Unpopular Opinion: I Loved the How I Met Your Mother Finale

Posted by Jaime

Editor’s Note: When Jaime came to us with the idea for this post, I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. “You KNOW how I feel about the HIMYM finale, RIGHT?” It’s been two years and I am STILL angry. True to my word, I’ve never gone back and watched an old episode since the finale aired. (I never did get around to having a bonfire with my DVDs though.) I still quote it and reference it fairly often, but it is always with a sense of melancholy (“Ugh, remember when that show wasn’t dead to me?”).  Needless to say, I was very curious about what Jaime would have to say regarding loving something that I personally find to be indefensible. I may vehemently disagree with him but he raises many points that are valid. YOU DO YOU JAIME. It’s the Head Over Feels philosophy after all. Thank you for your bravery in owning up to this. It actually made me want to watch the show again. 

But I won’t. How can I watch something that no longer exists? 😉 -Kim

It’s been two years since the end of How I Met Your Mother, and I think it’s finally safe to admit it: I loved the finale. Whew! I said it.

Had I come out with this opinion when it first aired, I likely would have received a barrage of angry tweets—but hopefully some of the backlash fires have died down by now, and we can talk about where it worked, where it didn’t, why it was doomed from the get-go, and the idea that while it may not have been the ending that most fans wanted, it was the one that Ted’s story needed.

Why Most Series Finales Stink

Series finales are a dangerous TV tightrope for writers: they have to keep their balance between pleasing the fans and successfully completing their character and story arcs. If they lean too far in one direction, they fail, and either end up with a beloved, pandering mess that betrays the ethos of the entire series, or they end up with a tight storyline that leaves behind an angry mob of devoted watchers. Serving both the fans and the arcs is the trick; the stakes are high—there can only be one finale—and so are the expectations, particularly for shows that have been on for several years.

Every show approaches the conundrum a little differently:

Seinfeld gave fans what they wanted by using the final trial as a way of parading every guest star or catch phrase they’d ever used on the show; at the same time, the trial itself was the direct result of years of the gang’s horrible selfishness. The story demanded that there be consequences for their years of bad behavior, and landing them in jail was narratively perfect.

Parks and Rec dropped all pretenses about caring about serving the series-long storyline arcs when they jumped into the future. From a storytelling perspective, the show absolutely should have ended at the end of season 6 (because, you know, that ending was about the triumph of the entire Parks Department, and everyone within it); instead, it slogged on for another year, and ended with a finale where every character magically lived happily ever after in their own personal paradises. While it was easy to walk away from the series finale in a good mood, the last episode completely abandoned what made the show great: small moments of zaniness in the most mundane of settings.

The Community finale—one of my favorite half-hours of television ever, period—prioritized character arcs over fan service, but respectfully. By constantly asking questions throughout the episode, like Annie’s “If I were a character in a TV show, and I was in my sixth year of community college, at some point, wouldn’t the audience start to feel sorry for me?”, Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna wrote a closing that ultimately got us to want the characters to move on. Where they could have spent the time taking a victory lap through side characters and paintball—*cough, cough*, Community season 4 finale, I’m looking at you—they instead prioritized their character storylines in a way that openly explained why that was the best choice.

Now, on top of the challenge of writing a good series finale, ending a show becomes exponentially more difficult when the entire premise of the show is based on solving specific mysteries for viewers. LOST was based on the implicit promise that we would someday find out exactly what was happening on that damn island. The Fugitive finale set ratings records based on the promise that we would discover the truth about the one-armed man. Arrested Development kept viewers in suspense for three years, promising answers to questions like: was George Sr. innocent? And if so, then who was sabotaging the Bluth family? When fans have been watching one of these “I want answers, dammit” shows for years, the finale has far more gravity (and pressure upon it) than a typical TV show.

So in this context, the HIMYM finale was doomed from the start: forty minutes was never going to be enough time to do right by fans, provide character closure, and deliver the epic romance we’d been waiting nine years for.

Where the HIMYM Finale Worked…

But like I said, I think they gave us the ending Ted’s story needed, and actually did do right by the fans too—so let’s get into all of the reasons behind this opinion. (It’s OK to get a head start on writing angry response tweets if you want to start now.)

Ted’s entire narrative arc was based on a consistent pattern: his heart was constantly pulling him in directions that his head was unwilling to admit he wanted, and the most meaningful moments of the show were interactions of someone pointing out this hypocrisy to him. It started in season one: Ted was in a cab on his way to Robin’s, and his head was literally unable to cope with admitting his feelings for Robin, so he imagined Victoria there, explaining it to him. And while it wasn’t always about Robin—he did, after all, spend a season denying his feelings for Zoey—we did repeatedly see Ted acting on feelings he wasn’t willing to acknowledge, and the members of the gang took turns calling him out on it.

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Fan Video Friday – One Direction + OTPs

Posted by Kim and Sage

You already know that we’re boy band trash here at HOF, and One Direction has not escaped our semi-creepy attentions. We’re seeing them live for the first time in August, and could not be more amped. Preparations have included: meticulous concert outfit planning, a This Is Us/Where We Are marathon and recommended fics that have me texting manic, caps-locked reactions to the stupid friends who got me in this deep in the first place. It seemed only natural to extend this obsession into our summer series of Fan Video Fridays.

With a mix of bouncy jams and impassioned ballads, One Direction has the ideal canon to soundtrack a wide range of fandom flails.  So, to provide you ample end-of-the-week distraction, here are our 12 favorite 1D fan videos. They (and you) make us strong.

–Sage

Jeff and Annie – “One Thing” 

Kim: Is there a more perfect One Direction song for my beloved Jeff and Annie than “One Thing”?  I don’t think so.  The thing that was amazing (and maddening) about these two is that Annie clearly got under Jeff’s skin in a way that he was unable to fully comprehend. He doesn’t know, doesn’t know what it is…but she’s got that one thing.  “Shot me out of the sky, You’re my kryptonite. You keep making me weak. Yeah, frozen and can’t breathe.” = “Disappointing you is like choking the Little Mermaid with a bike chain.” Well, and basically every other interaction these two ever had.

Sage: Oh, STAWP. I’m not even that much of a Jeff and Annie shipper (Blasphemy, I know. I’m going to Communie Hell.) and this still got me. The song absolutely works, because as much as Jeff is so verbose about every other part of his life, he’s never been able to fully articulate why he keeps coming back to Annie. Boom: “One Thing.”

The Doctor and His Companions – “Through the Dark” 

Kim: “Oh I would carry you over fire and water for your love. And I will hold you closer, hope your heart is strong enough. When the night is coming down on you, We will find a way through the dark.” Okay, who else thinks that Liam, Louis, and their co-writers are Whovians? Cause this IS the relationship between the Doctor and His Companions. On a related note, I am ready for some Doctor Who montage vids that incorporate Twelve with Nine, Ten, and Eleven. Get on that post-haste, internet.

Sage: Ughhhhh, Kim. You’re so right. Let’s get some Twelve in here. “You will see it’s easy to be loved. I know you wanna be loved.” The implication that the subject of this song doesn’t know whether or not they’re worthy of all this is so Twelve and Clara, and very Doctor Who in general. Also, here’s confirmation that Niall at least is a Whovian.

Mindy and Danny – “Kiss You” 

Kim:  Another PITCH PERFECT combination of song and OTP.  “Kiss You” has the peppy beat of a romantic comedy and Mindy and Danny ARE that will-they-wont-they-we-hate-each-other-but-love-each-other couple.  Fantastic use of their banter in this video as well.  Also, I will NEVER be over the way Danny goes STRAIGHT for Mindy’s ass when they kiss on the airplane.

Sage: No easy feat to match the actual video for “Kiss You,” one of the most pleasingly homoerotic clips of all time. (They dress up like SAILORS. There’s nipple play.) But I’ll allow it for Danny and Mindy, who made will-they-won’t-they fun again. Hulu has my undying affection for keeping them alive, and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans they get up to this season. Maybe Danny will let Mindy listen to Four in the bedroom. OR CHOREOGRAPH A DANCE TO IT.

Henry and Eliza – “The Story of My Life” 

Kim: RIP Selfie, you were too beautiful to live.  Luckily we are left with soul-crushing videos like this one. “Written on these walls are the colors that I can’t change. Leave my heart open but it stays right here in its cage. I know that in the morning now I see us in the light upon a hill. Although I am broken, my heart is untamed, still.” HELLO. This song is about Henry Higgs. Don’t worry. Next time, he’ll be ready.

Sage: I saved this video to watch last, because it’s still too painful. Henry will be ready next time, but we won’t be there to see it. DAMN YOU, NETWORK TV.

Annnnyway, this song is so incredibly sad, and this ship was too. For as fun and light as Selfie was, its core couple was so flawed. They had a long way to go (evidenced most clearly with the karaoke episode), so the melancholy tone of “Story of My Life” just works.

