This article involves spoilers
After a shocking cliffhanger that led us in to a holiday hiatus, HIMYM was back last night with plenty of baby drama and laughs to spare. But was it another outstanding episode, or a mid-season finale that kind of left us with a let down? Let’s tackle this week’s episode, in the new format I’ve started for all my reviews, as we breaking what was great, what wasn’t, and what was just plain unacceptable.
THE GOOD: * “Scotttttttt!” – Last time we saw the Gang, Lily and Marshall made the announcement that they were moving into the house they were given as a wedding present, making it their third move of the series, and leaving myself a little bit judgemental. We had become very comfortable with the apartment setting, so why would this behemoth of a house offer anything different? Well, we were introduced to one of the neighbors this week: Scott, a teenage kid who told Marshall of father issues. Marshall, determined to light the crap out of the house for Christmas, felt bad for him, so he let Scott help him out. That is…until the teenager traps Marshall on the roof and throws a raging party. From here, there are smaller exchanges between the two that are plenty of amusement, but the best thing to come out of this is that it introduces what kind of crazy happenings we can expect in the new neighborhood. The mind races with possibilities!
* Colbie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris Chemistry – With the baby drama between Barney and Robin, this provided us some time with both actors to mix, mingle, and interact consistently. The two played off each other extraordinarily, but Colbie is who stole the show. The episode is mostly told from her perspective, and with Robin’s inability to have children discovered, it adds plenty of emotion to the character, developing the gun-toting Canadian just a few steps higher. You can really get in depth to how she’s reacting to the news, and it’s here where Smulders shines more than any other episode this season. Quite honestly, it could be Robin’s greatest (half) hour.
* That Final Scene – After the twist that the narrating Robin is in fact present Robin speaking to hallucinations of kids she once dreamed of having, it’s an emotional blow and well-written revelation that definitely put you into a sad mood. So, when Robin returns to the apartment, but what do our wandering eyes should appear? Marshall’s true Symphony of Illumination, with Ted revealed to stay home for the holidays. The entire apartment lights up in a visual spectacle that anyone would be amazed at, and as Robin begins to sob uncontrolably into Ted’s arms, and Future Ted’s ever-so-wise narration kicks back in, you could almost shed a tear if it wasn’t for the inappropriate, yet very sly tounge-in-cheek reference, “Highway to Hell” playing in the background. (Oh, and I totally can’t wait for the Robin’s “brief” stint as a bullrider!)
THE BAD: * Lack of Ted, and Kevin - There are two big absences throughout the episode. Ted, though he makes a more prominent appearance in the second half, is basically looked over for the first half of the episode. With no Future Ted either, we lack Ted on plenty of the all-new installment. We get him in small doses, but his tale is barely touched upon at all, and is simply the least seen character of the show. As for the other absence, where the hell was Robin’s boyfriend Kevin through all of this? Kal Penn’s character has been M.I.A. for the past two episodes, and as Robin is not only freaking out about her pregnancy, the reveal that she couldn’t have kids, and she in fact couldn’t turn to her friends for this comfort, should have brought her in to Kevin’s arms for some much needed support. While guest stars are rarely the best thing about HIMYM, this is the one case where I strongly believe it would have actually improved the overall episode.
THE UGLY: * The “Future Robin” Plot Device - The inclusion of this definitely screwed up the flow that the audience has been watching for some time. At first, it seemed like they were ruining the big mystery we were searching for the entire season: who will Barney marry? The fact that she constantly referred to him as “your father” made the mystery seem solved, and rather disappointing given that this was how we discovered the answer. Thankfully, that isn’t so, and can be taken with a grain of salt. It also explains why Future Ted has a different voice but “Future Robin” didn’t. It’s with this reveal that the plotline both wins and loses. While I’ve expressed a good amount of dissatisfaction, the writers still find a way to successfully reveal the storyline, and it actually brings forth a good amount of emotion. The only other problem is that you can somewhat see it coming, as this part of the episode definitely remains very skeptical. I didn’t quite believe that this was “Future Robin” and knew there was going to be some twist along the lines of what happened.
FAVORITE QUOTES: * “Big Fudge has come to town, and he’s bringing his two friends…Manheim…and Steamroller. Game on!” – Marshall, when describing his light set up.
* “Here’s twenty for picking up a girl using only one word, and here’s another twenty for that word being boner.” – Barney, in flashback, to his ex-best friend Insane Dwayne.
* “Apparently after child birth, your hoo-hah looks like Rocky Balboa’s face.” – Lily picking up stuff at a baby store.
* “It looks like some little scamp earned the right to put the Vikings helmet on Baby Jesus.” – Marshall, after he met Scott.
* “Awwww dammit. That thing is cute as crap. Screw you, baby.” – Robin, whispering, after she sees an adorable baby.
* “Oh, Cana-dorable, am I right?” – Ted, picking out a onesie with the Canadian maple leaf in the baby store.
* “One time when my parents were out of town, my brothers and I set the basement on fire…hosting an Amateur Wrestling Exhibition…there were some theatrics.” – Marshall, trying to convince Scott to let him off the roof.
* “You can’t fire me. I’m union, bitch.” – Ted, after Robin “fires” him as her comforter.
* “There was one thing your Aunt Robin never was…she was never alone.” – Future Ted’s closing words.
OVERALL VERDICT: ”Symphony of Illumination” isn’t outstanding, but a solid entry in the season. Great comedy, an aatmosphere in the upper ecchelon, but without the inclusion of a few key characters, the half hour limps just a little. It has defects, but is still incredibly amusing, and captures the heart of the series at its finest. With a good amount of character development as well, the episode ends in one of the most beautiful ways possible, and one of the most memorable scenes the series may has produced.
4 out of 5 Stars