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How much affecting does an episode needs to be in order to elevate it from enjoyable time killer to memorable? The line between very good and great is incredibly thin; something can be very amusing and funny to watch, but it could just go by as a one timer. Sure, you had a good time, but that’s it. Something is memorable when it contains something that has the right amount of funny, touching, well-acted, well directed or just the right amount of shocking that it just makes it stay on your head. And surprisingly enough, this week’s How I Met Your Mother hits all that all together.

We start the episode with Robin being torn up by the fact that her mother won’t come to her wedding, and so Lily, Ted and Barney try to comfort her. Robin thinks it’s impossible, so of course Barney takes the challenge, but Lily reminds him of a challenge he supposedly never accomplished and we flash back to somewhere in between “The Autumn of break-ups” and “Splitsville” last season. It starts with the cute callback of Ted’s and Robin’s private joke, which Lily is not as excited as me. As Robin leaves for a while, Lily warns Ted that he has to be careful of being so cutesy with Robin, reminding him that he and Robin are platonic.

And then Barney steps in and tell them about the only real platonic couple he knows about (Lily: “You and me”. Barney: “Don’t make me laugh Lily, you want to hit this so hard. She is playing footsy with me as we speak… Ouch!”), Marshall and Robin. If we back up to “The Mermaid Theory” back in season 6, we know this makes perfect sense, and it’s even greater in Barney’s imagination where Lily comes with a bomb vest and even when they are about to be killed, Marshall and Robin can’t make out.

Ted then leaves and the story divides into two portions: we have Barney taking the challenges the gals out him through and Marshall and Ted conversation at the basketball game. Let’s start with the Barney storyline.

Lily and Robin see Barney take yet another meaningless challenge, so Lily calls him out for just his own challenges, so Barney takes on the challenge. It starts with him picking up a girl while talking like a dolphin. As per usual, Neil Patrick Harris makes a great impression with his facial expressions while the dolphin squeaking are put on the tracks. As Barney says “it was the performance of a life time!”, ok maybe it wasn’t that great, but it’s still pretty great (and like anything NHP does, Golden Globe and Emmy worthy for sure). Barney cheers the girls to keep throwing challenges, as he doesn’t want to win, but to keep playing games (this is key later on the episode). So he picks up girls while wearing a trash bag and not using the letter “e”, hitting on a red headed girl who Robin told Ryan Gosling was coming to get her (and Barney later convinces said girl that he was in fact Ryan) and finally he is tricked into doing an errand.

Here it is where the twist comes: Barney tries to hit on The Mother who happened to be on drug store; she realizes Barney is playing her (it helped that Barney said target acquired) and as she notices that deep down Barney is just trying to fool himself she tells him that he is going to be ok and that he is a good guy. Barney tries to ignore this, but he can’t, it just echoes in his head and he asks the mother what’s up with that. And she tells him that she thinks he was in love once and he messed it up and so he keeps playing games in order to keep himself distracted. She couldn’t be more right.

Barney drops his whole challenge just to talk with the mother about his dating experience with Robin; even though it wasn’t great, he always regretted giving up too fast, and everything after that has just been an act to keep himself distracted from the fact that he screwed up. In Barney’s defense, Robin also screwed up a lot (I remember “Tick, Tick, Tick” where Robin broke Barney’s heart very coldly), but he just needed to try harder. The Mother convinces Barney to give it his all in one last play to get the mother, a play that we all know as “The Robin”. At the beginning of the season I mentioned how “The Final Page” was my favorite episode on the whole series (ironically aired on my least favorite season) and seeing this callback made me cry, like seriously, I was on tears on the last three minutes, while watching how Barney started plotting “The Robin”, and it was even more affecting while hearing how Ted still had some lingering hope of eventually getting Robin.

Going back to Ted’s story, Marshall persistence about how Ted and Robin should end up together almost always annoys me; I know he cares about Ted and that he believes the two of them make sense together, but at this point he is just outright hurting Ted, not in purpose of course, but he just is. Sure, Ted can’t move on yet, and that’s not Marshall’s fault, but he also doesn’t need to be given false hopes and Marshall does just that. And I’m not the only one who’s tired of this, Ted himself asks Marshall how many times they are going to talk about this.

