Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: In honor of Love Week, we’re revisiting our favorite television episodes featuring a marriage proposal.
How I Met Your Mother, “The Last Page, Part 2” (season eight, episode 12; originally aired 12/17/12)
The ending of How I Met Your Mother (which involves offing the mother—who viewers had been waiting on for nine seasons—so that Ted can finally get together with Robin) will forever be contested in the annals of sitcom history. But however you feel about that ending, you can’t deny that the show set it up beautifully. A re-watch from the post-mother perspective raises the question of how we all didn’t see this coming a mile away, as Ted’s love for Robin frames every frame of the show, until he actually meets the mother.
This is exceedingly apparent in the second part of “The Last Page,” when Barney finally proposes to Robin. To win her back, creative womanizer Barney has drafted one last play in his womanizing playbook: “The Robin.” It explains all of his strange actions up until that point of the season: especially dating Robin’s nemesis co-worker Patrice (“Nobody asked you here, Patrice!”) Turns out, it’s all been a ruse to make Robin jealous and then get her back, as Barney only tells Ted that he’s about to propose to Patrice and swears him to secrecy. Ted breaks the vow to tell Robin so that she can go and stop the proposal. When she does, of course she finds out that the proposal was set up for her all along. Which is either really twisted or really romantic, depending on how you feel about Barney Stinson. Probably both.
It’s an unusual TV proposal episode when the proposal isn’t the sweetest moment in it, but again, trumpeting the sitcom’s endgame, that’s exactly what happens in “The Last Page.” Ted and Robin are on the way to the gala opening of his first skyscraper, the biggest night in his professional life. On the way, he stops to let Robin off so that she can go stop Barney from proposing to Patrice. The conversation in the back of the limo (driven by Ranjit, hi Ranjit) is about as heartrending as this sitcom gets, as the obviously in love Ted puts Robin and Barney first, because he’s sure she still loves him. Turns out he’s right, which just makes Ted’s sacrifice here all the more acute; he and Robin are both sniffling when he pleads, “So I say to you, from the heart, get the hell out of this car.” Barney even added it to the playbook: “Step 13: See if Ted tells Robin, and if he does, that means your best bro in the world has let go of Robin and has given you his blessing.” In typical Barney brilliance, if Ted didn’t tell Robin, the proposal wouldn’t have worked; so, knowing his friends’ long history, he wove it into his overall scheme. It’s rare for ultimate player Barney to get something so wrong, but he missed a step here: Ted was far from ready to let Robin go.
Availability: “The Last Page, Part 2,” as well as the rest of How I Met Your Mother seasons one through nine, is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and on DVD.