How I Met Your Mother Recap: The Ted/Robin/ Barney Love Triangle Gets a Mother of a Twist

How I Met Your Mother Season 9 RecapMonday’s How I Met Your Mother served up another memorable moment, as the future Mrs. Ted Mosby met another member of the gang – but in a surprise twist, it wasn’t at the wedding weekend.

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In a clever, old-school episode told almost entirely in flashback to some time before Barney proposed to Robin last season, The Mother crosses paths with the then bachelor and sets him on the right path.

It all begins when Robin and Lily realize that all of Barney’s challenges are of his own choosing, so they start issuing some ridiculously hilarious ones for him — like picking up a girl while talking like a dolphin, or wearing a garbage bag and not using the letter “E.” When Barney succeeds at what seem like impossible tasks, Robin tells a girl at the bar that Ryan Gosling is interested in her, but he’ll leave if he sees her with another guy. So when Barney approaches, the redhead yells for him to go away – until Barney pretends to be Gosling. (He’s a very Method actor who got plastic surgery, is how he explains the physical discrepancy.) Fed up, Robin and Lily challenge Barney to basically run some errands while picking up a girl.

And that girl at the store turns out to be The Mother. But before you can even start worrying that Barney may have hooked up with Ted’s future wife, she rejects him and calls him out on his sadness.

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“It’s going to be OK. You’re a good guy. You’re going to get through this,” she offers. When Barney follows her to ask why she thinks he’s sad, she replies, “I think you were in love and you messed it up.” Now, he’s just staying busy, hitting on random girls to ignore that fact.

And boy, she hit the nail right on the head. Barney confesses that he regrets giving up on Robin so easily.

“Do you want to keep playing or do you want to win?” she asks him. To which Barney replies, “I want to win!”

Meanwhile, Marshall is still Team Ted/Robin and is trying to convince his pal there’s a chance for the two of them. Ted admits he has thought about how he would ask her to give them another shot – it involves the blue French horn – but he already knows she’s not interested and doesn’t want to feel her rejection, again. Still, Marshall insists that Robin changes her mind about things, and when Ted spots her eating olives, we get a flash to the pilot when she said she hates them. She changed her mind, so Ted changes his mind and rejects a job offer from his old boss (played again by Bryan Cranston).

RELATED | How I Met Your Mother: Questions to Answer Before Series Finale

“I still have things to do here in New York,” he explains. Yet he doesn’t go after Robin right away because, as he says to Marshall, “It happens when it happens. What’s the rush?”

Unbeknownst to him, Barney, coming off his fateful meeting with The Mother, is crafting The Robin. And back in the present, Robin tells Barney he has completed his challenge of getting her to fall in love with him, as a forlorn Ted looks on.

HIMYM fans, what did you think of this episode? Does it warm your heart that The Mother is partly responsible for bringing together Barney and Robin and, inadvertently, freeing up Ted for herself?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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81 Comments
  1. AN says:

    Lovely episode at the end.

    • jenna says:

      Agreed. This was the first episode in what seems like a while that I completely enjoyed. I liked that Marshall was interacting with the gang, the wedding wasn’t the central focus and obviously because we got to see more of the mother! Less daphne please!

  2. Barry says:

    It was a funny episode overall, but I still can’t see where the writers are going with the love triangle. I hope Ted is happy when he meets the mother and not just upset after watching the love of his life get married.

    • Michele says:

      The love of his life is The Mother.

      • Percysowner says:

        She probably is, but the story makes it look like he’s settling for her because he can’t have Robin. I know we’re told he’s not, but that seems to be the underlying message.

        • Quinn Mallory says:

          I think it’s been pretty established that Ted will not open his heart to someone else until he fully give up hope of having Robin (otherwise the story would not start with how Ted met Robin).

          • aplwrites says:

            This, a thousand times this. You are taking the love triangle for face value if you truly think that the whole point is Ted loves Robin the most and is “settling” for the mother. Over and over again we have examples of how how he feels for Robin screws up his relationships, some of which could have been the one if not for Robin (IE Victoria). He wouldn’t be able to meet his “one” until he finally gets over Robin, and that is clearly what this final season is building towards.

