Season 7, Episode 15
The Burning Beekeeper
This week begins that magical period of winter when the world seems just a little bit brighter: February Sweeps. It is one solid month when my beloved television shows keep me warm at night with heaping helpings of rich storytelling, satisfying character development, the occasional stunt-casting, and, of course, laughs. Unfortunately—and it pains me to write this—HIMYM didn’t deliver much in any of these areas tonight. In fact, I would say tonight’s episode is probably the weakest in a long while. In a season that has been particularly strong (coming off of another very strong season) I have come to expect that expert blend of dramatic plot twists and bittersweet milestones that have allowed this brilliant show to grow with its audience over the years. But I guess every once in a while, there is bound to be a real clunker that does nothing to advance the story or its characters…and tonight we got it.
I am not going to make this a long post—because honestly there is not much to say that is significant to the plot. Instead I will mainly address the two key faults of this episode: that it was merely filler and that the humor fell flat.
This was definitely a filler episode that did not move our gang or the story forward in any sense. Marshall and Lily decided to throw a housewarming party, and Lily had to do most of the planning because apparently Marshall has been working very long hours of late. This idea actually had a lot of potential, since a housewarming party for an expecting couple seems like an important right of passage that Future Ted would find noteworthy. Plus, the fact that tension over Marshall’s work entered the equation made it ripe for some quality conflict. I even initially liked the gimmicky set-up whereby there were three portions of the action unfolding in five minutes—in the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen—because we all know that HIMYM is usually the king of multiple-timeline comedy [think: Three Days of Snow].
I think this housewarming could have been something great if at least one set of characters faced something really real. For example, had Lily and Marshall not already accepted her father as a member of the household, this episode could have dealt with that. Or, Ted could have met a new love interest (ha, not like it would be the mother anyways). Or, Robin and Kevin (where the heck was Kevin?) could have had some relationship development—or maybe Robin could have finally confessed to cheating with Barney a few months ago. And speaking of Barney…he really had nothing to do other than hit on a cougar.
Which brings me to the episode just missing the mark on the humor front. The jokes were forced and the comedy was broad. Sometimes this works for the show—but not tonight. Maybe because there were no real stakes involved for these characters. The biggest “problem” was that Marshall’s boss, Mr. Cootes (guest star Martin Short), was mad that someone ate all the vegan food. And Marshall temporarily quitting seemed absurd given that they are new homeowners with a baby on the way. But Cootes having an epiphany after being set on fire in a bee suit seemed like something out of a 1990s laugh-track sitcom. And this show is better than that.
I will say that Robin continues to be my MVP this season both for her heartbreaking moments and her amazing comedy chops—no one gets excessively angry at seemingly innocent everyday nuisances like that girl (oh, except me!). What did you all think? Am I being too harsh? Were my Sweeps expectations too high after a two week hiatus? Or did this episode just feel like it didn’t know what to do before…something big happens?