How I Met Your Mother Recap – Unpause

Season 9, Episode 15
Unpause

Sunday, 2am, 16 hours before the wedding…

After a very disappointing slap last week, it was great to have “Unpause” really leave its mark, in a good way, this week. While not the funniest of episodes, it was chock-full of pretty major and satisfying confrontations AND reveals.

The premise for this evening’s late night antics is that the gang has enjoyed quite a few drinks at the Farhampton Inn bar as they creep into the wee hours of wedding day morning. Marshall is determined to keep his pals drinking rather than unpausing his looming argument with Lilly. And Barney has become so drunk he is past his previous drunk high-score (where he talks like Jabba the Hutt) and has entered a new level of inebriation: truth serum drunk.

Marshall and Lilly do part from the gang so that Lilly can “tear Marshall apart” [read both good and bad ways] but not before Marshall does his road trip souvenir showcase. It was a nice call-back to an earlier episode this season when Marshall and Daphne stopped by the Mosby childhood home and Marshall took some of young Ted’s embarrassing items…a photo of cowboy Ted and his best friend, a balloon, is clearly the winner.

But then the call-backs, and eventual reveals, just kept coming! While Barney is under the power of the drink, Ted and Robin take him for a joy ride down memory lane to ask the questions for which they always wanted straight answers. Here are just a few of the big things we finally learned:

  • Barney never went all the way with Ted’s mother, Virginia, much to Ted’s relief.
  • Robin’s family is apparently super wealthy, even if it is in Canadian craploads of money. Fun side note: Ted is perturbed that he footed so many of their date bills from back in the day, now that he knows she is loaded.
  • Ring Bear, or Ring Bearer? Robin still desperately tries to find out. Barney gives a truthful answer—there is a ring bearer named Trevor Hudson. Unfortunately for Robin, Trevor is not who (or what) it seems.
  • Barney’s actual job! OK, this is big folks. I wasn’t sure we were ever going to really learn what Barney did for a living. We knew it had to be pretty smarmy and something very “evil corporate” that paid a lot of money. I mean, Barney is pretty much The Wolf of Goliath Bank. So it was a nice little twist to learn that when Barney would always laugh and say “please!” when asked about his job, he really did mean P.L.E.A.S.E. (Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything]. Yep, Barney is Goliath’s fall guy. And if that was not already a good enough reveal, we got another call-back to Barney’s hippie days with his first girlfriend, Shannon, who was stolen by the original suit guy, Greg. We know from many seasons ago that this incident did cause Barney to “suit up.” It turns out it also initiated a master revenge plan in which Barney got hired by Greg and became the company’s P.L.E.A.S.E. man, all so that he could secretly work for the Fed all these years and ultimately bust Greg and the company…set to happen two months after his wedding.

And we are not yet done with the big stuff yet. Marshall and Lilly finally begin their massive fight over their conflicting dream jobs, after lots of serious banging, of course. Well, HIMYM went pretty raw and deep with this confrontation. When Lilly says how selfish Marshall’s behavior is, he brings up seven years ago when Lilly broke off their first engagement and moved to San Francisco. It is really tough to watch these two fight like this, because you just love them so much as a couple. But kudos to HIMYM for letting them get ugly and serious on this, because really, there is no fair ending to this dilemma where feelings don’t get hurt. And now we must also wonder—who does Lilly call and leave the hotel with in order to get away from the fight?

Ted is not left out of the big reveals tonight either, except for him it isn’t technically tonight, but 2017. Yep, we have often heard Ted quote his mother: “nothing good happens after 2 am.” There was even a whole episode about it. But this notion took on whole new meeting as we flashed forward to 2017 at a Farhampton babymoon weekend for Ted and a very pregnant Mother. At the beginning of the episode they are being adorable, riding out the early contractions of labor. By the end of the episode it was time to get to the hospital in the middle of the night. Just as I was about to complain that their daughter had to already be at least one or two years old, we do see that she is …and that they are in fact headed to the hospital to have her baby brother. And that is how little Penny will get her baby bro, Luke, after 2 am…when good things do sometimes happen. It’s nice to meet you by name, Penny and Luke, after all these years.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Slapsgiving No. 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra

Season 9, Episode 14
Slapsgiving No. 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra

And we are back mid-slap. This was probably the second-longest ‘wait for it it’ moment after season two finale’s “this is going to be legen—.” While tonight’s slap left quite a mark on Barney, what it really marked was the final home stretch of episodes. The series finale has officially been scheduled for March 31, which means we will be plowing through this last set of episodes.

