How I Met Your Mother has returned with a vengeance, providing a handful of excellent nods to its fandom. Putting to bed a number of rumors and theories for good and giving the series a revitalized tone, HIMYM is back on track and laying the foundation for a satisfying Spring.
In particular, many fans have been patting themselves on the back for years, convinced that they had solved the mystery of the mother’s identity. Barney’s half-sister, Carly, had been a top contender for the role until last week’s episode, “Ring Up.” Having been mentioned as being in college (one of the few hints surrounding the mother) and carrying the ironic/comedic potential of Ted marrying Barney’s sister, this theory had been making its way through the message boards for quite some time. Last week, the writer’s provided a clear reference to this theory in which Ted inadvertently began dating Barney’s twenty-year-old sister. Putting the theory to bed once and for all, this episode was a reassuring nod from the writers that they are indeed listening and open to responding to their fans.
More importantly, viewers were given something else that they haven’t seen in quite some time. Season eight began an underwhelming trend in which the writers were constantly rehashing old storylines and relying on the work of previous seasons to carry their viewers forward. With the midseason finale, “The Final Page, Part 1 & 2”, and onward, HIMYM viewers have been given new material to hold on to and progress with. Barney and Robin’s wedding provides a rich opportunity for HIMYM to establish new canon and continue developing their previously stagnant characters. While season eight started with a sheltered and narrow existence, the future of the series is wide open once again with no “will they won’t they” scenario to bog them down.
This opportunity is demonstrated most clearly in the character of Robin. Last week, Robin struggled with her first adjustment to married life in the form of her engagement ring. Upon placing the ring on her finger, Robin became “invisible” to those around her who ordinarily worshipped the ground she walked on. As such, there were no more free coffees in the morning, no more free rent, and more importantly, no more quick service at the bar. While this provided a handful of entertaining moments, it ultimately culminated into the well-developed metaphor of how married life would change the way she interacted with the world. She was closing herself off to the possibilities of other relationships, but is ultimately comforted in the end when she is reminded by Lily that although she might be invisible to everyone else, she is all that Barney can see. Overall, it was a nicely written subplot that earned its spot in the episode, transitioning the character seamlessly out of her single role and into her new one of matrimony.
However, as has been the norm for season eight, viewers got very little involvement from Marshall and Lily, who essentially piggy-backed on Robin’s subplot. After Lily’s big reveal to Ted, to whom she confessed her weariness with parenthood, one would expect the character to receive more attention. While this is a minor flaw in an otherwise solid episode, time will tell whether this intriguing and significant character development will receive its due attention.
The season has a long way to go in a short amount of time. But with careful attention and proper development, there is no reason why season eight couldn’t be one of the best to date. How I Met Your Mother is a unique experience that combines a handful of unique and relatable characters with humorous, but inherently heartfelt, situations. So long as they stay true to these attributes, the series will continue to rise back to its former place of glory.
Overall Score: 8.9/10
Next Episode: "P.S. I Love You", February 4, 2013