No other sitcom reveres history as much as HIMYM (at least until Downton Abby receives a confusing distaff American remake). Without Future Ted’s obsession about his own history, we never would have gotten nine seasons’ worth of stories that too often end with him telling his kids about another sexual conquest. The show is built around the idea of the meet-cute story, unwrapping the innocuous details that only in retrospect become important. But what happens when that story doesn’t live up to the expectations of others?
The solution, according to Barney and Robin, is of course to steal a better story and make it their own. As Lily discovers in this episode, the happy couple has appropriated her and Marshall’s meet-cute story to placate a curmudgeonly minister—who, unthinkably, turns down most weddings because I guess he’s tired of money. Seeing Barney and Robin reenact Marshall and Lily’s first meeting shot-for-shot was a huge treat for longtime fans, who are all too familiar with the flashback. But even funnier was Lily’s revenge, which brought us all the way back to the first episode to see Lily and Marshall reimagine the night Ted and Barney met Robin. HIMYM is never better than when it plays inside its own canon, and as the actors have gotten older, it only makes the college flashbacks funnier.
But as awesome as their lie is, Barney and Robin are forced to admit the truth to their minister, and in doing so they accept all of the messy history they’re bringing into the marriage. As far as they’re concerned, their story is perfect because it ends with them getting together. Too bad their minister doesn’t agree; the sordidness of their past—the lies, false starts, and the premarital sex that took place in his chambers—kills him. Now they have less than two days to find someone to marry them. And Wedding At Bernie’s is vetoed immediately.
The A-plot, however, belongs to Ted: after a pep talk from Barney centered around Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ted sets out on his own quest to find the right weekend hookup. There are good choices aplenty, including a former gymnast with a career-endingly large rack and a girl who makes 90s-car-alarm noises during sex, but Ted can’t seem to stop himself from making bad choices as he hitches his star to Cassie, a nice young lady who then proceeds to have the worst day humanly possible. The Last Crusade knight reappears each time Ted chooses to stick with Cassie to inform him that he “chose poorly,” but it’s not really a choice for Ted. He’s a Nice Guy, with all of the baggage that capitalization suggests; he’s too invested in his white knight persona to do the selfish (and frankly, smart) thing and leave. The need to be there for Cassie is part of who Ted is, and he can’t choose to abandon her anymore than he could choose to excise his feelings for Robin. He can, and should, however, choose to be a better tipper. C’mon, Ted. You’re going to be there all weekend, and servers have long memories.
On the road, Marshall and Daphne fill in the spaces between the A- and B-plots with some hilarious roleplaying to coach Marshall through his confession to Lily that he is going to be a judge. Though we’ve been given hints, we now know Marshall accepted the appointment. He wants to break the news gently, laying the groundwork for the sensible discussion that has to happen now. Too bad Daphne texts Lily the news in a fit of rage after Marshall calls her the devil for being a big oil lobbyist. With no time left to prepare, and no proximity to help soothe the sting of his unilateral decision, Marshall has his work cut out for him.
- There are two kinds of self-fives. Barney does the cool kind.
- In Barney’s Indiana Jones fantasy, Ted is the Nazi. Maybe Barney just thinks Ted is industrious and persistent? No.
- “Looks can be deceiving, Lily. But not in this case; he’s a mean old tool.”
- Hooking up with the depressed girl at a weekend wedding is like stepping on a land mine; you never see it coming until you know you’re screwed, and there’s no good way out of it.
- The prayer-five is awesome.
- Robin steals Lily’s college Beatles haircut to go along with her stolen story. She and Barney also steal Marshall and Lily’s nicknames, but can’t do much with them: Barn-mallow and Rob-pad sound terrible.
- “I am tough!” “No, you’re not.” “You make some good points.”
- Honestly, Daphne probably downplays Lily’s libido during the roleplay.
- Hesitation experienced by Barney and Robin before they throw Lily under the bus with their minister: 0.
- “Nope. Start over.”
- Hitting on Sophia while crying Cassie holds his hand: Ted is bold. Not bright, but bold.
- “You’re killing me.” A humorous exclamation that turns into a dark portent
- Sex with a crying girl: maybe not as sexy as Barney Stinson attests.
- “She chose….Wesley. I’ve been dying to say that one all night.”