How I Met Your Mother – “Forever Young” 

Kim: It’s videos like this that make me forget for a hot second that How I Met Your Mother is dead to me.  Bonus points for using a lesser known 1D song.

Sage: Love a good ensemble video, me. They capture the best of shows like HIMYM, which were defined more by one giant, messy friendship than any individual relationships combined. That finale can still DIAF though.

Castle and Beckett – “One Way or Another” 

Kim: I don’t even watch Castle, but I want to after this because they are just SO HOT for each other.

Sage: I DO. And I adore this song choice for Caskett, because it’s so sassy and flirty, just like them. Bonus points for this editor’s incredible use of dialogue.

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Happy 2nd Birthday, Head Over Feels! Our Greatest Hits, Volume II

Posted by Kim and Sage

On September 24, 2012, Kim and I broke the bottle over a blog we called Head Over Feels. And we had no clue what we were doing.

The last two years have been a joy, a struggle, and above all, an intensive learning experience. I know I speak for both of us when I say that neither of us could have tackled this alone. Or even wanted to. As usual, Queen Amy Poehler says it best:

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

Even the posts that are credited to just one of us are team efforts at their core. We are constantly sharing ideas and blurbs with each other, seeking consensus or sometimes even a new angle. There are pieces that never would have made it onto the site without one of us coaching the other through a block. And when it comes to covering live events and interviewing the creative people we admire, we are bolder and more assertive as a pair than we’d ever be on our own.

Now you know we don’t mess around when it comes to celebrating birthdays. So we’ve collected our 12 favorite posts from the last year of our little blog’s life here. Thanks to all of you who’ve read, shared, liked, and commented. And extra special thanks to our guest posters, especially Sarah and Dawn who are bringing you a steady stream of Supernatural flashback recaps that we’re proud to host.

We’ve got big plans for year three: wall-to-wall coverage of New York Comic Con, Communicon, L.I. Who, and Gallifrey One, at the very least; more weekly recaps, including Arrow; the continuation of our Sex and the City series; a definitive Parks and Rec episode ranking; and tons more. Just thinking about everything we’re scheming up makes us want to collapse in exhaustion. But we’ll do it with smiles on our faces, because this is our baby. Or our toddler now, I guess. Anyway, we love what we do and we’re gonna keep on doing it.

Now, to blow out our candles.

–Sage

1) Our Coverage of New York Comic Con 2013

XFiles

“When a Con-goer defended a dumb, popcorn horror flick (I can’t even recall which one) (Kim: It was this summer’s The Purge) by saying, “I mean, what else do you want? It’s a summer movie,” Owen replied, “Your standards are too low.” HEAR, HEAR. We’re at COMIC CON, the purest state of loving something more than is healthy. Why not hold those standards across the board? We’ll all be the better for it, AND we’ll have better movies.”

New York Comic Con was our first major convention together and our first convention as accredited members of the press.  I don’t think it could have gone any better.  John Barrowman learned we had no boundaries and thus rested his head on our collective bosom.  We scored loads of fan art.  We went to a party as a 9th, 10th, 11th, and Jack Harkness (“You don’t want to know what I am thinking right now.”) cosplay and made new nerd friends.  We attended premiere panels like Agents of SHIELD and The Walking Dead (Sage’s first experience with the show…oh how things change in a year).  We got to attend the press roundtable for Sleepy Hollow and interview HOF Sexiest Man Alive Tom Mison (“My dad said my shoes were snazzy!).  And oh yeah…we met our heroes David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and discussed our custom made shirts with them (“What’s that from?” “YOUR SHOW!” “It’s called The X-Files“).  NYCC 2014 is less than a month away…and the gauntlet for it exceeding 2013 has been thrown down.  We can’t wait.

–Kim

2) Our First Trip to Gallifrey One

Wednesday morning at 6 AM I was awoken by my phone buzzing over and over again.  I blearily looked at my phone to discover frantic text messages from Sage: VIRGIN CANCELLED OUR FLIGHT OVERNIGHT (at 3 AM to be specific) VIA EMAIL.  Sage was met with the same response that I had faced the day before…the earliest Virgin could rebook us was Saturday…which was no help considering the con ended Sunday.  And they couldn’t put us on standby as their standby policy was only for “day of” your flight.  “BUT YOU CANCELED ALL THE FLIGHTS THURSDAY” was her response.  She then conferenced in me and Kelly and we worked out a game plan.  We decided to show up at JFK as soon as we possibly could and demand to be put on standby.  There was no way they could say no to our faces, right?

This year marked our first pilgrimage to Los Angeles for the biggest fan-run Doctor Who convention in the US: Gallifrey One. And let’s just say our President’s Day weekends are booked from now until eternity. The snow gods did their best to ground us, but we sweet-talked our way onto an early flight (okay, Kim cried us onto it) and slept on our coats on a cold Marriott floor (thanks, kind Whovians!) – gladly. Nothing could keep us from a solid weekend of geeking out with our people.

We teamed up with our pal Kelly, The TV Mouse to report back on the best cosplays (“Heeeeey, Captain Jack.” “Heeeeey, ladies.”); the most interesting panels; the non-stop party of LobbyCon; and our moments with the Who royalty (Billie Piper, Paul McGann) who came out to play with us. If these posts convey even a fraction of the outstanding time we had immersing ourselves fully into what’s possibly the best fandom out there, then our job here is done.
–Sage

“In the musical Company, there’s a line that says, “There’s a time to come to New York and a time to leave.” I’ve never been too keen on that second part, but the fact remains that New Yorkers are so often saying goodbye to friends who’ve decided that that time has come. And when it does, it feels like the bubble has burst. Because it’s like living in a little fantasy world to get to be so close to people that you love, to make snap decisions on last minute happy hours or movie marathons or long walks to solicit much-needed advice. We’re living on borrowed time. So when the moment comes for that friendship to evolve into something else – phone calls, Christmas cards, and hopefully not sporadic visits – it’s hard to feel abused. You make that friend a Sarah McLachlan-heavy mix-tape to send her off to her new adventure and feel lucky for the time you had. And then you go out for breakfast, because there’s no sadness it can’t cure.”

Sage’s recaps of Parks and Recreation have been one of the cornerstones of our site from Day One.  She’s recapped almost TWO FULL SEASONS…and the only reason I say *almost* is that we launched after the season five premiere.  I feel like Sage truly understands Pawnee and its residents and her love for them emanates from every word of every recap.  We chose her recap of “Ann and Chris” because when I first read it, when I got to the paragraph that I quoted above, I DEFINITELY sent her a text telling her to go fuck herself because I was crying.  It’s truly the highest compliment I can give.

— Kim

4) “Am I Your Fluffer, Fitz?” – Scandal Gif-Cap

“You sent Gabby to me in your place.” Her name is ABBY, you cretin.  She’s worked with Olivia for years and you can’t even be bothered to learn her name, you jerk. 

When Smash left us, we took to our beds for weeks, pining for Ivy, Derek, and Eileen’s martini-throwing arm until we finally realized there was a solution. The hole in our hearts where our weekly #SmashBash used to reside could be filled. And thus, Scandal gif-caps were born.

Scandal slid so perfectly into this format because every episode is designed to evoke one horrified/shocked/titillated reaction per say, every 15 seconds. We had a lot of plot to contend with this season (and a lot of Fitz-hating to do), and organizing our thoughts into cute little animated photos really helped us to make sense of Olivia’s world. In this post, Kim beautifully covered the season three episode “The Fluffer” in a symphony of gifs – everything from Severus Snape to John Watson to the Cat in the Hat.

Still, there is one thing Smash had that Scandal doesn’t: toilet ratings. Our Scandal gif-caps will return this week and continue for as long as Shondaland churns out the DC drama.

–Sage

5) “You’re Bad At This” – The Mindy Project Recap

“But it’s the same line that girls like Mindy, who don’t coast on tedious, photoshop looks, have been hearing forever. Girls like us have got to be funny and loud and friendly to get anyone to give us the time of day. But then you’re TOO funny, you’re TOO great to be around, you’re such a good FRIEND, and wouldn’t it be a shame to ruin that? It would have been better if he cheated on Mindy or stood her up for All -You-Can-Eat Sushi or made fun of her for following Prince George’s first royal baby tour or became an event planner or sold her stuff for drug money. At least then he wouldn’t be convinced he was just doing “the right thing.” Instead he’s punishing her. It’s her fault for getting so close. Maybe if she weren’t so important to him, they could really have something. He really is bad at this.”