My annoyance in this matter doesn’t make the episode less enjoyable, it just make it more serious, and the fact that they are cheering the loser team with so much passion hit the right comedy bits when things are getting too dense so one can have a few chuckles in middle of what it is very sad territory; at the beginning of the season I commented on how affecting is seeing Ted hopeless and hurt; last week when we saw him proposing to The Mother I was so happy to see that the happy ending is coming that it made it a little easier to watch how hopeless Ted felt in this episode, but it’s not less affecting.

Marshall is sure that Ted is just 20 minutes away from his happy ending with Robin, but Ted has been rejected by her so many times that he just doesn’t want to get hurt anymore. Marshall believes he just need one win in order to make, but Ted already had that win, back at the end of season one when Robin finally gave in and they started dating; but that’s the only win he would ever get, and that breaks Ted heart, but he has accepted that he has to move on, or at least he thinks he has. When he tells Marshall how would he try to win Robin’s heart in 20 minutes, telling her to go to the roof and stealing the blue French horn, it’s obvious that he has given it some thought, but it’s heartbreaking how he also pictures himself being rejected once more.

And talking about rejection, Hammond Druthers comes back after so much time! Apparently he has messed up as an architect and wants to hire Ted. After being such a jerk to Ted in season 2 is sweet that we get to see Ted turning him down so multiple times and in so many ways during the episode; and even in the end Druthers tells Ted that the door is always open if he wants to take the job in Chicago. It’s a funny bit to the episode and now we know how Ted managed to choose Chicago as a place to live in the season 8 finale, because he had already a job secured.

Anyway, Marshall and Ted go back home, heartbroken as their team fared defeat and as Ted is about to tell Lily about Druthers’ call he sees Robin eating olives, which she used to hate; Ted was so convinced that Robin would never change his mind about anything that seeing this small change on Robin’s mind just makes a part of him believe again. So he goes down to the bar and he tells Marshall that there is always going to be something between him and Robin, that they are not platonic (“platon-ish, maybe”), that if it was 8 years ago he would be jumping on the cab to steal the French horn, but he believes that he is not in an urge anymore, if it is going to happen it will happen.

And then we come back to the present, where Barney tells that after meeting that girl (The Mother) he had only one challenge, and that was making Robin fall for him. Robin says a really sweet “challenge completed” and it’s all good, but we get to see the face of a heartbroken Ted as we know he wishes he was the one hearing those words from Robin. If I was already tearing up when I saw Barney making “The Robin” I gulped and broke into even more tears when we see Ted’s face, and I just applaud Josh Radnor for delivering such a great performance; no words needed, no lines, no jokes, no nothing, he just stares at Barney and Robin, he looks so sad and I find myself crying just as if someone died. That’s great acting. And not just great acting, it’s great television. There’s only a limited number of shows that can produce this much emotion in one single scene, and even more in a whole episode, and How I Met Your Mother is one of them.

Seriously, this show and the actors on it need to win the emmys next year, because this season they are going out with a bang. They are bringing the big guns and they deliver. But even if the academy ignores this wonderful comedy, it will still shine brightly on our hearts.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

-Barney: “And the only survivor was me. Because I was upstairs banging Ted’s mom”.
Classic Stinson!

-Robin over the phone: “Did you give your number to a guy squeaking like a dolphin?”
Random girl: *giggling* “Yeah…”
Robin: “Honey listen to me, I need you to take a year. A full year and just be celibate. Ok? No boy, one years. I think you know I’m right about this”.
Random Girl: “You’re right…”
Scherbastky looking out for bimbos.

-Lily: “You can’t use the letter E”.
Barney: “CHALL-NG! ACC-PTTT-D!”

-Barney to The Mother: “If I just knew someone I could set you up with… No, I can’t think of anyone”.

Pablozky
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing articles and some reviews as well

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