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How I Met Your Mother- Episodes 9.12/9.13 "The Rehearsal Dinner/Bass Player Wanted" Review- Surprises and more surprises!

Two weeks ago it was utter chaos for me: I had three final reports to deliver at college, two tests and my dad got married; it was impossible for me to write and upload my review in time. Last week I thought of uploading it, but since the next episode was about to come out, I decided to wait until now to bring a double review. Hopefully I won’t have this trouble for a while, as starting January 7, my summer vacations start! (As I live in Chile, it’s summer right now. Yep, I’m going to have a sunny Christmas).

With that said, I haven’t decided yet how I feel about “The Rehearsal Dinner”: I have watched it several times and there’s only one thing clear for me: there are parts that I love and parts that I hate.

Three weeks ago “Bedtime Stories” was an episode solely made to fool around and relax a little bit before getting into the real stuff; HIMYM does this time to time before bringing up the big guns. Two weeks ago, Barney’s surprise was kind of a big gun, one that HIMYM usually pulls off great, but here something really weird happens (at least for me): I considered the build up to be extremely weak and the payoff really satisfying. When a bad episode ends on a high note you are left confused; it’s like the final scene is so good that it can lift pretty much all the pieces that didn’t seem to fit, and the same goes for the other possible scenario, in which a great episode can be ruined by a bad ending. That’s because the ending will leave you with the after taste and if it’s good, you can probably ignore what happened before and if it’s bad, it can destroy the good will. Instead of narrating the whole plot and putting my thoughts on it, I’ll outright tell you what worked and didn’t worked for me.

What worked: It’s an understatement that How I Met Your Mother has one of the best casts on television; I have said this several times, but one of the things that really lift the episode is how well Neil Patrick Harris plays Barney this week in particular. He plays a fool of everyone with so much energy and charisma that is hard to complain about that.

One other thing I really like is the whole callback to the Canada jokes; it’s something the show has done several times and it just does it well, especially when they add the country’s flag while the gang makes fun of Canada (except for Robin of course). And the thing is that Canada is so great that it is absolutely ridiculous (albeit quite fun!) the jokes that the guys make, including Marshall’s one about how Canada has a great health system where you don’t have to choose between medical care and bank bankruptcy. And as we are discussing callbacks, I also love when Ted claims to be the gift master and both Marshall and Lily share a disgusted look, which goes all the way back to “The Poker Game”.

Lily’s troubles to keep secrets are ok: it’s more than explored ground on the show, but I appreciate that the shows keep this little quirk; every single character has some quirks and its part their identities. There was a moment I didn’t care much (when Lily stressed out to Barney that she could keep a secret), but mostly it’s fine. Lily also helps deliver two good moments: when she tells Ted and Robin about Marshall decision to be a judge (and Robin’s response “I have time for your drama”), and the moment Ted decides to let her in Barney’s secret.

And of course, I couldn’t leave out Barney’s surprise: it was really poignant that he is so committed to make Robin happy that he left his feud with Canada behind. The whole thing is beautiful, the falling snow, the ice skate indoor track, the music, James show, Ted’s failure at figure-skating, it’s all so well-crafted that it’s really impossible for me to be mad at this episode… but that doesn’t make it perfect either.

And now we tackle what I think didn’t worked: The reason I brought up NHP’s acting in the section above is because I got tires pretty quickly of Barney’s scheme; the acting was flawless and made it bearable, but mostly I felt Barney’s insistence in the whole matter of the Laser Tag Rehearsal Dinner annoying as hell; there were times where I thought “Robin might actually be planning on doing it” and some other times that I thought Barney was up to something. I usually like when things are unpredictable, but I felt like this was a tug of war that went off way too long. This build up was supposed to be solid and funny, but for me it was too convoluted to make me feel anything. And it already started badly with Barney saying to Robin he couldn’t go through with the wedding to then surprise her with a bag full of puppies; I felt like that was really bad taste, not even worth a joke out of it considering how shaky their relationship was on the past(thankfully, Robin took it better than I did).