We are SO PROUD of The Mindy Project, you guys.  It’s a shining example of what Network Patience with a show can do.  It would have been very easy for Fox to cancel Mindy after its initial lackluster episodes…but instead Fox showed a surprising amount of patience as Mindy Kaling tinkered with the dynamics of her show throughout the first season.  By the end of season one The Mindy Project was a much more confident show and it hit the ground running in season two.  Mindy crept slowly up our “Must Watch” list until anuary 21, 2014 when Danny Castellano kissed Mindy Lahiri on an airplane and our collective hearts exploded.  Over the season two hiatus that followed, Sage kept talking about how she wanted to do a post on how far Mindy had come.  The post kept getting pushed off as some of our grand plans often do until Sage finally sent me a text one day saying…”I think I’m just going to recap Mindy instead”.  I’m so glad she listened to her gut.  Much like Parks, Sage really understands the core of The Mindy Project and I look forward to her posts every week.  We chose her recap of “Be Cool” for obvious reasons…after giving us a couple episode of Dandy bliss, Mindy Kaling yanked the rug out from under us in spectacularly real fashion.  It hurts so good.

— Kim

6) “Kids, This Is The Story Of How I Betrayed The Audience” – The HIMYM Finale

Why all the bullshit about Robin appearing in Penny and Luke’s childhood drawings as they made it very clear that after the divorce Robin was an infrequent presence in the gang’s life?  And WORSE why make it seem that the REASON Robin dropped out of the gang’s life was because she couldn’t stand seeing Ted happy with Tracy?  Way to paint Robin Scherbatsky in a flattering light guys.  Way to reduce a character who had always been confident and independent to a shrew who sat in the corner sniveling about the one that got away.  Way to turn her into someone who chooses to walk away from the closest group of friends she’s ever known.  Way to make her life about one that is not fulfilled because she was alone (AND TED FUCKING SAID IN “SYMPHONY OF ILLUMINATION” THAT SHE WAS NEVER ALONE, WHEN SHE WAS).  She WAS alone, she wasn’t part of the gang and she wasn’t part of their big moments.  Way to make ROBIN SCHERBATSKY the sad, barren spinster who worked all the time and sadly comes home (with her really bad hair) to her dogs every night.  Way to make ROBIN the character that pathetically cries with relief when her ex-boyfriend (whose wife is dead) shows up at her apartment with the Blue French Horn he stole for her twenty-five years ago.  Way to have her cry like she’s been just WAITING for him to show up at her doorstep this whole time.  Yeah…that’s the ending we wanted for Robin Scherbatsky. 

Somehow Kim managed to corral all the anger that the controversial How I Met Your Mother finale built up in her heart and shape it into a glorious take-down of the episode. Right before the series ended, she’d put together a list of her favorite episodes – one that made me tear up a few times in anticipation of losing Ted, Barney, Robyn, Marshmallow, and Lilypad – and she’d put so much love and thought and care into honoring the show. So you can see why, when the HIMYM showrunners decided to throw years of character development and the investment of their audience into the garbage, she took it personally. This post (and the explosive reaction to the finale across the internet) inspired one of our most highly trafficked days, because Kim perfectly illustrated the difference between the petulance of an entitled fan and the heartbreak of one who sees the growth and change in her characters sacrificed for arrogance and lazy writing. We’ll never be over it.

–Sage

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Fan Video Friday – “It’s Time”

Posted by Kim

It’s Friday and you know what that means…time for Fan Videos that will help you with ALL your end of the week procrastination.  This week we spotlight “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons.  This song is perfect for shows with large ensembles and it allows the vidder to showcase all the possible friendships and romances within one cast.  Bonus points if said ensembles enjoy the occasional dance party…they work perfectly with the soaring chorus of the song.

I would also like to PUBLICLY shame the fandom of Parks and Recreation (where ARE you guys btw) for not having a video to this song.  Come ON people!  This song SCREAMS Leslie Knope and the Pawnee gang.  Get it together.

Community

This is probably one of the most definitive Community fan videos and it is ALSO probably one of the best fan vids I have ever seen.  Period.  Everything is amazing from the way the sound effects are timed to the music to moments from the show matching perfectly with lyrics.  Now excuse me whilst I go cry in a corner from being overwhelmed with Study Group OTP feels.

The Mindy Project

Does this video perfectly showcase the arc of The Mindy Project or what?  Mindy went from “kiiiiiiiiiiinda disappointing” to “oh hey this isn’t bad!” to “OMG WHEN IS THE NEXT EPISODE?!” in the span of a season and a half and we’re just so proud of it.  And forever thankful to Mindy Kaling for bringing Danny Castellano into our lives.

This video expertly uses the one-liners that have made Mindy a true delight and we are definitely looking forward to more and more videos that use Season Two footage.

The Office

Guys.  I can’t with this one.  From the PERFECTLY used opening and closing dialogue to all the montages of our dearly departed gang at Dunder -Mifflin, this makes me want to do a series rewatch RIGHT NOW.

I thought this song would be one to NOT give me feels, but thus far all three make me want to cry happy tears.

How I Met Your Mother

After seeing Neil Patrick Harris KILL IT this week in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I am trying REALLY HARD to forgive How I Met Your Mother.  It’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to take some time.  But videos like this one make me remember the good times.

Though I did have another video bookmarked for this show, but it heavily featured Tracy and I WAS TOO MAD TO USE IT.  So clearly, I am still in the early stages of the healing process.

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Fan Video Friday – “Ships In The Night”

Posted by Kim

Welcome to another edition of Fan Video Friday, where we aim to bring you all the procrastination tools you need for your work day.  This week we’re spotlighting Mat Kearney’s “Ships in the Night”, the anthem for all the ships that very often just can’t quite get themselves together.  “Ships” tends to be much more friendly to our favorite Sitcom Couples with its upbeat track and driving beat.  Don’t get me wrong though…some of these will still kill you with feels.  Sorry not sorry.

Jeff and Annie – Community

Aside from “Gravity”, I declare this to be their theme song.  I will NEVER understand why Dan Harmon and the writing staff had SUCH resistance to them.  Talk about ignoring what’s right in front of your face.

Ben and Leslie – Parks and Recreation

“But Kim,” you say.  “Ben and Leslie are happily married and perfect together!  No angst or passing each other by for this ship!”  Sure…NOW they are happy and nothing will break them apart.  But they weren’t always this way, so.

Nick and Jess – New Girl

All of their UST in Seasons One and Two was DELICIOUS.  I like Nick and Jess BETTER when they are yelling at each other because there is just something about Jake and Zooey’s chemistry when that happens that makes me scream “MAKE OUT” at my television.  I’m sure these crazy kids will find their way back to each other, but in the meantime…more fighting please!

Ross and Rachel – Friends

Sage may be pro Joey/Rachel (and I promise to find a good video to showcase them one week), but even she can’t argue with the accuracy of this one.

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“Kids, This is the Story of How I Betrayed the Audience.” – Kim on the HIMYM Finale

Posted by Kim

Well.  That happened.  It definitely happened and it definitely wasn’t an April Fools Day joke.

In the moments after the How I Met Your Mother finale I had the urge to come to this site and take down the two posts celebrating the top 20 episodes.  The posts that I had busted my ass on, the posts that I had poured my heart and soul into…they all felt meaningless to me.  I have never felt more betrayed by a television show in my LIFE.   That’s what the finale was.  A betrayal of the HIGHEST degree.

(Don’t worry, I won’t take down those posts.  I’m proud of them.  They just feel tainted now.)

Lest you think I am an entitled fan who is whining because her ship was shattered or I didn’t get the ending I wanted, let me say that I respect that a creator has their right to tell the story they wanted to tell.  What I don’t respect is when the creators blatantly ignore their characters’ growth and instead, at the last-minute, shove those characters into boxes they don’t fit anymore, all to give us the ending they claim to have wanted from the start.  What Craig Thomas and Carter Bays did last night was essentially thus: they poured a gallon of kerosene over seven years worth of story (as the ending with the kids was filmed in Season Two, as the actors were aging), tossed a match on it and stood back and watched the fandom scream in agony as it all went up in flames.

The Finale

The Fandom

Craig Thomas and Carter Bays

HEY GUESS WHAT?  IT WAS GOING TO BE TED AND ROBIN THE WHOLE TIME.  WE FOUND THE ONE LOOPHOLE FROM THE CORNER WE WROTE OURSELVES INTO IN THE PILOT BY HAVING TED MARRY SOMEONE ELSE FIRST, THEN SHE DIES, AND THEN SINCE HE’S CARRIED A TORCH FOR HER THE WHOLE TIME, HE ENDS UP WITH ROBIN ANYWAY BECAUSE SHE SPENT A DECADE PINING FOR HIM TOO.  HOW’S THAT FOR AN ENDING???  AREN’T WE CLEVER?

Three Deep Breaths, Kim.  Take three deep breaths.  Sometimes they can change everything.

WHY EVEN BOTHER INTRODUCING US TO THE MOTHER IF SHE WASN’T THE CENTRAL PERSON IN TED’S STORY??  SHE WAS JUST A BLIP IN THE ROAD ON THE WAY TO ROBIN.

I can’t.  Lost the ability to can.

