Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother finally arrived this week, and it was an awesome episode. It had some interesting developments, and the big remaining mysteries (the mother and the details of Barney and Robin’s wedding) were addressed. These mysteries aren’t 100% solved, but we got more details and more info to ponder…so let’s get started!
Needless to say this whole post is a spoiler alert for this episode and the entire season 7.
We open with Ted sitting on a bench, which immediately made me happy. Why? Because this reminded me of the episode “Dual Citizenship” when Lily and Marshall turn the bro trip to Gazola’s Pizza into a sleepover at The Crumpet Inn, which has always catered to couples. When Ted asks the innkeeper (I think her name is Miss Cruickshank) for something that a single person could do, she responds:
“I suppose I could arrange a little recreation. Do you enjoy sitting on a bench?”
I tend to quote this line frequently despite literally nobody ever knowing what I’m referencing.
Alright, back to present. So Ted is on the bench waiting for the train. His right hand is bandaged as though he recently punched someone. We know punching isn’t really Ted’s forte but perhaps the crazy wedding required some assistance in the form of some Mosby justice. An old lady sits next to him (note – post to follow immediately re Ted and old ladies, there’s some interesting stuff going on there) and inquires about his formal attire. Ted explains he was at a wedding but he doesn’t want to talk about it.
He seems a bit morose, which is likely because he is now the only single member of the gang. We know (per the writers) that Robin and Barney do definitely get married, so this is my best guess as to why Ted looks so down. Or maybe his hand hurts, idk.
In true Ted fashion, he immediately launches into a complex story within a story, despite his request to not discuss it like one second earlier. We flash back to “A little ways down the road” and see Robin in her wedding dress.
Sidenote – what happened to Robin’s boobs? When Cobie Smulders isn’t pregnant she has almost no cleavage to speak of, and they seem to consistently choose clothes that emphasize this. Perhaps she isn’t comfortable putting the girls on display for her wedding, although I can’t imagine why not. Anyway, Robin is in a vintage style gown, and she asks Ted for the honest truth about how bad Barney is freaking out. Ted assures Robin that Barney is 100% fine, but a flash to his room reveals otherwise. Barney is shown trying to climb out the window because he has a better tie (cornflower blue!) at home.
Once Robin is (falsely) reassured that Barney is good to go, she confesses her own doubts about going through with the wedding. She mentions escaping out the window, and Ted notes that it’s easier to go out the window then to come in through it. Here is where we jump to the story within a story portion of the episode.
Sidenote – I still love the show intro. It’s the only place I ever see disposable cameras anymore, and each time I see it I think the same thing. I initially loved this intro, way back in season one, because of how authentic it felt. There are good and bad pictures of each main character, which makes it seem more real. Candid shots with weird faces, group pics where everybody but one person (ahem, Marshall) looks normal, etc. This contradicts with Barney always taking good pictures – and Marshall always looking bad in pictures – as described in the episode “Say Cheese”. Also I really like to sing along to the intro music. :) Okay end sidenote.
Meanwhile, back at the apartment…
Lily and Marshall are in severe sleep deprivation mode. I’m already in love with how the show is portraying parenthood. Last season had a grain of truth that cracked me up and still resonates with me when I’m babysitting. I can’t find the exact quote or watch it online so I will update when I get it perfect. The general idea is that Marshall initially thinks baby Marv has filled his diaper, but later explains that the smell was actually coming from his own clothes and/or hair. If you’ve ever changed baby diapers, you know exactly what he means.
We start with Lilypad and Marshmallow gazing blissfully at their sweet baby boy, who is dressed in his finest ducky onesie! Barney and Quinn are similarly joyous, because they just got engaged. Robin is the fifth wheel in the room, but she seems unconcerned at the moment. She picks a seed from her teeth (apparently she’s been working on that for a while) and then triumphantly declares “Robin: one, poppy seed: zeroooo!”. Then I’m pretty sure she wipes the poppy seed on Marv’s blanket, which is gross.
Barney and Quinn exit to go have sex in the kitchen (Barney already got Quinn’s bra off, naturally), and Lily tries to discuss the engagement with Robin. Unfortunately, Marv’s parental units are basically seeing and hearing everything in a watery haze, complete with mini scuba divers and acid trip inspired face distortions. So they don’t quite process anything that Robin says (neither can we, at this point) or even remember things that were mentioned literally seconds ago. Quinn returns and explains that she doesn’t have many female friends besides strippers, and they wouldn’t like wearing dresses with actual fronts, and so will Lily and Robin be her bridesmaids? Marshall immediately responds “I’d be honored!” I don’t think this is sleep deprivation talking so much as Marshall’s feminine side. It made me happy :)
Now to Ted and Victoria…
We flash back to the day of Victoria and Klaus’s wedding, as Ted and Victoria drive off into the proverbial sunset. Ted asks about Victoria’s “left you at the altar” note, and Victoria admits she didn’t leave one. Ted insists that it is only common courtesy to leave a note – a fact that he knows well after his own experience of being ditched at the altar by Stella.
