Friendships make for murky waters when it comes to romance. Barney’s Bro Code had a hard and fast rule to simplify matters: “No sex with your bro’s ex.” But he was the first to break that rule, and in falling in love with Robin, he’s created an emotional quagmire from which he and Ted may never escape.
The tension between Barney and Ted from the end of [previous episode] is seemingly resolved in seconds, with only a $600 bottle of scotch to cry over. But those feelings still simmer on both sides of the fence: Ted is trying way, WAY too hard in his duties as Best Man, redoing 400 calligraphy place cards and making a custom deck of cards for the bachelor party poker game; Barney, meanwhile, is abusing Ted’s guilt-fueled work ethic with a series of increasingly horrible tasks, including making him re-redo the place cards for no reason, making him give his Great Aunt Ida a foot massage so vigorous that it puts her to sleep (“Yeah, I don’t really have a Great Aunt Ida.”).
Once their tensions bubble back to the surface, they turn to the Bro Code—which has replaced the Giddeon’s Bible in select hotels, and safety cards in select airlines—to resolve their dispute, adjudicated by Marshpillow 2.0. The honorable, absent Judge Marshall rules that the two bros have to sit in the sand holding hands to determine whether or not the moment between Ted and Robin was “weird.”
In returning to the “Robin of it all,” HIMYM gets to reverse one of its classic plot lines from Season 3, when Ted ended their friendship over Barney’s violation of his own Bro Code. This time Ted is in the wrong, although he desperately tries to argue otherwise. A little advice to Ted: when a friend asks you if you have romantic feelings for his fiancee, you say “no,” emphatically and immediately. Truth doesn’t enter into the equation.
Ted would love to turn those feelings off, but the whole point of this season is that he can’t. He desperately doesn’t want to betray Barney, but by this point, even he knows he’s a slave to the whims of his own heart. That kind of powerlessness has driven Ted in the past to find someone who can live up to those whims, and now it’s driving him to Chicago. But until he leaves, he’ll still be stuck under Robin’s spell, and it’s killing him, and it might do even more damage to his other relationships.
Meanwhile, in the B-plot, Robin is feeling hurt that Lily’s bachelorette party wasn’t up to snuff. With the irritating exception of Patrice, none of Robin’s girls showed up for her party. Lily, harangued, finally confesses that she didn’t forget to invite anyone; Robin has no girlfriends. Worse, women hate her, and she hates them.
Lily’s desperate search for Robin’s new girlfriend turns into a double-edged sword. Ted and Barney aren’t the only ones dealing with guilt, and Lily wants to make certain that her best friend is taken care of while she’s living in Rome. But when she finds Robin’s true doppelganger watching sports in the bar, she freaks out. Lily’s horror fantasy about Robin and her new friend “inject[ing] a sexual edge into [their] abiding friendship that in no way jeopardizes our emotional connection or respective marriages” is hilarious, but it’s also a beautiful character moment. Much like Ted, she’s leaving a lot behind in her move, only in Lily’s case, she wants to make sure it’s still intact when she returns.
Still early in the season, HIMYM is laying the groundwork for a lot to come. But since the previous episodes have been doing that as well, I feel like it’s time the show begin moving forward from that groundwork. Like in the episode’s beginning, the resolution between Ted and Barney won’t last. It would be interesting to see the show carry that kind of conflict across episodes without the pat, phony resolutions at each episode’s conclusion. Let’s see if HIMYM can pull it off.
- “He’s in Wisconsin in a rental car.” “Hertz?” “I mean, it hurts a little, but I’m not gonna cry about it!” Puns are the greatest cause for high-fives.
- Marshpillow 2.0 is too horrifying for words. Here’s an emoticon instead. 😦
- “Average-sized girl from that place” is actually kind of a bitch.
- Whenever reality fails Barney, he can always be counted on to fill in the gap (self-high-five!) with a fake history lesson.
- “We’ve all had a lot of fun joking about me banging your mom.” “Not all of us. Continue.”
- Der Bro Code is, like, huge in Germany.
- “Just be yourself. Say something nice!” “Which one? I can’t do both.”
- Lily may be a psycho (“I will cut you!”), but she’s Robin’s psycho.
- Tim Gunn picked up the intricacies of poker far quicker than the average television celebrity tailor/designer would.
- Why pick William Zabka to be your best man? “He’s the best…around!”