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'How I Met Your Mother' Recap: Well There Goes THAT Theory...

By Michael Arbeiter, Hollywood.com Staff

As the Ancient Greeks had their forums for debating the tenets of budding philosophy, the contemporary world has the Internet. While such a far-reaching phenomenon would best be applied toward the solution of global crises, medical quandaries, and standing moral questions, a good 80% of it is actually devoted exclusively to figuring out what's going to happen next week on network television shows.

As message board culture grows rapidly, those adhered to their computer screens in the hours following their favorite programs are treated to theories about every conceivable facet of small screen output. And littered subtly among the anguished rants and paranoid ramblings of we mad, lonely commenters are some actual good ideas. Ideas that reach widespread acclaim as, believe it or not, plausible.

In terms of How I Met Your Mother, a long-running, much adored sitcom with a pressing whodunit of an overarching premise that breeds intrinsically a vast cosmos of theories, there is one specific suggestion that has in fact inspired reverence in the hearts of many a viewer. One well-crafted hypothesis that sprouted into existence some couple of years ago, earning our attention as — quite possibly — the true answer to the big question.

And on this week's episode, that very theory is all but debunked.

Ted introduces the episode with the news that he has taken up with a much younger lady — Carly, a 20-year-old amalgam of hipster subcultures who is attracted to him specifically due to his being the December to her May (her fetish blinds her to the fact that Ted is only in his mid-30s, while she opts instead to assume that he fought in Vietnam). Before even meeting the young lately, newly engaged Barney prompts Ted to explore a sexual relationship with her, despite Ted's growing hesitance… in addition to the age difference supplying a creep factor to the relationship, the two have absolutely nothing in common with one another. Barney's adamancy in pressuring Ted to sleep with his new lady friend comes from his own troubles saying goodbye to a life of debauchery. Now that he is devoted only to Robin, Barney must live vicariously through Ted, and as such provokes his friend to gratify him by pursuing the young Brooklynite. And Ted, being the lonely sleazebag true friend that he is, complies. But then, a new dilemma arises.

Once Ted and Carly consummate their relationship, our "hero" reveals a photograph of his new girlfriend to Barney, only to find out that she is in actuality Barney's half-sister. The revelation sparks a variety of reactions. Barney screams in horror. Ted recoils in shame. And the viewing audience grumbles in disappointment. Because many of us, thanks to our pal the Internet, thought she was going to be the Mother.

In the Season 6 episode "Legendaddy," Barney first learns of his sister's existence. His estranged father (John Lithgow) informs Barney of his two half-siblings, one being a college-aged young woman named Carly. The mention is slight and brushed to the side, almost in such a way that it felt clunky even to bring up. Why bother mentioning a half-sister in such a fashion that would simply be glossed over without so much as a conversation? As a clue! A subtle seedling planted in the fertile grounds of this show's longstanding mystery. If you think about it, it all makes quite a bit of sense.

We know that Ted's wife was in college during the run of the show — she was a student in the class he mistakenly taught on his first day as a professor, not to mention the roommate of another young woman with whom he once took up romantically. And we know that he'd come to finally meet her at Barney's wedding — the eventual "Uncle Barney," that is (sure, it's a common term of affection — Ted also grants this title to Marshall — but it could be a hint). And most importantly, it'd be a far more satisfying ending than Ted finding love in a complete stranger with no character precedent. All in all, it was the perfect solution.

But the introduction of Carly this week, long prior to Barney and Robin's wedding — and as a flaky youngster with hardly any emotional connection to Ted — kind of shoots down this favored theory. We no longer have Tarly to hope for. Now, we're back to Tanybody.

But back to the plot. The union of Ted and Carly surprisingly works to Barney's advantage, granting him the ultimate aversion to "one night stands" and allowing him a full, untarnished devotion to Robin (and monogamy) once and for all. Or at least, once and for now. Who knows how this actually turns out?

Meanwhile, Robin (long accustomed to getting free stuff thanks to her looks) is now dragged down to the misanthropic sewers where the rest of us reside: her engagement ring has stopped guys from flirting with her and treating her with unabashed kindness. It's something that she grows used to once she realizes how happy she is to have Barney in her life (timing perfectly with his similar realization about her).

Oh, and Marshall starts wearing a bracelet, which turns Lily on for some reason.

And so, as we bid farewell to one of our most cherished HIMYM theories, we open our minds to new possibilities. Who might T.M. turn out to be now? A member of Barney and Robin's wedding band? A guest from either of the marital parties' personal lives? A wedding crasher? Barney's other half-sister (the secret one that we haven't heard about yet)? To the Internet, people! We need new ideas!

[Photo Credit: CBS]

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