And so the end begins. Marshall is on his way, Lily is trying to hold it together, Barney and Robin are desperately dodging landmines on their way to the altar, and Ted is single for the last time in his life. It’s going to be a busy weekend.
HIMYM starts Season 9 with a busy hour and, by the end, not much has happened and not a lot changes. And frankly, I like it. We’ve spent eight years getting to know these characters, and so to say farewell, we get to spend an entire weekend with them in real-time. As I mentioned in my previous post, that’s a bold choice for the show to make, and I hope it continues to work for them.
Ted’s Ted-ness was pushed to its absolute limit in the opening moments of the show. He’s the worst nightmare a car trip can have: a self-appointed tour guide. The binder and the “fun facts” and the driving gloves might have been cartoonish if not for the brilliant reveal that Ted had meant to drive Lily out of the car all along. Lily thinks it’s to give Ted a chance to give the locket to Robin, but this proves false when he gives Robin a picture instead. Why, then, did Ted want to be alone? Did he not want to discuss his upcoming move to Chicago, or was it a chance for him to steel his courage for an important conversation with Robin yet to come?
I’m not sure yet how to feel about Marshall’s isolation from the rest of the regular cast. Jason Segal’s best work on this show has always come from Marshall being pushed well outside his comfort zone, so there’s a lot of potential in his road trip with the confrontational Daphne (Sherri Shepherd). While I’m sure Marshall won’t be banished for the majority of the season to his new Monstrosity—actually a Monstrosity Sport (“It’s still freaking huge!”)—I hope we get a few episodes with Daphne pushing his Minnesota Nice to the limit.
Sans Marshall, Lily spends most of the episode playing comedic foil to Ted. I’m a sucker for Alyson Hannigan when she’s channeling her inner frat boy, and she was in fine form, recruiting Linus to keep her socially lubricated for the entire weekend (the “Kennedy Package,” all for the low price of one benjamin). Her panic attacks and cookie placebos on the train were easily the high points of the first half-hour.
Separating the show’s married couple gives them each time to breathe as individual characters, but it also shifts the show’s couples focus entirely on Barney and Robin. Even longtime marriage advocate James has thrown in the towel thanks to the Stinson Curse of promiscuity. I never fully bought into the idea of “the curse” as a point of tension: James was married (with children) for many years. Barney knows by now that his marriage to Robin will fail or succeed on its own merits, not because of anyone else’s relationships, and the show making Robin believe he believes otherwise feels forced. Far more interesting is the wrinkle of their possibly being related: it’s a small, easily overlooked detail that could sink their wedding and, more importantly, it’s entirely out of their control. The great moments between these two will be how they resolve the things they can’t change—those last-minute disasters, no-shows, cancellations, and surprise confessions of love—not how they resolve their own feelings with each other.
But who cares about all of that? It’s time to talk about the real reason we tuned in: the Mother. For eight seasons, the mother has represented the finish line in the series. Now she’s a character in her own right, and more and more it seems to be the better choice. Christin Milioti comes out of the starting gate with a mountain of expectations to carry, and so far, she’s managing. Her scenes with Lily give her the chance to play into HIMYM’s classic patter, and while the timing and familiarity isn’t quite there, she at least manages to keep up with Hannigan’s manic delivery. Likewise, her chemistry with Radnor is still a little bit off; she looked vaguely uncomfortable in her final scene with Present Ted and Future Ted. But there’s a certain gawky charm to her as Ted confesses his promise to bring her back to Farhampton before he even met her. As she finds her rhythm with the rest of the cast, I think we can expect Milioti to feel like one of the gang well before Ted ever meets her.
- “Lil and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” would have turned out more like “Lil and Ted’s Bogus Journey” in that one or both of them would probably have died.
- “Hell, I’ve been going to Pilates, I could just hang onto the landing gear like this! I only signed up for Pilates, I haven’t started going yet. …I didn’t sign up.”
- I would read “The Lonely Unicorn” to my child every night. Even after they begged me not to.
- Ladies beware: if you give your man too much authority in the wedding planning process, you might not get the ring-bear(er) you expect.
- JUST CLICK ON OPTIONS!
- The Monstrosity Sport gets 0.6 MPG. That’s going to be one expensive car trip…
- “Lady Tedwina Slowsby” needs to learn where the gas pedal is.
- Barney’s wedding anniversary gift to James is exactly the kind of clumsy, sweet gesture you would expect from a lifelong single man with too much money and no boundaries.
- Never showboat your crossword skills unless you’re confident enough to write your answers in pen, Mosby.