Okay.  I don’t even know where to start regarding my feelings and my anger, but I am going to try to break it down.  Here we go…

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“Wait For It…” – How I Met Your Mother’s 20 Most LEGENDARY Episodes, Part Two

Posted by Kim

So here we are.  The end of the line.  Tonight Ted Mosby finally meets the woman he’s been waiting for his whole life.  I’m cramming 7 of my friends into my tiny studio apartment so we can all watch together.  We’re ordering wings.  Sumbitches have been made by Kelly, I’m PRETTY sure Sage is picking up a “Dammit Trudy what about the pineapple” upside down cake, and I have assembled a cheese plate with goat cheese and a gouda that would make Marshall proud.  Tonight, we say goodbye.   It’s been a hell of a ride, How I Met Your Mother.  Just TRY not to crush us too much in the end, okay?  I really love my DVDs and I REALLY don’t want to burn them if you go against EVERY PHILOSOPHY YOU HAVE PURPORTED YOURSELF TO BE ABOUT, OKAY?

Whew.  Sorry for yelling.  I’m just a wee bit invested in Ted Mosby’s happiness, okay?

I’ve got to say I’m pretty proud of this top 10.  While some personal favorites missed the cut for this post (sorry “Drumroll, Please” and “Spoiler Alert”), I feel these ten episodes represent the best of what How I Met Your Mother can do.   The show was always a mix of absurdity, hilarity, and feels.  It was a show that unabashedly wore its heart on its sleeve.  I’m going to miss it terribly.  But, to paraphrase Empire Rcords, we mustn’t dwell.  Not today.  Not on finale day!

Suit up and read on about my top ten.  I think they are legen…wait for it…and I hope you are not lactose intolerant because the last part of that word is DARY.  LEGENDARY!

10) How Your Mother Met Me (9 x16)

 

It was always thought (much to HIMYM fans’ dismay) that we wouldn’t meet the Mother until the series finale.  I say “dismay” because after all the build-up we desperately wanted to see Ted and the Mother falling in love.  We had invested too much time in Ted’s journey to NOT get some sort of payoff.  So imagine my delight when with the words “One Ticket to Farhampton, please” (one of our top 20 TV Moments of 2013), Carter Bays and Craig Thomas changed the game.  There she was.  The future Mrs. Ted Mosby.  And my only reaction was…of COURSE this is her.

It’s a true testament to both the writing and actress Cristin Milioti that it has been so easy to fall in love with the Mother.  Her presence has invigorated every episode that she’s been in.  She’s warm, she’s goofy, and she’s a fully realized character.  It’s incredibly fitting that HIMYM spent its 200th episode filling in the blanks of the Mother’s story.  Throughout this final season we’ve seen the way the Mother met all of Ted’s friends and we’ve seen important moments in her relationship with Ted, but until this episode we didn’t know what made the Mother the person she is and what brought her to the point of meeting our hero.

It would have been easy to make the Mother your typical manic pixie dream girl, but HIMYM has never believed in easy.  The Mother has known PAIN.  She lost the love of her life on her 21st birthday (also the night Marshall and Lily got engaged and Ted met Robin).  Way to slap me in the feels right from the beginning, guys.  The rest of the episode deals with how the Mother heals from that loss while peppering in delightful little callbacks to previous episodes.  The Mother is the one who proves The Naked Man only works 2 out of 3 times.  She understood that “Puzzles” WAS the puzzle.  We saw her laughing with Cindy when Ted was teaching the wrong class and we saw her perspective of Ted being in her apartment during “Girls vs. Suits”.  It all further emphasized just how close (but how far) the Mother and Ted have been and how much they needed to go through to be ready for each other.

“How Your Mother Met Me” culminates in two beautiful moments that if they DIDN’T move you to tears, I fear for the state of your soul.  The first was a touching monologue by the Mother to Max as she pondered a marriage proposal from Lewis .  The Mother FINALLY realized she needed to fully let go of her love for Max and get to living and loving again (even if it wasn’t loving Lewis).  Cristin’s acting during that scene = A+.  The second was a lovely and bittersweet montage as the Mother sat on her porch at the Farhampton Inn singing “La Vie en Rose”.  We visit all five of our main ensemble during this montage.  We see Marshall and Lily dealing with the aftermath of one of the biggest fights of their marriage.  We see Robin crawling into bed on the eve of her wedding.  We see Barney passing out drunkenly after the bender of the post-rehearsal partying.  And we see Ted…also sitting on his balcony, smiling pensively as he listens to the melancholy singing of the girl in the room next to him.  A wall separates him from the woman who will change his life and he doesn’t even know it.  All he knows is that the singing is beautiful.  It’s HIMYM at it’s finest.

 

JUST DON’T MAKE US FALL IN LOVE WITH THE MOTHER AND THEN KILL HER, OKAY SHOW?

Best Line:

The Mother: Hi, Max. It’s me. Sorry to interrupt. I know you’re probably up there playing baseball with your dad. Um, look, I-I’ve got a situation here. I think that I have been holding myself back from falling in love again. And I think it’s because I can’t let you go. But you’re not here anymore so I have to ask this: Would it be okay if I moved on? I realize that you have no way of answering that, but, um… (wind blows into her face) Oh, okay. I will take that as yes. Um, in that case, I should get back in there. (Walks to the door, stops and turns back) I guess this is it. For real this time. Bye, Max.

9) Ten Sessions (3 x 13)

“Ten Sessions” is often known as two things: The Britney Spears episode and the Two Minute Date episode.  Let’s talk about Britney first.  I was terrified when the news broke that Britney was guest starring.  It was post her “Gimme More” disaster on the VMAs, it was in the middle of her life being taken over with a conservatorship, all of it just SCREAMED ratings grabbing potential train wreck.  And let’s be honest, it WAS a shameless ratings grab, as it was the second episode post Writer’s Strike (and we KNOW how many shows that killed) and the show had modest ratings the entire season (Season Three remains the lowest rated season of the series).  Many people probably tuned in hoping to see a disaster but instead they got a sweet and thoroughly competent performance from BritBrit and a fantastic episode of How I Met Your Mother to boot.  Was she amazing?  No.  But she was cute and she was funny and she brought more eyeballs to the show, so mission accomplished.

The shadow of Britney loomed so large over this episode, that when Alicia Silverstone was offered the role of Stella Zinman, Ted’s dermatologist, she turned it down out of fear of playing second fiddle.  Her loss, our gain as we then got Sarah Chalke as Stella.  I often wonder if Alicia regrets turning down a part that became an integral thread in the HIMYM story?  I know a lot of people have many things to say about Stella as a character (she DID leave Ted Mosby at the altar after all, crushing our boy’s romantic spirit and making him cynical), but you can’t deny Chalke’s warmth and goofiness and likeability in “Ten Sessions”.  And the Two Minute Date?  That is everything about Ted Mosby in a nutshell.  Ted is a believer in the grand gesture.  We saw it when he stole the Blue French Horn for Robin in the pilot and we saw it many many MANY times over the course of the series.  He’s earnest, he’s sweet, he’s juuuuuuuuuuuuust a little bit too much…but at the same time it’s impossible to not be charmed by him.  The Two Minute Date is the ULTIMATE in Ted Mosby gestures.  What kind of guy picks up on the fact that you constantly say you only have two minutes for lunch and then sets out to cram an entire evening into two minutes just to take you out on a date?  Ted Mosby, that’s who.  If I were to try to explain Ted’s character to someone who had never seen the series, this is the scene I would show them.

Best Line:

Ted: Look, I would love to have a second date, I would. But I understand that you really don’t have time right now, but if you ever do, will you give me a call?

Stella: Yes.

Ted: Okay.

Future Ted: And that, kids, is how you turn a “no” into a “yes.”

8) “Slapsgiving” (3 x 19)

I’m a sucker for an excellent Thanksgiving episode.  Of course, Friends will always own the title of best Thanksgiving episodes ever (one might even say those episodes became the signature episodes of the series), but “Slapsgiving” is a worthy entry into the Thanksgiving Canon.  The best Thanksgiving episodes are the ones that capture the chaos of the day, the desperation of the hostess to prepare for her guests, and the way tensions can explode when you have all your friends gathered in one room.  Add in the doom from an impending slap across the face and you have the recipe for a cracking good holiday episode.

“Slapsgiving” tackles the question of how you remain friends with an Ex. Now, in real life, when you break up with someone and you have mutual friends, it’s usually settled with some sort of custody agreement or effort is made not to have the two parties in the same room. You certainly don’t SEE them everyday. But this isn’t real life, this is television, and television dictates that the 5 principal actors all remain on the show.  Thus, we have to deal with Ted and Robin trying to figure out how to navigate this tricky territory, especially when it comes to being alone together and knowing what to say to each other.

