Oh hello How I Met Your Mother. Where have you been hanging out this past while? I mean we were worried you know? What with Kal Penn and playing Robin-relationship-tennis and forgetting… who you were. Y’know? Anyway, good to have you back.
Episode 17 of HIMYM‘s seventh season kicks off with Ted and Robin on the rooftop, immediately post-Ted’s confession of love. The next minute or so shows how quickly and perhaps jarringly the show can jump from sincerity to comedy and back, as Ted makes his awkward excuses, exits roof and stays awake through the night thinking of ways to justify his clearly insane actions. He lumps for “I GO SECRET CAMPING” when Robin appears at his bedroom door, and they kiss for the first time in a couple of seasons (I think, help me out here sports fans).
To jump into some meta stuff before we even hit the opening credits, it seems like first-time writer George Sloan is pretty savvy to the Robin-fatigue induced by shoving her into a bunch of situations increasingly incongruous to her personality, and that another run with Ted would have probably killed us all. He very swiftly gets Robin out the door in a funny and believable manner, and musters a perfectly reasonable excuse for her to yell at someone. Attention supercut directors: one of Cobie Smulders yelling at people please. <3 Dave.
It also seems like Sloan has a better handle on exactly how the group’s dynamic works: this episode features one-to-one scenes with almost every possible permutation of the main players, usually discussing another off screen. It’s also noticeable how naturally it flows without minor characters horning in on the plot, Conan O’Brien’s awesome cameo as an unnamed extra aside. It all gives Marshall and Lily a chance to act as more than spectators, gives Barney a chance to show how he really has grown, and finally give some resolution to the Ted and Robin saga. We’ll get to that though.
In a hijinks setup that is actually totally believable, Barney turns up in Marshall and Lily’s bed after a night in the Drunk Train (remember?), and in a stupor from the night before has crawled into their bed. He makes some pretty creeptacular comments about Lily, which still kinda work because of the running joke about how a) Barney likes boobs and b) Lily secretly lusts after everyone in the group. She even talks about it later in the episode, because My New Hero George Sloan understands narrative and comic consistency.
Anyway, a sex tape is mentioned and Barney pre-emptively hires a team of cleaners to cover up the mess he is about to make trying to find it. He does uncover a tin of Long Term Bets that include such gems as “Barney will die by murder” “Ted will go bald” and “If Ted goes bald he will make it work”. Again, we already know that the Eriksens have an odd fascination with the extent of their mortality, and it’s oddly satisfying how neatly it chimes with the characters as they’ve been built up over the years. And yes, Barney finds the tape after some divine intervention.
Digression: Sloan is probably an even bigger fan of the show that I am, and isn’t afraid to show it off. This season the leads have felt less like the unique complex of psychoses and interdependences that have made them so fun to watch and so relatable and more like entries from the Big Book of Sitcom Tropes. There are a huge number of flashbacks and callbacks to some of the show’s best moments, not only showing that the writer is aware of everything that’s gone before, but that he cares about it and knows how to make you feel the same. How young did Ted and Robin look in that flashback? How much have we all been through since then? It did what few sitcoms ever manage and give me a real moment’s pause about my own experiences. So yeah, good show.
Anyway, Ted and Barney have their best moment in years when Ted tells him that Robin and Kevin broke up. NPH shows chops beyond his usual comedy schtick, and his delivery of the lines that finally let go of her are shockingly moving. Also this: ”Barney, you’ve really grown up.” “Thanks. Now let’s watch our two best friends have sex on tape.” Enter Lily and Marshall, who perform one of the show’s best physical comedy bits for a long time trying to make him watch/not watch the show respectively.
Last but not least, Robin returns and she and Ted have a huge romantic date via montage, which ends with them realising they’re best as friends, and amazingly, I believe them. I also believe it when Ted decides to renege on their deal to marry at 40: “I can’t do that anymore. As long as the door is a little bit open, I have this feeling that I’ll just be waiting around to see if I win the lottery.” Dang you guys. As if that weren’t enough, Marshall also steps in (bearing in mind his role as keeper of the bet that Ted and Robin will end up together) to tell her that Ted loves her too much for her to stay in the apartment. Double dang.
The show ends with HIMYM‘s best ever musical montage, Florence and the Machine’s “Shake it Up” accompanying Ted’s (and presumably Robin’s) newfound feeling of freedom. As a long term fan of the show, I share it.
You can also find some great recappy thoughts regarding Ted and the gang over at Show and Tell, definitely worth a look. So how did you find this week? Am I getting a little too excited? Do you feel a little better about how close Mr Mosby is to Mrs Mosby? Let us know in the comments.