Ted is then dispatched by Victoria to plant the note for Klaus. He has the key to the room, but it’s being protected by Klaus’s sister, a German wrestler that isn’t about to take crap from anyone. Who could possibly turn this situation around? Why, Barnibus Stinson, of course!
Back to the apartment…
Robin asks Barney if it will be weird, and we discover that (of course!) he never told Quinn about their past relationship. He goes on to explain that he has deleted every shred of evidence that the Barnman and Robin were ever together. He shows her pictures that she has been Photoshopped out of – and in one case, replaced by a tiger. Being replaced by a tiger would really lessen the blow for me, but Robin is understandably upset.
We get a great example of Robin’s character progression in this scene. Seasons ago, the only thing she kept from prior relationships were her dogs. We later learn that she doesn’t even keep pictures of anyone. (season 2, “Moving Day”) Now, however, she has evolved into someone capable of true attachments. She can handle the emotional implications of being reminded of her ex now and again. This demonstrates an enormous level of character maturity that we have seen her develop over seven seasons. It is especially poignant that, after this core change, she is faced with a past love that does the same thing.
Barney tries to get everyone to keep the secret from Quinn, but Lily and Marshall are not exactly on top of their games right now. A classic “secret being overheard via the baby monitor” scenario is set up, but averted. I appreciated that they didn’t go to the most obvious plot progression tactic there. Instead, the secret is spilled when Lily discusses how she didn’t say that Robin and Barney dated. Quinn is actually in the room with them, and has been for ten minutes, at their invitation. But L & M are seriously startled at her presence, and afterwards they promptly forgot who even revealed the truth.
Back to the car with Ted and Victoria…
Ted calls Barney and proposes that he seduce “Andrea the Giant” over the phone. Barney, thrilled with a challenge, happily complies. He successfully distracts the feisty fräulein, and Ted is able to drop off the note and escape without being spotted. Except that he Teds it up and leaves the keys, and the door locked behind him. Now Ted has to head back – this time going up the drain pipe – to snag the keys and make a clean getaway.
While psyching himself for this difficult adventure (he struggled with rope climbing in 4th grade when he went after a kid and “the rope was slick with lamb grease!”), Ted encounters Klaus. Poor Klaus is having a rough day, and he’s trying to ditch the wedding just like Victoria. He explains “I’m a mess! I threw up in the cloakroom, I blamed a small child”. Klaus understands that common courtesy dictates leaving a note, so he has already left his “dear Victoria” letter on her bed. Ted realizes that Victoria can get out of this totally blame-free, so he shimmies up that pipe like a damn fireman.
Ted grabs the note that he left before, and replaces it with the note from Klaus. He even takes a moment to act out the scenario of Victoria reading it, and then splashes water droplets on the note to simulate her tears. He hits the road with Victoria, mission accomplished!
Okay, now we’re jumping back to the apartment again…
Quinn demands an explanation from Barney, and tells him he has one minute before she walks out the door. He protests that it’s a long story, and she interrupts to inform him that he now has 52 seconds. Barney delivers an epic recap of most of the series, beginning with Marshall and Lily getting engaged, and ending with him being on The Price is Right and winning a dune buggy. He also spices up his speedy explanation with examples of how lame Ted is, specifically referencing his butterfly tramp stamp while acknowledging it’s not really relevant. I loved it, even though he said Robin went to Brazil and she actually went to Argentina. Quinn isn’t swayed, though, until Robin explains that she has a boyfriend.
Seven years ago when Marshall and Lily got engaged Ted saw Robin across a crowded room and I said “oh yeah you just know she likes it dirty,” but Ted really liked her so we played “Haaave You me Ted?” They went to dinner, he walked her home, should have kissed her, didn’t, lame. So he stole the Smurf penis, went back to her place, should have kissed her, didn’t, lame. He threw three parties, they kissed on the roof but decided to be friends, lame. Then Ted wanted to take Robin to a wedding, she couldn’t go, he went alone and met Victoria. Didn’t kiss her either, lame. Not a great closer Ted. Then he finally kissed her, they started dating, she went to Germany. Ted kissed Robin, lost Victoria, Ted did a rain dance, got Robin. Ted and Robin broke up, Robin moved to Brazil came back with a Latin stud. Ted got jealous, got a tramp stamp, not really relevant to the story I just like mentioning it as much as possible. I hooked up with Robin, Ted and I stopped being friends, Ted got hit by a bus we made up…Robin and I started dating and I got fat her hair fell out. We broke up, Robin dated Don, I dated Nora. I cheated on her with Robin, I dumped Nora. Robin dated Kevin but not for long and then I met you and you took my Grandpa’s watch, but I fell in love with you anyway and you let me fart in front of you and I asked you to marry me and you said yes so we came over here to meet little Marvin and that’s everything. Also I went on the Price Is Right and I won a dune buggy.
When this new info is being discussed, Robin explains that it’s no big deal because she has a boyfriend now. Barney implies that she doesn’t need to lie, but Robin says that she was just telling L & M this earlier in the day. Turns out that’s what she was trying to tell them when they stared at her through fish-bowl vision as she talked.
