Monday, February 20, 2012

How I Met Your Mother: "No Pressure"

Quick Review: This is season 4 in all the right ways. 

Episode Synopsis: Ted rocks Robin with a personal declaration about how he feels about her. Meanwhile, Barney tries to dig up some personal dirt on Lily and Marshall. -tvguide

 Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Of course, you are free to proceed without viewing the episode, but then don't whine to me about spoilers. This reminds me of a bet I could make with my wife. Someone's going to whine about spoilers.

Best Episode Moment: The parade of yellow umbrellas to the tune of Florence and the Machine's "Shake it off." It's shades of Ted's epic hugfest in season 4's "Right Place, Right Time." 

Worst Episode Moment: The poorly, and awkwardly staged scene between Ted and "The Mother," so focused on covering her face that it lacked any chemistry whatsoever.

Best Character Moment: Marshall telling Robin that she needs to move out. Seriously, that is one good friend.

Best Character Interaction: Lily and Marshall doing their best to convince Barney to watch and not watch the tape.

Best Character Progression: Ted finally figuring out why he's screwing up with all his relationships, and finally letting Robin go.

Best Callback: The Blue French Horn back on the wall where it belongs. 

Best Justification for Making Bets on Your Friends' Lives: "We were making models!"

Best Justification for Destroying Ted's VCR: "Ted, it was a VCR."

Best Cameo: Why yes, that was Conan  

Any hint about The Mother? She likes wearing hats that completely hide her hair.

Any hint about The Wedding?
Despite Barney's protestations that he's over Robin, there's still a good chance he'd marry her in a heartbeat.

Do we like Ted this episode?
Yes, yes we like Ted. Finally, finally he figures it out. This is the episode I've been waiting for, and what I hoped to see after the end of last week's bombshell.

Overall Opinion of the Episode: This is an episode that I believe fans of the show have been waiting for. For too long, for far too long, Ted has just been in a holding pattern and it's been sad to watch. He was supposed to be this great, romantic lead, the show was meant to be a "love story in reverse," but lately it seemed like it forgot that the entire point was the meeting of this incredible woman, The Mother.

The first few seasons of the show seemed well thought out, like there was a clear path from the moment Ted met Robin to meeting his future wife. Everything, from Ted and Robin's breakup, the butterfly tattoo, meeting Stella, being left at the altar by Stella, and getting the teaching job, was building to this incredible romantic moment. Unfortunately, that's when it stalled out for two seasons.

Now it looks like we're on the right track. First, we know that after Ted's poorly thought out confession of love to Robin, the next women he tells "I love you" is his wife. I consider that progress. Even better progress would be Ted actually not prowling around anymore and instead becoming an awesome person worthy of The Mother, who I can't wait to meet.

Hopefully when we can actually see her face, it will go a lot better than what we saw in this episode. Now, the last time we were close to Ted's future wife, he was in her apartment and we saw the back of her foot. That was an incredible episode as we start to see Ted fall in love with this woman. All we get is a foot, and it's incredibly sweet.

This moment was not at all sweet. True, at first I was excited to see Ted and The Mother on a date, but we run into a huge problem. Since they don't show her face, they can't truly interact with any kind of chemistry. They stand a foot apart like awkward preteens at their first dance so that her back is to the camera. She's wearing a gray cap that completely covered most of her head, so we can't see any kind of reaction and interaction on her part. Honestly, they should have just stopped with Ted's "I love you" and not tried to add in a kiss afterwards, because it looked like she was kissing him goodnight, not reacting to a declaration of love.

Look, if you're going to stage a romantic scene in the rain, when Ted says "I love you" for the first time, here's how you do it. Both Ted and The Mother and cuddling under the yellow umbrella. He's got his arm wrapped around her. It's cold, miserable, and their eyes meet. He smiles, because in this miserable moment, there's no one else he'd rather be with. So he just tells her he loves her, and then they kiss. The umbrella dips, and they both get soaked, but they don't care.

That's how you do it, but again, they're still hiding her from us, so we're stuck with awkward adolescents.

Still, aside from that, the rest of the episode is pure gold, and this season is so much better than last season it's unbelievable. I loved Lily and Marshall's bets. It's perfect for them as a couple, it makes sense, and the actual bets were pretty funny. (Ted goes bald, but he pulls it off.) I liked Marshall convincing Barney why he wouldn't want to see their sex tape, and Lily telling him why he would.

Of course, the big moment is Ted and Robin finally and forever closing the door on their romance. It's about time, because for Ted to move on, this needs to be a moot point for the rest of the series. I think Ted still carrying a torch for Robin is a valid reason he's stalled. It might be some CYA from the writers, but I'm feeling generous so I'm going to go with it.

Robin and Barney are still up in the air. When Ted figures out that Barney has feelings for Robin, it's a powerful moment. This is Barney at a very vulnerable state, as he put himself out there for Robin and was turned down. Naturally, he returns to focusing on the sex tape, but clearly he's just masking his pain. Robin clearly has feelings for Barney, and his are still there for her, but he's been hurt and it's going to take time for him to trust her again. He wants to, he just doesn't know if he can.

Robin, too, has some things to figure out. She doesn't love Ted, she's moving out, and she's trying to figure out where her life is going. She had a chance with Barney and didn't take it. Will she give it another shot? We'll see.

The final moment of this episode was the kind of magic this show is good at. Ted walks out into a yellow umbrella parade, and it's clear that his life is on a new path. It's going to be rough going at first, but he finally has a destination.

I liked this episode a lot, despite my complaints about the shot with The Mother. This is a welcome return to what made this show special, and and hopefully, in the not too distant future, we'll get to see Lily collect on her bet.


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