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Throwback Thursday - How I Met Your Mother - Symphony of Illumination

15 Mar 2018

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Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from over the years.

For this week's Throwback Thursday, I chose "Symphony of Illumination" from How I Met Your Mother. Yes, I still hate how the show ended. Yes, I haven't been able to watch the old episodes the same way, if at all. But when I thought about which episode I wanted to write about from all the shows I've seen through the years, this was the first episode that popped into my head as it is unarguably on of the best episodes of the series.

We left the previous episode with Robin telling Barney that she's pregnant, so this episode starts with Robin talking to her kids in the future. The kids, a boy and a girl in their teens look remarkably like their parents. The older daughter (Andra Nechita) with dark hair similar to Robin and the younger son (Noah Schnacky) with blonde hair and in a suit like his father. They are sitting on a couch in what appears to be Barney's apartment with his stormtropper behind then. So wait, does that already confirm that Robin is the bride to Barney's groom as shown in a flashfoward from the season 6 finale? She asks them if she has ever told them how she met their father? When the shake their head no, she jumps ahead in the story to the moment she told Barney she was pregnant.

After some crude jokes from Barney which results in Robin punching him and knocking him out, Robin tells him that she's not sure she's pregnant but she is a week late and is going to go to the doctor in a few days to confirm it. When Barney asks her if it could be Kevin's, she says it can't since they haven't slept together. If she is pregnant, it's Barney (as they slept together a few episodes ago). To her surprise, Barney is ecstatic at the news, causing Robin to faint. Later at the bar, Robin asks Barney why she so happy, he tells her that he's ready to be a dad. But Robin's says this isn't good news as she has a boyfriend and is not interested in having a baby and will never want kids (sorry future kids!). When the gang joins them and Lily says that she has to go to the baby shop alone to register the items for her baby shower (shes pregnant) as Marshall is busy decorating their house in Long Island into what he calls a "Symphony of Illumination", Barney says that he and Robin will accompany her, in an attempt to convince her that having a baby is not a bad thing. However, Barney's plan backfires when when at the baby shop Robin gets more scared of having a baby after hearing about disfigured nipples and vagina. Meanwhile, Barney meets his old friend "Insane Duane" from before he met Ted and sees how his life totally changed after a one night stand resulted in a baby. Robin and Barney then both exclaim that the don't want to have a baby.

At the doctor's, both are ecstatic to find out that Robin isn't pregnant. But while Robin is celebrating no being pregnant at home by drinking, smoking cigars and eating sushi, she gets a call from the doctor to came back in.
The doctor then informs her that she's infertile. Robin pretends that she's okay with it. But the doctor suggests that she should talk to a friend about it, she knows it's not a good idea. As she tells her kids, Ted would go into overdrive to make her feel better, Lily would implode by feeling guilty, Marshall would ask a bunch of questions and Barney would try to make her laugh, so she didn't feel like talking about it. So when the gang notices that Robin is off at the bar, she tells the first lie that pops into her head; she can't be a pole vaulter. And her friends reacted exactly as she said.

Back at the baby store, the truth of never being able to have a baby finally hits her. She talks to Lily in "pole vaulter" metaphor saying that she never wanted to be a mom, but it's different to not want something than to be told you can't have it. And it was nice to know that she could do it one day if she changed her mind, but now that door is closed.

At their apartment Ted asks Robin to tell her what's wrong so he can cheer her up so he can cheer her up but she says it not his job.

But we know all is going to be alright, right? I mean future Robin is talking to her kids and telling them this story. The doctor must have been wrong, surely. But as Robin takes a walk alone in the cold, she tells her kids that Ted cheering her up wasn't necessary. She can't have kids, but there won't be anyone to to hold her back, stop her from traveling or coming in the way of her career. And she's glad that they aren't real. What???. We see another shot of her kids as they disappear. And we see Robin sitting alone on a bench in Central Park. She had imagined talking to her future kids, to come to terms with her not being able to have any.

As she walks back into her apartment, she is surprised by the "Symphony of Illumination" Ted has created to make her feel better. He doesn't need to know what's wrong with her but he can still cheer her up. Time and time again throughout the show, we've seen what a good friend Ted is and here he does just what Robin needed as she breaks down crying in his arms. Future Ted then tells his kids, that although Robin never became a "pole-vaulter", she did become a famous journalist, a successful businesswoman, a world traveler. But she was never alone.

How I Met Your Mother has shown at numerous occasions that despite being a comedy, it can do sorrow very well, and this episode shows just that. Cobie Smulders acting was remarkable in this episode as we see her going through these various emotions and coming to terms with the reality of never being able to have a child of her own (she was robbed of an Emmy!!!). I don't cry much during TV shows or movies, but this episode made me tear up as Robin starts crying in Ted's arm. Which is why despite my problems with the finale, this will remain as one of my favorite episodes of TV ever.

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