“Nothing is more valuable than a favor.” It’s a lesson one of my sketchiest friends taught me at an early age, and it’s proved truer with each passing year. Inarguably the worst part of friendship is providing favors, which is why it feels so good to cash in on a favor when it matters the most. And I guess there’s something to be said for having a friend who will trust you and help you. If you’re into that sort of thing.
I may be too cold and dead inside to feel that way, but Marshall sure isn’t. He’s been there for his friends through thick and thin (“But mostly thin. B-Man don’t do thick crust. What up!), and now he’s calling in a host of favors “no questions asked” for one purpose: erasing the devastating text Daphne sent Lily last episode. We’re treated to a delightful romp of Ted, Barney, and Robin fumbling to comply with Marshall’s request before Lily reads the damning text, which sends Barney and Robin on a premarital crisis when they realize they never plan anything together.
Neither bride nor groom has ever been a strong team player, preferring to take the lead whenever possible. If marriage is about compromise, then their relationship is in trouble, and they both realize it. But in keeping with HIMYM’s strength, the moment isn’t completely resolved by their sentimental moment at the end. On a lesser sitcom, the couple would promise to work together from now on, but here, they realize that it’s something they’ll have to learn as they go. It’s a subtle difference, sure, but an important one.
Marshall gets a reprieve from his banishment to road trip hell, and it couldn’t be funnier. Each favor he performs for his friends is funnier and more outlandish than the last, justifying the extreme lengths they’ll go to in return. But as funny as Marshall’s favors are, his realization at the end is the true heart of the episode. He isn’t feeling guilty for pursuing his dream or for disrupting his and Lily’s impending move to Rome; he feels guilty because he made the decision behind Lily’s back. As Marshall’s flashbacks emphasize, he never hides anything from his wife, no matter how humiliating (or life-threatening, as his encounter with a raccoon proves). As Marshall realizes this, he comes clean with Lily, for better or worse, because that’s the kind of relationship he wants to have.
Too often left out of his own show, Radnor gets some great scenes in this episode, walking the fine line between downer-Ted and cartoon-Ted like a pro. He demonstrates Ted’s double-edged gift for improvisation, first through a creepy rendition of Marvin’s lullaby, and then by taking a page from Marshall’s book and calling in a “no questions asked” favor from Lily, convincing her to destroy her phone before she can read the text. When Ted thinks simple, he’s a dashing man of action; when he makes things too complicated, he becomes the bumbling, coat-hanger-wielding burglar who botches a simple B&E job.
Since I write these reviews in a less than timely fashion, I get to see reactions from other reviewers, and so far I’m seeing a lot of pushback on Lily’s reaction at the end of the episode. I don’t imagine she’ll hold onto this anger for long—probably not even long enough for Marshall to reach the wedding—but I find myself in the smaller camp of reviewers who empathize with her anger. It’s a feeling we know will pass, as anger must for a marriage to work, which leaves us looking forward to seeing how HIMYM’s consummate married couple will resolve their major tension for the season.
Next week promises the return of The Mother! Without her sum’bitches, will she be able to befriend another member of the gang? I suppose we’ll find out.
- “Others say Deerduff the Hooker was a popular male prostitute who murdered no one and died of syphilis in 1848.” The Ghost Network leaves its savvy viewers to decide what’s really true. The syphilis. It’s the syphilis story.
- “I did not get to be a forty-year-old night clerk by making excuses.”
- Does Lily know the proper technique for harvesting ectoplasm? We may never know.
- Marshal illegally dismantles a mailbox to free Ted, signs Barney out of the hospital for swallowing real-life versions of the Lucky Charms marshmallows, and extracts Night Falcon (aka Robin) from a mysterious parkour battle, all with no questions asked. He’s a good friend.
- Bazooka Joe’s joke editor is a comedy snob.
- Acceptable points of entry to Lily’s crappy room: the drainpipe, the air ducts, and a room service cart. Unacceptable point of entry to Lily’s crappy room: a door.
- “You’ve taken several items from the mini-bar.” “There is no mini-bar!” “…stolen mini-bar.”
- Robin and Barney will have a great marriage if they can learn to “lure prey into a tight corner and snap it’s limbs with [their] powerful jaws and watch the life drain from its eyes.” Aw!
- “Why do you have a gun? Why do you always have a gun?!”
- Kurt Coobain was lost before his time…
- Ted rescues Lily from feral kindergarteners, no questions asked. He’s a good friend too.
- Marshall has tackled Russell Brand twice. Name-dropper.
- “You know, Marshall, I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’m not sure anyone died in our room…but someone’s going to.” Looks like the ghost of Deerduff the Hooker will be getting a roommate.
- “Forever yours, the guy you met at the drug store an hour ago. I heard you give your address to the pharmacist while I was buying foot powder.”