Episode 36: Kids, in the Summer of 2012, A Great Episode of HIMYM Happened

I just finished viewing the season finale of How I Met Your Mother. The unwritten rule of no posting specific events of particularly important tv episodes keeps me from going all out to explain my reactions to the events that have transpired. The delay is because a lot of people DVR or watch episodes through other portals like Hulu and other such services. This is actually fairly interesting in the world of serial literature since a television program is designed to be published out there once, with reruns being limited for most cases and you have to wait a while for said episode to enter the syndication circles. oR at least that’s the way it’s supposed to go, thus making the serial reading experience a unifying experience to the readership that has some temporal wiggle room

So back to the show; as you can imagine spoilers are ahead so be careful because I’m about to do a play by play of pretty much the whole episode with a lot of going back and worth throughout the series. The season finale had been posted for a while with previews that said episode would officially declare who the bride was going to be. Now if there’s one thing I love about HIMYM is that they say small and big things for a brief moment that are automatically canon throughout the program. If you haven’t watched the show before then why are you reading this, except of course if you are one of my respected professors in my dissertation committee or a stalker with violent tendencies, neither group I wish to anger so let’s go a little bit more into detail as to how the show works. At its most basic, the program consists of four friends who hang out in traditional sitcom format, kind of like Seinfeld or Friends. What makes it interesting and somewhat unique, besides the amazing individual talents of its star ensemble and characters, is that narratively speaking it’s done all in flashback form. As the title of the show and of this post implies, everything is told by protagonist Ted relating all the stories to his kids in the year 2030 as to how he met their mother and his eventual wife. The disembodied narrative voice is not the same voice as that of Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, but is actually that of an uncredited Bob Saget of Full House fame. While it’s done in a retrospective manner, the episodes contain a degree of verisimilitude to the time of publication, in that when the show started in 2005, we are being told about what happened in 2005. There are a lot of flash forwards and flashbacks throughout the series as to why and how some things happen. While there are a lot of moments where the narrator admits to not knowing all details and shows his bias and penchant for exaggeration, some pieces of information are pretty much official when it comes to canon.

This incredible maintenance of narrative continuity throughout the years with a nonlinear temporal structure that makes the program so awesome and why it tends to show up in some versions of my reading lists. I don’t care how good a writer you are, there is no way you can have multiple installments or even seasons thought out, written, and cemented in a way that nothing can change what will happen down the line to your characters, much less likely to the very end. This is why it strikes me as surprising that the character of Robin is introduced as a love interest to Ted but the end of the episode reveals that she is the kids’ Aunt Robin. The fact was written in stone for the fans as most of the first season has Ted try to enamor Robin and them actually being together a few seasons later. A lot of the most recent season still had Ted wanting them both to be together and we as viewers know that they work well together but ultimately that they are not meant to be. While the central attempted relationships revolve around Ted, it was Barney that started taking center stage and the spotlight as to what will happen next.

Barney Stinson is perhaps one of the more interesting characters in television right now. The character is the quintessential hypersexual male, filled with insecurities and whose bravado is mostly for show. The actor is Neil Patrick Harris, an openly homosexual married man with kids. Barney Stinson easily has the role of the ensemble Han Solo, not the protagonist but the one you most remember years later. As the show went on, Barney’s character was showing some growth and maturing as he pursues a relationship with Robin, yes that Robin. The compatibility between them was believable and romantic in their own dysfunctional way. And yet it was like the third or fourth season in the seven years that it’s been running. You can’t have a committed relationship, see my previous post on this, especially when you already have Lilly and Marshall as the designated married couple for the program. Barney and Robin were together for a while but ultimately decided that they weren’t happy together. After that moment, there were several instances, some stoic some boisterous, of will they or won’t they get back together. Even with both of them being in serious relationships with other people the idea of them being together again was always there, especially when they started to talk about the wedding.

The wedding of course refers to a one line moment where Ted says that he meets his own future wife at a wedding in which he is the best man. This wasn’t that big of a deal when they said it because the show already said that Ted was going to be the best man for friend from high school Punchy’s wedding. This suddenly became a big deal when the season finale for last year included the reveal that the Groom of said wedding was actually Barney. This of course sent the fandom into crazed wondering of the bride would be and tonight’s episode had the big reveal in the last minutes.

The episode was a two parter, sort of, since you could watch one episode without the other and it still makes sense. The first part involved the birth of Lilly and Marshall’s son, Melvin Waitforit Eriksen, yes his middle name is “wait for it” which is freaking awesome and everyone agrees with that. I am actually kind of hoping for all the kids will be named as such, better than any Kardashian naming trend. The second part worked directly with the relationship between Barney and Quinn, his stripper girlfriend and they even moved in together. She of course was being set up as the potential bride, as I discussed with a few friends online before the program started, Quinn was the logical choice but for me and many others, the emotional and proper choice was for Robin to be the bride. As someone who studies serials, Robin was the clear choice because when it comes to a stable part of the main cast or a new character that has been around for less than a year, the connection to the former is too strong to overcome.

The actual episode was interesting because the lead up to an amazing magic trick by Barney surrounded at gunpoint by TSA is actually an elaborate proposal for him asking Quinn to marry her. She accepted and was later accepted into the group, all was well. Then they fast forwarded to the wedding and the bride was shown to be Robin. Now I admit that I cheered when the reveal was made. This of course opens up the questions in the upcoming season as to how Quinn and Barney split up or how Robin comes back into the picture. As fans of the show know through the case of Ted and Sthella, a wedding does not necessarily mean a happy ending for the couple. It becomes especially weird when you consider that if your two best friends are getting married, who could you possibly meet at that wedding as a future mate that you haven’t met before? Anyway, let me get back to the point of writers having everything so well planned out from the beginning. There is something called character economy in serial fiction. Basically, it means that you can’t have too many extra characters because there is only so much narrative content that can be spread around a limited number of people. In the first few seasons, the cast will expand to have a number of additional minor characters to flesh out the main people’s family, coworkers, etc.  A lot of people will show up for one, maybe two episodes tops played by both noname unrecognizable actors and actresses to some really famous people. The weird part comes with the people that join the cast for more than that and take center stage, mostly in the form of a love interest. For readers and viewers, we have no idea if this person will stay for about a season or will they become a new Robin style character. And of course, anyone can come back from the veritable gallery of exes, tonight’s episode showed that in the case of Ted.

In my opinion it had to be Robin because they would have mentioned by name or at least by anonymous reference at some given moment. Everyone in the main ensemble outside of Ted and the mysterious mother are refered to as Aunts and Uncles. If any other important person for the sake of the future and role in the kids growing they would be called Aunt or Uncle as well. No one has been given that familial title so if anyone is going to be important for the core cast until the year 2030 then they have to be presented as such. They already showed with Robin that they can’t and won’t use crazy misdirection for long. Or at least I like to think so, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about serials is that the story remains in narrative flux until the last installment is published because anything can change, no matter how much the writers want to maintain narrative continuity and consistency.

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