While we had a Thanksgiving episode in season one with “Belly Full of Turkey”, “Slapsgiving” is the first time the entire gang is together for the holiday.  Lily, in full on Monica Geller mode, just wants her first thanksgiving as a married couple to be perfect.  Her husband, on the other hand, spends the day psychologically torturing Barney as his slap countdown clock (which we saw in the season premiere) counts down to zero.  Ted and Robin are just trying to remain polite after a ex-sex incident the night before baking pies.  The room is a ticking time bomb and when everything explodes, Lily, in a fit of rage, uses her powers as Slap Bet Commissioner to declare it a Slap Free Day.  It’s her equivalent of telling everyone to go to their rooms.

Robin: Look at us! We can’t be alone together, can we?

Ted: Apparently not.

Robin: What does that mean? We’re supposed to be friends.

Ted: We aren’t friends, are we? Not really. We avoid each other. We smile politely. We’re two people who pretend to be friends because it would be inconvenient not to.

Robin: Well, maybe we should stop pretending.

Ted: Maybe we should.

Robin: So… what do we do now?

Ted: I suppose… we eat dinner. And then that’s it.

Robin: Okay.

It’s awkward and awful and we’ve all soooooooooooooo been there right?  And then, as future Ted says, something miraculous happens.  They all begrudgingly sit down to dinner.  All Lily wants is for everyone to get out of the house.  Marshall makes a toast thanking his wife for the wonderful meal and thanking all of his friends for being there with them.  The room begins to thaw.  And then Bob (Robin’s date) says “major buzzkill” and Ted and Robin, who had just declared their friendship over, both automatically do their Salute inside joke (a joke that we see peppered throughout the rest of the series).  In that moment, you know that these two are going to be okay eventually.

And then, of course, Barney begins taunting Marshall about not being able to slap him, and at the last moment of the countdown, Lily revokes her rule.  Marshall uses his third slap and then serenades the group with a song he wrote just for the occasion (“You just got slapped…across the face my friend…”).  Not a bad Thanksgiving at all, if I do say so myself.

Best Line:

Barney: Oh God, don’t slap me again! I don’t want to get slapped again! The first two times hurt so bad, I don’t like, I don’t like it one bit!

Marshall: Well, I thought I ruined it by putting a clock on it, Barney?

Barney: Well, you didn’t ruin it, you made it so much worse! I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I’ve lost 10 pounds, my suits are wearing me! You know what I am out of here!

Marshall: What? No, no, you can’t leave!

Barney: There is nothing in the rules that says I have to be subjected to this kind of psychological torture. You can slap my face, but you cannot slap my mind! Good day!

7) “How I Met Everyone Else” (3 x 05)

Every long running sitcom about a group of friends eventually tells the origin story of how the group of friends came together.  “How I Met Everyone Else” is obviously HIMYM‘s entry into this trope and boy, is it delightful. The episode is framed around Ted bringing his new girlfriend Blah-Blah (whose name, we learned in Season Nine, was actually Carol) to meet his group of friends.  Blah-Blah is embarrassed that she and Ted actually met online (cause meeting people online was still a bit of a novelty in 2007) so she has constructed an elaborate lie about how she and Ted actually met in a cooking class.  Blah-Blah wants to know the story of how Ted met everyone else…cue the flashbacks to Wesleyan!

The episode takes cues from all the flashback episodes of Friends and paints the core trio of Ted, Marshall and Lily as COMPLETELY different people than the ones we know today.  Lily is a Goth girl.  Ted a pretentious douche with a fro of curly hair and John Lennon spectacles.  And Marshall is a stoner.  Forgive me…he’s a sandwich eater.

I can’t even describe how much I love college Marshall, Lily, and Ted.  We had flashbacks to these days in previous episodes, but much like Fat Monica, it never gets old.  The flashbacks also further emphasises how much these three are friends for LIFE.  Cause if someone loves you when you are cut your Pinot Noir with cranberry juice, because the wine was just a little too strong, they will love you when you are old and gray.

The episode also introduces us to the Hot/Crazy scale, which Barney spends most of the evening ranking Blah-Blah on.  It’s another one of those terms that How I Met Your Mother is famous for.  And it’s also entirely accurate, I’ve seen it in action.

I also forever giggle at Robin’s reaction to Blah-Blah asking how Robin and Barney got together.  Oh honey…you’re going to marry those Sixteen Nos in seven years.

Best Line:

Robin: Wait, ‘hot/crazy’ scale?

Barney: Let me illustrate! [draws diagram] A girl is allowed to be crazy as long as she is equally hot. Thus, if she’s *this* crazy, she has to be *this* hot. You want the girl to be above this line. Also known as the ‘Vickie Mendoza Diagonal’. This girl I dated. She played jump rope with that line. She’d shave her head, then lose 10 pounds. She’d stab me with a fork, then get a boob job. [pauses] I should give her a call.

6) The Limo (1 x 11)

I loathe New Year’s Eve.  There is always way too much expectation to do something EPIC when in reality you end up paying exorbitant amounts to get INTO a bar (probably one you got into for free the night before) to get smushed around with all sorts of drunk amateurs fighting over the 2 hours of open bar (in which your drink is the size of a thimble).  There’s all the pressure to have someone to kiss at midnight and to have all the life changing resolutions made by midnight.

I’d rather be at home on my couch with Chinese food, wine, and Netflix, thank you very much.

Barney: Give it a rest, Ted.

Ted: Give what a rest?

Barney: Trying to turn this night into anything more than what it is, which is New Year’s Eve which is the single biggest letdown of a night every single year.

“The Limo” tackles the issue of New Year’s Eve dead on.  Ted, in all of his adorable and earnest Mosby-ness, tries to make New Year’s Eve a magical one for his friends .  He has a list of the best parties and he has a limo driven by their pal Ranjiit.  They have Barney’s “Get Psyched” mix (“It’s ALL RISE, baby!”).  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, a lot of things.  They pick up Moby, who turns out to NOT be Moby, but a guy named Eric who is heading to party number four with a gun.  They get separated from Lily, who goes home to change her shoes in the middle of the evening.  They get separated from Marshall, who later runs off in search of his wife (who they actually found at Fauxby’s party).  The Get Psyched mix is stolen.  Ted’s date MaryBeth picks up on all the UST between Ted and Robin and decides to spend the rest of the evening elsewhere.  The limo gets a flat tire.  Basically, it becomes your typical New Year’s Eve.

Ted and Barney bemoan this fact as they perch out of the sunroof while Lily hopelessly screams “Marshalllllllllllllllllllllllllll!” into the abyss.  And then a miracle happens.

“LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYY!!”

Marshall comes running through the steam to the strains of “You Give Love a Bad Name”.  Against all odds, he found them.  He has the Get Psyched Mix.  And he has news that party number five is RAGING.  It’s a moment of magic that can only happen on a night like New Year’s Eve.  Which is WHY people make such a big deal about that stupid night in the first place.   Of course, being ten minutes to midnight, they get stuck in traffic.  But it no longer matters.  As Future Ted reflects, “And just like that, we were having the perfect New Year’s Eve. The funny thing is all night long, I’d been trying to chase something down that was right there in that limo.”

My feels, you guys.

Best Line:

Barney: Yeah, you know why all the circuits are jammed because everyone’s calling their loved ones, everyone around the world. Everyone except Barney. Oh, sure, laugh. Laugh for Barney Stinson. Laugh for the sad clown trapped on his whirling carousel of suits and cigars and bimbos and booze. Round and round it goes. And where’s it all heading? Nowhere.

Robin: Is this just ’cause you lost your “Get Psyched” mix?

Barney: I’m sorry. Am I not allowed to have a pensive side?

5) “Bad News”/ “Last Words” (6 x13, 6 x 14)

 

I remember watching “Bad News” for the first time.  It seemed to be just an average episode.  And then around seeing the number 30 placed prominently, I realized there was some sort of countdown going on within the episode.  At first, I just thought it was just another clever HIMYM Easter Egg gimmick.  As the numbers appeared faster and faster, I began to grow anxious, since it was clear SOMETHING was going to happen.  And then Marshall got the great news that everything was okay with him as far as his fertility (Lily had gotten the same news earlier in the episode) and he went outside to call his dad.  The phone rang and rang.  Lily pulled up in a cab with the number “1” on it and got out.  She tearfully delivered the news to her husband that his father was dead.

It felt like a punch to the stomach.  Tears streamed down my face as I watched him embrace his wife on the street in front of McClaren’s.  “I’m not ready for this,” Marshall groaned.  Neither were we, Marshall.  Neither were we.

Out of all the people in our gang, it is most devastating that this happened to Marshall.  I’ve always considered Marshall the innocent of the group, the one who truly believes in the goodness of people, the one with the biggest heart.  Marshall was the only one whose parents were still happily married.  Marshall, aside from the merciless teasing of his brothers, is the one who had the charmed childhood.  He was the only one who didn’t have a tense relationship with his parents, specifically with his father.  He talked to his dad everyday.  He even had a running game of Go Fish with his dad.  Losing his father was the worst possible thing that could happen to him…and it did.  Because that’s what happens in life sometimes.  The worst, most unfair things can happen to the people who deserve them the least.