          • Zayne says:

            Yeah, but it’s been 9 f-ing years of this garbage. I thought this episode was a complete crap pile except for Bryan Cranston and The Mother. I’m over this forced love triangle. It’s making me legitimately hate Ted as a character. He’s such a whiny douche, and honestly, a pretty terrible friend because he’s still holding out hope he can somehow stop this wedding.

            I love Ted in his scenes with the Mother which makes it all the more frustrating to see him in the present unable to move on.

    • DL says:

      Well, we’ve seen him at the train station, looking forlorn, so he probably isn’t happy in that moment. But I might guess that she’s able to quickly cheer him up; I think he’ll recognize pretty fast that she’s the girl he’s been waiting for.

  3. r.m. says:

    Love the mother! So cute & earnest. I hope they have a lot more of her in the weeks to come.

    • DarkDefender says:

      You know the casting is perfection, when the Bryan Cranston episode is going to be remembered as the episode about the mother getting Barney to man up. You can totally see this girl being involved with the entire gang.. As if she had been there day one.

  4. M says:

    Anyone who doesn’t like The Mother is dead inside.

    • Tom Charles says:

      agree!

      • Mike R. says:

        This, it has always been my interpretation that Ted only thinks Robin is the love of his life, when really he hasn’t met the Mother yet, who is actually the love of his life.

        • I completely agree with you. Ted is obsessed with Robin not in love with her. I think he cares for her truly, yes as a friend. But, he doesn’t love her for who she really is. He loves the Robin in his head, its the way it was with them from the beginning. Robin was able to get over Ted because when she fell in love with Barney she was able to be herself and was accepted for that. The reason Ted will fall so easily in love with the Mother is because it will be real.

    • erin says:

      Then I will freely admit it: I am completely dead inside!!!! I liked her better in this episode though than in her previous ones.

      • Lauren says:

        Agreed. I really wanted to like her but I just don’t. I guess after all this time it would be hard for her to live up to the expectations i’ve built but i feel like she could be better. I guess it’s also hard to see her as this great love when he’s still pining for robin the very weekend he meets her. At least tonight’s episode was a break from the wedding weekend. It’s been moving along so slowly and it doesn’t help that I’ve never really liked barney/robin together..they’re better as bros and I preferred him with nora..and quinn. Also hopefully marshall gets there soon.

        • neha says:

          As long as he’s not pining for Robin WHEN he meets here, I don’t think it matter who he was pining for the days before. I mean, Robin and Barney hooked up when she was crying over a stupid ex-boyfriend. And I’m not even a BroTP fan, but I don’t think that anyone doubts that they are madly in love with each other.

        • Kristina says:

          I actually do really like her, but I do agree with everything else you said. I was a Ted/Robin fan for a long time, and although she’s now become so unlikeable I’d never want them together, I don’t care for her with Barney either. I miss Quinn :(

        • cas says:

          See when I read all these comments about everyone always praising the Mother and always so excited about Ted and the Mother I just feel sad. But then I see some like yours and I like that I am still not alone. I am trying to like her but I agree with everything you just said. Never liked Barney with Robin, always like Nora or Quinn, actually Quinn was a way better match then Robin. I think they spent too many seasons in the beginning building up Ted and Robin to be like the Ross and Rachel of the series so I got invested in them. I’m well aware it’s not happening but they could have at least ended the triangle last season in the finale or something. Dragging it on at the wedding is crazy, and how do you explain to your wife how much you loved Robin?

          • Goodbye Universe Guy says:

            Agree 100% with what you [and the others] have just stated. I’m fine with the Barney-Robin duo – I like both of them separately, but Barney-Quinn was pretty darn good. They matched well from the get-go, no changes necessary. In order for the Barney-Robin tandem to work, in order for the average viewer to buy into it, Robin cannot be Robin anymore – her characteristics have to change or she wouldn’t/couldn’t put up with Barney’s craziness. She was/is always my favorite character on the show – the free spirit, wild thing, travel the world, always unpredictable. I do miss that old Robin, but am happy for the B&R match and hope it works and lasts [even though I was a T&R fan the entire series.]

            To answer your question regarding how will Ted explain to The Mother that he was in love with Robin for years, right up to their meeting at Farhampton? He won’t – he won’t have to, the Mother will figure it out in time since she will be part of the gang. Something will slip out, or she’ll notice the ‘tension’ between T and R during future holiday get-togethers [boy, I'd love to see that scene on HIMYM later this season, or in a possible 'HIMYF' spinoff!] But, I’m sure The Mother will be fine with it – she’ll be confident enough in herself and Ted to not let it bother her. And, hey, Barney hit on The Mother, so this stuff happens! ;) Maybe the possible future HIMYF spinoff can be entitled – ‘Wife Swap’! …. those wild, crazy bros. ;)

        • Samantha says:

          I’m with you on this. I guess I’m also dead inside coz I really really really want Ted & Robin together. Nothing against Barney or The Mother – just want T & R. Grrrrrrrrrrr….

    • wjrxyz says:

      Just when I thought I was out, the writers pull me back in. I love the mother.

    • kavyn says:

      So far, she’s a Mary Sue. They’re setting her up as the perfect match for Ted and it’s coming off really forced IMO. Doesn’t mean I dislike her, but I think that is a justifiable reason to not like her as a character.

      • Alan says:

        she is supposed to be the perfect match for ted though, they have spent 8 years building her up through teds narration as being the one for him so she has to be his perfect match.

        • kavyn says:

          Yes, but she’s literally too perfect. Same interests as Ted, has the same philosophies as him, she’s very smart and wise, everyone loves her… It’s the exact definition of a Mary Sue.

          • Alan says:

            i forgot to add that future ted is also an unreliable narrator so its entirely likely that he is focusing way more on her good points than if the show was just a regular story that wasnt being told in this format.

          • kavyn says:

            I think that’s a fair enough explanation for it, but still I’m merely offering a reason why someone could dislike the mother. I personally like the mother.

      • fostofina says:

        I know she’s actually being a real mary sue I mean, she’s completely trusting strangers and giving them hugs, cookies and advice, it feels really forced, especially in the last episode when she called Barney out on everything, IDK I mean I can’t say that I’m crazy about her but I don’t dislike her either

  5. Stacie says:

    I thought at first this was gonna be just another throwaway kinda episode, given that several of the last episodes were pretty boring. But this was a lovely twist. To find out the origin of Barney’s journey to propose to Robin was pretty great. It fills in a piece. That’s what this show is supposed to do, fill in pieces. Unfortunately, most recently they haven’t been successful in doing that. Tonight they did. Very good episode overall.

    • Alan says:

      wouldnt it have been great if this story had actually been shown last season before we knew who the mother was and she just seemed like some random, insightful woman and then at the end of the season she gets shown with the yellow umbrella? i feel like the people in charge missed out on a golden opportunity with that.

      • the girl says:

        That would have been fantastic, but also probably very hard to keep it under wraps that she is The Mother for so long.

  6. hello says:

    The show hits it out of the park everytime the mother is on the screen, this was awesome

  7. H says:

    It was perfect. I used to ship Ted and robin, but once I met the mother, I knew she was perfect for Ted

  8. Tom Charles says:

    I had been so psyched for last week’s episode only to be let down by so little of The Girl with the Yellow Umbrella. Tonight’s was so much better. LOVED. IT.

  9. diya says:

    that was such a romantic twist in the barney-robin story. frankly speaking i wasn’t very impressed with them this season. they were getting annoying. but this episode brought back what i loved about them, all thanks to the “mother”. i’m so glad she jump-started “the robin”. after the season premiere this is the first episode i liked.

  10. M says:

    When the mother turn around I yelled DONT MESS WITH THE MOTHER! She is perfect for Ted

  11. DarkDefender says:

    I loved it.

  12. Kre says:

    I think we can all agree, best episode of the season.

  13. erin says:

    I didn’t like this episode that much until the end, and then I loved it! It just showed how much Barney loves Robin, and that him and Robin are way better than Ted and Obin ever were.

  14. Goodbye Universe Guy says:

    A really nice episode – particularly at the end. Indeed, nice to see ‘the Mother’ had already played a role in Barney-Robin’s lives prior to meeting Lily – and eventually Ted at Farhampton.

    That last shot of Ted in this episode was a bit sad – I’m at a point of feeling Ted has taken enough of a pounding over Robin at this point – I feel very bad for him, but there is no exit plan for him at this point – he’s stuck with these feelings, no relief in sight. And what was noted up-thread by DL was/is true – Ted is still forlorn at the Farhampton station just before he finally meets the Mother, so he is going to be in this forlorn state over Robin the rest of the way until May’s final episode – that’s going to be a rough ride for him – and us.

    There will be that one final detour in this path to Farhampton for Ted – at some point, Robin will find about Victoria, the locket and (I assume), Chicago. That will be a pivot point in this final season, and perhaps some ‘closure’ for both Ted [and Robin?]. To be honest, I don’t recognize Robin anymore this season – is this the same woman who was with Ted out on the Central Park lawn last spring in ‘Something Old?’ What happened to that woman? Where is she? She seems so self-absorbed and oblivious now – granted, it is her wedding weekend, but every once in a while I think to myself, ‘Gee wiz Robin, come on, snap out of it.’ This is not the same Robin of the past eight seasons.

    • Caleb Jackson says:

      I completely agree with your comments. That’s why I loved this episode because it gave us the old crew. It showed a big transformation of Barney. Robin is definetly different but it is her wedding and people become different with the anxiety of the wedding. I think it’s fantastic writing and acting because then Robin was back to the old Robin we love. I can’t wait for Robin to find out about Victoria, the Lockett, and Chicago. The Victoria thing has to be coming up soon because the beginning of season 8 Robin asks Ted “is that the window” referring to the window he had to climb in to give the letter to Clause. I think in Robin’s dressing room is when he gives her the locket and tells her he is moving.

  15. Emma Qiu says:

    Great, all of my favorite episodes this season are the ones with her in them.

  16. Kathryn says:

    I know there have been a lot of complaints about this season so far, but I’m not as critical as most and I am still loving this show. I thought that this was the best episode yet this year. I wish people would just relax and enjoy it instead of looking for every little nitpicky thing to complain about. It’s a light-hearted show, stop taking it so seriously!

    • Jenny says:

      Agreed! I trust the writers and I know they will end the show well! If we have a few boring episodes along the way, so be it! These past two episodes just prove that the writers know what they are doing!

    • Irene says:

      Agree 100%. When I found out that this was gonna be the last season and that most of it would take place during Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend, I was part of the minority who gave it a shot. I said to myself I’m not gonna set some big expectations on this one and I’m glad I did. I hope people would do the same way as not expecting much from the final season is part of the reason why I’ve been enjoying the season so far. I’m all for Swarkles having some obstacles in their relationship and revisiting the Barney-Robin-Ted love triangle because if it means it will lead to some moment that will move me deeply (which I know the writers will truly deliver when they do), then so be it. :-)

  17. Jess says:

    I had to rewind a couple of times because something triggered a a reaction…… When the kids are hearing about Robin she is referred to as •AUNT” Robin…… Yet when she gives Barney advice….. He doesn’t say UNCLE Barney ….. He extenuates And THAT’S how Barney met your mother?!? Anyone else thing that has something to do with a twist of some sort?!?

    • Alan says:

      except barney has been called uncle barney loads of times and robin has been called just robin loads too, same for lily and marshal. its only natural for him to sometimes not say aunt/uncle since he is used to just saying the name just as much as he is with the aunt/uncle part. you are reading way too far into that.

  18. Melanie says:

    I’m glad we got to see The Mother once again, but seriously did we need to see that much of that triangle again ? I seriously skipped all parts were Ted and Marshall were talking about Ted and Robin because it’s been annoying for too long now.

    • Charlotte says:

      I think a lot of people in real life are annoying the way they go on about lost loves they can’t get over, who although they can’t see it ultimately weren’t right for them. Maybe that’s the point the writers are trying to make here.

  19. Brendan says:

    did anyone notice the time line is messed up chronologically. bob saget says in the beginning this occured 6 months earlier in fall of 2012. meaning 6 months earlier barney met the mother, got some great advice, and came up with the robin… and now in present time they are on their wedding weekend. someone please tell me i understood this wrong otherwise its a huge OOPS from the show

    • DW says:

      The wedding is in May of 2013. 6 months before that was late fall of 2012 when this story took place.

