May 14, 2013



So the rumors were true, and the title of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER‘s Season 8 finale, “Something New,” meant what it sounded like it might mean, and the CBS promos weren’t lying or misleading:  in the final shot of the episode, we finally really actually saw the woman who next season will–unless this is the biggest trick in TV history–become “Your Mother.”  (The actress isn’t a “name,” as many assumed, but Cristin Milioti, best known for playing the Marketa Irglova role in the Broadway version of Once.)

This isn’t to say that HIMYM is done playing with us.  There have been references in interviews with series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas (who wrote this episode, directed by HIMYM house director Pamela Fryman) to the idea that next season may be structured differently from the way the series has been presented thus far.  Since the season finale leaves us 56 hours before the wedding of Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), it’s altogether possible that much of Season 9 will go by before Ted (Josh Radnor) meets the love of his life, which we know happens the night after the wedding.  One can imagine episodes from the point of view of various characters, the show’s usual flashbacks and flashforwards, etc. In particular, we know from this episode that Ted went to the wedding still believing himself in love with Robin, so complications will no doubt arise from that.  But now, at least, the end is in sight, and we’re done having to pretend we care about the girlfriends who aren’t Ted’s real soulmate.

Until that final few seconds, the season finale was much like the rest of Season 8, fun enough but mostly running in place.  The show’s attitude toward Barney and Robin as a couple is as hopelessly ambivalent as Ted’s.  In this episode, we watched them hatch a plot to ruin the relationship of a couple who’d annoyed them at a restaurant (guest stars Casey Wilson of the beloved, at least temporarily DOA Happy Endings, and Keegan Michael Key of Key & Peele), and then celebrate first when it seemed the pair was broken up, and then when it turned out they were now engaged.  There were definite laughs, but with such an edge to them that it wouldn’t have been a surprise at all if the plot’s twist had been that Robin and Barney broke up themselves.  It’s easy enough to see how Robin is meant to be making Barney a better man, but do Bays and Thomas really believe he’s the best man for her?  So far, the indications are that they do, but they haven’t convinced all of us.

The B story put the expected roadblock into the path of Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and their purported year-long trip to Italy.  The misdirect was that Marshall would be convinced by his mother not to go, when actually he received an (overwhelmingly unlikely) surprise appointment to a judgeship–which, at season’s end, he hadn’t yet told Lily about.  It’s been hard to put any emotional weight into this storyline at all, since that trip seemed doomed from the start, so the fact that they may stay in New York can’t evoke much more than a shrug.

As for Ted, the show has walked his path from hopelessly in love with Robin to being over her and back again and back again so many times over 8 seasons that it’s not clear how much juice is left in the saga now that HIMYM needs it most.  It’s also going to have to work pretty hard to convince us that in 56 hours, Ted will move from being so bereft over losing Robin that he’s ready to move to Chicago just to avoid seeing her happily married, to being so done with her that he’s now utterly in love with someone else.  That, however, will be next season’s problem.

CBS’s problem is that it’s going to lose HIMYM when the show is still a very strong part of the network’s Monday night.  The numbers are down from last year (it was in the low 3s last April and in the mid-2s this past month), but as 2 Broke Girls has failed to become a blockbuster, HIMYM‘s solid start to the night’s comedies will be hard to replace.  Creatively, though, it’s time–past time–for the show to conclude.  Onward to Season 9 and one last run of stories that have real consequences and stakes.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."