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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Shows Us "Something New"

Article first published as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Shows Us "Something New" on TheTVKing.

Many were expecting "Something New," the eighth season finale of CBS's How I Met Your Mother, to show Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) wedding, scenes of which we've already glimpsed in the past few seasons, and end at the moment where Ted (Josh Radnor) meets the titular mother, but not show her face. I was among those that believed I had the final half hour figured out, and we could not have been more wrong.

"Something New" details the week leading up to the wedding. Ted is not even thinking about meeting his wife at this point, ready to give up. He still has a torch burning for Robin, but has decided that, rather than wreck his friends' happiness, he will stand by and smile, then move to Chicago, avoiding his feelings.

It may be theorized that the reason Ted never meets anyone over the past eight years is because he is still hung up on Robin. Until she is wed, he thinks she is a possibility for him, and so no other girl is good enough. It may not be something he consciously admits, but it certainly seems like this is a problem hanging over Ted right now, and one that he needs to let go of to be happy.

In fact, Ted is even considering intervening, making a last-minute play for Robin, against his earlier decision. He has Robin's missing locket, and thinks giving it to her will make her happy. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) warns Ted to be careful, and it's certainly a poor decision for Ted to give Robin the missing jewelry. The act doesn't just give Ted hope, but might make Robin wonder if she is marrying the right guy. They both owe it to Barney to not let this happen, and given what we've seen of the wedding day, I don't think Ted will screw things up, thankfully.

Has Ted's love for Robin been played to death over the years? It sure has. And yet, there is something fitting about this being part of his last arc. It takes Ted back to the beginning of the story, finally giving closure to the pairing that never really happened. It bookends the arc in a very satisfying way.

They say you find someone when you least expect it. And Ted, agonizing over Robin, and intending to leave New York, isn't looking for love. He is finally at a point where finding the girl of his dreams is the last thing on his mind. At this perfect moment, enter the mother (Cristin Milioti, Sleepwalk With Me).

It's very surprising to see "Something New" reveal the face of the mother, a secret that is tightly kept under wraps until it airs. Milioti isn't a hugely known actress, though she's had success on Broadway, and done a handful of television guest spots in shows such as The Sopranos, 30 Rock, and Nurse Jackie, as well as some films. The first impression doesn't even afford us the opportunity to hear her voice, but she certainly looks the part quite nicely. I imagine, after this, a lot more people will know who Milioti is.

What will this mean for season nine? Well, presumably Ted will decide not to leave New York to stay and date the mother, but having given up his apartment, he'll probably move into his brand new house, which he has just finished. And then he'll begin dating her, and some time during the next year, he will realize that she's the one, and for once, it will feel right. There will also have to be a couple of missteps and goofs along the way. But this is Ted's end game. He, and we, who have watched for the past eight seasons, have arrived.

During this time, Robin and Barney are hanging out, torturing a snooty couple (Casey Wilson, Happy Endings and Keegan Michael Key, Key and Peele), and putting to rest any doubts about their union that may have come up in the previous installment. Watching them interact with each other, engaged in a common mission, proves exactly why they belong together. Plus, great guest stars! Ted doesn't stand a chance with Robin now.

Meanwhile, Marshall takes baby Marvin to visit his mother, Judy (Suzie Plakson), after she learns her son and his family are moving to Rome. Lily is worried that Judy will try to keep Marvin at home, or tag along, but Marshall keeps assuring his wife that Judy is only kidding when she says such things. Like many 'B' stories of the past few years, it's an amusing, though not particularly memorable, subplot.

That is, until Marshall gets a call offering him a judgeship. This is the sort of life-changing opportunity that he has been waiting for, it long having been his dream to sit on the bench. But that would mean he couldn't go to Rome to support Lily in following her dream. What to do is a real conundrum.

It stinks that How I Met Your Mother chooses to put this wedge in Lily and Marshall's marriage now. Sure, lots of shows screw with relationships when the end is near; look at the recent Jim / Pam story on The Office. But no one likes to see strife come into the marriage of a beloved couple, and this turn of events is a true no-win scenario. Will they try to make it work, living on two different continents? Or will one of them have to give up something they desperately want? Neither is very promising, even though glimpses of the future assure us that they will make it through.

"Something New" leaves the viewer with plenty of frustrating cliffhangers, but also a lot of anticipation. How will the tale play out in the final season? Next fall, we'll find out.

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