Moving creates its own special kind of grief. It’s an ambivalent process, filled with the excitement of new prospects and new experiences, the wistfulness of realizing what you have to let go of, the nostalgia that realization brings, and the excitement (or in my case, severe anxiety) at the future’s uncertainty. All of those feelings would be hard enough to deal with on their own, but Ted is forced to bottle them up for the sake of the very wedding that’s driving him away.
The caption at the beginning of the episode—“52 hours to the wedding”—keeps reminding us that this season is building to one big moment. It’s hard to remember that as the episodes continue to progress in real time, relying on flashbacks to help fill in the gaps. Not that I’m complaining; the relaxed pace of the overarching story gives us plenty of time to just hang out with the fab five.
And what were they up to this week? Ted and Lily share a drink as they discuss all the things he’s bidding farewell: buying a round at MacLaren’s (at 10:30am), telling off his hot but noisy upstairs neighbor, and my personal favorite, correcting the bad grammar of some local graffiti. Your a penis, indeed.
Meanwhile, R-Train and B-Nasty are looking for some pre-wedding coitus to shake off the mortal dread their older family members give them. Their quest deteriorates into a zombie movie pastiche from which there is no escape. I’ll admit, I didn’t buy into the parody until James (Wayne Brady!) sacrifices himself to give Robin and Barney a chance to slip away. “Why’s the brother always the first to die?” he mutters, and then offers himself up to the familial horde in a hilariously dramatic gesture.
This isn’t the first time a sitcom has explored the “Old People Are Gross When They Have Sex, But Also Sweet” storyline. Hell, this isn’t the first time HIMYM has used it; Season 5’s “Bagpipes” revolved around an old couple loudly performing a beautiful act that Older Ted couldn’t bring himself to talk about with his kids. Hard to imagine how he could be bashful after five seasons of describing every single one of his barroom conquests. It’s also hard to watch HIMYM leaning back on such standard fare when they’re capable of much more emotionally engaging stories. But Smulders and Harris sold the material on charm alone; Robin slapping Barney for using the word “buffet” was one of the night’s laugh-out-loud moments.
Marshall’s isolation left him with only a handful of scenes, the longest of which was just to set up the story of Lily’s dress (slutty and classy; her new dress is just classy). But the scant moments we got of our favorite Vikings fan deep in enemy territory were pretty good. Few people outside the northern Midwest understand the nigh-genetic rivalry between Packers fans and Viking fans—which is a good thing, I think—but for Marshall, it’s a very real war, one he throws his son into without hesitation. I’m still holding out hope that we get an entire episode devoted to Marshall and Daphne driving across the country. Maybe she isn’t going to New York for her daughter’s Model UN speech (a lie that immediately made me recall Community’s “Geography of Global Conflict”), but you just know there’s something going on behind her fierce drive to get there.
But who cares? Sword fights! HIMYM pulled out one of its oldest callbacks in recent memory. As Ted continues to say goodbye, he brings the swords back for one last duel with Marshall. It’s a fond memory for Ted, mostly because he wasn’t the one to stab his fiancé during the original fight, and just one more thing he’ll miss in Chicago. The return of the swords serves as more than just a callback to one of HIMYM’s early highlights. Lily and Robin are swept up in the excitement as well, proving that Ted won’t be the only one missing things after he moves.
And that’s the crux of Lily’s “life lesson” to Ted: whereas children rarely have any control over what happens when they move, adults have a lot more agency in the process. Lily chides Ted for saying goodbye to all of the things he should be holding onto, chief among them being his friends; his last drink with Barney should be the first drink celebrating Barney’s new life. Ted is in such a hurry to run away from all of the things in his life that aren’t working that he’s running away from the things he should be fighting to keep. That’s a hard thing to do when you’re grappling with eight years of heartache. Lucky for Ted, Lily won’t let him.
- Linus continues to keep Lily’s “Kennedy Package” flowing.
- “I have to alert the villagers that there’s a Viking amongst them!” I wish I could say that Marshall’s hatred of Cheese Heads is exaggerated, but as a Minnesota resident, I cannot.
- Why does Ted know what Objectophiliacs are called?
- “But they’re family, and I love them!”
- Marshall totally gets Andre’s contributions to The Princess Bride.
- “I’m sorry, Dad.”
- “Hello. My name is Rodrigo de Goya. You killed someone I love. Prepare to dance!” That physically hurt me to hear, Lily.
- “I knew it!” “You knew nothing!”
- The reveal at the end of the episode—that Barney knows about Ted and Robin at the carousel—was immediately undercut by the promo showing Ted and Barney holding hands. Luckily, HIMYM has demonstrated that quick and hilarious resolutions to these kinds of conflicts never really resolve anything.