Season 9, Episode 9
Saturday, 11 AM, 31 hours before the wedding…
This episode was all over the place, ladies and gentleman. But I am happy to report that all the pieces came together to a nicely done twist ending involving Mother. At first, “Platonish” seemed like it was merely going to re-hash the complicated feelings that exist between Ted and Robin [yet again]. While it did dip into that area, this episode really turned the tables on us and actually showed the defining moment that led to Robin and Barney getting engaged…and it was really thanks to Mother of all people! Not only did we get to see her in an unexpected way, but it was great to see good ole’ MacLaren’s again—not to mention Marshall somewhere other than a car.
The episode began at the Farhampton Inn with a rarely emotional Robin still reeling over the news that her own mother will not be attending her wedding. Barney accepts his own challenge to lift Robin’s spirits. This leads to Lily’s observation that there have been challenges Barney has not conquered before, namely: the diaper and the samosa.
Most of the story then jumps back to an extended flashback to about six months ago [which means fall of 2012 given that it is the spring 2013 wedding weekend]. This was the brief period when Ted, Barney and Robin were all single after break-ups. The gang is hanging out at the bar [YES!] and having a typical good time. The topic du jour is whether a man and a woman can actually have a platonic relationship. Barney claims that answer is always no [Harry would agree], unless it is Robin and Marshall, as those two wouldn’t kiss if their lives depended on it. But they especially think that Robin and Ted still have underlying feelings and their “Private Joke” salutes still linger.
Ted and Marshall attend a Harlem Globetrotters game together and have some bro-banter, but mostly it is just nice to see these buddies together in the same space after all this time! Marshall takes the opportunity to tell Ted that he thinks Ted and Robin still belong together after all this time; it also wouldn’t hurt to win his long-standing $5 bet with Lily. But the most significant thing to happen at the game is Ted getting a phone call, or twenty, from his former a-hole boss, Hammond Druthers. Druthers has been busy making meth in New Mexico designing faulty buildings in Chicago, and now his firm desperately wants the successful Ted Mosby to join the team. Ted turns him down because he still has that glimmer of hope that one day he and Robin could live happily ever after. But clearly this is the open job opportunity that Ted is now imminently headed toward post-wedding, since Robin will be forever off the table.
And we are still not at the main reveal of the episode. On this same evening six months ago, Lily and still-single Robin have some fun putting Barney to the test when they realize that that he only ever accepts his own challenges. Barney willingly accepts the ladies’ increasingly absurd challenges: getting a woman’s number by only speaking “dolphin”; hitting on a girl while wearing a trash bag and not using words with the letter ‘e’; and somehow even convincing one woman that he is an incognito Ryan Gosling. Much like Robin, I fear for the low self-esteem of these women. Finally, a broken Robin and Lily simply send Barney on an errand-challenge to buy some diapers for Marvin and samosas for Robin, oh and pick up a girl.
Just as Barney is making his purchase, he spots his “target” to approach. It is none other than Mother! She quickly proves herself to us and to Barney by once again being very perceptive. She cuts right through Barney’s crap and calls him out on his sadness and lame attempts to avoid his real feelings. The two end up having a (rather creepy for strangers) heartfelt talk. She can tell that he loves someone but messed it up; but would he rather keep playing games, or WIN the game? That is the push that Barney needs to go home (without the diapers and samosas) and immediately write out his final play: The Robin.
So, in a grand twist of fate, Mother is essentially responsible for kick-starting the Barney-Robin engagement, which also frees Ted for their own eventual meeting. And, we now know how Barney met the Mother.