Review: How I Met Your Mother – Farhampton
by Joe Arico
How I Met Your Mother returned with what may or may not have been its final season premiere ever, as the cast and the network’s negotiations over a possible season nine remain up in the air.
Series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have stated on multiple occasions that they view this episode as the beginning of the end, whether it continues beyond this year or not, so for the purposes of this review I will do the same.
“Farhampton” began where last season left off, in a future scenario dubbed to be “a little ways down the road.” In this future, Barney and Robin appear to be just moments away from walking down the aisle together. Ted walks into the bridal suite at Robin’s request (the very moment where last season ended) and he assures her that Barney has every intention of going through with the wedding when, in a bit of a surprise moment, Robin shows her own cold feet, expressing her desire to climb out the window.
It’s at this moment where HIMYM reverts back to present-day and into standard formula, as Ted recounts the story of how he climbed in and out of the same window. It’s, unfortunately, also the moment where the episode gets far less interesting. The thing that gets me most excited about the season premiere of any show is the opportunity for forward motion, and last May when Ted and Victoria finally decided they were going to drive away from her wedding, you couldn’t wait for last night to find out what would happen next.
Maybe that’s why it was a little bit of a bummer to see their runaway stalled by Ted’s insistence that Victoria leave a note behind for her now ex-boyfriend, Klaus. This storyline dragged through much of the episode, as Ted at first struggled to gain access to Victoria’s bridal sweet, then locked his keys inside and was forced to face down his fear of climbing drainage pipes so he could enter through the window to retrieve his keys. During his efforts, Ted bumps into Klaus (Thomas Lennon) who is also running away from the wedding. The whole situation didn’t provide many laughs, but thankfully, the payoff at the end of the episode made the entire thing worth it, more on that later.
Back at the apartment, Barney and Quinn share the news of their engagement while Marshall and Lily struggle to stay coherent and awake due to the recent birth of baby Marvin. Every episode of HIMYM features one or two of the characters taking a back seat while story lines involving other characters take the spotlight, and this week it was Marshall and Lily’s turn to play second fiddle. The couple’s exaggerated forgetfulness due to their lack of sleep lead to some funny moments, but it gave them very little to do in the episode other than unknowingly spill the beans to Quinn that Barney and Robin used to date.
It’s not so much that I have a problem with Quinn having an issue with Barney and Robin having dated, in fact it lead to the episodes best moment as Barney essentially summed up the first seven season of HIMYM in one minute as he explains his story to Quinn. I have a problem with how easily her fears were put to rest, “Oh, Robin is dating a new guy who has great abs so it’s all good now.” The groundwork is set here as Robin admits to Barney how upset she is that he has so easily erased all memory of her, and Barney gives her the key to a storage container that has all of their old pictures and relationship mementos. It may have been a little over the top, but it fits Barney’s character and furthers the belief that he is diving into marriage with Quinn to run from the real feelings he has for Robin.
The episodes best moment, however, comes at the end when Ted decides he has to make a quick pit stop before running away with Victoria. Ted tracks down Klaus at the “Farhampton” train stop and asks for an explanation as to why he doesn’t want to marry Victoria. The resulting half-German, half-English conversation is completely wunderbar! Klaus explains that he can’t marry Victoria because she is “almost the thing that he wants” but not quite, and he always knew it. Thomas Lennon really delivers here in his guest role as Klaus, bringing the laughs as well as a poignant monologue that serves to show Ted that Victoria might not be everything he wants either.
The problem facing the premiere episode of HIMYM, and something I fear could plague all of season eight, is that the audience knows the end of the story. We all know Barney and Quinn are going to break up, we know Ted doesn’t end up with Victoria, which inherently makes watching these story lines less interesting. The sooner the show sheds Quinn and Victoria and allows Barney and Ted to truly start on the path that leads them to their respective destinies, the sooner the show will once again gain both creative and comedic momentum. We’ve seen both Barney and Ted journey down the path of failed relationships, there’s no need to retrace them in the eleventh hour of the shows run. Let these guys walk on new ground.
Thankfully, I fully expect this to happen and believe that season eight will get stronger as it goes on. After all, the end of the episode gave us our best look at the mother of Ted’s children yet, as she steps onto the train platform just a few feet away from Ted on the night of Barney and Robin’s wedding, and it’s just “a little ways down the road.”
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars