‘How I Met Your Mother’ Might Be Suffering the ‘True Detective’ Problem

How I Met Your MotherCBS

With the biggest mystery of How I Met Your Mother solved, we’ve taken the past couple of months to move onto new ones: Will Barney and Robin actually get married? Will the Mother die at the end of the series? Will Billy Zabka ever find happiness? And the somewhat overlooked question that we revisit in this week’s episode — who did Lily call after that big fight with Marshall?

That last one ties into the larger query of whether or not the Eriksen-Aldrins would be relocating to Italy post-series. Last we left the argument, Lily conceded that the family should stay in the U.S., but this week’s turn changed gears for the couple. In a love letter of sorts to How I Met Your Mother fans, Ted dons his sleuth cap to determine who Lily called when she drove off into the night, where she went, and what she did while there. Surprisingly enough, he’s pretty close.

In lieu of meeting Robin’s mother, Barney high tails his groomsmen (where the hell is his brother, by the way?) to the Captain’s Northampton house after Marshall concludes that he must be the one who Lily phoned. That’s where the hypothesizing takes place, with Ted drawing elaborate conclusions from minuscule clues to determine the true nature of Lily’s secret… well, the false nature (he thought she was hiding the fact that she’d been smoking), but it did lead to the true nature (spoilers!): she’s pregnant. This reveal, plus a good swift kick in the ass from his conscience, leads Marshall to decide that the family should in fact move to Italy. And, as far as we learn from a flash forward, they do. All of them — Marshall, Lily, Marvin, Marshall’s mom, Lily’s dad, and their new baby daughter Daisy.

Beyond just being a moreover fun episode, the aptly named “Daisy” is in a way Carter Bays and Craig Thomas breathing life into the mile-a-minute voices of their longtime fans. How I Met Your Mother audiences are full of theories on every element of the show… something it provokes and abets with its hints, misdirects, call-backs (and -forwards), and various other teases. Even telling us who the Mother is (Cristin Milioti, in case you forgot) didn’t appease viewers; we’ve come up with plenty of other things to wonder about this year alone.

But as we saw with Sunday night’s True Detective finale, questions aren’t always answered in the way that audiences might want or anticipate. Not everything is about the mystery. So we worry that after nine years, HIMYM might come to a close that leaves viewers feeling incomplete.

Right now, we’re obsessing over questions like those above, perhaps at the expense of the emotional (and humorous) core of the show, as was the case with many a True Detective viewer. In the end, that show was bout Rustin Cohle and Marty Hart — two troubled men who needed one another more than they could have anticipated. This show is about plenty in that vein, but we seem to be forgetting that.

We know, we’re guilty of this too. But let’s not make the same mistake as we might have with True Detective. Let’s step away from all these harrowing questions and hold tight to the characters. We might feel duped or misled or underwhelmed by any of the How I Met Your Mother finale’s “reveals,” but we can bet that Bays and Thomas have something heartfelt and substantial in store for the conclusion of Ted’s journey. And hopefully happy! Milioti did say that the death-of-the-Mother theory was “crazy,” after all, so there’s hope.