I feel for the writers, with such pressure to deliver increasingly amazing slaps. It is like trying to top the original Robin Sparkles video…you really can’t. So tonight we got a silly filler episode spanning space and time…and slapprenticing. While Marshall’s fanciful story and subsequent slap set-up was predictable, the surprise guest appearance was the only thing that gave this slap a strong mark.

As Marshall is in slow-motion slap mode, Ted backs the story up to a few weeks earlier at the bar [Hi! Miss you, MacLarens!]. While sitting in their favorite booth, Marshall brought up the subject of the remaining slaps (that would be two) and how the next one would happen under a willow tree with four women and a tiger. He then proceeded to tell them all of his expert training to prepare. Of course the rest of the gang is more than happy to play along and toy with an annoyed and rightly skeptical Barney. You see, Marshall claimed to go all the way to Shanghai [and later, Cleveland] for the ultimate training in the virtues of slapistry: speed, strength, and accuracy.

This is the part of the story where the HIMYM costume and make-up team decided to go all-out in stereotyped fantasy and dress up Robin, Lily and Ted in Chinese garb. Marshall regales the group with his encounters and training under the tutelage of Red Bird [i.e. Robin], White Flower [i.e. Lily], and The Calligrapher in Cleveland [i.e. Ted]. Personally, I enjoyed the running gag of Marshall guessing the real ages of Robin and Lily—only to be told by their Chinese dopplegangers that they are actually ancient—and then hurting the “Calligrapher’s” feelings by guessing older than his actual age. It was also a nice touch to see slaprentice Marshall visit some of Barney’s exes [remember Nora? and hot bartender Stacy Keibler?] to get slapped by them—and absorb their rage at Barney within his own palm.

Just when Marshall would have Barney think that he never quite completed the final stage of his accuracy training, we return to the Farhampton Inn…where Marshall misses the slap. Alas this is all part of Marshall’s elaborate plan. Barney runs away before Marshall can re-try, but he runs straight into the nighttime glow of a willow tree…with four women…knitting a tapestry with a tiger on it. Barney knows his number is up. Marshall and the gang appear so that he may receive his next-to-last slap. It leaves quite a mark. But the real gift is when Marshall introduces Boyz II Men to sing a slow-jam version of Marshall’s original Slapsgiving tune, “You Just Got Slapped,” complete with a loving montage of earlier slaps.

And just like that, Boyz II Men pretty much saved this slap, and this episode.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Bass Player Wanted

Season 9, Episode 13
Bass Player Wanted

Saturday, 10 PM, 20 hours before the wedding…

It’s a Christmas miracle! After half a season, Marshall finally reunited with his wife and friends! Now it will be another miracle if Lilly doesn’t punch him like she did her Marshpillow. Overall, this was a pretty jam-packed episode that propelled the major storylines forward—and even propelled an oncoming slap—which is good because now we must wait until the New Year for another episode.

Playing with the devil
After the fun of the world’s most spectacular Canadian themed rehearsal dinner, the gang settles into the Farhampton Inn bar for a night cap. Lilly and Robin meet an enthusiastic stranger who quickly charms them, only it seems Robin knows him. She can’t place how, but before she can worry about that, stranger Darren begins to toy with their friendship.  He tells Lilly that Robin sides with Marshall regarding the job situation, and even that she feels abandoned by the upcoming move. As the girls start to bicker, Darren the devil sets his sights on another pair of friends: Ted and Barney.

Working his moves to charm + disarm, Darren mentions Ted’s impeding move to Chicago (the city, not the pizza) and Barney is completely taken aback. He is hurt that Ted would make such a decision and not tell him, and even more astounded when he learns that Ted is leaving immediately after the wedding. While this was by no means the ideal way for Ted’s news to be revealed, it ultimately leads to Barney realizing that his best man just can’t hang out with only Barney and Robin—a girl he still loves in many ways.

