How I Met Your Mother Season 8, Episode 11 & 12 Review: “The Final Page, Part 1 & 2”

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Nailing the art of the hour long sitcom special is difficult.  Since most of these shows rely pretty heavily on half hour storytelling, doubling the length can actually impact the episode in a pretty negative manner.  Even quality shows like The Office had difficulties nailing these hour longs, as the added length leads to much padding and, frequently, uneven pacing.  How I Met Your Mother very rarely pursues these for that reason, with most one hour episodes being reserved for season finales alone.  But hey, sometimes life rears its ugly head.  And due to Hurricane Sandy pushing it back an episode, CBS and the HIMYM team had no choice but to jam these two episodes together if they hoped to finish off the arc by the end of the year.  So what started as “Silence of the Jinx” and “The Robin” has evolved into simply “The Final Page, Part 1 and 2.”  As a two-parter, does it succeed?  No, not really.  But individually at least, it’s a winner.

Let’s talk Part 1 first.  From the get go, it becomes vastly apparent that these two episodes weren’t initially billed as a two parter.  Final five minutes aside, the plot in Part 1 has very little to do with what occurs in Part 2.  Yeah, they both involve the grand unveiling of the building that Ted designed for GNB, but Part 1 is more about Ted coming to terms with his jerk of a former professor than anything else.  The professor in question (special guest star Peter Gallagher) is wonderfully douchey, and you can really see Ted’s inspiration for how he teaches his classes.  Ted is one sphinx reference away from being exactly like Professor Vinick, an element of the episode that I greatly enjoyed.

Part 1 also coined another term that I’m sure the creators hope will really catch on, the idea that everyone has a “Pit Guy”, a person you have such a big obsession over that you would throw into a giant pit in your basement ala Hannibal Lector.  As a thematic device it worked although, like most symbolic analogies on this show now a days, the big “revelation” at the end of the episode regarding the Pit Guy was a little heavy handed (in the shows fairness though, they even made fun of this fact in one of the funniest lines of the night).

The other two storylines of Part 1 were much more of a mixed bag.  Personally the Seth Green subplot really didn’t work for me, as we’ve seen this creepy stalker archetype time and time again on other shows, with HIMYM doing very little to differentiate itself from the rest.  Seth Green was a fun guest star though, and it was nice to see him and Alyson Hannigan onscreen together again post Buffy.  The other little subplot though was very entertaining, and used Barney to wonderful effect.  Spending an entire episode silent but still being hilarious is a tough task, but Neil Patrick Harris was more than capable.  And the moment following his un-jinxing was not only shocking, but a nice lead in to Part Two.

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Which I guess leads us to the second part of “The Final Page”, which was hands down the best episode of How I Met Your Mother this entire season.  Honestly, everything just worked in “The Final Page Part 2”, from the humor to the drama to the acting and everything in between.  The scene in the limo between Ted and Robin was simply wonderful, and it honestly did a good job of reminding me why I routed for Ted in the first place.  Pretentious and all, Ted always has the best intents for his friends in the back of his mind.  The final shot of the episode really confirms this, as Ted stares blankly out the window of the GNB building he designed with a look of sadness on his face.  He achieved one dream that night but, like so many other moments of his life, it just went on to remind him how much he’s failed with his other one.

But easily the best scene of the entire night was the final one, in which we finally see what Barney’s been up to this entire season.  And in my mind, it was a genius revelation.  It’s no lie that I’ve had issues with the Barney storyline in all of Season 7.  I simply didn’t like the way he was going about getting Robin, nor was I much of a fan of the Patrice development later on in the year.  But leave it to the creators of HIMYM to deliver when it finally came through, with a brilliant twist that pretty much every stupid thing we’ve seen Barney do in the past few episodes was all part of some long, elaborate plan to win back Robin’s heart.  The actual reveal of “The Robin” being the final play in Barney’s Playbook was a beautiful moment for both characters and even though yeah, you can certainly see it as Barney being an evil and manipulative devil spawn, I found it to be sweet in a way that only Barney can be.

Before “The Final Page Part 1 & 2”, I was more than willing to give up on this show.  I simply hated everything the show was doing with its principal characters, and felt like the show was quickly going in the same direction as The Office or Family Guy in its later season.  But like always, HIMYM came through.  It delivered with the payoff and, this late in the game, I can’t honestly ask for much more.

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Loose Ends:

  • I could take or leave the subplot in Part 2 with Marshall and Lily.  It had a couple funny lines, but it was a VERY familiar plot for anyone who has watched a sitcom with a couple who has had a child.
  • “I’m not going to Silence of the Lambs him…at most, I’d Revenge of the Nerds him.”
  • “I am just so excited that I could cry…and laugh…and scream!”
  • “The old Fire and Bang…respect, Scherbatsky .”
  • “No, I had an emotional moment were I found transcendent clarity!”
  • “Not happening, bro.”
  • “9:06 PM: Put on edible underwear”
  • “You can do that by yourself?” “Pilates, bitch.”  Nothing’s better than a well placed “bitch” from Lily.
  • Robin yelling “PATRICE!” will never get old.
  • “Hmm…his head smells like love.”
  • “Great, I just started lactating.” “Me too.”
  • “Now come on, let me smell his head!”
  • “I don’t know, my friends have no boundaries!”
  • They REALLY don’t.

-Matthew