HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: 7.12 “Symphony of Illumination”
I wanted to take some time thinking about this episode before I reviewed it. I read some people who loved it and some people who hated it. And I’ve come to decide that I’m a fan of the episode. No, it’s not just because it was a tearjerker, and you know how I am about shows that bring out the emotions. But I just think it was well-done.
Let the arguments begin.
Last week, we heard Robin was pregnant. After the discovery, I turned to JC and said, “She’s going to lose the baby. I know it’s awful, but I just can’t see this show having both Lily and Robin pregnant or mothers. It just won’t happen.” Well, in a sense I was right. I was just incredibly wrong, too.
Instead of discovering she was pregnant, Robin discovered she wasn’t. After a short happy dance, a plate of sushi, a glass of scotch, and a cigar, she found out some surprising news: She’ll never be pregnant.
As a woman myself, I can’t imagine receiving this news. And knowing Robin, who never had wanted kids in the past, it was incredible to see her reaction to finding out that what she didn’t want, she could never have. I think it was very well done.
Seeing why she didn’t want to tell others — and what they’d do if they found out — was rather funny: Ted’s comfort food, Lily’s turning it into her fault and crying, Marshall asking questions Robin can’t answer, and Barney’s trying to make her laugh. But seeing her struggle was just much more interesting. I’m surprised she didn’t tell Barney, and I’m more so surprised to see that Lily didn’t figure it out when they were talking about pole vaulting in the baby store.
But really, Ted’s reaction was best, and I can only tell you how much I wish I had my own symphony of illumination in my apartment on a bad day. The ending was the icing on the heartbreaking cake, and it was great. Ted will always be trying to cheer her up, whether she lets him in or not.
Now, I know there’s been a lot of debate about Robin’s own imaginary children. And true, it was a little odd. But I liked it. It reminded me of Scrubs, when JD handed off the internal monolog for an episode. The kids were symbolic of who was controlling the story. This time, it was Robin’s turn. It served a purpose.
Sure, I did wonder why Robin and Barney would have multiple kids (“Does that mean Barney’s marrying Robin at the future wedding?”), which made it strange. Perhaps it would have been more effective to have her talking to only one kid, the one she thought she was pregnant with at the beginning of the episode. But it did make you keep guessing, like a puzzle you were trying to figure out. Certainly, if these kids are here, this horrible news has a happy ending, right? Maybe these kids were adopted. Maybe they tried other methods. Maybe the news was just wrong.
But in a moment of ultimate sadness, the kids faded away to a white landscape of snow, and we realize that any children that were imagined, even once, in Robin’s future never would be. And it hurt. We might not have gotten to know them, but we, too, realized that something we believed in was taken from us.
I thought the episode was well done. Were there flaws? Of course. Marshall’s B-plot wasn’t perfect, and yeah, maybe having two kids on the couch wasn’t what all viewers wanted. But in the end, we all knew how Robin felt in her symphony of illumination. And strangely enough, knowing Ted was there, it was even a little comforting.