It teased me for hundreds of pages with the possibility of an 18/19-year-old dating her 23-year-old former English teacher the year after she graduates and then REFUSED TO DELIVER. It was the most perfect, guilt-free setup! No indication that there had been anything unprofessional between them while she was a student, no personal relationship at all until the next fall, when he meets her working in a local coffee shop, having taken a year off before college.
You learn she always thought he was kind of cute in addition to being a great teacher, and you get the sense that he admired her based on her work -- in other words, we have ourselves a strong foundation of intellectual appeal -- but they don't really connect until she explains that she's planning to write a novel in her year off, and he offers encouragement and advice.
The long-summary version of the story is below:
At one point, they do actually kiss! He feels guilty about it even though she's like 6 months graduated, but she's like, "no, no, it's great!" and they almost start something, but then she goes NOPE WAIT I GOTTA WRITE AT LEAST 50 PAGES OF MY NOVEL BEFORE I KISS YOU AGAIN. He waits patiently. She finishes and shows it to him. He tactfully tells her it's a fine start, but needs a lot of work to be publisher-ready, and then she throws an HONEST TO GOD TEMPER TANTRUM, accuses him of being ~jealous of her talent~ because he obviously got stuck teaching after being unable to hack it as a novelist, and flounces out.
And you know what? The man is STILL willing to give her a chance, hopefully trailing into her coffee shop a few weeks later, but faced with her embarrassed fumbling and muteness he assumes she wants him to go elsewhere. Months later, she finds herself stopped on the street in front of his house, thinking. He unexpectedly comes home from walking his dog and surprises her. Seems willing to talk, but she literally runs away. (Oh, and in the meantime, he's taken the liberty of written new recommendation letters for her and sent them to all the colleges she's applying to. At this point, you're positive there is at least going to be a thrilling payoff, even if you don't get to watch them be in love.)
Sure enough, at the end, she finishes a new novel and makes herself take it to him for critique, which this time she knows she can handle. Except this time, he loves it and there is YAY KISSING and everything's happy except OH WAIT. Turns out she doesn't have feelings for her former teacher anymore because she was recently in a friends-with-benefits relationship for a few months and fell in love with that guy instead.
(and lest you think that's a good substitute, That Guy was actually in love with her at the beginning and for most of their time together, but felt like she was pushing him away to keep it casual, so he got an actual girlfriend and they're now in love and not breaking up, even after she confesses her feelings. NOBODY WINS. Except the self-centered girl, whose novel is now going to be published because one of her friends has a connection to a literary agent. I hate you.)
So now I'm generally crabby and overwhelmed and I'm just going to immerse myself in TV, OK? TV makes sense.
First I tested out the pilot of The Goodwin Games:
I mean, it's about people playing games, starting with Trivial Pursuit. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?? Also, Scott Foley is involved. I really had no intention of picking up any new shows, but then it was just there, hanging out, and I don't have to work nights this week so I gave it a whirl. It was a fun way to pass a half hour; I would watch several episodes of this.
Jury's out on how I feel about Becki Newton. Part of me thinks this is just what she needs to redeem herself in my eyes, because I feel like I found her appealing during that first episode of HIMYM she was on, but part of me thinks the role of Quinn just did too much damage for me to ever be able to stand her face.
Up next, Revolution, which I only just heard was renewed and am SO HAPPY ABOUT because this is currently the most exciting non-Glee thing on my radar.
-I thought Nora's torture would be much more drawn out (in real-time terms, not show time), so I'm relieved on that front, mostly because I can deal with near-drowning and even repeated blows to the face but YOU CAN'T JUST JAM NEEDLES INTO PEOPLE'S NECKS LIKE THAT WITHOUT WARNING ME, CHRIST.
-I highly enjoyed Neville's cheeky sass as he called shotgun for himself. Not only have he and Miles now officially mastered the art of the friendly snark-off, they seem to have formed a grudging bond at this point. Maybe they won't end up killing each other after all. This would please me greatly.
-Enjoyed Miles' fiercely loyal defense of Nora from accusations at all cost.
-Someone spoiled me ahead of time on the traitor being Jim - it was technically speculation, but it made a lot of sense, especially after the anvilicious "I don't have anybody to go back to" blow-up. Lil' sad Charlie didn't return the lifesaving favor by miraculously appearing from out of the blue to take out anyone who dares to touch her uncle, but I guess we had to make him approve of Jason somehow.
-Just lots of good all around plot-muddling this week, stirring and thickening the tensions as we ramp up to finale time.
3. Closing out the season of NCIS:
"You know, there's a reason this guy is Charlie Eppes' nemesis," was all I could think about the slimy dirt-digging agent.
A witchhunt for Ziva: not great, but she's not the apple of my eye like she used to be, especially not after going psycho-off-the-rails this year.
A witchhunt for Vance: AWESOME. I am not bothered at all.
A witchhunt for Gibbs: WHOA. WHOA. OK, despite the fact that this is not his first rodeo, that is still unacceptable and now you have my attention.