It’s well-known in HIMYM lore that the writers pulled a fast one on Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel for the final scene of “Bad News”.  At the table read, they were led to believe the final scene would be Lily telling Marshall we was pregnant.  On the day of filming, they switched the final page.  Jason only knew that the last line of Alyson’s would be “it” and that would be his cue to react.  So that whimpered “My Dad’s dead”?  The groaned “I’m not ready for this”?  MADE UP ON THE SPOT.  They did the scene in one take, and it remains Alyson’s most memorable moment of the series, as she rudely reminded us on Inside The Actor’s Studio.

I never know what to do with myself at funerals.  There’s only so many times you can say “I’m sorry for your loss” before it becomes meaningless.  That’s why “Last Words” is such a stellar episode as we see Marshall’s friends rally around him and try to help him through his grief.  The way each one of them reacted made perfect sense.  Robin, in a callback (to me anyway) of how she knew Lily needed a cigarette on her wedding day, had her bag full of vices, trying to anticipate everything Marshall needed.  Ted and Barney, in typical bro fashion, did their best to try to make Marshall laugh.  Lily threw herself upon the mercy of her mother-in-law in the only way a good wife and daughter-in-law can by allowing her to take any potshot at her.  It was all beautiful and awkward and sad and true to life.

Marshall’s discovery of a voicemail from his dad and his subsequent rage over the fact that it was a pocket dial is Jason Segel’s finest acting moment of the series.  In fact, I would argue it’s one of the best scenes for the entire ensemble of the entire series.  If you have the strength to watch the episode again (I’ve watched it TWICE in the span of 2 weeks for the purposes of this post and because I’m a masochist), watch the faces of Lily, Robin, Ted, and Barney as Marshall yells at the universe about losing his father.  Their pain for their friend is palpable.  They flinch at every rage filled and grief-stricken statement.  It’s all incredibly visceral and present and shows just how seamless the ensemble is.

As if I weren’t crying enough at seeing my precious Marshmallow rage at the universe, the wind was REALLY knocked out of me when suddenly Marvin’s voice rang out of the cell phone, once he realized he had pocket dialed his son.  In true HIMYM fashion, they had the universe give Marshall one last gift from his dad: having his last words to his son be “I love you”.  Okay…so they were REALLY “Ooh, and let me know if you find my foot cream. That fungus thing is acting up again” but we’re pretending we didn’t her that part, okay?

As to whether Crocodile Dundee III really holds up? You’ll have to let me know in the comments.

Best Line:

Marshall: You guys don’t get it, okay? None of you do. My dad was my hero. And he was my teacher. And he was my best friend. He always came through for me, and now he’s just gone. And what am I left with? (Plays static message and yells at the sky) Thanks a lot God, thank you. You took my father. The greatest man that I have ever known, and you whipped him off this Earth, way too young. And he’ll never get to meet our kids, Lily. But we’ve got this voice mail. Thank you so much for the voice mail, it’s a great comfort. Because whenever I’m starting to feel lonely, or sad, or maybe a little bit cheated, at least I’ve got the sound of his pocket to console me. How is this fair? You’ve got an entire human life, and it just ends for no reason. And what are we left with?

Marvin Eriksen Sr.: (Over the voice mail message) Marshall? Looks like I’ve been calling you for over five minutes. How’s my pocket sound? Sorry about that buddy. Anyway, your mom and I had such a great time seeing you.  I love you.

4) “Subway Wars” (6 x 04)

 

On its surface, “Subway Wars” is How I Met Your Mother‘s tribute to The Amazing Race.  It’s a raucous romp through New York City as the gang races through every method of transportation to get to a Steak House in the Financial District (which, given that McClaren’s is on the Upper West Side, let me tell you, as a New Yorker, that IS a trek).  It’s a wonderful rumination on just what DOES make you a New Yorker, because everyone has different criteria.  For the record, my definition includes living here ten years (I’ve lived here for 13, boom! Also, I’m old).  I have yet to steal a cab from someone who needed it more but I HAVE cried with abandon on the subway (many many times).  I definitely agree with Ted’s statement “If you can’t spot the crazy person on the bus, it’s you” (luckily, I rarely take the bus).  Learning to understand “conductor” IS an art.  And yes, sometimes I DO think that I get to places by walking faster than I could on the Subway.  Everything in this episode is so spot on when it comes to life in New York.

But really, at its core, “Subway Wars” is a story about how New York City can kick your ass.  All of our characters (save Barney) are going through it in this episode, but none more so than Robin.  She’s been through a horrible break-up, she’s miserable at work…as she says she feels like the City is outright rejecting her.  I could ask any of my friends that have lived here for an extended period of time if the City has ever made them feel that way and I can unequivocally say that they would all say “hell yes it has”.  New York can be the loneliest city in the world.  People get wrapped up in their own lives and not have time to see anything except what’s right in front of them (like when Robin tries to tell Barney what she’s going though and he doesn’t hear her or realize just how serious she is).  There have been many times where I have felt I have had enough and thought about packing it in.  But then I’ll have a happy hour with Sage and my girlfriends or brunch with my cluster of college friends who have all migrated here or have a night at the theatre and I’ll remember WHY I’m still here after thirteen years.  New York may kick my ass, but I wouldn’t have it any other way (and sometimes, you need to kick its ass right back).  You just have to make the effort not to lose yourself and stay present with your support system, and I think that’s the realization that our gang comes to at the end of the episode.

Also Barney sacrificing himself and tackling Ted so Robin can win the race?  Ship, ship, ship it.

Best Line:

Robin: I am done with this city. It wins.  I just want to move somewhere new and start over.

Lily: You’ve had a rough year. But you’re tough. And I love you like crazy. If you left, I’d have to follow you. And Marshall would follow me. And Ted would follow him. The only upside is that we might get rid of Barney.

3) “Three Days of Snow” (4 x 13)

One of the hallmarks of How I Met Your Mother has been it’s ability to play with timelines and story structure.  We have an unreliable narrator in the form of future Ted, who forgets names and mixes up details and dates (see also: the several season tease about his birthday where he got beaten up by a goat), which gives the show the freedom to trick the audience into thinking they are seeing something they are not.  This conceit is sued to maximum impact in “Three Days of Snow”.  For a good bit of the episode, we believe this is all happening in one night.  That while Marshall and Robin are fighting in the car on the way to pick up Lily from the airport (while Lily herself is desperately trying to get a micro-brew for Marshall with the help of Ranjiit), Ted and Barney are running Puzzles…erm…McClaren’s.  And then future Ted reveals that these events actually took place over three nights, which sets up one of the sweetest moments in the show’s history.

Let’s talk about Lily and Marshall in this episode.  From as early as “Okay Awesome” in season one, Lily seems obsessed with trying to move past the adorable mushyness of their relationship and have a mature and classy one.  But that’s just not who Marshall and Lily are.  They ARE the couple that tells each other everything.  They are the couple who calls each other everyday at lunch just to say “I love you”.  They are the couple who enjoys entering the Halloween costume contest every year and they are the couple who will always meet each other at the airport and they are so much better when they just embrace that fact.  Sure, traditions shift as a relationship grows and as they age, but Marshall and Lily will always be the couple that you outwardly roll your eyes at their adoration for each other, but deep down you want what they have.

The end of “Three Days of Snow” never fails to make me cry.  Lily sits at the airport alone as she realizes Marshall didn’t come pick her up after all.  In true New York fashion, one musician mournfully plays “Auld Lang Syne” and she begins to cry.  But then…more musicians join in playing the same thing.  A whole marching band joins and Marshall appears carrying a sign that says “LilyPad” and Lily begins to cry for a different reason (Alyson is truly wonderful in this scene)…

Marshall: A muffin, a pastrami sandwich, and a bag of chips.  And I know it’s way past lunchtime, but I love you.  More and more each day, I love you, Lily.  Happy New Year. (Lily kisses him) Um, wait, does this mean that I have to bring a marching band to the airport from now on?

Lily: Absolutely, it does.

Marhsall: Crap.

Ted Mosby…you’ve got some competition in the grand gesture department and his name is Marshall Eriksen.

Best Line:

Ted: We should buy a bar!

Barney: Of course, we should buy a bar!

Ted: We should totally buy a bar.

Barney: We should totally buy a bar. Our bar would be awesome. And dude, dude, dude, dude… the name of our bar… Puzzles. (Ted is astonished by the proposition) People will be, like, “Why is it called Puzzles?”. That’s the puzzle!

2) “The Pineapple Incident” (1 x 10)

We’ve all had one of those nights.  One of those nights where we go on a bender and have NO idea how we got home or exactly what happened the night before.  I know I have.  I’ve had mornings where I have woken up having zero recollection of how I got home the night before (I have the scar on my leg to prove it), where I am amazed that not only am I home with all of my valuables and the door locked, but I still managed to get my dog into the bed with me.  But I have never woken up with an unexplained pineapple next to my bed.