Marshall vs. the Machines
Back on the road, it was time for another folk-song edition of Marshall versus the Machines. Yes, Marshall and his adorable little hitchhiker, Marvin, had set out on foot for the final five miles. Just when I thought we would get another four episodes of a delirious Marshall and his adventures with a smoking bigfoot, behold, for hark the Mother angel arrived…in a van.

It seems that the Mother was quite angry at her devil of a band-mate and decided to ditch her band at the wedding. And thanks to Lilly’s suggestion of Aldrin Justice, this also included taking the band’s van. But because she recognized Marshall and Marvin from all of Lilly’s earlier ramblings on the train and at the Inn, she pulled over and offered to give them a lift first. And this was how Marshall met Mother. I loved how she toyed with Marshall by pretending to be a freaky psychic. It was a nice touch to see Mother explain how her evil band-mate, Darren, goes about causing drama with Disney villain touches, all while watching it unfold over at the Inn. Mother was also a victim of his antics. She had formed the band years ago with some business school friends, but Darren had completely taken it over and was trying to boot her out. We could debate who has the better band name: Marshall’s law school group “The Funk, the Whole Funk and Nothing but the Funk” or Mother’s biz school band, “Superfreakonomics.”

Marshall and Mother end up having a very nice moment in the van when Marshall encourages her to stand up for herself and her band. Both Marshall and Mother are honest-to-goodness nice people, which means they don’t always stand their ground. By the time they reach the Inn, Mother has decided that SHE is going to be the lead singer again. But she needs a little liquid courage and orders the Kennedy Package, just like someone else we know.

Let’s have a Marshall and Lilly “PAUSE” here to discuss how Mother is quite literally the perfect embodiment Lily’s quirks (and looks) and Marshall’s goodness.  Which of course means that she IS the perfect woman for Ted. And un-pause.

But speaking of pauses, the ultimate Marshall-Lilly job confrontation will have to wait because, first, the two are just so happy to have their little family reunited. And so are we, guys. Hallelujah. They join the gang for a toast on the deck with the latest bottle of Glenn McKenna scotch (that Ted stole to prove his “bronor” to Barney). When Darren rears his ugly head and breaks the bottle, Ted punches him in the face. Little did Ted know that inside the bar, Mother truly appreciated a punched-out Darren. He quits the band and Mother tells Linus to give the best man a glass of their best Scotch, which just so happens to be a Glenn McKenna 35 year.

If Mother inadvertently buying Ted a drink for the first time isn’t enough of a Christmas gift for you, then stay tuned for Marshall’s gift to Barney: another slap! To be continued in 2014!

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – The Rehearsal Dinner

Season 9, Episode 12
The Rehearsal Dinner

Saturday, 8PM, 22 hours before the wedding…

Secrets secrets are no fun, secrets secrets hurt someone. Well, that may be true for Judge Marshall and stunned Lily right now, but for Barney and Robin’s rehearsal dinner, it means more crazy plotting by America’s favorite adorable-yet-sociopathic couple. Yes, we have finally made it to the HIMYM episode “The Rehearsal Dinner,” and unfortunately Marshall is off walking somewhere (when he really could have just called for a ride being so close). But fortunately we did get lots of gang time in MacLaren’s flashbacks. And we got even more detailed call-backs as little-by-little Barney gave his bride the ultimate surprise.

La’ser Tag
It all started back when Barney and Robin first got engaged and Robin mentioned her initial desire to have the wedding in the Great White North (i.e. Canada). In a scene reminiscent of the time when the gang went on a joke roll about young Canadian Robin “losing her maple leaf,” the gang threw out one Canadian joke after another. And did you catch the entire lifespan of a couple in the background (literally they had so many jokes, that one couple in the background got engaged, had a baby, saw their child graduate and then died). So yeah, Robin compromised on having the wedding in NY, but she absolutely will not compromise on the rehearsal dinner: NO laser tag. Not even when pronounced the French way.

Meanwhile, gift-master Ted is obsessed with doing something special for Barney and Robin, like maybe taking piano lessons and dressing like Liberace? Did you notice Lily and Marshall’s faces of disgust when Ted explains what a good gift-giver he is? Remember—that flashback happened before Lily and Marshall learned that Ted HAD bought them a wedding gift after all. It’s just too bad that dressing like Liberace is easier than the music lessons (but probably more expensive).

At the present wedding weekend, Barney irritates the crap out of Robin by insisting that he “knows” she is pranking him by only pretending that their rehearsal dinner is real—when in fact it is totally going to be laser tag. No, Robin says, it really is NOT. Meanwhile, Lily freaks out that Ted gave up on his promise to perform like Liberace, but of course really she is mad at Marshall for breaking their promise to move to Italy. That is when Lily finally tells her pals of Marshall’s big judgeship news. But Robin can’t stick around to discuss this further because she gets a call that Barney has been ‘jailed’ in the security office of the local laser tag place for disorderly conduct. That’s OK, because Ted helps Lily feel a little better by letting her in on a little secret…

Oh Canada!
Robin arrives at the Farhampton Laser Tag arena, and all the signs are there for an elaborate rehearsal dinner prank. She just doesn’t know to look for them, and it’s not the prank we expect. But if you go back and re-watch the episode, it’s easy to spot the words “Ice Rink” beneath the laser tag sign. There are also some references to it being so cold in the security office. Plus, Barney’s insistence that she press the button on a toy that says “get the party started.”

After Barney recounts the events that led to this moment, and Robin still fumes over Barney’s horrible surprises that make him untrustworthy, it is finally time to press that button and for Robin to learn that she is one who has been “snowed.” In a moment where ya’ just have to suspend disbelief, the security office proves to be a flimsy set and they are revealed to be in the middle of an ice rink surrounded by their family and friends. Turns out Barney was not expecting a laser tag party; instead he was planning a Canadian party for his bride. We are treated to quite the Canadian festivity: an ice rink with giant maple leaf flag, a fake security guard-figure skater, an autograph of Wayne Gretzky (aha!), and a new special song by Alan Thicke featuring James as half Mountie-half Robin Sparkles. It doesn’t get much better than that—except for maybe Ted dressed as Liberace attempting to figure skate.

You certainly can’t say that Robin and Barney are a boring couple. It kind of makes you afraid of how they will celebrate their anniversaries. But I guess love means never having to say “I’m sorey.”

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Bedtime Stories

Season 9, Episode 11
Bedtime Stories

Was tonight’s new HIMYM, “Bedtime Stories,” a 100% filler episode with zero plot or character development? Absolutely. But could you call the episode lazy? No way. You see, this was the highly publicized “episode that rhymes” and I have to say—if you are going to give us an episode that doesn’t really accomplish anything, well then going all-out with crazy rhyme is certainly one way to spice things up.

Rather than a regular recap, I will take a page from HIMYM and summarize tonight’s tales with a little rhyme of my own:

On the final bus ride to Long Island, young Marvin cannot rest,
So papa Marshall must tell some rhyming stories and try his very best.

With help from some fellow passenger skeptics, Marshall beings with tale #1,
About Ted Mosby up at bat, with a hot professor looking for fun.

Ted can’t be sure if she wants a date, or just a little work related chat,
But he learns that Barney had nailed her, and Ted doesn’t want seconds from that.

The next story tells of a time in a bakery when Robin takes the cake,
She ran into her now engaged Canadian ex, Simon, and happiness she could not fake.

She stole the cake and ran, feeling so blue she started eating it with her hand,
Her friends gathered to watch her finish and Robin celebrated with a keg stand.

The final tale featured Barney, struggling to conquer yet another lady,
When he messes with other alter-ego players and his antics get shady.

Barney will do anything to be deemed the absolute best player in this little diddy,
So he poisons the High Council of Players to be named The Player of New York City.

Marshall wraps up his stories when he thinks Marvin is finally asleep,
But a flat tire for the bus ruins all and he is practically ready to weep.

