How I Met Your Mother Recap – Bad News, Great Episode

HIMYM has been on fire this season, and the start to the New Year was no exception to its awesome streak. In a truly well-crafted episode we got some excellent comedy and a very emotional ending. HIMYM has always been a show that rewards loyal viewers with the best comedic payoffs (to the point where a casual viewer only understands the tip of the iceberg) but this episode perhaps more than any other was truly built upon multiple call-backs and themes referencing all the way back to the earliest seasons of the show. These re-emergences blended together seamlessly in “Bad News” and gave us the ultimate doppelganger—that the ‘bad news’ was not related to Marshall or Lily’s fertility, but to the sudden death of Marshall’s father.

I guess I will start with the Robin and Ted storyline since it was the B-story tonight, yet still highly enjoyable thanks to the return of our first few memorable characters. Robin (wearing smart girl glasses) starts her new job at the World News Organization (the one she accepted in the Christmas episode). To her surprise, the news leader there is none other than Sandy Rivers—the total tool who used to be Robin’s co-host at Metro News 1 back in season 1 and he who almost puts Barney to shame in trying to sleep with Robin back when Ted was still wooing her (bonus: he also happens to be Alyson Hannigan’s real-life husband). Robin is upset at first when everyone thinks she is the office slut (already!) but things get even worse when Sandy next reveals a clip reel of Robin’s most embarrassing on-air footage. When Robin tells Ted that they found “everything” and the music cues to “Let’s Go the Mall” we know we are in for a fun look back at some of Robin’s greatest hits—from Robin Sparkles to her time hosting a Japanese show to apparently being attacked by an owl (which we don’t actually get to see…but imagining it is even better).

I thought that Ted trying to help Robin face these challenges at work and even heading over to Sandy’s to literally “kick” some ass on her behalf was so very Ted and also very sweet—I like that these two still have a great bond between all their ups and downs. Robin ultimately took Ted’s original advice to play into the jokes, and she embraces her Sparkles past. Future Ted tells us that Sparkles went on to do very well at her new gig. Do you think Robin will end up getting together with Sandy…or are you still holding out for a Robin-Barney wedding one day (soonish?).

And now for the Lily-Marshall (and even Barney) storyline regarding their ongoing efforts to conceive. Lily ends up finding the true final doppelganger in the unlikeliest, creepiest, and yet somehow most perfect of places—a fertility doctor’s office. As you should recall, Marshall and Lily originally decided to start trying to conceive once they saw doppelgangers for all five members of their gang. Last season Lily thought she saw the last one—a doppelganger for Barney—and even though no one else agreed, they let her think it so that they could start their family. Well, tonight Lily and Marshall visited a fertility specialist who happened to be an honest-to-goodness doppelganger of Barney. Of course it took much convincing to make sure it was not actually Barney in disguise—they know how he operates and a doctor who gets to examine naked woman would be highly plausible for him.

When the actual doctor rules out fertility issues with Lily, Marshall grows very concerned that he might be infertile. He gets so stressed out that he can’t even keep up with his regular fun-loving conversations with his dear father until he knows for certain.  When Marshall returns home to, ahem, grab a quick sperm sample to bring to the doctor’s office, he is shocked to discover that his parents are in town for a surprise visit. When Lily blurts out what, exactly, Marshall is trying to get done, Marshall finally tells his parents his great fear of not being able to give them a grandchild. What follows is a loving heart to heart from his father, which makes Marshall forever thankful that Lily let the cat out of the bag.

Several days later, Marshall gets good news (after getting fake bad news from Barney, this one time dressed as the doctor to mess with him). He learns that he is fertile and that he and Lily should have no problem getting pregnant. Just as he gathers the gang for a celebration and tries to call his dad, Lily arrives with what turns out to be the actual bad news referenced in the episode’s title. Marshall’s father suffered a heart attack and died. If this season does not get an Emmy nomination (and win!) that will be devastating news as well—because the writing and the acting has been able to move flawlessly from joy to sorrow, comedy to drama, time and time again. Jason Segel did an amazing job at quietly taking in this horrible news and trying to process what just happened. Major props (cue Robin and Ted saluting to “Major Props”) to him and this show.

While the episode certainly ended on a heartbreaking note, the majority of it was packed with laughs. Again, many of these laughs were only truly funny to loyal viewers who have loved this show from the beginning:

  • At first Marshall and Lily were concerned they had fertility issues after they were “trying 6 days!”
  • Regional Doubles Laser Tag Tournament in Poughkeepsie—I really hope we get to see this tournament one day.
  • Barney thinking Lily found one of his hidden cameras when she walks in pissed off thinkng he posed as her doctor.
  • “This is like a black cat walked through my uterus” (Lily upset that Marshall lied about the previous Barney doppelganger, cursing their plan)
  • “Seriously, what second-rate community theater…” (Marshall tugging at the real doctor’s beard).
  • “Wow, it is like looking into a poorly dressed mirror” (Barney coming face to face with Dr. Stangle, his doppelganger)
  • “Please scoot up” (and Lily flinching thinking the doctor said “suit up” like Barney)
  • Barney having to wear the blinder goggles (previously concocted by Ted in season 2’s Monday Night Football) so he could be in the room while Lily was examined by the real doctor.
  • “Scherpoopy” (Robin’s new work nickname thanks to the footage of her falling in horse poop during a season 1 episode, which also happened to be the same episode when Barney dared her to say bad words on air since no one watched her show).
  • “Make it fast” (doctor); “Only way I know how, doc” (Marshall saying he can get the sperm sample at home really fast)
  • Marshall having difficulty collecting his sample thanks to his parents’ running commentary.
  • Ted’s awesomely lame owl joke to Robin, “Who?”
  • Sandy’s private life—he needs a hairpiece…and also…is he a furry?