When I read Entertainment Weekly‘s top 50 (FIFTY.  Still not over it.) list of episodes, I was APPALLED that “The Pineapple Incident” was ranked at TWENTY SEVEN.  Not even in the top HALF.  For me, “The Pineapple Incident” makes a good case for being the number one episode, despite everyone agreeing what the greatest all time episode of HIMYM is.  “The Pineapple Incident” is delightfully absurd, endlessly quotable, and has spurred gifs upon gifs of Drunk Ted letting loose.  Much like Sage struggled with choosing only one quote for “Bad Blood” when she wrote about our number two X-Files episode, there was no way I could narrow down this episode to one quote.  So instead of giving you a dissertation on why this episode is awesome and worthy of the number two spot on this list, I’m going to show you through quotes and gifs.

Hopefully, it will make you forgive me for making you cry earlier in this post.

Barney: “Ted, I believe you and I met for a reason. It’s like the universe was saying, “Hey Barney, there’s this dude, he’s pretty cool, but it is your job to make him awesome.” Your brain screws you up, Ted. It gets in the way. It happened with Robin, it happened with Half-boob, and its gonna keep happening until you power down that bucket of neuroses inebriation-style.”

Ted:  How quickly you all forget. I haven’t puked since high school. I am vomit-free since ninety-three. Vomit free since ninety-three. That’s funny. I’m funny.

Nothing speaks better for a fandom love fest than this does.

Ted: I’m calling Robin.

Barney: Ted, as your mentor and spiritual guide, I forbid you from calling her.

Ted: Oh yeah? What you gonna do?

Barney: If you complete that call, I will set your coat on fire.

Ted: You’re bluffing.

Ted: Why do they call it karaoke anyhow? Was it invented by a woman named Carrie Okie? These are the kinds of things I think about.

Trudy: Karaoke is Japanese for empty orchestra.

Ted: That’s hauntingly beautiful.

Fact: I quote that line every time we go karaoke.  Ask Sage.

Word on the internet is that we’re FINALLY going to find out about the pineapple tonight.  Part of me never wants to know, because as I said with “Slutty Pumpkin”, sometimes the mystery is better than the answer.  But the other part of me can’t WAIT to find out.

Best Line:

Ted: Barney, you’ve always taken care of me. You are a gentleman and a scholar. Go into my stable and take my finest stallion. He’s yours, his name is Windjammer.

1) “Slap Bet” (2 x 09)

What can I say about “Slap Bet” that hasn’t been said before?  As various websites have compiled their lists of How I Met Your Mother‘s finest moments, there has been one thing they’ve all agreed on: “Slap Bet” is the definitive episode of the series.  It’s the episode that you would show to someone whose never seen the show to demonstrate everything the series is about.  The episode give us THE longest running joke of the show in the form of Marshall and Barney’s Slap Bet (for the record, I side with Ted on this issue.  I would have taken the 10 slaps in a row).  While Marshall dispensed with the first two slaps rather quickly (the second slap came later in Season 2 as a way to stop Barney’s one man show), the show took great pleasure in stretching out the rest of the slap bet over the course of the run.  I had always dreamed that the final slap would take place in the series finale, with Old Man Marshall slapping Old Man Barney, but I gotta say, Marshall sacrificing the last slap to keep Barney from bolting at the altar was a fantastic move.

“Slap Bet” also gave us the gift that kept on giving in creating Robin Sparkles.  I love that they decided to give Robin (scotch swilling, cigar smoking, gun loving, not-at-all-a-girly-girl Robin) a secret past as a ridiculous and cheesy (and awesome) pop star.  It was so delightfully unexpected and while they went back to the Robin Sparkles well many times over the course of the series, none had the impact and element of surprise and joy that “Let’s Go To The Mall” did.

Also HOW did “Let’s Go to the Mall” NOT get an Emmy Nomination for Original Music and Lyrics?  Emmy Voters, I hate so much about the things you choose to be.

Best Line:

Barney: Your tombstone will read “Lily Aldrin: Caring wife, loving friend and Slap Bet Commissioner”

Marshall: And on Barney’s grave it’ll read “Got slapped by Marshall so hard he died.”

What are YOUR favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother?  Are you ready for Ted to FINALLY meet her?  Just how many tissues WILL you go through tonight?  Let us know in the comments!

“Wait For It…” – How I Met Your Mother’s 20 Most LEGENDARY Episodes, Part One

Posted by Kim

“Kids, this is the story of how I met your mother…”

When Ted Mosby uttered those lines in the pilot nine seasons ago, I had no idea that I was about to embark on one of the greatest love affairs with a television show of my life.  I have a hard time fully putting into words what How I Met Your Mother has meant to me.  As a now 30-something New Yorker, I have grown up with these characters, aging right along with them, as I was the same age as Ted when it premiered.  I have experienced many of the things they have (there have been some episodes where I’ve looked around my apartment for hidden camera, as it hewed that closely to my life).  I have laughed at them and with them.  I have cried with them.  I have yelled at them through my television.  And this coming Monday, I will say goodbye to them.  I’m not ready.

But rather than sit around and mourn the loss of a show that has meant so much to me, I choose to celebrate it.  So I went about choosing my favorite episodes of the series.  After narrowing down 200+ episodes to 35, I spent the weekend watching them and narrowed the list down to 20, because *I*, unlike Entertainment Weekly, which picked their top FIFTY episodes, believe in the integrity of BEST.  I consulted a few HIMYM uber-fans just to assure that my episode instincts were right (duh doy, they were) and then set about ranking them.  So here we go…episodes 20 to 11.  Suit up and read on!

20) “The Slutty Pumpkin” (1 x 06)

 

When I think of iconic images from How I Met Your Mother, the image of Ted in his Hanging Chad costume wearing a befuddled expression, with The Devil (erm…Barney) on one shoulder and An Angel (congrats random party dude!) on the other, always comes to mind.  And thus “The Slutty Pumpkin” makes this list.  But even without that image, the episode still merits inclusion.  Let’s talk about HIMYM‘s first season, y’all.  It’s pretty flawless.  When I started listing episodes that I thought deserved consideration for this post, I had 8 from Season One (I ultimately, in the name of parity, cut it down to 4).  That’s how good the first season was.  The show was firing on all creative cylinders from the very beginning.  The ensemble had terrific chemistry and the characters were sharply drawn and defined right from the get go and “Slutty Pumpkin” continues to fill in every shade of our characters (SIX EPISODES INTO THE SERIES) and manages to deliver one hell of a Halloween episode (and a delightful tribute to It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown) at the same time.

While its sequel “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” is vastly inferior (as Sage says, the mystery was SO MUCH BETTER than the reveal), “The Slutty Pumpkin” holds up 200 episodes later.  From Barney’s completely accurate description of how girls slut it up for Halloween (“She’s not just a nurse, she’s a slutty nurse”) to Marshall and Lily’s Couples Costume escapades to Robin’s emotional issues about being a girlfriend to Ted’s unflinching hope that he will find the Slutty Pumpkin again, it’s a perfect little time capsule of the series and it’s an episode that never fails to make me smile.

Best Line:

Robin: How do you do this Ted? How do sit out here all night, in the cold, and still have faith that your pumpkin’s going to show up?

Ted: Well, I’m pretty drunk. Look I know the odds are, the love of my life isn’t going to magically walk through that door in a pumpkin costume at 2:43 in the morning. But it just seems as nice a spot as any to just … you know, sit and wait.

19) “Ducky Tie” (7 x 03)

Before we met the Mother, Victoria was always my favorite girlfriend of Ted’s.  I may have MANY qualms about how she was used in season 8 (because she was RUINED), I thought her appearance in “Ducky Tie” was damn near perfect.  We were able to fill in the blanks on her story (she was on the verge of cheating on Ted when he cheated on her with Robin, proving that LONG DISTANCE NEVER WORKS) and get closure (or so we thought) on their relationship.  It’s a very bittersweet story for Ted to explore “what if” with a girl who could have been perfect for him if not for some really crappy timing.  What I love about Victoria in this episode is that she serves Teddy Westside up some tough love by calling him out on his feelings for Robin.  It’s painful and it’s awkward and it’s a truth that Ted is not at all ready to hear…and that’s what makes it awesome.  It’s a ballsy thing for Victoria to say, especially considering that at that particular time, she has no stakes in what happens to Ted and his love life.  She’s just being real and truthful with him.  Because as Future Ted says, even though he couldn’t see it at the time, she was right.  And I like to think that no matter what kind of feelings Future Ted ends up having about his time with Victoria, that he is eternally grateful for her candor.

