Sorry for the hiatus, folks. Boilerplate review for last week: I loved it. This show has gone to amazing lengths to flesh out Barney Stinson the womanizer into a real human being while still keeping him true to his character.
And this week we’re right back to Barney being a living cartoon. It’s not necessarily my favorite style of Barney’s character, but when other characters pitch in to help carry the conceit, it can be downright hilarious. And James (Wayne Brady!) helps make the battle for Loretta’s affections fun and creepy at the same time.
Barney’s parents have been a humanizing element for him throughout the show’s run. Faking a family for his mother’s benefit (4×15, “The Stinsons,” natch) and tracking down his father (the inimitable John Lithgow from 6×19, “Legendaddy”) were huge curveballs thrown by a largely two-dimensional character, and I’m glad we’re seeing a continuation of his struggle to come to peace with his non-idyllic family situation. He’ll never have a normal family, but as his and James’ Leave It To Beaver fantasies demonstrate, normal is overrated…and kind of unsettling. With James’ marriage over, I’m actually glad to see his father (Ben Vereen, playing the most easygoing minister I’ve ever seen on TV) end up with Loretta. It’s a happy ending. Just not necessarily Barney’s happy ending. His support of the two—with another elevator breakdown and a silver tray to set the mood—is exactly the kind of sweet gesture you’d expect of a sociopath.
Flipping to the B-side, we see one of the funniest plots threads the show has ever run come to a head with a brilliant display of “Zabka-tage.” Before I watched this show, the name William Zabka would have meant nothing to me. But thanks to Barney’s backwards understanding of protagonists (also introduced in 4×15, “The Stinsons”), I want the man who carries 2000 signed headshots in his trunk to have his own show. When he was reintroduced earlier this season, I was worried Zabka would be relegated to a background joke, a reference to the show’s continuity and nothing more. But this episode catapulted Zabka into one of my favorite guest stars. His flashback of being booed by his own mother via phone had me falling off my couch with laughter. Like Wil Wheaton, Zabka has survived being a child actor of the 80s. I hope this isn’t the last we see of him.
Without his sister, Ted is left with only half of the Mosby Boys to crack the case of the ruined Gretzky photo. Radnor is great at channeling Ted’s not-so-inner douche, and he gets some great moments, bemoaning the loss of his calligraphy ink and interrogating his various suspects. It’s nothing new, but at this point HIMYM is taking a few victory laps, letting their characters be themselves. We’ll see plenty of desperate, lovesick Ted before too long.
My disappointment with this episode was in its neat wrap-up of Daphne’s story. I suppose I should have guessed, but I didn’t really expect her story of racing to see her daughter’s Model UN speech to be true. It wasn’t bad. In fact, her daughter’s chant of “Drill, baby, drill,” was an adorable nod to Daphne’s earlier mantra. But I guess I expected something more to come of it. Otherwise, the car stuff this episode was largely forgettable, with a few chuckle-worthy gags (the oranges). It’ll be nice to have Marshall at Farhampton, though, if only to move his and Lily’s story forward.
Next week is the rhyming episode. I…don’t know how to feel about that yet.
- “I now pronounce your asses saved.”
- “Gretzky’s her hero. She says his name in bed sometimes. I’ve accepted it.”
- The stairs are wet. No, broken. Yeah, the stairs are broken. Sounds legit.
- The smooth, Barry-White-esque rendition of “Bangity-Bang” is a hilarious continuity nod.
- After eight years, the Pineapple Incident remains a mystery. You suck, Detective Mosby. “How do you know about that?” “Everybody knows about that!”
- “Of course I have ink remover. I’m not one of those sloppy punk calligraphers who’s in it for glory over craft.”
- Barney’s and James’ dueling Leave It To Beaver fantasies devolving into a fight is the best fantasy sequence we’ve seen all season.
- “I’m marrying into this family…”
- We Roddenberry fans are pretty sensitive about the word “Trekkie.”
- The Two-Dad-Three-Way is a hard no.
- “I’m going to kill my—wait for it…self!”
- “Drill, baby, drill!” The voice of the new generation.
- “You can come to Thanksgiving this year!” HIMYM has gotten so much more mileage out of The Karate Kid than I ever imagined.
- Jerome still has a little Crazy Jerry in him when his wife is on the line.