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December 18, 2012

RE: How I Met Your Mother

Wait a minute…two short posts back to back?  What sorcery is this?!  (Don’t worry, it won’t last long.)

“Yikesy mikesy” is a phrase I don’t use very often.  I came up with it back when I was six, and for a while I had every intention of making it my catch phrase.  Didn’t pan out, exactly; I pretty much didn’t use it until my brother reminded me that I once coined it.  And even then it wasn’t exactly a common utterance.  But I’ve entertained the thought of putting it into rotation -- after all, there are few phrases that capture the supreme, heart-stopping, breath-stealing affectation of something truly remarkable.  So for future reference, if you see me use “yikesy mikesy” to describe something, chances are it’s to describe something I found really, really great.

Such is the case with How I Met Your Mother.  

Now, I’ve been a fan of the show pretty much since the first episode, and I think I’ve only missed about three or four episodes since then.  It is, in my opinion, one of the best things on TV, and has been for years.  I could spend a full post on why that’s the case -- the near-seamless blend of comedy and drama, the high density of heartwarming moments, the continuity-based elements that repeatedly feed into new and surprising situations, and most of all the characters -- and I just might someday.  If I could talk about Kingdom Hearts for about ten thousand words too many, I could say something about that show.

But this past Monday’s episodes elevated an already-fine show to a whole new level.  I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (and that’s saying something, considering my lax spoiler policy), so if you have yet to see the back-to-back episodes, and if you actually care about the canon, go see them however and whenever you can.  It’s the kind of episode (well, episodes) that changes everything -- not only because of Barney’s ultimate action, but everything leading up to it from every character.  It’s really saying something when the guy who was afraid of getting slapped in the face for several episodes ends up becoming a more credible threat than The Dark Knight’s Joker.

In the interest of doing something besides beating around bushes and gushing, I want to make two comments as to why I like the who as much as I do -- and by extension, why these past two episodes encapsulated its essence and quality.  First off, one of HIMYM’s greatest strengths is its unpredictability.  That’s a little hard to believe, given that there’s only one way the story’s gonna end (Ted will probably find his future wife when all is said and done), and most episodes usually start by introducing some concept or definition to the point where it’s damn near unsettling when they don’t.  But where an episode -- or even gag -- starts can be completely different before the twenty-two minutes are up.  

And it’s not even an issue of unpredictability for comedy alone (though the two should generally go together at all times for maximum effect); unpredictable drama makes for some truly shocking turns that’ll keep fans coming back for more.  Could anyone have guessed that the same episode where Lily returned from San Fransisco and talked about her amazing stay there would be the same episode where she revealed her stay was a massive mistake -- with all the dialogue therein being exactly the same except for a different tone?  Did anyone see the sudden and tragic death of Marshall’s dad coming, even with the background props counting down to something?  Did anyone know that, even if Stella wasn’t the much-teased Mother of the series’ name, she’d end up leaving Ted at the altar thanks to an event as simple as bringing your ex to a wedding?    Essentially, you very rarely know what’s going to happen next; just when you think you’ve got the twist figured out, the last seven or so minutes can flip-flop everything like a well-cooked pancake. 

But the second factor is this: I’m ready for the show to end.

Hear me out on this -- I know that sounds negative, but let me explain.  About eight years have passed both in-universe and IRL, and a lot has happened since then.  If the story is winding down to its ultimate conclusion as I suspect (and I’m thinking that there isn’t as much ground to tread now as there was at the start), then essentially it’ll come to an end very, very soon.  A sad fact, but a true one.  Better to go out now in its prime instead of spinning its wheels for another six seasons.  It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for the last couple of seasons, and I lamented the fact that soon I’d have to find something else to fill my Monday nights with.  

But a funny thing happened this past Monday: I ended up thinking to myself, “All right, show.  You’ve done it.  You’re great.  I’ve gotten everything I need from you.”  It left me so satisfied, so satiated, so mentally and emotionally served that if the show inexplicably got cancelled and no episodes ever aired again, I’d be all right with that.  As Ted said, it’s been eight years; we’ve seen these five people, and roughly a dozen others, change and evolve and live through good times, bad times, and incredibly absurd times.  If they aren’t at the apex of their narrative arcs, then they’re all very near it.  And it’s because I’ve seen and lived through their experiences that I can look back on the past -- every last bit of it -- with a smile.  It’s been a great ride full of bros, suits, slaps, and murder trains.  Show, you have done basic cable TV a service.  Take a bow...while I try to figure what I'm going to watch on Monday nights when you ride into the sunset.

Also, long live Marshall Eriksen.


Well, that’s enough gushing.  Tune in tomorrow for tactical psychokinetic action.

6 comments:

  1. Let me guess...the mother haven't appeared yet?

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  2. There have been several teases, and she has technically appeared (while hidden under a yellow umbrella)...but in terms of a full-body reveal, a face, or even a name, then no. Nothing. If I remember correctly she's supposed to be a blonde, and some episodes have details about her interests, but so far there's nothing substantial to latch onto.


    Not that that's a bad thing, as you can probably guess. Like I've said before about Smallville and The Walking Dead, it's not necessarily about finding "The Mother". (Even those shows are about Superman and zombies respectively, but you get the idea.) It's about the journey. And man oh man, has it been a journey.

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  3. That Random Game bloggerDecember 19, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Loved the show since the first episode as well.

    A shame We're a season behind you guys in my country.

    As for the mother, I honestly doubt we'll ever know what she looks like, after so many seasons the expectations are huge, there's no way they can come up with a character that'll meet them

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  4. Hmmm...well, that's certainly a possibility, but one that I could live with. It's more than a little late in the game, I'm assuming, so unless the mother turns out to be someone we've seen already, her reveal might not have the impact we're all hoping for. Nothing wrong with an air of mystery, yeah?

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  5. That Random Game BloggerDecember 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    There's always the running internet gag that Ted's kids were adopted

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  6. That is a possibility that could break the fabric of reality...but a possibility nonetheless, I suppose.

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