An impromptu fireworks show for the stranded travelers will eventually be Marvin’s first memory,
And Marshall decides that he and Marvin should just walk the final five miles, how far could it be?

And there you have it…a rhyming recap for a very experimental episode. Ultimately this entire season is a giant experiment in that it takes place during one wedding weekend. While the debate is still ongoing as to whether or not the gamble of this season will pay off, I still say I am along for the ride and willing to walk to the finish line if need be, all to see what I can only imagine will be an epic conclusion to the story that is How I Met Your Mother. I am pretty sure that in the grand scheme of things this show will not soon be topped by another.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Mom and Dad

Season 9, Episode 10
Mom and Dad

Saturday, 3PM, 27 hours before the wedding…

Tonight’s “Mom and Dad” featured some Zabka, some Proclaimers, some Bangity-Bang, some Detective Mosby, even a little Pineapple. Yes, this episode was chock full of HIMYM callbacks. But perhaps the most enjoyable moment for me was the fact that Marshall’s never-ending car ride may be reaching its final destination VERY soon. But really, there was A LOT happening in this episode.

Who’s Your Daddy?
Let’s start with Barney and his intense childlike desire to see his long-separated mom and dad get back together. Long-lost father Jerry and his wife Sheryl arrive at the Inn for the wedding weekend, which means Jerry and Loretta seeing each other after all these years. When they greet each other civilly, Barney immediately becomes obsessed with pulling a Parent Trap. The only problem with his elaborate schemes (other than the fact that they are elaborate schemes) is that James has the same exact wish: for HIS biological dad to get back together with Loretta.

As we learned several seasons ago, James found out that his bio-dad is a reverend. Since Barney and Robin were in sudden need of an officiant, James called in his father to save the wedding. The Barney-James feud to get their own dads to rekindle a relationship with their shared mom Loretta was definitely a highlight of the episode, specifically when it became a fantasy musical sequence a la Leave It to Beaver. Despite a few stalled elevator attempts and a Ranjit-kidnapping of Jerry’s wife, both Barney and James are shocked to discover that Loretta and Reverend Gibbs (i.e. James’ father) actually are a reunited couple!

Zabka-tage
Over in best man land, Ted is tasked with protecting Barney’s gift to Robin: an autographed photo of Wayne Gretzky! Unfortunately for Ted, while he takes a shower in his room his bottle of calligraphy ink spills all over the photo. Ted finds this odd and smells sabotage. But who? Sounds like a case for Detective Mosby! I give major props to the show (pun intended) for showing us a beat of Detective Mosby still attempting to solve the Pineapple Incident after all these years.

Ted realizes there are three potential suspects, each of whom heard Barney’s request in the bar: Billy Zabka, a hotel employee, and a crazy Canadian cousin. Everyone’s [absurd] story checks out, but then both Lily and Ted piece together the clues at the last minute… It was Zabka all along! Poor Billy was tired of always being labeled the bad guy, even by his own family. Barney making him best man was a turning point…until the title was stripped away and given back to Ted. So Zabka switched the photo in Ted’s room and spilled the ink on the false headshot (of Zabka himself, no less), with the intention of being the hero who was able to secure a replacement autograph. Ted feels for the “real” karate kid and decides to let him be the hero instead of the bad guy for once.

500 Miles
Marshall and Daphne are still on the road, still singing to The Proclaimers. But then Daphne gets angry at Marshall and he thinks he may be to blame. But it wasn’t Marshall flagging down the police to give Daphne a ticket, or leaving her oranges on the roof. Daphne was upset because her daughter told her not to even bother coming to her speech. Marshall won’t have it…so he keeps driving them straight to Daphne’s daughter’s event. Daphne gets to see her daughter and be proud (and like mother, like daughter, it is “drill, baby, drill!”). Daphne and Marshall part ways as friends, and I can only hope this means that Marshall is a short drive away from reuniting with his family: the gang.

Next week promises to be another interesting HIMYM experiment: an entire episode spoken in rhyme.

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How I Met Your Mother Recap – Platonish

Season 9, Episode 9
Platonish

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.

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