Season 9, Episode 5
The Poker Game
As feared, tonight’s episode, “The Poker Game,” was very light on plot. This will likely continue as the trend given the hour-by-hour movement of this final season. However, I am happy to report that we at least got a few Ted-Marshall ‘in the flesh’ scenes thanks to some expertly played flashbacks. I need more of that, a LOT more.
At the Farhampton Inn, Barney’s final bachelor poker game kicks off with its weird assortment of participants. Since Lilly and Robin have always been down to hang with the guys, they play as well. Unfortunately, Robin has grown increasingly irritated with James and his “marriage sucks” jokes, given that he is getting divorced. Barney tells her to speak up and tell him, but because our gang doesn’t always do the mature thing, Robin instead wins James’ wedding band in a round of poker. James claims not to care, but he runs off and tells his mommy. The slinky Mrs. Stinson is none to pleased with her future daughter-in-law and declares war.
This feud leaves Barney in a tough spot [as Chandler Bing would say: Rock, Hard Place, ME] over whether to side with his family (mother & brother) or his bride. Lily says “wife, always wife” but of course Barney tries to avoid the situation. It is not until Barney tries talking with James that he realizes that his brother is getting divorced from acting selfish and not being there for his partner. It is then that Barney decides that he will always have Robin’s back…aaand then goes overboard extreme by thinking this means he also needs to shun his mother and brother. Now Mrs. Stinson blames Robin and the two main ladies in Barney’s life are out for blood.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Ted loves wedding presents. He even has three wedding gifts lined up for Barney and Robin; well, the photo of the gang was one. So why is Lily mad? Because she is still bitter that years ago when she and Marshall got married, they did not receive a gift from their best bud.
This storyline was purely for fun—it didn’t move any of our characters forward—but I loved that it gave us some great detailed callbacks and a chance for Ted and Marshall to share the screen a bit. For years, Marshall had tried dropping hints to Ted that he never gave them a wedding gift—some subtle and some (dressing up like a present at Halloween) not so subtle. Did you appreciate that in the flashbacks to just after Marshall and Lily’s wedding, Marshall’s hair was still partially shaved off from the wedding day hair mishap? Did you also notice the brief shot of Katie Holmes as the Slutty Pumpkin at the Halloween party? Nice touches, HIMYM.
Meanwhile, Ted had been dropping hints of his own all those years. Apparently he DID buy them a gift—a really nice coffeemaker—and he never received a thank you note. Ted and Marshall are the perfect best bros because the year Marshall dressed as a present, Ted dressed as a thank you note. What a perfect package! Too bad neither ‘got the hint.’ On a related note, a gift wrapping station sounds awesome.
It turned out that Lily had been under the impression that their pals Stuart and Claudia (nice to see this dysfunctional couple again) had bought them the coffeemaker, a lie that Stuart let her believe. But cheapskate Stuart is at the inn for the wedding weekend—and it doesn’t look like he is with Claudia anymore—and admits that it was Ted’s gift after all. Somehow, even though it is really Marshall and Lily who owe Ted an apology, Ted decides to make amends with his friends by giving Marshall the greatest gift of all: special delivery of their favorite Chicago pizza from the world’s best non-sanitary pizzeria. And Marshall continues to have a way with words when it comes to describing his favorite foods.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the gift of more Mother appearances.