Any show that’s been around as long as How I Met Your Mother is bound to cover the same sort of ground a couple of times. Less excusable when you start using the same jokes again. Barney claims to have Enormous Penis Syndrome, which you’ll remember from the episode called The Playbook, where it appeared in much funnier, less Two And A Half Men fashion.
As an opening gambit I’m going to suggest that Barney really needs to have his role clarified: is he a three-dimensional character with a heart and admirable motivations or is he an increasingly woman-hating caricature? Added to this, the show seems a lot happier portraying desperate, self-esteemless women in bit-parts, noticeably at a time when Ted’s attitude to romance, which was the focus of the show during its best years, has been gradually replaced by Barney’s less engaging, less nuanced and frankly less fun approach. Pretty worrying, HIMYM.
All of which is a shame because this episode started off so promisingly. There was some snappy dialogue, some plot progression and a simple-but-workable set-up that harked back to the glorye dayes of yore. Ted is pretending to be interested in someone because loneliness is terrible, Barney is being a wingman and pretending not to be interested when his usual lines don’t work. The new lady is Quinn, Ugly Betty‘s Becki Newton, who is unremarkable in pretty much every way except the way the script says Barney is interested in her. Meh.
Anyway, in Vermont that couples’ retreat thing is going pretty well except Kevin proposes marriage to Robin! After some faffing and some pretty ambiguous signalling from Robin and Kevin regarding her ability/desire to have children, the proposal is rejected. The whole thing is handled pretty clumsily – instead of having a single conversation where some pretty important issues could be bashed out, it’s stretched over a couple of scenes in which it’s never totally believable that Robin really wants in on this marriage business. Anyway, this looks like bye bye for Kevin. Kal Penn’s run on this show has been one of the most painful things the show’s done since Zoey outstayed her welcome, and one starts to suspect the role was originally written for someone else. It never played to his strengths and I still don’t really know what his character was about. RIP.
Okay, in other news, Ted and Barney discover the Drunk Train, and spend their half of the episode trying to figure out why their strategy for picking up women on it isn’t working. I don’t know a whole lot about Long Island but I’m sure glad I don’t live there or I might be a little upset about my depiction on this show! Maybe it’s a New York thing and it’s all in good fun. Shrug. Anyway, in one of the better bits in recent weeks Ted and Barney figure out what’s been missing with a little Beautiful Mind-style equation where they figure out the need to be… drunk. Hijinks ensue, there’s a really uncomfortably sad line from a woman who doesn’t like having sex on the ground, Barney realises he needs something better than this.
Back in New York central, Quinn and her friend are discussing Barney, and it turns out she works as a stripper. A few years ago I would have assumed something good could have come out of Barney starting a relationship with Quinn, who might make him finally realise women are more than just a way of asserting how awesome he is and get him out of this CBS-rut of sex-negativity, but now I’m not so sure.
One more thing. Robin is on the roof smoking after her break-up with Kevin. She doesn’t seem all that wildly cut up about a guy she nearly married and cheated on a couple months back. Shrug again. Anyway, she pours her heart out to Ted about her ability to find happiness and how terrible she feels, and we all say uh-oh Ted loves him some emotional theatrics, and sure enough…
He tells her he loves her. Here we go again!
How’s this season been treating you? Where do you want things to go from here? Let us know in the comments.