The whole thing of having Ted dress up as Liberace was kind of fun at first, but it somehow grew old because this is something Ted wouldn’t mind doing; it would be way wackier (and fun) if we knew Ted would never do such a thing, but it’s really his kind of thing and so this gag didn’t really live to its fullest. Talking about gags… I didn’t really like them in this episode; I felt like there wasn’t much to grab on to laugh aside from some moments. It felt a little stale in the comedy front, being much stronger in the emotional side, but the latter doesn’t get much time to make this an episode to be remembered.
I hope you enjoyed the episode more than I did, it felt quite disjointed. Still, this is far from being the show’s worst, it’s not even bad at all, it just… is. I see it as a mixed bag, and I would rather focus on the good stuff rather than the bad ones.

Grade: B-

Now, “Bass Player Wanted” is a completely different story; it gives the mother some screen time which I appreciate a lot. Her presence has been limited this season, and I kind of understand why: the show doesn’t want abuse her presence. The impact she had on episodes like “The Locket”, “The Lighthouse” and “Platonish” is partly due to her limited screen time; Cristin Milioti has incredible chemistry with every cast member she has played with so far (Josh, NHP, Alyson and now Jason) and she has brought to life this ominous character with grace. While I would love to have seen more of her so far, I can’t deny that seeing so little of her make the previously mentioned episodes way more special. So, it was already a good sign to know that the mother would be present in this episode, as every episode she has been in have been great for me.

As soon as the episode started with Future Ted stating that we had another instalment of Marshall vs the machine, and with The Mother picking him up, my mind already thought “yep, this episode will get a straight A!”, and sure enough, this episode is just so great that you won’t have to wait to the end of the review to know the grade: it’s an A; god, it’s an A+, it’s a 1000 out of 10! This episode just hit the right combination of funny, conflict, drama and poignant that makes HIMYM so great. The gang is back together and The Mother is looming around, and now we’re up to a classy dance of avoidance until Ted and the mother finally meet.

Let’s start with Marshall and The Mother: after walking for quite a while (enough to be dehydrated and seeing Big Foot smoking) The Mother passes by in her van and offers Marshall a ride. There’s a fun bit when she pretends to be a psychic, telling Marshall that he is probably visiting a relative, that he came from Minnesota, that he is planning an overseas trip with his wife, a red head who loves art and got a job on Europe, even more specifically Italy, Rome, freaking Marshall out; now that was fun! And even more to see that while the mother revealed that he met Lily on the train Marshall hid on the back sit next to Marvin (“I was checking him!”).

As they travel together they bond, and as soon as Marshall gets to know she is not going to stay on Farhampton he tries to convince her to stay; this episode really makes a clearer picture of who The Mother is; now we know she, just like Marshall, is not very good at confrontation, she is sweet, and probably a push over. She decided to quit her band so she didn’t have to suffer from Darrin the lead singer (we’ll get to that), but Marshall thinks she shouldn’t give him the satisfaction. The way they bond feels really pure and honest; it takes just some minutes and it feels like they’ve been great friends for ages. Both the script and the acting work wonders for this pair.

In the end Marshall gets through The Mother and convinces her to fight for her band; as she arrives to the inn, she prepares for her confrontation, but she feels like she is hopeless and gives up, buying a Kennedy package from Linus (and we got a “Thank you, Linus” from her) and talks about how one hopes karma gets the bad guys eventually, but how in reality that doesn’t necessarily happens. And then she sees Darrin who has been hit on the face by the best man and he decides to leave the band to The Mother and storms out; it’s a sweet moment and after seeing Darrin screwing everyone’s life is really satisfying that he got knocked out this fast, and even more satisfying that The Mother bought the best man a drink. This was the first drink The Mother ever bought to Ted; they haven’t even met and they are already off to a great start.

Now, let’s back up a little; the whole gang is reunited minus Marshall and soon everyone starts picking sides on the Lily/Marshall spat; Barney is with Marshall (so he can get out of public urinating tickets), Ted doesn’t comment (though last episode he made clear he sided with Lily) and Robin tells Lily that she supports Lily. All its good until Darrin comes along to ruin everything.

