“The Final Page: Part One” and “The Final Page: Part Two” were unfortunately as much of a letdown as the first half of this season has been, with over-used jokes, weak metaphors, disappointing celebrity cameos, and a inadequate ending that all left fans pining for the good old days. There are a number of reasons why How I Met Your Mother really dropped off a cliff during the first half of season eight, but possibly the biggest is that it just wasn’t very funny anymore. Add that to incredibly tired storylines, and you’re left with a show that’s missing everything that once made it one of the best comedies on TV. This two-part midseason finale only made one thing clear: HIMYM fans have a great deal to worry about when the show returns in January.
In Part One of this hour-long HIMYM block, Barney must suffer the consequences of being jinxed, which means he cannot speak until a witness to the jinx says his name. Ted’s new GNB skyscraper is about to be dedicated, so he thinks back to an old architecture teacher, Professor Vinnick (played by Peter Gallagher), who was a huge influence in his career. The rest of the gang claims that Ted is so obsessed with Vinnick that he is his “pit guy,” referring to the film “The Silence of the Lambs.” Lily claims that Patrice would be Robin’s “pit person” and Robin goes on to prove her right by firing Patrice (though only momentarily) because of her relationship with Barney. And Lily and Marshall reveal that they are definitely in Darrell’s pit, a clingy guy they met in college who won’t leave them alone after a game of hacky sack they played together. On a return trip to their alma mater, Darrell (played by Seth Green) excitedly reunites with his favorite couple and shows them his now thriving hacky sack business.
On the way home, the group stops for snacks, leaving Barney alone in the car with Ted. Barney tricks Ted into saying his name by showing him a giant wedding ring, to which Ted exclaims, “Oh my God, Barney!” Then, Barney jinxes Ted so that he can’t talk, and in the silence Barney explains his plans to propose to Patrice. In exchange for being freed from the jinx, Ted agrees not to tell a single person about Barney’s plans to ask Patrice to marry him.
One of the unfortunate weak spots in Part One was the guest appearances by Seth Green and Peter Gallagher. Both of these stars had such potential to add some spunk to this episode and make it funnier, but the writers squandered the opportunity by writing incredibly lousy comedy for the two of them. Green’s character could have hilarious, but being tied to the lame “pit guy” metaphor really killed his funniness. Meanwhile, Peter Gallagher plays a very believable college professor, but Ted’s showdown with him in the classroom was a big letdown comedy-wise. Often, “How I Met Your Mother” really succeeds with its guest stars—Regis Philbin, Jim Nance, Enrique Iglesias, and Wayne Brady were all exceptional, amongst others. But on occasion the show has faltered with its celebrity appearances (Katy Perry, Mandy Moore, Carrie Underwood), and “The Final Page: Part One” unfortunately falls into the latter category. Seth Green and Peter Gallagher’s presences should have been an easy way to make the episode funnier, but for some reason the writers missed their mark with their characters.
Another cringe-worthy element in Part One was the eye rolling-ly corny “pit guy” device, in which each of the main characters have one person that they are so obsessed with that they would throw them into a pit. The Silence of the Lambs reference was bizarre and came out of nowhere, but the worst part was when Ted realized that the person in the pit was actually himself. Watching Robin and Ted throw a ladder down to themselves as they cowered in their own pit, and watching them climb out, was just terrible. The show really reached a new low with this one.
Barney’s confession to Ted in the car led into the beginning of Part Two, which started with the day of the GNB building opening. At MacLaren’s, Lily and Marshall explain that Mickey is babysitting for the night, meaning they can have their first night alone without Marvin. Lily has written out a thorough to-do list, containing both practical (being at Ted’s GNB opening) and romantic (edible underwear) items for her and Marshall to partake in. But before Lily and Marshall can begin their list, Ted pulls Marshall away to blab about Barney’s proposal plans. Marshall tells Ted not to tell Barney, because he thinks he still might have a shot with Robin. But in an unprecedented move, Ted does the right thing and lets Robin go. When he and Ranjit pick Robin up for the GNB opening, Ted tells Robin about Barney’s plan to propose to Patrice. After arguing in the limo, Ted convinces Robin to try and stop Barney and drops her off at the World Wide News building. When Robin gets to the rooftop, it is revealed that the whole Patrice thing was part of Barney’s master plan to eventually propose to Robin. He gets down on his knee and pops the question, and Robin says yes.
Barney’s drawn-out, twisted proposal plan will most likely be loved by some HIMYM fans and disliked by others. It was just like Barney to come up with some master scheme full of lies and trickery to set a girl up, just to get what he really wanted. And that’s the problem. Barney’s marriage proposal should’ve shown how he has changed, how he’s matured, and how far he’s come as a character, but instead it just harkened back to his lengthy past of deceiving women. Plus, it made no sense that Robin would say yes after she was supposedly so upset with him after reading through his multi-step plan. She was so angry that she was wondering how he could possibly think she’d want to kiss him, and then he proposes and suddenly all is forgiven? And lastly, Barney’s proposal plan with Patrice was just a huge misdirect, one that played a cruel trick on the audience. Sometimes an audience watches a show specifically for the plot twists and deceptions, but rarely are they looking for that in a sitcom. This season’s whole Barney/Robin drama brings to mind a TV episode in which, after lots of terrible things happen, it ends with the main character waking up and saying, “Thank God, it was just a dream!” How I Met Your Mother fans worried needlessly about Barney and Patrice and everything that was going on in that love triangle, and all for naught. Ultimately, the writers should have come up with a much more adult, romantic, and satisfying way for Barney to finally pop the question.
The very end of “The Final Page: Part Two” deserves mentioning – Ted’s somber look out of the GNB building window towards the WWN headquarters, where he knows there’s a good chance that Robin got back together with Barney. Let us all hope that this end was not a foreshadowing of Ted making another attempt for Robin’s affection. The fact that he let her go in the limo was a sign that he’d finally grown up and moved on from Robin, and that lingering shot of his sullen face seems to imply that it STILL isn’t over for Ted. Please, HIMYM writers, we beg of you—don’t do it. Let this really be the final page for Ted and Robin as a couple and let us move on to the real mother, who has been 8.5 seasons in the making.
The midseason finale highlighted problems that have plagued season eight of How I Met Your Mother and contributed to what may be the worst season of the show so far. Previously reliable characters like Marshall and Lily can’t be counted on to be funny anymore. The jokes aren’t nearly as solid as they used to be, and there are very few reasons to laugh out loud any more. And the writers may have finally stretched the ongoing love triangle between Ted, Robin and Barney too far. It’s sad to see one of your favorite shows suffer such a blow like this first half of its eighth season, so HIMYM fans must share a group hug after these last two episodes and hope for the best come January.