As for the finale, is it wrong to like Mike Franks so much better now that he's dead? I thought all of his dream-conversations were really vivid and effective as far as illuminating Gibbs' fears and insecurities. Absolutely nothing was as chilling or effective as that intro, with symbolic dead bodies popping up all around Gibbs, isolated on his boat. Other things --
-Really enjoyed Mitch Pileggi as his lawyer, which apparently is a reprise of a character he played on JAG? That's some real nice longterm continuity, boys.
-Laughed at Abby creating a game to vent her desire to shoot Evil Dirt-Digger because "he's trying to take down my Gibbs!" Alas, that's as close to a personal moment as those two will be getting this episode.
-Awww @ Jimmy and Brina planning to adopt.
-So very impressed by Gibbs building a rustic cabin out in the woods in the middle of nowhere, including clearing out a road to lead to it. So yeah, I'm gonna really need Jamie Lee Curtis or a replacement lady to come along and take advantage of this pretty soon. In the positive way, not the scheming ex-wife way.
-Nearly squirmed myself to death over Tony/Ziva, mercifully relieved to see it end with a paternal kiss on the forehead. It felt like forced paternalism rather than showing what he really felt, but I don't care, that's how I want it.
-That was one gruesome had prop, I have to say.
-I also have to say how relieved I am that the cliffhanger wasn't about Gibbs' pending trial/possible arrest, which would have really been a drag, but cleared that up and has instead left us a much more interesting (yet also less nerve-wracking) end of a) resigned agents, and b) Gibbs on a secret mission. I'm not even going to pretend I believe he's pulling that bead on Fornell as opposed to whoever comes out of the car next, but what if they were trolling us by making something so ludicrous true, so that we wouldn't expect it? That would be a super hard kick in the teeth to loyal viewers and I would be intrigued to watch the fandom riot in response. (look, I'm hardened and battle-scarred by this year in television. I've been betrayed more ways than I can count. I secretly want everyone to suffer alongside me now)
And last but not least (well, maybe least): closing out How I Met Your Mother:
Good stuff first --
Something Old: this was like 90% delightful, with Barney/Robin's Dad bonding over laser tag and Ted supervising packing while clinging hard to his Spanish nickname that totally does not mean Fanny Pack Dork. Although I was confused as to why they had apparently not heard of "storage units" or why they would "triangle" things that had value instead of trying to sell them/having Ted and Robin sell them in their absence, except for silly reasons of plot.
Something New: Barney & Robin: Evil Partners in Life Wrecking was absolutely great and basically everything I love about them, including how they were as happy to see the couple reunite (thanks to them) as they were to destroy them in the first place. They're gonna be LEGEN-MARRIED! (new fave word and/or name for this ship) I also really liked Marshall's mom's sing-song "it's not a joooke" baby talk. Him being offered (and taking! without discussion!) a judgeship really threw me for a loop, but I think in a good way. Both of these episodes are ones I think I'm going to enjoy in syndication, BUT...
The bad theme across both episodes started with Ted blowing off his interview.
On the whole Barney/Robin/Ted front, I've never seen a show go quite so out of its way to try and a) convince you not to root for a couple that is apparently endgame and b) feel for the couple that is not endgame. I genuinely don't understand what kind of meaty emotional stuff they are trying to pull off here. They obviously think it's really a fascinating and complex message about love or different types of love, but actually it's just confusing, repetitive, and far more frustrating than not having met the mother yet. A long journey to an invisible point is one thing, and that might wear on you. But walking around the same track 40 times before hopping on a plane to your actual destination is a lot more boring.
The only thing I was really shocked about was the cliffhanger ending; time sped by and I guess I hadn't realized how invested I was in just getting Barney & Robin married already, because I wasn't even thinking about time constraints at that point until suddenly it was over.
And then I found this:
How I Met Your Mother's final season will take place entirely over the course of Barney and Robin's wedding weekend.
(presumably with flashbacks and/or forwards, but oh my god, I cannot even fathom how excruciating it is going to be to have an entire season of Ted stuck in his intensely passive-depressive jealous phase. At least when it pops up during the series it only lasts for random standalone episodes. Don't wait until Monday, go to Chicago now! Go! Be gone! And this is rude, because I love Ted Mosby as a character and I don't want to despise him for what remains of the series. Do you remember what I wrote after "The Final Page"? I don't care [if Robin sticks with the engagement or not], I just don't want to have to deal with any more of Ted being a little bitch about lost opportunities.")
As for the last scene: I got spoiled with a picture of the mother ahead of time, which I expected to happen and didn't mind, but I am mesmerized by her face. Now I cannot be convinced that Ted & Lily didn't temporarily go back in time, have a kid, and oh whoops that just got super creepy n/m.
Anyway, conveniently, the same day I watched this, one of the evening HIMYM reruns was episode #100. It was fun hearing all those references to "the mother" and to have a face in mind for the first time - I highly recommend it. (up until this point, I realized I'd been thinking of her as blonde and vaguely resembling Stella, not sure why. This is going to change a lot of things).