It would be great to begin this post with nothing but enthusiasm, seeing as last night was the first episode of the final season of one of our (formerly) favorite sitcoms, and therefore the monumental beginning of the end — except that, possibly, it wasn’t. Over the summer, Vulture reported that the eighth season of How I Met Your Mother may not be the last, which is kind of unfortunate news. Obviously, we’re not in a hurry to part ways with these genuinely lovable characters, but we’d like to see them get the exit they deserve, which means ending the series on a high note and with the confidence that the conclusion is (and was) foregone. Whether or not this is true, we’d like to believe that creator-writers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays have — as they have always maintained — a long-term plan for the show. But we shudder to think that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse said the same thing about Lost, so, to clarify: a plan that cannot be delayed.
For the moment, we’re going to be enthusiastic anyway. First off, this probably is the last season. Bays and Thomas have said they’re approaching it as such, and it would be tough to hold on to Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris any longer (and perhaps Cobie Smulders and Josh Radnor as well, now that they’re both flirting with movies). And if we are close to the end, don’t we owe it to the ever-sentimental Ted Mosby to be sort of sentimental about it? (Unless you’re one of those fans who hates him, in which case you owe him nothing.) Second, it was a charming (if ho-hum) first episode.
Since it’s pretty much impossible for long-in-the-tooth sitcoms to ever recapture the wit/freshness/magic that made them great in the first place, we have to adjust the standard by which we judge HIMYM. Did it toy with chronology in an interesting way? Sort of. Did it have some laugh-out-loud moments and at least one borderline teary moment? Yes. Did it move the story of meeting the Mother forward at all? A skosh. Well done on an adequate job, writers.
Though we don’t want HIMYM to veer into Up All Night territory — at heart, it’s still a show about friends negotiating adulthood, not wrestling with domesticity — it was endearing to see Marshall and Lily coping with little Marvin. Having them listen to their friends as if underwater, unable to remember anything and saying things like, “We’re not going to be the kind of people who have zombies and become total babies,” felt realistic, and it freed them up from their roles as meddlesome spectators as of late. Their fatigue rendered them useless, and the best moment was when Robin confessed to Lily that she was uncomfortable with the idea of being Quinn’s bridesmaid, to which Lily responded, “Oh I wouldn’t worry about that, sweetie — she probably won’t even ask you.” Robin: “She just did!” (HIMYM has certainly worn thin the premise of a new love interest feeling threatened by Robin, though no one can top Blah Blah.)
Let’s take a minute to discuss the abysmal track record this gang has with weddings, because these are some frostbitten feet. Lily called off her wedding to Marshall in season one, Ted and Robin broke up right before the Alderin-Eriksen wedding in season two because Robin never wanted to get married, Stella left Ted at the altar in season four, and now, “a little way down the road,” both Robin and Barney are tempted to ditch out on their big day. (And by that time, they will have two overturned proposals between them.) And last night, we learned that Victoria’s fiancé, Klaus, planned his own exodus before his vows. This has become such a regular gag, it’s perhaps officially an inside joke.
Anyway, the highlight from Ted’s diversion to deliver Victoria’s see-ya note was HIMYM’s riff on German words, specifically the fact that often just one will express complex emotion: schadenfreude, weltschmerz, and whatever Klaus said. Victoria is not his “lifelong treasure of destiny”; she is “almost the thing that you want, but not quite.” (Klaus’s awesome reaction to Ted’s faint grasp of German: “You are maddeningly inconsistent!”) Anyway, it appeared to dawn on Ted that Victoria would not “fill him and empty him all at once.”
And it appeared to dawn on Robin that Barney might do exactly that. Although question to readers: How psyched would you be to find that your ex kept souvenirs of your relationship in one box in a storage container? Blame Breaking Bad or The Wire for the fact that storage containers are decidedly unromantic, and so this seemed a little weird, but Band of Horses swelled in the background, so it was also a little touching. Also, Robin’s tears are contagious — in many ways, she seems like the main character now. (Ted’s journey has dragged, Barney’s has turned into a roller coaster, and Marshall and Lily have arrived at their destination.)
Not sure that seeing another shot of the Mother’s feet, or the model-playing-the-Mother’s feet, satisfied our curiosity, but at least we know the meeting is drawing near, and that it happens on a train platform, and that the Mother is really good at hanging on to umbrellas (is that seriously the same one from the club on St. Patrick’s Day four years ago?) Also, by “near,” we mean the end of the season/series, because the season openers in the recent past tend to foreshadow the finales.
There will surely be episodes better than this one going forward, and it's likely a few will be worse. If network executives need any more reason to call it a day at the end of season eight, they should look no further than Barney’s amazing one-minute monologue from last night, in which he neatly, and wittily recapped the entire series, hitting all the highlights. At this rate, when you get right down to it, how much more can future seasons add? Five seconds? Eight? Don’t make us wait another year for five seconds, CBS.