The Mother tells Marshall that Darrin is the kind of person who will pop up with the sole intention of ruining everyone’s life, just because it amuses him. In this case, he gets to good graces with Lily and Robin, then as Lily momentarily leaves, Darrin makes Robin tell him how she really feels about the whole Marshall vs Lily thing; and he spills the beans as soon as he gets the chance, creating conflict. He does the same with Ted and Barney; he makes Ted open up to him about moving to Chicago and he tells Barney as soon as he had the chance.
There’s no way around it, I hate the guy! (I do love how his eyes go on fire when he plays evil and how you can hear “Darrin! Darrin!” in the intense background music though), but it’s the kind of hatred that you’re ok with, because you know it’s serving the plot right.

Darrin gets Lily and Robin to fight over multiple things, while it didn’t take much to create a rift between Ted and Barney; as Barney learns that Ted is leaving to Chicago on Monday (the day after the wedding) he thinks that he means nothing to Ted, while Lily feels already so betrayed by Marshall that she can’t take it when Robin sides with him.

And here comes the emotional stuff: first (and the lightless) Robin confesses that she sided with Marshall because she was selfish and wanted Lily to stay; they are best friends and she doesn’t want her to go, but she must give Lily her support, so to prove it she bring pillow-Marshall so she can beat the doll down. It’s funny and sweet. The heavy stuff, however, comes from Ted and Barney: Ted steals a 600 dollar bottle, something he could end up in jail for (“that’s the dream”) and as Barney tells him how while Marshall and Lily are in Italy, the three of them (the classic Ted-Robin-Barney triangle) could hang out everything becomes clear to him; they can’t, it’s just too much for Ted who just can’t shut his feelings for Robin, not until he meets the right girl. This makes for a very poignant moment.

Then, while Lily is about to rip apart pillow-Marshall, the real Marshall comes with Marvin through the door and Lily is so happy to see them both that they agree on pausing their conflict (what a great callback!) and kiss. Then Ted and Barney show up with the bottle and they are all set to drink that 600 dollar scotch, but Darrin comes into the picture, crashes with Ted and makes him drop the bottle, earning the most satisfying off screen punch I’ve seen on a while, the same one that got Ted’s drink from the mother.

The episode was full of fun gags, the mother proves that she belongs with the gang as chemistry sparkles and there are all kind of funny and emotional beats that just comes natural. This is exactly what I would hope for the show to be every week, this is HIMYM’s perfection.

Grade: A

Stray observations:
-Barney needs to touch buttons so badly that, even when there was a pregnant lady involved, he couldn’t help but to press every single button on the elevator.

-Barney tasting some “apple juice”: “Classic apple juice after burn”.

-Lily: “Ted won’t be playing the piano”.
Robin: “Oh, really? Ted, you didn’t have not to do that for me!”
Ted’s confused face is priceless!

-A lot of telepathic conversations! I love it! My favorite? Lily thinking on having a threesome with Darrin, then he getting tired, and she and Robin get to do all kind of stuff. “That would be so stupid… so stupid…” Oh, Lily… I’m going to miss your attraction to Robin when the show is over.

-One thought shared by everyone in the telepathic conversations: “I just love how he gets how adorable and hilarious I am!” Not even Linus could help but fall for that.

-A lot of “that’s the dream” named by Ted, but there’s one I clearly remember from episode 6x13 “Bad News”: Barney: “You can’t get a girl pregnant! That’s the dream!”

-Lily: “Why don’t you get a Team Marshall T-shirt? What size are you? Extra-traitor?” I just found this so hilarious! I don’t know why.

-The Mother is driving with gloves, just like Ted does. The show is great with details!

-The Mother’s band name is “Super Freakonomics".

-The Mother: “I can’t handle confrontation”.
Marshall: “Yes you can!”
The Mother: “You make some good points”.
I had a Déjà vu to a moment where Marshall and Daphne argued; good stuff.

-Brace yourselves. The slap is coming.

-See you all in January 13! By then I’ll be done with college and will have plenty of time to write and upload my reviews way faster!

About the Author - Pablo
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 reviews for Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother and Community

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