'How I Met Your Mother' season finale recap: Taking a leap of faith
Let’s face it, being a fan of How I Met Your Mother requires some patience, because much like Ted’s future son and daughter on the couch, all we can do is sit and wait. But, unlike, say, being a fan of Lost, I’m not in as big of a rush to know how all the pieces fit together. Not just because I don’t want the show to end (like, ever) but because it doesn’t feel as urgent. We all know Ted has his happily ever after, so let’s revel in all the stuff that happens beforehand, shall we?
Which brings us to last night’s season 4 finale, aptly titled “Take the Leap.” It did what How I Met Your Mother does best, which give us those tiny little hints (more on that later) without giving away the big payoff. As far as season finales go, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, even if those last few minutes were fantastic. Maybe it was the fact that the weeks leading up had given us such wonderful little nuggets (the yellow umbrella! Stella returns!), but something about it didn’t seem as fulfilling as I was hoping for (I also somewhat blame The Office for filling my quota of painfully good humor and heartbreak).
“Take the Leap” takes place on Ted’s infamous, goat-attended 31st birthday party. While Ted slaved away at his rather sad new architecture project (a rib joint shaped like a cowboy hat) he’s approached by Barney, who used some not-so-subtle metaphors (Robin as a double-breasted Canadian suit) to let Ted know he’s interested in his ex. And Ted, being the perennial good guy that he is, gave Barney his blessing.
Speaking of not-so-subtle, Marshall tried to coax a stressed, sleep-deprived Ted onto the roof (home to many an important HIMYM moment, i.e. the rain dance from season one) for birthday beers (rather, another surprise party) but, he wouldn’t budge. Poor Marshall knew the jig was up (“You don’t get two surprise parties in a row, I mean the fact that anyone showed up to the first one is surprise enough”) but was determined to salvage the evening. Marshall attempted to jump on to the neighboring roof, a feat he has tried, and failed at, for years. (Ted pointed out that Marshall has had trouble getting off the couch lately.) As it turns out, that roof, a mere six or seven feet away, has a sweet deck and a hot tub.
Of course, none of this happened before Lily faked out Marshall, and us, by saying she’s pregnant to get him to not jump. (Though this was taped months ago, Alyson Hannigan was still clearly hiding her real-life baby bump here.) There were a few things I really loved about this part of the episode. One was that it’s a story line that has never been introduced to us before — there are still some things going on in their lives that we don’t know about. The montage of Marshall failing at liftoff were some of the funnier moments of the finale, and I couldn’t help but giggle at him dressed up for Halloween and think of Dracula’s Lament. But, what struck me most about this was its authenticity of New York. OK, so the roof and skyline don’t look all that real, but the feel of living in the city is all there. Roof envy is certainly not uncommon in New York City (I suffer from both that and large window envy), and it’s the kind of thing that could bother you for years. Capturing that, HIMYM thrives in a way that NYC-based series like Friends never did.
Meanwhile, Ted met the goat — a fixture early on in the story of how Ted meets his future wife and mother of his children — downstairs. We’ve known how she (yes, a she) got to the apartment (Lily spared the goat from a premature death after a visit to her kindergarten class), but we’ve never heard the goat’s relevance to the end result. Turns out, it’s not so entirely significant after all. But, more on that later.
Back on the roof, Barney worked up the courage to finally tell Robin about his feelings for her, but — finale twist! — Robin beat him to the punch. She said she had something to tell him, too. That something being “I think I’m in love with you.” I’ll admit, I was a little thrown by that. Wouldn’t Robin have told Lily by now (though she was wise not to, because Lily, as we all know, can’t keep a secret)? Or wouldn’t we have caught on to her feelings a little while ago? Love is a hard thing to hide, but then again, Robin is no softie.
Of course, leave it to Barney to be, well, Barney. When Robin came clean with her feelings, Barney regressed into his playboy, commitment-phobic old self. Within moments, he was over Robin and had an aspiring dancer hanging off his arm. But, my instincts weren’t so far off: Robin didn’t really have feelings for Barney (or does she?); she was, in fact, pulling “The Mosby.” The Mosby, as we learned, is the act of scaring one’s mate by moving way too quickly. Case in point, the very first episode of the series when Ted professed his love to Robin on their first date. So, Robin, The Mosby’s first recipient, made it her own.
This naturally was all the doing of a meddling Lily (she truly is the puppet master of this crew). While Robin swore she didn’t return Barney’s feelings, she does understand his attraction to her. (Marshall, on the other hand, thinks Robin is just meh. She’s “freakishly tall and doesn’t believe in ghosts.”)
As Barney and Robin battled with their maybe-they-do-maybe-they-don’t feelings for one another, Ted wrestled with the goat. Literally. Ted got distracted from his work to fight with said goat over a washcloth and quickly became the victim of a vicious goat-on-architect attack. Ted wound up in the hospital (same room, and seemingly the same nurse as seen in the episode “Miracles”, last season’s finale) and soon enough a conflicted Barney and Robin found themselves immersed in a kiss.
Out of the hospital, Ted finally gave his presentation to the Rib Town folks, but much to Mr. Mosby’s dismay, the restaurant owners had gone with his architectural rival Sven. After another crushing work disappointment, Lily asked Ted if architecture really is his calling. After all, she’s not a painter, Marshall isn’t an environmental lawyer, and Barney isn’t a violinist. (Neil Patrick Harris’ reaction to Lily spilling this information provided the heartiest laugh of the evening. The guy is going to rock hosting the Tony Awards.)
Metaphorically — and OK, not so metaphorically — the gang all decided it was time to take a leap of faith. Marshall (along with the others) finally made it over to the neighboring roof, but it’s obvious that Ted, Robin, and Barney are all jumping toward bigger things in their lives. The last few moments watching everyone take their respective leaps was simultaneously nerve-wracking and joyous. I’m not one for heights, but I wanted to jump right along with them. While Robin and Barney’s fate is still up in the air, we did learn that Ted (who admittedly had one rather tough, but decidedly important year) did in fact take a job as a professor — and it’s a good thing, because it’s in his very classroom that he meets the mother.
What did you think of the How I Met Your Mother finale, PopWatchers? Did the goat feel like it wasn’t as big a payoff as it should have been? Wasn’t the Rib Town rejection what really pushed him to the next phase, more so than said goat? Are you happy with the way things turned out between Barney and Robin? Did you have a big, fat smile on your face during that roof jump scene, too? And are you already counting down the days to season 5?