For an episode called “Something New,” How I Met Your Mother resorted to pretty much all its old tricks in its eighth season finale. Except, oh OK, we did get to see the mother, even if Ted hasn’t quite gotten to meet her.
It starts a week before Barney and Robin’s wedding as the two of them try to have a nice dinner but instead encounter an obnoxious couple played by Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) and Keegan Michael Key (Key & Peele), who are actually billed as “Obnoxious Woman” and “Obnoxious Man.” They do obnoxious things like demand Barney and Robin not bring out smelly cigars in a nice restaurant, then go further and ask that they remove the cigars from their sight completely, and proceed to steal their table. What’s a proper penance to pay for such maliciousness and skullduggery? Why, breaking them up, of course. So Robin plops her engagement ring into a glass of champagne meant for the obnoxious couple’s table, prompting the woman to voice her delirious approval while the guy’s all like, “Um, that’s not from me.” A big fight ensues while Robin and Barney watch their handiwork with glee, except for those moments when Barney’s arm is slammed by the service door because they ended up sitting at such a crappy table.
So yes, while Robin and Barney are up to their old tricks, the other stories involve rehashing issues the show led us to believe were solved several episodes — if not seasons — ago. Lily and Marshall are packing for Rome when Marshall’s mom calls and Lily just kinda casually mentions that they’re packing for Rome, then quickly learns that Marshall has not told his mom about the move to Italy. So after some hemming and hawing, which first had Marshall’s mom coming to New York for a week, then Marshall and Lily going to Minnesota for a week, eventually Marshall agreed to take baby Marvin solo to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. While Lily is thrilled at the unexpected free time, she frets that Marshall’s mom is going to convince him to cancel the move to Rome. To the producers: moving to Rome is pretty low on the scale of exciting “will they or won’t they” scenarios. But I’ll give them credit in introducing a more intriguing last-second hurdle, as Marshall gets a surprise call offering him a judgeship in New York.
Now, after I’ve taken a page from the HIMYM playbook and made you wade through all the penny-ante stuff, let’s get to the big story, shall we? Ted has finally fixed up his house in the country, the one where he starts every episode in the year 2030, and shows Lily the finished product. She gets excited to think about the future Ted will have there until she finds a For Sale sign laying about. Ted reveals he’s going to move to Chicago, and it’s all because he’s still hung up on Robin. And hey, give me some credit for endurance here because I just about fell asleep writing that last sentence. But yeah, Ted and Robin’s little meeting in the park last episode when they were digging for her locket made him realize he would do anything to make her happy, and that’s probably not how he should feel about his best friend’s future wife. So the day after the wedding, he plans to flee to Chicago, a fine city that he blasphemes by referring to as “a Cleveland-y New York.” There’s no job prospect there that we’re told of, no community of friends he’s going to connect with, he’s just simply packing up and moving. Lily hates the idea, partly out of concern for Ted, but also because she can’t stand the idea of returning to a New York after her time in Rome with Ted not being there. She also reveals that she saw a very drunk Robin dig up the locket way back in Aught-8, when Ms. Scherbatsky was bumming over Ted marrying Stella. Robin doesn’t remember this, of course, nor that the locket now resides in a race-car pencil box that is currently in Ted’s possession. (So wait, why did she re-bury the empty box without the locket?)
Ted is enchanted by the idea of giving Robin the locket as a wedding present, even though the whole exchange is bound to be fraught with tiresome Ted-Robin sexual tension. But he’s still determined to take the train the day after the wedding, where he’ll find himself at the Farhampton stop. Before the episode closes, we travel to Farhampton where a woman with a yellow umbrella is walking. We know who this is, but this time we actually get to see what she looks like. Turns out she resembles up-and-coming actress Cristin Milioti, who made a mark playing Abby Flynn, the “sexy baby” comedian that drove Liz Lemon nuts on an awesome episode of 30 Rock.
While I applaud the casting of the mother, or as IMDb calls her, “Woman With Umbrella,” and the choice to reveal her, I have absolutely no faith that we’ll get a lot of forward momentum on this story till about Christmas. It might sound like I’m trashing on HIMYM, and I suppose I am, but the truth is I’ve stuck with the show this long, and enjoyed it often enough that pointing out its sometimes maddening flaws really is akin to playfully ribbing an old friend for his bad habits. So yes, I’ll be watching Season 9, hoping it will be legen — wait for it! … oh, never mind.
Photos: © 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.