Did you see the real bad news coming? I definitely knew it was coming at least a little before when Marshall really emphasized that he was expecting bad news at the doctor’s office. But, that didn’t make the actual revelation and reaction any less poignant and heartbreaking.


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20 Responses to How I Met Your Mother Recap – Bad News, Great Episode

  1. megan says:

    did anyone else notice all the numbers? they mention 6 four times they specifically show 36 on the dads beer can, 26 another time and several other times numbers r clearly pointed out

  2. Amber says:

    I noticed all the numbers–but I can’t figure out what they are in reference to… help!

    Also, for the first time ever, I shed a tear watching HIMYM. Good episode…been a fab season.

    • Tomek says:

      The numbers count from 50 to 1 – from the beginning of the episode until the very end when we hear the bad news.

  3. Jenny says:

    I think the numbers were counting down to the bad news. They skipped some numbers, but if you rewatch the episode, numbers are everywhere, counting down to a 1 on the cab Lily steps out of.

    I enjoyed the episode as usual…up until the bad news. I personally kind of felt like it was a little too heavy. I’m concerned with how they will deal with this in later episodes as well.

    • Amanda says:

      I don’t think they skipped any numbers. We were counting each number outloud. A lot of them were hidden differently like on newspapers, on the screen in Robin’s office the lotto numbers were “29 28 27 26 25” (I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was a lot of numbers in order), Marshall’s “specimen” had “1716” on it I believe…so all the numbers were there, some were just combined. I liked how the folder with “9” on it was then flipped to be “6.” I have to admit, I was a little disappointed after getting into counting the numbers so much that it all came down to a “1” on a taxi and the news of Marshall’s father dying. A little Debbie Downer for such a fun easter egg hunt!

      • Lora says:

        It *was* a downer to have the countdown be to bad news! I hadn’t noticed the episode title. When Marshall’s dad didn’t pick up the phone, I thought “Oh, he died,” but then Lily got out of the cab and for a moment I thought “No, why would they count down to that? She must be pregnant!” Then saw her face. =(

        We caught all of the numbers, as well — except for five which, so far as we can tell, did not appear as a numeral. It was only spoken with “motility five!” (hilarious!) and shown as Marshall’s open hand. Did we miss the numeral somewhere?

  4. Jeni says:

    Great convo on the numbers/countdown everyone (and thanks for reading the blog!). I came across this site where someone actually screen-captured each number’s appearance in case you are curious!
    In reading a lot of online reviews today about the episode, it is funny how differently people approached this episode and the countdown itself. I fell into the half of the people who didn’t really notice the countdown. Funnily enough, I recall noticing several of the numbers (thinking how odd it was that there was such attention on them) but didn’t give it much thought. Maybe this was because–since I started writing this blog a few months ago–I now type notes on my laptop while watching, and I do often go back and re-play several scenes to grab quotes, but focusing on the number sequence wasn’t something I was watching for nor had the opportunitity to notice. I focused (for this episode) mostly on the high number (even for this show) of callbacks to previous episodes there were. Also, it is funny how knowing the title going into the episode really provided a different viewing experience. In this case, I fell into the camp of knowing the title of the episode before it started (since I looked it up to set up my blog post). Knowing that the episode was called “Bad News” definitely put me in the mindset that something bad would happen (obvs) but the show certainly did a good job at setting us up to think the bad news about be about their fertility, instead of the tragic twist. As I wrote in my post, though, because I was aware of the title and because Marshall made such a point of saying that he expected “bad news” from the doctor (plus narrator Ted’s earlier comment that Marshall was always thankful that Lily blurted out what was wrong to his parents….leading to what became a lovely final heart-to-heart with his father)….it became pretty clear that there was tragedy lurking. A great, great episode in my opinion–and it is certainly generating tons of online discussion!

    • Lora says:

      Jeni, I found your blog because I felt certain that there would be video online of Robin being chased by an owl. I Googled that, but surprisingly for HIMYM, there was nothing! I found you, though, and I’ll check back in the future. =)

  5. Katie says:

    Agreed that HIMYM better get some Emmy noms (and wins!) for this season! Yet another great episode…yes, it ended on a downer, but that’s life, isn’t it? My tv guide doesn’t show yet what next week’s episode will be about, but I hope it has the entire gang going to support Marshall at his father’s funeral. It would be an important event in all of their lives, and I hope they don’t just skip over it and move on… I could also see Barney hitting on women at the funeral, you know, Wedding Crashers style…to give it a little light note. 🙂

    PS: I totally did not notice the numbers thing…I’m going to have to re-watch!

    • Jeni says:

      Yay you commented! Yes–I think it will definitely be interesting to see how they handle the aftermath of this life-changing event. And, to see how that impacts Marshall’s character for the long-haul.

  6. Jeni says:

    One more link to an article on Zap-2-It that includes a brief interview with the show’s creators about this new story arc. Also, looks like we won’t have a new episode to see the aftermath until the week after next:

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