Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: "Platonish"

Quick Review: Now we're back on track - a solid episode

Episode Synopsis: In flashbacks, the gang contemplates the future of the love triangle among Ted, Robin and Barney, while Lily and Robin issue a series of challenges to Barney.  -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, and if you don't want to feel so terrible about yourself that you spend the rest of your days wearing a garbage bag, you'll steer clear until after you've watched the episode. Now, you might be a bit brave, thinking that you can't be harmed by a few spoilers. Sorry to break it to you, but even the smallest spoiler can ruin your life. It doesn't even have to be a big spoiler. Just a little one. One so small that it goes unnoticed, crafty enough to sneak into the spoiler warning itself. Now, this might be a harmless spoiler, easily brushed aside. But it could be the one spoiler that manages to burrow straight into your brain and do things that even the internet finds disgusting, and you've met the internet. it takes a lot to creep that freak out.

Full Review: If Barney hadn't married Robin, Ted wouldn't have met The Mother. But if Barney hadn't met The Mother, he never would have married Robin. It's sometimes scary to look back and think of all the innocuous decisions that led to the big moments. Sometimes we don't even realize that we're in a big moment until it's too late. That's how those big moments work, they sneak up behind you and turn your life around completely.

The show is always at its strongest when it plays with destiny, examining all the moments that led up to Ted and The Mother's fated meeting. Some of my favorite episodes hinge on Future Ted telling his kids, "And if I hadn't done [something], I never would have met your mother." This time, though, Ted had nothing to do with it. It was a stupid contest between Lily, Robin, and Barney.

I'm a big fan of "so THAT'S how it happened" kinds of stories. When done right, a prequel can shed new light into an old story, as we discover the behind-the-scenes machinations that made everything possible. Whether it was always written that way or retconned in later, it's still a fun trope when done right. Plus, it gave us an opportunity to take a break from the wedding for a week to check out the gang's hijinks.

I liked how the string of idiotic challenges let Barney to The Mother. I wasn't expecting it, even though I probably should have. She's still a bit of a Mary Sue character, as she sets Barney straight, giving him the push to concoct The Robin. Of course, given that Ted is telling the story, I can imagine that he's going to tweak her role in it. His kids already know how much of an idiot he is, there's no need to drag Mom into this mess.

This isn't to say that I don't like her even more now. Being completely immune to Barney's charms is a definite feather in her cap. I also like how she has Barney pegged, but despite him calling her a "target," she still sees good in him. If one conversation with her can make Barney a better person, than perhaps there's hope for Ted when she marries him. She might return him to the Ted we all knew and loved those many, many seasons ago. 

Speaking of Ted, Marshall is still trying to collect that $5 he bet Lily by pushing Ted and Robin back together. It helped that they were cheering on the Washington Generals, but revisiting this plot again was just boring, if not a little aggravating. (But at least we didn't have to put up with road-trip Marshall this episode.) Thankfully, that storyline was saved by a visit from our dear old friend, Hammand Druthers.

While Bryan Cranston will be forever remembered for Breaking Bad, I always think his best work was in Malcolm in the Middle. Comedy is a lot harder than drama, and Cranston is never better when playing an architect even more ridiculous than Ted. He wasted no time tonight, whether it was casually dismissing his horrible design flaws or threatening Ted with architectural destruction. He had the best lines of the episode.

I hope we see more and more of Druthers this season, because he is still such a great foil, both when he's a power-hungry madman and a pathetic shell of a man. Given that Druthers is probably instrumental in Ted's decision to move to Chicago after Barney and Robin's wedding, I'm sure he'll be back. (Now if we can only get him and Sandy Rivers in the same room.)

I like when this show ends on a sweet note, and it did. At the beginning, Robin was crying because her mother wasn't coming to the wedding. Barney decides to get her to stop crying with a "Challenge accepted!" By the end of the episode, after telling the story of how his one challenge was to get Robin to fall in love with him, she tells him "Challenge completed," both on her falling in love and the fact that his story did, indeed, get her to stop crying. You see, writers, this is how to set up and pay off a story. (Unlike a certain proposal.)

I was really impressed with this episode, despite the small annoyances. While it seems apparent that the Ted and Robin drama will keep going to the bitter end, I will worry about that mess when it happens. Perhaps my misgivings are replaced and they resolve that issue perfectly. I can even see The Mother playing a part in it all, since she tends to pop up and help out our gang when they need her the most. All in all, this was fun.

Episode Breakdown

Worst Running Gag: "Private joke again are you guys really still doing this seven years later it's so annoying just stop it." 

Worst Design Flaw: Your building killed thousands of rare fish

Biggest Red Flag: You gave your number to a guy speaking dolphin

Best Callback: The blue french horn.

Best Sagat Narration: "And that's how Barney met your mother."


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