Monday, February 13, 2012

How I Met Your Mother: "The Drunk Train"

Quick Review: Here we go again. One step forward, two steps back. 

Episode Synopsis: While joining Lily and Marshall on a Valentine's Day getaway to Vermont, Robin and Kevin entertain the notion of taking their relationship to another level. Meanwhile, a blind date provides Barney with an eye-opening revelation. -tvguide 

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Of course, you are free to proceed without viewing the episode, but why would you? What, you think you're better than me?

Best Episode Moment: Ted and Barney get repeatedly rejected on the "drunk train." Apparently they thought they were better than everyone else.

Worst Episode Moment: Ted professing his love for Robin. Really? We're going back to that well again?

Best Character Moment: Robin telling Kevin that "If we get married, you will never have children. Are you okay with that?" 

Worst Character Moment: Kevin's repeated proposals. It only set him and Robin up for heartbreak, and he should know better than to propose so soon.

Best Character Interaction: Barney and Ted trying to do the math for the drunk train.

Worst Character Interaction: Lily and Marshall and their "subtle" cues about Kevin's proposal.

Best Running Gag: "You think you're better than me?" 

Second Best Running Gag: "Top Ten Things Heard on Marshall's Honeymoon."

Best Juxtaposition: Marshall and Lily agreeing not to keep score before the baby, and what happens after their bundle of joy arrives. "I hope it's a soupy deuce."

Best Cameo: Marshall's mother pays a judgmental visit to her son and daughter-in-law.

Best Play Title: "Just Screaming."

Any hint about The Mother? Ted didn't meet her on the "drunk train" that's for sure.

Any hint about The Wedding? We might have met Barney's bride tonight.

Do we like Ted this episode?
He was fun hanging with Barney, but professing his love to Robin just after Kevin retracted his proposal is just not cool. Ted's lonely, I get that. But he's taking advantage of a vulnerable Robin and only going to reopen old wounds when not inflicting new ones. Bad Ted. No cookie.

Overall Opinion of the Episode: Hopefully this Ted and Robin business will sort itself out, and we'll see Ted get some sense finally knocked into him. He and Robin are a bad combination, not only because of their history, but also because they want different things. Even if Robin is ready to be married, Ted wants kids, and she doesn't, her ability to notwithstanding. It makes sense that both of them, in the pangs of loneliness and hurt, would cling to each other, but I hope the writers take us somewhere new and aren't retreading old ground.

I liked the theme of keeping score. It was funny seeing how Marshall and Lily claimed they didn't, even though they totally were. It was funny because it's true for many relationships, and that grounding in reality made it funny, unlike the show's take on "pregnancy brain." I also like how the owing was extended to Barney and Ted, who are a couple themselves in many ways.

And like the show of old that I miss, the funny theme took a serious turn when Kevin proposed and Robin has to tell him that she can't have kids, and she won't have kids. Suddenly Robin would owe Kevin something so big that she couldn't live with it. Again, this is a common issue couples face when thinking about marriage, and I liked how they approached it. They made Robin a real character and she made a strong choice. I missed this Robin, and I'm glad she's back.

While I loved Robin this episode, I didn't buy the proposal except as a plot device, because you'd think Kevin would know better. He is a therapist,and I'm certain he's seen what happens when couples rush things. Then again, perhaps this is his fatal flaw: he tries to go all-in too soon. He did date a former patient, so why wouldn't he ignore common sense and want to get married? He might seem like a stand-up guy with his repeated proposals, but really, he's only setting them both up for failure by being impulsive. Which is exactly what happened.

Then there's Barney. First, we get a glimpse into his past, as we never knew where he went to college or what he studied. We knew is that he worked in a coffee shop for a few years, but it was always unclear how he'd be able to go land a huge corporate job that apparently pays him so well. It seems he knows numbers well enough to make him marketable. Interesting.

Of course, the big development is Nora 2.0, although she prefers to be called Quinn. This woman sees Barney coming from a mile away and calls him on all his crap. She still sleeps with him, but she's not taken with him as he is with her. The big reveal, of course, is that she's a stripper at the strip club Barney frequents. (And the one Lily's doppelganger dances at.) It's clear they are setting up her and Barney as a couple, and while she was a great foil in this one episode, will she be interesting in larger doses? We had the same hopes for Nora, so we'll see.

This episode was definitely the start of something, but it also feels like they writers are just returning to tried and true plotlines, particularly with Ted and Robin. It's time we get more than more of the same, but I'll withhold judgment until I see how this plays out. Perhaps this episode will be the beginning of wonderful character arcs full of growth, and we'll finally see Ted and Barney become worthy of their respective brides.

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