated for a handful of months several years prior. Robin saying yes to his proposal is a gigantic and nonsensical leap for their relationship. Not only did they fail spectacularly the first time around, Barney himself has admitted he had not fully recovered from his break-up with fiance Quinn. If the result of this plot line had been they decide to date again, or even move in together, I would probably be onboard. But agreeing to get married at a time when Robin knows Barney is emotionally unstable and with only one past relationship that failed miserably and a history of screwing each other over to base the viability of said marriage on makes absolutely no sense for the characters.

Even worse is the statement that this plot line makes about Ted. The Robin/Ted connection has now been returned to three times in the past two seasons, with no real closure for Ted. Ted sends Robin into Barney's arms not because he is over her and wants her to be happy, but because he is a good guy. The final images of the episode, Marshall with Lily, Barney with Robin, and Ted alone in a crowd staring out into a cold night sky is a horribly depressing visual. This show has always been a long form rom com but rather than this being the moment where all is lost and it seems like the guy won't get the girl, it becomes the moment where it is obvious that the guy will get a girl, but not the one he really wanted. At this point a more fitting title for the show would be How I Settled For Your Mother.

The Final Page Part 1 Grade: B
The Final Page Part 2 Grade: D+

Notes:

-"Look at that little hack that came from your sack!"

-Barney's entire speech.

-"I hardly call giving me Gonorrhea a petty personal difference."

-"And before you murder us you should know we have a child. He probably has eight or nine!" That's low balling it.

-"24 straight hours without that little bastard."

-"This kid does not mean that you're special. It just means that you're horny, and you're easy. Now come on! Let me smell his head!"
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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