We flashback to Robin saying she’s dating Nick and “I want to spend all day licking his abs”. Initially Marshall responded, “you’re preaching to the choir, sister” without realizing what was being discussed. After he reflects on the moment, though, he admits “I stand by it”. This also makes me very happy.
Quinn isn’t sold on Robin and Barney being purely platonic just because Robin has a new boyfriend, but one look at Nick’s abs changes her mind.
Barney is threatened by Nick and points out that he has chicken legs. I was happy to see this character, because he was introduced a while back and then never seen again. In the season six episode, “Hopeless”, Robin spots him in a bar. She remembers a moment from when she was dating Ted and she encountered the mystery crush while Ted shopped for his red cowboy boots. Ted sabotaged that moment by fake proposing to Robin. The actor had another show between then and now, so he wasn’t available for HIMYM. Now he’s back, which I’m happy about it. Loose end tied, now let’s move him on out to clear the path for Barney and Robin. This is also exactly how I feel about Quinn, and how I feel about Victoria. I’m so over Victoria.
Quinn leaves to take body shots off of Nick’s abs, and Robin and Barney are left alone in the booth at MacLaren’s. Robin expresses her sadness over Barney basically erasing all evidence of them being together, and Barney tosses over a key. He directs Robin to a storage unit with a single box inside.
At this point I was yelling “what’s in the box?! what’s in the boooxxxxx?!” ala Robin quoting Se7en. I was pretty sad she didn’t randomly scream that out. :) But the box has all of the memories and pictures of the two of them together, which brings Robin to silent tears.
Jumping back to the car with Ted and Victoria…
They’re in the car, headed for the sunset, when Ted suddenly detours to the train station where Klaus is supposed to be. He asks Klaus why he left Victoria, and Klaus has a beautiful, German-peppered speech about some people being the one, and some people being almost the one. I absolutely could not transcribe this on my own, so thanks to the multiple Tumblr posters that did the dirty work for me:
KLAUS: Victoria is wunderbar, but she is not my Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz. She is my Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand you know? It means “the thing that is almost the thing that you want but is not quite.” That is Victoria to me.
TED: How do you know she’s not Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz? I mean, maybe as the years go by, she’ll get Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz-ier.
KLAUS: Lebenslangerschicksalsschatz is not something that develops over time. It is something that happens instantaneously. It courses through you like the water of a river after a storm, filling you and emptying you all at once. You feel it throughout your body, in your hands, in your heart, in your stomach, in your skin. Have you ever felt this way about someone?
TED: Yeah, I think so.
KLAUS: If you have to think about it, you have not felt it.
TED: And you’re absolutely sure you’ll find that someday?
KLAUS: Of course. Everyone does eventually. You just don’t know when or where.
During this speech, we see Lily and Marshall looking at one another with love, and then gazing down at baby Marv in pure adoration. We also see Robin crying as she looks in the memory box, and Barney in a cab with Quinn. Quinn is asleep on Barney’s chest, but he’s staring out the window, looking a bit heartbroken. Neil Patrick Harris is such an amazing actor, he can convey so much with a single facial expression. The scene, combined with the background music (“The Funeral”, by Band of Horses) was particularly evocative.
So, now we know that Ted meets the mother on the day of the wedding. And now we know the where! We jump ahead to the train station where Ted is talking the old lady’s ear off, and a taxi pulls up. The license plate reads 2W86D, what does it mean?!?! I don’t actually think it means much but I like the idea of it being a secret code. :) Other potential secret codes include the cab faire ($12.20) and the writing on the sidewalk “Watch the Gap” regarding the train tracks.
A woman exits the cab and retrieves her bass guitar from the trunk. Note – mystery date from “Milk” also played bass. We see her walking in strappy heeled purple snake (alligator?) print shoes, and the camera slooooowly pans up to reveal modestly polished nails, nylons, a purple purse, and a purple dress. Purple shoes and a purple dress are good! (see HIMYM color theory posts for more details) The camera continues to pan up, but her face is obscured by the infamous yellow umbrella. Still, we get to see Ted and The Mother, a mere 10-15 feet apart from one another, presumably right before they meet. Hooray!
What book was Ted reading on the bench? I’ve seen people online with differing reports and I haven’t spotted a good shot of it. I believe it is his favorite book, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. This would lend credence to my earlier theory about the mother being the mystery date from the season one episode “Milk”. The mystery date’s favorite book is also Love in the Time of Cholera (or, as Robin calls it, Love in the Time of Don’t-Bother-A).
Why is his hand bandaged? I still think this relates to him punching someone, or perhaps attempting to punch someone.
This whole time we have been thinking he meets the mother AT the wedding, but now it seems to happen AFTER the wedding. This could imply that she has no relation to the wedding whatsoever, but she could still have been there. It’s perfectly plausible that Ted didn’t interact with every single guest and band member, etc, so perhaps she was playing the bass at the wedding. She could also still be Barney’s sister, but the odds of that have decreased.
Whew! That was a complicated one. Thanks to the cool kids on Tumblr for making these gifs – I’ve linked to the original source for each. Now for my analysis of Ted and the old ladies…