Season Nine, Episode Nine
I’m not sure if the previous handful of episodes that were underwhelming had anything to do with it, but this episode was great! Maybe it had to do with the fact that Marshall wasn’t seen side-by-side with Daphne on their completely uninteresting road trip. Nah, this was a great episode because it was refreshing to side-step all of the Barney/Robin wedding weekend and concentrate on some very important story-lines that led to where we are right now. It also helps that this was done with some of the hilarious gimmicks that HIMYM is known to do.
Robin is upset that her mom isn’t going to be able to attend her wedding and Barney tries to cheer her up when she said she’ll never get over it. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Except Lily reminds Barney there is a challenge that he failed to accomplish. We flashback to six months ago: Ted and Robin are doing their cute inside jokes again, Barney and Robin aren’t going out, and Lily and Marshall made a bet whether or not Ted and Robin will end up with each other (Marshall says yes, Lily says no). What’s interesting about this is how this sheds more light on the time when Ted decided to wait it out with Robin, and how Barney turned things around with her.
Let’s get the funny out of the way before diving into the heart of the episode. I absolutely loved the fact that Ted and Marshall attended a Harlem Globetrotters game while rooting for the Washington Generals. “That’s not a pregnant lady. It’s a basketball under his shirt! Blow the freaking whistle!” But while the two scorn the referee, they discuss the idea that Barney brought up that it just takes twenty minutes between and man and a woman that could change their futures forever. Marshall plays out the scenario where Ted and Robin get together and live happily ever after, but Ted offers the other scenario (and the likely one) where he goes all out, steals the blue french horn, and asks her out only to be rejected.
Meanwhile, Robin and Lily are giving Barney ridiculous challenges that he keeps winning (all of them has to do with getting a girl’s phone number). My favorite was when he had to pick up a girl wearing a trash bag without saying words with the letter “e” in them. “Hi. My word for this guy is Barn-o. You look not ugly. Your dial thing is what?” But Barney finally gets stumped when he has to go to the drugstore to pick up a girl while purchasing diapers and samosas. How could the almighty Barney lose a challenge? Because he runs into the mother! That’s right! She tells him something more valuable than he’s ever received in his life, that he should stop playing the game and go for the win. And Barney admits that is when he devoted his life and energy to make Robin fall in love with him (since that’s when he first started writing up “The Robin” in his Playbook).
Yes, this is a flashback episode but it’s one with such depth and meaning for a sitcom. It reminds us of these characters a season or two ago and how a single decision rippled to where they are now. Ted, the hopeless romantic that he is and always will be, decides to sit back and let the universe do its thing. Why? Just because Robin debunks the olive theory. Ted strongly believed that Robin simply doesn’t change her mind and won’t ever give him a chance again, but now that all has changed. To Ted, given enough time maybe Robin will change her mind about him. Like he said, “If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen when it happens. I’m not going anywhere. She’s not going anywhere.” But on the other side, Barney is drafting up his very plan to win Robin’s heart. He’s pro-active, opposite to Ted’s waiting game. And while we can all feel bad that Ted does lose Robin, it’s just another step towards finding his wife.
But Ted doesn’t know that yet. We’re only 31 hours away from Barney and Robin tying the knot and the look on Ted’s face when they’re kissing is all you need to see. Ted might still have feelings for Robin, and maybe he doesn’t, but the more important thing is that he wants to find that girl. He was close with Robin and that’s why it’s all that much more painful, but as he sits back in his chair hiding the hurt when Robin says the words “mission accomplished” to Barney, he sees that the closest chance he had to “win the game” is gone.
The episode begins and ends with Robin, first being upset but then smiling that she and Barney are happily getting married. While Ted’s story-line drives the show, Robin’s has always been right behind as runner-up. It’s another aspect that makes HIMYM a classic sitcom with unique twists here and there. This is all a part of the final season where we see Robin find a husband in Barney, closing their book of searching for romance while Ted is unknowingly getting closer to his final chapters.
Last but not least:
- Cristin Milioti gets a lot of great screen time here, first disarming Barney as the predator and then really impacting him with her advice. I still really love the “do you want to keep playing the game, or do you want to win it?” I know I said it before, but it’s worth mentioning twice.
- Lily confuses scaring someone when they have the hiccups with when they’re upset, resulting in giving Robin the hiccups.
- You always have to love when Bryan Cranston makes an appearance as Hammond Druthers.
- “Hey ref! Check your voicemail! I think you missed a few calls!”
- Barney’s challenges: Get a girl’s number while talking like a dolphin, wearing a garbage bag and without using the letter “e”, she waits for Ryan Gosling, retrieving diapers and samosas.