      • Goodbye Universe Guy says:

        Yep, the timeline works, although it is a bit ‘tight.’ I think Barney must have met The Mother sometime between episodes ‘The Autumn of Break-ups’ (S8-05 / 11-5-12) and ‘Splitsville’ (S8-06 / 11-12-12). By that time, both Barney-Quinn and Ted-Victoria were breaking up, but Robin-Nick were still together – barely. By ‘The Stamp Tramp’ (S8-07 / 11-19-12) episode, Barney’s ‘The Robin’ plan was already in motion.

        I do have one significant gripe about the timeline [I'll rant about it here ;)] – I think Ted was given a bad deal in last night’s ‘Platonish’ episode. We’re lead to believe Ted was slow to go after Robin *again* once she broke up with Nick, and it was Barney (via The Mother) who had the initiative to ‘win’ Robin. That’s nonsense and frankly, lazy writing (sorry CB/CT and co – you guys are great, but I’ll have to respectfully disagree w/you on this one). Ted had just broken up with Victoria, and he didn’t do that to ‘win’ Robin – he *knew he had NO CHANCE with her at that point.* He did it because he wouldn’t/couldn’t cut Robin completely out of his life. Perhaps he should have, but he just couldn’t [when you seen Robin at her best, it's easy to understand why]. To make Ted now in S9 to be a slow, envious, complacent guy who got ‘beat’ by Barney and his playbook is again, lazy writing, and not true to the overall story.

        No one ‘won’ or ‘lost’ Robin – she called the shots, not Barney’s playbook, not The Mother, not Barney, not Ted. It was Robin – all Robin. Robin made all the critical decisions – had it not been for her, ‘none of this would have happened kids.’ Watch the limo scene in ‘The Final Page/Pt 2′ – Ted knows Robin needs to leave and follow her heart, but she could have stayed. That was their last chance. Had she stayed, it’s all over for Barney and his playbook. All three know the risks and rewards during that evening – that’s the triangle. She had the chance to stay with Ted, not the other way around, and she made her choice. She didn’t love Ted [maybe never really did], so she left the limo. She called the shots. To make Ted appear to have had a chance (any chance) with Robin at that point (fall 2012) in the storyline is not fair to Ted/his character. He had no chance. Had Barney stayed with Quinn, Robin would have found some other guy – it was never going to be Ted – ever. And of course, the question is ‘why’?

        That’s the hole in the story that may never, ever be explained. It’s too bad – maybe CB/CT don’t have any answer either – perhaps by design. Maybe that’s the way it should be.

      • Brendan says:

        The timeline does not work. 6 months prior Barney met the mother and came up with the Robin. the implausible part is that in 6 months he executed the Robin, got her back, planned a wedding with a date only 6 months from when it was first thought up. How long did the Robin take to execute with Patrice?

        • NOBODY ASKED YOU PATRICE! says:

          Given Robin’s hatred of Patrice, I figure it took about 5 minutes to develop and execute ‘the Patrice’.

  20. Jess says:

    I’ve got a funny feeling there is a twist regarding Barney somehow. People have sad that the mother and Barney passed away separately years apart and he is explaining to the kids why him and their aunt robin are together. Some have said the mother passed…. Or that all along Barney is the father and it isn’t about Ted?!? Who knows …. I just genuinely hope it had an epic ending and I haven’t wasted 9 years trying to stick with the sometimes tedious and repetitive story lines. ANY OPINIONS???

  21. Jess says:

    Also does anyone know how many episodes there are left?

  22. ElSol says:

    I thought it was a fairly boring episode until The Mother turned around… both my wife and I said “Oh my god!” and sat up to ‘focus’. This season is not working very well for one very simple reason — Yes, the show is called “How I Met Your Mother” but we need to see Ted and The Mother together to see how Ted went from point Robin To point Mother, because the journey seems impossible at this point. We’re seeing why the Mother is ‘The One’ considering her interactions with Lily and Barney now… You can see that she fits in perfectly so it will be great to see her with Robin and Marshall… but we also need to see the moments like when Barney realizes Ted’s ‘new’ girl is the one that set him straight about Robin… We need more flash forwards about the Mother and the ‘gang’ and some flashback about where she was in key moments — LIKE IN TED’s class!

  23. Deion says:

    Nice episode. I wondered how the entire gang would meet the mother over the course of the weekend before Ted did if Marshall wasn’t going to be there for much of it.

