Both ‘college me’ and ‘present me’ loved this episode! After last week’s disappointing episode, tonight’s “Natural History” was a welcome treat and it was great seeing a lot of action—both silly and serious—go down at a unique location from our typical bar or apartment settings. It was only fitting that this location was the Natural History Museum for a GNB gala event because several of our characters got some big blasts from the past. And we the audience got some tantalizing information about our beloved gang—past, present and future.
Barney and Robin start off with a great silly storyline for the night, but by the end it takes a turn for the serious. They both enter the museum recounting tales of their younger selves touching museum pieces because, well, that’s what kids are tempted to do! They play around for a while in an increasingly hilarious montage of trying to out-do inappropriate museum behavior (cue Robin wrapped in animal skin with a spear and Barney in an Egyptian outfit) until a security guard eventually busts them. In speaking with the security guard, Barney uses the opportunity to prove to Robin that his 6-year old self once ruined the entire great whale display. Even the security guard says it was “legen…” (ringing phone) “…dary.” Then, unexpectedly, as the guard reads the security report from that day many years ago, Barney learns a startling discovery. He thought he was with his uncle that day, but according to the report, it was actually his father…and that was the last time his mother let him see that man. Wow—I knew that Barney finding his real dad was going to be an ongoing theme for his this year, but this was a great and unexpected reveal in my books. Plus, Neil Patrick Harris had some subtle yet powerful moments taking in this information.
Ted also starts out feeling like a playful little kid in the museum, especially in regards to the whisper chamber effect (where if you stand in a certain spot under the dome and whisper, someone on the other side of the room can hear you). He has a blast whispering childish words like “Hershey squirts” to unsuspecting patrons and even Marshall and Lily in the midst of a serious conversation. This whisper effect turns out to be significant, but as Future Ted would say—more on that later. Ted is startled to discover Zoey dressed to the nines at this event, and is even more surprised to meet her much older and upper-crust husband, The Captain. I loved Ted’s reaction to this nickname that Zoey’s husband gave to himself…Ted gave himself his own nickname: Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville (and even better that The Captain genuinely calls him that the rest of the night…plus invites him on his boat). You know who doesn’t like boats, though? Zoey. She pulls Ted aside into the bug room to open up about her sad and un-loving marriage that she entered into at a young age…she even gets Ted to admit he hates having to tear down The Arcadian for the “wieners and gonads” of GNB. Then, she reveals she was playing him and recorded his disparaging remarks to use against him. Here is where the whispering chamber serves its purpose: Ted and the Captain talk a little later about the way Zoey abuses her tape recorder and Ted realizes that Zoey’s sad marriage tales were probably not all that exaggerated. He actually starts to feel for her and even defends her. Of course Zoey overhears this and she and Ted share a moment—a moment of enemies coming to respect one another.
On the Marshall and Lily front, Lily struggles to reconcile extinct college Marshall with new corporate Marshall. She learns that Marshall has basically abandoned his dreams of being an environmental lawyer one day and has resigned himself to making more money as “the future of GNB.” It was truly great how in all the storylines tonight the museum setting actually served as an integral character bringing about key developments: Barney’s past museum transgressions opening up a family secret; Ted’s whispering chamber leading to a new understanding; and finally Lily imagining exhibits of her husband the way he used to be when they were young and idealistic. Lily eventually comes to the realization that their college selves may be extinct, but one day present corporate Marshall will be extinct too—he won’t work for GNB forever.
I feel like I could have written even more on this episode—it was so chock full of character reveals and new outlooks, plus excellent comedic moments! Here are just a few more enjoyable moments…but please feel free to add your own!
- Ted complaining that Zoey wrote of “Ted Mosby and his fat cat friends!” (Cut to Marshall and Barney in tuxedos)
- Lily explaining that Marshall doesn’t really like his corporate suit job: “Yeah but you wear it ironically…like Ted’s fanny pack” and Ted’s response: “Next time we go to Great Adventure you’re carrying your own sun block.” Ted SO would wear a fanny pack.
- Just a random question: They said the Captain’s real last name was “VanSmoot.” Wasn’t that the name of the historic mansion where Lily and Marshall wed?
- “Ted, this is my husband” (Zoey introducing The Captain). “Yeah, old stuff’s great.” (Ted referring to The Captain AND Zoey’s penchant for saving historic buildings)
- Robin being offered an appetizer while walking around with a museum stuffed penguin, “None for him, he’s stuffed!”
- Marshall didn’t really lie for five years about his career ambitions…he just used made-up cutesy words.
Did you love this episode as much as I did? Did it give you a blast from the past of old-school HIMYM episodes?