Monday, April 15, 2013

How i Met Your Mother: "Romeward Bound"

Quick Review: We're mainly getting setup this week.

Episode Synopsis: Lily must decide if she's willing to ship out to Rome to be the Captain's art consultant. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so it's probably best that you watch the episode first before you read my commentary on it. Otherwise, you will be spoiled, and there will be nothing to do but sit in an Italian cafe in an angsty, existential crisis, your world in black and white as you sip coffee and ponder the meaning of it all. There may or may not be a scooter involved. I don't know. Do you want a scooter involved? Because if you don't, and one shows up, then that's just adding insult to injury.

Best Episode Moment: Ted and Barney have a very intense argument about Robin.

Worst Episode Moment: Ted and Barney's quest to have a woman remove her coat.

Most Overused Word: Ridonkulous 

Most Misused Word: Literally. 

Best Character Interaction: Marshall speaks "Italian" to Lily.

Best Way to Fill the Day: Italian Price is Right

Worst Conflict: Being not stoned. 

Best Callback: Lily lists all her other failed exotic excursions.

Any hint about The Mother? She's probably seen Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol

Any hint about The Wedding? There will be a strict No Puffy Coat dress code.

Do we like Ted this episode? No. I get that he's lonely, but it's as if he didn't even have a significant character arc that was supposed to make him ready to meet The Mother. Plus, he's being creepy.

Overall Opinion of the Episode: There was a moment toward the end of the episode I really liked. Barney was so happy that Robin was cool with him ogling women, and Ted tried to warn him against thinking Robin was cool with it. You'd expect to see the show transition to Robin who is, indeed, not cool with it. But we don't see that. We don't know how Robin really feels about Barney's efforts to scope out the wedding planner's "ridonkulous" body. Instead, we remain with Ted and barney. Barney reminds Ted that he's marrying Robin, not Ted.

It's a scene that takes the show from light to serious, as Barney warns Ted, in no uncertain terms, that he's crossing a line. We see some of the underlying tensions between Barney and Ted, and that's been a theme of the show for the entire season. They've fought over Robin several times before, and it almost ended their friendship. While Ted has said he's all right with Barney and Robin, past episodes have shown that he's not entirely fine with it.

There was a serious edge to Barney's voice, and Neil Patrick Harris played it perfectly. We're so used to a boisterous life-of-the-party Barney that it's a shock when he gets serious. Naturally, Ted backed off, but the tension remains unresolved, and I wonder if we'll see it come back. Just as I wonder whether Robin really is cool with Barney's new ability to get women to take off their coats. After all, she was also very intrigued by what her wedding planner was hiding under there, and the episode tag shows a very not-angry Robin and Barney. That doesn't mean there still isn't an issue, but the issue could be between Barney and Ted, not Barney and Robin.

This entire episode, really, was about setup. We see a big potential source of tension between Barney and Robin, though the tag seems to indicate Robin isn't terribly upset with Barney at the moment. There's a little tension between Ted and Barney, but Ted backing off may have eased it. Finally, there is Lily and Marshall's move to Rome.

The Captain's return has been a mixed blessing for the show. His arrival has given Lily something new to do, but his schtick was pretty much used up two seasons ago. This week he stirred the pot by asking Lily to move to Rome, prompting a hilarious montage of Marshall living the life of a stereotypical Italian man. Lily fears he'll hate the life, while Marshall, now criminally underemployed, seems like he'd take to it. The issue for Lily is fear of failure.

That seems to be the motivation for both Marshall and Lily. Marshall doesn't want Lily to know his job is a failure, and Lily fears failing in Rome, as she has on her other adventures. It's an understandable motivation and it makes sense. Lily is quite comfortable as a New Yorker and would hate to leave. I liked how she considered herself a "small town" girl from Brooklyn.

I was a bit disappointed to see what happened to Marshall's current job. Apparently they couldn't get Martin Short or Joe Manganiello back, so they just showed Marshall, the great crusader, goofing off all day. I would have loved to see Marshall, faced with these long odd, actually try to make the world a better place instead of build houses of cards. It feels like a betrayal of his character, one that will be rectified when the judge plotline comes to fruition.

Because at this point we're waiting for a lot of storylines to get resolved. Ted meeting his future wife. Barney and Robin's wedding. Whether Lily and Marshall move to Italy. Does Marshall become a judge?

This week especially was a lot of setup but little payoff. I'm fine with that if it all goes somewhere. The show spent several episodes building up to Barney's proposal, so I'm willing to give it a chance. If it works, then this episode is brilliant setup. If it doesn't work, then this episode is spoiled in retrospect.

Finally, I do want to briefly discuss Ted. While I'm glad that at least he didn't wind up starting an ill-advised relationship with Robin and Barney's wedding planner, I was very disappointed that everything he did this time around involved trying to get a women to strip down so he can ogle her body. It was certainly creepy and made him very unlikeable.

I really want to like Ted. Last week made me love him, both 2013 Ted and 2030 Ted. I wished we could have seen a Ted more devoted to his relationships with his friends, his career, or even just trying to be a better person. Because right now, while The Mother is supposed to be this great and awesome relationship, I don't see how someone like Ted could make it work.

I guess we'll see.


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