What makes “Ducky Tie” wonderful is that this highly emotional story for Ted is told within the framework of the gang going out to a Hibachi dinner and Barney making a bet with Lily and Marshall so he can touch her (rocking) pregnancy boobs.  Of course it is all a long con by Barney (who is the master of them, TBH) but Lily and Marshall outwit him, which results in one of the great visual gags of the season: Barney being forced to wear Marshall’s Ducky Tie.   The episode is a perfect mix of the absurd and the grounded which is the trademark of all the best How I Met Your Mother episodes.

Best Line:

Victoria: There is a reason that it didn’t work out between you and me, but it’s not Germany.  And I’m willing to bet it’s the same reason none of your other relationships in the last six years have lasted either.  It’s Robin.

Ted: No.

Victoria: Yes.  She is so much bigger in your world than you realize.  And this thing that you’re all doing, you and Barney and Robin, where the three of you hang out at the bar night in, night out, like you’re all just buddies?  That doesn’t work.  Trust me.

Ted: You-You’ve got it all wrong.

Victoria: I’m right about this.  Good-bye, Ted.

18) “Girls vs. Suits” (5 x 12)

“Girls vs. Suits” was the 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother and it delivers in both driving the mythology of the show and in all around laughs.  Ted got the closest he had ever gotten to the woman he was going to marry, as he dated her roommate.  Rachel Bilson was adorably insecure as Cindy, and now that we’ve met Cristin Milioti’s Mother, I can see why.  I would have had the same reaction had I brought my boyfriend to my place and the only things he found cool belonged to my roommate.  To be honest, this is why I live alone, people.

The near misses Ted has with his future wife exemplify everything I love about HIMYM.  You never know how close you are to the person that will change your life.  Every person you meet is an important part of your story because they shape you in the person you are today.  So you’ve GOT to stay open to the possibilities, which is one of the things I love so much about Ted Mosby.  He goes through dark times and times where he’s lost or times that he’s bogged down by his inability to let go of the ideal of Robin.  But at the root of it all, Ted is a person who BELIEVES in possibility.  It’s a very hopeful life philosophy, and like I’ve said before, I feel like How I Met Your Mother is ultimately a show about hope and about optimism, even in the darkest times.

Of course, I feel all of this story runs secondary to the fantastic storyline for Barney where he is forced to choose between a hot girl and his beloved suits.  We meet Barney’s personal tailor, Tim Gunn, because really…who else would it be?  We see Barney dressing in jeans and t-shirts (how disconcerting is it to see him in NOT a suit?) to try to score with the hot bartender at McClaren’s (a pre-Clooney Stacy Kiebler) who HATES guys wearing suits.  And it all culminates in the GLORIOUS musical number “Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit”.  When the cast visited Inside The Actor’s Studio, NPH chose this moment as his favorite Barney moment of the entire series.  To this day, I will never understand how this song did NOT win the Emmy for original music and lyrics (it lost to a song from MONK, you guys.  What EVEN.).  It’s definitely one of the seminal moments of the series.

Best Line:

Barney: (sings) To score a ten would be just fine,

But I’d rather be dressed to the nines!

It’s a truth you can’t refute–

Nothing suits me like a suit!

17) “The Final Page” (8 x 11, 8 x 12)

Let’s talk about the character evolution of Barney Stinson.  Honestly, I think of all the characters, he has had the most growth as a person, and it’s all due to falling in love with Robin Scherbatsky.  I saw sparks between these two characters way back in Season One when they bro’d out in “Zip Zip Zip”.  I thought it was completely organic for them to hook up at the end of “Sandcastles in the Sand”.  I DO think their relationship was a little mishandled in Season Five, but I mainly think it was because while Robin and Barney were drawn to each other, neither one of them were ready for the full-on committed relationship.  They both had to genuinely fall in love with other people to realize that they REALLY wanted to be with each other.  The difference between Barney and Ted when it comes to Robin, is that Barney has just the right amount of edge and cynicism that Robin needs to challenge her.  Barney doesn’t paint the picture of the white picket fence and 2.5 kids that Ted does.  Barney accepts Robin for exactly who she is, not what he wants her to be, and that’s why they work on a fundamental level.  It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a long and often painful journey for them.  They both hurt each other a great deal.  But they came out stronger in the end, which brings us to “The Final Page”.

Barney, master of the long con, once he realizes that he wants to be with Robin for the rest of his life, sets out to make the final play from his playbook.  It’s an arc that traverses the entire first half of season eight and it’s a wonder to see how it all came together in the final minutes of the episode.  It’s sweet with just a hint of mischief and ridiculousness…also know as exactly what the Barney and Robin relationship is.

When I first made this list, I had “The Wedding Bride” in the place of “The Final Page”, but upon rewatching all my contenders, the scene in the limo between Ted and Robin is what made me say “No, this episode HAS to be on my list.”  What a LOVELY and bittersweet scene it is!  The writers have gone back to the Ted and Robin well FAR too often (especially given that Ted says in the PILOT that she is not the mother) and it became quite frustrating for us as an audience.  But that’s how life is.  We’ve all had that one person that we just can’t seem to let go of, no matter how hard we try.  Robin is that person for Ted.  Robin and Ted are ALMOST perfect for each other and you can’t deny that there is a deep love between them.  I think even in his heart of hearts Ted knows that Robin is not the one for him, no matter how much he wants her to be, and letting go of that ideal is a journey he had to make in his own time.  The scene in the limo is the beginning of that.  I can’t even IMAGINE sending the person I loved off to get engaged to someone else.  But Ted recognizes Robin’s struggle and BECAUSE he is a good friend and only wants her to be happy, he tells her about Barney’s plan to “propose to Patrice”.  He KNOWS that Robin will always wonder “what if” and so, despite Marshall’s reservations, he puts Robin’s needs ahead of his.  It’s truly a beautiful thing for him to do.  It’s a heart breaking sacrifice and anyone who DOESN’T recognize that is watching the show wrong.

Best Line:

Ted:  Eight years ago I made an ass of myself chasing after you and I made an ass of myself chasing after you a bunch of times since then.  I have no regrets because it led me to something I wouldn’t trade for the world, it led to you being my friend. So as your friend and a leading expert in the field of making an ass of yourself,  I say to you, from the heart, get the hell out of this car.

16) “Something Borrowed” (2 x 21)

I’m attending three weddings this year.  My sister is getting married in May, and then I have 2 sets of close friends getting married in August and October.  Planning a wedding is hard.  You have very specific visions of how you want your day to be, but when you start to involve families, your vision often has to change, as you have to take what they want into consideration.  This is the dilemma that Marshall and Lily face in “Something Borrowed”.  Their ideal intimate outdoor ceremony becomes a big overblown celebration and they find themselves struggling to find THEM in the scenario.  Everything that could go wrong does.  Lily’s ex-boyfriend Scooter shows up.  Their harpist goes into labor.  The florist is late.  Lily’s veil gets trampled and her “property of Marshall” panties go missing.  Brad (a pre-True Blood and Magic Mike Joe Manganiello) tackles their photographer, but don’t worry, he has a sweet camera phone.  Marshall gets “Cool Guy Tips” and in a moment of panic takes a set of clippers to his head.  It’s enough to drive anyone insane, because despite protestations that she is fine with everything, all Lily wants is for her day to be perfect.

And then it DOES become perfect.  Lily (who was given an emergency cigarette by the best maid of honor ever, Robin) and Marshall run into each other outside.  They despair over how lost they are as a couple in this big old mess of a ceremony.  All they wanted was a nice outdoor ceremony with close friends.  And in that magic moment…they have it, Ted says.  They have their friends and Barney is ordained so he can marry them (I could write an entire essay about how much of a Marshall and Lily shipper Barney TRULY is and how their relationship inspires him to believe that true love DOES exist.  Another time).  So that’s exactly what he does in one of the most heartfelt and sweet moments of the series.  Much like Jim and Pam do in “Niagara” two years later, Marshall and Lily get married in their own way.  That way…they don’t care about what happens during the ceremony and it really just becomes for their families, because they already HAD the wedding they wanted…shaved head, missing panties and all.

Best Line:

Marshall: Okay, I’ll go first. Lily. There are a million reasons why I love you. You make me laugh, and… you take care of me when I’m sick, and… you’re sweet and caring and you even created an egg dish and named it after me (she puts a little Italian dressing on the scrambled eggs before she cooks them. It’s called Eggs Marshall. And it’s awesome.) But the main reason that I love you is that you’re my best friend, Lily. You’re uh, the best friend that I’ve ever had. (I’m sorry buddy.)

Lily: My turn. Marshall. I love you because you’re – you’re funny, and you make me feel loved, and you make me feel safe. And for our anniversary you gave me a sweatshirt that says “Lily and Marshall: Rockin’ It Since ‘96”. I kinda wish I was I was wearing it right now because… it – it smells like you. But, the main reason I love you, Marshall Eriksen, is… you make me happy. You make me happy all the time.

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