I have a nasty habit of jumping into popular TV shows at the last moment to siphon off a bit of counterfeit emotional payoff without putting in the years and years of tedious buildup. I did this with Lost (not bad!). I did this with Breaking Bad (I REGRET NOTHING). And last night I did it with How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM, which also doubles as a greeting for a transgender parent), the venerable sitcom featuring many likable actors saying vaguely amusing things.
Up until last night, I had never seen an episode of this show, despite being somewhat familiar with its premise (Man tells kids the story of how he met their mother, while you spend nine years trying to figure out if the mother is, in fact, the Yellow King) and some of its running jokes (something about slapping people?). Could I pull a Rosie Ruiz and suck up all the glory by cutting in at the very last moment? Here is what I learned. NOTE: Major spoilers are included below.
- First of all, this was not so much a finale as it was a bukkake of MANY finale tropes, all sprayed onto your television set simultaneously. In the final episode of HIMYM, we are treated to three surprise pregnancies, two weddings, one birth, one DEATH (more on that later), two moves, and two main characters finally hooking up at the end. It was like watching one of those super-sized episode of Friends, only SUPER super-sized. There was also rain.
- Oh, and there was soft piano music. So much soft piano music. Holy shit, do these people like pairing emotional moments with soft piano music. There was also a terrible laugh track running throughout. Let me tell you something: You can have a laugh track, or you can have annoying piano music, but you cannot have both. That's Disney Channel territory. It's like when my kids are watching two different movies simultaneously in the back of my van. It's a problem.
- We start the episode at a wedding between Neil Patrick Harris (who appears to be reading off a cue card at all times) and Colbie Shoulders. But our wedding gets interrupted by Ted, the best man, who is apparently moving to Chicago the next day and requires a long, painful goodbye out on the porch. This is a terrible best man. Who moves the next day? You couldn't stay for the requisite post-wedding brunch? Jesus. All about you, isn't it? They should have called this show The Fifth Wheel.
- After ditching the wedding, Ted is stuck at a train station with a crazy old lady. I dunno about you, but when I see a crazy old lady at a train station, I ALWAYS tell her about my romantic life, so that she can offer me some hard-won wisdom about whether or not that one girl I saw for three seconds was my soul mate. Totally realistic.
- Speaking of soul mates, turns out the mute bassist at Ted's wedding (played by what appears to be Sarah Silverman's little sister) is the mother. This was not a surprise! For eight years, people wondered who the mother would be, and then last year, the creators were like, "Oh, hey, this random lady's gonna be the mom." They didn't wanna get your hopes up that this would be, you know, exciting.
- The Band Camp girl from American Pie is also on this show, and her role appears to be that of designated crier. So much crying. Just one crying jag after another. GET IT TOGETHER, HANNIGAN. Like the Lost finale, this finale is half story wrap-up, half curtain call. And so you have Band Camp girl here serving as proxy for the audience by crying a lot and saying, "I'M GONNA MISS YOU GUYS!" Aren't you gonna miss them too, audience members? No? Come on. Miss them a little, for old time's sake!
- I don't know what they were doing for the last eight years on this show, but apparently they had a lot of plot lines to wrap up, because after the first wedding sequence, we skip two years ahead in time pretty much every five minutes. Please note that in the year 2020, there are still no flying cars. Just poor NPH reduced to shouting all of his lines. "MY SCROTUM!!!!" It's funny because he hurt his scrotum!
- My wife, glancing up at the TV: "Is this a new show?"
- Right after the first wedding of the episode, we hurtle forward in time to learn that NPH and Cobie Bryant got divorced. Christ, that's depressing! Turns out these guys got divorced because she travels a lot for work. These uptight famous career women, man. What they need to do is stay home and be naked a lot!
- We jump ahead in time again to see Jason Muppets Guy and Band Camp Girl cleaning out their apartment. More tears. More piano music. You are sad that this set will no longer be used for things! After this, it's getting converted into an ice cream shop for Chuck Lorre's new sitcom, I Punched Her in the Face.
- Standing in an empty apartment, Cobie Bryant CRUSHES Band Camp Girl, telling her their gang is beat and that they can never go back to the friendship they once had. Jesus, this is a comedy, right? There was more levity in The Act of Killing. Whatever jokes do get thrown down are dispatched with remarkable haste. I think this whole thing was edited by a spastic kindergartener working the editing board with a pair of Fisher Price drumsticks. Halfway through the punchline, we gotta jump ahead two more years. Where are we? IS THIS ELLEN PAGE'S DREAM?!
- Whoa, what the fuck is Jim Nantz doing here? Is this a running gag? I hate this show. Jim Nantz eats balls.
- It's 2020 now, and NPH just knocked up a girl. I figured they would STUN you and reveal that he knocked up his ex-wife, but no! They never reveal the other mother's identity at all. She really was just some skank! Glad her vagina could spare a moment to provide the salvation for NPH's character. NPH holds his baby up and gives an impassioned speech that he once used as a pickup line, only this time he MEANS it. And that's emotional. He went from zany to dead serious in five seconds. These people are insane. I feel like I'm watching over a nursery school class.
- By the way, all of NPH's friends waited for the baby in the maternity ward. Because I know when my friend knocks up a stranger, I'll always be present for the birth. Totally not awkward.
- Anyway, at the end of the episode, it turns out that Little Sarah Silverman—the mother—DIES. That's right. She fucking dies of cancer or something. They don't even have time to give her a diagnosis because time is so tight. I feel like I'm watching a 60-minute promo for the proper, four-hour finale of this show. We just hurtle straight into PURE DEATH. Jesus. I waited nine years for this (well, not ME, but someone out there did) and you went and killed the bitch off? That's cold. That's pure evil.
- Once the mom has been offed, we flash way ahead to Fake Grey Hair Ted wrapping up the story for his kids. And I gotta tell you: Those kids sure look well-adjusted for having a dead mom. They don't seem fazed by it at all! Kinda disturbing, frankly. I think I would want my kids to be a LITTLE messed up if they lost their mother to a mystery uterine ailment. But no, they IMMEDIATELY suggest that Ted go hook up with Cobie Beef. I guess they've been watching this show the whole time as well?
- Ted drives up to Cobie Beef's house and holds up a blue horn, and that's the end of the show. Because that's a happy ending, I guess. I mean, two people had to get divorced, and a nameless baby mamma had to have her child wrenched from her by an insufferable cad, and Sarah Silverman's sister had to DIE, and I had to hear a soft version of "Downtown Train" played during a scene on—yes—a train platform to get there. But that was totally a happy ending. After the end credits, they find Rosie Larsen's killer.
- I did not like this show!