    I imagine that we’ll see Ted come to accept Barney & Robin’s marriage. In the flashforwards to that day in seasons 6, 7, & 8 he tells them both that they are doing the right thing, ensuring the wedding happens. Now, why he ends up on that platform alone when he drove to Farhampton is the question I have.

    • Goodbye Universe Guy says:

      I always assumed that Farhampton train is headed to NY – and then Ted’s going straight to Chicago. It’s goodbye to everyone – he’s traveling alone. No question in my mind, Ted see’s The Mother at the wedding reception, and is happy to see her, but that’s all. It is not a ‘love-at-first-sight’ encounter. I know that will be disappointing to fans, but we know that is the case, that’s why Ted is forlorn and alone at the train station reading that book on the bench next to ‘granny’. Those type of love-at-first-sight encounters are rare – Ted had one and only one …. with Robin, but it was not vice-versa. Robin may have had one, perhaps with Nick, and that’s it.

      So, where does that leave us? I still think Robin will be the reason The Mother arrives at the Farhampton station. I think Robin will be the last of the gang (besides Ted) to meet the Mother, and she’ll meet her at the reception, realize (knowing Ted better than perhaps anyone other than Lily) that Ted and the Mother have much in common, and she’ll direct the Mother to take that train in hopes of reaching Ted. How will Robin find out about Chicago? Probably from Lily, and Robin will take charge at that point and try to play match-maker. That’s my take on it, and it would make for a nice ending. Robin coming through for Ted. Of course, I’ve been wrong at every turn on this show, so I’ll probably be wrong again.

      • Deion says:

        Hmm. that sounds plausible. He leaves the reception to leave for Chicago. I can’t imagine they make it through the rest of the season without everyone finding out that he’s leaving. But it is a nice theory that Robin directs her to Ted.

  24. Jess says:

    I also heard the writers said that the ended was going to be heartbreaking????

  25. Azerty says:

    I want a flash forward in which we see the group including the mother and she still calls Barney “Diaper man”! A great episode indeed, the cast of the mother is perfect she is so sweet, they should used her more often.

  26. Leah says:

    I loved this episode. I’ve loved the season so far, but seeing the gang all together again has shown me that up to now the season hasn’t been the HIMYM I’ve known and loved. This episode blew it out of the water, it was amazing. I love the Mother so much. And I love that we got another piece of the puzzle of Robin and Barney’s love story (despite the fact I am, and probably always will be, a Ted/Robin shipper). It’s also nice to see Robin acting normal, her character has been so bizarre this season so far…

  27. Jess says:

    In an interview with thew shows writer. He says that it will be Heartbreaking sweet and wonderful. It’s the heartbreaking comment that throws me off. Does someone die? is someone dead already and the story oh the suspense! There are so many different ways for this to go. Again i do wonder why he never refers to Barney as “Uncle Barney” but yet all the others he does..Like Your uncle Marshall, Aunt lilly and aunt robin? But only ever says Barney and not Uncle barney?

  28. Jess says:

    lol thank you! i try! I mean in this last season unless that particular time just stood out. Aaah well…. Guess we will all just have to wait 12 more episodes!

  29. David C says:

    I really dont get why people dont like The Mother. She has worked out wonderfully and whenever she is in it steals the scene every time.

    The moment when you realised that she was responsible for Barney finally realising that Robin was the one and beginning to write the fianl play in the play book was one of greatest moments in the history of the show.

    In regards to Ted still loving Robin, they are obviously playing it in such a way that he will be so blown away by the Mother that he will let go of those feelings (A similar thing happened in my life).

    The only thing I can agree on is that this season has been a little weak at times, especially the Marshall bits.

  30. Mikael says:

    With the flashforwards they’re doing, I really want to see one of the whole gang at MacLaren’s. The Mother seems like such a good fit for the group (passing Lily’s Porch Test, I’m sure) and I’d love to see them all hanging out.

  31. Anonymous says:

    They dragged out the love triangle because they want to how that even though Ted was in love with Robin for so long…there was still someone better who he loves even more. That’s the mother

  32. Harry says:

    WORST EPISODE EVER Last nights episode had me on the verge of giving up! It was by far the most random boring 30 minutes of my life!

  33. Harry says:

    Thank you Bill! It’s like they all knew the ending and were like EH! lol makes me just want to fast forward and not go through the misery of another episode like that!

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